This Newsletter contains printed materials recovered using OCR technology
NewsLetter # 16 - Autumn 1996
The Wandle Industrial Museum
Museum open every Wednesday 1-4pm and
first Sunday of each month 2 - 5pm
The museum also welcomes schools and groups by appointment
ADMISSION: ADULTS 20p CHILDREN & SENIOR CITIZENS '1Op
Since the Summer Newsletter we have had six more school visits and workshops at the Museum
mainly in response to a Merton Schools Curriculum Project about William Morris. This project
challenged all schools to participate in the programme of commemorations in Merton, by producing
work based on the life of William Morris. The work could take the form of artwork inspired by
Morris designs, creative writing and poetry, or historical work based on the life and times of Morris at
Merton. We were happy to participate in this project. Schools visiting the Museum were S.S.Peter and
Paul First School, St. John Fisher First School and Wimbledon House School. All these schools are
members of the Museum. We also presented a textile workshop at Merton Abbey First School.
The William Morris Mobile Exhibition has been out again at the Merton Lions Club Fair at Morden
Park on Bank Holiday Monday where it attracted much interest among the crowds. From September 9th -
13th it was on show at Merton Civic Centre. Each lunch hour we sold Museum publications and raised
£130 for Museum funds. Once again it created much valuable publicity for the Museum. Finally, by
request, the Exhibition was on display at The Wheelhouse at Merton Abbev Mills over the weekend
of 5th-6th October. Thanks to all those volunteers who helped man the Exhibitions and stalls at all these
PAST: On Thursday, September 12th, about forty members, friends and
interested members of the public enjoyed a lecture by Peter Harris on The Life of William Morris
illustrated from his extensive collection of slides, many of which belong to the Wandle Industrial
Annual General Meeting Tuesday, October 1st. See separate report by Ray Leyden.
Proposed Change of Name of Museum - See A.G.M. Report and letter to the Editor.
If you would like to write your opinions regarding the proposed change of name of the Museum please
write to the Editor at the Museum for inclusion in the Winter Newsletter.
PRESENT: It has been decided to hold a Museum Christmas Party in the
Vestry Hall on Thursday, December 5th at 7.30 p.m. A special Invitation to this event is enclosed with
this Newsletter. Refreshments will be available and during the evening there will be a chance to see
the video "Topsy" about the life of William Morris, which includes footage of the Museum's model of
the Morris Workshops at Merton Abbey.
We do hope as many Members and Volunteers as possible will come to this social event It will be by
way of a "thank you" from the Management Committee to the Volunteers who give their time to the
Museum for free.
FUTURE No new ideas emerged for future Member's Events at the last Member's
Meeting. If any Members have any ideas for events for 1997 could they please telephone me at
WANPLE INDUSTRIAL MUSEUM MEMBERSHIP
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR 1996-7 became due from 1st October 1996. For your
convenience a renewal form is included as part of this Newsletter. Members who joined from
1st July 1996 need not renew till next year.
We hope to see you all at the Museum Christmas Party. Please send your reply slips in so that
we have numbers for catering.
A very happy Christmas to all our Members, friends and Volunteers.
Sheila Harris 20/10/96
Plaque recently unveiled to the memory of William Morris on the
Riverside Path Near Merton High Street.
WILLIAM MORRIS EVENTS IN MERTON 1996
During this year 1996, the Education, Leisure and Libraries Department of the London
Borough of Merton have organised a whole Programme of Centenary Commemorations in
memory of William Morris who died on October 3rd 1896 at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith.
The Museum was happy to be asked to participate in the Morris Borough Tour on 22nd October
led by member Judith Goodman. Approximately 30 members arrived by coach specifically to see
the Museum's unique model of the Morris Merton Abbey Workshops. The tour started by the
River Wandle near the Savacentre and Trellis House (The Shaftesbury Housing Association) the
site of the original workshops, of which nothing now remains. It was, therefore, helpful to the tour
members to see the model and so to get an image of the past when the workshops in their rural
setting were at the height of their power. The tour members were then proceeding to four Merton
Churches which own stained glass windows made by Morris & Co.
On Thursday 3rd October on the anniversary of his death, staff attended the unveiling of a plaque to
William Morris at the site of his Merton Abbey Works. The plaque was unveiled by the Mayor,
Councillor Slim Flegg O.B.E. and can be seen on the river bank midway between the Savacentre
and Trellis House and opposite to the Interpretive Panel which explains the history of the whole
area. It is headed "Site of William Morris Printworks". It is good that William Morris is at last
recognised in Merton in an appropriate place.
