Thursday, 17 February 2011

It's Grim Up North Cheam

Blog reader 'The Dan' was perusing The Sun's City section (the journal of choice for all financial high-fliers, as he aptly puts it) and spotted an article about the increasing number of boarded up shops on local high streets (a perennial topic on the Worcester Park Blog).

The Dan writes: "Included is a list of those suffering the most - after Margate it's mainly a rabble of northern towns in areas of economic woe, until a little further down the list you come to Worcester Park's beloved neighbour - North Cheam. It's good to know in these difficult times that we're not feeling the pinch quite as badly as the poor folk the next town over..."

Are there really 25% of shops in North Cheam boarded up? I appreciate that the derelict eyesore that is Victoria House (by the crossroads) will contribute hugely to the number, but I would be very surprised if there really were 25% of shop units empty in North Cheam.

Of course if anyone has the time and inclination to go and count for me.....

38 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Janet A said...

Do you think we could organise some sort of DIY demolition for Victoria house. maybe like Jenga - each resident takes one brick and we see how long it takes for Ladbrokes to be crushed.

Anne said...

Being relatively new around (well it's been 4 years lol) I was wondering.....do you know why Victoria House is all boarded up? Such a shame! On top of the eyesore, I'm sure it could lead to some form of criminal activities/squatts happening behind those boards!

caldbeck said...

I reckon that nothing can be done to it whilst ladbrokes is there.

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

The carbuncle on the backside of North Cheam that is Victoria House was to be either refurbished or demolished a couple of years ago but due to the "reseshun" nothing has happened. As far as I know, Ladbrokes was staying put - probably so it could take bets on the outcome!

Janet A said...

I've been around for ages and I'm still not sure why. I remember about 3 or 4 years ago they closed most of the shops - Sam's moved down the road and the newsagent on the corner closed, and I think the Queen Vic closed as well. I think they were hoping to demolish then, but the Ladbrokes has a really long lease and they refused to go.

Anonymous said...

'DIY demolition for Victoria House' – could this be a project for Sutton's "Big Society"? Something has to be done about that place it's a disgrace and a right eye sore. So many people drive or walk past it every day on the way to Worcester Park, Cheam Village, Ewell, Morden … it's such a horrible gateway to those areas. There are lots of possibilities – a health centre, retail, flats, cinema or demolish it and have a nice green space for people to enjoy.

I see that Westcroft Leisure Centre is being refurbished: http://www.sutton.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=12163 well what about Cheam Leisure Centre – just up the road from Victoria House and also in need of major redevelopment. Could Victoria House provide the location for a new leisure centre? Come on Sutton Council get things moving for North Cheam – do we really want to be in the same position next time a paper runs an article like this?

Anonymous said...

Every time we drive past this eyesore, we always say it needs demolishing. And the only conclusion you can draw is that, bearing in mind there is only one unit still open/not filled with roosting pigeons, Ladbrokes is probably stubbornly holding up the whole operation.

If it is, its pretty shameful. With one ladbrokes half a mile down London Road, and another half a mile down Central Road, its hardly like they're in desperate need to increase their presence in the area!

Comparing it against the other 3 'corners' of the junction, and the lovely art deco buildings with the really nice stained glass windows, you can't help but wonder why on earth that mess was built in the first place! Was the original building bombed during the was or some such?

Would be great to regenerate the site and build something more fitting in with the general feel of the other buildings, im sure it would increase trade to the area, particularly if it might be possible for some kind of mall or shopping centre to be incorporated in maybe.

Anyway would be good for something to be done for sure.

Smells like Lavender (avenue) said...

No Comment?

Are any of our local councillors interested in taking up this discussion? After all they must know more than most whats happening with the economic development of the whole of Sutton borough. I even hear there is a 10 year plan to redevelop the high streets in the borough (although it seems so far to be restricted to Sutton High St).

While on the subject of no comment - Councillor Jennifer Campbell-Klomps blog invites comments from residents on the articles but fails to approve anything I've tried to write there.

It seems unless your name is Jennifer you cant get past the moderation - Thank you Councillor for your oh so very transparent views.

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

There are pictures taken in the 50s / 60s of the attractive white building which was on the Victoria House site. That's local authorities for you.

W.Parker said...

@Smells like Lavender,

I too tried to make a comment on Councillor Campbell-Klomps blog about her 'Streets for people' item.

It too was deleted. When I tried to contact her via her facebook page it has disappeared... what is it she does not want us to know?

I would like to see Victoria House turned into a Nightclub, but I dont think there would be much support from the neighbours. It would be a cash cow in that location and bring customers to the taxi firm there as well as the (many many) restaurants to suit every taste.

