Tag Archives: Chapel Road

1944 : Bath Road Condemned but still Inhabited

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th November, 1944


When Will The Huts Come?

The Job is Urgent in Mitcham

Deplorable Conditions

Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, K.C., is Lord Woolton’s Chief of Staff in connection with the repair of bombed houses in the London area. Recently he paid a visit to the Town Hall.

Where he ought to have gone was Bath-road, Mitcham.

A member of our editorial staff – most appropriately, perhaps a young woman member – has been there, and her description of what she saw may be a spur to Sir Malcolm, the Mitcham Council, and all concerned.

When I visited Bath-road I asked the people there if they would prefer to live in the Baths Hall, which the Housing Committee, on the suggestion of the Housing Manager (Miss B. Thrupp) recommended should be turned into a hostel.

Their “No” was unanimous.

They do not want a glorified shelter life.

Many were under the impression that they could not remain there during the day, and said that night shelter alone was no use to them. I understand that the people were to be allowed to remain there if they wished.

Now, owing to lack of support, it seems unlikely that the hall will be opened as a hostel, though at the time of writing the committee’s decision is not public.

What are the conditions in Bath-road?

All the houses there are condemned. And rightly so. For even in its best days Bath-road was never a health resort. Now it is utterly desolate.

Like War Derelict Area.

It is like a deserted battlefield, grey, derelict, and very quiet; an apparently uninhabited place. There was no sign of life as I entered it. Ruined houses, most of them open to wind and rain lay on either side. Here and there attempts had been made to board up doors and windows, but most gaped open to disclose broken walls and piled-up rubble. Yet amid the ruins of these houses I estimate that over sixty men, women and children are living in conditions that can be best described as mediaeval. Often the only way of telling if a house is occupied is by a thin column of smoke that rises from the ruins.

I had thought the place deserted, and then I counted nine columns of smoke.

It came as rather a shock to know that behind these grey, silent walls so many families were living. Few have any lighting apart from lamps and candles.

Drains have been blocked by rubble, so that there is no proper sanitation.

There is not one room in the road that is wind- and water-proof. These conditions have existed since July.

Suddenly, at the far end of the road, a child appeared. She went to the door of a broken house, and as she called a woman appeared and sold her potatoes. It was Mrs Gibbs. She told me she lived there with her daughter. She showed me a room lighted by a fire and a little light from a boarded window. The walls were wet and laths showed in the ceiling.

Children’s Voices

“We sleep in an Anderson, but about 3 a.m. are usually so cold that we get up and come into the house,” she said.

“A lot of people live in the houses opposite,” she told me. I knocked on the loose door of one of them, and as there was no answer, walked into a narrow, damp passage. The stairs were broken, the front room a mass of rubble and broken rafters, but from the back of the house came children’s voices.

There, living in one room, with only the barest furniture, was Mrs Smith and her four children. Last week her husband went overseas. He is very unhappy about his family, especially as his wife is expecting another child in February. At present they sleep in the Tube.

“I want a place near so that my sister can look after me when the baby is born. I cannot go on much longer in these conditions and feel sure that if the Council officials could see what conditions are like here they would do something about it,” she said. She said she was one of the first on the list for huts.

The Universal Question

“When do the huts arrive?” she asked, a question I was asked by every family to whom I spoke. I was unable to give an encouragng reply, for only the day before the Borough Surveyor (Mr Riley Schofield) had said that it was unlikely that any huts would be available in Mitcham before Christmas!

Next door to Mrs Smith live Mrs Clark and her son, the latter home on sick leave from the Merchant Navy. Next to them is her son, Charles Clark. He, with his wife and five children, all sleep in an Anderson and live in a small draughty room. He, too, asked, “When do the huts arrive?” And with reason, for his wife is expecting another child.

Later, as I passed an apparently derelict house, a woman in a red coat appeared from a broken doorway. “Do you want to see us?” she asked, and going in, I found her 72-year old mother, Mrs Rachel Smith, having tea by candlelight. The room was dark, for all the windows were boarded up and furniture salvaged from other rooms was stacked round the walls. The front room was piled with rubble, the stairs were unsafe. The habited room is probably unsafe. “I cannot sleep here, for there is no bed, and so I go down the Tube. We cannot lock the room, and one night things were stoeln. I have lived here all my married life, and my thirteen children were born here,” she said.

Her daughter, Mrs Penfold, is expecting her husband, who is serving overseas, home at Christmas. “I have no home to offer him. What shall I do?” she asked.

Further down the road lives Mr Honey with six others, two of them are sick, in a tiny kitchen. They sleep in Andersons in what used to be their garden.

People living in similar conditions in Chapel-road and Century-road. They know that hundreds are in like plight, though I doubt if any borough can show a worse area than Bath-road. The people there seemed glad that someone, even if only a newspaper reporter, was taking an interest in them, though many of them showed disappointment when they found that it was “only a reporter” and not “someone from the Council.”

