Tag Archives: 1962

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.

Carshalton Road

Road that is the start of the A237 and runs south from the junction with Commonside West, Cedars Avenue and Croydon Road, heading towards Carshalton.

On the west side there is a junction with Cranmer Road and Willow Lane, and on the right just after this is the entrance road to Mitcham Junction railway station and the Mitcham Golf Club. The road goes over the railway and tram lines on a bridge that was rebuilt and widened in the mid 1950s. On the west side of the road and part of the southern slope of the bridge is an access road leading to Aspen Gardens. Further south from here, and set back from the western side of the road is a line of houses that were originally called Rumbold Villas and Tramway Terrace. They are separated by two roads Drake Road and Arney’s Lane. At Beddington Corner is the Goat pub on the corner with Goat Road.

After Beddington Corner, the road is now called London Road and the A237 continues to the A23 at Coulsdon.

Carshalton Road at junction with Croydon Road. The house was one of the Blue Houses. From a Percy Mayhew postcard, from Merton Memories, photo reference Mit_19_1-19

The guide post (marked G.P.) that is on the south side of the tram line in this 1910 OS map is the one seen in the photo.

1910 OS map

The junction with Croydon Road was changed to a roundabout in 1955.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th February 1955

ROUNDABOUT

Work is to start soon on making a traffic roundabout at the busy junction of Croydon Road with Carshalton Road, on Mitcham Common.

The Transport Minister has approved a grant of up to £4,427 towards the cost of the roundabout. Coun. D.J. Hempstead, Highways Committee chairman, said last week that it was hoped that work would be speedily undertaken.

The bridge over the railway line was widened at the same time, the work having been started in 1939 but was interrupted by the war.

On the east side of Carshalton Road, south of the railway station, was a WW2 anti-aircraft gun site. It was cleared in the early 1960s.

1955 OS map showing the Gun Site.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th July 1962:

At last – Gunsite is to go

One of Mitcham’s biggest eyesores, the Gun Site, Carshalton Road, Mitcham Common, is at last 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 the 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.

WW2 Civilian Casualties

20th October 1940

16 Carshalton Road
Winifred Mabel LARBY, aged 35


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