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Issue 64 1983 ~ 2008 November 2008





Table of contents

Newsdesk, and dates for your diary           2

Museum Update-                                        4

Merton Abbey Mills update                       7

Windvanes                                                  8

Charles Ford                                             10

Merton National School                           12

Wandle Trail                                            14

~~~ NEWSDESK ~~~


Visits to the Museum

There has been a consistent stream of visitors to the Museum during the Autumn months, as our celebratory Silver Anniversary Year draws to a close.



Mary cutting her cake in the Chapter house

We were happy to participate in the Volunteers Day at the Vestry Hall in September by mounting a display and distributing leaflets about the Museum.

Mary Hart and her helpers were busy once again with Printing Workshops at the Chapter House, during Open House Weekend on Saturday and Sunday 20th/2lst September. This co-coincided with Mary’s birthday and a very enjoyable party was held that evening in this historic location.


Cllr Krysia Williams, deputy Mayor of Merton, helping chair our AGM

On September 23rd we participated once again in the Merton Celebrating Age Festival by having an Open Afternoon here at the Museum with a DVD, tour of the Museum and block printing. This was a resounding success and thanks to all volunteers who helped at these promotional activities.


A successful Volunteers Lunch was held on October 1st when everyone enjoyed the refreshments kindly provided by Mary Hart.

The Annual General Meeting held on November 27th was a great success with over 30 people attending, including the Deputy Mayor Cllr Krysia Williams. Simon Lace our Curatorial Adviser was the Guest Speaker and gave us a very interesting and professional presentation about his own Museum: "150 Years of Maidstone Museum & its Future".

Once again we are indebted to Mary Hart for providing the refreshments and baking 2 Christmas cakes for the Raffle which raised £75 for Museum funds.

The next Volunteers' Lunch Meeting will be on 17th December and this will be a Christmas Celebration Lunch.

Charles Ford

For those not already aware of it, we lost a founder member and valued supporter of the Museum when Charles Ford died on 17 November. His obituary appears later in this Newsletter. Our heartfelt condolences to his widow Shirley, and her family.

Educational Visits

These continue to be popular at the Museum. For the third year running the Education Team visited Malmesbury Primary School in Morden for a Textile Workshop in November, and for the second year running SS Peter and Paul R.C. Primary School visited the Museum for a Museum Tour and Printing - activities in December.


These are now due for the 2008/09 year and a reminder is included with this Newsletter.

Future date for your Diary


Members enjoying the Jan 2008 dinner

It has been decided to repeat the successful New Year Dinner held last year at Park Place Beefeater, Mitcham. The date this time will be Thursday January 8th at 7pm for 7.30.


Members and Volunteers and their friends wishing to come will be asked to contribute £10 per person towards the cost of the evening. Anything over and above this amount will be met by the Museum. The set menu is £9.99 for 2 courses.

Anyone wishing to join us please let me know by phone or e-mail by Friday 19th December. Cheques/cash in advance would be much appreciated. Please see form on inside back page of Newsletter, and fill in and post to the Museum or bring to Volunteers' Lunch Meeting. We will be arranging for a certain amount of wine/soft drinks to get the meal started, but after that it is up to you. Meanwhile we wish all our Members and Volunteers a very Happy Christmas,

Sheila Harris December 2008




Curatorial - Meg Thomas has submitted this report

    As part of our move to comply with the modern museum standards we have to store our artifacts in an archival standard manner. At first we thought we have to seal off part of the office to enable us to store the artifact in controlled conditions. This would have presented quite a problem. As the building is not ours permission would have to sought for any internal alterations and moving one of the light fittings may have been a move too far! Fortunately while looking in a catalogue for other archival quality storage equipment I saw a lockable storage cupboard that would answer our needs. In fact two cupboards would hold all our artifacts.

So I applied to MLA for a grant to buy this equipment and we have been given a grant of £860 towards these purchases. Once the money has been transferred to our bank account I can spend spend spend!