Several families said they felt that more would have been done if members of the Council had seen conditions for themselves.

When Mrs Smith learnt that Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve had been down to the Town Hall she said : “I wish he had come down here, then he would have known how badly we need those huts.”

Homewood Terrace

A terrace of 12 houses, with 6 on either side of Homewood House, on the west side of Church Road. Originally numbered from south to north, starting at two houses south of Homewood Road, and continuing north to Chapel Road.

1952 OS map

1952 OS map

The 1925 street directory described this terrace, going south from Chapel Road:

— here is Chapel road

Homewood Terrace:
12, Joseph Payne
11, William Reeves
10, Charles Andrew Grant
9, William Bailey
8, James Gough
7, Charles E. Weight, plumber

John George Bowskill (Cologne cottage)
William Morgan (Homewood house)

Homewood Terrace:
6, Mrs Blackwell
5, Henry Siviour

— here is Homewood road
4, John Tutley
3, Henry George Shead
2, Henry Hunt
1, Richard Harding Kisser

On the 1952 OS map, these houses have been renumbered:

Homewood Terrace Church Road
12 145
11 143
10 141
9 139
8 137
7 135
6 129
5 127
4 125
3 123
2 121
1 119

World War 1 Connections
Private Walter William Tedder

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

1973 Life is hell for the forgotten residents of Chapel Road

The view from the houses in Chapel Road

The view from the houses in Chapel Road

From the Mitcham and Collier’s Wood Gazette, January 1973

Life is hell for the `forgotten’ residents

PEOPLE living under the shadow of redevelopment in Chapel-road, Mitcham, claimed this week that the area was being over-run with rats. And they protested that empty houses in the area were a target for vandals.

“We all had a letter last September telling us that the council were buying the houses under a compulsory purchase order and that we were to be rehoused” said 59-years-old Mrs Beatrice Tee.

“But since then—nothing. Just rumours. We live on rumours while the road and our homes go to rack and ruin.” She said several tenants had moved out leaving a row of empty homes which were making life hell for the people who were left.

“The children play in them and break the windows. In one, they dislodged a pipe and water was pouring out of it for nine weeks.”

Her neighbour Mrs Daisy Reeve, aged 51, has lived in Chapel-road for 31 years. “We wonder whats going to happen to us. The council seem to have forgotten this road—even the dustman neglect us and we are lucky if we get our rubbish collected once a fortnight.” she said.

Pensioner Mrs Annie Blackburn, aged 83, has lived in Chapel-road for 50 years. “We had loads of rats running along the road last week. This street seems to have become a dump for everyone to leave their rubbish.” she said.

Agents for the houses are Fair Bedford of Southall, “we appreciate that the tenants are in a difficult situation and we would like the council to take the houses over as soon as possible. The owner is in the same state of uncertainty as the tenants” said a spokesman.

Chapel-road lies within an area due to be developed by the Greater London Council ex-plained Merton’s Deputy Town Clerk Mr Geoffrey Norris.

“We are acquiring the property on behalf of the GLC and at the moment are waiting for a date for a public inquiry from the Department of the Environment” he said.

“We expect this be to in April and it is likely that a decision will be made in the autumn Redevelopment will then start.”

He said he would look into the complaints.

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

From the phone book



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


1912 to 1914

1915 Heyl phone

1915 and 1916


1919 to 1921







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


– 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.

Chapel Road

Around 1965

Chapel Road possibly 1965

This photo is looking west, from the Church Road end, at numbers 10 on the left, 8, 6 and 4 on the right. As the new Phipps Bridge development of flats can be seen in the background, this photo is assumed to be after 1965. Note the four chimney pots for each house.

World War 1 Connections
Private Leonard Ralph Bradshaw

Private Frederick Albert Simmonds


1950 Chapel Road map evens only

News Articles

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 17 April 1886

Alleged Theft from a Child.—Yesterday (Friday), before Mr. T. R. Edridge, chairman the Croydon County Bench, a girl named Emily Varnum (14), Chapel-road, Mitcham, described as a nurse, was charged with stealing 5d., from small child, whose name did not transpire.

— Mr. Edridge, without formally going into the case, asked the prisoner what she did with the money.

— She said she only had fourpence, with which she bought cakes and sweets, and gave the other twopence away.

— Mr. Edridge, in discharging the prisoner, warned her to be very careful of her future conduct, and ordered her mother to pay Mrs. Mellor, the other child’s grandmother, the money which had been lost.

Gloucester Citizen – Thursday 13 September 1928


Alfred H. Stokes, 29, of Chapel-road, Mitcham, was excavating in High-street, Tooting, on Wednesday, for the Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Epsom District Gas Company, when an escape of gas rendered him unconscious. He was taken to St. James’s Hospital, where oxygen was administered, and after a time he recovered, and was later allowed to go home.

