New Exhibition June 16 2007
The new display will be about Young's Brewery. The brewery has now left its
Wandsworth site, which has been bought by a company called Minerva.
As part of the preparation for the display Eric and I visited the Wandsworth
site. We met the archivist, Denis Reed, who we hope will be able to lend us
some material for the display.
We were very fortunate to meet one of the brewers John Hatch and he took us
on a tour of the brewery. Although John was clearly saddened by the closure
of the Wandsworth site he was encouraged by the attitude of the new owners,
who are very excited at the prospect of owning one the oldest brewery's in
English Heritage have gone over the site with a fine tooth comb and much of
the brewing equipment has been listed. The items listed include the two Woolf
compound beam engines built by Wentworth of Wandsworth.
They are the only Woolf beam engines still working.
Although most of the horses have left the site there were two still in the
stable and with them two donkeys. Why two donkeys, you'll have to
visit the display to find out.
Meg Thomas, February 2007
Although at time of writing our follow up meeting with LB Merton has not yet
happened, at the meeting in January Councillor Maurice Groves, who has
Cabinet responsibility for us, promised to visit all the officers responsible for
ensuring final completion of the works at Ravensbury personally, and seek to
understand exactly how and when they will be able to force closure on this
long outstanding point. We look forward to our further meeting with Ingrid
and Maurice, when he can report on his findings.
To us it seems very simple, but LA procedures have to be followed. It is a
matter of great sorrow to learn from Maurice and Ingrid Lackajis of the many
meetings, and copious exchanges of emails, that
we have apparently inflicted on the officers at
LBM, at a time when they have so many
important matters on their collective plates, not
least those arising from a change in the leadership
of the Council, and the budget deficits they are
There must surely come a time when bodies such as ours can have direct
access to the relevant officers, especially in the legal section. Not only will
this cut out levels of duplicated communication within the Council, but will
much reduce the possibilities of misinterpretation along the way.
On a similar point, our follow up meeting with LBM on the proposed HLF
grant has had to be postponed, as complications have arisen. Ingrid has
assured us this matter will not be dropped, but she wants to master her brief on
this fully so that the next meeting can be productive.
You will probably recall from previous articles that we have a sticking point in
our HLF application plan. Relatively recently HLF has required the ability to
take a charge on the physical assets of a body to whom a grant has been given,
so that they can enforce repayment of that money if grant conditions are
Our proposed lease of Ravensbury (which follows the s106 agreement in this
respect) does not allow this.
Despite that, HLF have suggested a work round that merely requires LBM to
consult with them should, as a result of our deciding to give up Ravensbury for
financial reasons, for example. That document will, eventually, need approval
at Council level (full or Cabinet), but Ingrid assures me that there is no reason
why we can not proceed on the assumption consent will be forthcoming.
On that basis, I had a catch up meeting with HLF last week. From that meeting
(on which I will be reporting fully to the management Committee next week)
it is clear we will be facing a new choice, soon. The present structure of HLF
major grants assumes a two stage process, where even the first stage requires
extensive investment in time and expertise to reach application stage, let alone
be sure of being awarded a grant. To cover this, a Project Planning Grant
process was instituted. This is to fund the reports and research needed to make
the stage 1 bid.
Initially, the PPG application was relatively simple. Over the years it has
become more and more paper intensive itself, with significant elements of
chicken and egg built in.
HLF have listened to criticism on the size of these hurdles, and, from April
2008, the PPG will be dropped, and replaced by a much simpler approach to a
Stage 1 bid.
The Management Committee will have to decide whether we push through a
PPG bid this year (assuming other matters to do with the lease and s106 fall
into place), or deliberately plan a 2008 bid so we can get in on the first rush
for the new Stage 1 before it, too, starts the inevitable progress back to
Whatever happens, our approach to the new
museum is likely to be much different. In the 10
years since we first started preparing plans, the
largely static displays then proposed will give
way to much more interactive material, using
modern technology, and at the same time a
greater emphasis on the hands on elements of the
block printing demonstrations we currently
deliver, expanded to the other processes the
increased room will allow.
The move to alternative power sources will undoubtedly play a part, whether
by installation of battery storage as at the Wheelhouse, to deliver lighting etc.
from the normal workings of the water wheels, or by installation of the newer
an more efficient schemes for selling electricity to the National Grid.
