Tag Archives: Isaac Wilson

Sir Isaac Wilson : Death of a Benefactor of Mitcham

From The Mitcham News & Mercury, 29th September, 1944, page 4:

SIR ISAAC H. WILSON
Death of Benefactor of Mitcham

REGARDED WEALTH AS AN
OBLIGATION

Mitcham mourns the death at the age of 82 of Sir Isaac H Wilson, The Birches, The Cricket Green, a well-loved personality whose generosity has brought lasting benefits to the people of Mitcham.

Sir Isaac died on Tuesday in the Wilson Hospital, his £120,000 gift to the borough, which with Cumberland house and Mitcham Garden Village remain lasting testimonies to the spirit of a man to whom wealth was regarded as an obligation to the less fortunate rather than a privilege to himself.

In fifteen years his benefactions to the borough have been in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million pounds, but his greatness of heart was something not to be measured in terms of money. He was not a rich man who gave of his wealth has a salve to conscience. Certainly he felt it a duty to spend his money well, and the only return he asked was the increased happiness of the people. Although he has done more for Mitcham than any other man, he was loved for his own sake rather than for his gifts. He was simple kind and modest; he hated publicity, and did not care for constant reminders about the good he had done his adopted town.

QUIET DAILY VISITS

He liked a quiet life, and latterly since ill health had restricted his activities his greatest pleasure was to visit the Wilson Hospital and Cumberland House, a thing he did almost daily when his health permitted. He was the most welcome of all visitors at both places. There was no member of the staff who was not pleased to see the familiar figure coming up the drive, for if his step was slower of recent years, he had always a smile for his friends, and a happy twinkle in his eye.

Much has been written of Sir Isaac’s romantic rise from his obscure native village of Milton, Cumberland to a position of wealth and influence in the world. He was the youngest and only surviving member of a family of four brothers, sons of a yeoman farmer, who went out into the world to seek their fortunes in the building trade, and then spent the fruits of their labours on charity. They spent their youth working on their father’s farm, and later Sir Isaac became a draper’s apprentice.

BUILDING DEVELOPEMENT

He left the drapery business to join his brother, Joseph, in London where the two brothers developed large areas of Fulham, Mitcham and Tooting Junction. The other two brothers, Thomas and John, made fortunes building working class houses in Newcastle, and when they died Sir Isaac inherited several hundred thousand pounds.

The Wilson Hospital, the foundation stone of which was laid by his first wife, who was also a native of Cumberland, was Sir Isaac’s first benefaction to the borough. In November, 1928, it was opened by the Princess Royal. Later Sir Isaac enlarged the hospital adding two wings and installing up-to-date equipment.

THE GARDEN VILLAGE

On part of Cranmer green he built Mitcham Garden Village, the replica of his native Village, where the borough’s old inhabitants may live rent free. His next to gift to Mitcham was Cumberland House, the modern convalescent home at the rear of his own home which cost £60,000. This has been taken over by Surrey County Council. The cost of upholding the home by voluntary methods would have been an enormous charge on Mitcham, and Sir Isaac agreed that the best scheme was for the County Council to accept responsibility. Sir Isaac assured the future of the Wilson hospital by conveying to the trustees property in the district to the value of £45,000 as an endowment for the hospital. He also gave a home for the nurses.

Mitcham was not the only recipient of his generosity. His native village of Milton and neighbouring districts benefited by more than £20,000 from his generosity. This was spent on building cottages for the poor.

The death of his only daughter a considerable time ago was a great grief to Sir Isaac. Later he lost his wife, who, he said, had been the inspiration of the gift of the hospital. His only granddaughter, Mrs Black, lives on the Cricket Green, a few doors from Sir Isaac’s own home. Hs two grandsons are serving with the Forces.

CHURCHMAN AND CONSERVATIVE

For many years he played a prominent part in the town’s life. Earlier in his life he took an active interest in St. Barnabas Church where he was a churchwarden for some time. He was a staunch Conservative and for a time was president of the local Conservative and Constitutional Club. He was a keen educationalist as well as a Justice of the Peace until recently. For some time he was Chairman of the Mitcham Bench.

