Tag Archives: mayor

William Lancaster, the Last Mayor of Mitcham

Clip from Merton Memories photo 49059 (c) London Borough of Merton

Clip from Merton Memories photo 49059 (c) London Borough of Merton

Coun. William Lancaster, 66-year-old veteran of the First World War, was appointed Mayor of Mitcham at the Council’s annual meeting on Thursday last week.

He is the 31st and last Mayor of Mitcham. For at the end of the municipal year Mitcham Council will cease to exist. It will be merged with the new Borough of Merton.

At the mayor-making ceremony, watched by a large audience, Coun. Lancaster said he hoped that, at some time in the future, when he is referred to as the last Mayor of Mitcham, he will also be acclaimed as the last but not least.

His nomination was proposed by Counc. Dennis Hempstead, chairman of the housing committee, and seconded by Ald. Herbert Ash.


Coun. Lancaster has served as a Labour Party member on the councilfor 12 years.

After he had signed the register the new mayor said: “It is with some sadness that we reflect that Mitcham as a separate borough will end in March, 1965, but during the 30-odd years we have been our own authority we can be justly proud of our record, particularly in housing, welfare and predominantly, I would say, in financial administration, for without doubt our treasurer’s department have in their astute handling of the finances of the boorough brought immeasurable relief to us as ratepayers.”

He added: “There are many things we would like to have seen carried on in the development of the borough, but these must now be in the hands of the new Borough of Merton in which I am sure we all will wish the best of good firtune.”

Eralier Coun. Lancaster spoke of past Mayors of Mitcham.

“Apart from my years as a councillor, I have made the acquaintance of many of my predecessors and there have a personal knowledge of the devotion they gave to the duties of this high office and the dignity they brought to the traditions and services of this council and the borough as a whole.


“This knowledge will form the basis of the standards that, with my wife, the Mayoress, we will set ourselves to maintain during our term of office and I sincerely trust we shall be successful in our efforts.”

After the mayor-making a presentation was made to the retiring Mayor, Counc. William H. Sanderson.

In a short address he thanked all officers and members of the council for their help during the past year.

Coun. Sanderson, who did not stand in the recent elections for Merton Council, was presented with a self-winding, five-year clock.

Counc. George Shearing has been re-appointed Deputy-Mayor.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 29th May, 1964, page 1.

William Jeffery

1943-44 mayor of Mitcham. Born 1878, died 1966, aged 88.

Clip from Merton Memories photo 50493 (c) London Borough of Merton

Clip from Merton Memories photo 50493 (c) London Borough of Merton


A MINUTE’s silence was observed by Merton Council last week in memory of ex-Ald. William Jeffery who died recently.

Mayor of Mitcham from 1943-44, Mr Jeffery had been ill for some time. He was a remarkable man who retired from Mitcham Council in 1958 at the age of 80. He had completed 20 years of unbroken service.

He first came to the district in 1920 and lived at Colliers Wood before moving into the centre of Mitcham.


He was elected to the Urban District Council in Mitcham in 1932 and he was never defeated in local elections.

He was chairman of many council committee meetings and was elected alderman in 1946.

The Mayor of Merton, Ald. Cyril Marsh, told Merton Council that he had written to Mrs Jeffery and had sent a wreath on behalf of the council.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 4th February, 1966, page 1

Jack Fitch

Alderman and first mayor of Mitcham (RM Chart was the Charter Mayor). His name is remembered on one of the blocks of flats on the Laburnum Road Estate.

He opened the Mitcham Fair in 1935, as shown in this Pathe Neewsreel:

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 3rd February 1950:

ALD. JACK FITCH, the oldest member of Mitcham Council in years of service, has retired on grounds of health and has gone to live in Brighton. His retirement, announced at last week’s Council meeting, will almost certainly mean a by-election.

Aid. Fitch who had held a seat as a Labour member for 26 years, was chairman of the old Urban District Council and was Mitcham’s first Mayor when Mitcham became a Borough. He had been a magistrate for a number of years.

In a letter announcing his resignation. Aid. Fitch said that winter attacks of bronchial asthma had compelled him to give up Council work. It had been his great interest.

Tributes were paid by the Mayor (Ald. Mrs. J. C. Ericson), Coun.
T. Ruff, Ald. T. A. East and Coun. J H. S Bradley.

Coun. Ruff, because of a 30-year friendship with Mr Fitch, claimed
the privilege of moving the Council’s appreciation of his long
service. He had brought a solid honest integrity to the service of
Mitcham. His characteristic of conscious responsibility and application to duty had made him feel uneasy during the last two winters
when ill-health compelled him to exhibit an apparent neglect of

From the Worthing Herald – Friday 29 November 1957, via the British Newspaper Archive

He died, aged 73, in November 1957, at his home in Worthing. He was instrumental in founding the Labour Party in Mitcham. He moved to Worthing in 1946 with his second wife, Lily. Between 1901 and 1943 he was a Post Office sorting clerk, and on his retirement he was awarded the Imperial Service Medal.

