Tag Archives: NMIA

Joseph Owen

Born 1880, Sheffield, Yorkshire.

Married 1908 to Susannah Young in Colchester.

In the 1911 census, Joseph Owen, aged 31, lived at 11 The Crescent, Westmead Road, Sutton, Surrey, with his wife Susannah, 31, and their son Arnold, 1. His occupation was civil engineer and surveyor with the London County Council.

A public family tree on Ancestry.com says that he went to Canada between 1912 and 1915 and worked for the Canadian Pacific Railways.

On his return he lived in Ashbourne Road, and took part in starting the North Mitcham Improvement Association in 1919, as told in its history, written by A.H. Bailey:

Mr Joseph Owen, of 89 Ashbourne Road, came to Mitcham in the early days of the war, from Canada; he had, however, lived in the neighbourhood before going abroad. He was one of the parents of the Association. He added to his great abilities as a civil engineer remarkable enterprise and push. To him, more than anyone else, was due the acquisition of land and erection of Halls for the Association.

An Electoral committee was formed, Mr Owen was nominated, the ward was canvassed as it had never been before for a local election and Mr Owen was returned on a poll of 838 against 428 for the party ticket. His majority considerably exceeded the total votes cast for a victor the previous April.

Mr Owen’s municipal career was brilliant; he became Chairman of the Highways Committee and remained in that office during the years that Mitcham developed at its greatest rate. He pressed for public baths and, but for him, Mitcham would not have had the public library when it did. Mitcham has its quota of ratepayers only; but Mr Owen resolved the problem by giving the site and half the cost, he also presented Sherwood Park Recreation Ground to the Council and endowed a bed at the hospital.

Incidentally it may be mentioned that the Library was largely Mrs Owen’s design. Mr Owen reached the Chair of the District Council and was a County Councillor. Mr Owen, who in his private capacity, was responsible for the building development of what are now the Long Thornton and Pollards Hill Wards. The Majestic Cinema was erected largely by the efforts of the first N.M.I.A. Councillor.

Later he took up residence at Pentlands, St Georges Road, Mitcham.

In 1926 he started the Tamworth Park Construction Company.

He put up the cost of the Mitcham Library, as reported in the West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 03 July 1930:-

LIBRARY GIFT.

By the munificence of Councillor Joseph Owen the “village” is to have a public library. He has given a site for one in London-road, opposite the Holborn Schools, and is willing to pay the cost of the building, less only the amount expected to be obtained from Government grant. The sketch plans, drawn up by a local firm, provide for a figure extension when required, even, perhaps, to the addition of a museum. Mitcham is changing so amazingly rapidly that a place for storing tangible hits of its history—in picture, photo, wood, metal, stone — is due in the interests of future generations.

In the 1939 register he lived at 20 Beeches Walk, Carshalton.

He died in 1943, as reported in the West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 4th February 1943

Death has claimed Mr. Joseph Owen former Chairman of Mitcham U.D. Council. He gave the borough its public library site, and. provided about half the cost of the building. Sherwood Park Recreation Ground was another gift. With Mrs. Owen, he endowed a bed in the Wilson Hospital. For a time Mr. Owen was a representative of Mitcham on Surrey Comity Council. He developed housing in Mitcham and was chiefly responsible for the town getting an up-to-date cinema theatre.

20 Beeches-walk, Carshalton, Surrey, died 21 January 1943 at Kingslea Nursing Home, Mulgrave Road, Sutton, Surrey.

Probate Llandudno 12 July to Susannah Owen widow and Arnold Courtney Owen, chartered civil engineer. Effects £8,760 1s. 1d.

Source: Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995

Drina Strange

Drina Strange was the stage name of Alexandrina Marguerite Stringer.

Born in 1902 in Birmingham, she lived with her parents in 264 Links Road, and attended Links Secondary School for Girls. At 18 she was 6 foot 1 1/2 inches in height. She won a four year scholarship at the Trinity College of Music and she possessed a contralto voice of unusual range of power. On the 6th May 1922, at the end of the N.M.I.A. “Pageant and Revels of Merrie Mitcham, the All-Comrades suburb”, in front of a crowd of over a thousand, she sang Land of Hope and Glory, which she had not long before given at the Albert Hall.

