Tag Archives: Phipps Bridge

1879 : Beating the Bounds

From the Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 31 May 1879, via the British Newspaper Archive


On Ascension Day, May 22nd, and the day following, was witnessed in the parish of Mitcham the now almost obsolete practice of “Beating the bounds of the parish,” which had not taken place since 1835, although a dispute as to boundary occurred in 1847 which was settled by the now fashionable means of arbitration. The arrangements having been kept somewhat secretly, prevented the assembling of so large a concourse of people as might have been expected, the weather being on the first day all that could be desired. We understand that there bad not been a general invitation to the parishioners to attend, but it extended only to the clergy and parish officers. But before giving any further details of the day’s proceedings it may interest many of our readers to give a short account of perambulations in general, and that of Mitcham in particular.

It is stated in Shaw’s Guide to parish law, published upwards of century ago, that “The boundaries of parishes being now settled by custom care is and ought to be taken to preserve them by annual perambulations, which should be kept up at the usual time, and the boundaries of the parishes so carefully viewed and settled in them as to leave no room for any doubt or contest about them. In the times of Popery these perambulations were performed in the nature of processions, with banners, handbells, lights, staying at crosses, &c., and therefore, though such processions were forbidden by the injunctions of Queen Elizabeth, yet by the same injunctions, the useful and innocent parts of perambulations were and are still retained.”

The earliest account that we can find of a perambulation of the parish of Mitcham is obtained from the oldest volume of Churchwardens’ accounts, which covers a period from 1653 to 1680, for in the accounts for the year 1662, the following item occurs: —“ Pd for our dinner and the boyes att our perambulatinge 7s. 2d.” Whether the boys underwent the bumping and whipping generally understood to take place upon those occasions, to indelibly impress the doubtful and difficult parts of the boundary in the juvenile mind, is not here stated, but in the year 1663 is this entry, “Expended on those who went perambulatinge in the Rogation weeke for victualls and drinke the sum of £1 0s. 4d.” and again under date 1670, “ Expended at the perambulacon on those that went ye bounds of ye Pish, £3 2s. 2d.” In the year 1673 the the description of the fare provided upon these occasions is more fully expressed thus for meat, drinke, and cheese, for those that went the perambulation.” No further mention is found of the matter until 1678, when “Expended at the perambulacon on Holy Thursday £3 0s. 0d. for horse hyre that day, 1s.” These items distinctly prove that perambulations of the parish were much more frequent in the 17th than 19th century. Passing over a few years we find that these gatherings did not always pass off quietly as could be wished, as is shown by the following extract from the minutes of a vestry held 20th June, 1731 :- “It is the opinion or the parishioners now in vestry assembled that the churchwardens, against whom actions are brought by William Farrer, Esq., Henry Downs, clerk, Thomas Green and Osmond King, For going in their perambulations on Ascension Day last thro’ a place called the new grounds formerly taken out of Mitcham Heath, ought to bee indemnified by the parish from all costs and charges that shall arise concerning the same.” The foregoing is followed by resolution passed at a vestry held on Sunday, 27th of same month, that “It is the oppinion of the parishioners that Mr. Peter’s be employed to make a case concerning the perambulatious, &c.” The bounds were also ordered to be walked in 1771 and 1772. With the following two entries from the churchwardens’ accounts we shall close our notice of the ancient perambulations of the parish:- “3 May, 1733, Paid for the dinner, wine, bread, beer, cheese, &c., when Mr. Hatsell and the churchwardens, with a great number of the other inhabitants of Mitcham, went the whole perambulation of the parish of Mitcham, £6 19s. 5d.” The Mr. Hatsell here mentioned was the Rev. William Hatsell, eldest son of Sir Henry Hatsell, Baron of the Exchequer. He was instituted vicar of Mitcham 13th July, 1724, and resigned 13th January, 1733-4. “23 May, 1724, To the Wid Boddison was due to her late husband for drink at the perambulation 3 May, 1733, and left unpaid, 10s. 6d. Paid for the dinner, wine, bread, beer, cheese, &c., when the churchwardens, and great number of the parishioners of Mitcham went again the perambulation on the south side of the parish, taking in all Mitcham Common as usual, together with the 80 acres called new grounds, antiently taken out of Mitcham Heath, £6 10s. 0d.”

