Tag Archives: 1950

Baltic Close and Oslo Court

Road and block of flats off northern side of Colliers Wood High Street and built in 1938/9 by Mercer Taylor & Co. At this time the Mitcham borough boundary included this road. Royal Mail postcode lookup shows 16 flats, all with the postcode SW19 2BL.

1950 OS map

The developer wrote to Mitcham Borough Council and suggested that since this road was next to the Victory pub, then the name of the road could be Trafalgar Close or Victory Close. The council disagreed, pointing out there were already similar named roads in the SW19 postal district. The council suggested Baltic Close, and the developer agreed, who suggested that the block of flats be named Oslo Court.

Source: Minutes of the Mitcham Borough Council, 1938-39 volume 5, pages 12 and 127.

Note that the Victory pub has since been renamed a couple of times, and the current (as of Feb 2018) name is the Charles Holden, who was an architect who designed the nearby Colliers Wood underground station.

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

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

1950 : Mitcham Boxing Club’s best bill of the season

From the Mitcham News and Mercury, 27th January, 1950, page 5

Men In Khaki Up From Aldershot

Men in khaki from the Aldershot area came to Mitcham Baths on Wednesday of last week to provide Mitcham Boxing Club’s best bill of the season. Programme ended at 11 p.m. after 16 bouts, and there were still more lined up.

Ironically, pride of place for the evening must go to a loser. Thirty-five-years-old Pte. DOWDLEISH (A.C.C.) made his first appearance in the ring for five years, and found himself opposite the heavy-shouldered, hard-punching Ron KENCHINGTON (Earlsfield). Using a foxy cleverness born of experience, and snatching a breather whenever possible, he stayed out of trouble, but could not completely hold a determined Kenchington. Dowdleish, in defence, gave glimpses of an attractive boxing past.

Harry DUFFIN (Earlsfield) smashed his way to a points victory over Pte. GIBSON (R.A.S.C.). as the last bell sounded he pulled the limp soldier off the ropes and led him to his corner.

L-Cpl. W. BOWDERY (Mitcham and 14-20th Hussars) dominated the last two rounds of his bout with Cpl. SLOANE (R.A.O.C.), and it was stopped in the last round, with the Ordnance man reeling around the ring.

Mitcham’s Alf BLACKIE launched a series of right-hand punches to the head in an attempt to swing the decision in his bout with A. HUNT (Caius), but failed narrowly.

Bouncing Stan WARD (Earlsfield), with his piston-like left hand, out-pointed a tearway Cpl. WOOD (R.A.O.C.). Despite going down in the first round, Ward weathered a stormy two-fisted attack to win convincingly.

The crossed-arm defence of L-Cpl. Peter HARRIS (Earlsfield and K.R.R.C.) was not sufficient to prevent him losing on points to L-Cpl. CLARKE (R.E.). Clarke was guilty of a little accidental low punching, but both men finished on the best of terms.

Results on points: Sgt. WOOD (1st Para. Bn.) bt J. HICKS (Mitcham); A.C. R. PATCHING (Mitcham and R.A.F.) bt. Sapper HERBERT (R.E.); D. TAFFURELLI (canterbury and Lilleshall) bt Rfn. MORGAN (K.R.R.C.); Pte. BARTON (R.A.O.C.) bt W.T. BOWDERY (Mitcham); Pte. HUNTER (A.C.C.) bt W. SEALE (Mitcham); Pte. EVANS (S.L.I.) bt R. MOORE (Coulsdon and Purley); G. COUSINS (Earlsfield) bt Pte. TERENCE (R.A.O.C.); H. LEWIS (Earlsfield) bt Pte. DAGLEISH (A.C.C.); Pte. MURRAY (R.A.O.C.) bt E. RANDALL (Mitcham).

L-Col. CLARKE (R.E.) bt P. McCARTHY (Coulsdon), with McCarthy disqualified in the last round for lying on his man.

