Mitcham Clocktower. Built in 1898 and renovated in 2016
|Population||63,393 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Mitcham is an area within the London Borough of Merton in South London, England. It is centred 7.2 miles (11.6 km) southwest of Charing Cross. Originally a village in the county of Surrey, today it is mainly a residential suburb, and includes Mitcham Common. It has been a settlement throughout recorded history.
Amenities include Mitcham Library and Mitcham Cricket Green. Nearby major districts are Croydon, Sutton, Streatham, Brixton and Merton. Mitcham, most broadly defined, had a population of 63,393 in 2011, formed from six wards including Pollards Hill.
Mitcham is in the east of the London Borough of Merton. Mitcham is close to Thornton Heath, Streatham, Croydon, Sutton, and Tooting. The River Wandle bounds the town to the southwest. The original village lies in the west. Mitcham Common takes up the greater part of the boundary and the area to the south part of the CR4 postcode is in the area of Pollards Hill. Some of the area which includes Mitcham Common and parts of Mitcham Junction are in the CR0 postcode area.
The toponym "Mitcham" is Old English in origin and means big settlement. Before the Romans and Saxons were present, it was a Celtic settlement, with evidence of a hill fort in the Pollards Hill area. The discovery of Roman-era graves and a well on the site of the Mitcham gasplant evince Roman settlement. The Anglo-Saxon graveyard on the north bank of the Wandle is the largest discovered to date, and many of the finds therein are on display in the British Museum. Scholars such as Myres have suggested that Mitcham and other Thames plain settlements were some of the first populated by the Anglo-Saxons.
What became the parish lands could have hosted the Battle of Merton, 871, in which King Ethelred of Wessex was either mortally wounded or killed outright. The Church of England parish church of St Peter and St Paul dates from the early Kingdom of England. Mostly rebuilt in 1819–1821, the current building retains the original Saxon tower. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists Mitcham as a small farming community, an implied estimate of 250 people, living in two hamlets: Mitcham, the area today being Upper Mitcham; and Whitford (Lower Green).
The Domesday Book records Mitcham as Michelham. It was held partly by the Canons of Bayeux, partly by William, son of Ansculf and partly by Osbert. Its domesday assets were: 8 hides and 1 virgate. It had ½ mill worth £1, 3½ ploughs, 56 acres (23 ha) of meadow. It rendered £4 5s 4d, at a time when a pound sterling still implied something similar to a pound of silver. The area lay in the Anglo-Saxon county subdivision of Wallington hundred.
During her reign Queen Elizabeth I made at least five visits to the area. John Donne and Sir Walter Raleigh also had residences here in this era. It was at this time that Mitcham became gentrified, as due to the abundance of lavender fields Mitcham became renowned for its soothing air. The air also led people to settle in the area during times of plague.
When industrialisation occurred, Mitcham quickly grew to become a town and most of the farms were swallowed up in the expansion. Remnants of this farming history today include: Mitcham Common itself; Arthur's Pond on the corner of Watney's Road and Commonside East, and named for a local farmer; Alfred Mizen School (Garden Primary School), named after a local nurseryman charitable towards the burgeoning town; and the road New Barnes Avenue, replacing part of New Barn(e)s Farm.
Many lavender fields were in Mitcham, and peppermint and lavender oils were also distilled. In 1749 two local physic gardeners, John Potter and William Moore, founded a company to make and market toiletries made from locally grown herbs and flowers. Lavender features on Merton Council's coat of arms and the badge of the local football team, Tooting & Mitcham United F.C., as well as in the name of a local council ward, Lavender Field.
Mitcham was industrialised first along the banks of the Wandle, where snuff, copper, flour, iron and dye were all worked. Mitcham, along with nearby Merton Abbey, became the calico cloth printing centres of England by 1750. Asprey, suppliers of luxury goods made from various materials, was founded in Mitcham as a silk-printing business in 1781. William Morris opened a factory on the River Wandle at Merton Abbey. Merton Abbey Mills were the Liberty silk-printing works. It is now a craft village and its waterwheel has been preserved.
Activity along the Wandle led to the building of the Surrey Iron Railway, the world's first public railway, in 1803. The decline and failure of the railway in the 1840s also heralded a change in industry, as horticulture gradually gave way to manufacturing, with paint, varnish, linoleum and firework manufacturers moving into the area. The work provided and migratory patterns eventually resulted in a doubling of the population between the years 1900 and 1910.