The place of rendezvous selected on Thursday was the Goat Inn, situated about half-a-mile from Mitcham Junction, and punctually at eight a.m. the perambulation was commenced. Amongst the company present were the following:- Rev. D. F. Wilson, M. A., vicar, Rev. H. G. Dod, curate, Mr. Churchwarden Nobes, who bore his wand of office, the three overseers, viz., Messrs. W. R. Harwood (who carried a staff inscribed Mitcham Parish,” apparently a relict of long defunct bumbledom), S. Love, and J. Lewis. A few other parishioners and friends joined later on.

The arrangements for the day were principally under the direction of Messrs. E. and R. M. Chart, the latter of whom carried a ribbon map of the boundaries, upwards of 25 feet in length. The proverbial “boys,” six in number, especially told off for the duty, beat the various boundary posts and streams of water, &c., with willow wands. The “State” was represented by two policemen, who apparently enjoyed this somewhat novel form of duty.

Starting from the Goat Inn the party followed the river, leaving McRae’s tannery on the left, a man provided with waterman’s boots defining the boundary down the stream, but it was found advisable to take a punt where the water was particularly deep and muddy. Searl’s and Ashby’s mills were passed in due course, and the various boundary posts having been beaten by the boys after the Vicar had pronounced, whilst the perambulators stood bare-headed, “ Cursed be that removeth his neighbour’s land mark.” Entering the grounds of the late Mr. G. P. Bidder, the stream was followed to Rutter’s snuff mills, then through the grounds of Morden-hall, and past Phipp’s-bridge to Merton Abbey Station. Merton bridge was reached at 12.15 p.m., where a stick was floated under, the waterman being in mid stream ready to receive it as it came out on the other side.

The company then adjourned to the Six Bells for lunch, which was admirably served by Host Giles. The chair was taken by Rev. H. G. Dodd, the Rev. D. F. Wilson having left the party, but rejoined it later on in company with Rev. F. S. Legg, vicar of Christ Church, Singlegate, Mr. Churchwarden Nobes taking the vice chair. After all had done justice to the collation.

The Chairman rose and in a short but pointed speech proposed, “The Queen,” which the company heartily responded to by singing the National Anthem. The Vice-Chairman, in rising, said he had much pleasure in being present on that occasion. It was the first time he had walked the bounds of Mitcham, although he had done so in another parish. He spoke of perambulations being an ancient custom and alluded to Lord Nelson having resided at Merton, upon the verge of which parish the company were then assembled. After complimenting the overseers and Mr. Chart upon their excellent arrangements, he concluded by calling for three cheers for those gentlemen.

Mr. W. R. Harwood, in an appropriate speech, returned thanks for the overseers, and Mr. Chart, whom said they were all indebted.

The perambulations were again commenced, through the garden of the Six Bells, over part of what was once the Wandsworth and Croydon tramway, the boundary here being somewhat intricate, to the back of Child’s flour mill, and Byegrove-mead, where the new sewage works are in course of and up to the wall of Garrett Cemetery. The railway crossed in several places, the axe being used on the various boundary posts to show that none had been passed over. Some little time was spent in defining a small detached part of the parish, which being at last satisfactorily settled, the party made towards Tooting Junction, some of them going through a house that had been built over the parish boundary. Tooting Junction was reached at 4.30 p.m. and after crossing the garden of the house supposed to have been the residence of Daniel de Foe, the company separated, having had a somewhat tiring but agreeable day.

The weather on Friday morning looked very threatening, and heavy showers were experienced during the day, but nevertheless at a few minutes after 8 a.m. the Rev. H. G. Dodd, the overseers, and others arrived Tooting Junction, and immediately the perambulation was recommenced under the guidance, as before, of Messrs. E. and R. M. Chart. Following the course of the Graveney, a tributary of the Wandle, to Streatham-lane, where noted the bridge over the stream, called Roe Bridge,” which connects the parishes of Mitcham and Streatham, has a stone let the north side, bearing the Merchant Taylor’s arms, and inscribed, “This bridge was built at the cost of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, 1652.” Still following the river to the railway, which was crossed near Streatham Rifle Butts, the party proceeded to Lonesome, passing over the race course and leaving the stand the left. Here several posts put up by Croydon parish were duly marked with a cross. Passing through the wood to the extreme north east corner of Mitcham Common, which was reached at ll a.m., and at that point, the rain having cleared up for a short time, an enjoyable al fresco lunch supplied by Mr. Marchant, of the Horse and Groom, was partaken of. The common was then skirted to Beddington station, and after going down Beddington-lane for a short distance the fields were entered on the right, and a walk straight across country passing over the railway en route brought the company out of the plantation near Beddington Corner. Mr. Chart informed us that the enclosure of this piece of ground, about 80 acres in extent, was the cause of considerable litigation which was finally settled about 1816 by the Court of King’s Bench. The vicar here joined the party, and skirting the plantation, reached the post opposite the Goat Inn at 1 p.m., and against it “the boys” received the orthodox bumping, although of a mild description, which brought the perambulation to close.

