Tag Archives: Croydon

1877 : Proposed 100 acres of Mitcham Common for sewage

PROPOSED DRAINAGE OF MITCHAM, WALLINGTON, ETC.

Mr. Edridge said he wished make a remark respecting the Rural Sanitary Authority, although he did not wish to raise discussion. He was aware, that the members of the Authority bad recently experienced a great deal of trouble, still the subject involved in the question he was about to put was of such great importance to Croydon that he did not hesitate to put it. If the reply were in the affirmative he thought the fact was one which ought to come under the knowledge of the Board of Health, and they should take measures to further the interests of the district over which they had jurisdiction. He asked whether it was true that the Authority were in correspondence with the proper parties to whom it was necessary to apply in order to obtain a hundred acres of land at Mitcham Common for the purposes of sewage irrigation.

The Chairman said such thing had transpired, but there were 108 persons whose consent had to be asked before the Authority could obtain the land.

Mr. Randolph said it was true a resolution had been passed for the Authority to see on what terms they could purchase a hundred acres of Mitcham Common, but there were some difficulties in the way.

Mr. Edridge presumed that the Authority would not have taken such step except after a proper amount of consideration, and with the expectation that their action would lead to some result. He was therefore sure they would forgive him for having asked the question he had; and he thanked them for having given him the information he required.

Mr. Lindsey said the Authority had not given to the subject so much consideration it required ; but the thing had arisen because the Rural Board were driven up into a corner to find some mode of draining their district. It was therefore suggested at the last meeting that they might apply for a hundred acres of Mitcham Common. There had previously been some idea of making use of thirty acres of land, to carry out the intermittent filtration process; but it was thought it would not answer their purpose and expectations ; consequently they wanted to carry put the sewage irrigation system, and thought facilities for doing so would be gained if they could obtain a piece of land on Mitcham Common. It was true that they had applied, but they hardly expected to obtain the quantity of land they required, as it was necessary that the commoners must satisfied and agree before there could be any hope of obtaining the land.

Mr. Allen said the subject was one to be discussed by the Rural Sanitary Board, and not by the Board Guardians. Mr. Edridge, if he wished to speak upon the matter, ought to have come fully charged at the last meeting of the Authority; but, as the subject had been broached, he might well mention that Croydon applied for some land on the same common a few years ago, but the application was rejected. This was the only reason that could see for opposing the present application of the Rural Authority. But what could it matter to the people of Croydon, who had their parks and open spaces. The nuisance of 60,000 inhabitants was sent to Beddington, but instead being injurious to the health of the population, it was actually beneficial. He could not, therefore, understand why Mr. Edridge should come there to oppose the Authority. No doubt he came with the best intentions, but he had come at the wrong time. If he could wait till next week that would the proper time to bring the subject forward. Although there were 108 land owners to consult as to Mitcham Common, yet at present no benefit was derived from that land, but rather the reverse, as Gipsies caused a great nuisance there, and brought all sorts of diseases into the neighbourhood, at well a lot of donkeys and horses that ran all over the place. People like the Gipsies made extra work for the magistrates; yet when the Authority applied for a hundred acres of land for the drainage of the rural district they met with all sorts of obstacles from persons who ought to help instead of hindering them. There were 500 or 600 acres there suitable for irrigation, and of no use to the Inhabitants their present state. He therefore thought that Croydon ought not to offer opposition, although it might very well connect itself with Mr. Bazalgette’s scheme for taking sewage to the sea. Under all circumstances he thought it was most untimely to bring forward the subject, the Board of Guardians had nothing to do with it.

Mr, Edridge said his object was to ask question which interested Croydon generally, and to which he knew they would give him answer: but he should not have ventured to ask that question except a meeting of the Guardians, because, although had the honour of being an ex-officio member of the Board, was not member of the Rural Sanitary Authority, and was much obliged for the information that had been afforded. Mr. Allen said the Rural Sanitary Authority would glad to see Mr. Edridge at the right time if he had anything to say upon the matter referred to. This terminated the public business of the meeting.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 17 February 1877 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1863 : Fatality at Pudding-fields

Fatal Railway Accident

— An inquest was held at the King’s Head Inn, Mitcham, before T. Carter, Esq., coroner, on the body of Harriet Collins, aged 72, who was killed whilst passing over a crossing, on the Wimbledon and Croydon Railway.