After the unveiling ceremony tea was provided in Trellis House by kind invitation of the
Shaftesbury Housing Association. We were happy to see that the sheltered housing complex is
named after the "trellis" design by Morris, as it was built on the site of part of the Morris Merton
Abbey Workshops. In their hallway and corridors are information panels about the life of
Morris, wall mounted Morris designs and Morris pattern curtains.
In the evening of the 3rd October we attended the opening of Merton Heritage Centre's
Exhibition "The Creative Spirit - William Morris in Merton". The highlight of the Exhibition is the
two roundels designed by Burne-Jones and made by Morris Marshall Faulkener & Co. in 1870,
donated to the Wimbledon Labour Hall in 1930 by the daughter of the architect Chambrey Corker
Townsend, and kindly loaned to the Exhibition. The roundels are delightful and depict Helen of
Troy and Geoffrey Chaucer.
Do go and see them at this interesting Exhibition open every Friday and Saturday 10.00 to 5.00
p.m. at The Canons, Madeira Road, Mitcham. The Exhibition is on until January 1997.
Sheila Harris 14.10.96
'TOPSY - ALIAS "WILLIAM MORRIS"
"Topsy" - video tape, recently produced by the Victoria & Albert Museum in support of
their Exhibition on Morris and his work.
As is my usual practise, I go down to Merton Abbey Mills on a Thursday morning to the Antiques
Fair which is held in the Long Shop. I met down there Norman Fairey who works on the site as an
engineer. He informed that John Hawks had taken two men over to the Chapter House and would
be pleased to see me when he came back with them. They were two television men from a private
company who had been employed by the Victoria and Albert Museum to make a film of Morris &
Company for sale at the V&A Museum Shop in connection with the Morris Exhibition that they had
staged to commemorate his centenary.
When he returned with them he introduced them to me and informed them about our Museum, and
the fact that we possessed the only model of the Morris Works that exists. They reacted with great
enthusiasm and requested that they be allowed to come down to the Museum and film it. This
request I agreed to and made arrangements to meet them at the Museum at 12.00 noon the same
day. They were very enthusiastic about coming into the Museum and filming our model, so we made
arrangements that they would come in to do this the following week.
They arrived on Thursday morning with full equipment - a large camera and stand to attach it - they
also brought a lighting man with them. It was fascinating to watch the lighting man at work, it was
very sophisticated and professional the way that he worked, cancelling out every little shadow
that he could see. They had a small monitor screen so the very picture that the camera was
focused on, showed on this little screen. By this means the lighting man did his work by
eliminating all the shadows that he could locate. It was very sophisticated. It took them most of
the morning to get it just right. I provided them with a large sheet of grey foam material which I
happened to have in store, and masked off the whole of the Exhibition area behind the model - they
approved of this.
When they left us they were going on to Walthamstow to carry on with their filming there at the
William Morris Gallery.
The Museum was presented with two complementary copies of the final end product. We have been
acknowledged on the tape, which is very good for our image as a Museum.
Peter D.Harris Trustee - W.I.M.
NEWS FROM RAVENSBURY MILL
As the Merton Messenger announced in the October 1996 edition, The Wandle Industrial Museum
is on the move and local design company, Brennan & Whalley, have been appointed to help draw up
plans for the Museum's new home at the old snuff factory, Ravensbury Mill. Brennan and Whalley
have been based in Merton for over 25 years and are specialists in the design of Museum, Visitor
Centres and Theme Parks.
We are pleased to announce that the appointment of Brennan & Whalley has been made possible by
the generous support and sponsor partnership of the South Eastern Museums Service (S.E.M.S.) and
A.J.Bull, a very well known and respected local Company.
The master plan for the internal planning of the Museum Hall is to produce a quality scheme for an
opening display to ensure that we achieve the highest standards of excellence which this grade 2
listed building deserves. This policy will ensure that we obtain the maximum benefits for our local
community and at the same time protect the long term future for the Museum. Brennan & Whalley
are one of the top designers in the country. They have a long history of successful projects with their
design award winning schemes, for instance, their Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent won the
1992 "Come to Britain Award" which is also known as a "Tourism Oscar" and was presented by the
British Tourist Authority. They have also been successful in their last three National Lottery
Applications on behalf of their clients; this expertise will help us.
