Thames Tributaries – the River Wandle - Merton Abbey

Thames Tributaries – the River Wandle
The Wandle continues to flow northwards

Post to the north Colliers Wood
Post to the south Morden Hall

Batsworth Road
Road name from an old name of ‘Battesworth’ recorded in 1235 and means ‘farm of ‘Baetti'.
Bush Essential Oil Works. W J Bush and Co built the works in 186 and moved equipment there from the Figges Marsh works of Potter and Moore. This was for distillation of peppermint, lavender and camomile. This ended in 1957, because stills could only be used for six weeks each year. The Batsworth Road works were closed and demolished in 1977
Cock Chimney Works. Donald Macpherson and Co. paint makers on site in 1965.

Bennett’s Ditch
Bennett's Ditch. This was used to provide water to Mr Bennet's Calico Print Works, which stood a hundred yards down river in the 1740s. The works later became part of the Liberty Site. There is a sluice gate at the back of Runnymede.

Brangwyn Crescent
On the site of the Harland Varnish works.
Harland varnish works is first listed in the area in 1845. The family had lived in the area for some time, maybe 1791. William Harland was displaced from Battlebridge by the building of Kings Cross Station and developed the works here at the back of Grove Cottage. Because raw materials were volatile the works covered 5 of Home Field, previously bleaching. Oils and solvents were stored in underground tanks, along with lacquers which matured over some years. The stable blocks survived into the 1960s and had the date 1848 on it. Parkland with a stand of mature pine trees was part of the landscaped site of Harland’s' works. Bought by Ault and Wigborg in 1955. Eventually the site was sold to the GLC.
Henry William Butler, floor cloth manufacture. The factory was actually inside the Harland works. Building still there in the 1970s with an excavated earth floor to allow the lino sheets to dry.
Grove Cottage later called White House was the Harland home and inside the site of the Harland works. It was very posh inside. Became derelict during the Second World War and eventually demolished for a car park. It had had extensive grounds with a lake fed from the Wandle and statues, etc. a bridge in a field was one of the last remains. The gates are now the entrance to Bunce’s Meadow.
The Nook, flats named for a point on the river which was marked by a brick garage. A small sluice gate which fed the Pickel Ditch.

Bunce's Meadow
Part of Morden Hall Park. One-time water meadows and bleaching grounds now owned by the National Trust. In bleach fields the cloth was stretched over ridges between water channels and here in winter, traces of these troughs could be seen until rubbish was tipped here by Mitcham Council in the 1950s. Bunce was a farmer and stock dealer who owned the land by Rucker's Cut. It was later used for prize fights and related activities. The area was later used as allotments so there are garden flowers gone wild. Leased to Deen City Farm in 1994
Bunce's Ditch. This runs at the edge of the meadow, alongside the factory estate and joins Pickle Ditch near the roundabout on Meruntun way. It drains the marshy grounds by the railway footbridge. Watercress and celery still grow as escapes from the old beds. Landscaped as part of a new housing development.
Gate to the meadow. A fragment of brick wall and two large pillars, and there were once wrought iron gates here. This was the entrance to the Old White House, home of William Harland,

Chapter Way
Named for the Abbey Chapter House now buried under the main road

Christchurch Road
Crosses track bed of Merton Park/Tooting railway which opened 1868 and closed to passengers in 1929 and goods in 1975. This has since been redeveloped as a road – Meretun Way.
The Surrey Iron Railway followed Church Road and then Christchurch Road.
70 timber building said to be Surrey Iron Railway original "Manager's House".