Surrey Mirror – Friday 24 April 1931

While repairing the pavement in Chapel-road, Mitcham, on Saturday three Mitcham Council workmen felt the ground give under their feet. They were just in time to leap to safety as the surface fell into well 8ft deep, containing 2ft. of water. The well is bricked one side and heavily the other, and appears to connect with an underground watercourse extending about 30ft. under the pavement.

Gloucester Citizen – Friday 11 November 1932


A piece paper dropped by a prisoner was mentioned at Croydon when Percy Wallis (41), of Chapel-road, Mitcham, was charged on remand with conspiring with Thomas Robins, Constantine Ferrari, and others to steal money from telephone coin boxes.

Wallis was described at the last hearing as the “telephone coin box king,” and the master mind behind numerous telephone box raids, but he denied it.

Mr. Gordon Fraser, for the Post Office, said that the losses from telephone coin-boxes were very large indeed. In April two men were convicted at the Old Bailey. While one was on remand he dropped a paper, picked it up quickly, and tried to destroy it. That paper gave Wallis’s telephone number and address. After that observation was kept almost continuously on him.

Wallis was remanded and bail refused.

Source the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required).

1973 : Life is hell for the forgotten residents

Road stopping up order in the London Gazette Publication date:12 May 1988 Issue:51331 Page:5634

Occupants in the 1911 street directory

27,Mrs Bartripp shopkeeper

1915 Electoral Register
Odd numbers, south side

Skinner, William 5
Ward, Thomas Edward 7
Simmons, Frederick Albert 9
West, George 11
Pinegar, Robert 13
Clark, Thomas 17
Lambert, Charles 19
Homewood, William 21
Elliott, George Henry 23
Franklin, William 25
Howe, John 27
Pearce, Arthur 29
Ferrier, Thomas Arthur 33
Stagg, William 35
Salter, Henry 37

Even numbers, north side

Whale, Charles Frederick 4
Forgham, James 6
Hawkins, Thomas 8
Skilling, John 10
Arnold, Thomas John 12
Jardine, Thomas 14
Winter, James 16
Marshall, Robert 18
Thompson, Thomas 22
Thurtle, Arthur 24
Halestrap, Henry William 26
Davis, John 28
Bradshaw, Henry 30
Stock, John William 32

1933 Electoral Register
Odd numbers, south side

Priscilla SKINNER 5
Alfred MAY 5
Christion MAY 5
Mary WARD 7
Thomas Edward WARD 7
John Henry WARD 7
Alice Maud WHITE 9
Moses Frank WHITE 9
Alice Maude NYE 9
Emily May SIMMONDS 9
Alice WEST 11
George WEST 11
Marjorie Alice WEST 11
Annie PENEGAR 13
George Robert PENEGAR 13
William Robert PENEGAR 13
Emily FROST 15
William Jeremiah Thomas FROST 15
Douglas CLEMENTS 15
Amy Isobel CLEMENTS 15
Eliza CLARK 17
Edmund HOMEWOOD 17
Violet HOMEWOOD 17
William WARREN 19
Florence WARREN 19
William MORLEY 21
Mabel MORLEY 21
George ELLIOTT 23
Rose Mary ELLIOTT 23
Joseph Richard ELLIOTT 23
Mary Ann COLLISON 25
Annie HOWE 27
John HOWE 27
William HOWE 27
Florence HOWE 27
Minnie PEARCE 29
Alfred Hanson REEVES 31
Robert Thomas ALEXANDER 31
Grace Winifred ALEXANDER 31
Arthur Edward CHAPMAN 35
Lucy Alexandra CHAPMAN 35
Henry SALTER 37
Maud Louisa SALTER 37
Albert William SALTER 37

Even numbers, north side

Leonard SIMS 2
Charles Frederick WHALE 4
Minnie WHALE 4
Edna WHALE 4
Ethel Evelyn FORGHAM 6
James Harold FORGHAM 6
Albert James LIDDLE 8
Nellie LIDDLE 8
Elsie WALLIS 10
Reginald PUTTEE 10
Maud PUTTEE 10
Amelia Maria ARNOLD 12
Thomas John ARNOLD 12
William James NORMAN 12
Thomas JARDINE 14
Rhoda JARDINE 14
Cecil Frank CRITTENDEN 16
Edith Maud CRITTENDEN 16
Charles BLACKBURN 16
Margaret MARSHALL 18
Robert MARSHALL 18
Edward SMITH 18
Doris May SMITH 18
Frank WALLACE 20
Gertrude WALLACE 20
Harry TANNER 20
Rebecca TANNER 20
Lizzie Bullock THOMPSON 22
William THOMPSON 22
Olive Eunice THOMPSON 22
Arthur THURTLE 24
Grace Lilian THURTLE 24
Henry William HALESTRAP 26
Cissie PRIOR 26
Alice Elizabeth DAVIS 28
John DAVIS 28
John James DAVIS 28
Emily Jane JOHNSON 32
William Henry JOHNSON 32
Amy Emily JOHNSON 32

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