Please note that some of the books we have reviewed are not available from the Norwood Society. Please see our Books For Sale page to see the range of titles currently available.
This history of the British Home for Incurables tells the fascinating story of one of our oldest residential nursing homes. The origins of the Home date back to 1861, when at a meeting chaired by Sir William Cubit Lord Mayor of London, a group of businessmen agreed that “an institution be established for the relief of incurable diseases, accident or deformity”. Two years later a Home was opened near Clapham Common to bring their aims into effect. After 30 years the need for a larger building became pressing and it was decided to relocate the Home to purpose-built premises at Streatham. New buildings were erected on Crown Lane, not far from Streatham Common, and were opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 3 July 1894.
Eric Temple Bell was born in Peterhead, Scotland, in 1883, but lived in Norwood as a child. Most of his life was spent in America where he became a leading mathematician and early science fiction writer using the pseudonym John Taine. He died in 1960. Throughout his life, even with his wife and son, he was always very secretive about his early years. It had always been believed that he emigrated to California at the age of 19. Constance Reid, herself an American mathematician, manages to uncover a totally different version of events.
Few firms in Norwood can boast of trading in the area for over 170 years. One that can is J B Wilson’s undertakers at 103 Norwood High Street. Not only is the history of this long-established enterprise a fascinating one, but a past member of the family is responsible for writing one of the most informative local histories of the area entitled The Story of Norwood. The family’s connections with Norwood date from March 1830 when James Benson Wilson leased a tiny four-roomed cottage on the “east side of Elderhole road” which now forms part of Norwood High Street. From this humble house he set up business as a cabinet-maker, upholsterer and undertaker.
Those of us who have read Eloise Akpan’s interesting articles in issues of the Review are well aware that she can write well, but few of us can have expected her to produce such a splendid book about Alderman William Stanley, founder of the Stanley Halls and the Technical Boys’ School in South Norwood. His philanthropy was only possible with the profits from his firm, which manufactured precision scientific instruments from 1853 until 1999.
This book is very well written, and bristles with facts and anecdotes, some not too flattering. The reader must be warned, however, that although it reads well as an account of the life and achievements of Guy Fountain, the founder of Tannoy and much else, it includes a great deal of technical matter not easy to understand by a layman. That aside, it is a fascinating account of a man of enterprise and energy who identified problems and then would not rest until he, or one of his staff, had solved them. He took a leading role in the development and improvement of primitive (by today’s standards) equipment used to in the early years of radio broadcasting, and, for example, set out to improve the accumulators (lead-acid batteries) widely used until the all-mains wireless became available or until old-design radios could be converted for use with standardised mains electric supply.
This is an account of several years of research arising from a threat to demolish Kilravock House in Ross Road, South Norwood to make way for a block of flats. The account of the colourful life of Thomas Ross lifts the curtain on many aspects of life in 19th Century England. Kilravock House was designed, built and owned by Thomas Ross (1794/5 – 1868). He was born, along with two brothers, in Cork City, and, perhaps because of the Wolfe Tone rebellion in 1798, the family moved to Suffolk. As an ensign in the West Suffolk Militia he saw active service in Ireland from 1813 to 1814, and retained his interest in the largely inactive Militia until 1858, when he retired as a Major, a title of which he was very fond.
This book continues the story told in an earlier book with the same name by Beryl Cheeseman published in 1991. She explains that so much material came her way that it warranted a second account of life in Upper Norwood, both in what was called Norwood New Town (or old New Town as time passed), and the Upper Norwood Triangle. This second book contains much in the way of 'informative nuggets' which, if it were not for painstaking authors like Beryl Cheeseman, would be lost for ever. The book includes a major contribution about Rockmount School and its gradual change to accommodate expanding requirements for education.
Beryl Cheeseman has put together an impressive collection of personal memories and factual accounts of life in the famous Upper Norwood or Crystal Palace Triangle. One can dip into it at almost any point and enjoy a description of the various shops and business that once made the Triangle a busy and successful location. Unlike other books and publications, it includes a lot of what, for many people still living, will be the sharing of enjoyable memories of shops and the individuals who ran them for many years. The world has of course changed, and so has the Triangle.
This book is a first-class biography of the poet Walter de la Mare by Theresa Whistler, second wife of Laurence Whistler and grand-daughter of Sir Henry Newbolt. Their families had been friends for years and she came to know the poet very well in his old age. The book is clearly and vividly written and took the author nearly 20 years to research and write. It is what is known as the “definitive” biography in the popular genre of Michael Foot’s “The History of Mr. Wells”.