Tag Archives: WJ Bush

1960 : Explosion showers acid over homes

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 15th January, 1960, page 1.

Explosion hurls vat top through roof of factory

And two boys at play are covered

Acid showered over homes in the Batsworth Road, Mitcham, area on Friday after an explosion in a factory nearby.

The explosion hurled the top of a vat through the factory roof. A stream of acid followed and firemen were called to hose it from homes and the street.

The factory is W.J. Bush, synthetic chemists, Batsworth Road, scene of an explosion in 1933 whiched wrecked and damaged nearby homes, and killed a child. People in the neighbourhood have never forgotten it.


Friday’s explosion remains a mystery. The fac†ory would make no comment.

It happened in the evening as Mr Albert Bowdery, who lives nearby, went to buy some tobacco.

“I heard the bang and thought at first that a tower was going to fall, then I saw something rush through the roof.

“I hurried back indoors and called to my daughter-in-law: ‘Quick, the children.’ We ran with them into the road. It would not take much to make this old building collapse.”

Mr Bowdery’s daughter-in-law Violet, has two young children – John and Linda.

Mr Bowdery said: “The explosion reminded people of the 1933 incident. They are always a bit worried about the factory.

“We don’t know what goes on there.”

The shop of greengrocer Mrs L. Langridge was covered in a “sort of white wash.”

“We are still cleaning up. A pair of my overalls are ruined. We could not let the children play outside.”

A nearby butcher, Mr J. Stopher, said: “The sanitary people inspected my goods, and, to be on the safe side, I have handed over a quantity of lamb, although it was not contaminated as far as we can tell. The damage was done to the outside of my shop.”

An elderly painter said: “We worry about the factory because many of us remember the tragedy of 1933.”

Soon after the explosion Michael Fullick and his brother Norman went out to play. They became covered in the acid.


“When we found out we gave them baths immediately,” said mr F. Fullick, licensee of the Bath Tavern.

Firemen were given rubber gloves when they arrived at the factory. A works chemist gave them advice on how to deal with the spilt sulphuric acid.

Getty Images of The Explosion of 1933

Photographs from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

The Official Report

Batsworth Road

Road that currently connects Church Road (opposite Foxes Path) to Belgrave Road. On the south side of the road is a trading estate.

Previously the south side was the site of industrial works and the north side allotments with piggeries.

1910 OS map. The Distillery was W.J. Bush. Batsworth Road today continues to Belgrave Road across where the distillery was.

The connecting road to the south of the distillery was also Batsworth Road as shown in this 1952 OS map:

1952 OS map

E.N. Montague in ‘Mitcham Histories: 8 Phipps Bridge‘, page 12, says that the Batsworth name can be traced back to the 13th century as the name of an enclosure of land. ‘Long’ and ‘Short’ Batsworth fields are mentioned in the sale of the estate of James Moore in 1852. They were part of the ‘Blacklands’ near Phipps Bridge, the colour alluding to the richness of the soil.

Mitcham, Surrey.

— To Capitalists, Market Gardeners, Medical Herb Growers, Agriculturists, and Others.

— Valuable Freehold and Copyhold Properties, nearly all land-tax free, comprising the Second Portion of the Estates of the late James Moore, Esq.

MESSRS. CRAWTER are favoured with instructions by the Devisee in Trust for Sale, to OFFER, at AUCTION, at Garraway’s Coffee-house, Change Alley, Cornhill, London, on WEDNESDAY, August 11 next, and following day, at
1 precisely each day, in 41 convenient Lots (giving Votes for the County).

Consisting of about 71 Acres of very Superior FREEHOLD and COPYHOLD LANDS, and PREMISES, situate dispersed in the Parish, lying near the Church, and in Church-street, and on the high road from Mitcham to Morden; also in Blacklands Fields, near Phipps Bridge, Long and Short Batsworth. Half Furlong, East Fields, &c., all accommodation land of first-rate quality, and in a high state of cultivation, capable of growing crops of every description, but particularly adapted for growth of medical herbs — (for which lands were used by the late proprietor), and market garden crops,
for which the locality has been long noted, with several eligible building frontages, in a healthy, populous, and improving neighbourhood, surrounded by, and adjoining to, good roads, only 8 miles fr London and 3 from Croydon Market-town, with a prospect of railway communication in the ensuing year, and the right to enfranchise the copyholds. N.B. — Possession can be had at Christmas next.

Particulars can be had 10 days before the sale of T. E. Pe????,
Esq., solicitor, 12, Mecklenburgh-square at Garraway’s; and the
King’s Head and Buck’s Head, Mitcham; the Greyhound and Cock Inns, Sutton; principal Inns at Tooting, Merton, Carshalton, Epsom, and Croydon; and of Messrs. Crawter. surveyors, land agents, &c., 7, Southampton-buildinga, Chancery-lane, and Cobhatn, Surrey. A competent person will be employed to show the lands.

Cock Chimney Factory

Photos on Merton Memories

Newspaper Articles etc.
Road stopping up order in the London Gazette Publication date:12 May 1988 Issue:51331 Page:5634

1960 : Explosion showers acid over homes

1928 : Pigs starved to death

1915 : Swine fever outbreak

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