Church Road
The route of the Surrey Iron Railway followed Church Road and then Christchurch Road.
There were half dozen works here in the 1840's, but about 30 by 1900. This made Mitcham the centre of London's paint and varnish industry
92 Parson’s varnish works. Thomas Parsons varnish maker, on site in 1862. George Parsons had worked in Long Acre and Battlebridge in varnish works.
96 Purdom varnish works . Established in the 19th. In the 1960s the works had ‘Established 1842' on the gates. Closed in 1964. The varnish house was demolished in the 1970s.
96 W. Morgan and Sons. Varnish makers on site in 1965 on site of the Purdom works,
5 Hesee & Smith floor cloth
John William Townsend floor cloth manufacturer.
Gravel and sand pits owned by Halls of Croydon. Opened 1898, closed 1904 because constant flooding caused a nuisance in the nearby depot.
Skin dressing factory
Printing ink factory

Deer Park road
TV Centre used for filming ‘The Bill’

High Path
23 Trafalgar Freehouse

Homefield Gardens
South boundary of Merton Priory was along left side of road and followed The Pickle

Jacobs Green
The Jacob family were Dutch and used the old priory grounds as a bleach factory from the 1660s.
Merton Abbey Mills. Site of craft market etc
Leach and Newton. There was a succession of calico manufacturers on the site from the 17th. Newton Leach and Co. from 1787 were responsible for a number of improvements and innovations in this area including continuous roller printing. Joseph Ancell was here from the 1820s.
Abbey House was here until 1914 and used by several of the calico manufacturers. This is where the preserved arch originated from.
Merton Abbey Mills were started in 1724 by William Halfhide as a calico printer. It continued to produce block printing when it was taken over early in the nineteenth century by Edmund Littler.
Liberty Co. housing & school. In the 19th Oriental textiles began to be fashionable. Arthur Liberty's opened his shop in Regent Street to meet this demand. He then needed an English source of these. He obtained supplies from Wardle Bros. of Leek, Staffordshire and to print the designs he used Littler & Company. Liberty's bought the business and site at Merton themselves when Littler retired in 1904 and continued to use water power there. The last hand printing was done in the early 1970s. Part of the former print works survives, rebuilt since 1910. After the Second World War, production moved to hand and machine screen printing. By the 1960's two fully automated high-speed printing machines were on site. Liberty were mainly retailed and in 1977 they s0lod the works. Printing continued as Merton Fabrics until 1981.
Madder mill built by John Leach c.1800. Demolished by Liberty early c.20th .His son made handkerchiefs there,
Print shop built for Littler & Co. c1880. Littler, block-cutter and Lawrence, printer, came to Merton Abbey from Waltham Abbey area where the family were calico printers. They had previously come from Ireland. They took over Ancell’s calico works and established a silk printing business there. Littlers first printed for Liberty in 1877, and later exclusively for them. Ancell's wooden framed, timber clad sheds were replaced and The Printhouse dates from this time.
Littler's House. Demolished in 1914.
Apprentice Shop 1926
1929 Shop flanking the river where the transition from block printing to silk screen printing took place
Long Shop. The first of Liberty's new buildings 1906, sky lights, inside walls are matchboard and the roof is supported by steel trusses.
Showhouse, second of the Liberty buildings, constructed in 1912. The ground floor was a design studio and display area.
'Colour-house'. Behind the wheelhouse is an old building used in the 18th as a colour house. This could be the Priory Chapel used as a print shop in 1754. Here dyes and colours were stored and cloth hung out to dry after rinsing. Flint in-fill walls, with Brick, flint, and re-used stone. Used as a conditioning room for Varuna wool until 1982. Converted to a theatre.
Water wheel. Probably site of an earlier wheel. 1840s undershot waterwheel. 12ft in diameter and 15ft wide. It generated 15hp and powered the rinsing spools, housed in the weather boarded extension which projects over the water. It has four sets of seven cast-iron arms originally on a timber ship. In the Second World War, it was used to produce electricity.
Housing by Countryside Properties

Jubilee Way
Trading estate with superstores and light industry

Liberty Avenue
This was once part of Phipps Bridge Road

Littler's Close
Now truncated and the northern section is Watermill Close.
Leat on the Wandle.
Merton Abbey Waterworks, 1899. Southwark and Vauxhall Water Co temporary engine house only. Wells sunk in 1888 and 1902. These were bored by Docwra but were quickly flooded with a high bacteria count.

