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NewsLetter # 21 - Winter 1998

1. Museum Visits:

2. The Edge Runners: Story of the edge runners now mounted in Ravensbury Park
3. First Open day success:
4. Christmas Get Together:
5. Ideas For The New Storyline at the:
Monty's vision of the storyline around which our new displays should be designed
6. A welcome from the membership secretary:
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The Wandle Industrial Museum

Image from the cover

Museum open every Wednesday 1-4pm and first Sunday of each month 2 - 5pm


The museum also welcomes schools and groups by appointment




Established in 1878, the firm of Connolly Bros. supplied leather for carriage upholstery, including the Coronation Coach of Edward V11, and for early motor cars. Army contracts involved providing leather ware for boots, belts, horse harness etc. in the Boer War and World War 1.


In the early 1920's, Connolly's moved to premises at Colliers Wood. They continued to manufacture high grade leather for a variety of purposes, providing seating and upholstery for Lancasters, Spitfires and Hurricanes, for 14 Parliaments, including our own Houses of Parliament, for the luxury car trade, and for the Cunard'Queen' class of ocean liners, other applications: seating at the Barbican, motorcycle leathers, hand-tooled leather furniture, reproduction medieval costume etc.


Connolly's celebrated its centenary in 1978, and was granted a Royal Warrant in 1985.


Front Cover: Illustration by Peter Harris Design

by John Viner


MUSEUM VISITS There have been four School Workshops during January '98 when Malmesbury Middle School Year 6 classes made their Annual Visit to the Museum. Also in January we were pleased to welcome a party from the Holiday Fellowship Association who very much enjoyed a visit to the Museum as part of a Day's Walk exploring Mitcham and Morden.


MUSEUM OPEN DAY Wednesday October 29th 1997 was a great success - see article on separate page.


OUTREACH We were pleased to take a stall for the first time at Deen City Farm Open Day in December 1997. It was interesting to visit a new venue and especially to see the Parade of the Animals which was greatly enjoyed by all the audience there.


VOLUNTEERS Peter and myself would very much appreciate offers of help with the Education Programme at the Museum. We need an extra helper (preferably with some kind of teaching experience) to assist with Workshops from time to time. If you think you could spare a few hours to help out please telephone me at the Museum for further details.




PAST: Museum Christmas Party 1997 was a great success - see article on separate page.



PRESENT: Please support the joint meeting with Merton Historical Society on Saturday February 21st at 2.30p.m. for an illustrated lecture on "Surrey Watermills" by Derek Stidder. This event is at the Snuff Mill Environmental Centre in Morden Hall Park. Refreshments available. Admission free.


FUTURE: Ideas suggested at Committee Meetings include visits to the Ram Brewery, Cobham Mill in Surrey and the Museum of Richmond where the Curator Simon Lace is our Curatorial Adviser. Let us know which of these visits you would support.



SATURDAY MARCH 28th is being planned as Museum Race Night to be held at Morfax Social Club in Carshalton Road, Mitcham. More information to come:

Advance Notice of the National Trust Fair - May 2nd - 4th at Morden Hall Park. Offers of help will be requested in the next Newsletter.


NEW                "THE WANDLE GUIDE" by the Wandle Group. Now available

from the Museum Shop and local libraries price £4.95. It is an excellent publication

packed with information about the Wandle from source to mouth and illustrated with

photographs from the past and present. It is a completely new version of the original

Guide published in 1974.


W.I.M. MEMBERSHIP 1997-98 Thank you to all those Members who responded to the reminder in the last Newsletter.

Subscriptions are now due and a reply slip is included for those people who have not yet responded.


Sheila Harris - January 1998


The Edge Runners



  In 1986 the Wandle Industrial Museum acquired a very large pair of stones known as edge runners. These were obtained from a firm of spice grinders, Brome & Schimmer of Southwark. The stones are 5 foot in diameter and weight 2 tons each.

Image from the cover


  The Museum of London co-ordinated the operation to retrieve this and other disused machinery, and made arrangements for the Kew Pumping Station to dismantle and remove it. The Wandle Industrial Museum rolled up their sleeves and became bricklayers, making a bed stone 8 ft in diameter for the edge runners, which were displayed in the museum at Hartfield Crescent, Wimbledon.


  After the fire in February 1987 the stones and their frame were stored in a playground at Bond School, Mitcham, thanks to the headmaster Harry Galley, also known as the chairman of the Wandle Industrial Museum. The school has very patiently put up with this imposition until December 19917 when a new home was found.


