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NewsLetter # 22 - Spring 1998

1. Newsdesk

2. Burne Jones Centenary 1833-1898
John Viner celebrates the centenary of this great artist
3. Surrey mills
Derek Stidders talk on the Mills of Surrey
4. Letter received from Mr Ray Bentley Mr Ray Bentley stresses the place of watercress in the industrial history of the Wandle
5. Museum's week 1998 16th - 24th May 1998:
We look forward to the visit of the Borough Coach Tour
6. Stop Press: Ravensbury Mill and HLF
Our bid for funding rejected, and what next
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John Viner's Burne-Jones Collage

The Wandle Industrial Museum

The Vestry Hall Annexe -London Road - Mitcham -Surrey CR4 3UD - Telephone: 0181-648 0127 .



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




Museum Visits We were pleased to welcome a group of teachers from the London Borough of Sutton who were researching educational resources along the River Wandle. They were very impressed with our Education Programme and hope to visit with their classes in the summer term.


Outreach The Museum was pleased to be invited to participate in the special Science Day organised by Merton Scientific Society at Merton College on Saturday 14th March. This was part of SET 98 a special week exploring science engineering and technology co-ordinated by the British Association. The theme of the day was "Science and Hands-on


Activities for Young and Old". We took along our Liberty blocks and printing materials and did a "hands-on" non-stop printing session which proved very popular indeed. We ran out of material to print on and had to resort to paper. If anyone has any old sheets suitable to be cut into printing strips please ring the Museum, as I've noneJeft at home!


Volunteers As Peter is undergoing hospital treatment at present we do need somebody to help with our Education Workshops from time to time, usually for a morning session only. I had no response to my last appeal. If no one comes forward workshops will have to be temporarily suspended as we do need two people to conduct a workshop effectively. If you can offer help or know anyone who might be able to help please ring me at the Museum 0181 648 0127.


Members Events

Past "Surrey Water Mills" joint lecture with Merton Historical Society at the Snuff Mill Environmental Centre was very successful - see article on separate page.


Present: A visit to the Museum of Richmond to meet our Curatorial

Advisor Simon Lace and see the Museum and its current Exhibition "Rock and Roll

in Richmond"

Date:- Saturday June 20th

Time:-2.00 p.m.                        

Admission: FREE

The Museum is in The Old Town Hall in Whittaker Avenue.


Future: It is hoped to be able to arrange a visit to Young's Brewery Visitor's

Centre in July or August. Details in the next Newsletter. Unfortunately, the Race Night scheduled for March 28th had to be cancelled. It is hoped to arrange some other event at the Morfax Social Club in the future.



Once again we shall be participating in the National Trust Favre at Morden Hall Park from Saturday May 2nd to Mondav May 4th inclusive from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. daily. We hope that as many members and friends as possible will be able to help man our stall. Included with this Newsletter is a reply postcard for your kind offers of help. This event is our main venue for sale and promotion of the Museum.

Your help is needed and very much appreciated.

MUSEUMS WEEK (see separate article)

Saturday 16th May - Sunday 24th May. Please note events and extra openings of Museum.

Wandle Industrial Museum Membership.

There are still some Members who have not yet renewed their subscriptions for 199798. A Renewal Form is enclosed. Prompt payment would be much appreciated.


Sheila Harris 2513/98

Portrait of Burne-Jones
William Morris caricature

Burne Jones Centenary 1833-1898

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham on 28th August 1833, and it was in the sombre environment of this industrial city that he was brought up by his father, Edward Richard Jones, a framer, carver and gilder by trade. His mother having died shortly after his birth, a nurse was employed to help with his upbringing and education. It was intended that he would pursue a career in commerce, but was instead sent in 1853 to Exeter College, Oxford, to study for the Church. Here he was momentously to meet his future lifelong friend, mentor and working associate William Morris, and in the years ahead the two were to collaborate, both at the Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith and Morris & Co., at Merton Abbey, in producing a memorable series of illustrated books, tapestries and stained glass windows.