We cannot conclude without commenting upon the orderly manner in which the proceedings were conducted throughout, and which reflected great credit upon all concerned.

The overseers expressed their determination place iron boundary posts at various points decided upon during the perambulation.

Mount Rovers F.C.

Football club, Mount Road and area.

From the Norwood News, 22nd July, 1960

MOUNT Rovers F.C. have decided in future the players’ shorts and socks will he provided by the Club to improve smartness on the field.

There are still one or two vacancies for good class players to join the club, whose first eleven is in the Premier Division of the Morden and District Sunday League.

The Reserve XI is the only second-strmg team to be placed as high as the first division of the same league.

Applications should he sent to the secretary, Mr. H. T. Mount,
7, Mount Road, Mitcham, Surrey.

From the Norwood News, 10th August 1962

Mount Rovers annual meeting

At Mount Rovers annual meeting at the Bath Tavern, Mitcham, the officers were elected as follows: Mr A. Hanney, chairman; Mr H. Mount, secretary; Mr A. Brier, assistant secretary; Mr E. R. Mount, treasurer.

Three teams will be put out next season, all competing in the Morden and District Sunday League.

A letter was read from the president (Mr G. Arnold) stating that he intended to award annually a trophy to the player or official whom by secret vote was deemed to be outstanding.

The secretary H. Mount suggested that a committee be formed to cater for any increase of membership that might arise in view of the area in which their football ground was situated (Phipps Bridge) being redeveloped. This was agreed.

Phipps Bridge footbridge over Wandle

According to Eric Montague, in his book Mitcham Histories: 8 Phipps Bridge, page 12,

the present bridge, … dates to the mid-1950s and replaced a World War II ‘Bailey’ bridge

In May 2016, the bridge was closed for repairs, and a new bridge was opened in February 2017. See also report by the contractor involved in the restoration.

Photo taken 7th March 2017

Photo taken 7th March 2017

Photo taken 7th March 2017

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

2,000th post-war council home built in 1955

Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser
Thursday, 7th July 1955


Housing chairman unable to give Phipps Bridge date

‘Impossible to say when work will start’

Mitcham Council have built their 2,000th post-war permanent home – but no one realised it at the time.

It happened a few weeks ago. Calculations show that the 2,000th home is a flat on the Ravensbury Estate.

When the town’s 1,000th post-war home was opend at Pollards Hill several years ago, there was a special celebration to mark the event.

Up to date, 2,128 permanent houses have been provided by the council since 1945. In addition, 345 temporary Arcon bungalows were erected shortly after the war, as well as 107 short-term hutments.

Now, the council are waiting to go ahead with their big Phipps Bridge redevelopment programme. They plan to build 636 new flats and houses at a cost of more than £1.75 million on land at present occupied by the closed-down dust destructor and old property.

Planning problems

Ald. Fido said it was impossible to say when work would start. There had been delays because of planning problems. It had been hoped to obtain the Mitcham Stadium site for building to fill in the gap until the Phipps Bridge scheme could go ahead.

The eight-acre stadium site has been bought by Wates Ltd., the local building firms, who intended to build blocks of flats there.

Because of shortage of land the council’s future building plans – apart from Phipps Bridge – are restricted to one or two small sites such as Pitcairn Road where 17 flats and houses are to be built, and Inglemere Road where a dozen flats are to go up.

Work in progress

A number of old people’s bungalows and flats are being, or will be, built on existing estates. These include 17 cottage flats on the Short Bolstead Estate, where work should start soon. The Elm Nursery Estate will be completed when 20 homes for old people have been erected, and work is in progress on 36 more at the Glebe Estate.

In addition Mitcham has 184 flats under construction at the Banstead joint housing estate.

The 2,500th home was celebrated in 1956, see Completion of 2,500th Post-War Dwelling

See also this Engineering website about the Arcon design, and this website for details about Nissen huts, or ‘hutments’.

