The West Hill Estate Developing Into Mass Housing – Haldon Road & Surrounding Roads – Part V – John Augustus Beaumont

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The West Hill Estate Developing Into Mass Housing – Haldon Road & Surrounding Roads – Part V – John Augustus Beaumont

John Augustus Beaumont retired from The County Fire Office in 1877 through ill health, at which point some of the energy of the Wimbledon Park and West Hill Estates schemes clearly dissipates.

Far more of the activity them moves to selling chunks of land off to third parties who then develop them, often at significantly higher densities, than Beaumont envisaged in his original grand scheme.

Here, we are going to take a look at the way the proposed development in the area around Haldon Road from the grand Beaumont plan to that of the large and small scale developers or relatively high density terraced housing.

Road building

It seems clear that Haldon Road, formed in a great sweep, was to have been another of Beaumont’s grand roads and was shown as such on the 1879 Wimbledon Park Estate plans.

Looking at the pile of documents and plans, this turns into quite a confusing story, with a lot of different versions of plans and drawings with different dates some not showing things that they should show.

Fortunately, there is a single source of truth as to the dates that roads were authorised to be created and named. In 1855, the Metropolis Management Acts were passed. The Acts created a Metropolitan Board of Works to control, amongst other things, the creation and naming of new roads and places.

Periodically summary volumes of the dates of creation of road and places were therefore published.

This led to a series of volumes that were published by the London County Council, which succeeded the Metropolitan Board of Works. From the “List of Streets and Places within the Administrative County of London” 3rd Edition, LCC, 1929 it is clear that the following streets were created at the following dates.

Sedleigh Road – 1869

Ringford Road – 1869

Amerland Road – 1869

Haldon Road – 1869

Southfields Road – 1884 – although this is almost certainly the extension of Southfields Road to enable the construction of Jephtha Road (Gardens). As was discussed previously in a previous post Southfield Road is actually a section of The Wimbledon to Wandsworth footpath across The South Field that was turned, in part, into a road.¹

Jephtha Road -1884 – this date is shown is brackets and it is not clear why this is – this could well be to do with how confused the records are. Although we do actually have the approved signed plan dated 7th March 1884 – below, so we can be absolutely sure that the date is correct.

The professionals arrive

The United Land Company Limited appear in this narrative around 1869.

Samuel Wylson is their agent/surveyor and in a number of schemes and his signature can been seen on many of the drawings. What is clear is that this is a sub estate, but in quite a number of documents it is defined as being a part of West Hill Estate, which is a puzzling statement. Maybe West Hill Estate had gained some cachet The United Land Company were desirous of trading on?

The scheme then developed in stages to attempt to connect Southfield Road with West Hill Road (which was rejected) and then to ultimately create Jephtha Gardens (later Jepththa Road) via a bizarre hotel scheme in a highly unlikely place.

Haldon Road, Amerland Road, Ringford Road and Sedleigh Road
The application for the formation of the roads off of Haldon Road – dated 27th August 1869 –  London Metropolitan Archive – MBW/BA/31578 and 14074

A small scale developer tries his luck

Haldon Road appears hand marked onto an Ordinance Survey Large Scale sheet dated 1871 which is used as the basis for the application for Jephtha Gardens. There is another sheet shown further down this blog post which shows the application for the other side roads which was made at the same time.

Jephtha Gardens initial application West Hill Estate Wandsworth
Elsdon’s 1884 application for Jephtha Gardens – on an Ordinance Survey sheet dated 1871 – London Metropolitan Archive – MBW/BA/31578 – if you look at the plan closely you can see that Haldon Road has been marked on by hand as the trees are clearly visible underneath the road markings! It also seems an extraordinarily lazy submission in that Amerland, Sedleigh & Ringford Roads had also all been approved in 1869 so they really should have been marked on the plan, even by hand. It is also clear from the plan submitted that Elsdon, his stamp is on the bottom right hand corner of the sheet, hadn’t quite given up on his idea of extending Southfields Road to West Hill Road.

However, there is no significant development shown along Haldon Road.

Elsdon clearly gets a bit annoyed with being constrained by process and threatens to go ahead and build the road anyway.

Threatening to build Jephtha Road without permission!
Copy letter of 25th February 1884 requesting Elsdon to clarity if he own all of the ground or not – he probably didn’t own the vital corner looking at the form of the 7th March 1884 plan further down this blog – London Metropolitan Archive – MBW/BA/31578

The Metropolitan Board of Works and Wandsworth Board of Works were none too impressed by this letter. Leading to the following perfectly dry response.

Response to Elsdon's Letter of 25th February 1884 threatening to go ahead and build Jephtha road anyway
25th February 1884 Response to Elsdon’s Letter of 25th February 1884 threatening to go ahead and build Jephtha Gardens anyway even without permission! – London Metropolitan Archive – MBW/BA/31578

Part of this delay, which clearly irked Elsdon, could be to do with the Putney Relief Sewer Scheme, which runs underneath Ringford Road and ran on a very impressive aqueduct across, what is now, King George’s Park, that Jospeh Bazalgette was designing but was not fully implemented until 1885.

