Tag Archives: 1946

A Romance of Evacuation

From the Norwood News – Friday 24 August 1945


Bridegroom 75, and Bride 77

LATEST tenants at Mitcham’s hut town at Wide Way, are a 77-years-old bride and her 75- years-old bridegroom. The wedding at Mitcham Parish Church of these two old-age pensioners was notable for several reasons. First, the bride arrived with no-one to give her away, and then it was found that the bridegroom had been equally forgetful — he had not brought a best man.

The quandary of Mrs. Flora Sarah Farr, Rodney-road, Mitcham, and Mr. Hadyn Douglas Sanders, Bruce-road, was solved by Mr. A. E. Champion, who in nearly fifty years as parish clerk has attended thousands of weddings and has unriddled many such knotty problems.

He not only became best man but persuaded Mr. Joseph Stevens, gallery keeper, who happened to be in the vicinity, to give the bride away. All four members of the bridal party who assembled before the vicar, the Rev. G. S. Lubbock, were over seventy years of age.

The ceremony over, Mr. and Mrs. Sanders sought a wedding luncheon at several local hotels. but it being Sunday they were unsuccessful, and so they went to their new hut home, where the bride opened a tin of corn beef.


The romance of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders began when a party of Mitcham old people were evacuated during the flying bomb raids to a country mansion at Great Barrington, Oxfordshire. Their first meeting was last summer, when they packed into cars at the Mitcham Citizens’ Advice Bureau for their journey into the country. During their nine months stay at the mansion Mr. and Mrs. Sanders sat next to each other at meals, and took walks in the country lanes together. When they returned to Mitcham they decided they would like to continue the companionship and arranged to get married. Both were so anxious to keep the wedding quiet that they did not tell their families the date on which it was to take place. “We were sure that it would leak out and that there would be someone we knew at church who would be able to act as witnesses. But no-one turned up and we had to rely on the good offices of Mr. Champion,” said Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Sanders lost his home in an early blitz, when his wife, son and daughter were killed. As a bombed-out person he qualified for a hut. Both he and his wife like their new home. Mr. Sanders managed to save enough furniture from the ruin of his old home to make the hut comfortable. Its walls are hung with pictures of his family, of whom he is very proud. Among them are portraits of his mother, Grace Armitage, who achieved fame as an actress in the latter part of the last century. His sister, Grace Noble, following in her mother’s footsteps, also became an actress and won renown in Australia.

Mr. Sanders’ father was an opera singer and appeared at Covent Garden, but his early death brought hardships to the family who had chosen Tooting as their headquarters. His mother continued her career and sang at a Manchester theatre on the night her son, Haydn, was born — to help bring up her family of four boys. As soon as he was old enough Haydn went out to work in the shoe trade.

“If there had been enough money for training I should probably have followed in my father’s steps and, become a singer,” said Mr. Sanders, “But as it was I spent a life-time in the shoe trade, starting at a Tooting shop and working in many parts of the country. Now, with Mrs. Sanders, I am going to enjoy a well-earned rest, free from bombs,” he said.


The original news article had the spelling Saunders instead of Sanders, which is the spelling used by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) website and records on Ancestry.

Mr Sander’s wife, son and daughter died during the Blitz, on 11th October, 1940, at 29 Bruce Road. Below are links to the CWGC casualty records:

His wife, Minnie Sanders, aged 69. His son, Reginald Frederick Sanders, aged 44, an A.R.P. Stretcher Bearer. His daughter Ella Marjory Dunn, aged 31, wife of Charles Dunn.

Flora Sanders died later that year. Her death is registered in the last quarter of the year, in registration district Surrey Mid Eastern, Volume 2a, Page 268.

Haydn Douglas Sanders died the following year, on 11th November 1946. His address was 35 Wide Way.

Kempat Ltd.

Listed in the 1954 phone book as Kempat Ltd., Brassieres, Girdles, 1 Block James Estate, Western Road, telephone Mitcham 1664.

Presumably named after its managing director Vivian Fitch-Kemp, who named in a 1945 court case involving overcharging on the sale of bras. Mr Fitch-Kemp patented in 1934 a bra with bust support:

U.S. Patent No. 2,104,867
Vivian Fitch Kemp. London, England
Application August 19, 1935, Serial No. 36,909
In Great Britain August 30, 1934.

A bust support comprising two separate breast pockets; a single pivotal connection between said pockets situated above the line corresponding with the maximum chest expansion; a resilient coupling between said pockets situated
below said line so that said pockets can move relatively about said pivotal connection to permit the girth measurement below the pivotal point to vary; shoulder straps respectively secured at one end to the upper edges of said breast pockets and at the other end to the back of said bust support and means for securing said bust support on the wearer.

