Sutton library assistant retires after 50 years of service to borough

Richard Radford (centre) with Wallington Library staff at a presentation in Civic Offices to mark his retirement after 50 years of work for Sutton’s library service.

A Sutton library assistant is retiring at the end of this month following 50 years of unstinting service to the borough.

Richard Radford, 70, is retiring on 29 April, just over 50 years since starting work for the borough’s library service.

Born at St Helier Hospital in 1945, Richard has lived in Sutton all of his life. Currently a library assistant at Wallington Library, where he has worked since 1998, he began his career with the borough’s library service at Carshalton on 12 April 1966 and was there for a year until 1967, when he left for two years to attend library school in Brighton.

After completing his studies, Richard returned to Carshalton library, where he worked from 1970 to 1979. He worked on the mobile library until 1983 then moved to Sutton Central Library’s Music and Arts department for 15 years before starting at Wallington Library.

In 2009 Richard received the Community Engagement Champion Award for his services to the library’s Coffee Concerts, which he has organised and run since 2011.

Richard said:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working in Sutton libraries. Fifty years is a long time to work in this profession, and I must say that I have found the last 30 years particularly rewarding, from working in the music library in Sutton for 14 years and then moving to Wallington library in 1998 where I got settled in to a busy library with plenty to do. It has given me great pleasure to work on the Coffee Concert classical CD recitals in Wallington Library. Although I am retiring I shall continue to run the concerts there. Working in Sutton libraries has been very enjoyable and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

To mark Richard’s retirement, Sutton Council Chief Executive Niall Bolger presented him with a certificate at a ceremony in Sutton Civic Offices on Monday 25 April.

Niall said:

“Richard’s 50 years working for Sutton’s library service is a tremendous achievement and we would like to thank him for the immense contribution he has made to the borough’s library service over these years. Richard has been a valued member of staff for many years and I know he will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues as he has always been a great source of support and a fount of knowledge and advice.”

Sutton residents get access to more than four million ancestors

The register of girls from the Royal Female Orphanage in Beddington from 1890 to 1913 is now available online.

More than 4.6m Sutton names dating back to 1538 are being made available online for the first time thanks to a joint initiative by Sutton Archive service and Ancestry, the world’s largest family history online resource.

Ancestry, at, has digitised Sutton’s parish registers, which include baptisms, marriages and burials from 1538, rate books including poor rates, lighting rates, highway rates and sanitary rates between 1783 and 1914, and electoral registers from 1931 to 1970. Records of hundreds of girls from the Royal Female Orphanage in Beddington, now Carew Manor School, from 1890 to 1913 are also being made available for the first time.

There is fascinating information about people who have lived in the borough including:

  • Elizabeth Throckmorton (1565-c.1647), who married Sir Walter Ralegh (correct spelling), was born and baptised in Beddington and whose family lived at Carew Manor.
  • Singer and entertainer Des O’Connor lived at 221 Stafford Road, Wallington between 1963 and 1965.
  • Formula One world champion James Hunt lived in Cheam and is recorded in the electoral registers in 1969 and 1970.

Sutton residents can now go online at all Sutton libraries and trace their family tree for free from today (Wednesday 6 April). If they visit the Ancestry website from home they will have to pay to access it.

Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“We are delighted to help all Sutton residents looking to learn more about their family histories by making Ancestry access free to all those using the computers or wi-fi at any of our borough libraries. This fantastic resource will make tracing the branches of your family tree easier than before.”

Sutton resident and historical novelist Alison Weir, the top-selling female historian whose books cover the Tudor period – the same era the parish registers date from – is delighted with the new initiative. She said:

“Nearly everyone wants to know something about their ancestry, but trying to obtain genealogical information can often be a time-consuming and frustrating challenge. In Sutton, though, we are very lucky to have this wonderful new online resource that will make tracing the past a joy, and which is easily accessible to all. As a historian and, more importantly, a local resident, I feel privileged to be endorsing this stunning initiative on the part of the London Borough of Sutton and Ancestry.”

The database of some 4,619,369 names will allow residents to learn about household names who were born, grew up or lived at one time in the borough.

Other people on the database include:

  • Thomas Wall, of Wall’s ice cream and sausages fame, lived in Sutton for a number of years. He is in the rate books living in Worcester Road, Sutton in 1902.
  • Writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp (real name Denis Pratt) was born in Carshalton and his family later moved to Sutton and Cheam. His father, Spencer Charles Pratt, is in the rate books.
  • Legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck, who grew up in Wallington and attended Sutton Manor School, now Sutton Grammar.
  • The late singer, actor and television presenter Harry Secombe lived on Cheam Road in Sutton.
  • The world-famous percussionist James Blades, who died in 1999, lived at 191 Sandy Lane, Cheam and is in the electoral register. One of his pupils was percussionist Evelyn Glennie.