  The Education Leisure & Libraries Department of Merton and the Groundwork Trust have sponsored the erection of the stones in Ravensbury Park, where they can be seen beside the footpath from Morden Road.


Marguerite Lee-Delisle 21.1.1998


First Wandle Industrial Museum

 open day a success!


The 1luseum throbbed with sardine packed humanity! Queues reached Xlorden Tube station in one direction and Amen Corner in the other! Special bus services brought crowds front Wimbledon, Sutton and Croydon! MacDonalds made a fortune selling beejburgers to them and gave it all to us!. Several important sites on the Wandle were immediately vacated by their owners who competedjor them to become our new home in perpetuity (Youngs Brewery won in a bitter contest with SavaCentre and Morden Hall)! The Chairrnan of the Lottery Commission was so impressed he announced that we had three times the amount we've asked for with immediate effect and he would match the sum from his own resources! The Heritage Secretary, finding himself unable to. get in because of the crush, seconded the Curator of the British Museum to be our assistant administrator for the next ten years!


OK, it's a fantasy, but I haven't had much fun recently, and the open day really was a success. With the prospect of some eightlours of wondering if anyone was going to come ahead of me, it was with some trepidation that I helped to open up. I need not have worried.


Meg had done her PR work well. The uiessage had been heard, and the irivitation was accepted.


I can't mention everyone wha came - until seven o'clock there was hardly a moment when we didn't have aviior, some btd f??end;s and some (including some local teen agexrs) we bad never s=_before,


Sue Holden arrived from Morden Hall Park, an encouraging sign that the change of regime there need not interrupt our good relationship with the NT. I had spoken with her several times on the phone and was pleased to be able to match a face to her voice.


From a new friend to an old one. Gillian I-line was one of the first Council officers to support the Museum in its early days. Good to know she maintains her interest. Rer help could be invaluable in the future as it has been in the past.


Bob Winces of the Mitcham District Odd Fellows arrived. They were one of the first organisations to offer us sponsorship for Ravensbury Mill. Bob, who is this year's Provincial Grand Master, hadn't seen the Museum before. He was so impressed, he gave us a personal donation on the spot.


We also got a good number of visitors from Vestry Hall. It was particularly pleasing to be able to show our appreciation to the people who staff the Reception Desk so helpfully.


Best of all was meeting Eric Shaw again. Eric (once of Fry's Metals) was our chairman when we . . moved into Vestry Hall Anne. For medical reasons we. haven't heard much of hizn recently, so it was wonderful to see him - and to see him looking well again. Another link restored.


Of course there were minuses - we'd have liked to see people from the Ravensbury Mill flats, for instance. And of course, there were other plusses, like the takings from the shop or the returns from the visitors' survey forms (mainly positive, I believe), which, hopefully, will help us improve our service in the future.


But I've concentrated on the people because that's what the open day was really about - making contact, keeping contact, renewing contact with people. After all, however good our premises, and however wonderful our exhibitions, if we don't get th people we haven’t realty got a museum,


So we hit on the idea of the Open Day as a way of saying "We're still here for you; are you still here for us?"


Yes, you are thank you.


Stephen Ashcroft


Christmas Get Together



This year's Christmas get together was held at the Vestry Hall and was attended by some twenty or so members and friends.


The Guests of Honour were the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Cyril Gallant and his wife Carole. We were pleased to invite them as they had visited the Museum on our Open Day and had shown considerable interest in our Museum and its aims.

Image from the cover


On entering the room we were amazed at the mouth-watering spread that was laid before us. Mary Hart had done a truly magnificent job. The Rev. Andrew Wakefield then emerged with the mulled wine, his forte.


One of the highlights of the evening was the appearance of two clowns who entertained us with their mesmerising manipulation of multifarious manifestations of magic. Stephen Ashcroft and his son were obviously not interested in the interlude as they disappeared while it was taking place.


The other highlight of the evening was the drawing of the raffle. This task was carried out by the Deputy Mayoress, who must have surreptitiously spread glue on her tickets for the first one to be drawn was - her own! After that she managed to draw nearly all her own tickets, but gallantly refused any more prizes. As the prizes were donated by members and friends, all the profits, £51, went to the Museum.


All in all a very enjoyable evening was had by all those who attended.


Meg Thomas 21/1/1998


Ideas For The New Storyline at the


Ravensbury mill





This is the Museum's raison d'etre - tempting as Nelson and the Priory might be, they were certainly not Industrial, and their connection with the river was purely adventitious..

