Overheard on an S1 bus recently, as it passed the Wilson Hospital:
“Which Wilson was that then?”
Named after Isaac Wilson, the Wilson Cottage Hospital in Cranmer Road, was opened in 1928. He paid £60,000 for the land and its construction. In 1933, he donated a further £10,000 for an extension to the hospital.
The Cumberland Hospital, built in the grounds of his house Birches, was named after his home county.
Eric Montague, in his Mitcham Histories book “The Cricket Green”, tells us that Isaac Wilson was born in 1862 in Milton, near Carlisle, one of four sons of a Cumbrian farmer. His brothers persuaded him to join them in London, where their building business was flourishing.
For a time Isaac and his wife Sarah lived at Fulham and then, in the early 1900s, they moved to Gorringe Park Avenue in Mitcham. Whilst living there the Wilsons became active members of St. Barnabas church and many of the houses in the vicinity were built by them.
He lived at ‘The Hut’, later numbered 185 Commonside East, on the western corner of Cedars Avenue, until 1928. He then lived at The Birches, built by his firm in Lower Green East. This road was renamed to Cricket Green in 1944 after a suggestion by Lady Robertson.
An idea of the size of their enterprise can found in the local newspaper report on the Mitcham Military Service Tribunal in 1916, when Joseph Wilson asked that his last employee left be given exemption. Mr Wilson said that before the war he had a staff of 40, and there were around 1,000 houses to be kept in repair.
Isaac Wilson also funded the building of 56 houses for the elderly, the Mitcham Garden Village, which was opened in 1930.
A similar development of 24 homes in Brampton, near his home town of Milton, Cumbria, called the Wilson Memorial Homes, was built in 1930.
Back to Mitcham, and the house at the corner of Cold Blows, currently a nursery, was originally called Brampton. Montague says it was believed to have been built by the Wilson firm, which, given its name, is quite likely. See 1953 OS Map.