Worthing Herald – Friday 29 November 1957, page 21

Merton Memories Photos

Mitcham Fair



1934 to 1935

Tom Higgs

Thomas Higgs was known as the “Sporting Mayor” of Mitcham in 1957.

1st May 1958 at Hall & Co. This clip is from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_Work_Industry_2-12

From the Norwood News – Friday 28 June 1957, via the British Newspaper Archive

The Sporting Mayor

THE borough of Mitcham has been fortunate in recent years in having mayors who show a keen interest in local sporting activities. The present one, Coun. Tom Higgs is no exception.

He is an official of Mitcham Boxing Club, an A.B.A. judge, a keen cricketer and a soccer fan. He is a vice-president of local amateurs Tooting and Mitcham.

Now I am pleased to see that the sports-conscious Mayor and I have something in common. We both believe that something must be done to liven up amateur soccer.

At United’s club dinner on Saturday the Mayor said he was concerned about the fall of gates and growing lack of interest in the game (although, of course, this doesn’t apply to United at the moment—but it could in the future). He suggested that more importance should be attached to league games.

” Dare I suggest a promotion/ relegation system ? ” he asked.

This, of course, is not new. But surely the time has come for the amateur bodies that be to give it their EARNEST consideration

Among his sporting interests:

boxing – he was secretary of the London Amateur Boxing Association in 1960;

cricket – he wrote the history of the Mitcham Cricket Club in the booklet ‘300 Years of Mitcham Cricket’ (a reprinted paperback book is available on Amazon.co.uk);

soccer – he was vice-president of Tooting & Mitcham.

Photos on Merton Memories:


Home Guard Memorial Service in 1957



Planting a bush at Glebelands Old Peoples Home in 1957


At a Rotary Club event



At a Chamber of Commerce Dinner



At another Chamber of Commerce dinner


Crowning Mitcham’s May Queen, Elizabeth Holbrow in 1958


At a Labour Party social in 1958


With his wife on leaving the office of mayor


Robert Masters Chart

The Charter Mayor of Mitcham when it was incorporated as a borough. For biographical details, see Chart Family.

He wrote an article for the Daily Mirror, published on Charter Day, Wednesday 19th September 1934.


Scores Made on Mitcham Green Kept by Cutting Notches in Stick

By ROBERT MASTERS CHART, Charter Mayor of Mitcham

I never thought I should live to see the day when this village in which I was born, eighty-four years ago, would be exalted to the dignity of a borough, and I its first mayor.

Yet one ought not to feel surprise, for, village though we remained for centuries, we have always moved with the times. If times several centuries ago were slow moving, that was not our fault.

I can remember when the growing of medicinal herbs formed our principal industry — lavender, peppermint, camomile, poisonous cucumbers and liquorice, to name a few. Now we specialise in varnish, paint, chocolate and fireworks.

That’s modern enough by all standards, and they are only a few of our activities in the seventy factories within our boundaries.


Henry Hoare, the Fleet-street banker and financial power, was the big man of Mitcham when my great-grandfather settled here in 1760, and it was Hoare who instructed my great grandfather to build the parish church.

My great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father all held the office of clerk to the parish council. I was vestry clerk from 1886 to 1915, when the urban district was formed. And now my son, Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Chart, D.S.O., is the charter clerk of the borough of Mitcham.

I should be hiding the truth If I did not say boldly, this Wednesday is a very proud day for me. For fifty-two years I have held public offices in Mitcham, and although I want to see a younger man take my place as Mayor In November, I shall, during my short term of office do all in my power to maintain the traditions of which all Mitcham people are justly proud.

FROM 5,000 TO 60,000

When I helped in 1871 in taking the census of Mitcham the Population was only 5,079, or 579 more than it was sixty years before. But in the last sixty years it has increased to over 60,000, good citizens all.

There have been numerous other changes, as we have moved with the times, but there is one unchangeable feature of Mitcham which sportsmen all over the world would be sorry to see change. I refer to our immortal Green, a cradle of cricket.

This was where the original Australian Test team used to practice, and here, in 1730, there was “a great match between the Gentlemen of London and those of Mecham,” whose scores were kept by cutting notches in a stick.

New that we have achieved the status of a borough, an honour our people well deserve, I am confident that Mitcham will advance to further prosperity and happiness. It is an occasion for rejoicing, and I want to see all our townsfolk sharing in the celebrations. They will be very heartily welcomed.

I hope they will come and share with me the pride and pleasure that is our joint privilege.

Merton Memories Photos

1882 volunteer fireman
1911 Coronation

Charter Day

with Lord Lieutenant of Surrey

With Sir Isaac Wilson

As Mayor