This is not to say they (and other important aspects of the Borough's history and associations) ought not to be displayed, but they should be shown somewhere else - in a proper HERITAGE museum.

Since the river will be much in mind throughout the display at the Ravensbury Mill, the visitor's route should meander. The device of taking the visitor on a winding trail is often used in museums, and gives the impression there is much more space. (Contrast with a large open area, where you think you can see everything, and often by-pass interesting bits).

Twists and turns introduce an element of mystery and surprise. Its fun to explore! At corners one can dramatise a change in subject. We must avoid that horrible complaint "Its BORING".


SO - with the river and its industries the main theme, I would suggest:

After the entrance counter/shop etc., the visitor is first confronted with the RIVER - its source and course- (Perhaps a dramatic tableau of pond, rushes, birds etc. in front of a large picture of Carshalton Ponds) + quiet background of watery music? Quote from Camden, Ruskin et al - "the clear little Vandalis, so full of good troutes" and so on ... (But not too much ecology - mustn't poach on other's preserves).

Turn down the first corridor of display panels with facts and photos - ? N.R.A. help here?


Next the POWER of the river (Renewable energy and all that stuff).

Then WATERWHEELS - the oldest way of harnessing water power. Display of different types of wheels, from Roman, vertical (Saxon), undershot etc. Explain how they were controlled - penstocks, gates, etc., mill ponds, diversions - bags of examples on the Wandle - This leads naturally to our own wheels, and mill pond and gear. Explain how to calculate the power of a mill - Head of water x volume of flow = HP. Emphasise the need for collaboration amongst mill owners - sharing the power -agreements as to times of use.

From now on corners on the "trail" should deal with individual industries, drawing a distinction between the use of the river for power (grinding, driving hammers, turning all sorts of machinery, generating electricity in wartime etc.) and the water itself (bleaching, watercress growing, tanning, paper making ). Finally use of the river as a DRAIN for effluent - SHAME

This latter point would lead naturally to a display by Thames Water to say how bad things could become under the old authorities, and how good they are at treating the water today.

Here you could have something about fish.


Now the turn of the individual Wandle Industries (I give dates as a measure of emphasis):-


Grain milling               Probably the first use to which the power of the Wandle was

applied.Domesday mills.Help from Rank Hovis ? (The latter

had their sports ground at Mitcham for many years). Flour milling continued until the early 20th century.


Bleaching                     Late 16th century until early 19th. Pioneered by the Dutch - ?

                                       p'bility of fink with a museum at Harlem?



Copper milling            Starts early in the 18th century. The first industrial entrepreneurs in Merton.(Elise Crisp, William Thoyte, Sir Thomas Mackwortb, Charles Perry & associates).

Eventually no less than four major copper mills on "our" stretch of the Wandle.

                                      Boom industry c.1690 - 1830s. Pioneered iri early 1700s.byHugeunots

like Mauvillain and Haultain, but plenty of local names as well. Nixon from Dublin introduced copper plate printing in 1750s.. Several patents by Merton printers. Strong export trade to American colonies - opportunity here for links with US. museums.


Logwood milling        Colour or "drug" mills - for the production,of dyestuffs. Early 18th to mid

                                    19th century.


Snuff milling              Obviously a major exhibit


Leather manufacture. (At Mill Green and Merton) ? Help with display from Connollys?


Paper and board        Started. at Mitcham in 18th century, and finished with New Merton Board

                                    Mills. Prof Alan Crocker of Surrey University has made a study of Surrey

paper manfrs. - might help with ideas for a display. Also worth trying one

                                    of the big paper manufacturers who were connected with the N.M.B.M.


Filling materials         After nearly 100 years near the Watermeads, Mitcham Hair and Fibre Mills went to High Wycombe around the 1950s - now a centre of the furniture

I have already mentioned my ideas for the "changing display" for a second showing of exhibits , from the Heritage Centre, and another area set aside for present-day local industries.

Image from the cover


I think that's about all - it will do for the moment, anyway-


I like the idea of a coin-operated water wheel - anything to raise money! .A pond might attract small change. Souvenirs could include tea towels in genuine Nixon designs, wooden bowls etc., from the roof

  truss, bags of stone-ground flour "specially produced for the W.LM. by. . . . . " copper arid leather

nick-nacks "From the Wandle Industrial Museum" - I am sure others connected with local industries, will come to mind.


EDITOR'S NOTE If you want to know more about the Ravensbury Mill history, you may obtain a booklet from the Museum entitled "The Ravensbury Mill" by E. N. Montague for the princely sum of 75p. If you have any ideas of your own would like to contribute please submit your comments to Sheila Harris, the Museum Administrator and they will be taken on board for the new Museum.