Although not originally a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Bume-Jones was greatly influenced by the work of its founders, Rossetti, Millais and Holman Hunt. Possibly as a reaction to recalling the industrial squalor and poverty of his home city, he was much in sympathy with the escapist subject matter of their paintings, many inspired by the poetry of Keats and Tennyson, by medieval legends and classical mythology. Both he and Morris were fervent admirers of Mallory's book "Morte d'Arthur"; Burne-Jones' own works such as "The Beguiling of Merlin" and "The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon" are evidence of his fascination with the subject.


One of the features of Burne-Jones' work was his painstaking attention to detail, techniques learned from studying the works of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian and Mantegra, whilst many of the backgrounds on his canvasses, the floral swirls, ornate drapery and elaborately decorated furnishings echoed the Gothic revival typical of Morris' Arts & Crafts movement.


Once established as a popular painter and craftsman, Burne-Jones decided to move away from the pressures of life in London and in 1881 bought a property at Rottingdean on the Sussex coast. In what was then an attractive rural environment he continued his creative activities, producing works such as the sinister "Depths of the Sea" and the large "Arthur in Avalon". Like many of his paintings, the latter was produced on a grand scale, being in length half the size of a tennis court! In 1888, to commemorate the marriage of his adored daughter Margaret to the classical scholar J.W.Mackail in, appropriately, St. Margaret's Church in Rottingdean, he designed a three-light stained glass window depicting the archangels, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. In 1890, Margaret had a daughter who grew up to be the novelist Angela Thirkell. After an extraordinarily full and eventful life, Burne-Jones died on 17th June1898, his ashes buried in a niche in the wall of the church at Rottingdean insight of his home at North End House. Here his wife Georgiana retired, with her nephew Rudyard Kipling living in the house opposite.

Marriage - and a mistress

In 1856 Burne-Jones became engaged to Georgiana MacDonald, a 16-year-old whose family was at that time living in London. In 1859 she and her family moved to Manchester, whilst Burne-Jones set off with friends for a trip to Italy, falling under the spell of paintings he saw in Florence and Venice. Not until June 1860, after a four year engagement, did he at last marry Georgiana in Manchester - a union that was to last almost forty years. Not everything went smoothly however. As is evident from his paintings, many attractive women posed for him; among them was Mary Zambacco, nee Cassavetti, a member of the Greek colony based in London, for whom the cliche "flame-haired temptesss" might well have been invented. She soon became more than a sitter and model, and was to become the inspiration for many of his best-known paintings: "Evening Star", "Night", and "Phyllis and Demophoon", as well as many drawings and sketches. The liaison blossomed, but eventually proved disastrous, and his domestic life was never again as happy as it had been. Georgiana, after the birth of a daughter Margaret in June 1866, had no more children, and she and her husband led increasingly separate lives. She devoted herself to charitable causes and community activities whilst he, with his now established reputation as an artist and Stained Glass Window craftsman, built up a wide network of friends including actresses Ellen Terry and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, writers Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry James. He was also close to fellow artists such as Lord Frederic Leighton and Sir Lawrence AlmaTadema. At The Grange, his house in Fulham, the young artist Aubrey Beardsley first met Oscar Wilde, subsequently to produce illustrations for Wilde's "Salome".


After her husband's death in 1898, Georgiana Burne-Jones diligently assembled his biography. The two volumes have been described as "the most accurate and sensitive account of an artist's life ever written". Despite his frailties, hypochondria and pessimism, he yet emerges contrarily as a man also of great humour and charm, but the one aspect of his character which, not surprisingly, Georgiana found difficult to forgive were his various indiscretions and infatuations. Maria Zambacco, his mistress, merits no mention in her book, nor does his favourite model, Marie Spartali. Georgiana herself, however, also posed for several of her husband's drawings and paintings, notably for "King Copethua and the Begger Maid", now in the Tate Gallery, a painting so popular even today that it has become almost a cliche of Pre-Raphaelite romanticism.