Lombard Road
Trading estate with many outlets and works.
Pumping station

Merantun Way
The name of the road is about an unlikely link between Merton and a place in Wessex where King Cynwulf died Station Road was the previous name. The road covers the route of the old line of the Merton Abbey railway for about a mile. Some of the old line is preserved in the middle of the road as a central reservation. The road is slightly higher than the track bed and continues to a junction with Christchurch Road where a brick bridge once took the road over the railway.
Stane Street crosses the Wandle here. There was thus a possible Roman posting station here.
Cycle Path on line of old railway, a cycle path which follows the course of the old trackbed on the south side of the line. an old retaining wall has been opened to a set back grassy area which suggests the site of sidings to the Tandem Works
Merton Priory. It was an Augustinian foundation, Priory to St Mary the Virgin set up in1117 by Gilbert le Norman, Sherriff of Surrey, under Royal Patronage. It became one of the most influential and wealthy in institutions in England. It was a centre of learning where Thomas Becket was one of its earliest pupils as was a century later Walter de Merton, founder of Merton College, Oxford. In 1236 the earliest statue in the book – the Statutes of Merton resulted from a decision taken here by a council of Barons. By 1437, Henry VI was spending most of his time here and the Priory had become very rich. In April 1538 the Priory surrendered to Henry VIII and within the week demolition began. Its estates were dispersed and the stones used to build Nonsuch Palace. During the Civil War troops were garrisoned in some of the remaining buildings. There is a garden with memorial to the Priory on site of the High Altar however the now removed railway line went down the site of the nave.
Gateway. Norman archway found within the walls of Littler's house, opposite the Liberty site. thought to be the entrance to the abbey Hospice, was re-erected in Merton churchyard by Squire Hatfeild. The location of the priory was worked out by Col.Bidder in 1921. the gateway was set in a wall which was thought to surround the priory. the priory had been demolished after the dissolution but the gate. there is a new gateway on the original site in Mereturn way.
Section of Merton Priory Wall. 17th and later. Built of flint with random ashlar stone from the ruins of Merton Priory. In poor condition.
Fish ponds
Bennett's Calico printing mill. Built 1802 by John Leach for improved madder dyeing, for which he had a patent. Bennett was his son in law and they both worked here with Anthony Heath. They were mass producing handkerchiefs here and a branch of the river ran under the mill to wash them in. Taken over by Littler in the 1830s and demolished before 1814.
Merton Abbey Station. Opened 1st October 1868 on the Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon Railway a joint line by London Brighton and South Coast and London South Western which provided two lines to Wimbledon. It was on the south side of Station Road and it was promoted by Shears for his mill. Unknowingly the company placed the station immediately above the nave of the Priory. In 1917 it was the suspended because of competition from trams and in 1929 it was closed to passengers. It remained as a freight line controlled from Merton Park as a long sidings. In 1965 it was burnt down and demolished. Goods services closed in May 1975 and the track was taken up.
Corfield and Buckle at Corfalgar, Trafalgar Works. Aluminium manufacturer
Priory works. Alumilite and Alazak factory
Riverside Business Park
Underpass which connects car parks for Pizza Hut and Sainsbury's. Space with medieval stone coffins, stonework, and ceramic. There is the outline of the chapter house, with a curved apse. Reached via a door in the underpass.
Sainsbury’s on the site of New Merton Board Mills.
New Merton paper board mill. Reed’s Paper Mills owned the site in 1913, before it became Merton Board Mills and more recently the Merton Packaging Works of the Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG)

