Merton Abbey Mills was formerly the home of the Liberty Print Works. The Liberty site, a collection of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings encompassing over two centuries of industrial history was sold by Liberties in 1977. It then stood empty and neglected for vandals and fly-tippers.
The Wandle Industrial Museum was formed in 1983 by local people interested in saving the site and its buildings from further dereliction. The aim was to turn it into a working museum reflecting the varied history of the whole River Wandle.
Initially the Wandle Industrial Museum team consisted of researchers funded by the Manpower Services Commission and headed by a voluntary management committee. The team produced comprehensive proposals for use of the buildings on site and mounted their first exhibition at Eagle House, Mitcham 1984.The proposals were well received by the Greater London Council and negotiations were proceeding for the GLC to purchase the site when the Government (of the day) announced plans to abolish the Council and froze all Council spending.
This brought this proposal to a dead stop but the site was purchased by the Savacentre Group as part of a major redevelopment scheme and the rest as they say is history. As the birth of the Wandle Industrial Museum was conceived at Merton Abbey Mills it was only the next logical step to record and publish this remarkable history.
The starting point to publish is to create a storyline and a mock-up of the proposed title The next step is to establish a printing run, costs and a timetable for the project. We approached Merton Libraries to support this project for printing costs and we were to fund all the research and production costs. We later obtained sponsorship from Tramlink to include their travel map. We decided to go for an initial 2000 copy print run and share the copies with London Borough of Merton. With future sales this was designed as a self financing project.
|Cllr Ian Munn, at the
book launch the Museum
[Full size image 32.6kb]
The painstaking research was appropriately undertaken by founder member Kevin Leyden who was acquainted already with the site and had carried out local studies along the river as a Merton Primary school teacher. The original script was checked by Eric Montague, Bill Rudd and Judith Goodman of Merton Historical Society to ensure accuracy. We then checked it in- house with our archivist Marguerite Lee-Deslisle who helped select the best photographs and artwork.
The final step is to take it to the printer. We took it to Merton Print and they project managed the whole process with the D&P Bureau carrying out all the typesetting and origination. They produced proof copies which we circulated to Monty and was proof read by Merton Historical's Editorial committee as well as the Author, the Archivist, Merton Libraries and Merton Abbey Mills. Our final act was to obtain a bar code, an ISBN which identifies one title, or edition of a title, and is unique to that title or edition. The best part is the launch which was kindly carried out by The Mayor of Merton Cllr Ian Munn on the 23rd November 2000, sponsored by Merton Abbey.