Sutton Writers member Catherine Hodson goes on a mission to find out about the man behind the hall we meet in.

We’ve been meeting in the Thomas Wall Community Lounge in Robin Hood Lane, Sutton, for several years and I decided to find out more about him.  He turned out to be part of the family run company Wall’s, the manufacturers of sausages and ice cream.

Wall’s Sausages

Wall’s Sausages was founded by Richard Wall in 1786 and was run from 113 Jermyn Street in Piccadilly, London.  It was a family business and Richard’s grandson Thomas was born there in 1846.   Thomas took it over from his father and ran it with his brother. The sale of sausages fell in the summer months so after the First World War they started making and selling ice cream as well, to avoid making staff redundant.

Thomas moves to Sutton

The family moved to Sutton when Thomas was a teenager and lived on Sutton Common Road until his mother died.  In 1897 he moved to a large Victorian house called Blythewood in Worcester Road with his sister and 4 servants.  He supported many charities and established the Thomas Wall Trust to help students with their education.  He bought land in Sutton, built houses there and rented them to tenants.  He also founded The Adult School movement in Benhill Street, Sutton, the Thomas Wall Nursery School in Robin Hood Lane, and Hillcroft College in Surbiton.

He died at his home Blythewood in 1930 age 83.  He left his estate worth £288,000 to his sister and 2 nephews.  The Victorian house has been replaced by a modern one.  When it was for sale in 2017 the owners said Thomas Wall had spent time on a farm in Australia called Blythewood and named the house after it.

Thomas Wall remembered

Wall’s sausages and ice cream are still made and the brand is now owned by Unilever.  113 Jermyn Street is now a restaurant.  Meanwhile Thomas Wall’s name lives on in Sutton.  Sutton Writers Circle meets in the Thomas Wall Community Lounge in Robin Hood Lane and prospective new members often go to the Thomas Wall Centre in Benhill Avenue by mistake.  There is a children’s centre, a park and a road in Sutton are also named after him.

I was surprised at how much information I found about him on Google and in the Archives Room in Sutton Library.  I write other articles, many of which are on my blog, the address of which is: catherinemhodson.wordpress.com

Thomas Wall photo courtesy of Sutton Archives

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