Mr Vivian Fitch-Kemp, born 13 Jul 1899, served in the Grenadier Guards at aged 17 in 1917. He died in 1958.

The newspaper articles below are via the British Newspaper Archive


Norwood News – Friday 02 January 1953

Kempat Ltd. have a few vacancies for school-leavers and teen-agers who wish to become sewing machinists; frequent rises, and when fully trained (approx. 2 years) over £6 p.w. can be earned. no Saturdays, music, canteen, also ex-employees welcomed. Apply Kempat Ltd. James Estate. Western-rd.. Mitcham.

Norwood News – Friday 22 February 1946

EXPERIENCED machinists reqd.; good wages; our best machinists earn up to £3 12s. 6d., 44 hours, no Saturdays; music while you work; willing to train inexperienced applicants. Apply Kempat Ltd., “M” Block, James Estate (opposite Gas Works), Western-rd., Mitcham.

Company ceased trading in 1962, as stated in the
London Gazette, Publication date:20 August 1965 Issue:43743 Page: 8015

Name of Company: KEMPAT LIMITED.
Nature of Business: Ceased trading on 27th March 1962 as LINGERIE MANUFACTURERS.
Address of Registered Office: Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff.
Liquidator’s Name and Address: Paul Francis Spurway, of Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff.
Date of Appointment: 7th August 196S.

Wandsworth Gas Company’s Coal Ship “Mitcham”


THE LAST WORD IN “FLAT IRONS”: The 1,780-ton coasting collier “Mitcham,” the Wandsworth Gas Company’s new vessel, seen on the Thames at Wandsworth after negotiating the fifteen miles of river from the estuary. When she turns round at Wandsworth there is little room for other traffic to pass. The “Mitcham” has a squat funnel to save her lowering it at each bridge, and her collapsible masts are stepped down into the holds.

The Wandsworth Gas Company are adding several new ships to their fleet, and the “Mitcham” bears a close resemblance to the “Chessington,” details of which were given in “The Sphere” of June 29. She is equipped with sloping wing ballast-tanks, which ensure that the cargo automatically precipitates itself to within the range of the mechanical grabs during the discharging operations.

Source: The Sphere – Saturday 02 November 1946 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)


AN IMPORTANT ADDITION TO LONDON’S COLLIER FLEET : A diagrammatic drawing of the S.S. “Chessington,” the largest vessel to pass the Thames bridges. The “Chessington,” belonging to the Wandsworth and District Gas Company, is known as a “flat-iron,” and she is able to carry 2,700 tons of coal on each trip from the Durham coalfields. The ”Chessington” recently completed her maiden voyage, attracting much attention as she came upstream beyond the Pool and Westminster Bridge. She is nearly 260 ft. long, and as she passes under the bridges her funnel lowers in the usual manner and her masts telescope into the holds. The “Chessington” is equipped with sloping wing ballast tanks which ensure that the cargo automatically precipitates itself to within the range of the grabs during discharging operations. The general lay-out of the ship is of much improved pattern, and special attention has been paid to the officers’ and men’s quarters.

Drawing by S. E. Beck

Source: The Sphere – Saturday 29 June 1946 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)


How They Bring The Coal To London

The Colliers which Supply the Gas Works abd the Power Stations

The fuel crisis has thrown into high relief the role of the Thames up-river colliers, the “flat-irons” which supply the gasworks and the power stations with the vital fuel to keep the lights of London burning.

Some of these colliers come from South Wales, making the trip down the Bristol Channel, round Land’s End, through the Straits of Dover and into the Thames Estuary. The majority, however, come from Tyne and Humber ports, and it is upon these that attention has been focused during the recent fateful week.

From Tyne to Thames is no long voyage, but it is very much London’s lifeline and, thanks to the devoted work of the collier skippers and their cres, who through their way through the February gales and ice-floes, London power stations will once again able to build up their stocks. Many of those same men, it must be remembered, braved the perils of the same East Coast trip when they had more than weather to contend with – first the magnetic mine and then the E-boat constantly menacing the ships as they came south laden with their precious cargoes.

The largest of these ships are found in the Wandsworth and District Gas Company’s fleet, whose works are situated the farthest upstream. Their ships have to negotiate seventeen bridges before they can reach their discharging-point at Wandsworth. This Company has for long set the standard for the design of these of ships, and practically each their ships has been, when built, the largest in this trade. Now they have the first diesel driven “flat-iron” the Mitcham, which can carry a total of 2,700 tons of coal. This compares with 1250 tons for the pioneer ship Wandle of 1909 and 600 tons for the first screw collier, John Bowes, which in turn carried about twice as much as a collier brig.

Depth of water and amounts of head room under bridges are items of paramount importance in up river navigation, and it is essential for the ships to arrive at the wharf during the latter stages the flood-tide. After cargo has been discharged the passage down-river must be begun as soon as the flood-tide appears, for in this light condition the vessel is much higher out of the water.