Formerly a member of Surrey County Council he was also a member of Mitcham Council until last year, when failing health caused him to relinquish many public posts.

In 1937 he became a Freeman of Mitcham, and in June, 1939, was knighted for political and public service in Mitcham.

Sir Isaac accepted honours gracefully, and continued his work in the same efficient and unassuming way.

A GREAT READER

For years Sir Isaac has been Mitcham’s best friend. He invested his money in the borough’s happiness, and both he and the people have drawn generous dividends. His figure, familiar to all who frequent the Green, will be sadly missed. He lived a simple life and of recent years rarelt went out of the borough.

His chief recreation was reading, and for the last ten years he has read little other than books about millionaires, successful businessman and industrialists, or men who, like himself, had risen from obscurity to a place in the world. Following The Fortunes of Lord Nuffield, Henry Ford, the Cadburys and others, he sought comparisons with his own success, and compared their manner of spending their fortune with his own.

The bombing of the Wilson Hospital, which was closed for some time, was a great blow to him, and the town will be glad that he lived to see it repaired and at work again.

Sir Isaac Wilson

Hawthorne Avenue

Road off east side of Church Road and south of Mount Road.

1953 OS map

Houses are numbered even on the north side from 2 to 54, and odd on its south side from 1 to 29, then there is Oakwood Avenue, then from 31 to 47. The Royal Mail postcode finder shows 59 addresses, as some houses have been split into separate flats, all with the postcode of CR4 3DN.

The road was possibly built in the 1920s, as it is not shown on the 1911 OS map, but is on the 1933 map.

A person on the Facebook group Mitcham History said about her mother’s house:

The deeds show the transfer of lands and building gradually happening in Oakwood, Ashtree and Hawthorne from 1910. Houses built by Sir Isaac Wilson.

clip from aerial photo taken 10th February 1954, copyright Photoflight Limited


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

Cumberland House

Cumberland Hospital was paid for by Isaac Wilson, and built on land he owned, at the rear of his house The Birches. Its entrance was at the end of Whitford Gardens at Cold Blows.

Opened in 1939, it was demolished in 1992. Its perimeter wall along Cold Blows remains.

1953 OS map

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 21st July, 1939, page 1.

LEFT THE GOLD KEY AT HOME

But Sir Isaac’s Splendid Gift is Duly Inaugurated

CUMBERLAND HOUSE OPENED

An amusing hitch occurred at the formal opening of Cumberland House, Mitcham, on Friday afternoon. Sir Isaac Wilson, as the munificent donor of the place, was about to present the key to Sir Richard Meller, M.P., with which to unlock the door, when he discovered that he had left it at home.

A messenger was dispatched post-haste, and in ten minutes’ time he arrived with the gold key.

The ceremony then proceeded smoothly. It was a semi-private affair, arranged by the Surrey County Council officials. Among the guests present were Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson, Sir Richard and Lady Meller, the Mayor and Mayoress of Mitcham (Ald. and Mrs. Field), Mr. R. M. Chart, the 89-years-old Charter Mayor of Mitcham, Mr. Stephen Chart, the vicar of Mitcham (the Rev. C. A. Finch) and Mrs. Finch, Col. W. F. Johnson, Mr. Christopher Chart, Dr and Mrs. A. T. Till, Ald. E. H. Rickards (Croydon), County Councillor Mrs. C. Randall, Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Alderman, Mr. H. H. Dance, staff, officials, and inmates of the House.

COSTS £60,000.

