Monthly Archives: September 2022

The Book(let) I wish I’d written

Two months ago I wrote about my eight years working as a Building Control Officer (Building Inspector) in what had been the Malden and Coombe Borough Council area in S.W.London. Over that time I really got to know the area and its history. It was always fascinating to look at the archived plans and peruse old maps – many of the old hand-tinted plans drawn on linen were real works of art. It wasn’t really part of our jobs but we regularly got phone calls from estate agents asking when a property they were to sell had been built, our pre-computer era card index quickly providing the answer. If I’d thought about it, I could have spent my lunch hours compiling ‘Malden and Coombe, Street by Street’, giving a potted history of each street. Too late now! But since I left RBK in 1984 lots of other information has become available. Here’s some:

New Malden’s early development owed much to the railway: New Malden station opened in 1846, with the remaining section of the Kingston loop line from New Malden to Kingston following in 1869. Then just before WW2 the Chessington branch opened, with Malden Manor station serving the new estates south of the A3 Kingston bypass (opened 1927). Although outside the municipality, Motspur Park (1925) and Worcester Park (1859) stations also serve the SE area.

Semi-Detached London New Malden was transformed by inter-war suburbanisation as described in Alan Jackson’s excellent book ‘Semi-Detached London’. Although published in 1973, copies are readily obtainable through AbeBooks. The Medical Officer of Health’s reports available on the Wellcome Library website show the M&C population growing from 7,199 in 1903 to 15,366 in 1923 to 39,930 in 1939. 

Various developers were at work in the area during this period including R.Lancaster, New Ideal Homesteads, Lavender and Farrell, E & L Berg, Crouch and Gleesons, but the biggest of them all was Wates, whose built their distinctive chalets and more conventional Tudor-style semis by the hundred – check out their Wilverley Park estate brochure here.

Whilst preparing this page I found a vast collection of OS maps digitised by the National Library of Scotland. Check out these extracts from the 1911 and 1933 OS maps, the latter showing part of the Wilverley Park estate. The kink in Malden Road provides a reference point. In the 1933 map you also see the A3 clipping the top corner.

New Malden OS extracts 1911 and 1933

New Malden OS extracts 1911 and 1933 reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

What’s interesting to me is that I’m now seeing this story being replayed to the north of Melbourne, with consent being given for fields to be turned into new housing states at a rate that is hard to believe.

More resources on Malden history:

Maldens and Coombe Heritage Society web site

Village Voice and Worcester Park Life – each issue contains a very good history feature

Alan Godfrey maps: Sy0713: Coombe and Norbiton 1911; Sy1301: New Malden 1911