Tuesday 28 July 2009

Mitcham Road and Longley Road (Part 1)

This is a short walk that started out as a lunch hour trip dash with the intention of photographing two intriguing pediments but ended up with enough intriguing bits to warrant a two-part post. It wasn't meant to be that way, but with the opportunity to take the walk back to work in a more 'interesting' way there was always a chance of coming across a couple of other intriguing items

This is the route taken - although being just the two roads it hardly qualifies as a route

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OK just to set the scene, I'd seen a couple of intriguing pediments just down Mitcham Road, Tooting and decided to pop by to get a decent photograph of them and then hopefully work out what they were.
As you can see they are on granite pillars and flank a fairly unassuming shop. The building itself is stepped, with a further story set back from the one visible in the picture. The pediments were unusual in having text upon them and were quite intriguing when you had a closer look.
Industry shows a distinctly Medieval blacksmith hard at work, shaping and beating iron out into a useful shape with his assistant in the background
And flanking it is Agriculture with the Medieval ploughman wearily working his furrow. Now this is fairly specialist stuff and not the sort of thing you would expect to find on any old shop-front. So was there more significance to their presence? The linking of Industry and Agriculture in this way immediately makes you think of the hammer and sickle and other socialist symbolism. Could this site originally have been a co-operative shop or possibly a meeting place, a mutual building society or other financial institution, or even an educational 'self-improvement' hall?

Having taken my photos I was thinking about making tracks, but as it was a nice afternoon I decided to make a stroll of it. Good job I did, because about ten shops up the road I came across another set of pediments!
They are obviously contemporary with the other ones and in exactly the same form. The themes are slightly different thoughTravel isn't something I'd immediately identify as a key concern of the working man although it's a very nice depiction of a steam train with a viaduct in the background
Commerce hasn't fared so well having been sliced in half to make way for ...well something really plain and boring really. From what's left I assume that that it used to depict a sailing ship in a dock.

All of which is really interesting, but it also implies that the pediments were a series of artistic designs rather than having a link with the shop beneath them. It also makes you wonder if there were originally many more along the parade which have been lost over the years. Could there have been some sort of link with any of the Great Exhibitions maybe? Any thoughts gratefully received...

The Mitre, Mitcham Road So off I went on my way and soon came across a splendid looking Inn called the Mitre. I assume it used to be a coaching inn and down the side I found these interesting grates, presumably for ventilation of the cellar area. The one on the right was especially ornate.
The Inn itself was banded with descriptions of the delights on offer 'Luncheons, Billiards, Cigars, Superior Ales' etc. and this went all the way round the back to the old stable block, still in place at the rear of the building, albeit with a distinct lack of horses these days.
Mitcham Road, Amen Corner There's an interesting building just where the road bends. Quite stylish and I would guess Victorian in age. There's no clue as to what it might have been that I could see, but I wondered if this metal post might have originally been capped off with a gas-lit 'Police' sign? The more modern police station is just round the corner and it's tempting to imagine this as possibly the original - and now outgrown - station (apparently the new station is now too small and the police have moved on yet again)
Certainly the boot-scraper has a sturdy no-nonsense air about it and looks as though it's been especially braced for the onslaught of a Victorian policeman's boot!
Mitcham Road nr Tooting Station Sitting on top of a non-descript '30s building was this plaque with the inscription "Progress - HP- 1934" What could it have been referring to I wonder? Was HP an individual or a company? (although I'm assuming it wasn't Hewlett-Packard!) Again I was wondering if this might have been the site of a co-operative shop?

So that was another intriguing mystery to end that section of the walk. There was another one just waiting for me down Longley Road though!


Viewtiful said...

thoroughly enjoyable blog - informative and educational.It helps that you visit areas of london I am familiar with.

A victorian boot scraper who would have thought!

The Divine Mrs M said...

It is indeed the old police station. I believe it's been the subject of a planning application to demolish it and build more flats.. :-(