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Issue 67                        August 2009





Table of contents

[1] Newsdesk, and dates for your diary           2

[2] Museum Update-                                        4

[3] Harry Galley - origins of WIM                  6

[4] Curators Update                                         8

[5] Archivist Update                                        9

[6] Vanguard Way relaunch                           10

[7] Gift Aid                                                    13

[8] Glimpse of the Past (McGow)                  14



- Visits to the Museum

There has been a steady stream of visitors to the Museum since the opening of the new Exhibition Lost Mills of the Wandle in June.

- Educational Visits

We were pleased to meet the members of the Lost Railways of London Group again in June making their third visit to us. This was part of an organised walk following the route of the Surrey Iron Railway. In July, Year 6 of St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School made their first visit to us for a Textile Workshop as part of their project on rivers.

- Outreach

wimvillfair.jpgBetty Connie and Mary setting up at the Wimbledon Village Fair

Mary and Nicholas were once again involved with printing activities at Merton Abbey Mills as part of the annual Wandle Valley Festival in June. Later in June we had a successful stall and display at the Wimbledon Village Fair when over £90 was taken.

We were very pleased to participate for the second time at the National Trust Green Day in Morden Hall Park in July. This time we took along our Trout Game to attract customers by asking them to pinpoint on a Wandle map where the Wandle Trout might be hiding. This provided a lot of interest from visitors who had a few guesses and then bought a map or something from our stall. Altogether we took £75 for Museum funds and everyone enjoyed the day.

Mary has given two Printing Workshops for Sue Bowman of Carers Support Merton.

myoropeningdisplay.jpgMayor of Merton, Cllr Nick Draper, cutting the ribbon to open our new exhibit

- Events

- The main event this summer has been the opening of Meg’s latest Exhibition Lost Mills of the Wandle on Saturday l3th June, opened by the new Mayor of Merton Cllr Nick Draper. This went off very successfully with 50 people attending and once more enjoying the delicious refreshments provided by Mary Hart.

- Nicholas, Mary and myself were very pleased to be able to attend the opening of the new display at the Civic Centre where the former Heritage Centre at the Canons, Mitcham, has been unified with the Local Studies Centre on the second floor of Morden Library. It was good to see the display and the resources all together and the new site should prove useful and popular.

heritagecentre.jpgThe Mayor, with Mary, Richard Hewitt of MoLAS and Sarah Gould at the opening of the new Heritage Centre at Crown House

- A date to note is the Annual General Meeting which will be on Thursday November 12th at 7.30pm at Raynes Park Library Hall when we will officially welcome founder member Harry Galley who will become our Honorary Life President. He will give a short presentation about the formation and history of the Museum.

- The next Volunteers' Lunch Meeting will be on Wednesday September 16th at l2.00 noon. It is hoped to plan a date at this meeting for a visit to the Headquarters of the William Morris Society at Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mill, Hammersmith. Kelmscott House was William Morris's home for the last 18 years of his life and visitors can see the basement and Coach House and view some of the Society's archives. If you would like to join us for this outing and cannot attend the lunch meeting please telephone the Museum. It is hoped to visit the House in October.

We hope to see as many as possible of our Members at the AGM.

Sheila Harris 12/8/2009




Ravensbury Mill - The long struggle towards opening the Museum in Ravensbury continues. After the flurry of activity in January, when a plan to help the freeholder comply with his obligations seemed to have emerged, things seemed to have slowed again.


gutter.jpgThe gaping hole in the gutter seen from underneath

LB Merton is continuing to push for the freeholder to complete the s106 work, and the general state and condition of the building, after its 13 year wait, is beginning to cause concern.


Passers by will have noticed that the guttering is still broken, and the amount of moss growing from the brick work evidences the damp that must be cured..


Our position remains simple - give us the building in the state envisaged by the s106 agreement, and we will take it.


It is abundantly clear that lottery money is too hard to get, so we will apply for smaller grants, and do the work piecemeal. One of the grants for which we will need to apply urgently, once we know that the building is at last to be ours, is for a complete upgrade to the accessibility options - what was OK 13 years ago no longer cuts any ice.


riverandclothmam.jpgRiver and Cloth at Merton Abbey Mills

On the plus side, the tumbling price of electronics will give us a much improved, and dynamic, display, while we can exploit the space to deliver our increasing support work for the National Curriculum, as well as for other voluntary groups around Merton.


