New Malden 131

Opened 19/09/1989

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'New Malden 131' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'New Malden 131' page

24-28 High Street New Malden Surrey KT3 4HE

 

 

 

 

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This page was added by Sian Cleary on 27/09/2012.
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Please find below an article I wrote for our community magazine the Village Voice about the site the supermarket stands on:

MALDEN’S ORNATE PILE

As New Malden expanded in both size and importance, it was felt by those in charge that their meetings should be conducted in a building built specifically for that purpose. In previous years buildings whose main purposes were religious (the first Church in Poplar Grove, and later the Trinity Free Church (Which became the Graham Spicer Institute) were used, along with a corrugated iron building which doubled as New Malden’s first Institute.

GRAND DESIGN

Alfred Streeter the chairman of the local urban district council (also the headmaster at Malden College) put forward the original idea at a meeting of the council in May 1903. Not only would they have council offices, but also a fire station, mortuary, and stables on the same site. Proposed by the chairman and seconded by Mr Horlick (owner of Hoppingwood Farm) the proposal was agreed to with only one dissenter, a councillor who thought having stables and sheds in a residential area was unhygienic, and wanted them placed at the sewerage works off Kingston Road.

The plan for the complex was drawn up by Mr William Horace Hope the surveyor to the local rural sanitary authority (who was later employed to redesign part of Clarence Street in Kingston). The firm of builders employed for the construction were Messrs Goddard of Farnham.

Problems soon arose when it was discovered that the site was initially 18 inches below the level of the road, and to build the foundations up the architect had ordered the use of bricks far superior in quality to those agreed to by the council. This had increased the estimated cost of the building from £3650 to £5000 (later £6000 including fixtures and fittings) and also increased the length of time taken on the building.

ROYAL REFUSAL

The Duchess of Albany (widow of Prince Leopold, son of Queen Victoria) was invited to lay the foundation stone but was unable to attend so the ceremony was cancelled.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS

Building proceeded, and finally the council contacted Mr Hope, and Messrs Goddard stating that their last meeting in the old premises was to be on 25th March 1905, and they hoped the new building would be ready for occupation immediately following that date. Furniture was provided by the local firm of Wallace and Co except for the large table to be used for meetings, which had come from the local bank. Nothing was left to chance, the footpath in front of the offices was completed with Victoria Stone, and a good carpet laid on the main staircase. A brass plaque was affixed in the entrance hall, and all rooms were equipped with fenders and fire crosses.

A boundary wall was erected around the offices at a cost of £300 by Goddards, and a new lamp erected in Malden Road (now High Street) immediately opposite the buildings. Mr Luff who owned a large nursery in Coombe Road was employed to lay out the grounds.

It was decided that sliding gates be used for the fire station to allow the quick departure of the engines, and a new telegraph/telephone system was installed.

The date set for the official opening of the buildings was 27th April (1905), and an impressive guest list was drawn up, including both local members of parliament, former members of the council and its predecessor. Invitations also were sent to chairmen of adjacent councils in the area. The offices were officially opened by Viscount Midleton (Lord Lieutenant of Surrey).

GUIDED TOUR

The entrance was reached through a “gravel sweep”. The building itself was laid out in what was called Queen Anne style with a facing of red Reading brickwork. The cornices were constructed from Ancaster stone. The centre of the building was a cupola (dome) surmounting the place for an illuminated clock.

On entering, you were in a large hall, off which were a number of rooms to be used as offices for the council’s surveyor, clerk and the like. There was additionally a room for storage of official records, and this together with toilets and cloakrooms made up the ground floor.

On the first floor was the council chamber itself complete with stained wood fittings. The seating for the chairman, and his vice-chairman being slightly raised, by means of a dais. Officials were also accommodated, with the rest of the council being seated in a semi circle. There was also an office for the inspector of buildings, and the collector of rates on this floor.

The caretaker of the building had his accommodation on the second floor.

To the right (as you looked) of the council building was the fire station and mortuary, with the stables cart sheds, and yard behind. The station was on two floors with accommodation for the men and the equipment upstairs. There was also a hose tower, which doubled as a look out.

The mortuary was stocked with necessary equipment, and the gentleman placed in charge was Mr Frederick Paine.

The stables held the two teams of four horses, and the cart sheds contained water vans dust carts etc.

The public were allowed to inspect the new offices later the same day from 6-7.30pm

ANOTHER ROYAL REFUSAL

Princess Christian (sister of King Edward VII) was originally asked to perform the opening ceremony, but due to the fact that her attendance was advertised in the press before she had agreed to attend, she declined the invitation. Then Lord Roseberry (Former Prime Minister) had been invited, but was unable to attend.

A letter later appeared in the Surrey Comet stating that the lack of any celebration of the event from the local tradespeople was due to the feeling that the buildings were an unjustified waste of public money. The council chamber itself was felt to be so small, that there was only room for twenty members of the public to be present at council meetings.

 Further land in Kings Avenue and Dukes Avenue was acquired later. A new civic chamber was built as part of an extension scheme, the architect being Harold Bailey who was the designer of many of the properties around the golf course at Coombe Wood.

CHANGE OF USE

The council building served its purpose until 1964 when Malden became part of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. It was decided that the building could be used as an Adult Education Centre until it was acquired by Waitrose, and a supermarket built on the site in 1989. The facing of the old building was kept in the new design.

This new building was partially damaged by fire in 1991 and rebuilt.

The fire station was demolished in 1978 and moved to a new site in Burlington Road.

NB The wording of the title is not mine, but a description of the building by a former clerk to the Council.

 

 

 

By Robin Gill
On 25/04/2016

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