Thames Tributaries – the River Wandle - Mitcham

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

Post to the west St.Helier
Post to the south St.Helier

Cranmer Ditch
This watercourse runs east-west
. Called after Mr.Cranmer who had a house on what became the Wilson Hospital site.

Ellis Road
Trading estate road
15 British Bakeries – Premier Foods bakery, produces Hovis and ‘morning goods’.
B. Nebbitt scrap metal. Founded 1970.

Imperial Fields.
Tooting and Mitcham United football ground
The Hub with café and bar.

London Road
Mitcham Bridge. The mill sites lie close to the bridge over the Wandle. There was a bridge here in the 18th which was replaced in 1759 by the local parishes although by 1800 it was a ‘county’ bridge and built of brick. Widened and a pedestrian bridge built in the late 1940s.
Parish boundary marker on the centre of the downstream side of the bridge dated 1882
Ford - There was a ford upstream of the bridge before it was built. It was still in use by carters in the 1930s but in the Second World War it was blocked with dragon’s teeth.
Mill sites - Possibly the ones mentioned in Domesday – when it was Mitcham Mill alias Wickford Mill alias Marris Mill. In the 15th it was the site of Mitcham Mill which was a corn mill succeeded by a copper mill. By the 17th there were three mills here - two on the Grove Mill site and one opposite. There is evidence of paper production in the 18th and perhaps snuff but more likely they were milling corn. Henry Hoare bought the head lease of the mills in 1792 and the mills were all occupied by Richard Glover - both men were shareholders in the Surrey Iron Railway.
Grove Mill or Wandle Flour Mill. This is on the northern arm of the Wandle. It was a long, two-storied building which was rebuilt several times due to fire -the first one which is recorded was in 1788 and soon after it was occupied by the Grovers. In 1864 the Ashbys, of Brixton windmill, began flour milling here, but because of the reduced flow of water moved back to Brixton. In 1870, it was rebuilt, in stock brick. In 1903 the occupiers were the Patent Horse Hair Company who made artificial horsehair, for mattress and upholstery stuffing using the name Lyxhayr. This was a patented alternative to horsehair made from coconut fibres and said to be waterproof. It was rebuilt again in 1907, on the same floor plan and this building remains although in 1940 it was bombed. In 1919 Lyxhayr changed their name to Mitcham Fibre Mills Limited, and the company eventually bought the freehold of both buildings. The Managing Director, Mr. W.W. Dickinson, was a founder member of the Wandle Open Spaces Committee and with Octavia Hill was instrumental in acquiring the Watermeads for the National Trust. Until the 1960s, it remained a fibre mill, working jute and coir. R.F.White & Co., who made medicated toilet soaps, and perfumes used later part of the mill premises until 1979 when they moved to Peterborough. From 1977 it was occupied by Footman & Co. Ltd., who made and supplied chiropody equipment. An outbuilding was used by C.S.Walker (Sacks) Ltd., 'Plain and Misprinted Sacks, Polythene Builders' Sheets'. It has since been converted into flats.
Mill pond for the Grove Mill formed by a widening of the river - this included a tumbling bay. The mill wheel stood between the two mills. It had a single metal water-wheel, removed following a diversion to the river in the 1960s. This iron wheel was one of the last on the Wandle and used in the power crisis of 1947 when it generated electricity. This wheel was 18ft in diameter, and 10 feet broad with a potential output of 90 hp. Another wheel had been added in 1910. Millrace through Grove Mill that and adjacent north-south river channels were filled in by Surrey County Council and the river diverted to the south. The wheel was however still used in 1962. During the 1960s an asbestos shed was built over the former millrace of light industry, it was demolished in 2003
Crown Mill. This mill worked together with the Grove Mill. In 1848 the lease was taken over by a felt manufacturer and it was turned to the manufacture of felt jerkins and boots for the British Army during the Crimean War. Mitcham Felt & Fibre Works'. It was burnt down in 1870 but rebuilt in brick and felt production contrived. The Lyxhayr Company eventually took it over in 1910. An outhouse on the site still bears traces of their trade name 'Lyxhayr'. Lyxhayr survived until 1959 when they only occupied Crown Mill. It was later taken over by C. S. Walker (Sacks) Limited and the Jute Company Ltd but was destroyed by a fire in 1964.
Glover or Raleigh's Snuff mill. Also called Morden Mill although it was above Mitcham Bridge. This mill was ruined in the late 19th. There is nothing to connect it with Sir Walter Raleigh. It was a small mill occupied by Glover in 1809 and an edge runner millstone in Watermeads comes from here and marks the site. Remains of the mill consist of a brick pier and wall which acted as the end support to the waterwheel. By 1834 it was said to be empty. The buildings are said to have still been there in the 1920s when they collapsed and, they were given to the National Trust by Merton and Morden UDC, who were by then the owners.
'Wandle Fisheries Association’, this was an abortive fish-breeding industry set up here in the early 20th. A water bailiff, Mr. Henry Bourne, was employed and a trout hatchery was established in an old building at Watermeads. The bailiff left in 1907, and attempts at restocking failed.
Fisheries Cottages – probably built for mill workers. Three weatherboard cottages now called Fishermen's Cottages, because the bailiff of the Wandle Fisheries Association lived in the cottage facing the bridge and all three were homes of employees of the Mitcham Grove mills until the late 1950's. The oldest house as the central one with bow windows and original boxed sliding-sashes from the mid-18th. The double- fronted house facing the road was built about 1850, the other two a century earlier. The easternmost cottage is called 'a mill', and was first mentioned in 1765. Timber frame construction finished with boarding painted white
477 Yew tree in the front garden
Surrey Iron Railway. It has been suggested that there were railway workshops here, but there is no evidence for this. Some wheels from the railway were put in the stream to form a breakwater against walls of the mill building.