Source: The Sphere – Saturday 08 March 1947 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

The Canons Minutes – Trees

From the minutes of the
Allotments Committee
7th January 1954

Tulip Tree : The Canons

In November, 1948, I reported to the Committee the result of an inspection of the tulip tree at the Canons by Mr W.M. Campbell, the Curator of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

Mr Campbell at that time recommended removal of that half of the tree which was dying back. This work and soil and turf treatment also recommended were carried out.

Recently signs of decay became evident and I asked Mr Campbell to again inspect and report on the tree. Two inspections have been made and it is with great reluctance that a recommendation is made for the tree to be removed at once. Armillaria mellea (Honey fungus) is now present in the root system and is responsible for the rapid decay now apparent at and below ground level.

Mr Campbell concludes his recommendations by suggesting the planting of two young Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip trees) and offers to make available a young Metasequoia glyptostroboides, which, until five years ago, was only known by fossilised remains.

Yours obediently,
Riley Schofield,
Borough Engineer and Surveyor.

That the recommendations of Mr Campbell for the removal and replacement of the tulip tree be adopted, and that the thanks of the Committee be conveyed to him for his offer to make available a rare tree to be planted at the Canons.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 20 1953-54, pages 522-3.

South Mitcham Residents’ Association
– Read letter from the South Mitcham Residents’ Associationforwarding resolution by that association regarding the destruction of fruit-bearing trees in The Canons’ orchard.

Resolved, That the Town Clerk be instructed to send a suitable reply.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 12 1945-62, page 423

From the minutes of the
Allotments Committee
February 2, 1946

13. “The Canons” Trees

A number of trees in the grounds of “The Canons” require attention. I should like the approval of the Committee to the following, the estimated cost of which is given.

Removal of dead walnut tree from the allotments £12
New support to tulip tree on lawn £2 10s.
Lopping and pruning of trees alongside Carp Pond and Madeira Road £325

Total £339 10s.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 12 1945-46, page 261

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Borough Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

The Canons Minutes – Obelisk

From the minutes of the
General Purposes Committee
July 16, 1946

11. “The Canons”

– Read letter from Mitcham Civic Society stating that they were concerned at the state of the obelisk in the grounds of “The Canons,” and asking that the inscription be made more legible and a railing placed in front of the obelisk so that the public could obtain a clearer view of the monument.
Resolved, That the Borough Engineer be instructed to report on this proposal.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 12 1945-46, pages 790-1

From the minutes of the
General Purposes Committee
October 15, 1946

Obelisk : “The Canons”
I have inspected the obelisk at “The Canons” and find that it is constructed of brickwork rendered in cement. It could be cleaned by the careful use of a wire brush. Certain small repairs are necessary to the base. The estmated cost of the work of cleaning and repair is £20.

Yours obediently,
Riley Schofield,
Borough Engineer and Surveyor.

Resolved – That the Borough Engineer be instructed to carry out the repairs suggested.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 12 1945-46, pages 1022-3

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Borough Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

The Canons Minutes – Electric Light

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Borough Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

From the minutes of the
General Purposes Committee
October 15, 1946

13. “The Canons”

– Read letter from the Mitcham Athletic Club enquiring whether electric light could be installed in the bathroom, dressing room and stairs of “The Canons,” the use of which had been granted to then.
Resolved, That such electric lighting be installed at the cost of the Council.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 12 1945-46, page 1014

Mount Road

Road of council housing built after World War 1 between Western Road (opposite the junction with Lavender Avenue) and Church Road. First mention in electoral registers is for 1922.

Named after Councillor H.L. Mount JP, district chairman in 1920. It was an attempt at being a ‘Garden Village’ development with low density and cottage style homes.

House numbering is from east to west, i.e. from Western Road to Church Road. Even numbers are on the south side of the road, from 2 to 86; and odd numbers are on the northern side of the road, from 1 to 69.

The centre part of the road split around an oval shaped green. Before being named Mount Road the road was referred to in council minutes as the Oval Road. During the second world war, this green space was converted to allotments for the war effort. This clip, from an aerial photograph by the RAF in 1946, shows the outline of the plots.

clip from Merton Memories photo 31375, copyright London Borough of Merton.

This green was sold by Merton council to property developer Costain Homes (Southern) Ltd for £2,515,241 in 1988, and subsequently built upon. (Source: Merton Council minutes, 1988 volume 24, Development Committee, page 238, 29th September 1988). Houses built on this oval plot are numbered from 101 to 153 sequentially.

1933 OS map

Mount Road on Google street View, from Western Road end. The houses on the left were built in 1988/9 on the oval green mentioned above.

Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Minutes of meetings held by the London Borough of Merton are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.