258 London Road

The Kings Arms pub, currently number 260 London Road, was rebuilt around 1900 in the ‘Tudor’ style. Number 258, was part of the pub and this clip from 1910 shows the sign “King’s Arms” on its north gable. This view is now obscured by the building numbered 256 and 254. It isn’t known when it became a separate shop.

1910 clip from Merton Memories photo 51745, copyright London Borough of Merton

This postcard, posted in October 1930, shows the shop as T.G. Brown, florists:

In the 1930 commercial directory, the name is given as Thomas George Brown:

Brown Thos. Geo. florist, 258 London rd. T N 3983

1950 ad

1989 clip from Merton Memories photo 27986, copyright London Borough of Merton

This photograph, taken 29th June 2018, shows it being used as a cafe:

Photo taken evening of 29th June, 2018

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

Fish Leather at Beddington Corner

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th January 1950, page 4.

WORKING on trawlers sailing from the sturdy little fishing port of Fleetwood, Mr. W. V. Kuncewicy was struck with an idea. But it was war time and his conviction that the seas surrounding these inlands contained great untapped wealth could bear no fruit until the end of hostilities.

When peace came Kuncewicy and his friend, S. Cyuba, equipped only with an idea and about £300 between them, began to explain to people that a flourishing industry could be built on the by-products of fish, principally the skins, most of which are thrown away, or at best, reach the fertiliser factory.

The skins of cod and catfish, declared these two former Polish naval men, could be used as a substitute for fine leather. Cleaned, treated and dyed it would make dainty shoe uppers, belts and other trimmings. The skin of the dolphin, porpoise and shark, which at present sport unmolested about our shores, were the real wealth which, if scientifically harvested, could provide enough hides to abolish the need for a large percentage of leather imports. The oil, too, was valuable.

Five years after the end of the war these two men have established a factory in Goat-road, Mitcham, where fish skins are treated for commercial use.


Its home is a converted stable. Kuncewicy and Cyuba did most of the converting. They laid the concrete floor of the tanning room, installed the machinery, converted the loft above the stalls into an office-cum-work shop, The entrance is by an outside wooden staircase. To get in you bend double and, push open the old loft door. There is an old-fashioned air about this beamed, dimly-lit building where a new industry has been born. In the former loft skins of cod and catfish hang from lines stretched across the low ceiling. In the stable below 2,500 skins are cleaned and tanned each week.

The tanning of fish skins has been attempted with indifferent success for probably 3,000 years. Now, for the first time it is being done satisfactorily, and dainty shoes and other accessories, many of them in gold and silver finish, are being exported as well as sold in the West End.

The skin is soft and flexible, yet, stronger than leather of equal thickness. Fish skin accessories have become popular for evening wear, yet probably few women realise that they are adorning themselves with the skin of cod.

How in these days of restriction have these two penniless sailors succeeded in launching a new industry? The real answer lies in the burning enthusiasm of Kuncewicy; the imagination, initiative and drive that persuaded the authorities to allow him to study at a marine biological station on the Clyde, and later imbued enough people with sufficient enthusiasm for fish skins to lend money to set the factory going.


But powder compacts and evening shoes are only part of Mr. Kuncewicy’s dream. In spring millions of porpoises and dolphins come to Britain’s shores. Spring, too. brings schools of sharks to Scottish waters.

“These creatures represent potential wealth.” said Mr. Kuncewicy. “The hide of a porpoise or dolphin is the size of a cow hide, and as tough. There are several layers of skin: the outer ones can be used for heavy goods such as suitcases or heavy boots, the inner layers for lighter things.

“Fishermen on the Clyde used to poach dolphin from small boats — killing them was illegal — for the sake of the blubber and the skin. To-day the blubber would be useful as lubricating oil, and the meat is quite good, much better than whale steak.”

Shark skin was a good substitute for calf. They had had one skin from the shark station at Soay, the tiny Hebridean island that lies in the shadow of the Black Cuillins of Skye. The setting up of a station there had failed because the shark fishing had been treated rather as a gentleman’s sport than a serious business. But it had demonstrated the use to which these creatures, some of them as long as a London bus, could be put.

