Tag Archives: Church Path

ICL 2904 computer at Downs Surgical

An ICL 2904 mini-mainframe was installed at Downs Surgical Ltd., Church Path, around 1978.

The company had previously used two Honeywell computers: a 716 and a 2020. Both were batch processing machines, with no interactive terminals. The ICL 2904 came with direct data entry terminals for fast entry of orders, and also Multi-Access terminals, for which an online Sales Order Processing system was written in COBOL. The ICL 2904 operating system including a terminal message routing system and a ‘riro’ file for ‘rolling-in and ‘rolling-out’ large Transaction Processing programs.

The main computer room. The three units on the left were EDS60 disc drives. A disc pack holding 60 megacharacters could be mounted on the drive. On top of the drive are the empty disc pack cases. At the far wall are two magnetic tape decks. Spools of tape were mounted on these decks for backup purposes.

The ICL 2904 computer was based on the ICL 1900 series of computers and used a six-bit character instead of the 8-bit byte used today. This meant that the character set did not have lower case letters. The EDS60 drive, ‘Exchangeable Disc System 60’, would hold up to 60 million of these six-bit characters. One of the drives had to be online when the computer was started as it contain the ‘boot’ system. The other two drives could be used for other programs. Typically during the day they would hold the indexed sequential orders file that was updated from the terminals using the Sales Order Processing system. In the evening other disc were put online to perform batch processing. Backups were taken to magnetic tapes.

The ICL 2904 computer as seen from the other side of the machine room. The operator sat at a video terminal or console in the centre. On his left was a teletype printer that printed a hardcopy of the displays on the console; also a slow card reader for input of batch processing jobs. In addition there was a FEDS 5 disc drive that had a fixed 5 megachacter disc, with an exchangeable 5 megacharacter disc on top. To the right of the operator’s console was the main system printer.

The operating system used disc based spooling of output from batch programs. This meant that as batch jobs finished their output was written to file for printing later. The operator controlled what printouts were then spooled from disc to the printer, as he might also have to change the stationery, e.g. invoices etc. In the event of a failure with the printer this spool file could be taken off site to another ICL 2904 customer to use their printer. Heron Suzuki in Beddington Lane was frequently used for this purpose.

Advert in Computer Weekly on 25th January 1979 for more computer staff to work with the ICL 2904.

An operator was recruited with ICL 1900 series experience to work on the 2904, and was paid £3,600 per year.

Operator job offer dated 8th Feb 1978

120 to 154 Morden Road

120 to 154 Morden Road, Mitcham CR4 4DB, is a terrace of shops with flats above. It is on the north side of Morden Road, at the right hand side of the entrance to Deer Park Gardens. To its right is Ravensbury Path, which crosses the tram line and connects to Church Path.

Photo taken December 2017.

The tower is on the west end of the block. It houses the stairwell leading to the first and second floors. Photo taken December 2017.

Locally listed June 1994, Merton council says:

This is a terrace of inter war shops with flats over, which is built of brick. It is a three storey building, in which the top floor is contained within a mansard roof. The main frontage contains little of particular interest except for the glazed green tiles on the steeper of the slopes of the mansard roof. The end of the terrace has an unusual round tower feature surmounted by a pyramidal roof with the same green tiles. The brickwork on this tower also contains small details of interest. The chimneys at each end of the building are also of some interest, as they follow a curved line at first floor level. It should also be noted that almost all of the original details relating to the shopfronts has now been lost, and that original windows have almost all been replaced. The end elevation which is of greatest interest is disfigured by a large advertising hoarding.

Some of the original wall design is now visible due to changes in signs above the shops.

Photo taken December 2017.

1952 OS map

Stanmore Motors was at number 120. It is listed in the 1954 and 1971 telephone directories as MITcham 2796, and 01-648 2796.

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

Church Path

Road to south of Church Road, opposite parish church. On the west corner is a disused building called La Sport Community Centre. It was originally built around 1937 as the Church Road Welfare Centre.


1953 OS map

On the west side of the road, leading south from Church Road are two terraces of houses : John’s Place and Maple Terrace.

At the southern end of the road there is a footpath, of the same name, that heads south east towards London Road, where it is a road again, with houses on its north side.

1953 OS map

1953 OS map

W.A. Mitchell & Smith, Ltd.

Maple Terrace
Church Path

Synthetic Resin

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

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, March 27th 1936:

Fire at Messrs Mitchell & Smith, resin manufacturers at the ‘Ravenspring Works’, Western Road.

