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.


Planning Application at The Lodge, 98-100 Tooting Bec Road; THG response

The Lodge, Tooting Bec Road, 2018 (Photo:Libby Lawson)

Tooting History group has commented on the recent planning application at The Lodge 98-100 Tooting Bec Road.  The applications are for a replacement front door and installation of CCTV. Responses to the Council consultation closed on 10th October. 32 objections have been submitted by local residents. You can see them on the Council’s website here.

Tooting History Group comments are as follows:

I write on behalf of Tooting History Group to express our concern and interest in the Lodge and object to aspects of the planning applications listed below;

2018/4521 and Listed Building Consent 2018/4179 for installation of replacement windows to front, rear and side elevations and replacement of front door to timber panel door.

2018/4178 and Listed Building Consent 2018/4523 for erection of temporary weld mesh fence and installation of 4 temporary CCTV cameras.

These proposals were submitted following a short lived ‘reveal’ of the Lodge when wooden hoardings, erected some five years ago were recently removed from around the site. This was met with much local relief and celebration.  Unfortunately a mesh fence was then swiftly erected and it subsequently covered with a green netting obscuring views of the Lodge.

The application to erect a wire mesh fence is retrospective – the fence is installed now and in such a way as to divide the Lodge itself from it’s surrounding curtilage.

The Lodge contributes significantly to the public realm and any temporary fencing must ensure that full views of the Lodge are possible.  We find the current wire mesh fencing, with green netting removed, acceptable as a temporary solution while works continue.                                                                                                                     

It is important that all attempts to introduce any indication of subdivision of the site be resisted; the wire mesh fence within the grounds must be removed forthwith.

We were disappointed to note the plastic pipes and hopper on the Romberg Rd elevation, the quality of the approved render and paintwork and the inconsistent detail in replaced fenestration – some windows have horns, others do not.  We concede however that, no matter our frustrations and perhaps those of others in whose hands the Lodge might receive a more scholarly repair, the nature of repairs carried out by the current owner have largely met the requirements of Wandsworth Council’s Conservation and Design team.

We are disappointed that Wandsworth Council is reconciled with a replacement front door too and we therefore conclude that no further alteration should be tolerated.  Already installed are two PVC windows to the extension which are wholly inappropriate and harm the overall appearance of the Lodge.  Retrospective applications for these ‘temporary’ windows should be refused and replaced with timber framed windows.

We appreciate the importance of safeguarding the Lodge and suggest this is best achieved when the building serves a viable use requiring the completion of works. We object the installation of cameras on the Lodge which are an unnecessary visual blight on the otherwise repaired façades.  An alternative solution could be sought in the employment of guardians to reside at the Lodge – this would encourage the completion of work.

The proposals mention that aspects of these applications are temporary while plans are finalised to be shared in the near future.  Given the frustrating delays in the repair of the Lodge thus far it can be presumed that the temporary nature of these works may be far from what might usually be assumed.  We look forward to a time when we consider plans that would allow the reoccupation of the building and grounds and feel the extent of our objections regarding these current plans should not delay the current owner from focusing to that end.

Tooting History Group seeks to cherish that which remains and ensure that the built past has an appropriate and deserved future for all Tooting and Wandsworth to enjoy.


Libby Lawson

Conservation Officer,                                                                                                                            Tooting History Group

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)