It appeared from the evidence that the deceased, with her husband and daughter, were on their way home by a regular footpath through Pudding-fields, and, on arriving at the railway crossing, they observed a train approaching. The daughter ran across the line, leaving her mother to follow; and on the poor creature attempting to do so, the engine caught her and literally tore her to pieces. The driver of the engine was called on evidence, but said he did not see anything of the occurrence. The stoker, however, stated that he saw the deceased attempt to cross the line, but not until the engine was within 12 or 15 yards of her; he then told the driver to sound the whistle, which he did, but the engine was too near to allow of her escape. The jury returned the following verdict:—

“That, in returning a verdict of accidental death, the jury are anxious to express their wish that the Brighton Railway Company will substitute bridges for footways at the various crossings on the Wimbledon and Croydon Branch, all of which are, in their opinion, more or less dangerous to the public.”

Source: Thame Gazette – Tuesday 13 January 1863, via the British Newspaper Archive.

The area called Pudding Fields was referred to in the Mitcham Memories of Ben Slater.

The name might be related to ‘pudding grass’, a former name of the mint pennyroyal, see Peppermint in 1875.

1911 : Memories of Mitcham by Ben Slater

Benjamin Slater wrote of his memories of Mitcham in 1911. The following was published in the October 1932 edition of the East Mitcham Ratepayers Association Magazine.

Some notes:
1. Major Moor refers to Moore as in Potter & Moore;
2. 10 acres is about half the size of the present day Figges Marsh;
3. Mr Aspery assumed to mean Mr Asprey;
4. The Tram line was the Surrey Iron Railway
———–
MEMORIES OF MITCHAM

By the Late BENJAMIN SLATER.
(Written in 1911. The Author’s vivid italics have been retained).

In the year 1848 the land now covered by the coal wharf and Harvey & Knight’s Floor Cloth factory in Morden Road, Mitcham, was a field of Liquorice which is grown for Its Root – which penetrates the earth to the depth of from 3 to 4 feet, and has to be trenched out of the ground by men to that depth. In the work of getting this crop out the men came across a large quantity of human bones – some of the skeletons were found in stone coffins – with them a long sword was found; a number of spears were also found, also silver and bronze coins; most of these the men kept – also some of the spears. There used to be a man come down each week and buy these of the men employed in the work – all the swords – and most of the spears were taken to Major Moor’s house at Fig’s Marsh, where he lived at Manor House by the Swan Hotel. The bones were taken to a barn which stood where John’s Place now stands called Angel’s Farm, and there taken care of until the work of trenching was over – and then carted back to the field and buried in a deep trench. There was also found several cups shaped like a beer glass with a foot to it, the lip was curved very much, it looked to be made of black mud with a greyish look about it; some of them got broken, but the men took them home. The teeth in the skulls were as perfect and bright as in life, there were several sets taken away by the men. I found a spear and a set of teeth myself some time after the work had been finished, but don’t know what became of them; the silver coins were about as large as a two shilling piece, but thin as wafer, but in good preservation; the bronze coins were similar in size to the silver ones.

At this time nearly all the land in Mitcham was cultivated in herbs; there were about fifty acres of liquorice grown in Mitcham by Major Moor and Mr James Arthur and one of two other growers; there were also about 100 acres of peppermint grown annually; this crop was distilled for its oil. The oil of peppermint is a very valuable oil, a certain cure for cholera gripes and pains in the stomach. It is very cleansing. I have many times when cutting the crop cut my finger badly, but took no notice of it; it would bleed freely at first but would soon stop, and in twenty-four hours it would be healed up. The mint after being stilled would be carted to a convenient place and put into a lump and mixed with stable manure and used for manuring the land, so you see everything was turned to account. There were also about 50 acres of camomiles grown annually in Mitcham; there were several farmers who grew this crop – there were Major Moor, Mr James Arthur, Mr Francis and William Newman, and a Mr Weston. The farm-house and homestead of Mr Weston stood where Mizen Bros. glass-houses stand now, opposite the Holborn Schools. I believe it was pulled down by Mizens, when they bought the land. The camomile crop was a very important crop, for it employed a very large number of people to gather the flowers; all the village used to turn out to gather the camomile flowers, in the camomile season, which began at the beginning of July and ended the end of August. The Schools used to close for the camomile season, which lasted two months. I have seen as many as 200 women and children in a 10 acre field, gathering of the flowers. They were paid a penny a pound for the gathering of the flowers. The villagers used to reckon on the money they earned in the camomile season to clothe their children, and pay the rent of their houses for the year.