E.N. Montague - November 1997

Related articles

A welcome from the membership secretary



As part of its program to persuade the Heritage Lottery Board to grant our application for the funds we need to convert Ravensbury Mill, the Committee have been taking steps to strengthen the Board, identify the necessary functions, and parcel out the work. The more business like we appear, the better our chances.

As a "Newbie" on the Committee, my instincts for self preservation were sadly underdeveloped when the appointment of a Membership Secretary was mooted. Nobody really knew what this entailed, but everyone agreed this sounded a good idea. Who was going to be "It"? I was the one who did not duck fast enough!

Having appointed me, the Committee felt it had done enough, and in a spirit of generosity, left it to me to define my role. Since then I have been gathering information about the state of our membership, and welcome the chance afforded by this News Letter to pass on some of what I have learnt.

We have, broadly, 5 categories of member:

1.         The general membership: The broad base on which we rely. You all know who you are!

          There are approximately 72 members, all paying the subscription of £8 [£12 for joint

           membership]. The members keeps us going, and their support at fund raising events, as

          well as their visits to the Museum provide a basis for our existence.


2.          The Committee: The policy backbone of the Museum, and its driving force. Most are members, although there are some who have. been co-opted for their expertise.


3.          The Schools Membership: .The Schools are the members, rather than their staff or pupils, and pay a flat fee. This category is particularly important, as it encourages local schools to bring their pupils for demonstrations and lectures, and sows the seed for future individual membership.


4.          The Adminstrator and Volunteers: Not members as such, but the workhorses of the Museum, without whom we could not function, ensuring that everything runs, and our stalls are manned.


5.          The "Brick Members": Again, not strictly members, but, having subscribed for a Brick are included in our wider mailshots, and can be regarded as hot leads as prospective full members from having shown that initial interest.

Many of you fall into more than one category, of course.

What this does illustrate, however, is the way the Museum relies on its members to operate. I feel it is the function of the Membership Secretary to build on this. Our Museum Administrator will maintain the registers of members, as always, and get out the mailshots, while the Members Sub Committee will meet to discuss matters affecting the members (policy, subscriptions, Newsletters, events etc.).

My separate function is to act as the focus of the sub committee in generating and developing the membership, which can fall into several categories:


1.          Enlarging the membership; we must develop a package which encourages people to become

members, and, by the benefits they receive as members, remain as members. While it is unlikely that the subscriptions we receive from members will ever be a significant source of our funding, (as these are mostly eaten up by the costs of membership administation) a large membership will help to create the momentum to drive us forward. A larger membership also increases the chances of gifts and donations;

2.          Involving the members; not only must our members be kept informed of everything that is

             happening, but they represent a storehouse of knowledge, talent and energy that is in danger of being wasted. A properly constructed              database of the membership should reveal the skills,

expertise or knowledge of the individual members, as well as their geographical location, to

whom we can go for help in any given case. By way of example, we have been most lucky in

discovering, amongst the residents of Ravensbury Mill, a management accountant in Lisa

Connor, who has volunteered to serve on our committee as Finance Secretary, strengthening us at exactly the time we need to show the Heritage Lottery Board the seriousness of our intent and our ability to handle the substantially increased cash flow that a successful bid will bring. This was a matter of good luck, however (she happened to be passing while we were having the site meeting last autumn). Proper records and communication should reduce our reliance on luck;


3.         Attracting "Patrons" (by which I mean individuals or companies whose association with us, by their status or wealth, will serve to promote the Museum). It is not a co-incidence that all

             successful charities are able to put the names of high profile individuals on their letterhead, or the names of big companies in sponsoring their activities. We need to recruit people in positions of influence, who are able put the Museum's name forward whenever relevant.

4.          Acting as the first point of call for individual members, as well as for Museum Administrator

               when a Membership point arises.

To start the ball rolling, we will be sending out a revised membership form which I hope all of you will try to complete and return. This will serve to update our records, and identify those of you willing to be called on if we need help. It will also help us identify what you, as members, would like from, or for, the Museum.

Later this year, when the opportunity arises, we will have a promotional event, probably linked to Ravensbury Mill, and will let you have promotional material to distribute amongst your friends and contacts linked to the event.

Despite my surprise at discovering myself as "It", I am committed to do the best I can with your help and support. If I can help any of you in any way with Membership matters, please do not hesitate to ring me (0181-542-7534/ fax 0181-543-3288).

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