 As I'm sure you are all aware standards are always changing and being updated and so it is with documentation. So this month (Dec) we are having a day's workshop with Heather Lomas from MLA to review our procedures and collection management.

                                                                                                   Meg Thomas


News of other museums.


   The Museum of London is to have a new logo, and will now be run by the GLA and the City Corporation.

   Kingston Museum has merged with the Library service.

   William de Morgan Centre. The museum has to be out of its current building by Jan 2010, they are looking at a school building in Lambeth. Meanwhile the collection is due to tour the U.S.A. for up to 2 years.

   Wandsworth Museum is in discussion with the new owners of the Young's Brewery Site.



Wimbledon Bookfest this year featured an event at Merton priory Chapter House organized by John Hawks from Merton Abbey Mills, entitled “Looking Back, Looking Forward...” (We wonder where that idea came from!) which prominent local historical writers (Dave Saxby, Eric Montague, Judy Goodman and Clive Whichelow) “introducing their latest books in the twelfth century remains of Merton Priory, which once dominated the Wandle Valley on the Roman Stane Street.”


This was a well attended event, and an opportunity for us to sell some of our own books including Dave Saxby’s Mills of the Wandle, and Lionel Green’s A Priory Revealed.


On a different note, the Surrey Iron Railway’s only serious competitor for the title of world’s first public railway is the Dioklos of Athens, the ancient rutway which enable ships to cross the Isthmus of Corinth from sea to sea. This is under serious threat, and those interested could help by visiting:

to sign the online petition there. The supporting information is worth a visit in its own right.


Wandle Valley Festival

The organisation of the 2009 festival is now well under way, and its new webiste has been uploaded - see . It is hoped that this will keep up to date with latest developments and become a regular visit.

In passing our congratulations to Vikki Carroll for featuring in the 2008 Green Awards -- with a Highly Commended in the Green Champion category.

We are still toying with different ideas for the theme of next year’s festival, but a digital version of the Mills of the Wandle, and the 25 anniversary of the first appearance of the Museum’s Wandle Trail Map (see article later in this Newsletter) are both in the reckoning.



The story of Ravensbury is like the oft repeated description of swans - apparently motionless, but feet paddling furiously out of sight under the water line. Nothing has apparently happened with Ravensbury, but the ongoing efforts of LB Merton officers, and the interest of English Heritage, have produced a possible solution which may break the deadlock of the outstanding s106 works at Ravensbury, completion of which is essential if we are to sign the lease.

Hopefully more next newsletter.


Heritage Lottery Fund

A positive occurrence has been that the draft agreement between HLF and LB Merton has now been approved, and we are now, after 4 years of deadlock, once again free to pursue a major heritage grant.


Simon Lace giving his talk at our AGM

As mentioned in previous reports, we are indebted to the help Kate Hebditch of MLA has been giving us in the accreditation process. She has also kindly looked at our provisional application for HLF funding for Ravensbury. She has most strongly advised that we should seek some smaller grants first, to prove to HLF that we are competent to manage the process, and safe in our application of funds.

This advise is too sensible to ignore, and we are seeking an appropriate avenue to pursue.


AGM/Simon Lace

As reported in Newsdesk, Simon Lace came all the way from Maidstone on a damp late November evening, to give us a talk on ‘his’ museums in Maidstone. What could have been a very depressing talk, seeing the enormous difference in funding, facilities and collection available to him was soon lost in admiration for his enthusiasm, and the recognition of the even larger problems he faces as a result. Many of us were inspired to make plans to visit/revisit his museums (Maidstone Museum itself, Bentlif Art Gallery and the Carriage Museum) and we recommend this to all.



Long shop now complete



The conversion of the Long Shop is now almost complete, and the first tenants in residence. As the photo shows, the new doors work well aesthetically, and we hope that the building will soon be fully let, and a further reason for visitors to come to MAM, and by their increased numbers help preserve the site.