As an example of this Ray Leyden found an article about the Bel Mickle
Hydro scheme, which promises much improved power from shallower
sources, see image. I strongly recommend a visit to the various articles on the
web for those interested in these things. Why is this relevant to us? At
Ravensbury a slot has been cut into the
sluices to allow a permanent flow of water
through the millpond, which was otherwise
silting up, and become unhealthily stagnant.
Although a crime against its English
Heritage listing, a grant would enable us to
channel that water much more efficiently,
and productively, if the technology exists to
harness such a shallow sluice. 10 years ago
nothing existed like this. Today, it seems, it
Serendipity has brought three web related
items to us in the last couple of weeks.
From New Zealand we hear of Peter Russell, now in his 90's, whose family
worked Ravensbury Mill, then known as Rutters Snuff Mill, until the 1920's.
Peter McGow’s pages on this mill on our website have given him much
pleasure, and he has promised us some oral history, recalling the mill as he
remembers is as a child in Morden.
Then we heard from John Weller, a scion of the Pimm family, who came
across reference to the draw batch clock (Newsletter 50, may 05). Again,
personal history from him, and, in return, our pointing him at McGow (the
Pimm family are connected to mills 45,48 and 49) filled in many gaps for him.
Finally, John Barringer got in touch, and has supplied us with his article about
Dan Jenner and his top of the range cycles manufactured for many years in
Merton/Colliers Wood. An extract is published on page 10 below.
Ed. 25 February 2007
Merton Abbey Mills Update
The most noticeable change at MAM is that the new decorated hoardings have
now gone up.
The New Hoarding
The new hoarding
Since the refurbishment of
Savacentre resulted in the
destruction of the murals
that decorated the access,
there has been no graphic
display which shows the
variety of subjects which
have MAM at their core.
Once again the new
owners of the site have
invested money in
rectifying this gap.
The new hoardings are
colourful, and sit alongside the area where so many cars are forced to wait
whilst the pedestrian crossing lights hold up traffic, and are bound to get a
good ‘viewing public’ as a result.
The Museum supplied Surrey Iron Railway images for use in the graphics, and
last November’s newsletter provided the image of the proposed new
The pictures here show the display in its
total length, and extract panels.
Wandle Valley Festival update
The Wandle Valley festival is on track
for 24 June this year, coming on the
last weekend of bike week, rather than
the first, to avoid clashes.
There will be a large and varied
programme in many locations, not least
at MAM, where the Chapter House
should be open once again.
One of the highlights this year is that it has prompted Tony Drakeford (who
many of you will know from his wonderful Nature Notes in local newspapers)
to create a new booklet on the Wildlife of the Wandle, and donate it to WVF.
WVF are rushing to get this out and in print for this year’s festival, to enhance
the enjoyment of Wandle wanders and provide good resources for all of us
into the future. An extract appears below.
“FISH OF THE WANDLE
(from Tony Drakeford’s ‘A Spotters Guide
to River Wandle Wildlife’)
Over three hundred years ago Compleat
Angler' Isaac Walton often fished the
Wandle, well known for its specimen
trout.Then gradually, Industrial pollution
'muddied the waters' so to speak and the
river declined.In recent years water quality
has steadily improved assisted by regular
clean ups' by bands of enthusiastic
volunteers.Trout are returning, as yet in
small numbers perhaps and some have
been caught,but a splendid scheme
whereby local schools have reared trout fry
in the classroom for stocking the Wandle
will certainly help, Sea trout may also swim
upriver from the Thames and breed in the
The three-spined Stickleback or 'Tiddler' of
childhood days is very common in the
Wandle especially in the slower runs.
Sticklebacks are the only British species to
build a nest. In spring, the male, in breeding
finery of red and silver constructs a
barrel-shaped nest from pieces of water plant
and detritus and entices females to enter and
Upon hatching, the male vigorously guards
the young sticklebacks until they can fend for
Colliers Wood South London
Although the shop was known by all and sundry as “Dan Jenners”, in fact the
name of the business was the XL Cycle Co, and the company logo was
“XLCR”, a play on the word “Excelsior”, meaning very superior. The shop, at
80/98, High Street Colliers wood, was in fact two shops, with a short
passageway between them. Above the shop were two flats, with their own
front doors. The cycle side of the business was mainly carried out in the right
hand shop, viewed from the road, and the glass topped counters displayed all
sorts of accessories. At the back was a workshop, where the hand built bikes
were assembled; A Dan Jenner Bike was a much-coveted item in those days.