The next important crop to this is Lavender – at least 50 acres of this crop was grown yearly; this was grown for distilling for its scent, it was not used for any other purpose. Then came the Rose – at least 20 acres of the old Cabbage or Provence rose were grown. These roses were grown and distilled for their scent and rose-water – rose-water is used for weak eyes very largely. Then came the damask rose – over 20 or 30 acres of this rose was grown and gathered in its bud; it was a pretty rose, deep crimson in colour – this was treated differently to the Cabbage rose. The petals of the flowers were pulled out of the cup they were set in, the cup thrown away and the petals dried in a stove; they were then ready for sale. Another crop largely grown in Mitcham was caraway; the seeds were distilled for its oil; it is also sold for making caraway cakes.

Next comes the Belladona, largely used for plasters for bad back. Several acres of this herb were grown. It is rather a pretty plant, the seed pods the shape of a hen’s egg, and as large, with spines all over it, growing about 18 inches high, forming a very pretty dark green bushy plant. Then we have the Henbane; this grows 2 feet high with large green leaves as big as your hand, and forms a large bushy plant. It has a flower like a tobacco plant; the seed pod is just like an acorn, set in a cup just the same. There were several acres of it grown. Now I come to the Marsh Malop; this grew about four feet high bearing a mass of convolulus-like flowers, a very pretty plant grown for its root and top both, used chiefly for poultices for bad legs and bruises, etc. Several acres of this herb were grown.

Then there was the Rosemary; this a herb that would be found in every cottage garden, a pretty shrubby plant very much like lavender. This boiled in water and then strained off and left till cool makes a splendid hairwash, clearing away all scurf and relieving the head very much. Then comes the Saffron; this plant is poison, it grows very much like the shrub Cedar of Lebanon, growing about a foot high. This was not grown extensively, being a rather dangerous plant. Then we have the Pennyroyal, a herb growing close to the ground like horehound – there was an acre or two of this grown; and then we come to the Horehound. This was largely grown; this and liquorice boiled together and the liquor drank, is a sure cure for colds, coughs, asthma, and Bronchitis. Then we have the Feverfew; this is used in cases of fever, as the name implies where this is grown few fevers are. Then comes the wormwood. This was largely grown; it is a terrible strong bitter. It was at one time much used in Brewing in place of hops, its use is forbidden now; it grew about 3 feet high; it is so bitter that if you put a piece in your mouth you would shudder from head to foot. Then there was the Rue – this is used for Rue gin, and for croup among fowls and in many other ways. Then there is the Lavender Cotton – a pretty little white green foliage plant with the appearance of lavender, very poisonous. Then there is the loveage. The root of this plant is very much like celery and smells like it. Then comes the Angelica; this is a plant similar to Loveage. Then there was the Squirting Cucumber, a plant like the melon in its foliage growing close to the ground, bearing little white green cucumbers about as large as your thumb; this plant had to be handled by a man who was thoroughly acquainted with its nature. It was so very dangerous the man had to have his mouth and nose covered when working gathering the fruit; these had to be grown in an isolated place where no one would be likely to interfere with them; it would not be safe to grow them in Mitcham now. Then comes the Poppy; two or three acres of these were grown. They were sown in early Spring broadcast and thinned out to about six inches apart; they grew about 5 or 6 feet high, bearing large heads as large as your fist – their stalks were thick and strong, standing on the ground until they were quite dry, then they were gathered and stored for sale. Now comes the Monkshood Aconite, a very deadly poisonous plant, grown for its root and top both. Next comes the Tansey; this herb would be found in most cottage gardens, (they called it the ginger plant) growing two feet high with a fernlike foliage and a yellow flower, it smelt like ginger. I have seen all these herbs grown in Mitcham, and have had a hand in their cultivation. Years back there used to be an old woman live in Mitcham who got her living by gathering wild herbs. I will give you the names of some of the herbs she gathered:

1. The Coltsfoot
2. Devils’ Bit
3. Yerrow
4. Thyme
5. Orris, his smelt like stinking fish
6. Biteny
7. Egremony
8. Red Poppy flowers
9. Yellow Bay
10. Adder’s Spear
11. Dandelion
12. Ground Ivy
13. Calendine

These are only a few of them.

