History: Building Raynes Park

Refreshing a new suburb

Reaching the parts……


Consider the plight of a new homeowner in Southway or Westway in 1931 who developed a thirst digging out his new garden.   London clay is glutinous when wet and rock hard in a dry summer.   His might have been the garden where the builders’ rubble was tipped. There are enough references to that in reminiscences to show it was not a rare occurrence.

If he felt he needed more than the newly fashionable bottled beer, where could he go?

There were then two pubs in Raynes Park: The Raynes Park Hotel and The Junction Tavern, which, at that date, was still a Victorian pub and had not been rebuilt by Charringtons. The George was on the far side of Morden Park, The Lord Nelson at the far end of Garth Road.   The Woodstock was a private mansion at the corner of Sutton Common Road that had yet to be demolished and a pub erected in its place.

In those days developers calculated that eighty houses were needed to support one shop and my amateur estimation is that there is one pub to roughly every one thousand people (about three hundred houses).    However the building of new pubs was never simply a question of responding to a commercial demand.   These are licensed premises and other factors affected the issue of licenses besides the approval of the premises and the publicans.

The Victorians were concerned about the amount of alcohol consumed and the Temperance movement was then very powerful and though at the height of Britain's imperial pomp in the nineteenth century, one third of Government revenue derived from the takings of the licensed trade, there were persistent official efforts to reduce the number of pubs.   The First World War led to a dramatic change in drinking habits. The strength of beer was reduced.   Before the War London pubs could open from 5 am to 12.30 am.   The law was changed to reduce licensing hours to 12 noon to 2.30 pm and 6.30 to 9.30 pm.   Although the evening hours were later extended, the afternoon break remained compulsory until 1988.

In the Carlisle area, where there were huge new munitions plants, the Government took over all pubs, closing many and rebuilding several.   The policy took hold of encouraging fewer but better pubs and discouraging vertical drinking.  Table service was the preferred option in big new pubs on London County Council estates.

As it happened the first pub in the Association's  area was licensed without any difficulty.

In 1925 Charringtons opened the Duke of Cambridge (now Krispy Kreme doughnuts) at Shannon Corner as a beerhouse.   The license was removed from a beerhouse in North Road Wimbledon that then closed.  The new factories along Burlington Road - such as The Shannon and Bradbury Wilkinson - justified the creation of this new pub.   At that date the Kingston Bypass was not open.  The stretches of roadway had been laid but the civil engineers had not built the bridges over the railways.


The quest for better pubs led to many being extended and rebuilt including the Junction Tavern, The George, the Queen Victoria and the Plough at Malden.   The Licensing Justices required evidence of substantial local demand plus a high quality of architecture and internal fittings before granting a new On-Licence.

Trumans clad their rebuilt Inner London pubs in dove-grey Doulton faience but built some elaborate mock Tudor pubs in the outer suburbs.   The nearest example is the Stoneleigh.

The Kingston brewers Hodgsons built some Art Deco pubs.   They and the Watford brewers Benskins used architects like Joseph Hill and E B Musman and are mentioned most in the architectural press for their modern designs. Hodgsons’ work includes The Manor at Malden Manor, the Duke of Buckingham in Villiers Road, Surbiton and The Trafalgar at Tooting, plus the rebuilding of The George.     The Duke of Buckingham shows how brewers had to take a long view of building new pubs.   Hodgsons bought the site in 1903 as they could foresee that the area would be built up but were not granted a license until 1930.

Before the Licensing Act 1964 applicants for new licences could only apply at the Brewster Sessions early in the year, so an unsuccessful application meant a further year would pass before the next application could be made.

At the Sessions in February 1935 the representative for Watneys, when applying for a licence for The Beverley said 'a few years ago I would have been laughed at for presenting such a scheme but we live in days of change'.     The application was adjourned then but the licence was granted in February 1936 when the representative said that it had been intended to call the pub The Peacock (presumably after Peacock Farm in Lower Morden Lane) but the applicants had been so unlucky with their applications that they thought The Peacock was an unlucky bird and decided to change the name.

The following year the licence was granted for The Earl Beatty.   By then there was a population of 10,000 in a half mile circle without a pub.   The memorabilia of the late Admiral are still on display, including the painting of the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow.   Both The Beverley and The Earl Beatty were Watneys pubs, designed by their staff architect A. W. Blomfield.

An application for a pub to be called The Earl Jellicoe and built in Botsford Road, was refused three years running in 1936-38.   It ran into opposition both from the Leather Bottle and also from Merton and Morden Council.

In 1934 The Duke of Cambridge was given a full licence i.e. it was allowed to sell wine and spirits as well as beer because of the growth of the area and the adjacent Kingston Bypass.


The restrictions on new pubs led to a great increase in the number of clubs especially in Inner London, but the Central Ward Residents Association, which was formed in 1935 had over 2000 members by 1938, and was sufficiently large to justify the opening of a Club in Ashridge Way in June 1939.   The opening ceremony was performed by the President H. W. Selley MP, who presented a silver cup with a replica for a Darts Championship.


© John Tarling,

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