Last but not least, increasing government support for micro power generation should enable us to exploit the power of the Wandle to demonstrate how eternal water power is as an asset for us all.


Talking of Outreach, the River and Cloth program continues, and we were able to meet up with the organisers at Merton Abbey Mills last Saturday for the second of their programs linking to Abbeyfest. A final day is planned for Monday 24 August.


moorhenchicks.jpgMoorhen chicks, 5 days from hatching

I can’t resist some nature notes - Merton Abbey Mills has provided a viewing platform first for hatching and fledging of a brood of Grey Wagtails in the brickwork that supports the water wheel, and then, more recently, a pair of moorhens has produced (from 3 eggs) a pair of fluffy chicks in full view from the bandstand area, having sat on them peaceably throughout Abbeyfest and all its noise and comings and goings, not least the accumulation of litter there. Since I took the photo, Claire and Steve Llewellyn have put in a huge amount of work clearing the litter in the river. I hesitate to think what Merton and/or the site owners would have to pay for the work that those two do voluntarily to keep the River Wandle clear there.


It is important for organisations like ours to keep in touch with our origins, lest we lose our way. Reminding us of the original link with the Liberty site at Merton Abbey Mills is useful, at a time when we are looking forward to Priory Trust receiving its s106 money, and developing the heritage aspects of the site.


As a personal view (not necessarily shared by all!) I do not regard them as a competing organisation, but a complementary one. Once up and running our combined efforts are likely to add extra value to what we each do for Merton’s heritage, for the benefit of both. I expect great things from this.


What also needs saying is that, over the last 12 months or so, there is a new dynamism at the Museum, sparked by the accreditation process, but fed by the enthusiasm of our new volunteers adding to the commitment of the longer serving members of the team. We should all be very grateful for their efforts.


I have included Colin Saunders’ Press Release about the new Vanguard Way website. Although not strictly industrial history, our Wandle Trail forms part of the route, and the support of walkers organisations are important to it. More immediately, the way they have used their website to replace their previous published guide to the Vanguard Way is worth considering in its own right.


Finally, as headlined in Newsdesk, Harry Galley has agreed to become our Honorary President, and has contributed the following article (an update of one he wrote for us some 15 years ago) to remind us of the origins of the Museum.






The acorn of the Wandle Industrial Museum was sown in 1981 when I was appointed to the headship of Links Primary School in N.E. Mitcham. It was there that I met Kevin Leyden who, in a very innovative and creative way, used the resources of the River Wandle in his teaching. This generated in me a latent interest in the industrial history of the area and our mutual concerns for our industrial heritage acted as a catalyst for a local community worker called Trevor Watling. Trevor and I had already worked together in establishing Deen City Farm, ( still going strong 30 years on!). Trevor was keen to follow up our city farm venture with another local, community based project and, after a few jars in a local hostelry and copious notes on the back of several envelopes, Kevin, Trevor and I established ambitious plans to bring the industrial history of the River Wandle to life.

harrygalleyandevelyn.jpgHarry Galley and Evelyn at the Summer Opening

Initially, our plans focused on the Liberty site, home of the Liberty prints famous throughout the western world, which had only recently been devastated by a major fire, and was becoming increasingly vandalised. Our plans to restore the site to its former glories in the form of a working, industrial museum were frustrated by an unwillingness of the owners to entertain what they saw as uncommercial proposals.

Apart from the Liberty connection, both Kevin and I were keen to reflect the work of William Morris who also had a close working relationship with the River Wandle in Merton.

By the mid-1980's the site was acquired by Savacentre as part of a major multi—purpose development known as Priory Park, which included a very minor concession to the great history of the site; the actual Liberty buildings, apart from the Wheelhouse and the listed Colour House, were to be demolished to make way for a swimming pool!

The Museum achieved a major success in fighting these proposals at a public enquiry and forcing the developers to retain all the buildings. However, our hopes that this victory would enhance our museum plans were not to be realised, as the developers dropped their albeit minor museum plans entirely, and substituted a plan for a craft market, which subsequently became familiar to everyone in the area.