I will now point out one or two of the Big Farms; first of all Major Moor’s Farm on Fig’s Marsh, a very large farm, several hundred acres, employing a great number of hands both men and women. Three-fourths of this Farm was cultivated in Herbs; there was a large distillery adjoining the farm house containing 5 large stills for distilling the herbs. After the Major died, his son James Bridger, carried on the Farm until his death, then it was broken up, and the property sold. There was a building stood in the Farm yard used as an office and store house with a Tower with a clock in it; this clock chimed the quarters and struck the hour. When the Vestry hall was built the bells of this Clock were given to the Vestry hall and are now doing duty there. Major Moor in his day was a man of great authority; his word was law, he was lord of the manor and after him his son, Mr. James Bridger.

Mr James Arthur’s Farm comes next in importance. This Farm is at the top of the Common, now Mr. Daniel Watney’s. This was a very large farm employing a great number of men and women. Nothing but herbs was grown on this Farm. The distillery belonging to this farm is still standing in the Croydon Road, now belonging to a French firm named Jakeson. This farm extended on the Croydon side as far as Thornton Heath and Waddon, and on the Mitcham side as far a Nelson’s Fields, Merton, and Pudding Fields as far as Ravensbury, Morden.

There were several farmers who kept cows. John Bunce, Market Gardener, of Swanes Lane, Fig’s Marsh, kept about a dozen; having no grass land these were grazed on Fig’s Marsh. Then there was Mr. Weston; about the same number from this farm was grazed on Fig’s Marsh; they had boys to see that the cows did not stray into the Fields. There were 5 or 6 cow keepers on the east and west side of the Common who between then kept over 50 cows – these cow-keepers had no land, their cows were grazed on the Common, with boys to look after them. At this time there were no railways across the Common, so they had plenty of space to roam over. I have seen in the hot weather in Summer when flies used to bite them 7 or 8 cows come running off the Common with their tails stuck up in the air and run into the Three King’s Pond half over their bodies in water and stop there switching their tails until the flies had gone before they left the water; no one interfered with them unless they strayed in to the fields. If they did that they were taken to the pound and their owners charged with the damage they had done.

I will now tell you about some of our old Factories. In the year 1830 the Woodite factory that is now on the east side of the Common was then the Mitcham Workhouse, or should I say Poorhouse. After a time the poor were transferred to Dupper’s Hill, Croydon; then the old Mitcham poorhouse was used as a match factory. The first matches ever made were made at this Factory; they were 3 or 4 inches long and as much wood in one as there is in 7 or 8 now made. Theepence a box was charged for them, not more than 3 or 4 dozen matches in a Box. After a time it was changed into a rubber Factory, where the Atlantic Cable was made; while the cable was being made there were several hundred hands employed, which lasted several years; then it was used for making Rubber Tyres for carriages, bikes, motor cars, etc. A part of it is used for that purpose now, the other part is used as a margaine factory. Now I come to the silk printing. There was a large factory at Beddington Corner, on the opposite side of the River to Macraye’s Skin mills. Sample silk printing was done here on a large scaled employing a good many hands. Next I come to the Ravensbury Factory, this was noted for calico printing also silk printing, and the noted Paisley shawls were made and printed here to a large extent. There were a great number of hands employed here both men and women, French, Scottish and English. This factory stood at the back of Rutter’s Tobacco factory, but has been closed some years. Next to this was a silk printing factory at Phipps Bridge belonging to a Mr Aspery, and adjoining this was a large Stocking Factory employing a large number of hands, mostly women; this was burned down and never rebuilt. Next I come to Litler’s silk printing Factory, close to Merton Abbey; this Factory is still working, I think it is the only one left that carries on the work in Mitcham now.

