Beryl Kingston Entertains Tooting History Group

Beryl Kingston, best-selling author from Tooting, entertained our May monthly meeting with her stories of wartime Tooting. Beryl spoke about the innovative and quirky teaching techniques at Rosa Bassett School (then Streatham Secondary School), the goings-on at the beauty parades at the Granada Cinema and the characters from Tooting market.

Tooting History Group 8 May 2018

Beryl Kingston and Rosa Bassett (Streatham Secondary School) school friend inspect the 1946 school photo at the THG meeting

We had an eye-witness account of dogfights over Croydon airport and a vivid account of being evacuated to Harpenden in a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Tooting History Group May 8 2018

John Brown, Janet Smith and Beryl Kingston at our May meeting.

We also heard how the latest news travelled via the conductors on the trams during wartime, including news of the bombing of Balham underground. Beryl lived in Longley Road and above the off-licence on the corner of Church Lane.

Most movingly, Beryl spoke about going to see a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie at the Mayfair Cinema and watching the grim scenes from the Belsen Concentration Camp on the Pathe news reel.

You can stay in touch with Beryl via her blog here.

Tooting History Group May 8 2018

Another big crowd at the may meeting of the Tooting History Group

Tooting History Group Meeting May 8 2018

Janet Smith, Tooting History Group Chair, and beryl Kingston, best selling Tooting author at our May Meeting


Wandsworth Parks And Open Spaces Quiz

The Wandsworth heritage Festival runs from 26th May to the 10th June this year. The theme is Wandsworth Parks and Open Spaces. In advance of the festival, you might want to have a go at the quiz below. Answers to be posted in a few weeks.

                                                 Heritage Festival 2018 Parks and Open Spaces

Did you know? … twenty interesting historic facts about local parks

1 Which local park houses a memorial to the civilian casualties of Battersea in WW2?

2 Lots of local parks are well used and loved by dog walkers but which park was built around a Little Brown Dog?

3 Whose coronation is celebrated in Coronation Gardens, Southfields?

4 In 1930, the Dust Destructor was demolished over the Hallowe’en weekend. It took three days to dismantle and people took Monday off work to see the tall chimney come down. Which local park replaced it?

5 Heathbrook Park is in east Battersea. What does the ‘brook’ in the title refer to?

6 From 1917 local councils had authority to turn public parks into allotments for the war effort. Which is the oldest allotment site in Wandsworth that was created in this way?

7 How did Fred Wells Gardens in Battersea get its name? Who was he?

8 Which park is located over the ‘lost’ river, the Falcon Brook, which rises in Streatham and reaches the Thames at Battersea?

9 What was Furzedown Recreation Ground in Tooting/Streatham used for before it became a public park in 1923?

10 How did King George’s Park in Wandsworth get its name?

11 This public space was opened in 1763 and contains a Coade stone monument. What is it and where?

12 In what way was the date 1 April 1971 significant for many parks across London?

13 These day King George’s Park extends from Wandsworth Southside to Aboyne Road and Bodmin Street. Over many years, ‘fields’ have been added to the park. Can you state any previous uses of these fields?

14 What is the naturally shaped block of granite in Coronation Gardens, and who donated it to the public park?

15 Which local park used to feature cycle speedway, a popular sport in 1950s, including international events?

16 By what other name is the Mount Nod Burial Ground also known?

17 What is the York connection with Battersea that gives us York Gardens and York Road?

18 Which lane connects the old London-Portsmouth road with the Thames?

19 There are no bananas in Banana Park because its official name is Falcon Park. What does the Falcon refer to?

20 “The design was influenced by a move away from the very labour-intensive schemes of the Victorian era and a rise in the interest of organised sport from the 1880s onwards. This resulted in the centre of the Park being laid out as a playing field and ornamental planting being concentrated in the south-eastern corner.” Which local park is being described here?

The information given above was collected from the park management plans drawn up by Wandsworth Council Parks Service, the London Parks and Gardens Trust website on park histories, and Historic England listings.

