Tag Archives: 1956

Gunsite

An area of Mitcham Common that is south of the Mitcham Junction tramstop and railway station, east of the Carshalton Road, and is bounded on its eastern edge by the railway line between Mitcham Junction and Hackbridge stations, and on its southern edge by the scaffolding yards at the rear of the Corporation Cottages.

The area is called the Gunsite after its use during WW2 as an anti-aircraft installation, as shown on this 1955 OS map:

1955 OS map

This photo shows what remained of the site around 1961. The view is towards the west and the houses of Carshalton Road can be seen in the background.

c.1961 photo of the Gun site, where children often played. From Merton Memories, photo reference Mitcham_War_5-2

Photo taken around 1961 of the Gunsite. The houses in the background are on Carshalton Road. Clip from Merton Memories, photo reference Mitcham_War_5-1

The Gunsite was demolished in 1962/3.

Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th July 1962.

At last
—Gunsite
is to go

ONE of Mitcham’s biggest eye-sores, the Gun Site, Carshalton Road, Mitcham, is at last going to be cleared . . . at a cost of about £13,000.

Work on clearing the site is expected to start in about two months’ time.
The Ministry have approved a tender of £10,800 submitted to them from the Conservators and have further agreed to bear the cost of replacing trees on the site.

WELCOMED

A further cost of £2,000 fees will be included in the work.

This news is welcomed not only by Mitcham Common Conservators but by Mitcham Council and the public.

The Gun Site is one of the few remaining war relics in Mitcham and local people have been pressing for years to clear it.

The conservators hope to replace it with a grass landscape with trees.

Demolition of buildings on the Gunsite, around 1962/3. In the background can be seen a signal at Mitcham Junction Railway Station, and part of the Mitcham Golf Club building. Clip from Merton Memories, photo reference Mitcham_War_5-3

Currently, in 2020, the area shows no sign of its wartime use.

Information Board at the southern entrance to the Gunsite. Photo taken 22nd May 2020.

This board has no date and doesn’t mention the WW2 use of the area, however on the Conservator’s website, suggested walk no. 2, ‘Between The Tramstops’ (pdf) says:

… the area is known as the Gunsite because six anti-aircraft guns were stationed here during the second world war. The troop quarters were still present in the mid-1950s when they were used to house local people while new estates were being built in Mitcham.

The text on the info board:

Mitcham Common is a 180 site of Metropolitan Importance for nature conservation that is one of the most interesting and varied open spaces in south London. It supports a range of habitat types which include secondary woodland and scrub, ponds and other wetland features, together with large tracks of natural grassland and smaller parcels of the regionally important acid grassland and heathland habitats. Together these are home for a vast array of plants and animals many of which are locally rare. In order to maintain this biodiversity the Common requires active management which is undertaken by full-time staff assisted by local volunteers.

The Common is managed and regulated by the Mitcham Common Conservators who are a statutory corporation empowered under the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act 1891.

For further information about the common or the conservatory contact :

The Wardens Office
Mill House Ecology Centre
Windmill Road
Mitcham
Surrey CR4 1HT
Tel: 020 8288 0453

Or visit: www.mitchamcommon.org

Mitcham Common is part of what is to become the Wandle Valley Country Park, and area of some 500 hectares of Metropolitan Open Space. the Park includes Beddington Park to the south, Beddington Farmlands landfill site and Thames Water Sewage Worksin the centre and the Common to the north. Work has already begun to develop the Park, ahead of the Beddington Farmlands site becoming available for open space in the future.

Note that the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act 1891 is available to view on the Parliamentary Archives website.

News Items

Norwood News – Friday 06 January 1956

Gun-site families to change huts

The regrouping of families living at the gun site in Carshalton-road, near Mitcham Junction, will cost £1,000. The War Office, who want to clear up part of the site, have asked that the families should move into huts on the north side of the entrance road to the site. The condition of the huts the, people will move into is poor, say Mitcham Council. It is the conversion of the huts which will cost the money. Mitcham have agreed to the proposal on condition that the Ministry of Housing pay the cost of conversion.

Memories

Discussion on the Facebook Mitcham History Group led to these memories being recalled:

Carole said

… dad used to talk about the house opposite that had had its roof damaged and repaired so many times that they had V for victory in morse code in the tiles on the roof. Sadly, it was removed when re-roofed.

Eddie said

Happy memories as a kid playing there.

Isabella said

I was born on the gun site in 1947, lived there until 1954. I had a fantastic childhood growing up there.

Pat said

My brothers used to play there.

One night the whole of Pollards was out till 9pm looking for one of them ( he’d got carried away playing & forgot the time).

Another time my mum was cleaning under his bed & found a tin with hand grenades & bullets in it….she went with him to the police station and they had to have them blown up by the army. To say we’re lucky to be alive, is an understatement.

Terence said

I was born there in the old mess hut

Photos

Photo taken from a bench near the centre of the Gunsite area, looking west towards the Carshalton Road. Photo taken 18th May 2020.

One of the oak trees in the wooded area at the south eastern corner of the Gunsite. Photo taken 18th May 2020.


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

Mitcham Angling Clubs

Angling clubs, such as the Mitcham Angling Society (MAS) and Mitcham Piscatorial Society (MPS) met at local pubs during the season and organised trips out to lakes and rivers for competitions. The MAS, for example, used to meet at the Beehive pub.

Clip from undated photo on Merton Memories, photo reference Mit_​Org_​Events_​38-1, of a Mitcham Piscatorial Annual Dinner award ceremony at the Streatham Park Hotel.

Newspaper Items
The newspaper articles below are via the British Newspaper Archive

The earliest mention of a Mitcham angling group was in the Fishing Gazette – Saturday 12th December 1885 where Rev. Spencer Gough and H.N. Goodhart, hon. sec. of the Mitcham Angling Association attended the annual dinner of the fly fishers’ club.

Norwood News – Friday 27th May 1960

MITCHAM PISCATORIAL SOCIETY have a few vacancies for active anglers; fortnightly coach outings with pick-up points to Avon, Stour, etc.

— Write Secretary, R. Good, 4 Rutter Gardens, Mitcham 8508

Norwood News – Friday 06 July 1956

Heaviest catch

The annual match for the Coronation Cup between Mitcham Angling Society and the Piscatorials was held at Burnt Mill, near Harlow.

The cup was won by the Angling Society who also won the three prizes. First for the heaviest catch was Mr Pipkin, second Mr Mott and third Mr Fifield.

Norwood News – Friday 4th November 1955

A good catch

Fourteen pounds of fish were caught by members of Mitcham Piscatorial Society when they visited the River Stour at the weekend. Mr. Barfoot had the biggest catch of the day at 4 lb. 5 oz.

Norwood News – Friday 29th April 1955

THE BEST STORIES CAME AT THE END

THE fishermen of Mitcham kept their best stories until after their dinner on Saturday. Then Mitcham Angling Society members told their tales of the fish that got away. The society’s sixth annual dinner was at Zeeta’s Restaurant, Croydon. Speeches were short. They took up less time than the distribution of trophies and other awards.

Presented to the winners by Mrs. A. Crowson, these included a, ” duck ” shield given to Mr. H Burr, senior, to remind him of the August day last year when he fell in during a fishing expedition. The secretary, Mr. E. J. Harber, reported that the society was in a healthy condition. He thanked fellow officers for their work and regretted the retirement of the chairman, Mr. F. J. Gutteridge, for business reasons.

Gudgeon cup, J. Barltrop; Heaviest catch of the season cup and Mrs. Crowhurst’s prize, E . Kemp (17 lb. 7 oz.); Roach cup, M. Tamila (15 oz. 4 dr.); Perch shield. E. J.Harber (11 oz.); Pike shield, R. Wilson; Mr. Dunckley’s birthday cup, C. Valentine ; Last o’ season cup, B. Kibler; Best specimen cup C. Stokes; Wilson cup for runner-up. Mr. Williams; Bream cup, P. Felstead; Medallion for heaviest catch at King’s Sedgemore pool, C. Stokes. Money awards were received by Messrs. Kemp, Valentine, Stokes, Barclay, senr. Knight, Alcock,Hosier, Munt and Felstead.

Norwood News – Friday 8th October 1954

Anglers net over 30lb. of fish

Fishing on a private stretch of the Thames at Littlestoke, Mitcham Piscatorial Society members caught over 30lb. of fish last weekend. Sunday saw their best catches this season.

Best catch was made by Mr Dowling (roach and bream), Mr Stevens followed with roacg and a fine chub weighing over 1lb.

Another chub weighing 1lb was caught by a new member, Mr Markham. Sizable fish were weighed in by Messrs. A. Tucker, F. Barnes, R. Digance, C. Blogg, G. Sparkes and S. Meager.