Paper Mill Cut
Canal between Mitcham Grove and Watermeads. It likely that the paper mill in question was Crown Mill. Dredging close to its junction with the Wandle threw up a cast-iron wheel of 32 inches diameter and a second wheel, with an incomplete rim. It is thought that these came from the Surrey Iron Railway.

Poulter Park
In 1928, the house and park were bought by the Greater London Playing Fields Association from the Anglo-American Oil Company and the British Legion. The trustees of the late Reginald Clifford Poulter helped fund the project and the park was named after him,
Bishopsford House in the park. Built in the 1860s for druggist Alfred Attwood and a partner in the manufacture of Meggezones. The building was razed to the ground by fire in August 2001.Rebuilt as housing.
Carshalton playing fields. –various Rugby and other clubs Pelhamanian Rugby Football Club and the Mitcham Rugby Union Football Club
St Helier railway which was at work from 1928 for building work on the St.Helier estate. A footpath follows sixty yards of the line across the park and then passes on to the south side of a narrow wood separating the two rugby clubs. The line runs in a shallow cutting which is the only remaining earthwork along the course of the railway. Beyond the wood, the line crosses the south side of the Park roughly on the line of an access road.

Rawnsley Avenue
Site of grounds for calico bleaching.
Watermeads estate. Council housing development from the 1970s with. Communal gardens going down to the Wandle. Designed by R. Hodge and A. Bews of the Council Architect's Department it has 186 houses, and flats arranged in a three-storey ribbon overlooking landscaped grounds.
Cedar surviving from Mitcham Grove
New lake alongside the river.
Electricity substation on the site of a Lodge which was the last survival of Mitcham Grove House on the corner of Rawnsley Avenue
Site of Hovis’s sports ground in the grounds of what was Morden Grove
Wandle branch with an island and a pond which is a flood control feature

Riverside Drive
Wandle House built 1795 and now part of an office block. It is a small brick house with a bow window facing the river. It is now part of an office block of 1963 connected by a glazed walkway. Grade II Listed. It is the remains of a house called Wandle Grove. In the mid 19th it was the home of William Wilson but mainly demolished in the 1960s.

Peterborough Road
St Helier railway. After completion of the St Helier estate in 1936 the line was cut back to Peterborough Road.

Tramway Path
Part of old footpath between Mitcham and Hackbridge. Used to carry on straight to Mitcham Station but now built over
The Surrey Iron Railway route followed the path from Willow Lane Bridge having followed the railway from Mitcham

Pumps on the riverside which are north of the end of Watermeads Lane. These pump water back to Carshalton Ponds
Bennett’s Hole. The river bends at this point and here flows in its natural channel – one of the few areas on the river where this still remains.
Bennett’s Hole Nature reserve with diverse habitats - scrub, wetland, herbage and rough grassland. There are common butterflies and dragonflies. It is a site with evidence of early settlement of the 3rd
St.Helier railway. The railway ran along the Wandle and a short stretch of the route is within the Bennett’s Hole nature reserve. The line crossed the river but there is now no evidence of the line or of the bridge.