Miles Road
R.J. Hamer and Son. The last varnish works to survive

Nelson Grove
Merton Evangelical Church

Phipps Bridge
Site of a bridge on a path between Colliers Wood and Morden.
Mill here owned by Merton Priory and it had gone by the Dissolution.
George Hadfield bought premises here in 1892 but later moved to Western Road.
Charles Turner varnish works, moved here from Western Road in 1851. May have been taken over by Addington for his works
Addington varnish works. Paul Addington was working here in 1851 making a special black varnish for use on coaches. Purchased by Hadfield in 1892 his house remained there until 1969 having been used as the works canteen by Hadfields whose works were behind it.
Phipps Bridge Mill – Rucker Calico mill. Wandle Villa was adjacent Rucker’s calico printing factory. Rucker was a merchant, in business with Francis Nixon, calico printer of Merton Abbey who invented of copper plate printing. A works had been established here in 1752n for engraving with copper plates. Nixon died on 1765 and Rucker continued to make a lot of money. He died in 1805 and the calico industry declined. It was then run by Howard & Co. who were bankrupt 10 years later. Eventually Peter Wood's Silk Works moved on to the site. This was Welch and Margetson of Cheapside and the mill was run by the Asprey Brothers of Bond Street. This was burnt down in 1850 and a varnish works took its place.
96-98s to the rear of these was The Patent Steam Washing factory opened here in 1811 opposite the mill in an effort to modernise the calico industry. Run by John Tyrell who was bankrupt by 1828. In 1846 the building was a block printing factory and later a stocking factory. Demolished by Gilliat Hatfeild in the 1870s.

Phipps Bridge Road
This area became part of the Morden Hall estate when purchased by Gilliat Hatfeild in 1872.
Coachman's House, standing behind the high, white gates. Rendered brick, castellated, with interesting window details, the Lodge was built in 1824 as the gatehouse to Wandle Villa, when this whole working estate was the property of Peter and Thomas Woods, mill owners. Before its sale and subsequent rebuilding the building stood empty and derelict for many decades.
Keepers Lodge
98 Wandle Villa. A yellow London stock brick Georgian mansion built around 1788. National Trust. It has been extensively altered and restored although the original doors and railings were there. Mature trees around it reflect the parkland which once surrounded it. It was built for businessman John Antony Rucker, adjacent to his calico printing factory. Later used by Welch and then bought along with the works by Gilliat Hatfeild. He went on to buy Morden Hall. Restored 1981.
84 Everett's Place. Gothic lodge Folly in a row of workmen’s’ cottages, built in 1824 to house mill-workers for Woods Silk Works. National Trust. It was built along with the cottages by Henry Everett, but why we don’t know or built later by Mann to shore the other up the cottages which due to the unstable ground had begun to subside. The rubble and flint are said to come from Old London Bridge but more likely the Priory boundary walls
94 adjoining it was The Running Horse pub
94 bressumer shows this was in commercial use
86 built later by Everett’s son
Phipps Bridge Estate. Fifteen-storey flats of the late 1960s
Yew trees marking the last part of Grove Cottage garden with some brick remains of a bridge over a water channel.
115 gatehouse and lodge to the Harland works and had stood next to the offices.
Housing on the site of the Harland First School which was on the site of the Harland works.
Homefield House. Harland residence, well appointed, with ceilings hand painted by Italian craftsmen. Sited among the works buildings. Built around 1860 in gothic revival style. Demolished in the 1960s and housing now on site.
211-221 the back gardens of these houses are on the site of Homefield House.

Pickel Ditch
Tributary of the Wandle which runs towards Christchurch Road, behind the site of Merton Priory and is the eastern boundary of the Priory estates. Re-enters the Wandle at Priory Road. The name is thought to mean 'Pike Hole', meaning the monks’ stew pond, or it was used to flush waste water from the Priory.