The new layout for the food/farmers market as a comprehensive supplier of all things edible is a boost, and worth a visit in its own right, with all the basics like fresh fish, meat, eggs, cheese and bread plus an array of additional food products.

We make no apologies for continuing to promote the market at MAM - its continuing commercial health is the sole guarantee that the Liberty site will not go the way of the William Morris complex, and become submerged beneath unsympathetic development.


The Wandle at MAM provided another sight this last week. Despite the pollution disaster of late 2007, the Wandle’s fish population continues to flourish, as an indication of the health of the river and its full ecological population.


It was surprising however to see a cormorant swimming in the river at MAM, though. Whilst it might have been a stray, it is difficult to believe it would have


Cormorant in the Wandle

been there if the fishing wasn’t good, and a waterbird of that size on our river must mean something.


WINDVANES - the modern church steeples?


As some of you will have seen in the latest edition of the local Guardian, the new B&Q store at Shannon corner is to be an ecological marvel. Their article doesn’t do it justice.


To quote from a more technical article on the Green Building Press website.


“7 Nov 2008, 5:45 PM

B&Q continues to invest in sustainable development, with the opening of its New Malden store in January 2009. Situated on the A3 at Shannon Corner, the store


The windvane at the new B&Q

                        is easily visible with a three-storey high glass “super shopfront” and a 35m high signage tower topped by a 20 KW wind turbine, the largest integrated turbine yet installed on a building in the UK.


New Malden has been built with sustainable materials where possible; with FSC certified wood specified throughout, recycled plastics in the customer toilets and low VOC paints used throughout the building.

The building will achieve almost a 50%


Seen from a distance

reduction in CO2 emissions, when compared with a traditional unit of similar size, and will be B&Q's most sustainable store to date. It features many energy saving technologies ......

The store is heated using a geothermal system, which uses heat extracted from the earth through over one hundred 100-metre deep boreholes sunk into the ground below the building and connected to heat exchange pumps. The system will heat and cool the store via pipes laid under the floor, replacing the gas fired warm air units used in traditional stores, improving the sales floor environment for customers.

A series of Photovoltaic panels act as a sun shade to the stores offices and coffee shop and will convert solar radiation into electricity that will be used to reduce the store’s power requirements.

The store also features solar thermal water heating to provide hot water for the WCs and coffee shop.

Insulation: the building has been insulated to the highest levels to minimise heat losses through the roof and walls.

The building features a green roof over the offices that will absorb CO2, provide a habitat for insects, increase insulation, extend the life of the roof by protecting the roof covering from the weather and reduce storm water runoff.

Lighting: the store has been designed with a north light roof that provides higher natural lighting levels across the sales floor. The store lighting system uses dimming control to reduce energy consumption. All lighting throughout the store will use energy efficient lamps.

The store features sun pipes inserted into the roof to provide natural daylight into areas that daylight cannot reach, minimising the need for artificial lighting and associated reduce energy use.


Water Saving: a rainwater harvesting system provides water for toilet flushing and the garden centre irrigation, reducing water usage and assisting in storm water management. Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in a 30,000 litre tank located underneath the car park. The store’s toilets also feature water saving devices, such as low flush WC’s and aerated taps.”


A further thought was triggered by this building. Increasingly across suburban areas wind generation devices are raising their heads above the skyline, whether we are talking about B&Q, Crown House, the Big Yellow or Merton Abbey Mills. Soon there is to be the biggest of them all, a huge propellor-style device to help power the new London Fire Service call centre establishment currently being built on the Nelson Trading estate


Whereas our forefathers were accustomed to suburban areas framed by the spires of churches, it is clear we and our children will grow used to these new punctuations of the skyline.




Charles Ford

28-1-1922 ~ 17-11-2008


Ernest Charles Ford (always known as Charles) was a big man with a big personality and boundless energy. The sudden loss of such a person will leave a hole in many lives, and the many organisations he supported will feel that loss most keenly too.


