Chairman's Blog - December 2018

 Our Ninetieth Anniversary 

This month we are celebrating our Association’s 90th anniversary.  The first meeting of the Association was held on 8th March 1928. 

In celebration, our monthly magazine, The Guide, which is distributed to all our members, is a special anniversary edition. 

I would like to thank all our contributors, and, make special mention of our Editor Jill Truman who has worked so hard to gather it all together.  Jill has been an active member of the Association for over 50 years and has held most of its offices. She was first appointed as Advertising Manager as long ago as 27 March 1968!  

The Association was founded by residents concerned with flooding in the area, a major problem that has continued to cause difficulties many times since. At that time there was a large programme of inter-war building, with new family houses being built up Grand Drive and into the surrounding streets. 

We have the Minute Books of the Association since November 1934, and they show that there were quarterly meetings, open to all members, that were well attended.  Many of the issues discussed were those still being debated today, such as planning and road traffic, parking at Raynes Park station, grass verges, refuse collection, and postal facilities in Coombe Lane. 

There was concern at the danger of the junction between Bushey Road and Grand Drive, which was originally a roundabout, and the Association successfully pressed for the introduction of traffic lights in 1940. 

There was a proposal in the late 30’s by the railway authorities to rename Raynes Park station as West Wimbledon, and the Association fought and won a campaign to prevent this.  

The Association put up its own non-party, independent candidates to the Merton and Morden Urban District Council, until it was merged into Merton Council.  

But the Association also rapidly developed social activities of all kinds. There was an active horticultural society, which held an annual show with prizes. There was a children’s party, for the young families that moved into the area. There were dinner dances for their parents. There were whist drives for the more elderly people.  There was a photographic society. There were outings to Brighton and Southend, and visits to the ballet and the Palladium. 

A tennis club was founded with 3 courts and was originally serviced by an “iron shed”. This was replaced after WWII by a dedicated Pavilion. 

Our membership has fluctuated over time, reaching a maximum of some 2,500 households, and there has always been a small subscription to join.  This was 2/6p (or half a crown) in 1937. This helped to pay for the costs of The Guide, which has from the outset been the main channel of communication with the members. 

The Guide was originally published every two months, and, astonishingly, was continued through the years of the second World War.  It has been published every month since, a major achievement for a residents’ association, and, so far as we know, unique. 

The Guide has always been delivered through the help of Area Co-Ordinators and Road Stewards, very willing volunteers who give freely of their time to help their local neighbours. We thank them all. 

The Chairman of the Association in 1937 reported that he hoped that the sometime remark “What do I get out of the Association?” would be less frequent - it should be “What do I put into it!”. 

The Guide is now also available via post or e-mail, and we have developed a website that is much used by members and non-members.  We are actively considering how best we can reach other, perhaps younger, people who use newer forms of social communication, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We are conscious that the previous pattern of residents moving into this area and staying is now being increasingly replaced by a more mobile population. 

We always try to look ahead. In recent years we have converted the tennis Pavilion into a new home for the Association, after the Tennis Club moved down Grand Drive to new premises. 

The Association runs a well-attended and successful Social Club on Thursday afternoons. There are weekly lettings for a range of activities, including yoga, ladies keep fit, Pilates, philately and religious groups. It is much used at weekends for children’s parties. 

In ten years’, time we will celebrate our Centenary. We all hope to be still around! 

Dinner held in Celebration 

50 members and their guests, including the Mayor of Merton, came to a dinner on 8th November to celebrate the 90th anniversary. It was held at the Taste Restaurant in Merton College, which is a training academy for catering and front of house students. 

It was a great success and enjoyed by all present. The food was superb, and the service was impeccable, and reflected so well on the training the students had already received within a month of starting their courses. 

For more information about “Taste”, the menus on offer and to make a booking, visit  

John Elvidge

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