Dust Destructor Chimney

From the Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser, 15th September, 1955.

A LANDMARK familiar to thousands of Mitcham residents disappeared last Thursday with the felling of the 125 ft. high refuse destructor chimney at Phipps Bridge.

This was the first major step in clearing the area adjoining Homewood Road for Mitcham Corporation’s proposed £1,750,000 redevelopment scheme to house 636 families.

During the previous week-end, two steeplejack brothers Mr. Arthur Collard and Mr. John Collard. began work on what was for them the end of another chimney. By Thursday they had cut away half the 18-ft. wide base, leaving timber props in place of the 3-ft. 6-in. think brickwork.

At 2.26 p.m. the props, soaked in 20 gallons of paraffin, were set alight. As flames leapt high, the 21 year old chimney belched smoke for the last time. Nine minutes later, it heeled over with a muffled roar 460 tons of brickwork fell to the ground beneath a vast cloud of dust.

The deputy borough engineer, Mr. W. B. W. Wignall, and a number of Mitcham councillors, including the chairman of the Housing Committee, Aid. D. W. Chalkley, watched the chimney crash down a few yards from their feet.


And from his New Close home which overlooks the site Mr. Tom Good, now in his seventies, saw the end of the chimney he had helped to build.

“It was a perfect drop.” said Mr. Arthur Collard. With him was Alec, his 13 year old son, “who always comes to watch the interesting jobs.”

Built in 1934, in the last year of the old Mitcham Urban District Council, the chimney and destructor cost £9,869. A council spokesman told “The Advertiser” afterwards: “It would probably cost three times that sum to build at present-day

The destructor was last used at the beginning of 1953. The amount of refuse handled by the corporation had grown so much that it was decided to tip all refuse on Mitcham Common.

1939 Harry Mount Remembers 1870s Mitcham


In the year 1870 about the same time that Maurice Maeterlinck was beginning to study water spiders in his grandfather’s garden, and my old friend Tom Francis was beginning to sit up and take notice in what was then the centre of Mitcham, I was doing likewise on the outskirts of the village in what is at present called the Phipps Bridge Ward.

To be correct, I slept about six feet within the Merton boundary on the bank of the brook that runs from the Wandle at Phipps Bridge till it joins the river again at Merton Abbey.

The stream at that time was clear running water which was used for drinking and cooking purposes by all people on each side of the brook.

On the Merton side there were old willow trees from which old Tom Sherman, the famous Surrey bowler, obtained many a splendid cricket bat. At certain periods the river gates would be opened and the brook flooded. When the water had abated, roach, gudgeon in great numbers and a certain quantity of trout could be easily caught. A twelve years old schoolgirl on one occasion waded into the stream and scooped up a fine trout in her pinafore, and one of the clerks at Harlands, the varnish makers, gave her half a crown for it. Mr. Robert Harland spent much of his leisure time near Phipps Bridge fly-fishing for trout.


My home was what would now be called a two-roomed wooden bungalow, but was then called for postal purposes, Rose Cottage. It was known locally as Rats Castle, and it did not belie its latter name, for many a night, while I was reading by candlelight I had one eye on the book and the other on a huge water rat under the table eating the crumbs.

I ought to say that there was only my father and me living in the cottage from the time I was nine years of age.

Mitcham in 1870 contained only seven thousand inhabitants, of whom it would be safe to say that five thousand of them were unable to read a book or newspaper. The Education Act was introduced that year, but had very little effect until some years after.

I first attended school at the National School opposite the cenotaph. The only thing I remember of that time is that we boys made wooden swords, and, dividing ourselves up, fought the Franco-German War in our playtime on the green.

One of us was lucky enough to have a tin sword in a scabbard, and he was made commander-in-chief, but of which Army I now forget. I was at that school only a few months, when the “powers that were” found out that I was Mertoner and sent me to the Lower Merton Schools, near Old Merton Church.

I stayed there till I was eleven years old, and then went as tearboy for my father, who was silk handkerchief printer at Littler’s factory, which is now owned by Liberty’s.


I do not remember learning anything at either school, as my father had been my teacher from a very early age. He had a “Book of Useful Knowledge,” with questions and answers, opening like this: “What is the World?” “The Earth we Live On.” “Who made It?” Our Great and Good God.” “Are there not many things in you would like know about?” Yes.” “ What is Bread?” and on, with hundreds of questions, which he would set me to learn a page at a time, and then put me through it with the book in his hand. I was also fairly good at arithmetic. Newspapers were very scarce in our neighbourhood in those days. Lloyd’s Weekly and the Police News were the standard of the reading public.

