Tag Archives: 1979

Cumberland House

Cumberland Hospital was paid for by Isaac Wilson, and built on land he owned, at the rear of his house The Birches. Its entrance was at the end of Whitford Gardens at Cold Blows.

Opened in 1939, it was demolished in 1992. Its perimeter wall along Cold Blows remains.

1953 OS map

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 21st July, 1939, page 1.

LEFT THE GOLD KEY AT HOME

But Sir Isaac’s Splendid Gift is Duly Inaugurated

CUMBERLAND HOUSE OPENED

An amusing hitch occurred at the formal opening of Cumberland House, Mitcham, on Friday afternoon. Sir Isaac Wilson, as the munificent donor of the place, was about to present the key to Sir Richard Meller, M.P., with which to unlock the door, when he discovered that he had left it at home.

A messenger was dispatched post-haste, and in ten minutes’ time he arrived with the gold key.

The ceremony then proceeded smoothly. It was a semi-private affair, arranged by the Surrey County Council officials. Among the guests present were Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson, Sir Richard and Lady Meller, the Mayor and Mayoress of Mitcham (Ald. and Mrs. Field), Mr. R. M. Chart, the 89-years-old Charter Mayor of Mitcham, Mr. Stephen Chart, the vicar of Mitcham (the Rev. C. A. Finch) and Mrs. Finch, Col. W. F. Johnson, Mr. Christopher Chart, Dr and Mrs. A. T. Till, Ald. E. H. Rickards (Croydon), County Councillor Mrs. C. Randall, Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Alderman, Mr. H. H. Dance, staff, officials, and inmates of the House.

COSTS £60,000.

The building was erected at the cost approximately of £60,000 by Sir Isaac Wilson, on land belonging to him, and adjoining his own residence at The Birches, almost overlooking the famous Mitcham Cricket Green. The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1937, by Sir Kingsley Wood, then Minister of Health. The place was originally to be used as a home for poor disabled persons, and it was vested in trustees for that purpose. Subsequently, however Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson, with the approval of their co-trustees, offered the building as a gift to the Surrey County Council for use as a convalescent home in connection with the Council’s hospitals. The munificent and public-spirited offer was gratefully accepted in May, 1938. Under the scheme, Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson are life members of the committee of management, with seven other members appointed by the County authority. The hospital has been furnished and equipped by the Council, who have also appointed the necessary staff. The first patient was admitted on March 29 last. The hospital has accommodation for 110 patients and 24 staff. The patients are mainly transferred from hospitals as requiring from two to eight weeks’ further treatment in order to firmly reestablish their health.

UP-TO-DATE.

On the ground floor there are the administrative offices, kitchens, a dispensary, and two units. The first floor comprises two ward units, an electrical treatment room, the doctor’s flat, and dining-rooms for the nursing and domestic staff. The second floor contains bed- and other rooms for the matron, assistant matron, and 22 members of the nursing and domestic staffs, including two staff common rooms. The lay-out of the Home is magnificent, with sunshine balconies, and spacious grounds for recreation.

Sir Isaac paid tribute to the architects, Messrs. Chart, Son and Reading; the builder, Mr. C. Higginson; his confidential friends, Mr. R. M. Chart, and his son, Mr. Stephen Chart (Town Clerk of Mitcham), Sir Richard Meller, and the Rev. C. A. Finch, chaplain of the home. He declared that every one of these gentlemen had helped him by good advice during the building of the Home. He went on to say that the Surrey County Councii were now trying to do the very best they could with the building, and “I shall be fully recompensed to know that the institution will be carried an efficiently in the future for the benefit and use of convalescent cases,” he added.

DEPUTISING FOR MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Sir Richard Meller humorously suggested that a record of the ceremony should be “the safe arrival of the key.” He greatly appreciated the honour and privilege conferred upon him, he said. He was really deputising for the Minister of Health, who was unable to attend. “This is a succession of noble acts of benefaction by Sir Isaac Wilson,” commented Sir Richard. The building of Wilson Hospital, and the Garden Village, are other worthy examples of his generosity. There is nothing which adds to human happiness so much as the enjoyment of good health, and Sir Isaac and Lady Wislon have been so charity-minded as to build these institutions to try to confer the greatest blessing on mankind by providing them with means of achieveing the greatest human happiness.”

