Tattenham Corner Restaurant,
Tattenham Corner, Epsom

A production facility for Epsom Engineering Company Ltd in WWII.

War industry in a converted cafe, Tattenham Corner
A group of 'outworkers' leave the converted cafe, in which they are employed
to assemble valve holders. The sign above the door reads: 'Epsom Engineering Co. Ltd.
Tattenham Corner V W Unit'. To the right of the photograph, a man is adjusting
the tanks and cylinders at the rear of his car, used to contain a petrol substitute.
© IWM (D 16289)

About 1931 development of land commenced adjacent to Tattenham Corner Railway Station leading to what became the Tattenhams Tudorbethan estate. A double-fronted mock Tudor property was erected at the bend of Tattenham Crescent, opposite Royal Drive, which may have served as a show-house or sales centre but, by the outbreak of the Second World War, became the Tattenham Corner Restaurant.

Since horse racing in Epsom ceased during the war and anti-aircraft guns were installed within the area of the race-course, trade for the cafe evaporated leading to business closure for the duration of hostilities.

Servicing needs for materiel during WWII was a critical component of the war effort and factories were converted from making consumer goods to military production. In Wimbledon, for example, Lines Brothers' Triang toy factory was from 1942 assembling sten guns, notably the Mk. 3 a simplified model actually designed by the Company.

Carbine, Machine, Sten, 9mm Mk 3
Carbine, Machine, Sten, 9mm Mk 3
It was designed and produced by Lines Brothers, better known as the producer of "Tri-Ang" toys.
© IWM (FIR 6265)

Additionally 'shadow' assembly shops were established, some almost as cottage industries. The vacant accommodation at the Tattenhan Corner tea-room thus came to be adopted by Epsom Engineering Company Ltd. for a 'V W Unit' where part-time outworkers assembled thermionic valve holders.

Women assemble valve holders at an 'outworking' unit in a converted cafe at Tattenham Corner, Epsom.
Women assemble valve holders at an 'outworking' unit in a converted cafe at Tattenham Corner, Epsom.
© IWM (D 16289)

This procedure involved no more than attaching a metal saddle ring mount to each socket moulded in synthetic resin ('Bakelite'). The holders could then be bolted on to a radio chassis for wiring into the circuits.

Various Valve Holders
Various Valve Holders
Arnold Reinhold at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The opening photograph above shows a somewhat indistinct figure adjusting equipment attached to the rear of a motor car. Presumably the driver, he could be wearing RAF uniform and might have been making a collection of completed parts. The large tank was part of a wood gasifier to fuel the vehicle - a system which required constant attention.

Epsom Engineering Company Ltd. Special Resolution, pursuant to the Companies Act, 1929.
“At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the Company, duly convened and held at Ling House, 10-13, Dominion Street, South Place, E.C.2 on the 24th December 1946 the following Special Resolution was duly passed:—'That the Company no longer desiring to carry on business it was resolved that the Company be wound up voluntarily and that Mr. George Cuthbert Jarvis, F.C.A., of Ling House, 10-13, Dominion Street, South Place, E.C.2, be and he is hereby appointed Liquidator for the purpose of such winding . ERNEST ZEITLIN, Chairman. This notice is given to comply with the Companies Act. A Declaration of Solvency has been filed and all creditors have been, or will be, paid in full within twelve months'.” London Gazette, 7 January 1947.
Post war the Tattenham Corner building reverted to use as a restaurant as photographed by Francis Frith circa 1955 [Friths ref. T294010 and T294009]. Later demolished for the site to become part of the Belmont Garage development.

Brian Bouchard © March, 2017