Anonymous said...

Just found this post, which seems recent - published on Councillor Mary Burstow's blog a few weeks ago: http://cheam.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/01/30/victoria-house-north-cheam/

The key point seems to be: "the receivers have put the property up for 'Best Bid' and currently the bank is deciding which offer to accept. Hopefully the new owners will wish to develop the site promptly."

I'm sure all local residents and businesses would urge this bank and the prospective new owners to get this sorted and come up with a decent development plan ASAP.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with politics is that same people are in it for the publicity and the money, whilst others are in it to help out their residents. I just hope that at least one of our councillors - and I voted for all three Lib Dem candidates last year - can help improve the economic viability of North Cheam and Worcester Park.

I too recently posted some comments on cllr Jennifer Campbell-Klomps' website with some ideas about how to improve the shops in our wonderful Worcester Park. I was most surprised and disappointed to see that my comments had not been taken on board by her and were not published on the website. Does anyone suspect that cllr Campbell-Klomps really takes note of our concerns?

Smells like Lavender (Avenue) said...

I visited Councilor Jennifer Campbell-Klomps website again today to find a post about her being invited to attend a charity event where she appears to be proud of the fact that she won 6 bottles of wine and a Kindle electronic book reader....from a charity.

I tried to post a comment asking if she was going to either declare the wine or the gift as a councillor benefit or even donate her 'wins' back to the charity she was supposed to be supporting, but it seems that its already been either deleted or is still 'under moderation' ...

Councillor Klomps needs her own topic here in order that the rest of Worcester Park can see what we voted for.

Anonymous said...

like that idea smells like lavender

Anonymous said...

Just came across this topic and it struck me that this just could be duff statistics.

I lived in the top town in the list one winter many years ago and it is just like the 'Seasonal Shop' except more or less the whole town, indeed the whole island closes for winter. Even around 50% of the pubs were closed.

So pick a time in winter to measure and it is top, survey in in mid summer and it is bursting with shops selling buckets and spades, lilos etc and will probably be near the bottom of the list.

Anonymous said...

Anon above (2.00) - good theory and can see that it would apply to some on the list but North Cheam is not exactly known as a tourist town so seasonality shouldn't come into it. It's probably just got a few too many shop units than it needs to cater for the local population.

Other anon (3.06)- The unfortunate truth is there's probably not much Cllrs can do about high street regeneration especially with the cuts. But why don't you repeat your ideas here and we can discuss them on this blog instead?

W. Parker- nighclub in North Cheam!! That's a terrible location for a nightclub- not in a big town centre, not within easy walking distance of train/ tube, not many feeder pubs nearby. That location would be a recipe for drug/ drink driving although it would probably just fail first! I mean why would you go out of your way to go to a club in North Cheam!?

Jeff said...

Hey Lord Cynic, I too have seen the photo of the magnificent 1930s built road house (that's pub to most people) that was torn down in the 1960s a replaced with the portkabin style monstrosity we've endured since then. It was of course called the Queen Victoria and if still standing on that North Cheam corner site would no doubt have been taken over by Weatherspoons and would still be providing a useful service.

curlyred said...

Regarding the possibility of a nightclub in North Cheam - I remember many (too many!) years ago having loads of brilliant nights out in at the good old nightclub that was Clouseaus in Cheam Village! Even when I had to get up for school the next day!!

Anonymous said...

Now that brings back some memories. Clouseaus in Cheam Village (nostalgic sigh). I always expected to see Ronnie , Reggie and Barbara in there. What a great place.

Always remember the two sibling doormen in there too, Tom & Sailor Herbert, both retired coppers. Tom's claim to fame was nicking Esther Ranzten in the North End Road, Fulham on camera for obstructing the highway with her "That's Life" film crew. The only mistake he made was letting her get in the front passenger seat of the station van, rather than slinging her unceremoniously in the back, as was the fate of most law-breakers being "escorted" by H.M. Constabulary to Heckfield Place, SW6.

Clouseaus was a real mix. I was in my teens when I first went there in the early 80's. I dont recall the slightest bit of trouble, ever, but I do remember it being guest visited by Jonathan King. Remember him? The kink-lipped peadophile DJ. I seem to recall it closed down because the neighbours didn't like the noise, which I can understand. Or maybe it was just because of their awful choice of guest DJ. Still, something needs to happen in Cheam and in WP. Both are looking a pretty depressing sight at the moment. Bring back Clouseus! (so long as its not anywhere near my house (ta very much)

Worcester Park Woman said...