We are now in the process of compiling an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new
opening display and to restore the two waterwheels back into working order. We have already made
a similar bid to the Government Office for London Single Regeneration Budget Challenge Fund,
Round 3. Bidders will be informed of decisions by the end of 1996. For us to be successful with our
bids it is essential for us to have a professional design and expert project management.
All of these vital skills can be found at Brennan & Whalley. We are pleased to advise that they have
now completed their outline scheme and these drawings which have been so finely produced can now
be viewed in the Museum at the Vestry Hall. It is recommended to Members that they take the time
to view these drawings as all comments will be taken on board for the final design. All the elements
are now in place for a successful National Lottery Application. We have now turned the corner in our
quest to see the Waterwheels working at Ravensbury Mill again.
Ray Leyden November 1996
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Proposed Change of the
As one of those who spoke against the above proposal at the A.G.M., I have been asked to reiterate
the views I expressed against change, which, on a vote being taken, seemed to be shared with a
majority of members.
Over the 12 years or so since it was proposed that a Wandle Industrial Museum should be
established at Liberty Mill, the Museum has succeeded, against considerable difficulties but with
some success, in securing a recognised niche for itself amongst the several museums, interpretation
centres, heritage centres and so on which exist in the Wandle Valley.
Based, so it happens, within the London Borough of Merton, the W.I.M. is strategically placed to
present an overview of the river's industrial heritage. This was recognised by those who first
launched the idea of an Industrial Museum, and although it has not evolved quite in the form
originally envisaged, the Museum has demonstrated its potential for becoming a centre for the display
and dissemination of information on the water-based industries for which the Wandle became famous.
In this context, one could hardly imagine a better location than the new premises in the Ravensbury
With so many museums now there is bound to be some over lapping, and I would certainly not argue
against other museums up and down stream mounting displays concerned with their own industries. By
their very nature and origins, however, each has local history as a principal theme. Although laudable
attempts are made, again from a local viewpoint, space invariably precludes full justice being given to
the great range of "Wandle" subjects which are desperately in need of proper and lively presentation
to the general public.
The aim of Wandle Industrial Museum's founders back in the early 1980s was the presentation of the
industrial history of the Wandle, and this is now widely recognised as its function. The museum has
achieved a definite identity, which would be lost if the name were to be changed. Quite apart from the
implication that the new "Wandle Valley Museum" aspired to dealing with all aspects of the river - a
gigantic task if it were to be done properly - the premises at Ravensbury have obvious spacial
limitations, and the problem of long-term funding has yet to be resolved.
At present many of the former industries on the Wandle, amongst which one might mention, in the
London Borough of Merton alone, flour milling, copper working, paper and board making, the
manufacture of flock and filling materials, leather working and so on (the list is almost endless) are
not dealt with at all. To present even these would surely be challenge enough for the Wandle
Industrial Museum in its new home.
The term "Wandle Valley Museum" would also be misleading to the public, and might well cause
offence to the other museums, each of which could claim to be a "Wandle Valley Museum"
It was for these reasons that I felt bound to vote against the suggestion. Yours
Eric N. Montague 14.10.96
REPORT OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
We had our Annual General Meeting at Chapel Orchard Day Centre on Tuesday, 1st October 1996
at 7.30 p.m. This has become a popular venue as it has wheelchair access.
A special welcome was given to the Rt. Hon. Dame Angela Rumbold, D.B.E. our local M.P.
There were a number of apologies, due to other meetings taking place that evening but thanks
were given for everybody attending.
It was noted by the meeting that we have had a very busy year preparing for our move to
Ravensbury Mill. It was recorded that Members had a special opportunity to visit the site on 8th
After the meeting, a special display of Ravensbury Mill was on view for the Members,
together with a copy of our official programme which had been produced by our Design
Consultant and shows the various activities which had to be carried out for the new Ravensbury
A lively debate took place on a proposed change of trading name from The Wandle Industrial
Museum to The Wandle Valley Museum. It was thought this might broaden the scope of the
Museum and more accurately reflect the aim of the Museum to interpret the heritage of the Wandle
Valley. Marguerite Lee de Lisle, our Archivist, had written in and was against the motion and
John Viner, our Commercial Artist, had also written in and he was in favour of the motion. This
was much the mood of the meeting and the Chairman took a vote for retaining the same name
which was six in favour and five against.
With our future move in mind it was a good opportunity to discuss any change of name. With a
close vote, the meeting agreed to carry out further consultation.
Ray Leyden November 1996