Small outline map

Mills in use in 20th Century


First Mill

The first mention of a mill at Ravensbury is in a manorial rent roll. A newly erected mill was rented from Sir Nicholas Carew by a Mr. Westerbrooke. The date seems to be unclear, maybe as early as 1650 or as late as 1680. What the mill was actually used for is not recorded but there is little doubt that this mill is was a precursor of the present Ravensbury Mill.

1750 to1925

By 1750 a plan of this area shows a building astride the River Wandle in a position now occupied by the present mill. In 1756 the mill was rented to a Mr. Arnold as a snuff mill. In 1805 the mill was acquired by the Rutter family, who continued to produce snuff. During the Victorian Era the taking of snuff declined and the mill began to concentrate more on the production of tobacco for cigarettes and pipes.

They produced the famous 'Mitcham Shag'. The Rutter family remained at the mill until 1925. The mill was then acquired by Whitely & Co.



Whitely Products Ltd was founded in 1894 as a subsidiary of Whitely Exerciser Company of U.S.A (which still exists). In 1904 Mr. Whitely withdrew from the company and it became an entirely British company.

Ravensbury Mill

The firm took over Ravensbury Mill in 1925.

Whitely produced a wide range of sporting equipment for sorts such as: Table tennis, Net ball, Darts, Rounders, Indian clubs, Golf, Skittles, Football, to name a few.

They also made keep fit equipment chast expanders and elastic punch balls.

The production of elasticated rope led them to produce the elastic cords used on parachutes and in bungy jumping but more excitingly, the elastic cord used to trap aircraft returning to their aircraft carrier.

The Connollys

The Connolly brothers came from Ireland, and at first they set up business as boot repairers. They then moved into the leather trade. In the 1920s the Connollys opened up a currying workshop in Wimbledon. They bought their hides from Williamson of Canterbury,which they acquired in 1936. The success fo the leather works owed much to the expansion of the motor trade.The leather they produced was of such high quality that car manufacturers such as Roll-Royce, Daimler, Bentley and Jaguar used it. Connollys also supplied leather for aircraft, for the upholstery in the Houses of Parliament and for the liners the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and the Q.E.II.

A mill has been on or near this site since the 13th century, and is possibly the site of a mill mentioned in the Domesday Book. There was certainly a mill recorded in the manor court rolls for 1236/7. This early mill would have been a corn mill. Although the mill changed hands many times over the years it was a corn mill until about 1915. In 1922 Paxton & Co took over part of the site and produced patent leather. Later that year Connolly Leather Ltd took over the mill and continued to work at the mill until they moved to Ashford in Kent in 1997.