Although no longer an active volunteer at the Museum, he was a founder member, and at least one of the pictures in our silver anniversary display shows him in his younger years getting his hands dirty on Museum business. For the last 7 or 8 years he has been a faithful presence at our meetings, and provided much financial support in the background on a confidential basis which has enabled Mary to extend her block printing demonstrations to a much wider audience on behalf of the Museum without draining its resources.



Charles Ford

What is also not always appreciated is that without him we might not have the Museum as we know it today. It was Charles, with his legal background in the Civil Service, who wrote our constitution, and gained our charitable status for us. If we had had to pay for this expertise the Museum may never have got off the ground, as it was that charitable status which unlocked the grants which got us going with the Manpower Services Commission, funded all the original research, and lead to the Hartfield Crescent exhibitions and displays.


After 7 years wartime service in the RAF, where he rose to the rank of Armourer, Charles joined the Civil Service and stayed there until retiring at the age of 60 (as was then required) having achieved the rack of Higher Executive Officer.


For a man of his energies he had to have something else to do and the Manpower Services Commission investment in local activities was the ready made outlet. For the fledgling Museum the timing was perfect. His widow, Shirley, also a strong supporter of the Museum, has promised to donate Charles’ museum papers to us for our archive, and these should prove a valuable resource, filling many of the gaps in our early years records.


Among Charles’ many other activities, since 1950 he has been a keen supporter of the Cygnet Rowing Club, where he was a committee member both of the club and the Putney Town Regatta, a stalwart of his local Church, St James the Great in Merton (he was forever there helping with cleaning and decorating and general maintenance), a strong arm in the Friends of Cherrywood whenever heavy work was needed and a hardworking allotment holder.



Charles was survived by his widow, Shirley, their two sons (Gavin and David) 5 grandchildren and a great grandchild. He will be greatly missed by a very, very wide circle of friends and organisations, as well as by his family.


Nicholas Hart, Nov 2008.


We have been lucky to acquire Charles’ archive. The early constitutional documents he worked on are there and supplement those we have. There is also his research into the National Schools movement, and we will try and find a safe home for this. From this comes our next item - the information card handed to parents of pupils at the National School in Merton and Mitcham.









1. Parents are to send their Children clean washed, with their hair cut short and combed, and their clothes well mended, by Nine o'Clock in the morning.

2. If any Child be later in attendance than Half-past Nine o'clock in the morning, and Half-past Two o'clock in the afternoon, such Child shall be sent back till the re-opening of the School at the usual time.

8. Parents may, if more convenient to them, send their Children's dinners with them, so that they may remain the whole day in the School,

4. Parents must pay, weekly, two-pence for each Child, which must be paid every Monday morning, or the Child will not be admitted.

5. No Child can be admitted into the School who is in any way diseased, or coming from a family where any infectious complaint exists.

6. If a Child be absent for a week without notice being sent to the Conductor, giving a sufficient reason for the absence, such Child will not be admitted to return again to the School, without an order being obtained by the Parent from one of the Treasurers.


                        Wednesdays and Saturdays will be half holidays.


                        It is earnestly hoped that the Parents will see their own interest, as well as that of their Children, in strictly observing the above Rules. The Managers require that Parents will submit to their Children being governed by the Conductors while at School; and they exhort the Parents to give their Children, when at home, good instruction and advice, to set them a good example, to see that they repeat the Lord's Prayer when they rise in the morning and when they retire to rest at night, and to take them on Sundays to some place of worship. By doing so they will increase the good which their Children receive at the School; and have the blessing of Almighty God upon themselves and families.


                        Parents are entreated not to destroy this card, as they may find it a convenience in having it by them, not only for their own use, but in case of being asked by a neighbour the nature and terms of such a School.



Also among Charles’ papers is a good copy of the first Wandle Trail map, which will be 25 years old in 2009. Unlike its modern counterpart, this trail concentrates on the Colliers Wood to Mitcham section, and is designed for the use of wheelchair users. In this it was way ahead of its time. It was printed as a single A3 sheet, with text on one side, and the map on the other. Below is a reduced size image of the map, and a sample of the text. This is worth reading in its own right, as a historical document, as it evidences the substantial changes which have take place along this route over the past 25 years.






