Tag Archives: 1968

Cock Chimney Factory in Batsworth Road

A local landmark in Batsworth Road, off Church Road, Mitcham. It is possible it may have been built in mid 19th century. The land was sold to London Borough of Merton in late 1960s, and the area is now occupied by a trading estate.

The firm of Donald Macpherson occupied the site until 1969, and the chimney had their brand ‘Foochow’ in letters running down the side of the chimney. Macpherson was started in 1884 as a paint, varnish and Chinese lacquer business, based in Manchester. The company’s telegram address was ‘Foochow, Manchester’.

Macphersons Trade Paints became part of the Crown Paints Group in 2008.

The chimney was first mentioned in Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 17 August 1889 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Fatal Fall from a Chimney.

—An inquest was held at the Mortuary on Saturday last before Mr. R. D. Muir, deputy coroner, and a jury, concerning the death of Thomas H. Haslam, 25, Cow Cross-street, St. Luke’s, an engineer’s fitter. It appeared that on the previous Thursday the deceased, with a labourer, was sent to some repairs to what is known the “Cock” chimney at a varnish factory in Church-lane, and, having engaged lodgings at 15, Holmwood-road, proceeded to inspect the shaft.

Having ascended to some considerable height, deceased by some means lost his hold and fell with great force to the bottom.

Medical aid was summoned, and the man removed to his lodgings, where expired the same night.

The jury having viewed the body and having heard the medical and other evidence, and the Deputy-Coroner very carefully summed up, a verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned.


1945 ad

Donald Macpherson co. Ltd., Cock Chimney Works, Mitcham (paint manufacturers), require the following clerical staff: 2 Invoice Clerks. Order Clerks, Shorthand-Typists, Telephone Operator; good post-war prospects, possibility of advancement. Please reply to the above address or telephone for appointment, Mitcham 2963.

Source: Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 13 January 1945 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)


aerial photo from 1947 and 1952 OS map

aerial photo from 1947 and 1952 OS map

Merton Memories Photos
JJ Schweizer
Foochow
1970

From the phone book

1910

1910

In the 1896 street directory, listed as John Jacob Schweizer, varnish manufacturer.

1912

1912 to 1914

1915 Heyl phone

1915 and 1916

1919

1919 to 1921

1923

1923

1926

1926

1968

1968


From the minutes of the
Town Planning and Development Committee
31st October 1968

1266. COCK CHIMNEY WORKS, BATSWORTH ROAD, MITCHAM

– The Borough Surveyor reported that the Cock Chimney Works, which occupied four detached sites in Batsworth Road and Chapel Road comprising a total area of approximately 1.56 acres, had been offered for sale to the Council. He explained that the works were situated in an area allocated primarily for industrial use in the Initial Development Plan, but which had been re-allocated primarily for residential use in the First Review of the Plan now before the Minister of Housing and Local Government. He reported: —

(i) that the works were within an area at present being studied with a view to environmental improvement and adjoined other property which had been purchased by the Council, or its predecessors. for ultimate redevelopment for residential purposes;

(ii) that, to implement planning objectives in the area, the acquisition of the works had to be firstly considered from a town planning point of view and secondly as a prospective housing site; and

(iii) upon the estimated cost of acquiring other properties in the neighbourhood to form a viable site for residential redevelopment and on the likely housing gain which would be achieved.

Resolved – That the Borough Surveyor be authorised to negotiate terms for the purchase of the Cock Chimney Works and requested to report further to a subsequent meeting.

Source: Minutes of Proceedings of the Council and committees, London Borough of Merton, Volume 5 1968-69, page 806


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


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

Smith Meters, Ltd.

Rowan Road

Electric and Gas Meters

Source:
Borough of Mitcham List of Factories,
Town Clerk’s Department,
July 1963.
Available at Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.
Reference L2 (670) MIT


Norwood News – Friday 20 January 1961, via British Newspaper Archive

U.G.I. METERS DIVISION
(Proprietors: Smith Meters Ltd.),
Rowan-rd.,
Streatham Vale,
S W 16.
CLERICAL—FEMALE
SHORTHAND TYPISTS
CLERK TYPISTS
SUM LOCK OPIRATOR
HOLLERITH PUNCH OPERATOR
HOLLERITH VERIFIER

Hours: 8.45 am. to 5.30 p.m.
Monday to Thursday.
8.45 a.m. to 5 p m. Friday.