Wandle Way
Part of a trading estate
Malden Plating. Metal plating works since 1949

Watermeads. Open space which belongs to the National Trust given to them in 1913 for a wildlife sanctuary. It is used partly for the cultivation of willows.
Seat in memory of Octavia Hill. Donated in memory of Octavia Hill, a founder of the National Trust. Largely through her efforts an 11 acre site was given to the Trust in 1913 by the River Wandle Open Spaces Committee. An additional acre was donated by the Urban District of Mitcham and Morden in 1965.

Wates Way
Part of the modern trading estate
Pond built by Cranmer on Cranmarsh Common in the 1740s. This was to impound water for mills on his land. Filled in during the construction of the trading estate.

Willow Lane
Ford – the road originally ran down to the Wandle where there was a ford.
Willow Lane was the site of a commercial bleach works owned in the early 18th by Thomas Selby from West Ham. In 1751 he died and was replaced by the Reynolds who were also active at The Culvers. Samuel Makepeace used the area for calico printing from 1824 but was bankrupt in 1851. The wheel and chimney of the print works remained but sand and gravel diggings took over the area.
The Willows. Big house also called ‘the old Red House’ built in 1746 by Selby. It was a farmhouse by 1851 when Makepeace became bankrupt. It was farmed by Louis Dutriez who could get more crops of the land than other farmers. In 1914 it was Wandle Paddocks Stud Farm. Demolished when derelict in the 1920s.
St.Helier railway. The line ran parallel to the Wandle but is lost under the Willow Lane industrial estate.
Surrey Iron Railway. The bridge for what is now the Croydon tram marks the division of the Hackbridge/Croydon branches of it.
Fig tree between road and tramway.
Hall's depot. Hall & Co, of Croydon bought 83 acres of gravel land from Mr. Simpson in 1914. And another 73 acres in 1919. It was to become their Transport depot. Their first mechanical plant for sand and ballast was installed there in 1923.
Mitcham Mills or Long Hack Mill or Searle’s Mill. Mills have now long since gone, the river re-channelled and new industries built over the area. It stood on an island formed by a diversion of the river and a millpond and it had to be reached by a ford. Technically the mill was in Carshalton, not in Mitcham. In 1698 one of these mills was a copper mill operated by William Tote and known as Tower Mill producing blanks for farthings and half pennies to be struck at the royal mint. The Mint was at the Tower of London and thus it was called Tower Mill. The business went bankrupt after the loss of the contract in 1717. It was taken over by the Edward Foster as a ‘Budge’ mill –processing lamb’s skin as a trimming. Charles Foster rand it as a corn mill, and also had a millwrights business there. New machinery was installed in 1810 and it was expanded in 1817 with a 12 foot wheel working three pairs of stones. In the 1830s it was owned by Spencers, occupied by John Searles who continued to grind corn there until 1853 when the water supply began to fail. It was then taken over by Deed & Sons
Eagle Leather Works. The mill was taken over by J.S.Deed & Son, of New Oxford Street and called Deed's Mill, proprietors of the Eagle Leather Works. Deeds, founded in 1834, specialized in high grade 'fancy' leathers - buckskin, glace kid, suede, soft morocco and book-binding skivers. They manufactured the scabbard for the Stalingrad Sword, presented to them by Churchill for their heroism in the Second World War. There were three wheels which were used to generate electricity until c.1965. The Deeds remained on site until the late 1980s but flood prevention works meant the old buildings were replaced and the wheel removed.
Logwood mill. This mill also stood at the end of Willow Lane. It was built by a wood grinder called Richard Bond in the 18th was used for logwood or color mill in about 1685 - but possibly earlier used for wool. It had been owned by the Cranmers and called Cranmarsh Mills. Bond paid £2,000 for river diversions. In 1853 30 hp wheels were installed but water was becoming very short. It continued as a colour mill until 1869. It became part of Deeds mill in 1875. Closed in 1989 and demolished in 1966


Anonymous said…
Thank you, really enjoyed this. I work very close to Bennetts Hole and was interested in the background.

Popular posts from this blog

Bromley by Bow

South Norwood

River Lea/Bow Creek Canning Town