Walk The Lane

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One of the highlights of the summer will surely be last Saturday’s, ‘Industry of Garratt Lane’ Guided Walk. About fifty people formed a procession from Mapleton Road to Summerstown, a massive three hour historical ramble which helped raise funds to put up a plaque recalling one of Summerstown’s greatest sons, Robert Rook Sadler. The remainder of the money was contributed by last years ‘Historic Earlsfield’. Additional donations came from friends and supporters who appreciate our efforts to raise the profile of the significant history of this corner of south west London. Bless you all and thank you to Wandsworth Heritage Festival for including us in your programme.

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Promoting this walk was very informative. In the weeks beforehand we made a real effort to engage with as many shops and businesses on Garratt Lane as we could. We wanted to learn a little bit about them or perhaps enlighten them as to who or what their premises had once been. After all, each of them in some way are part of the story. We asked them to put up a small poster in their window or door for a few weeks and many were more than happy to oblige. It gave us a real lift to see such a show of community spirit and we must mention one memorable case which went beyond the call of duty. Step forward Garratt Lane newcomer Ramtin of Eclectic Coffee who put our leaflet in a beautiful silver frame and tastefully placed it next to an ornate lamp in his front window. Classy. Do look out for his collection of fittings straight from the Althorp Estate, and we are talking Princess Diana’s stately home here, nothing to do with Bob Sadler.

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It would surely though have been in a nod to the ancestral seat of the Spencer family that the headquarters of Robert Sadler’s pedestrian initiative was named Althorp Lodge. We finished the walk here at Burmester House, where on the 16th September we will put up a plaque recalling the extraordinary Copenhagen Running Grounds. Just a few doors away is 733 Garratt Lane which was still a butchers shop when I moved here about twenty years ago. Its had a few different reincarnations since then and for a while was the HSL Head Shop. Its now ‘Vape on the Lane’ and doubling-up as a florists. The shopfront is bordered by the most exquisite decorative tiles which wouldn’t be out of place in Art Deco Lisbon. They would no doubt have been admired in 1911 by Patrick John Moylan an ‘assistant butcher’ who lived here with his wife and two small children. He was killed less than a month before the end of the war on 11th October 1918.

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Patrick’s roots lay across the water and his father Jeremiah Moylan was born in Castlemagner, Cork, Ireland in 1844. He left the Rebel County and came to London and settled in the Fulham area where he found work as a general labourer. Here he married Caroline Garratt at St John’s Walham Green in 1869. They tried living in Kent for a while and their first two children Katherine and Deborah were born in Sevenoaks where Jeremiah was an agricultural labourer. The 1881 census shows the Moylans back in their old south London stamping ground and living at Bullow Road, Sands End, which was where the youngest of five children Patrick was born in 1880. This was an extremely poor area off the Wandsworth Bridge Road but close to the Imperial Gas Works where Jeremiah may have been employed. Booth refers to the area as ‘Irish, noisy, poor, a few criminals… windows broken and patched, children playing on mud heaps’. By 1891 they were at 24 Telcott Road, not too far from where the Lots Road Power Station ‘The Chelsea Monster’ would soon pop up. Patrick now had a younger brother called Thomas. Jeremiah was still a gas stoker in a burgeoning industry which had now become the biggest employer in this corner of south west London.

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In the spring of 1902 Patrick got married in Fulham to Alice Mary Harding from Southgate. For whatever reason they chose to set up home across the river and in 1903 William John was born in Earlsfield. Half way between Wandsworth and Tooting, this area had developed rapidly following the opening of the Earlsfield and Summerstown railway station on the Waterloo to Southampton line in 1884. Between 1890 and 1900 the population doubled from 6,000 to 12,000. The following year the Moylans were living at No2 Isis Street and in 1907 at No28. The name comes from the old manor house on All Farthing Lane, pictured below. This was purchased by Robert Davis in 1868 and named Earlsfield House. Some say this was after his wife’s maiden name, others because he had connections with the Earlsfield estate in Ballymote, County Sligo. The house there which was once owned by the Gore-Booth family still stands and is a convent and home to The Sisters of Mercy. There is no trace of Earlsfield House on All Farthing Lane.