Please apply :
PERSONNEL OFFICER.
Tel. Pollards 2271.
(Bus Nos. 118 and 130 stop at works.)

News Articles

1968

At Smith Meters Ltd., Rowan Road, the production manager,
Mr. John Allan, said that production had come to a halt.
“The factory is completely stopped,” he said.
“ We employ 2,000 and almost every one is on strike. A very
small number have come to work, and this is insignificant.
“ There were pickets outside this morning, but there was no
bother. This is a national strike,” he added.

Source: Mitcham News and Mercury, 17th May, 1968 page 1

1962

NEW CENTRE FOR THE HAPPY FACTORY

Mr. Norman Smith, chairman of Smith Meters Ltd., Rowan Road, at the opening of the firm’s new dining and recreation centre last week, said: “This building is a sign of the great success the firm has had over its many years.”

The centre incorporates a small hostel, two dining-rooms, a central kitchen and a confectionery kiosk.

A plaque on the first floor landing was unveiled by Mr. R N. D. Bruce, Chairman of the South Eastern Gas Board, who performed the opening ceremony.

Afterwards the 50 guests toured the new block. In the kitchen much interest was shown in the modern equipment, among them automatic potato peelers and mashers, electric dish washers and the latest cooking ranges.

The party, which included Mr. Robert Carr, M P. for Mitcham. Alderman D. Chalkley, Mayor of Mitcham, Mr. T C Battersby, president of tho Institution of Gas Engineers, and members of the Board of United Gas Industries, also toured parts of the main factory.

At the luncheon held in one of the new dining-rooms Mr. Smith said the success of Smith Meters had grown from the fact there was always a happy atmosphere in the factory. “We believe in looking after our staff well, giving them good food and good working conditions.”

He reminded his audience of the early days of the company. “When it was first started,” he said, “there were only a handful of people on the staff. The week’s wages for all the staff were similar to one man’s weekly wage today.”

Mr. Smith paid tribute to those responsible for building the new block. It is a very fine building and the architect and builders should be praised.”

Smith Meters factory in Rowan Road, Mitcham, is one of a large group of factories connected with United Gas Industries Ltd.

The Rowan Road premises are the headquarters of the U.G.I. (Meters) division which controls factories in Belfast, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leicester, Manchester, Kennington and Dunblaine. There is also a factory in New Zealand.

Smith Meters was founded in 1834 and established in Snow Hill, in the City of London, moving to Kennington in 1865. In 1929 an additional factory at Mitcham was built.

The company now employs about 2,300 people, 1,750 of them at the Rowan Road factory.

Among the products made by the division are gas and electricity meters, coin switches, and food processing and catering equipment.

Source: Mitcham News and Mercury, 18th May, 1962 page 15


Maps

1950 Smith Meters maps

Smith Meters was in the Lonesome area of the Mitcham Urban District, as can be seen on this 1933 map.

Aerial photos from 1947:
1947 Smith Meters 1

1947 Smith Meters 2

1947 Smith Meters 3

1947 Smith Meters 4


Kenneth Marsh, who served in the RAF at end of WW2, worked for the Department of Energy and eventually was based at the United Gas Industries (UGI) in Rowan Road. He was responsible for certifying the accuracy of gas meters made there and at nearby Smith Meters.

1970s – Ken Marsh’s office at UGI

1970s – testing rigs at UGI

Armfield Crescent

A curved road that runs from the London Road, north of the Mitcham Library, southwards to St Marks Road, with council housing built after the Second World War.

View of Armfield Crescent from Mainwaring Court, Paxton Court is on the left. Photo taken in 1968.

There were originally four blocks of flats, three on the east side and one on the west, housing in total approximately 200 families.

On the east side the blocks are named, from the London Road end, Elm Court, Mainwaring Court and Coningsby Court. The latter two are of the same design, in that they are mostly maisonettes with a downstairs of kitchen and living room with an upstairs of bedrooms and bathroom.

On the west side is Paxton Court which consists of single level flats only. All of these blocks had four or five storeys and so included lifts. The use of sloping tiled roofs served to hide the lift’s engine room from view.

Each flat had use of one shed, for bicycles and prams, which were grouped into rows at the back of the blocks. Paxton Court also had sheds in front of the block. A row of sheds that faced away from the flats were frequently vandalised and broken into, with their contents stolen.

Flats are numbered sequentially, and all except Paxton Court, have their own postcode.