I will tell you now what Mitcham Fair was like 50 years ago. The chief attraction at this time was the dancing Booths. There were three very large booths which stood side by side, each about 20 feet wide and about 30 yards long. Down the middle of these were laid boards to dance on, and on each side there were tables and seats where people could sit and have Refreshments. The dancing commenced at 6 in the evening and lasted until 11, closing time. You paid 3d. for a dance, or you could dance the whole evening by paying a shilling. This used to be jolly fun – plenty of Toe Treading and occasionally naughty words but it was all fair at fair time; the Booths were always full from the time they opened until they closed. There was a Refreshment Bar at the entrance of each Booth where you could ham and beef or bread and cheese and draught or bottled beers. There were oyster stalls around the Fair in every crook and corner where cartloads of oysters were sold during the Fair. Mitcham Fair was called the Oyster Fair; you could get a dozen natives of the best quality for three pence; people used to have a feast at these stalls themselves, and then take some home as a fairing for those at home. There was also pickled salmon sold at these stalls. It was in small tubs called kits, made like a butcher’s pickling tub, wider at the Bottom than at the Top; it was in slices weighing a pound each. A Tub held 12 lbs. And was sold at a shilling a pound; it was pickled in vinegar. People used to go in for this freely. After the Fair was over the lord of the manor sent his carts to clear the oyster shells away; they were carried on to the land as manure.

The gingerbread nut was a favourite among the fair goers; the stalls did big business in this line. You had not been to the Fair unless you took home some gingerbread nuts. You were charged a shilling a pound for these. There were not many Shows; one Circus, where you would see horse riding, tight-rope dancing, tumbling and juggling; there was one Theatre, where you would see Maria Martin in the Red Barn performed; and two or three penny shows, showing white mice and a tame rat and snake in a box, etc. In another a big fat woman and Tom Thumb and his wife another a fire eater and a performing pony who went round the audience and picked out the boy who ate his mother’s sugar, and the girl who put her fingers in the treacle pot, etc. Cheap Jack did a good business always, also the man who sold crackers and penny scratchers, a toy they drew down your back.

On Easter Monday there used to be plenty of sport – greasy pole climbing, hurdle jumping, walking and running matches, bobbing for rolls and treacle, dipping for oranges, dabchick hunting in the Three King’s Pond – this was fine sport. They put the dabchick in the water and then sent dogs in after it, but I never saw a dog catch the Bird. As soon as the dogs got within a few yards of the bird it would disappear under the water and come up some distance off; they would keep going for it until they had to give up and poor dabchick was at rest. They also had grinning through the Horse Collar – this caused plenty of laughter; also donkey jumping in sacks, &c.

On Whit Mondays the Benefit Societies of the parish used to meet for their annual dinners and march around the village with Band and Banners, which brought out all the folks of the village. After all this performance they would sit down to dinner; after dinner was over there was a dance which lasted all night.

On the First of May the Butchers with marrow Bones and Cleavers, and Chimney sweeps with a Jack in the Green would go round the village – the sweeps knocked their brushes on their shovels, and the Butchers knocked their marrow bones on their cleavers, there were two flute players as well, which made up the Band. They paid all the nobility of the place a visit, and collared a good sum of money.

In the year 1840 there was a Tram line running from Wandsworth to Croydon, also a branch line to Beddington Corner, Hackbridge, Carshalton, and I don’t know know how far it went beyond this. It was used for bringing coals from Wandsworth to all the villages on its route. The coal sheds for Mitcham were at the old Mitcham Railway Station as it is now; the line ran on the same ground from Croydon as the present railway runs on now as far as the coal wharf; then it ran in a straight line across to Mitcham Church and on to Merton Pickle and on to Wandsworth. The line was not laid on wooden sleepers but in square blocks of stone a foot square and let in the ground, the upper part a few inches above the ground; the rails were fixed to these by iron spikes. The rails were grooved just the same as the present tram rails are. The trucks used for carrying the coal were drawn by horses. This line was done away with in the year 1844. At this time the road from the church to Merton was a lane with a hedge on both sides, just wide enough for one cart to go down, and was used for getting to and from the land; there was no footways, you had to walk between the ruts where the horses walked, if you went that way. Since that time Mitcham has changed very much, the herbs that were grown then have given place to flowers and vegetables, and miles of glass. If Mizen’s glass houses were placed end to end they would reach miles.