One number of the latter paper I shall never forget. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) had been very ill with typhoid fever, early in January. 1872, he began to recover and that week the “Police News” came out with a full page picture of the Prince’s bedchamber with a lovely female figure floating over the Prince’s bed and Old King Death with his scythe running out of the door. Underneath was the inscription :

“The Angel of Mercy at Sandringham.”

As a boy of nine it made a lasting impression on me.

Phipps Bridge was at that time truly rural district, with the exception of about six factories. There was a wide expanse of mint, peas, beans, liquorice and hay fields from Tooting Junction to Old Merton Church and from Merton High-street to Mitcham Cricket Green.

The Messrs. Littler’s were three brothers — Billy, Jimmy and Teddy. They were our employers and also our landlords and when there was no work they didn’t trouble us for rent. Billy Littler was a keen sportsman with a gun and would spend much of his leisure time shooting snipe and other birds in the fields surrounding Merton Abbey. The first job I remember doing was supplying beer (good beer at fourpence a quart) in a tin pot to the thirsty haymakers. I spent a very happy time during the years I am writing about.

My work as tearboy was to spread colour evenly on a sieve for the block to pick up and transfer it to the handkerchief.


Littler’s supplied the world with thousands of beautiful silk handkerchiefs and I have often wondered what the owners of these would have thought had they known that the beautiful colours were obtained through a solution of cow dung!

My next job was at Butler’s floorcloth factory, now enclosed with Messrs. Harland’s works, as a tearboy at six shillings a week.

Mitcham in the early seventies, with plenty of haymaking and other work in the fields during the Summer, was a lovely place, but in Winter when the factories were slack and there was scarcely anything to do in the field, life was very different. Had it not been for the soup kitchens in Mitcham and Merton, hundreds of children would have gone hungry very often. These kitchens were supported by charitable people who would dispense tickets with which a child taking a jug with a penny could get a quart of soup. With some bread it made a good dinner for a family. An unemployed man with family would have to walk to Croydon and break a bushel of granite stones and walk back with a four pound loaf under his arm and two tickets. One of the tickets would entitle him to a piece of meat from a butcher in High-street, Merton, and the other to some grocery in Lower Mitcham.


Rent was fairly cheap, a four room cottage being three and ninepence a week. One reason for the low rents was that many the houses were always empty and it did not cause a man much surprise to find that his next door neighbour had flitted to another part of the village during the night

After leaving Butler’s I went to Harvey and Knight’s floorcloth factory in Morden-lane, still as a tearboy at seven shillings a week, and as my father had gone to Lancashire, calico printing, and we had disposed of our home. I had to keep myself on that amount, paying two shillings lodging and washing, and feeding and clothing myself on the remainder.

I had no relations anywhere near me. While I was at Harvey and Knight’s the Russo-Turkish War started and the man I worked with, being unable to read, used to bring “Lloyd’s News” on Monday afternoons for me to read it to him. This continued week after week until the war ended. By that time I was quite familiar with “Plevna,” “The Shipka Pass.” “General Skobeloff and “Osman Digna.”

During that time I saw Mrs. Dempsey’s cow turned out of her field and a big floorcloth and linoleum factory built there by Daniel Hayward and Son of Newington Causeway, London. I started there as the first tearboy as soon it was ready and within a few weeks was linoleum printing, which was trade for eighteen years.


While there I got to know an Irishman who was foreman of the trowellers and floorhands. He possessed a watch but could only tell the time twice a day just on the stroke of six o’clock he would shout “Time, boys—upright and down straight.”

On one occasion he went into a building and shouted to the men aloft: “ How many of you up there?” “Three” came the answer. “Half of you come down,” he said.

So in 1878, dear reader. I will part company with you for the present and add that my life and motto are well summed up in the following lines:

In this world I’ve gained my knowledge
And for it I’ve had to pay,
Though I’ve never been to college
Yet I’ve heard that poets say—
Life is like a mighty river
Flowing on from day to day.
Men are vessels cast upon it
Sometimes wrecked and helpless lay;
Then do your best for one another
Making life a pleasant dream.
Help a worn-out weary brother.
Pulling hard against the stream.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Friday 04 August 1939 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)