Block Postcode Flat Numbers
Coningsby Court CR4 2JT 1 to 56
Elm Court CR4 2JU 1 to 47
Mainwaring Court CR4 2JW 1 to 56
Paxton Court CR4 2JY 1 to 27
Paxton Court CR4 2JZ 28 to 54

In addition there are eight houses, originally for old people, called Armfield Cottages, near the St Marks Road end. They have a postcode of CR4 2JJ.

A block of flats built around 2015 on the site of garages that were between Armfield Cottages and the playground was named Calico House and given the postcode of CR4 3FB.


The road is probably named from the Armfield family and their connection with the Potter and Moore farm near Figges Marsh. In 1859, Elizabeth, daughter of James Bridger, married John Armfield.

The housing site is also called Elm Nursery Estate, as it was originally a Mizen nursery. This name is preserved in a horse watering trough located in front of Coninsgby Court, at its southern end.

Photo taken 1st November 2017.

This council housing estate was developed in 1951/2. Flats were accessed via stairwells or lifts to communal balconies. In Mainwaring Court for example, the ground, second and fourth floors were in the main part of the block and had 12 flats each. On the ‘wings’ of the block were the ground, first and third floors.

Heating was by coal or coke fires in each flat, and a coal bunker was provided in the kitchen with access from the communal balcony. An example of the costs is shown from this extract from my mother’s diary, shortly after moving in to Mainwaring Court.

2nd January 1953, cost of living in a flat in Mainwaring Court

Rent was £1 13s. 10d, about 40% of the wages of £4 4s. Electricity cost £1 5s. 6d., gas (for cooking) 11s. 10d.

Kitchen sink in flat in Mainwaring Court. The coal bunker was under the draining board on the left. Photo taken c.1972

The blocks of flats on the east side of the road had grass areas at the back for children to play on. These were changed to numbered car parking bays, starting with Elm Court, in September 1974, as noted in my diary.

The bays were numbered sequentially from north, at the rear of Elm Court, to south, at the rear of Coningsby Court. As the numbers didn’t relate to flat numbers, e.g. there was one bay 20 and three flats numbered 20, this did cause some confusion with residents. I used two bays at one point, much to the irritation of my neighbours.

My Hillman Hunter estate in car parking bay 38, and my Singer Sunbeam estate plus Triumph TR62R motorcycle in bay 37. Photo taken in 1979.

Land to the east of between Armfield Crescent was kept for allotments, although later it was planned by Mitcham council to build a bypass road, the ‘Eastern Loop’ to run from the London Road around the centre of Mitcham. This didn’t happen, and in 1979 the land was cleared.

Northern section of allotment land behind Elm and Mainwaring Courts

Allotment land cleared between Mainwaring Court and Feltham Road.

Housing was built on this land from 1979.

View from 4th floor of Mainwaring Court of Feltham Road housing being built on former allotment land.

1979. View of housing being built on former allotment land behind Elm Court.


News Articles

From the Mitcham & Tooting Advertiser

3rd May, 1951

£180,505 borrowed by Mitcham Council over 60 years to build 103 flats and maisonettes on the Elm Nursery estate.

2nd August, 1951

“WHY CALL NEW FLATS MAINWARING COURT?”
Labour councillor Tom RUFF complains that the names chosen for the new blocks on the Elm Nursery estate have no relation to local history. He said that MIZEN would be better for Mainwaring Court and CAREY or CAREW for Coningsby Court. The POLE-CAREW family once owned land in Mitcham and Carew Road was named after them. The new flats were adjoining a road known locally as Carry Close, although it should be called Carey Close. Conservative councillor MINGAY said that the names chosen did have a connection with Mitcham.

See also Armfield Crescent Block Names.

8th September, 1951

“200 FAMILIES IN NEW FLATS
Elm Nursery scheme will be completed next Spring”

About 20 families have moved in so far, into Elm Court first. The first block, Elm Court, has 40 3-bedroom flats and 7 2-bedroom flats. The second block, Mainwaring Court has 56 2-bedroom flats as does the third block Coningsby. The fourth block, Paxton, will probably have a high proportion of 3-bedroom flats.

Mr & Mrs D.M. O’KELLY were among the first tenants in Elm Court. Mr G.C.A. PANNEL, caretaker for the whole estate, also moved in.

The rents for 2-bedroom flats in Elm Court are £1 12s. 6d. and £1 17s. 6d. for the 3-bedroom flats.

The flats include special drying cupboards and electric water-heaters.