Mr. Kuncewicy has been asking the Board of Trade to establish three stations — on the Clyde. Cornwall and the East Coast — for the purpose of catching porpoises, dolphins and sharks. Such an experiment would provide the nucleus of a flourishing industry.

“The Government sets up elaborate groundnut schemes in Africa, but has no time for the undeveloped natural wealth of Britain,” he commented. “The launching of a scheme would cost only about £15,000. It could well grow into an important industry, providing Britain with much of the leather she now imports. The raw materials department of the Board of Trade have shown some interest, but the Treasury will not respond to appeals for funds.”

British Pathe made a newsreel in 1949, which can be seen on YouTube:

On the British Pathe website, the names are given as Witold Euncewicz and Stanislaw Czuba, as opposed to Kuncewicy and Cyuba in the newspaper article.

Walter Mays Ltd.

The Abbey Cork Mills of Walter Mays Ltd was built on the site of William De Morgan’s pottery, Colliers Wood, in around 1890.

1950 OS map

Walter Carden-Mays born December 1865 in Camberwell. He married in 1888 and died on 21st January 1941 in Surrey. The ‘Carden’ part of the family name was dropped at some point, and his company was known as Walter Mays Ltd.

Listed in the 1925 street directory as Walter Mays Ltd. (Abbey Cork Works), 150 & 152 Byegrove Road.

1924 aerial photo. The site for Colliers wood underground station can be seen bottom right. The cork factory is on the left of the High Street.

1934 OS map rotated to show same view as aerial photo above

Ad from Flight Magazine of 1938 :

and directory listing from same:

WALTER MAYS, LTD., Abbey Cork Mills, London, S.W.19 (Liberty 3764).—” Everything in cork “; carburettor and oil indicator floats, gauge glass washers, gland packings, strut sealing corks, anti-vibration mats, composition cork jointing to D.T.D.219A, laminated and plain.

In an entry on Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History from 1939 about suppliers to the aircraft industry, cork joints to specification DTD 219A were widely used for petrol tank gaskets and packings.

The Stone Cottage of the Surrey Iron Railway stood on the Walter Mays Ltd site for over 150 years.

Mitcham Military Service Tribunals

As reported by the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 16th June 1916, an employer of a cork business in Colliers Wood, appealed for his son. Although not named, it is likely that the company was Walter Mays Ltd.

Exemption was asked for a skilled mechanic, by the owner of a cork manufacturing business in Colliers Wood. The employer said the man was very valuable in his present employment and he will be practically impossible to replace. A large proportion of their manufacturers were for government uses. He employed about 17 men of whom are only three were eligible. He pleaded that his son was capable of doing almost anything in the business and his departure might cause the closing down of the business.

Three months exemption.

In the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 2nd November 1917, the company and employee are named in an appeal.

Mr Walter Mays, cork manufacturer, of the Abbey Cork Works, High Street, Colliers Wood, asked for a exemption for Mr T.W.S. Cavey, age 41, B1, motor driver and mechanic, residing at Birdhurst Road, Colliers Wood.

Applicant: An exemption for so long as the man remained in his employment. He was engaged in delivering all Mr Mays’s important Government contract work. The average mileage was 250 miles a week.

Counc. Baker : I suppose it is all Government work that Mr Mays does?

Applicant: Oh, yes, it is most important.

The appeal was disallowed.

In the 1919 electoral register a Thomas William Sherrin CAVEY was living with his wife Florence Louisa in 28 Birdhurst Road. He died in 1950 as stated on the Find-A-Grave website, which also says he was a Music Hall performer known as Stirling Fred.

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

Romany School of Dancing

Elsie and Bobby Smith started giving dancing lesson in Monarch Parade in the early 1940s, according to a contributor to the Facebook Mitcham History Group. An ad from 1962 said that they had been established for 21 years, giving their start year as 1941.