I spoke to an elderly gentleman on the bus today who has lived in North Cheam since 1935. He knew all about the 3 Queen Vic pubs. Yes the first one was there in 1935, all made of wood, a real old country pub with a latch on the wooden door. He thought it was a shame they pulled that one down for the 1950s white one some of you admire. If anyone has a picture of the wooden one, what a find!

He also knew all about the the North Cheam Cold War Bunker. It was supposed to be secret, but everyone I have spoken to locally over the years seemed to know about it and regarded it as a bolt hole for the Council in the event of nuclear war. Actually it was a very important command post which would have governed the whole of South London in case of emergency. When I last looked, more details of it could be found on the Subterranea Britannica website. It was demolished some years ago and I recall that people were able to visit it for a while. Sub Britters deny that there is anything left of it (e.g. underground rooms, tunnels etc) and are adamant that it was only an overground facility, but who knows? If it was so important, it is hard to believe it was just an overground facility... also, could its existence have something to do with the delay in developing the site? I know I am entering into the realms of fantasy probably, but how do we know it is not still being used underground with access from somewhere else?

On the subject of North Cheam shops closing, it will warm the cockles of your hearts to know that a new Pie, Mash and Eel shop at North Cheam, next to the Blue Fish and Chip Shop, will be opening for business next Thursday 3rd March!

Jeff said...

No, the wooden Queen Vic must have been demolished in the 1930s to make way for the red brick one with an entrance in the main road (not round the back) which itself was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the present eyesore. And of course there was a big cinema where the Weatherspoons pub now stands, I only saw it once when I drove by it in 1966.

I knew there was a nuclear bomb proof bunker at North Cheam but never worked out where it was - possibly where the TA barracks are up Stonecot Hill or near the roundabout after the Organ Inn roundabout. Can anyone confirm or is it still a state secret?

Jack T said...

In response too the above post about the bunker, being a big fan of bunkers etc and having lived within a mile of North Cheam my whole life I couldn't help but find out where it was, a little googling found this - http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/c/cheam/index.html
which immediately stood out in my memory as the building that was just next too the Old Queen Vic on Churchill Road.

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

Nuclear bunker in North Cheam? Are you sure you aren't thinking of the subterranean khasi that was once at the North Cheam crossroads outside the Post Office?! This was entombed a couple of decades ago when the current streetscene was bestowed upon us.
Anyway, if there was a bunker it would be reserved for the local aristocracy.........like myself.

Anonymous said...

The bomb proof bunker was next to the Queen Vic where flats have now been built. I remember when they were going to demolish it and asked if locals would like to visit it. This must have been 15-20 years ago??

Anonymous said...

Sorry Lord Cynic of Lindsay, you would not have been let in. It was reserved for senior police,armed forces ,central govt/senior local politicians,civil defence staff etc .Cooped up there with this lot for 3 to 6 months would drive most people 'mad'.Better to take your chances out in the open!!!!If i remember correctly there were 3 levels about 60/80 feet down.Cant say any more 'official secrets act' and all that.

Jeff said...

Thanks for that Jack T and Anonymous, I would never have guessed the nuclear bunker was next to the Queen Vic. And I do remember the underground public toilets on the Post Office corner of North Cheam crossroads, Lord Cynic, not that I frequent those places more than absolutely necessary if you catch my drift. I only went in there once in the 1970s but seem to remember there was even an attendant there and it was lit by natural daylight through an opaque fanlight and everything was polished wood and tiles. So much more civilised than the forbidding tardis that now serves that purpose on the other corner. When they bricked the underground loos up rumour has it that some poor devil in the last trap didn't hear the last "All out!" call. One day Tony Robinson's Time Team will no doubt discover his remains.

Anonymous said...

Sadly yes there are about 25% of shops closed and boarded up in North Cheam. I suspect most have had had there business taken away by Sainsbury's which sells 'everything'. The closure of Woolworth's was also a severe blow to the area and now there are just a plethora of hairdressers and takeways. Unfortunately Woolies was replaced by a carpet shop, which doesn't really have the same pulling power, it is always empty of customers. Something useful such as a Pound shop or Lidls would have been much more useful for North Cheam.

mike from epsom said...

Ah me, the old Queen Vic! A fare stage on the 93 bus route and home in the 1950's of a jazz club, religiously, as you might say, attended every week by several hundred of us at that time. Am I the only one left who remebers it? Surely there must be others? Where would have been without the Queen Vic? Where are we now? :)

Anonymous said...

Re Anonymous on 12th March....
For gods sake don't metion Poundland & Lidl's. I made the mistake of suggesting this on another thread a couple of months ago and got shot down in flames by some of the N.I.M.B.Y's who post on here!!!!

Jacey said...