In handing over the Home to County authority, Sir Richard thought the donors had paid tribute to the efficient administration of that body. It came at an opportune moment for the County Council in providing them with the necessary accommodation to relieve their present hospitals, and particularly as an outlet for the large institution being built on St Helier Estate. Sir Richard gave the assurance that the intentions of the trustees would be carried out as far as possible.

“The opening of this home, concluded Sir Richard, “confers a very valuable asset upon the County, and it should be duly recorded among the great historic events of Mitcham.”

“By taking over this building, the County Authority have enabled Sir Isaac to confirm two benefits on community, provision of an institution for the sick, relief for the ratepayers. It is a second example of the dual benefit that Sir Isaac has conferred upon the ratepaying community through Wilson hospital and now Cumberland Home. “Where I am ye shall dwell,” seems to have animated the donor, for he has built both institutions close to his own private residence, equivalent to saying what is good enough for me I hope is good enough for you. In your name as residents of Mitcham, and on behalf of the County of Surrey, I express to Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson our whole-hearted gratitude for their generosity and kindness. Before their eyes they will have the satisfaction and knowledge that those who came here sick went away rejoicing in good health.” (Cheers).

The company then proceeded to the main entrance of the budiling, and Sir Richard unlocked the door with a gold key, declaring the Home open for the succour of mankind.”

Photos on Merton Memories:
Laying of the Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone
1958 : Chest hospital building


The hospital, originally under the Surrey County Council, became part of the NHS in 1947. This ad for nurses in 1949 shows it was part of the St Helier hospital group:

16th July 1949

In 1979, the Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth Area Health Authority announced it was to close. The buildings were demolished in 1992. Redevelopment of the site by the health authority has included day care centres, and is the site of the Merton Dementia Hub.

For more information about the hospital, see the website Lost Hospitals of London.


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

Bryans Ltd.

Aviation equipment factory from possibly 1945 as Bryans Aeroquipment Ltd. Changed its name to Bryans Ltd and later Bryans Southern Instruments.

Willow Lane, Mitcham

Timeline of events

1947 Fire at a rubber dump near the factory.

1955 Board Appointments

1957 Expansion

Name changed from Bryans Aeroquipment Ltd to Bryans Ltd. in 1963 accoridng to Flight International 29th August 1963.

1965 Luftwaffe contract

From Flight International, 13th January, 1966, page 72

Mr. J.R. Bryans is relinquishing his post as chairman and managing director of Bryans Ltd, of Mitcham, Surrey, and becomes a director of Seltronic Group Ltd. Mr Bowman Scott, managing director of Seltronic, has been appointed chairman of Bryans and Mr. David Ince managing director.

From Flight International, 4th June, 1970

Test equipment Merger

Bryans Ltd of Mitcham, Surrey, has sold its interest in aviation test equipment to Negretti and Zambra Ltd and will concentrate henceforth on the market for scientific instruments.

The Bryans product range will now be handled by Negretti & Zambra (Aviation) Ltd. which has a wide range of interests in the aviation field. The existing worldwide agency network established by Bryans will remain unchanged, but within the United Kingdom all enquiries should be addressed to the Bryans Aeroquipment Division of Negretti & Zambra (Aviation) Ltd, 73/77 Lansdowne Rood, Croydon CR9 2HP.

The 1973 Computer Users Yearbook said that the computer department had 5 staff, the D.P. manager was Miss S.M. Harrington. An NCR 500 C computer was used.

From Flight international, 5th October, 1979, page 1137

New formation team

The aerospace interests of Negretti & Zambra (73-77 Lansdowne Road, Croydon, Surrey; telephone 01-688 3426) have been brought together into a single entity. N & Z (Aviation) has absorbed the aviation activities of the Aero Engine Instrument Division and of the Bryans Aeroequipment part of associated company Visual Engineers. Design and manufacturing facilities operate at Aylesbury, Croydon and Southampton Airport.

1989 photo on Merton Memories showing a ‘TO LET’ sign.


Equipment ads

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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.