Prince George’s Road
British Nitrolac Ltd. On site in 1965, making cellulose.
Lea Park works. James Ferguson and Sons, making synthetic resin and ebonite on site in 1965
John T, Keep and Sons on site in 1965 paint manufacturers

Siding off the line to Merton Abbey in the 1860s to Shear's Copper Mills
Siding off the line to Merton Abbey in the late 1920s to the Lines Brothers Triang Factory which was in Morden Road.
Siding off the line to Merton Abbey to the Eyre Smelting Works.
Siding off the line to Merton Abbey to the New Merton Board Mills.
Sluice gate feeds the Pickle Ditch

Rock Terrace
This was a street name in an area which had been waste land, on which squatters lived. Thus known as Redskin Village
Recreation ground. On the site of cleared housing

Rucker's Cut
Rucker canalised a section of the river at Phipps Bridge.
Gravel and sand pits owned by Halls of Croydon. Opened 1909. Closed 1911

Tandem Way
Tandem centre
Eyre Smelting Works, Tandem Works, making phosphor bronze and white metals. Processed old Second World War

Watermill Close
The northern part of what was Littler’s Close
20 The William Morris Pub

Western Road
Was previously called Merton Lane. There were a half dozen paint and varnish works established here in the 1840's, which had become 30 by 1900 by when it had become the centre of London's paint and varnish industry
Chelsea Fields Industrial Estate
Brickworker's cottages demolished
Hadfields 1917 took over George Hadfield (successor to C H Blume), Western Road, Mitcham, Hadfields (Merton) Ltd, were formed in 1917 as manufacturers of varnish, japans, enamels, colours, oils, paints, pigments, cements, dye wares. Trading since 1840. In 1969 the business was sold to Bestobell Ltd, and the company's name changed to G H Successors (Merton) Ltd.
James estate. T.J.Jackson. On site in 1965 making paint, varnish and polish
326 Bowleys Paints on site in 1965
Wax Vesta factory
336 Prince of Wales pub. Closed
Charles Turner, varnish factory. In the area by 1846. Took premises over from a brick maker, Mears then but had moved to Phipps Bridge by 1851, site taken over by Latham. Charles Turner and Son Returned to Merton Lane on a different site in 1862
280 William Latham varnish maker in Turner’s old premises in 1851.hw may have been Harlands gardener’s son. The works remained there until the 1960s and his varnish house with special chimneys demolished in the 1960s.
Belata belting factory demolished 1970s. Built on site of another earlier varnish works, site is now housing.
Mitcham Gas Co purchased the site from James Moore of Potter and Moore in 1849.

Windsor Avenue
Remains of Abbey Precinct wall behind the flats. Cross Winsor Road on footpaths on the river. To the north sluice gate behind Runnymede. To Bennett's Ditch
Deen City Farm.


To be Lett, and entered upon immediently,
At Beddington Corner, near Mitcham, in Surrey, in the Carshalton Road,
about nine mile from London,
A Large complete good HOUSE, with coach-house, stables, and barns, in good repair, and a garden of one Acre of Land planted with the best Fruit Trees, also all proper and convenient Out-offices and Workshops necessary for carrying on the business of a Callico, Cotton and Linen Printer, Thread whitener, &c with sufficient quantity of meadow land, well supplied with water out of the river that runs by the ground, all fit for bretent use (indistinct word) and (hole) the Possession of a Cotten, Linen and calico printer. (hole)
Also one other house (hole) to the above, in very good order and well planted with fruit trees, and a coach house and stables if wanted.
Either of the above houses very convenient and pleasant for a Gentleman's Family, as well as Trade.
For further Particulars enquire of Mr. Sparrow, in Bread-Street, London; or of Mr Robert James, at Beddington-Corner aforesaid who will shew the premisses.

The spellings and gramar are as written. This is an advert in a 1760 newspaper "General Evening Post - London"
Anonymous said…
For Nelson Grove read Nelson Grove Road.

Church is now Merton Evangelical(Baptist) Church , having previously been affiliated to the Shaftesbury Society when an independent evangelical church and previously named The Hope Mission , - which also previously had premises in Pincott Road / Merton High Street.

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