To be honest North Cheam needs a good sandwich shop or an Iceland. Can't see a shop big enough to fill the "old office" site on the corner. I was really sad when Woolies went but it has stopped me popping up there for sweeties. Have to say I don't go to North Cheam much aprt from Wetherspoons for their "burger and drink " meal, but the European food shop is pretty good - do some great fruit and lovely bread. Worth a look if you want to try something different.

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Anonymous said...

I think that a bingo hall up by the Queen Vic would be great for getting the elderly our as well as the young and having the two mixing. Also something for the kids needs to be added cinema, club maybe somewhere for them to get help with homework and advice as to what courses/colleges to choose.

Gordon said...

Probably just you and me mate left, although there must be others. Every Sunday night I, along with several friends made the pilgrimage from Morden to the Jazz Club. Several bands played there but the sort of resident band was Mike daniels - great group. We got to know the couple who ran it and I seem to remember they ran a hotel at Berrylands. We got to know them so well that we often ran the door for them so maybe I took your entrance fee on more than one occasion. I am 75 now but I well remember those days and how much good fun we had. After the gig was over we usually made the trip to the coffee houses of Richmond in a convoy of cars. As you say, "Where would we have been without the Queen Vic? And where are we now? Well here is one of them. Thanks for the memory. Now live in Bedford.

Gordon

History Lover said...

I have always been interested in local history, both architectural and social. I moved to North Cheam in 2007 because I met my (now) husband and he was living here. I am from the West Kent countryside, rural idyll. I find most of the people in North Cheam surly, rude and aggressive and I am very unhappy living here. Don't be offended, you're not all like it! What I am interested in though is your history and these posts about the Queen Victoria area are fascinating. I feel as if the soul has been torn out of this area which will soon become swallowed by the ever increasing peripheries of London. The Q V seems in the past to have offered a social hub and a sense of community which is so threatened now. (We are on the move, back to the rural idyll, where red routes and CCTV council Smartcars, don't ruin your existence.) I think what's fascinating is that the estates in N Cheam were built originally for the blue collar workers and amazingly the demographic hasn't altered since the 1930s. It's now white van man land and full of cabbies and tradesmen. I think the aggression and rudeness stems from being so overcrowded and on top of one another that's it's man's naturally survival technique to defend his ever decreasing 'patch'. The Diamond Jubilee is upon us and living in a 'street' for the first time in my life, not a soul can be bothered to show community spirit and organise a street party. I would, but I'm too scared of my neighbours!

Worcester Park Lover said...

Well history lover, a bit blunt, but I sort of appreciate where you’re coming from. I too am from a rural area and moved here because of my husband. Yes you could say that Worcester Park has the worst of all worlds- it doesn’t really feel part of the city and lacks the vibrancy and class of some other urban areas whilst not benefitting from the countryside but still suffering from the urban negatives of congestion, overcrowding and sometimes perhaps lack of friendliness. But turning it around you could say that it is an area within easy reach of London but still quite quiet and safe (ignoring recent random school abduction attempt!) with relatively affordable housing and with big potential to improve as an area. I suppose it really depends on whether you are a glass half full or a glass half empty person? I believe that your own happiness is largely dependent on your own attitude.  And by the way, your comment about it being bad that WP is full of white van drivers is actually pretty offensive because it stereotypes all people of those professions as being the same “type” and implies that they are undesirable members of the community who you don’t want to associate with.  And if you’re such a scared little mouse that you’re afraid to talk to your neighbours in Worcester Park, then you best not venture out  into some other parts of London!
By the way, there are a number of Jubilee street parties in Worcester park, one of which I’m going to, but I probably shouldn’t share the details, as locals there won’t want to be looked down on by negative snobs – no offence................

Local said...

Hello - does anyone know what the history behind lavender corner is?

Guest said...

In times gone by, lavender really was grown in that area, apparently - hence Lavender Avenue nearby.

Smiler said...

Dear History Lover,

I've lived in North Cheam for 22 Years. I have great neighbours and wonderful home and am walking distance to bus routesS3, 93, 80 & 413 which serves Mordern tube station and most of Suttons stations.

I don't go to North Cheam because it's too scruffy. However, Cheam Village is wonderful. I don't shop in Sutton. However, 15 mins away is Sutton, Esher or on a good run Walton on Thames.

As for cabbies and tradesman on the N Cheam Estates. At least we are all working !!! As for overcrowded. You've obviously not seen all the houses round here most of which are 4 and 5 bedrooms with 2 or 3 bathrooms.

As for being on top of one another and scared of your neighbours ! What road do/did you live in ?

Yes, go back to West Kent. If I was as unhappy as you, living in North Cheam, I would have moved years ago !

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