Tag Archives: Commonside East

1973 : Park Place Saved – Brenley Doomed

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 14th December 1973, page 1.

Park Place Saved – Brenley Doomed

Storm over the ‘Stately homes’

TWO of Mitcham’s “stately homes” have become the centre of the preservation storm. One has just been temporarily reprieved but the other is doomed for demolition.

Saved – for a while at least – is Park Place, once a highly desirable mansion set in parkland off Commonside-west. The council are reconsidering their earlier decision that it is not worth preserving.

Doomed is Brenley, a Victorian villa, off Commonside-east, at present used as a children’s home.

The Social Services Committee are to bulldoze ahead with their plans to pull it down, despite strong Tory claims led by councillor Mrs Iris Derriman, that this is expensive and needless destruction.

Councillor Peter Casey led the so far successful battle to save Park Place.

“I know the building is not of considerable architectural merit but it is on the supplementary list of these buildings and is in a conservation area.”

Although the majority of objections to its preservation had been on the grounds of costs and that it was not worth saving, he felt it had a certain character and could possibly serve the borough as offices.

“I know that the Greater London Council feel that it should be preserved,” he said.

Councillor Alan Jones angrily pointed out that if the GLC felt that strongly about the building then “they should dig their hands in their pockets and pay for it.”

WASTE

“It was strongly felt by the committee concerned that on all grounds it was not worthy of retention. There is no useful purpose in retaining it. It will be a sheer waste of time.”

The Education Committee who are currently using Park Place as a storage centre for equipment, agreed to reconsider their decision.

But Brenley, a smaller house had its death sentence confirmed by Social Service Chairman Miss Sheila Knight, who swept aside Tory pleas that so much money had been spent on its interior, including central heating that, as Councillor Mrs Derriman claimed, “you are pulling down a perfectly good building.”

“I agree we have spent a lot of money on Brenley but this is the trouble – we could go on spending money in attempts to get it up to the standard it should be for modern child care thinking.

“I think it is time to take a more realistic look at the situation – the present house parents who have given long and devoted service are nearing a well earned retirement and then we are going to have difficulty in attracting the kind of young married couple we need to run this children’s home.”

For despite the council’s efforts to modernize the interior it was still not up to a standard which would give the couple privacy when they were off duty.

A modern building would answer the needs both of the children in care and the family needs of those who looked after them.

Councillor Mrs Iris derriman remembered the recent demolition of The Croft, another old Mitcham villa used by the council as a nurses’ home until it was pulled down earlier this year.

“Now we are talking about removing another perfectly good building. What on earth are we doing? Brenley is a very pleasant building,” she said.

Tamworth Villas

A terrace of 12 houses, built in 1907, on Commonside East, numbered 299 to 321. This part of the road is set back from the main road at its western end, and runs to Manor Road at its eastern end.

Tamworth Villas from the air

The facades of these houses have, near the roof, three small square bricks with the patterns English rose, circles, English rose. In addition there are two different friezes above and centred between each house. One of the friezes is of a man, possibly Bacchus as there is a keystone brick above the head with a bunch of grapes; the other is a woman, above whose head is a keystone of a flower.

The front door of each house is next to its neighbour, so that the first house, number 299, has its door on the right, and next to it, number 301 has its door on the left. Above each pair of doors is a frieze with the woman’s face.

Between each house there is the frieze of the man’s face.

However, when looking at the first house, number 299, the frieze with the man’s face is on the left, and a grapes keystone is left of the frieze near the edge of the wall (this bunch of grapes differs from the others in that it is angled to the right). At the other end of the terrace, at number 321, there is no extra frieze, and the keystone near the right hand edge is of a sunflower. Is no. 299 wider than no. 321?

There is an alleyway in the middle of the terrace, between numbers 309 and 311, which gives access to the back gardens. The alleyway has an arch which is formed of eleven segmental bricks, five on either side of the keystone brick. A pattern is repeated on each side consisting of two segments with a sunflower, one with grapes and two sunflowers again. The grapes and sunflower are repeated with the friezes, as described above. The keystone of the arch has a three petal flower.

Photo taken 3rd July 2020

Above the arch is a datestone showing the year 1907.

Photo taken 3rd July 2020

Above the datestone is a frieze of a sculpted face, and above that is another of the brick segment of grapes that is used in the arch.

Photo taken 3rd July 2020

This frieze, and the grapes segment above it, is repeated between alternate houses on either side of the alleyway. Between the other houses is a frieze with the sculpted face of a woman, and above that is a smaller face.

OS Maps

1910 OS map showing the terrace to the south east of Tamworth Lodge.

1910 OS map

The terrace was originally numbered sequentially, from 1 at the western end to 12 at the eastern end. The road was possibly renumbered after 1925, and the equivalent numbers are shown below.

Original Number Current Number
1 299
2 301
3 303
4 305
5 307
6 309
7 311
8 313
9 315
10 317
11 319
12 321

Occupants from Street Directories
1911-1912

1, Stanley REDPATH
2, Percy H. BUSS
4, Edward GREEN
6, James HIX
7, Arthur Ralph DAUNTON
8, William BILLINGTON
10, Edgar Arthur LETKEY

1925

1, William Alfred ROBERTS
2, Josiah WRIGHT
3, Robert Joseph EDWARDS
4, Charles Henry Joseph SAUL
5, Harry WOOD
6, Mrs NORTH
7, A. Ralph DAUNTON
8, William BILLINGTON
9, Charles H. PRIDIE
10, David A. SMITH
11, Ernest Joseph Alfred SHACKLE
12, William STILES


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