The building was erected at the cost approximately of £60,000 by Sir Isaac Wilson, on land belonging to him, and adjoining his own residence at The Birches, almost overlooking the famous Mitcham Cricket Green. The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1937, by Sir Kingsley Wood, then Minister of Health. The place was originally to be used as a home for poor disabled persons, and it was vested in trustees for that purpose. Subsequently, however Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson, with the approval of their co-trustees, offered the building as a gift to the Surrey County Council for use as a convalescent home in connection with the Council’s hospitals. The munificent and public-spirited offer was gratefully accepted in May, 1938. Under the scheme, Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson are life members of the committee of management, with seven other members appointed by the County authority. The hospital has been furnished and equipped by the Council, who have also appointed the necessary staff. The first patient was admitted on March 29 last. The hospital has accommodation for 110 patients and 24 staff. The patients are mainly transferred from hospitals as requiring from two to eight weeks’ further treatment in order to firmly reestablish their health.

UP-TO-DATE.

On the ground floor there are the administrative offices, kitchens, a dispensary, and two units. The first floor comprises two ward units, an electrical treatment room, the doctor’s flat, and dining-rooms for the nursing and domestic staff. The second floor contains bed- and other rooms for the matron, assistant matron, and 22 members of the nursing and domestic staffs, including two staff common rooms. The lay-out of the Home is magnificent, with sunshine balconies, and spacious grounds for recreation.

Sir Isaac paid tribute to the architects, Messrs. Chart, Son and Reading; the builder, Mr. C. Higginson; his confidential friends, Mr. R. M. Chart, and his son, Mr. Stephen Chart (Town Clerk of Mitcham), Sir Richard Meller, and the Rev. C. A. Finch, chaplain of the home. He declared that every one of these gentlemen had helped him by good advice during the building of the Home. He went on to say that the Surrey County Councii were now trying to do the very best they could with the building, and “I shall be fully recompensed to know that the institution will be carried an efficiently in the future for the benefit and use of convalescent cases,” he added.

DEPUTISING FOR MINISTER OF HEALTH.

Sir Richard Meller humorously suggested that a record of the ceremony should be “the safe arrival of the key.” He greatly appreciated the honour and privilege conferred upon him, he said. He was really deputising for the Minister of Health, who was unable to attend. “This is a succession of noble acts of benefaction by Sir Isaac Wilson,” commented Sir Richard. The building of Wilson Hospital, and the Garden Village, are other worthy examples of his generosity. There is nothing which adds to human happiness so much as the enjoyment of good health, and Sir Isaac and Lady Wislon have been so charity-minded as to build these institutions to try to confer the greatest blessing on mankind by providing them with means of achieveing the greatest human happiness.”

In handing over the Home to County authority, Sir Richard thought the donors had paid tribute to the efficient administration of that body. It came at an opportune moment for the County Council in providing them with the necessary accommodation to relieve their present hospitals, and particularly as an outlet for the large institution being built on St Helier Estate. Sir Richard gave the assurance that the intentions of the trustees would be carried out as far as possible.

“The opening of this home, concluded Sir Richard, “confers a very valuable asset upon the County, and it should be duly recorded among the great historic events of Mitcham.”

“By taking over this building, the County Authority have enabled Sir Isaac to confirm two benefits on community, provision of an institution for the sick, relief for the ratepayers. It is a second example of the dual benefit that Sir Isaac has conferred upon the ratepaying community through Wilson hospital and now Cumberland Home. “Where I am ye shall dwell,” seems to have animated the donor, for he has built both institutions close to his own private residence, equivalent to saying what is good enough for me I hope is good enough for you. In your name as residents of Mitcham, and on behalf of the County of Surrey, I express to Sir Isaac and Lady Wilson our whole-hearted gratitude for their generosity and kindness. Before their eyes they will have the satisfaction and knowledge that those who came here sick went away rejoicing in good health.” (Cheers).

The company then proceeded to the main entrance of the budiling, and Sir Richard unlocked the door with a gold key, declaring the Home open for the succour of mankind.”

Photos on Merton Memories:
Laying of the Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone
1958 : Chest hospital building


The hospital, originally under the Surrey County Council, became part of the NHS in 1947. This ad for nurses in 1949 shows it was part of the St Helier hospital group:

16th July 1949

In 1979, the Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth Area Health Authority announced it was to close. The buildings were demolished in 1992. Redevelopment of the site by the health authority has included day care centres, and is the site of the Merton Dementia Hub.