This leaflet is issued free of charge on request to purchasers of the WANDLE HERITAGE TRAIL leaflet.

Start at COLLIERS WOOD TUBE STATION. Facing towards Tooting take the first road to the left, Byegrove Road. Follow Byegrove Road. After the bend to the left at the corner of Wandle Park you will see on the left Park Lodge. This is built to the style of the weighhouses of the Surrey Iron Railway and is thought to be the weighhouse for assessing the traffic from the Wandleside mills for the Iron Railway. Immediately beyond Park Lodge is CONNOLLY'S LEATHER WORKS. Turn left round CONNOLLY'S LEATHER WORKS from Byegrove Road to Wandle Bank. At the end of Wandle Bank turn left into Colliers Wood High Street, the ROYAL SIX BELLS Public House (associations with the Bow Street Runners) being to the left. At the traffic Lights by Colliers Wood Station turn right into Christchurch Road. On the corner of Fortescue Road,. immediately before the bridge, is a reputed Iron Railway Blue House, currently in occupation of a firm of car sales people. At the foot of the bridge on the right is Station Road - this is an unmade private road leading to the site of MERTON PRIORY. Excavations are visible to the left, and the stone marking the site of the high altar is on the right. Station Road is a cul-de-sac, so you must turn round and return to Christchurch Road, crossing the bridge to Jacobs Green. This is a complicated road junction and you should take the road half right, Church Road.


Along Church Road turn right to Haslemere Avenue (this area is being rebuilt, but Haslemere Avenue is the bus route). Along Haslemere Avenue take the second right Homefield Gardens (the No Through Road sign here is inaccurate). At the end of Homefield Gardens is PHIPPS BRIDGE. Turn left from Homefield Gardens to Phipps Bridge Road. EVERE'TTS PLACE AND FOLLY, the COACHMANS HOUSE and WANDLE VILLA are on your right. Follow Phipps Bridge Road to Church Road, where you turn right and continue along the road, past Mitcham Church and some original Mitcham weatherboarded cottages to Cricket Green. On the south side of Lower Green West is the original National School, -whose history is recounted on a plaque fixed to the wall.

From Cricket Green go along London Road (A217) towards Mitcham Station. This can lay claim to being the oldest railway station it the world. There was an Iron Railway station on this site from 1803. From Mitcham Station continue along London Road, taking the 2nd. left, Riverside Drive, at the end of which is a pathway leading to the wandleside mill sites.

On London Road, between Riverside Drive and the River Wandle is the driveway to GROVE MILL. On the facing bank of the river are the WATERMEADS.

Return down London Road towards Mitcham Station, turning left at the traffic lights into Morden Road. Along Morden Road you pass Morden Hall Park to the right and WHITELEY PRODUCTS, Ravensbury Mill to the left.

All the objects of interest in the WANDLE HERITAGE TRAIL are covered by this leaflet. Because access for-disabled people means that transport by road is essential the order in which the places are visited is different.


This trail was compiled by four members of the Wandle Industrial Museum, all of whom are registered disabled people: they are Mahesh Patel, Roger Hardman, Joan Mills and John Cook.”

Wandle Industrial Museum

New Year 2009

Members and Volunteers Dinner

Name of Member/Volunteer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Name of Guest (if any)           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Contact phone No                   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I/We would like to attend the Dinner at Park Place Beefeater on Thursday 8th January 2009 and enclose a cheque for £10/£20 [delete as appropriate] made payable to Wandle Industrial Museum.

I/We understand that if this booking is not received by,19 December 2009 the place[s] can not be guaranteed













The Vestry Hall Annexe, London Road, Mitcham, Surrey CR4 3UD

Tel: 020-8648-0127


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 Citizens 20p

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.