Tag Archives: Grove Mills

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.


Manufactured at Grove Mills, on the Wandle in Mitcham.

First manufactured in 1903 by a company called ‘The Patent Horse Hair Co. Ltd.’, ‘lyxhayr’ was a curled fibre of vegetable origin for many upholstery filling applications. Developed by a chemist called Mr Holmes, the process was patented.

As well as hair from horses, wool or cotton fibre, called ‘flock’, was used in filling mattresses and furniture. Sometimes, hog hair was mixed in with the horse hair to reduce cost. Animal hair however was not hygienic, and the company’s advertisement in 1907 said that the Public Analyst for Hackney, Dr Leo Taylor, had found that the hair contained almost the same amount of bacteria as London sewage.

Being made from vegetable, this artificial horse hair was free of bacteria.

In 1905 the company changed its name to Lyxhayr Ltd. and Mr W. A. Dickinson was its Managing Director. Mattresses made with lyxhayr were popular with hospitals but cheaper, less hygienic ones were still being sold.

Mr Dickinson was one of those who lobbied parliament leading to the Rag Flock Act of 1911, which was the first attempt to regulate the abuses.

1907 ad

1907 ad

Listed in the 1938 commercial directory as

Mitcham Fibre Mills Ltd., horse hair substitute manufacturers, Grove Mills, London Road. Trading As “Lyxhayr, Mitcham;” Telephone Number 0807.

News Articles

1909 fire

At one o’clock on Saturday morning a fire broke out the Grove Mills, Mitcham, an artificial horsehair manufactory. The fire brigades from Croydon, Sutton, and Mitcham attended, but the four-storey brick building was completely gutted. The damage is estimated at from £5,000 to £6,000.

Source: Western Chronicle – Friday 05 February 1909 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)