For more information about the hospital, see the website Lost Hospitals of London.


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

Manship Road

Built around 1931 by Isaac Wilson, consisting of 46 houses on its east side only, facing the Figges Marsh. The name was suggested by Wilson, see council minutes below, presumably a reference to John Manship, who had bought the manor of Biggin and Tamworth in around 1744.


From the minutes of the Mitcham Urban District council
Volume XVII May 1931 to April 1932
Highways Committee
4th February 1932
Page 653

It was Resolved, That the name of Manship Road submitted by Mr. I.H. Wilson for the new road on the Gorringe Park Estate be approved.


Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Urban District Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

Dragmire Lane

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, January 31st, 1936

Running from Benedict-road to Morden-road, Dragmire Lane is a footpath according to Borough Engineer’s Department, after a case at the police court on December 11th 1935 re Walter Richards, Homewood-road summoned for cycling on it.

Mr Isaac Wilson, chairman, dismissed the case as there was some conflict over the case. Defendant said it was used as a road by carts. Borough Engineer said it was a path under the 1932 Rights of Way act.

Wilson Memorial Homes

Lancashire Evening Post – Friday 05 September 1930

CUMBERLAND MAN’S GIFT TO BRAMPTON.

Canon Sutton, of Bridekirk, chairman of the Cumberland County Council, performed the opening ceremony at Brampton, near Carlisle, yesterday, of a colony of 24 cottages for the aged poor, the gift of Mr. Isaac Henry Wilson, a native of Milton, Brampton, now Mitcham, Surrey. At Milton six homes are being built, six at Lanercost and six at Walton. The cottages will be rent and rate free to the occupants, who will be aged folk.

Fifty years ago Mr. Wilson left his native soil and made fortune in building houses on the Surrey side of London and yesterday he was present at the ceremony to explain that his desire was to do something for his native soil, to lessen the burden of the aged who had borne the heat and burden of the day, and to render the eventide of their life much happier. The houses were not for the young, but for, say, spinster sisters and old couples who had had hard time in life and found their latter days irksome.

Mr. Hugh Jackson, an alderman of the County Council, said that Mr. Wilson had already given 56 cottage homes at Mitcham for aged and deserving people. Less than two years ago built there and equipped and endowed hospital at cost of £60,000, and had since given further £25,000 for extensions. Over 60 applications had already been received for the Brampton houses.

Mr. Wilson presented Canon Sutton with a golden key with which to open the homes. Complimentary speeches wore made Mr. C. H. and Lady Cecilia Roberts, Mr. Leif Jones, M.P., Mr. J. J. Adams, Workington, and Mrs. Lucy Thompson, and among those present were the Mayor and Mayoress of Workington, Mr. R. H. Hodgson, and Sir James Watt.

The next day, the alderman died.

Lancashire Evening Post – Saturday 06 September 1930

ALDERMAN’S SEIZURE.
DEATH AT BRAMPTON OF WELL-KNOWN CUMBERLAND MAN.

The death took place this morning of Mr. Hugh Jackson, an alderman the Cumberland County Council, living at Brampton. On Thursday Mr. Jackson presided the opening of the cottage homes at Brampton, the gift of Mr. Isaac H. Wilson, of Mitcham. Yesterday he, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. John Smith, went for a drive in Mr. Wilson’s car to Scotland. returning tea at Brampton.

After tea Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wilson, who have been friends since boyhood, went for walk, and on the way Alderman Jackson had a seizure. He was taken Brampton Hospital, and despite medical advice from Carlisle and Brampton he died this morning. He was chairman of Cumberland Education Committee, and an active man in the county.


See the buildings on StreetView.

The Brampton Connection

Overheard on an S1 bus recently, as it passed the Wilson Hospital:

“Wilson Hospital?”
“Which Wilson was that then?”
“Harold Wilson?”

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.