In 1947, this ad shows that they were teaching at the Majestic cinema:

Learn to Dance at Mitcham's Most MODERN BALLROOM Romany School of Dancing Elsie & Bobby Smith (N.A.T.D.) now at Majestic Mitcham. Beginners Classes : Mon & Thurs Intermediate Classes : Tues & Fri Dances : Wed & Sat. Private Lessons by Appointment

Learn to Dance at Mitcham’s Most MODERN BALLROOM
Romany School of Dancing
Elsie & Bobby Smith (N.A.T.D.)
now at Majestic Mitcham.
Beginners Classes : Mon & Thurs
Intermediate Classes : Tues & Fri
Dances : Wed & Sat.
Private Lessons by Appointment

They then moved to their own premises at the rear of 482 London Road, and named it the Romany Club de Danse. The opening night was 17th July 1950:

Norwood News – Friday 14 July 1950 Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. From the British Newspaper Archives

This ad from 1959 gives times and prices:

1959 ad

1959 ad


Elsie and Bobby Smith, N.A.T.D., invite you to dance at the


482, London Road, Mitcham.

Strict beginners classes, Mondays & Thursdays, 8-10.30, 2/6.

Beginners and Intermediate

Old Time 8-11 2/6.

Over 25’s Beginners 8-11

Children’s Ballroom Class
10.30-12. 1/-.


For Enquiries : ‘Phone MITCHAM 4329.

STAGE BRANCH : Ballet – Tap – Modern Dance – Acrobatic Class Daily

This 1953 OS map shows the Dance Hall:

1953 OS Map

1953 OS Map

In 1954, ‘the undefeated Star Professional Champions’ Wally Fryer and Violet Barnes demonstrated there:

Norwood News – Friday 07 May 1954
Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Ad from 1962 shows the introduction of a ‘Rock n Roll Club’ on Saturday nights:

1962 ad

1962 ad

Text of ad:

ROMANY’ School of Dancing
Est. 21 years
Principals : Elsie and Bobby Smith, N.A.T.D.
482 LONDON RD, MITCHAM (opp. Mitcham Stn.). Tel. MIT 4329

Monday – BEGINNERS ONLY, expert tuition, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Tuesday – HOLIDAY COURSE CLASS, 8-10.30 p.m. ……… 2/6
(Special tuition for every kind of holiday dancing)
Thursday – BEGINNERS and INTERMEDIATE, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Friday – Over 25s, Beginners and Intermediate, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Saturday morning – Children’s Ballroom, 10.30 a.m. – 12 noon ……1/-
Saturday night – ROCK ’N’ ROLL CLUB, 7.30-11 p.m. …… 3/-
Sunday – OLD TIME CLASS and PRACTICE, 7.30-10.30 p.m. 3/-

STAGE BRANCH – Tuesdays and Fridays, 4.30 p.m.

Private Lessons Daily

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

Girdlers Radio Ltd

Radio and television shop started by Edward Girdler.

In the 1930 commercial directory, and the 1933 ad shown below, his shop was at 245 London Road, Mitcham, which was part of The Parade, the Edwardian shops between the Fair Green and the telephone exchange.

In the 1952 Chambers of Commerce, the address for Girdlers Radio Ltd is 293 Mitcham Road, Tooting. See the ad on the front cover of the North Mitcham Improvement Association below.

1950 OS map

1950 OS map

1933 ad

1933 ad

Text of ad:





PHILIPS 4 VALVE, 2 S.G., ELECTRIC 16 Gns. CASH or 18 monthly payments of 19/7.

This is the electrical age, and an electrical gift is the most useful and acceptable gift. We have in stock countless Shades, Standards. Fittings. Irons, Fires, Radio Sets, etc. at the LOWEST POSSIBLE PRICES.

We shall be pleased to make suggestions and help you in every possible way.

August 1950 front cover of The Sentinel magazine of the North Mitcham Improvement Association

August 1950 front cover of The Sentinel magazine of the North Mitcham Improvement Association

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