Despite this major setback, the Museum, with financial support from Merton's Grants Unit, continued to promote the historical legacy of William Morris, Arthur Liberty, the Surrey Iron Railway and the pervasive influence the River Wandle has had on the life of Merton.

Although I have not been actively involved in the museum for many years (and, probably, most volunteers wonder who I am!) I remained close friends with Kevin, and his wife Julie, until his untimely and most unexpected death in 2004. I was lucky to know Kevin and shared his other great passion… Wimbledon Football Club. He would have loved to have shared in the development of the museum and, obviously, would have delighted in the recent success of AFC Wimbledon.

I am delighted to be invited to become Honorary President and look forward to following the museum's future successes

H.Galley Aug 2009




                 We have begun to move the museum artifacts into the new secure cupboards, as part of our compliance with the Accreditation requirements. We have also been re-organising the office to give ourselves a better working space and to accommodate our new computer.

We bought the computer with the Grassroots Grant.

We were hoping to get a grant from the Association of Independent Museums for a review of the Ravensbury site as it now some twelve years since we first looked at moving in. As you will all be well aware building regulations have moved on, as have those covering Health and Safety and Access. We were unlucky this time but they did have applications amounting to £115 000 with only £25 000 in the kitty.

We are continually looking to improve museum visits especially where school groups are concerned. Michael and Eric have constructed a folding coat rail, no more heaps of coats on the floor!

We would like to mount a screen at the front of the museum to show our DVDs in-house, the cost of a room in Vestry Hall has risen and keeping the children in the museum makes changing groups so much easier.

To this end I wonder if anyone is replacing their TV , preferably a flat screen (well only the best!) and would like to donate their old one to us.

Meg Thomas


Report from the Archivists

Recent donations have included cine films relating to the factory and social activities of Hugh Stevenson in Summerstown, and from Peter McGow, fascinating minutes and reports relating to the plans for the construction of the Surrey Iron Railway, and personal notes on the Wandle watercress beds.

Details of our books, some journal articles, and fabric samples, are now loaded on the new computer software, and in due course the contents of the information files will follow.

Enquiries continue to come in as a result of personal contacts at the various events where we have a presence, as well as via the usual channels, but sadly many are outside our remit, e.g. requiring details for named employees. We are considering starting on some research to address this.

Many artifacts are now housed in the new archive-standard cabinets, and we have started to transfer our major paper-based journal articles and original documents to acid-free paper.

We have also joined the Society of Archivists.

Jacqui Tucker & Alison Cousins






A new, free guide has been published to the Vanguard Way, a 66-mile walking route from Croydon to Newhaven, passing through some of Britain's finest countryside in Surrey, Kent and Sussex.


It has been written and designed by members of the Vanguards Rambling Club, which was established in 1965 in the guard's van of a rambler's excursion train - with a little help from a bottle of Drambuie! The route was created by the Vanguards and launched in 1981.


The download is available at and replaces earlier

editions in book form. The new format makes a free guide possible and enables easier updating of route instructions.


The Vanguard Way passes through the designated South Downs National Park, two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a heritage coast and three scheduled sites of national or regional interest.


The start at East Croydon Station is easily accessible from all over London and

the Southeast. But in less than one mile it reaches parkland, then most of the

route follows footpaths and bridleways through attractive countryside, crossing the North Downs to reach the Weald, the Ashdown Forest and the South Downs.


The route finishes with spectacular views that will bring a "Wow!" to the lips:

the Cuckmere Meanders, the Seven Sisters (voted one of the best views in Britain) and Seaford Head.


Walkers can choose whether to cover the route in one trip, stopping overnight along the way, or on day excursions using good public transport facilities.


The 162-page guide has been divided into ten easily-downloaded sections averaging 6-7 miles, with a step-by-step route description, including links with


nearby stations, and commentary on points of interest, plus a general introduction and a companion giving details of refreshment facilities, accommodation and much other useful information.