(Source: Part 24 of the history of the North Mitcham Improvement Association (N.M.I.A.), and electoral registers).

Later that year a report said that was a new singer of unusual promise.

From the Middlesex County Times – Wednesday 22nd November 1922:

The contralto soloist, Miss Drina Strange, is a new singer of unusual promise. When her voice has reached maturity Miss Strange should make an enviable reputation. Her rendering of the solos in “A Tale of Old Japan” was a fine combination of thought and feeling. As an interpreter, with a keen sense of atmosphere, Miss Strange has remarkable gifts, and her talent in thin direction was revealed even more clearly in Elgar’s beautiful song, “Like to a Damask Rose,” for which she was encored. Her phrasing enunciation, tone-colour, and absorption in the spirit of her songs were some of the best features of an eventful evening.

She took her own life, aged 22, in 1924.

From the Daily Herald – Thursday 19th June 1924

TENSE SCENE AT AN INQUEST

DRAMATIC DEMAND BY A MOTHER

A SINGER’S END

“Can he go into the mortuary and see my daughter and see the ruin he has done?”

This dramatic question was put by a distracted mother at an inquest held at yesterday on a young singer who poisoned herself because her lover had proved “a fraud,” to quote the words of her father. It was to this person that the mother alluded.

The dead girl was Alexandrina Marguerite Stringer (22), known on the concert stage as Drina Strange. Her father, who was much distressed, stated that months ago his daughter introduced a young man to him.

“I saw he was a fraud at the first sight,” he went on, “and I warned her against him.” Later he heard from his daughter that he was married, and sent for and spoke to him. His daughter was much upset — it drove her mad.

The coroner here read letter from Miss Stringer — ‘Moga’ is the nickname of a friend :

“Moga knows all and still loves. I am ashamed and unhappy. Do not blame my lover for this, for I was unhappy before he crossed my path. He was my only star and light. Will my dear mother ever forgive me? I am unworthy to be beneath your honest roof. So here I die to win success in death. God forgive me. I am a vile creature. I die with love for my parents, and gratitude for their forgiveness, and, above all, please let my lover alone.— Good-bye; Dina.”

LETTER TO MAN’S WIFE

Sidney Kibby, Western-road, Southall, a clerk employed by the Maypole Dairy Co., replying to the coroner, said he knew he ought to have told Miss Stringer earlier that he was married. He had done wrong.

Why did you leave it until this girl’s 21st birthday? — I thought it the best thing to do then.
Having told her the facts you still continued take her out? — Yes.

Kibby produced a letter written by Miss Stringer to his wife, in which she said:-

“I feel I must apologise …. I realise I have done a wicked wrong, and how you have forgiven I cannot tell I hope you will restore the former love of your husband …. I swear I shall never see him again if only you will continue to give me your forgiveness. Dina Strange.

P.S. — If you care to be a friend of my mother’s she will always welcome you. She is one of the sweetest beings living. I hate myself bringing so much misery to her. Heartbroken. — D.S.”

The medical evidence was that Miss Stringer had taken salts of lemon. The doctor added that he found no trace that she had been interfered with.

In returning verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity,” the coroner observed that the conduct of Kibby led to this poor girl taking her life, and he was responsible, if not legally, at any rate morally.

Miss Stringer’s father was escorted from the court by police officers and his son, and a police-sergeant escorted Kibby, who made a hurried exit.

Alfred Henry Bailey

Alderman and mayor of Mitcham 1944-45. Born 1876, died 22nd May, 1959.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 17th November 1944 with his wife photographed after the Mayor’s formal election the previous week.

His obituary as reported in the local press:

Mr A.H. Bailey, former mayor, Boer War veteran and campaigner for a better Mitcham, died on Friday after a short illness. He was 82.

Throughout his long connection with Mitcham he fought for improvements. It is through his efforts that Mitcham was provided with two secondary schools.

In recent years, despite his age, Mr Bailey continued to play an active part in local organisations and affairs.

Mr Bailey came to the district in 1909. For several years until his death he lived in a bungalow at Glebe Court Estate, London Road.

