Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Our November Meeting

CWGC Meeting Artwork

Poster For November 2018 Meeting

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for millions of graves and memorials all over the world. When was it established? How is it funded? Come to our next meeting on Tuesday 13th November at 7.30pm to hear Fiona Smith from the CWGC talk about it’s work. Did you know that as well as finding the records of military casualties, you can look at the records of 69,000 civilian war dead on the CWGC website here.

Details of our meeting venue and how to get there are here.

We will also be selling our exclusive Tooting History Group Christmas card, which is hot off the press.


Tooting Buzz/Gala/Granada Clad In Scaffolding

Picture posted by Libby Lawson on Twitter Feed

Scaffolding on Buzz Bingo Tooting October 2018

The newly rebranded Buzz Bingo Club (formerly Granada Cinema) has been wrapped in scaffolding for the last few weeks. The front of the building has needed maintenance for some years and buddleia plants have sprouted at various points on the front of the building. Tooting History Group has been reassured by Buzz that cleaning and maintenance are the only reasons for the erection of the scaffolding.  Old fixings which now have  ‘b i n g o’ lettering will be removed where previously Granada was spelt out. Anything that replaces it will require planning permission because of the listed status of the building.

The building is the only Grade 1 listed purpose-built 1930’s cinema in Britain. It is also the only Grade 1 listed building in Tooting. This is the highest category of listing. To quote Historic England: ” Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I .” You can find further details and search the Historic England national list here.

The Granada opened on September 7th 1931 and ran as a cinema until declining audiences led to it’s closure on 10th November 1973. The building reopened as The Granada Bingo Club in 1976. Retitled The Gala Bingo Club, it has been a bingo venue for the last 42 years which is as as long as it was a Cinema and live music venue.

The building is open annually for The Open House Weekend, when there are guided tours which prove to be very popular every year. Alternatively, you can join the bingo club and see the wonderful interiors any day of the week. At our October 2018 meeting, we had an excellent talk by Richard Gray from the Cinema Theatre Association about the Picture Palaces of Tooting and the surrounding area. The Cinema Theatre Association was founded in 1967 and made it’s first visit to any cinema to The Granada, Tooting.

The final accolade for the building goes to Ian Nairn who was architectural correspondent for the Observer newspaper and made several TV series on the towns and buildings of Britain in the 1960s and 70s. He wrote an architectural guidebook to London and states uncategorically to London visitors: “Miss the Tower of London if you have to, but don’t miss the Tooting Granada”.



The Picture Palaces Of Tooting – Our October Monthly meeting

How many cinemas did there use to be in Tooting? Which Tooting Cinema is Grade 1 listed, the only cinema in Britain to be rated this highly? Come and hear about the heyday of cinemas in Tooting from Richard Gray of the Cinema Theatre Association at our October monthly meeting. The talk is on Tuesday October 9th at 7.30pm at The United Reform Church, Rookstone Road, SW17. You can find more information about the Cinema Theatre Association here.

Flyer For October 2018 Meeting

Tooting Common cafe 120th anniversary: quiz answers

Thanks to Peter Ramell from Friends Of Tooting Common for providing the quiz last Monday. Here are the answers.


Q1.  When was the cafe built?   (1.   1918       2.      1878       3.      1898)

Answer is  3 – 1898



Q2. How many Tooting Commons are there?   (1.    One    2.    Two   3.    Three)

Answer is  2 – Two   [They are Tooting Bec Common and Tooting Graveney Common]



Q3. There is a pond on Tooting Common where Elmbourne Road meets Tooting Bec Rd. What is it known as?   (1. The Ecology Pond.  2. The Old Yachting Pond.   3. Both)

Answer is  3 – Both



Q4.  What was the annual rent paid to run the cafe for the first three years after its opening?

(1.     £25      2.     £15         3.    £125)

Answer is 1  – £25



Q5. The Friends of Tooting Common do bat walks on the Common in summer and have heard lots of bats hunting insects. Which bats have we heard? Circle all those you think are right

(1. Pipistrelle.     2. Daubenton.    3.  Soprano pipistrelle)

Answer is all three



Q6.   When the cafe opened, how much (in “old ” money) would a tea, lemonade and two hot chocolates (all together) have cost?  (1.  2 old pennies (d)    2. 8 old pennies (d) 3.  4 old pennies)

Answer is 3 – 4 old pennies (d) 



Q7. Dr Johnson’s Avenue is named after Dr Johnson, who crossed the Common to visit friends. How did he travel?    (1. Horse & cart.     2. Riding on a bike      3.  Riding on a horse)

Answer is 3 – riding on a horse



Q8. There is a fossil tree on the Common, near the “main” pond. Who put it there?

(1. The Victorians    2.  The Romans     3. The Edwardians)

Answer is 1 – The Victorians



Q9.   What long distance path runs across the Common, crossing Bedford Hill at the path just north of the cafe, and running towards the Lido car park?

(1.   London Loop    2.   North Downs Way    3.   Capital Ring)

Answer is  3 – Capital Ring



Q10.  What is the architectural structure of the cafe usually known as?

(1.   Half-boarded     2.   Half-timbered     3.   Square-framed)

Answer is 2 – Half-timbered


Tooting Bec Common Cafe Bank Holiday Celebrations

Over 100 local residents joined the Mayor of Wandsworth to mark the 120th anniversary of the Cafe on Tooting Bec Common on Bank Holiday Monday. A historic board giving the history of the cafe was unveiled by the Mayor and much delicious cake (and cupcake) was eaten. Janet Smith (Chair, Tooting History Group) led a short walk to the newly renovated fossilised tree by the lake. Peter Ramell (Chair, Friends of Tooting Common) provided a quiz. The event was jointly organised by Tooting History Group and The Friends of Tooting Common.

27th August 2018

Over 100 local residents at the Cafe 120th Celebrations (Photo:Marion Gower)


27th August 2018

The birthday cake made by Francesca from the Cafe. (Photo Marion Gower)

27th August 2018

The Mayor cuts the ribbon on the new historic board at the cafe. Janet Smith (Chair THG) and Andy Flegg( Tooting Common Heritage Project) looking on. (Photo Marion Gower).

27th August 2018

The newly refurbished fossilised tree by the lake (Photo Marion Gower)