250-year-old Ravensbury Park find
WHILE reinforcing the banks of a backwater in Ravensbury Park, Mitcham, Mr. William Bloodforth, parks foreman, came across a large wooden pipe, which he believes is over 250 years old.
The section of the pipe which he uncovered is clamped together with six iron bands.
One theory is that the pipe, about two feet in diameter, was used to drain dye or bleach from a silk factory that might have been on the site where the rubber factory now stands, facing Morden Road.
If the pipe did carry dye it may have drained into the River Wandle about 600 yards away.
Mr. Bloodforth thinks this is unlikely as the backwater is higher than the Wandle bed.
A huge plane tree, ai least 250 years old, is growing in the path of the pipe which is only inches beneath the bed of the backwater.
“I shouldn’t think that the pipe was put there after the tree had been planted.” said Mr. Bloodforth.
It was while he was “riveting” the banks that his spade came across the wooden pine.
“I thought it was a coffin at first and was looking for the bones,” he said.
°It must have been here before the backwater. The mud, of course, has preserved it beautifully.” he went on.
The pipe may never have been discovered if Mr Bloodforth had not taken the opportunity to do the banks while the water is cut off due to the road works in Morden Road.
Lt. Col. Harold Francis Bidder, D.S.O. (1917), M.A., F.S.A.
Second son of George P. Bidder, Q.C., of Ravensbury Park, Mitcham.
Born 1875; educated St. Paul’s and Trinity College Cambridge.
Married in 1918 to Vivian, eldest daughter of late H. M. Rush, of
Edinburgh; 2 sons, 1 daughter.
Barrister at Lincoln’s Inn 1899.
Joined 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex regiment in 1899, and served in South African War 1899-1902 and in Great War 1914-19 in France.
Lt. Col. Machine Gun corps 1917
Associate member of Chartered Surveyors’ Institute,
J.P. (1926) Surrey.
1 Brick court, Temple, E.C.4 (Central 1687) ;
The Malt House, Nettlebed, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon (Nettlebed 260).
Source: Kelly’s Handbook to the Titled, Landed & Official Classes, 1952 from Find My Past (subscription required)
According to Eric Montague in his book Mitcham Histories : 10 Ravensbury, pages 42-3, among his interests was archaeology, and he started the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Ravensbury in 1891. He continued with this after WW1 and finished it in 1922.
He became the first president of the Merton and Morden Historical Society when it was formed in 1951, a position he held for 20 years until his death at the age of 92.