What set them apart were the very
thin chain and seat stays and also
the angle of the end of the seat
stay where it met the saddle tube-
it was very oblique. I
why, they just looked fast, even
when they were stationary.
The down tube had a “Dan
Jenner” logo in script style (i.e.
not block capitals, but “joined up
writing”). I seem to remember
that this was hand painted on. The headstock had a metal badge on it with the
XL logo. They were made with Reynolds 531 tubing and then custom built.
Gear options were Simplex, Cyclo-Benelux, Huret or Campagnolo, Shimano
was a word unheard of then. Anything could be under construction and seen in
the shop, track bikes with fixed wheels, sports bikes and touring bikes with up
to, but no more than 10 gears, and occasionally a tandem.
They also sold Phillips brand bikes and dealt with the odd second hand bike.
My cousin, Doreen, bought a second hand lime green Dan Jenner ladies
model, with a four speed Sturmey Archer Hub gear, for £15. The lovely
Rosemary Jenner gave me a generous £2 commission/ tip for introducing the
sale, I suspect that was most of the shop’s profit, but as already said, she was a
kind, generous lady. The other half of the shop was devoted to cycle clothing,
Meccano sets and Dinky toys, with the Phillips bikes and second hand bikes
for sale displayed in this area.
A gas fire was lit for all of the winter to heat the shop, I used to toast myself in
front of it between the shopping errands that I was sent out to do. This
involved going to the little grocers shop next door, no supermarkets in those
days, the greengrocers, the butchers, the chemists, and of course the
tobacconists, for Dan’s cigarettes. I recall taking some wood cycle wheel rims
to be posted at the local post office. They were not wrapped, just the bare rims
with an address label tied to each. I can remember the post office clerk trying
to balance these rims, with difficulty, on the scales to ascertain how much
postage was due. I always wondered if they arrived intact at their destination,
and even if wooden wheel rims are even seen anywhere today, apart from in a
Two other items of interest have just occurred to me. Do you remember
“Chossy” saddlebags? They were made out of leather, as far as I can
remember, but the leather was recycled after being used in some print proofing
process. As a consequence they often had an image on them, which was on the
outside of the bag. They were very tough and heavy, are they still made today?
The other item that sprang to mind was that during the late 1950’s and 1960’s,
enthusiasts used to carry their spare tubular tyres, or tubs as we called them,
strapped to the seat stem, usually with toe clip straps, wrapped up in a white
plastic sheet. These sheets were obtained from outside of shops selling ice
cream, where they were usually tied or clipped to a display board. They were
very easy to “liberate”, and were either “Walls”, “Lyons” or “Neilsons”, and
the desirability of them was in that order simply because Walls was the most
common, Lyon’s the next with Neilsons being the most coveted. My father’s
shop sold Neilsons ice cream, and as a consequence had to have a continual
supply from the ice cream supplier to keep pace with the passing cyclists who
helped themselves. Was this just a London thing, or does anyone remember
whether this craze was nationwide?
I hope that my ramblings and reminiscences are of interest, should anyone
need to pass any of the above on to any other enthusiasts, either in print or
verbally, then I have no objection. By all means get in touch if you like:-
[For a full copy if the article, go to
Glimpse of the Past - (with thanks to Marguerite)
Extract from GWYNN (ROBIN D.) Huguenot Heritage , Routledge & Kegan
"At this time (1700), it has been conservatively estimated, there were some
15,000 refugees living in the City and eastern environs and 8,000 in
Westminster and the western suburbs, as well as more distant settlements at
Chelsea, Greenwich, Wandsworth and Wapping.
