VILLAGE RELICS ARE FAST DISAPPEARING
New building is changing the face of Mitcham
NEW FLATS TO REPLACE GLEBE VILLAS
GRADUALLY the few remaining relics of the Village of Mitcham are disappearing before the advance of the town-makers and other developers. The revolution, begun well within the memory of the oldest inhabitants, and quiescent during the war years, is now very active again. Not the least among those responsible for the changes are the borough council, whose ranges of fiats tower into the sky from Pollards Hill to Figges Marsh, and from the Fair Green to the Cricket Green.
In place of the long line of Glebe Villas in London Road which are being razed to the ground will rise a continuation of the huge block of Glebe estate flats, which will then be completed.
Glebe Villas, a row of three-storey, roomy and dignified semi-detached houses of the Victorian type, with bay windows, were built by George Hill, who was born in the Elizabethan house that once stood opposite the Hall Place, now itself no more.
George Hills was the father of the last of the beadles of the parish and Parish Church. A tradition remains that the bricks used in Glebe Villas were made in Mitcham.
Some of the best-known families in the village occupied the houses fifty years ago. They were in that part of central Mitcham and the London Road known and named as Whitford Lane, and Whitford Gardens opposite keeps that name green in the memory.
It was inevitable that sooner or later, Glebe Villas would go the way of the estates that once stood opposite, and the way of London Road, Lower Mitcham, from the Cricket Green to old Mitcham station and the River Wandle.
In living memory
Virtually all the changes have taken place within living memory. They include the disappearance of Holborn Schools and the erection of Monarch Parade at the Figges Marsh end of the road, the wiping out of Mizen Brothers’ extensive nurseries and the building of Elm Court flats and the development of the market garden land on which the central library, the adjoining shops and the baths now stand.
In its turn the Fair Green has been developed, though it still retains much of its old village appearance and character.
The latest change is taking place at the corner of Cranmer Road, opposite The Canons, where the last section of the old causeway and the last of the old timbered collages that once decorated that corner of the Cricket Green are doomed to disappear. The inevitable change there began in strength when Carlton’s market gardens became the site of Bramcote Avenue and Denham Crescent. A half-century earlier, Mitcham Park displaced the fields and lovers’ walks which the oldest inhabitants remember and whose passing they regret.
Beyond the Cranmer corner another great change in the aspect of Central Mitcham began with the razing of Cranmer House, the erection of Wilson Hospital and Mitcham County School for Girls, and the development of the Cesars Walk estate.
In that upheaval disappeared one of the finest of Mitcham’s ancient monuments — the centuries old tithe barn.
On the site now owned and occupied by Cranmer Motors Limited, formerly stood Piccadilly, now almost forgotten except by natives approaching their century. Piccadilly was nought but a couple or so of little wooden cottages in an alleyway leading to fields. The wood-framed Cramner Restaurant, which faces the obelisk in The Cannons marks the entrance to the Piccadilly that was.
It is all destined to disappear in the reconstruction and modernisation of Cranmer Corner, now proceeding. Quite recently a new sewer has been laid under the premises, including part of the Catholic Church to prevent the flooding of basements of the houses and business premises nearby, a nuisance endured for years.
Several derelict premises, one-time shops, cottages and a printing works, are being swept away, and on their site will be built, the enlargement of the Cranmer Motor Works and service station.
“I think the public generally will agree that the new Cramner Corner will be an improvement on the old Cranmer Corner.” said Mr. V. Cole, a son of a former Mayor and Mayoress of Mitcham, and the proprietor of Cranmer Motors Ltd.