History: Building Raynes Park

The 1920's Housing Boom


A Local Story of the 1920s Housing Boom by Paul Marsh©

Part 1

Homes fit for heroes was the populist call made by Lloyd George which was a central part of the new society dreamt of by so many Politicians at the end of the Great War.  Quite apart from the need to heal the social wounds created by the Great War there was a desire by Government to create healthier living and promote a better environment away from the inner cities.

In London this meant encouraging entrepreneurs to develop whole new towns and communities on the green fields around London.  “Metro-land” had been created in the north of London around the Metropolitan Line.  A similar development in south London was centred around the southern end of the Northern Line at the new Morden underground station opened in the 1920’s.

The Government was keen to promote better and more spacious homes than those in inner London and in 1919 the Ministry of Health published The Housing Manual which contained a pattern of simple housing designs.  These designs combined with lax planning laws, cheap land, aggressive Building Societies and entrepreneurial builders working to these guides generated a massive building boom around not only the suburbs of London but right across the country which built almost 4 million new homes before the commencement of the Second World War in 1939.  In South London whole new communities were created in the green fields south of Wimbledon, Balham, Tooting, Morden and Raynes Park.

In 1922 Rowland Marsh, who had been the General Manager of Swayne & Selly Limited who built substantial parts of Balham and Tooting in the pre-1914-1918 War building boom, decided to take advantage of these new opportunities and using his savings he went into partnership with his son, Cyril, who was then aged 22.

They purchased a small portion of land from Merton Park Estates Limited to the west of the Wimbledon/Croydon railway line at the southern end of a small road called Dorset Road near the new Morden Underground Station.  Other builders joined in the opportunities that were offered.  Merton Park as it was advertised to potential purchasers grew very rapidly between 1922 and 1930.  The builders’ sales material stated “Merton Park has been growing steadily these last few years, and today is one of London’s most promising areas.  The scene is all set with all the materials with which a pleasant residential area is formed.  Wide open spaces, pleasing walks, good schools, up to date shops and places of entertainment within easy reach, convenient, rapid and cheap access to both town and country and a district of low rates and necessary expenditure all these attractions Merton Park can offer”.

Three bedroom houses built to the new guidelines were offered for sale at £850 freehold and four bedroom houses at £900.  All that was required was a £50 deposit.  The Marsh’s business prospered and they built many houses in Dorset Road and the surrounding roads.

……………………………………To be continued

Join us on:


Share this page: