Tag Archives: 1969

Charles Catt and Son Furniture in Western Australia

From the Mitcham and Colliers Wood Gazette, 12th September, 1969, page 5.

Mitcham Family Who Went To Western Australia

Now Among Leading Furniture Manufacturers

A former Mitcham cabinet maker, who migrated to Western Australia in 1961 from Riverside Drive, Mitcham, now owns one of the leading quality furniture manufacturing businesses in the State capital, Perth.

Mr. Charles Catt, 59, his wife Grace and their son Roy, run the firm Charles Catt and Son, whose reputation for making quality furniture has been founded on the West Australian hardwood, jarrah – once thought only suitable for railway sleepers or timber construction work. However they have made it fashionable to have jarrah wood furniture in the home and now export it to other parts of Australia.

Mr. Charles Catt left his son behind in London when he went to Australia, so that he could complete his diploma course at the London Furniture College. When Roy arrived a few months later he started work for a large manufacturer, but became frustrated at the lack of opportunity to do design work. So at a family conference it was decided they
would set up in business for themselves.


Mr. Catt said, “Our first factory was a converted shop with about 800 square feet to work in. Our first job was to build cupboards and built-in wardrobes, and although we lost money on that job we established a reputation for quality which we have retained ever since.”

From that small start they were able to begin manufacturing Roy’s designs. He said, “We were fortunate that when we began there was a general demand for better furniture. We joined the Guild which is dedicated to raising standards and improving design.

“At the first show we were awarded first prize, and it was rather
embarrassing as we only had the small workshop and could hardly cope with the subsequent orders.”

Since then the family has had two other factories including the present one, which occupies 5,100 square feet at Willeton, an outer Perth suburb. It has showrooms,
offices, a well-ventilated workshop area and an amenities room for the staff.

As a cabinet maker, Charles converts Roy’s designs from the drawing board and makes them into working drawings for the men in the factory. Grace does the office work and the administration, a side of the business she enjoys.

Roy lives at Swanview Terrace, South Perth, which is just around the corner from his mother and father who live at Stanley Flats, Mill Pount Road, South Perth.

The whole family like Australia, and the three children – Roy, Gillian and Graham – are all married to Australians.

See also biography of Charles Catt at Design and Art Online website. According to the Western Australia Museum Welcome Wall website, Charles died in 1979 and Grace in 2002.

Rev G.S. Lubbock

Vicar of Mitcham, 1941 to 1952. Well known for his restoration of the Parish Church after the second world war, according to this article of his death in 1969:

Former vicar killed in crash

A former Vicar of Mitcham, the Rev. George Sutton Lubbock (aged 74), was killed last week when the car he was a passenger in, was in collision with a lorry at Chaumont, just outside Paris.

Father Lubbock, a bachelor, became Vicar of Mitcham Parish Church in September, 1941, until 1952, when he left to become Vicar of St Mary’s, in Sanderstead. He retired in 1963 to live at Blackheath, where he was the honorary assistant Vicar of All Saints’ Church.

The driver of the car, Miss Elizabeth Jenkins, a neighbour of Mr Lubbock, was also killed in the crash. Aged 58, Miss Jenkins, the daughter of a clergyman, was an old family friend of Mr Lubbock, and used to live at St. Mary’s, a house at the Cricket Green, Mitcham.

On Sunday, the present Vicar of Mitcham, the Rev John Thorold, paid tribute to Father Lubbock, and on Monday morning, a requiem mass was held at the church, which was very well attended.

“During his incumbency at Mitcham, he was noted for his restoration of the Mitcham Parish Church after the war,” the Rev John Thorold said.

“There was considerable damage to the building, although not directly hit, and he organised the restoration, under the supervision of Mr S.E. Dykes Bower, from Westminster Abbey.

“He will always be well known for this, and he was a man of cultivated tastes and interests,” added Mr Thorold.

The funeral took place on Wednesday in Norfolk.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th June 1969, page 1.

Universal Tractors Ltd.


Universal Tractors Ltd., of Mitcham, are to market the Rumanian Universal UTB line of tractors in the UK. Although Universal manufacture a line of five tractors from 45 to 73 hp, to start with only the U651, the 73 hp SAE four-wheel drive model, is being offered in this country at a price of £1,320. At a price claimed to be £700 cheaper than its nearest competitor on the market, Universal say that it offers remarkable value to the British farmer looking for a larger tractor.

Full details from Universal Tractors Ltd., 323 London Road, Mitcham, Surrey.

Source: Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News – Saturday 01 November 1969 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Mitcham (Cricket Green) Conservation Area

From the minutes of the
Town Planning and Development Committee
26th June 1969

428. Civic Amenities Act 1967

— Mitcham (The Cricket Green) Conservation Area — (Minute No. 2086/2/69)

— The Borough Surveyor explained that, following consultations in accordance with section 1(3) of the Civic Amenities Act, 1967, the Greater London Council had suggested that the proposed “Mitcham (The Cricket Green) Conservation Area” should be extended to include “Three Kings Piece” and properties fronting on to it in Commonside East and Commonside West together with “East Lodge” which was a small house at the northern end of Mitcham Park.

He reported that he was in agreement with the suggestion; submitted a revised plan No. DP/363/69 showing the area extended as suggested; and stated that, if the extension were agreed, further consultations with the Greater London Council would be unnecessary.

Recommended — That the Cricket Green Area of Mitcham as shown On plan No. DP/363/69 be designated as a Conservation Area and the necessary notices be given in accordance with section 1(4) of the Civic Amenities Act, 1967.