John Viner


Surrey Mills

A few of us joined the Merton Historical Society at the Ecology Centre in Morden Hall Park to hear a most entertaining talk on Surrey Mills given by Derek Stidder. Derek told us first that he was looking forward to visiting this Park but with some trepidation; for the first time he had tried to visit the snuff mill he had been firmly escorted off the site. This was during the time the site housed some of Merton offices. This visit had a less eventful beginning.


Mills have been a passion of Derek's for some time now and he has written one book on mills and is preparing another. Till now he had not explored the mills on the Wandle and this is something he feels he would now be interested in doing.


Mills were an important part of village life and most villages had. their own mill, the first mills were mainly flour mills. A great many of these mills were water mills. Although important to the community millers were not the most popular people, instead of money they took payment in kind and farmers often felt that the miller helped himself to a greater share of the wheat than he was supposed to. There were no poor millers!


The coming of the railways created larger markets and with these came larger mills, these roller mills produced the white flour that was becoming fashionable. This was because the wheat germ had to be removed as it stuck to the rollers. The smaller mills could not compete with these large mills and many went out of business. Some of the mills were able to convert to other products such as animal food and, of course, not all mills were flour mills. Some of the other things produced by the mills were, gunpowder, fuller's earth, wire and paper.


Many of these mills are now in a very sad state of repair. Some have been converted into homes and this has helped to preserve them but many are derelict and as so often is the case it is only when they are nearly lost that it is realised that an important part of our industrial history is being lost.


Derek spends as much time as he can travelling around looking at mills, and he told us that he is continually surprised by how willingly the people who live in converted mills let this rather large unknown person into their homes to look round. Many are quite happy to leave him to ferret around on his own, though one lady who let him in left him saying she was going to do some shopping only to return with a policeman. Fortunately, he was able to convince them that he really was a mill mad man not just mad!


His talk was illustrated by slides he had taken of the many mills he had managed to visit or the remains of mills he wished he had found in time.


Meg Thomas 29/3/98

Letter received from mr. ray bentley


In response to editor's note re proposed storyline for the

New ravensbury mill museum


Dear Mrs. Harris,


Ideas for Museum Content


I respond to the request for thoughts in the latest newsletter.


The industry missed is "Watercress Growing".


I am aware of at least 3 watercress farms that took their water from the Wandle, Grove Farm, bottom of Tramway Path. One across Goat Green from the Goat (Millers?). One in Beddington.


Watercress needs a good flow of clean water hence the link to the Wandle and why it was a vital part of that industry.


The first and last farms above were both owned by E. James & Son who still grow watercress in Hampshire. You see their trademark 'Vitacress' on bunches of watercress in the shops. Perhaps they could help with the research or sponsor a display.


There is a link to the use of the Wandle as a Drain. Grove farm stopped using the Wandle as a water supply in the 1930's because of a cholera outbreak caused by sewage discharge further upstream. I am not sure if Beddington was further upstream than the discharge.


I used to live on Grove Farm and my stepfather (over 90) worked there. If there is an interest I could arrange an interview with him and somebody from the Museum.


Yours sincerely,


Ray Bentley

Museum's week 1998 16th - 24th May 1998

For the second time we are pleased to be participating in Museum's Week 1998.

Museums Week


Museum's Week. started four years ago by well known personality and keen Museum supporter Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the Campaign for Museums, is now becoming established on the Museum scene. Last year 869 Museums participated and this year it is hoped to top a thousand.


The Campaign for Museums has three main objectives in organising Museum's Week.


To encourage Museums to work together to highlight their value to society and to the local community. To raise the profile of Museums through the media and with decision makers. To increase the number of visitors to Museums.

Museum's Week will be promoted extensively in the media including television, radio, the national press and the Internet.