In 1829 Miss Mary Tate donated land and money to build almshouses on the site of the former Tate family home in Cricket Green. The buildings were designed in a Tudor style by John Butcher and established to accommodate twelve poor widows or spinsters of the parish. Miss Tate was the only surviving member of the Tate family, who had lived from about 1700 in a large mansion on the site of the almshouses. The gardens at the rear of the property were originally provided for the use of residents, but later informally rented out as allotments.
Mitcham became a borough, within a two-tier council system, on 19 September 1934 with the charter of incorporation being presented to the 84-year-old mayor, Mr. R.M. Chart, by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Lord Ashcombe.
|19th Century||20th Century|
|source: UK census|
Social housing schemes in the 1930s included New Close, aimed at housing people made homeless by a factory explosion in 1933 and Sunshine Way, for housing the poor from inner London. This industry made Mitcham a target for German bombing during World War II. During this time Mitcham also returned to its agricultural roots, with Mitcham Common being farmed to help with the war effort.
From 1929 the electronics company Mullard had a factory on New Road.
Postwar, the areas of Eastfields, Phipps Bridge and Pollards Hill were rebuilt to provide cheaper more affordable housing. The largest council housing project in Mitcham is Phipps Bridge Estate. Further expansion of the housing estates in Eastfields, Phipps Bridge and Pollards Hill occurred after 1965. In Mitcham Cricket Green, the area lays reasonable, although not definitive, claim to having the world's oldest cricket ground in continual use, and the world's oldest club in Mitcham Cricket Club.
The ground is also notable for having a road separate the pavilion from the pitch. Local folklore claims Mitcham has the oldest fair in England, believing it to have been granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I, a claim never proven.
Nimrod, sporting writer of the early 19th century, advocated against the grazing on grass of racehorses. He finds a very fast donkey chaise, investigates the donkey's owner and finds it is a Mitcham blacksmith, who never turns out the donkey in summer onto Mitcham Common but keeps it fed with oats and beans as if a hunter racing horse.
Mitcham appears in local variants of mildly vulgar rhymes of 18th and 19th centuries, all beginning with:
One variant ends with "Mitcham for a thief", another "Ewell" which is opposite in direction. An author noted for another genre, James Edward Preston Muddock as Dick Donovan penned The Naughty Maid of Mitcham in 1910.
Main article: Mitcham Common
Mitcham is home to a large area (460 acres) of South London's open green space in the form of Mitcham Common, studded with a few ponds and buildings.
The buildings comprising the Windmill Trading Estate have existed in one form or another since 1782. The Mill House Ecology Centre and the Harvester (formerly the Mill House Pub) are located near the site of an old windmill, the remnants of which still exist.
The Seven Islands pond is the largest of all the ponds, created following gravel extraction of the 19th century. The most recent, Bidder's pond, was created in 1990 and named after George Parker Bidder.
British – 40,608, Irish – 1,840, Gypsy or Irish Traveller – 161, Other White – 12,899
White and Black Caribbean – 1,862, White and Black African – 856, White and Asian – 1,163, Other Mixed – 1,444
Indian – 4,536, Pakistani – 5,054, Bangladeshi – 1,484, Chinese – 1,169, Other Asian – 10,194
African – 9,036, Caribbean – 7,029, Other Black – 1,912
Arab – 670, Other ethnic group – 1,381
Buddhist – 862, Sikh – 252, Jewish – 147, Other Religion – 362
Mitcham is served by two railway stations: Mitcham Junction and Mitcham Eastfields. Mitcham Eastfields was the first suburban station to be built in 50 years in the area. Both stations are served by Govia Thameslink Railway's Southern and Thameslink brands with trains to Sutton, Epson, London Victoria, London Bridge (peaks only) and St Albans.
Trains on the Thameslink route from Central London continue on via the Sutton Loop Line to Sutton and Wimbledon back towards Central London. Tramlink also serves Mitcham with four stops in the area; Mitcham Junction, Mitcham, Belgrave Walk and Phipps Bridge. Trams provide a direct service to Wimbledon, Croydon and New Addington from Mitcham and also Beckenham Junction and Elmers End with a change at Croydon.
Bus services operated by London Buses are available from Mitcham. These include night buses to Aldwych and Liverpool Street in central London.
National Express services 028 London Victoria to Eastbourne, 025 London Victoria to Brighton and Worthing via Gatwick Airport, 026 London Victoria to Bognor Regis and A3 London Victoria to Gatwick Airport hourly shuttle all stop at Mitcham (Downe Road/Mitcham Library bus stop)