Source: Minutes of Proceedings of the Council and committees, London Borough of Merton, Volume 6 1969-70, page 303

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.

Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Ltd

“Zalmo” Pickle Works
22 Lewis Road

1937 ad

1937 ad

In 2013, a long lost recipe for piccalilli was discovered.

Its closure in March 1969 was reported in the local newspaper, which referred to it as having been started 44 years previously, i.e. 1925.

Another small firm closes

Rising rates, inability to compete with giant supermarket and manufacturing concerns and wholesale business methods have driven another small firm to the wall.

A 44-year-old Mitcham factory, Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Ltd., Lewis Road, have closed down and the owners have put the property up for sale.

A director, Mr Cyril Robertson, said this week:

“Most of my customers were small grocers – and with the advent of the supermarket they have been forced out of business. So I go down the drain too.

“Rates have risen over the past 12 years, from £56 a year to over £700.

“I can no longer get bottles for my produce – all the glass manufacturing is in the hands of four large concerns and they are only interested in mass production.”

Staff have reduced over the years, and when Robertson’s finally closed its doors in March only nine were declared redundant.

From a lifetime of working for himself in a £50,000 a year business Mr Robertson is now looking for a job.

“I’m too young to retire,” he said. “I’m only 62.”

People from the south coast and up as far as Reading will remember Robertson’s pickles, he added.

“They were the finest in the country – but then I suppose eating habits have changed too. People go out and eat more often – or just buy fish fingers to cook at home.”

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th June, 1969, page 1.

This 1952 OS map shows the pickle factory.

This aerial photo shows the factory in relation to nearby factories and houses.



After closure, a planning application was filed to use the site for the production of plastics. This gives the size of the single-storey works at 7,000 square feet.

From the minutes of the
Town Planning and Development Committee
31st July 1969

497. LEWIS ROAD, MITCHAM — MER. 595/69 — Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Limited — (Section 43 Determination)

— The Borough Surveyor submitted an application for a determination under Section 43 of the Town Country Planning Act, 1962, as to whether the proposed use of Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works for the moulding of reinforced plastics involving the use of polyester resins and fibreglass would constitute or involve development requiring planning permission. He explained that the premises (of single-storey construction comprising approximately 7,000 square feet floor area) were situated at the rear of Nos. 12-20, Lewis Road, fronting an access road leading to the Lewis Road recreation ground; stated that they had been used for a considerable number of years for the pickling of vegetables and the making of sauces; and reported that, since the proposed use and the last use both fell within Class IV of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order, 1963, it was clear that express planning permission would not be required.

Resolved — That the Council determine and the applicant be informed that the use, as described, would not constitute or involve development requiring planning permission.

Source: Minutes of Proceedings of the Council and committees, London Borough of Merton, Volume 6 1969-70, page 355

1944 film footage by Bruce Robertson of V1 bomb damage in nearby Glebe Avenue.

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.

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

Hygienic Wireworks

Listed in the 1973 Borough of Mitcham List of Factories at

79 Miles Road

Sheet Metal and Wire Work

From Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History:

Sheet metal and wire workers of Mitcham.
1850 Company founded.
1925 Private company.
1961 Sheet metal and wire workers, producing Genykage cages, Blend occasional furniture, Genyk hardware products, fireguards, plastic coated wire work, bathroom cabinets, meat safes, saucepan stands. 250 employees.

Company bought by Spillers in around 1969.

Then bought by Chapman Seating, according to their website:

Chapman Seating purchased Genyk Products Limited and their factory at Mitcham in South London from the Spillers Group and all the pet type products including bird and hamster cages ceased production as they were no longer economical or viable in a diminishing pet market. Chapman Seating moved to this factory and traded under the Genyk Products name for a while, but the trading name reverted to the well known and respected Chapman Seating again after two years.

1947 Miles Road

From Britain From Above

These photos have been kindly provided by a user from the Facebook Mitcham History Group:



1969 Bill receives his long term service award

1969 Bill Stephens receives his long term service award

1969 Bill receives a watch for 55 years with the company

1969 George Stephens receives a watch for 55 years with the company

Bill Stephens (1900-1987) joined the company in 1914 at the age of 14, when the company started in Peckham, and he and his family moved to Mitcham when the factory was established there. He completed 55 years’ service in 1969.

His two brothers, George (1903-1970) and Charles (1902-1984), also worked for the company, and both lost their sight because of that work. One of the brothers worked with chromium plating and acid splashed into his face, damaging his eyes. He lived a 5 minute walk from the factory, and was able to continue working there.

Another fellow on the Facebook Mitcham History Group said

I worked there around 1965, brazing fire guards……abysmal. There were two of us, one loaded while the other brazed them together, it was a bonus system so no let up for the 8 hrs you were there, couldn’t let your partner down. I remember spot welding machines that spat out white hot steel that sometimes went into your shoe – ouch !!!







1965 ad from Norwood News

£1.60 per hour plus overtime.
We produce Presswork and Wirework, and require toolmakers to manufacture and maintain our presstools and welding fixtures. Apply to:

Derek Bennett,
Genyk Products Ltd
Miles Road, Mitcham, Surrey
Telephone : 648 7071

19770211 wireworks job ad

11th Feb 1977

Articles from the British Newspaper Archives

25th January 1946



FEE 10/- inclusive of sleeping accommodation (if required) and meals.


“ Practical Aspects Industrial Nursing.”

Miss M. M. Durrant, Sister-in-Charge, The Hygienic Wire Works Ltd., Mitcham.

Source: Nottingham Evening Post – Friday 25 January 1946 from the British Newspaper Archive