This didn’t stop another enterprising builder from trying to build a house on the extension to Southfields Road before it was approved, never mind created, leading the Wandsworth Board of Works to write the following letter:

Southfields basements
Letter from the Wandsworth Board of Works dated 28th January 1884 concerning the erection of a house on a section of Southfield Road that has not been approved never mind built. London Metropolitan Archive – MBW/BA/31578 and 14074

While The United Land Company were setting out their estate they had agreed with the owner of the other side of Southfields Road, Captain Bunbury, to utilise some of his land in their shared endeavour of creating Southfields Road. However, Captain Bunbury died sometime before 1870, and so the road was not able to be constructed to the specified forty foot width, leading to some exchanges of letters between The Metropolitan Board of Works, The Wandsworth Board of Works and The United Land Company’s agents.

Southfields Road Widening letter from MBW to WDBW
Letter from The Metropolitan Board of Works Architect’s Department to Wandsworth Board of Works dated 6th May 1870 regarding the width of Southfields Road and the death of Captain Bunbury impeding its widening – London Metropolitan Archive – MBW/BA/31578, 2674 and 14074
Minutes of Proceedings of the Metropolitan Board of Works – 29th April 1870 page 482 – OLBC Archives

Ultimately, the United Land Company Ltd now have their scheme, and this rather beautiful plan is published of which a few different versions survive.

United Land Company Plans for West Hill Estate - with Hotel Plot marked
United Land Company Plans for West Hill Estate – with Hotel Plot marked – undated – Wandsworth Historical Archives – Deeds/102

In this next version of the plans the hotel plot disappears, to be replaced with a dead end road with a turning circle – things were a bit limited by the refusal to allow the construction of the extension to Southfields Road into Wimbledon Park Road.

It gets stranger still as others, at a later date, apply to extend Southfields Road to meet with Wimbledon Park Road. This is rejected by The Wandsworth Board of Works.

United Land Company Plans for West Hill Estate – without Hotel Plot
United Land Company Plans for West Hill Estate – without Hotel Plot – undated – Wandsworth Historical Archives – HOW/223

Then comes a considerable muddle with what is going on regarding the hotel and the formation of Jeptha Gardens. The Jephtha Gardens application is quite a curious application as we can infer that the hotel scheme had advanced with a proposed access way between Merton Road and Southfields Road, and an area off of Southfields Road that looks like it was intended to be the stables or service areas for the proposed hotel. There is no sign that this scheme ever gained a consent for the roads to be built hence why the land was probably built on.

It is quite hard to unpick the ownership of the lands in the Jephtha Gardens section of the scheme because all of the land marked pink in the 1884 plan below only appears on Land Registry from the 1950’s onward with no indication as to whom the original owner/developer might have been.

One possibility is that the lands were leased. This would seem to indicate that the 99 years lease for the whole plot in pink ran from the 1850’s. This is consistent with what the Finch family were doing along Merton Road and some deeds from the 1850’s show C. D. Finch as the landowner. The Finch family was also involved in the development of the villas alongside Wimbledon Park Road before the junction with West Hill Road as their name appears on the first sets of deeds so it is quite plausible but by no means conclusive.

Another explanation which concerns the activities of our friend Mr Elsdon and the construction of the Bazalgette sewer! As the Bazalgette sewerage system is gravity drained the possible routes of the sewers are highly constrained by topography and the costs of the knocking down existing buildings. What struck us was that the plots between Merton Road and Southfields Road both nearly obstructed the passage of the new main relief sewer across the strip of private land. Could it be, we mused, that Elsdon was actually creating a ‘ransom strip‘?

The ransom strip idea seemed intriguing until we searched the MBW minutes and found this entry – Elsdon had previous form for claiming for compensation with regard to the construction of the MBW sewerage system.

compensation claim
Minutes of Proceedings of the Metropolitan board of works 26th September 1897 – Elsdon Applies for compensation in connection with a sewerage scheme.
Application for the formation of Jephtha Gardens Wandsworth West Hill Estate
Application for the formation of Jephtha Gardens – showing the extensions of the demise beyond Southfields Road into the plot between Southfields and Merton Road – dated 7th March 1884 – London Metropolitan Archives

We are researching if the area of land in pink were compulsorily purchased from Elsdon. If so the compensation payments should appear in the MBW series MBW/1990 thru to MBW/1993 relating to compensation payment or in the series MBW/1993 – 1997 relating to contracts. Something was done: the sewer had to be built and his antics could not be allowed to get in the way of that. It is also interesting that on the other side of the Wandle Valley the plots were sold off shortly after the sewer was completed – this is clear because it is recorded in the main MBW minutes.

Alfred Heaver also pops up as a builder. Heaver, better known for the Heaver Estates in Balham and Fulham.

Alfred Heaver arrives like a bad penny
Indenture between Alfred Heaver and The United Land Company for a parcel of land off Ringford Road dated 20th Jan 1879 – Wandsworth Historical Archive – Deeds 3680

Keep reading  – what happens when John Augustus Beaumont dies?


¹It is pretty clear that neither the Metropolitan Board of Works or The Wandsworth Board of Works wanted Southfields Road to connect to Wimbldeon Park Road as otherwise Southfields Road would become the main road and not a residential street. Even in the 1880’s the connection on the start of the A3 and West Hill, by what is now Wandsworth Police Station, was an issue and having more traffic at the Merton Road / A3 junction was not seen as a great idea. Bear in mind that there is a relatively steep gradient at this point and horse drawn carts and carriages would have struggled with this at the best of times never mind with the merging of larger volumes of traffic.