____________________ ____________________


Notes to Editors:


** The Vanguard Way passes through or by:

- the designated South Downs National Park;

- two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Surrey Hills (North Downs) and

High Weald (including the Ashdown Forest);

- the Sussex Heritage Coast;

- Nore Hill Chalk Pinnacle (a Regionally Important Geological Site);

- Haxted Mill (a Grade II listed building);

- Dry Hill Camp (a Scheduled Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest);

and many other nature reserves and places of interest that are described in

the guide.


** The Vanguard Way either passes or has links with East Croydon, Woldingham, Oxted, Edenbridge, Edenbridge Town, Lingfield, East Grinstead, Tunbridge Wells, Buxted, Lewes, Berwick, Eastbourne, Seaford, Bishopstone, Newhaven Harbour, Newhaven Town and Brighton stations, and with bus services at Westerham, East Hoathly and Alfriston. The route is also served by Croydon Tramlink at East Croydon and Lloyd Park.


beachyhead.jpgBeachy Head

** The Vanguard Way has been recognised and waymarked by the four highway authorities along the route (London Borough of Croydon, and Surrey, Kent and East Sussex County Councils), and is shown on Ordnance Survey Explorer and Landranger maps.


** The Vanguard Way has been used as part of a route for walkers from London to Paris via the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry then Grandes Randonnées trails along the Seine valley.



Further information:

Colin Saunders 020 8886 8285 or 07768 453159,




(New volunteer Helen Daniels has kindly agreed to research Gift Aid for us and has contributed this article to get us all used to it. We have always fought shy of it in the past, because of the administrative burden. With Helen taking responsibility, though, this has now become a realistic objective for us. Ed)


Gift aid is the means by which our Wandle Industrial Museum (WIM) can increase the value of gifts of money it receives from UK taxpayers


If you are a UK income tax payer or pay capital gains tax and you make a donation to Wandle Industrial Museum out of taxed income an appropriate amount can be recovered from the Inland Revenue.


All the taxpaying donor needs to do is to state on giving the donation that it is being made under the Gift Aid Scheme and quote their name and address. This is known as the Gift Aid declaration


For every £1 that you donate to the museum we can claim 25p plus an extra 3p. Therefore your £1 is worth £1.28 to Wandle Industrial Museum.


 Once the Gift Aid declaration is signed WIM could claim Gift Aid on all donations made in the past 6 years


Making a Gift Aid declaration to cover your donation to WIM does not stop you signing similar declarations in favour of any other charities you support


You are under no commitment to make further donations and you may cancel the declaration at any time


We can also claim gift aid on you membership. An extra statement will have to be added to the form

and you may cancel the declaration at any time.


Membership subscriptions paid to our charity can also be treated as donations by income taxpayers.

Membership forms will be amended to include the Gift Aid declaration


Gift aid Declaration forms are available now they can be obtained from the office.




Some charities offer people individual boxes in which to collect their spare coins and then donate them to the Charity


 Every penny that WIM can get helps to fund the work it does on the Industrial History of the WANDLE. will you help?


  At WIM we now have a supply of BLUE boxes so if you would like to collect your spare pence to increase the work of your favourite charity please ask for a box.







Near to the Museum building, and situated at the junction of London Road and Cricket Green, is a cattle trough which was erected in 1887 by the Metropolitan Cattle Trough and Drinking Fountain Association. This trough had a tenuous connection with a former owner of several of the Wandle mills.


This was Samuel Gurney, M.P., who had purchased the Culvers estate at Carshalton, and its associated mills at Beddington Corner, in the 1840's.



In 1859 he arranged, at his own expense, for the installation of several public drinking fountains in London, the first of which was unveiled on 20 April 1859. This was situated at High Holborn at its junction with Giltspur Street. At about the same time, in association with several other philanthropists, he founded the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association, to provide further drinking fountains. Some time later they extended their benevolence to provide water for cattle also, and changed the name of the association accordingly.


The first drinking fountain remains close to its original position in High Holborn, and is one of the few still in existence. Rather more of the cattle troughs have survived, most of them, like the one at Mitcham, now converted into plant containers.











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 newsletter67 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.


All contributions and news items gratefully received and appreciated - please feel free to let us know at any time - telephone or write as below or email to