Before he met his wife and settled down he was a roamer. He went to South Africa in 1895, and fought in the Boer War.

He joined an uitlander regiment and, as sergeant, took part in the battles preceding the relief of Ladysmith.

After being a member of Mitcham Urban District Council for six years he was elected chairman in 1926. Since then he has served the district in almost every civic capacity.

He became a member of the Borough Council in 1935, an alderman in 1937 and in 1944 he and his wife became Mayor and Mayoress.

His interests in Mitcham were many. He was president of the local boy scouts association for 17 years, a war-time deputy chief warden, founder member of the North Mitcham Improvement Association and founder member of the Anglo-Netherlands Association – now the All Nations’ Sports and Cultural Association.

Mr Bailey’s funeral was on Wednesday (27th May, 1959) at South London Crematorium.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 29th May 1959

More information on his life was given in a profile in the The South Warder, magazine of the South Mitcham Residents Association, volume 1 issue 1, November 1947.

Born in 1876 at Epsom, he attended the same primary school as Mr. Chuter Ede, the MP for Mitcham in 1923.

At the age of 12 he was apprenticed to a trade he disliked, and when in his ‘teens he emigrated to South Africa, ultimately settling in Pretoria, working in a shop for three years and becoming personally acquainted with the State Attorney (Field Marshal Smuts).

When hostilities broke out he found the lines to Cape Colony and Natal blocked, and had to escape through Portuguese territory (this route was later used by Winston Churchill). Joining a Uitiander Corps, he quickly became a sergeant and saw service at Colenso, Vaal Krantz, Spion Kop, and eventually taking part in the relief of Ladysmith; he was then invalided home to England with enteric fever.

On returning to civil life he entered the Post Office engineering service, retiring in 1936 at the age of 60.

He came to Mitcham in 1909 and was elected to the Council in 1920, and raised to the Aldermanic bench in 1937.

Mr. Bailey was very prominent in the formation of the Air Raid Precautions of the Borough and served throughout the War as a Deputy Chief Warden.

He served on many Committees of the Council and also on several outside bodies, such as School Managers, Boy Scouts, etc., where he was well known for his intelligent approach to the problems arising therein.

Perhaps the highlight in his long career was to be chosen as Mayor during V.E. year, when, in addition to his normal duties, he was seen at practically every street party held in Mitcham, accompanied and ably supported by the Mayoress, Mrs. Bailey.


In the 1911 census, Alfred Henry Bailey, inspector in the engineers department of post office telephones, is living at 48 Boscombe Road, with his wife Florence May, aged 34, and daughter Mary Alice, aged 1.

From a public family tree on Ancestry, his daughter Mary Alice married Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse in 1938.

Alfred Henry Bailey died in 1959, as shown in his probate record, from Ancestry:

BAILEY Alfred Henry of 180 Glebe Court, London Road, Mitcham
Surrey, died 22nd May 1959 at St. Anthonys Hospital Cheam Surrey.

Probate London 9th July to Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse quantity surveyor and Mary Alice Rodhouse (Wife of the said Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse).

Effects £1886 13s. 8d.

Adjusted for inflation, this is worth around £40,000 in 2017 values.

Merton Memories Photos
1945
1946 visit to Hengelo
1958

N.M.I.A. Hall, Woodland Way

Called the North Mitcham Hall by the North Mitcham Improvement Association, or N.M.I.A., this building stood at number 51 Woodland Way, close to the junction with Ashbourne Road. There was also a pavilion, with two hard and three grass tennis courts

1949 OS map

1949 OS map

Clip from 1939 photo of the North Mitcham Hall from Merton Memories photo 49676 (c) London Borough of Merton

Clip from 1939 photo of the North Mitcham Hall from Merton Memories photo 49676 (c) London Borough of Merton

22nd February 1949 - the first play by the North Mitcham Players, held at the NMIA's North Mitcham Hall

22nd February 1949 – the first play by the North Mitcham Players, held at the NMIA’s North Mitcham Hall

example of event at the hall and grounds

example of event at the hall and grounds

The hall was built by Joseph Owen, who lived at 89 Ashbourne Road.


Demolished in 2015/6 and redeveloped.