The French exiles thus comprised about 5 per cent of London's population, at a
time when one in every ten inhabitants of England lived in and around the
The following extract deals with the 18th Century:
"One of the most striking instances of refugees developing an English industry
from nothing was in hat manufacture. As had been the case a century
earlier, the skill of dyeing was important, and use of the river Wandle - which
seems to have had special properties for fixing dyes - encouraged a notable
centre at Wandsworth. This developed in conjunction with the feltmaking and
hatmaking industry that became located, despite acute industrial strife aroused
in the process, in London's south-western suburbs of Battersea, Putney,
Lambeth and Wandsworth. At Caudebec in Normandy, the manufacture of
soft rainproof felt hats made from a mixture of fine vicuna wool and rabbit fur
virtually ceased, as the hatmakers removed to Holland and England. France
became an importer rather than an exporter of this kind of hat...
It is one of the delightful minor ironies of history that thereafter Catholic
cardinals at Rome had to have their red hats made by Huguenot refugees at
"... .bad relations between Huguenot hatmakers and the Feltmakers Company
encouraged the newcomers to settle and work (and seek to evade the
Company's regulations) in such areas as Wandsworth, Battersea and
The information we are getting about the Wandsworth closure is currently
only speculation, but informed speculation.
There are a couple of aspects - the first of these being that Wandsworth has a
big deficit looming, the Museum costs £400,000 per year, and the Council gets
no ‘score’ from central government by providing a museum.
The second is that there is proposed to be a rationalisation of several small
libraries (for which the Council can get scored) into one building, and that
building is the old Court House now occupied by the Museum.
The third element, which should not be relevant but probably is, is that any
redevelopment of the Youngs Brewery site is bound to include something to
do with a heritage centre or museum.
The De Morgan Centre, currently based in one of the libraries due for closure,
is also under threat. We understand this centre is likely to continue elsewhere,
and has another 2 years to run on its lease, so the threat is not so severe.
Both Wandsworth Museum and the De Morgan Centre are close to our hearts
at WIM, and we must hope for the best for the future. However as even the
date for closure is now known (October this year), that hope appears fruitless,
so all we can do is offer a home for any of the Wandsworth exhibits that fit
within our remit, and are not to b redistributed round the Wandsworth
The Carshalton Lavender fields are not so certain to disappear. I set out below
the text from the circular email on the subject for more information. Lavender
is dear to us as one of the great Wandle industries, and we hope to be luckier
with this threat.
I am writing to you on behalf of Carshalton Lavender as you have either
volunteered on the 3-acre lavender field at Stanley Road Allotments, visited
during the annual harvest event held over the last weekend in July, or have
shown other valued support for it in the recent past.
Stanley Road Allotments has been proposed by Sutton Council as one of three
possible sites for the new Stanley Park High School after the Council was
awarded £22 million by the Government (DfES) to rebuild a school in the
Borough. The three site options are:
rebuild on the existing school site (not enough space and too disruptive to the
education of the children)
build on the 10.5 acres of Stanley Road Allotments (access and loss of green
build on the Orchard Hill site (site would need to be bought + access issues)
We have heard that the Orchard Hill site is the preferred option for a number
of reasons, but the well-used allotment site, including our lavender field could
be under threat.
The local lavender project was initiated by BioRegional Development Group
in 1996 with help from a range of other local organisations and volunteers. It
has been a collective, community enterprise, with local residents asked to
donate cuttings from their gardens, volunteers collecting the cuttings, and
plants raised by the horticultural unit of the local HM Prison, Downview. The
ground was prepared for planting by volunteers, inmates on day release and
people with learning disabilities from Hallmead Day Centre. This cooperation
led to some 8,000 lavender bushes being planted in the disused allotments.
The maintenance of the field and the organisation of the annual harvest event
for the public are now managed by local community group, Carshalton
There is much more, so for a full copy of the circular, contact Sarah Mooney
of Carshalton Lavender at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email
email@example.com for me to send you a full copy.
Ed: February 2007
The Vestry Hall Annexe, London Road, Mitcham, Surrey
OPEN: Every Wednesday 1 ~ 4 pm;
First Sunday of each month 2 ~ 5 pm.
The Museum is also open to schools and
groups by appointment.
Admission: Adults 50p, Children & Senior
The Wandle Industrial Museum would like to point out that the
views of contributors to this newsletter are not necessarily the
views of the Museum. We would be happy to give the right to
reply to anyone who finds the content contentious.