If you have enjoyed the ‘quiz’, have a query or comment, or would like to suggest an amendment or addition to any of the answers, please contact Geraldine Kelly at I hope you have enjoyed this ‘quiz’.


Beryl Kingston: Best-Selling Tooting Born Author At Our May Monthly Meeting

What was “A Penny For The Grotta”? What was stored in the Rosa Bassett school hall during the blitz? Why did your PE teacher disappear whilst you were sunbathing on the netball courts? Find out from Beryl Kingston, best selling Tooting-born author, at our next monthly meeting. Beryl spoke at Tooting Library in October last year and entertained us with her tales of life in Tooting, including evacuation and return to Tooting, the 1945 General Election and how she met her husband.

Beryl Kingston May Meeting Poster

Poster For May Monthly Meeting


The meeting is on Tuesday 8th May at 7.30 pm in The United Reform Church, Rookstone Road, SW17 9NQ.

Balham To Tooting Bec Trail And Podcast Launch

Where is the stone pineapple on Balham High Road? Who is the Mayor of Balham? Where did an IRA bomb go off in Balham? Find out on Saturday 28th April in a walk starting at Irene House (next to Balham Station/St Mary’s Church) at 12 midday.  Neighbourhood Network SW12/SW17 have launched a trail and podcast from Balham Station to Tooting Bec. (Details here).

Poster For Balham-Tooting Bec Trail

Poster For Balham To Tooting Bec Trail

Tooting Constitutional Club Planning Application Update

Picture of Tooting Constitution Club in June 2017

Tooting Constitution Club June 2017

The planning application for the Tooting Constitutional Club development into an Apart-Hotel is going to be considered by the Wandsworth Planning Committee on Wednesday 18th April. The proposal is recommended for approval by officers and is likely to be accepted with conditions. You can read the (42 page) planning officers report here. The proposal is to demolish all the existing buildings and build a 3/4/5 storey hotel with a four storey basement. There will be a public open space  on the existing bowling green and the demolished club house will be rebuilt to accommodate a community cafe.


Balham To Tooting Bec Trail And Podcast Launched

Image for promoting Balham To Tooting Bec Trail

Balham To Tooting Bec Trail Artwork

The Balham to Tooting Bec Trail, podcast and map is a fascinating self-guided historical walk – and we hope that you will join in, take part and enjoy it. This circular walk takes you from Balham station to Tooting Bec and back again – on the Podcast those who live and work here tell you their stories and you can use this with the beautiful map that shows you the way. Did you know:

  • That we have here the only sewing machine museum in the world?
  • That the self-styled mayor of Balham lives here, or
  • That you had to have an interview before you could rent a flat here?

So do please join in and take part- access the Podcast at or download it at soudcloud or itunes

Download the map at the website or pick it up at local shops and the library. You can borrow an MP3 player from Balham library if you do not have a Smartphone. You can do the walk alone, or with friends and/or family – it takes about an hour in all and there are plenty of places to stop for refreshments along the way.

Or, if you can why don’t you join us on the launch walk on Saturday April 28th 2018 meeting at midday at Irene House (next door to St Mary and St John the Divine church)

We hope that you would like to use this trail. Please could you forward this information to all those who might be interested- we really hope that this is a well-used community resource.

The Neighbourhood Network SW12 and SW17 trail team

The Anglo-Boer War Memorial In St. Nicholas Church, Tooting

The latest edition of The Wandsworth Historian has an excellent article by Neil Robson about the Boer War memorial which you can find in St. Nicholas Church, Tooting. The memorial records the names of thirteen soldiers from Tooting who died in the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. Neil has traced the origins of the memorial, the events surrounding it’s unveiling on 23rd August 1903 and details of the 13 men commemorated on the memorial.

The article is not available online but you can find details of how to join The Wandsworth Historical Society and get a copy of the Wandsworth Historian here. Neil Robson spoke at our November 2017 meeting about Ted Foster ,VC. You can see his talk on You Tube here.