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Workers in the Stained Glass studios at the Morris & Co Merton Abbey factory


The project was based at the historic heart of Merton in Colliers Wood and Mitcham. The heritage focus being local work and industry, the working lives of local people and the contribution of immigrant communities.

The River Wandle within Merton was a key industrial site since the 1700s, where its fast flowing water provided power for the milling process. By 1750 Merton Abbey and Mitcham had become the main centres of calico cloth printing in England, and was later the site of both William Morris and Arthur Liberty’s workshops and factories.

The area remained a key industrial site of note into the 20th Century through the paper making and paint industries in addition to the Lines Brothers toy factory, which was once the largest toy factory in the world.

A primary purpose of the project was to connect residents who may not be aware with the rich working heritage of their area. In addition to outreach work and website development, a key outcome was also the development of a heritage walk route.

The key partner was Merton Priory Homes (MPH), the main social housing landlord in Merton. MPH took over ownership management of council housing in the borough from Merton Council in 2000. In addition to working with MPH, their residents and community groups, we also worked with the Merton Priory Trust, Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, Merton Historical Society, Wandle Industrial Museum and the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre.

The project outreach was targeted at residents of five local housing estates identified with Merton Priory Homes and adjacent primary schools which are located on or near the proposed walk route. These were Glebe Court, Sadlers Close, Watermeads, Phipps Bridge and Cherry Trees estates, whilst the schools were St Peter & Paul RC, Cranmer, Benedict and Merton Abbey.

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