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When they were at No2 they would have been very close to No446 Garratt Lane, then the location of fishmonger John Barber. One hundred years later, fish are still on the agenda here but served fried, not wet, courtesy of the magnificent Sea Horse. Kathleen Norah Moylan was born in 1908. Slowly they edged towards Summerstown and from 1909 to 1911 were at 69 Littleton Street. After that they took the big leap across Burntwood Lane into the Promised Land and from 1911 to 1912, would appear to have been living at the butchers at 733 Garratt Lane. The 1913 index has this address listed as the business of James Eagles and in the twenties it was run by a Harold Birch.

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At some stage in 1912 the Moylans were back in Earlsfield at 13 Headworth Road and from 1915 they lived at 49 Quinton Street. Their extraordinary tour of what estate agents would have us believe are some of the most desirable streets in this area appears to have ended in 1918 at 4 Ravensbury Terrace on the fringe of Southfields. It backs up against the Wandle, just off Penwith Road in the shadow of the massive recently-constructed Banham premises, now probably the biggest employer in this area.

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In the middle of all this extraordinary transcience something happened which perhaps precipitated some of the movement. In the summer of 1913, Alice passed away aged 37, leaving Patrick with two children, William now ten and Kathleen five. He moved fast and on 25th May 1914 in Wandsworth Register Office he married Beatrice Elizabeth Taylor. Patrick was now 34, widowed and remarried with two young children, he would have been ready to settle down to a quiet suburban life when war broke out.

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Patrick was in the 9th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. They was formed at Chichester in September 1914 and were part of Kitchener’s New Army. After formation the battalion went into camp on the South Downs around Brighton and in April 1915 they moved to Shoreham and then on to Woking in Surrey. The 9th Battalion landed in Boulogne on 31st August 1915 and within a few weeks of arrival suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Loos. Its unlikely given his age and family situation that Patrick would have volunteered. All we know is that in the Autumn of 1918 he was with the 9th Royal Sussex as the Germans were pushed back in the area to the east of Cambrai. The attack in which he was almost certainly killed began at 5am on 10th October at a place called Avesnes-les-Aubert supporting an attack by the 13th Middlesex Regiment. Although at first it appeared that the opposition was light they were met with heavy machine gun fire and gas. The German Army was forced back to the River Selle but at a heavy cost. Casualties were recorded in the war diary on 14th October as ‘10 killed, 84 wounded, many by gas’. The 37 year old butcher from Earlsfield was among them. Also killed on 11th October and in the Middlesex Regiment serving alongside Patrick Moylan was George Brown from Turtle Road. He is buried in St Aubert British Cemetery.

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Delsaux Farm Cemetery is near the village of Beugny, 19 kilometres south-west of Cambrai on the Bapaume to Cambrai road. Patrick is one of 400 who are buried here. After his death Beatrice lived on at Ravensbury Terrace and then moved to 90 Trinity Road in 1933. She died in Chichester in 1971 aged 81. William got married in 1925 and lived at Bickley Street and Brudenell Road in Tooting. Jeremiah and Caroline lived on in Fulham at 180 New Kings Road. He died in 1916.

 

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Anyway, back to our ‘Industry of Garratt Lane Walk’ and thank you to all who attended and helped raise over £200 towards our plaque. We hope you will all be there to see it unveiled by the descendants of Robert Sadler on 16th September. Thank you also to all those ‘industries’ on the Lane who demonstrated such support and encouragement. Lets give them a shout. The Seahorse, Furniture City, Barry Louvaine, Perry’s Furniture, Lola and Sidney, Tony’s Barbers, Tracey Antiques, Vape on the Lane, St Nicholas Pattisserie, Sainsburys, Eclectic Coffee, Wandsworth Oasis, St John’s Church, St Andrew’s Church, The Grosvenor Arms, The Radiator Gallery, La Pernella, Banksy House Clearance, Amaranth Too, Goodfellas, Sultans Cafe, The Old Sergeant, Casbah Coffee, Classic Corniche, Smart Set Dry Cleaners, E-Cig Shop, Andreas Barbers, 11 Technologies, Patbros News, TW Austin Lawnmowers, La Galleria, Gatto Tools, Luxe Nail Spa, Patel News Agents, Krugers, London Glass Works, Earlsfield Power Tools, Manuel’s Bakery, Radiant Dry Cleaners, Garratt Lane News. Apologies if I’ve left anyone out – who knows, in one hundred years, somebody might be walking the Lane, talking about you.

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