———–

1855 : Fatal accident on Wimbledon and Croydon Railway

From page 6 of the 30th October 1855, edition of the South Eastern Gazette.

ALARMING AND FATAL ACCIDENT UPON THE WIMBLEDON AND CROYDON RAILWAY.

The above-named line of railway, which it was at first said would be opened on the 1st of October, then on the 15th of the same month, was opened on Monday, the 22nd. The London, Brighton, and South Coast Company issued bills, announcing that they would run 13 trains per diem. The South Western Railway Company also issued bills, stating that they intended running 5 trains per diem, by means of which passengers could be conveyed to the Waterloo terminus. These, however, were not to be what are generally termed “through trains,” but passengers wishing to go to Waterloo station would have to change trains at the Wimbledon station.

The line, which is a single one, is as near as possible upon the same route between Croydon and Mitcham, as that formerly occupied by the earliest railway in England, viz. the old tramway formed at the commencement of the present century, for the purpose of conveying stone and lime from Merstham. Those who recollect the old tramway are aware that after passing Waddon Marsh, there was a short cutting familiarly known as the “high banks,” after passing which it ran upon a level by the side of a farm now occupied by Mr. Atherfold and then across Mitcham-common.

On Wednesday afternoon the London, Brighton, and South Coast train, consisting of a small engine with tender attached, and four carriages, arrived at the Croydon West station, and proceeded on to Mitcham; at the time we learn there were not more than 8 or 10 passengers in the train. When it reached Mr. Atherfold’s farm, and was consequently between the “high banks” and the road leading from Beddington to the Windmill upon Mitcham-common, the engine got off the rails, after which it evidently continued to run for nearly a hundred yards, when the engine and tender went off at the right hand side of the line, and the carriages at the same time went off at the opposite side. The engine immediately tumbled over, and Bingham the engine driver, who it would appear was at the time working the lever, for the purpose of reversing the engine was with the exception of his head and right arm buried beneath the engine. His death must have been almost instantaneous. The stoker (Weller) jumped off and was much scalded, but not otherwise materially injured. The first carriage was completely smashed, but fortunately there were no passengers in it, and those who were in the other carriages escaped with very slight injuries, as did also the guard who was attending to the break, which fortunately was attached to the last carriage.

Intelligence of the event was immediately conveyed to New-Cross station, and an engine, with what they term the tool box, and about a dozen men arrived at the spot at about 7 o’clock; the remains of the unfortunate engine driver however, were not extricated from beneath the engine till past 8 o’clock, when they were conveyed to the Plough public-house, Beddington, to await a coroner’s inquest.

Another report mentions that one of the passengers was from Mitcham.

From page 351 of the 31st October 1855 issue of the Watchman and Wesleyan Advertiser:

On Thursday night a serious accident occurred on the Croydon and Mitcham Railway to a passenger train in the neighbourhood of the village of Beddington. The line from Croydon to Mitcham, a distance of four miles, was only opened on the preceding Monday. It consists of a single line of rails until its junction with the Croydon and Epsom line, about half a mile from Croydon.

The train to which the accident happened started from the terminus at London-bridge at 4.15. About midway between Croydon and Mitcham, the engine ran off the rails, dragging the tender and passenger carriages after it, for between fifty and sixty yards, until, falling over on its side, its career was suspended. One of the carriages was smashed to atoms, and the driver killed on the spot. There were, fortunately, but five passengers, all second class, and, with the exception of a Mrs. Jacobs, the wife of a retired gentleman residing at Upper Mitcham, who was very much shaken, they all escaped unhurt.

From page 564 of the 7th November 1855 issue of the Watchman and Wesleyan Advertiser, the inquest recommended a speed limit of 20 m.p.h.:

On Monday, the coroner resumed the adjourned inquest on John Bingham, the engine-driver who lost his life on the 24th ult., on the newly-formed West Croydon and Mitcham Railway. Colonel Yolland gave it as his opinion that the accident was caused mainly by the speed at which the engine was travelling. The jury found, “that the deceased met his death by accident, but recommend that the maximum speed, until the lines becomes consolidated, should not be greater than twenty miles an hour.”