E & A Wates Go Into The PPE Business

Our last monthly meeting in March was an excellent talk by Roger Wates from the well-established Tooting firm E & A Wates. He has just sent me news on what the company is doing during lockdown, which is quite amazing.



NHS staff wearing the reusable visors during COVID-19, April 2020. Visors have been delivered to 21 hospitals including St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. Photo reproduced with permission.

In its 120th year, SW London interior specialist E & A Wates has switched their workshop furniture restoration work from high quality reupholstery to critical personal protective equipment (PPE).

E & A Wates showroom and workshop are temporarily closed in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). This week, with teams working at a safe distance behind the scenes, E & A Wates have supplied and cut foam to assist in making over 4,300 visors for NHS frontline staff within 21 hospitals in London and neighbouring counties with potential for another 2,500 components if required.

The visors are being made in conjunction with a prop maker Faye Jones and over 60 colleagues who crowdsourced the project so the visors can be donated to NHS hospital staff, the visors can be sterilised and reused after each shift. So far the group have made 6650 visors with 3200 planned for production this Easter weekend




Upholsterer Tomas Kilty works in isolation at E & A Wates workshop in Streatham, London cutting foam to make reusable visors for NHS staff during COVID-19. Photo © E & A Wates
Foam headbands at E & A Wates workshop in Streatham, London ready to be delivered to the visor-making team (60 separate makers) who have distributed 3990 visors (3165 to London Hospitals and 825 to neighbouring counties) made a further 2660 and have planned production of 3200 this Easter weekend during COVID-19. Photo © E & A Wates

“The Mercenary River” : Talk By Nick Higham

Our May monthly meeting will be a talk by Nick Higham on his recently published book, “The Mercenary River“. He tells the story of the development of London’s water supply from the Middle Ages to the present day. For centuries London, one of the largest and richest cities in the world, struggled to supply its citizens with reliable, clean water. 

The book tells a tale of remarkable technological, scientific and organisational breakthroughs; but also a story of greed and complacency, high finance and low politics.

Nick Higham’s book uncovers the murky tale of how the most powerful steam engine in the world was first brought to London; the extraordinary story of how one Victorian London water company deliberately cut off 2,000 households, the details of a financial scandal which brought two of the water companies close to collapse in the 1870s; and asks whether today’s 21st century water companies are an improvement on their Victorian predecessors.

Nick Higham is a retired BBC journalist and he will be signing copies of his book at the end of the talk.

The meeting is on Tuesday 10th May 2022, beginning at 7.30pm. We meet at our usual venue: United Reformed Church, Rookstone Road, SW17 9NQ (Tooting Broadway tube, G1,270,280,57,127,264,355,77,44,333 buses)

The River Graveney In Tooting

The River Graveney through Tooting has formed a boundary since Anglo-Saxon times. It has also been an open drain, a peril to travellers, a flood-risk and an inspiration to poetry. Come and hear all about the River Graveney at the next meeting of the Tooting History Group on Tuesday 12th April 2022 at 7.30pm. Philip Bradley (Chair, Tooting History Group) will be giving a short talk.

We look forward to seeing members and guests old and new at our first in-person meeting after lockdowns.

 We meet at the United Reformed Church in Rookstone Road, Tooting, SW17 9NQ. (Tube: Tooting Broadway, Buses 57,127,333,264,280,G1,77,355,44). Refreshments will be available.

Balham To Tooting Trail



The SW12/SW17 Neighbourhood Network published a delightful walking trail from Balham to Tooting a few years ago. The walk takes you from Balham Station to Tooting Bec Underground.

There is an accompanying soundtrack where you can hear memories and reminiscences of life in Balham and the characters who live and work there. They include comedian Arthur Smith, local shopkeepers and local residents.

You can download the whole recording from the link below.

Balham to Tooting Trail Leaflet

Gently Flows The Graveney

Explore the hidden lower reaches of the River Graveney with Tooting History Group. Starting at the Roe Bridge , we will be walking two miles to the junction of the Graveney with the Wandle. Along the way there will be occasional glimpses of the River Graveney. And some history of golf in the area, boundaries, bridges, music hall stars, a lost waterfall, sewage and an early railway line.

We will be meeting at the Roe Bridge on Mitcham Lane/Streatham Road near the junction with Rural Way on at 11am on Saturday 25th September 2021. Buses 201,127,333,57 stop nearby.

The walk will be about two miles and we should finish by 1pm. Free, no need to book.

The walk is part of the Wandle Fortnight which takes place from the 11th to the 26th September 2021. You can find more details of all the Wandle Fortnight Festival events here.