An Historic London Borough

The gravel for the back drive, and the sand for the rose garden paths, supplied by New Milton Sand and Gravel was delivered early this morning.Sand deliveryGravel delivery

A large tip-up truck delivered six huge bags, each containing rather more than a ton of material for Aaron to work on when he comes next week. The vehicle contained a huge grabber which the delivery man operated from an electronic hand-held instrument. He had manually to hook the loops at each corner over the edges of the grabber rails, but once the containers were landed, his gadget did the work.

Today, I make some demands of my readers.

Later this morning Becky sent me this video from YouTube, and spent a good half hour talking me through the process of transferring it to my post. I couldn’t have done it without her help.


She and I both grew up in Raynes Park, part of the then Borough of Wimbledon, from 1965 subsumed into the London Borough of Merton. I was 9 years old in 1951. Becky came a bit later.
For those of you who have managed to stay with the twelve minutes of the historic film, I give below some of the memories it conjures up for me.
The first feature of interest is the accent of the narrator, now vanished from our media.
The 1930s Town Hall was gutted after the creation of the new boroughs in 1965, and its contemporary furniture, specially made for the building, distributed among other council offices. The splendid edifice is now a Tesco’s supermarket.
I remember the refuse collectors who, in their flat caps, hoisted householders’ heavy metal dustbins onto their shoulders and tipped them into the truck. There were no crushing trucks, and no wheelie bins in those days. What could be burnt was driven to incinerators and the ashes carried off for landfill. As shown in the film, tin cans lay among the more combustible material. As we see, other than previously sorted fabric, paper and cardboard, there was no recycling on today’s scale. Everything that survived the pyre was dumped. Now, just as the sand and gravel man’s task has been made much less arduous, our refuse collection is much easier and safer for the staff who do the job.
Wimbledon Broadway has featured in previous posts. The one highlighted here shows Sir Cyril Black Way. Sir Cyril can be seen in the film.
‘Mugging’ gives one story of Wimbledon Common, and one of our many trips to Cannizaro Park is detailed in the eponymous post.
I played cricket, and even bowls, in Cottenham Park, one of the many vibrant public amenities we had during my youth. This highlighted post will show the difference between children’s swings and slides in our Health-and-Safety-conscious modern era and those of 1951.
‘Pull the chain’ remains a phrase for flushing the loo. In the post-war era, that, as shown in the film, is what was required. There are not many such mechanisms left now, although older houses, such as Michael’s in Croydon still have them, along with ancient wooden seats, in their outside lavatories. In earlier times it was not considered hygienic to have those in the house. Now buyers seek en suite bathrooms in their purchases.
We are shown what happened to your toilet waste, which ended up at the sewage works in Durnsford Road, not far from my first marital home in Ashcombe Road. A large Homebase, where you can buy WC fittings, is now the main building on the site of the works.
The roads were all swept by a man with a cart and a broom. Such workers were a regular sight along our streets, as were the rag-and-bone men’s horses droppings which they had to gather up, if gardeners like our neighbour Mr. Figg didn’t get to them first.
I regularly walked along the banks of the River Wandle, where Ruby played Pooh Sticks,  during our eighteen months in Morden.
I don’t know if the Council Chamber’s operations are still as ceremonial as those shown in the video.
I do hope anyone who has ploughed through that lot will feel sufficiently rewarded.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic piquant cauliflower and broccoli cheese served with bacon and chipolatas on a succulent bed of sauteed leeks. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank Alexis Lichine cuvee exceptionelle bordeaux superior 2013.
P.S. Here are Jackie’s recollections of the Town Hall:

‘I had many visits to the wonderful old Town Hall, to attend courses for my job. When it was sold to become part of the new shopping centre known as ‘Centre Court’ and Tesco was installed, we all( Council employees) went to Crown House in Morden an enormous curved ‘ Sky scraper’ (approx 13 floors). This became the Merton offices and incorporated the Mayor’s Parlour and the Council Chambers, there they put the beautiful 1930’s Deco furniture from the Wimbledon Town Hall, the Mayoral chair and the wooden panelling shown in the film have also been transferred to the Council Chambers in Crown House. Ironically there was originally a supermarket on the ground floor of Crown house, when the council took it over the supermarket was ousted to make the foyer of the building.’


  1. Thanks for that glimpse into the past, Derrick. I must visit Wimbledon if I revisit the UK, especially if the park really ‘rivals Kew Garden’. I wish I was at your dinner table dining on “Jackie’s classic piquant cauliflower and broccoli cheese served with bacon and chipolatas on a succulent bed of sauteed leeks”. Yum.

  2. That was really interesting to watch! I was impressed that any form of recycling was undertaken so early – I’m sure it wasn’t happening here! I imagine all the tin cans that went into the land will be a nightmare for future archaeologists. It was such an interesting look back to when I was a tiny child and has raised many long forgotten vistas from my memory.

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