In working together with other Museums, a repeat of last year's popular Borough Museums Coach Tour will once again be arranged. The coach will visit the Wandle Industrial Museum, Merton Heritage Centre, Wimbledon Windmill Museum and the Wimbledon Society Museum. This will be on Saturday, May 23rd. Further details will be in the local press nearer the time. At the time of writing another Merton Museum's Quiz is being planned.


In conjunction with the West London Museum's Group we shall be taking up the theme of "favourite thins" during Museum's Week. Visitors during that week will be asked to nominate their favourite object in the Museum's display. Museum Members might also like to drop in and choose their favourite exhibits as well. We shall be open on Saturday May 23rd from 12.00 noon until 4.00 p.m. as well as the usual Wednesday afternoon.


We hope to see you at your Museum during this special week.

Sheila Harris


Stop Press




News from ravensbury mill


We applied for major funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund last year on 24th March 1997. One year later we now have a reply dated 20th March 1998, which we have shown on the opposite page.


They have confirmed that they do not wish to offer a grant to the project on the present information, although the heritage and public benefits were noted.


Looking at the reasons it is difficult to understand why, and we will be taking further advice before we take a specific course of action. However, looking at their main points:-


    We do not accept the implied criticism of Merton Council for failing to provide long term revenue funding. They have completely missed the point because the whole project is backed up by an existing building which has been provided by Merton Council through a planning agreement which provided a 125 year Lease for a peppercorn rent. The project is designed as a low cost based project.


    We commissioned an independant consultant URBED who are one of the leading urban and economic developers in U.K. and they produced a substantial market analysis and feasibility study which endorsed the project and proved it was sustainable.


    Within the Business Plan we had made provision for a Project Manager to oversee the entire project. The future design and schedule of works had been allowed for in the programme of works produced by Brennan & Whalley, who are the consultants for the project. The drawings submitted were only of a preliminary nature to cost the scheme comprehensive detailed design stage had been allowed Brennan & Whalley when recommendations can be taken on board. The Heritage Lottery Board have completelyfailed to understand the difference between preliminary design or approved design and working drawings.


We have taken the view with the Heritage Lottery Fund that we are reserving our judgement pending further advice which we are seeking.


Arts for everyone


This scheme has been set up by the Arts Council of England, which provides lottery cash grants up to £500,000. This is a fast track scheme designed to get smaller scale initiatives off the ground quickly. We have now made a new application with. an up to date presentation.


  WATCH THIS SPACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .!

Related articles

HLF letterheadlogo

20 March 1998

R Leyden Esq

Company Secretary

Wandle Industrial Museum

The Vestry Hall

London Road


Surrey CR4 3UD

Our Ref: HM/HF-96-03009


PROJECT TITLE: Ravensbury Mill Project, Morden

The above application was considered by the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund on 19 March 1998. After careful consideration, the Trustees decided that they did not wish to offer a grant to this project based on the current information.


Whilst the heritage and public benefits of the proposals were noted, expert advice suggested that more detailed information was needed on the financial and organisational viability of the scheme to make it a lower risk for HLF support. In particular it was felt that the local authority needed to demonstrate that it would provide revenue support for the museum in the long term and a more detailed marketing strategy should be supplied showing public demand for the museum and how this would be sustained. In addition more information was required on the schedule of works and how the project was going to be managed. Advice also suggested that greater consideration was required to establish the long term staffing needs of the museum. Elements of the design brief were also considered to need reviewing, as expert advice points out that storage and office space has not been identified .on the plans and that certain proposals such as a walkway between the two waterwheels may result in difficulties with visitor flow.


I know that this will come as disappointing news, however, I hope the above information enables your pfoj̊:.t proposals to deyciop iurdler. i would reconunerid, that any arner.-Irrionts to your scheme should be done in consultation with the statutory authorities, such as English Heritage and South Eastern Museums Service.


Helen Monger (Mrs)

Senior Case Officer

Direct Line: 0171 591 6136

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