R.F. White & Co., Ltd.

Toilet, shaving and medicated soaps.
Grove Mills, London Road, Mitcham, Surrey. Telephone: Mitcham 4035 and 3156.
Vacated Grove Mills in 1979 when the company relocated to Peterborough. Source: Wandle Conservation Area assessment (pdf).

Listed in the 1963 List of Factories.

1947 ad

1947 ad

Text of ad:

Silversilk (regd.)
Toilet Soap De Luxe ..

Retail Price (Inclusive of Purchase tax)

Per 5d. Tablet
Three ounces when manufactured.

Made at Mitcham

R. F. White & Co.

News Articles

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th January 1933

The Man and the Suitcase

A story of smart capture by the police in the early hours of the morning was told to the Croydon County magistrates on Friday, when Thomas Walter Miller (40), Pevensey Road, Tooting, described as a blacksmith, was charged with breaking into the office at the Grove Mills, London Road, Mitcham, on the night of December 29-30, and stealing two suit cases and various travellers’ samples, soaps, scent, etc., the property of R. F. White and Co., Grove Mills, London Road, Mitcham.

Inspector Shurey said that at 2.30 a.m. that morning, in company with P.C.s Ives and Col, he was patrolling in a police motor-car. While going down Church Road, Mitcham, P.C. Ives, who was in the back seat, drew witness’s attention to a man coming along Church Path carrying a suitcase. Witness drove the car to the first turning and then reversed. They searched along Church Path and in the vicinity, but failed to find the man.

“Found the case”

The car then went down Western Road, proceeded witness, and at the junction of Western Road and Phipps Bridge Road met the constable on the beat. In consequence of what the constable said, witness kept observation, and at 6.45 a.m. the defendant went into a coffee stall at the junction of Christ Church Road and Phipps Lane Road. He obtained a suit-case, and then started to walk towards Colliers Wood. Witness told him they were police officers, and asked him what he had got in the case. Defendant said that he had found it in Western Road. Witness looked in the case and found it contained soaps, scent, etc., and told defendant he was not satisfied with his explanation. He would be arrested on a charge of unlawful possession. Defendant made no reply.

The defendant was conveyed in the car to Mitcham police station, and on arrival the police had just had information that Messrs. White’s offices, soap manufacturers, of London Road, had been broken into. Defendant, when charged, made no reply.

On application of the police, Miller was remanded for a week, bail being refused.

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th January 1933


Thomas Waller Miller, described as a blacksmith, of Pevensey-road, Tooting, was on Friday committed by the Croydon County magistrates to tho London Sessions for trial on a charge of breaking and entering the office of the Grove Mills, London-road, Mitcham, and stealing suitcases containing travellers samples of soap, scent, etc., value £5, the property of R. F. White and Co.

Defendant appeared on remand, and at the previous hearing Inspector Shurey gave evidence as to patrolling Church-road, Mitcham, in a police motor-car, when a constable in the car drew his attention to a man coming down Church Path with a suitcase. Later, when spoken to, defendant said he found the case in Western-road.

Mr. Harry Leonard GAUNTLETT, The Park, Mitcham, managing director of R. F, White, said that the premises were left secure on the night of December 29. The following morning the office was in disorder. A back window on the river side of the premises had been forced by some instrument. Drawers had been turned out, and letters thrown all over the place. A number of unemployment insurance books with all the stamps on were missing.

Defendant said he absolutely denied breaking into the place, and said he found the case in Western-road. He made an application for bail but the police opposed, and it was refused.

1954 Seven tons of tanning fluid lost after valve theft

Seven tons of fluid escaped

Seven tons of tanning fluid, worth £175, escaped and were lost when a valve was ripped from a tank in the yard of a factory in Church Path, Mitcham. It was stated at Mitcham Magistrates’ Court on Monday, when XXXXX, 17, street trader, of
Phipps Bridge Road, admitted stealing the valve. He was said to have told the police that he had sold it for £1 8s.

XXXXX admitted entering the yard at the factory of Messrs. Mitchell and Smith. Ltd., on four occasions in order to steal valves and other metal.

On the fourth occasion he was caught by a police officer who was lying in wait. He pleaded guilty to two charges of stealing metal, and asked for two others to be taken into consideration. XXXXX was remanded in custody until Monday so that his parents could be present.

Mitcham News & Mercury, 8th July, 1954, page 1