The following parish register collections are available online:

  • Sutton, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 Records: 26,907
  • Sutton, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915 Records: 42,381
  • Sutton, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1940 Records: 49,687
  • Sutton, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985 Primary Records: 28,258
  • Sutton, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985
  • Sutton, England, Electoral Registers, 1931-1970 Records: 320,807
  • Sutton, England, Tax Collection Rate Books, 1783-1914
  • Beddington, Surrey, England, Royal Female Orphanage List of Children, 1890-1913 Records: 595
  • Ancestry LLC is the world’s largest online resource for family history with more than 2 million paying subscribers across all family history sites.

Sutton to change library service following Government cuts

Beddington Library and the Mobile Library service will close as part of a restructure forced by unprecedented government cuts to local authority funding.

However, the savings mean that Sutton Council can keep its other libraries open, increase total opening hours and develop the Housebound Library service to serve vulnerable residents who were using the Mobile Library service. The council will also make more use of volunteers and community groups in order to save money, and will not outsource the library service.

The changes are being made because the council has to save £31m from its annual budget by 2019 because of unprecedented Government cuts to funding and increased pressure on services.

The council has already saved £43m from its annual budget since 2010. Its annual budget currently stands at £148.4m.

To contribute to the savings, the Library, Heritage and Arts Service has to save £1m from its annual budget by 2019.

Facing having to rationalise the service, Sutton Council ran an extensive three-month consultation through its Sutton’s Future campaign to see how savings could be made while trying to meet community needs.

Almost 3,000 people took part in two consultations. One was an online survey people could volunteer to answer and hence were mainly library users (95 per cent) and another was an independent telephone survey of 1,000 people called at random based on a representative sample of the borough – of which 58 per cent of people were library users.

Some of the key findings were:

  • Sutton Central was the library used by most users of both surveys – 33 per cent of respondents to the telephone survey and 34 per cent of respondents to the online survey.
  • Only one person in the telephone survey and only 2 per cent of respondents to the online survey said they used Beddington Library.
  • Only 13 people in the telephone survey and 9 per cent of respondents to the online survey said they used the Mobile Library.
  • 53 per cent of people in the telephone survey and 47 per cent of people in the online survey said they supported more community involvement and volunteering in libraries.
  • 65 per cent of people in the online survey and 57 per cent of people in the telephone survey disagreed or strongly disagreed with outsourcing the library service.
  • 32 per cent of respondents to the telephone survey said savings should be made from the library service, 53 per cent disagreed.

On Thursday 4 February the council’s Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee decided to:

  • Close Beddington Library from 1 April 2016 saving £40,000 annually.
  • Close the Mobile Library service from 1 April 2016 and develop the Housebound Library Service to ensure that services continue for vulnerable people. This would save £113,000.
  • Rationalise library opening hours across the network of eight libraries – Sutton Central, Wallington, Cheam, Worcester Park, Middleton Circle, The Life Centre, Westcroft and Phoenix.
  • Sutton Central Library will be open for 63.5 hours a week with all floors open all-day Monday and Thursday evening, and open on Sunday. Although this means losing one hour a week, residents’ access to the library will be enormously improved, and the children’s library and IT suite will have 13 extra hours a week.
  • Make changes to Sunday service at Westcroft and the Life Centre from staffed to fully self-service libraries.
  • Agree that the model of council-led services with community support is better than sharing the service with another borough or commissioning the service from another provider.

Cllr Steve Penneck, Lead Councillor for Libraries, Arts and Heritage at Sutton Council, said:

“I want to thank everyone who took part in our consultation. The Government cuts mean we have had to make some hard choices, but we have managed to keep the majority of libraries open at a time when many local authorities are making deeper cuts to their library service.

Historic Carshalton deeds return to Sutton thanks to generosity of local historical society

Members of the Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society (CADHAS) inspect the borough deeds they helped purchase with borough archivist Kath Shawcross (far left) at the Sutton Archive in Central Library.

More than 60 rare historical deeds documenting 100 years of Sutton history have returned to the borough thanks to the generosity of the Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society (CADHAS).

CADHAS funded three-quarters of the cost of the 64 deeds, which cover more than 100 years of the Barrow Hedges Estate in Carshalton in the 18th and 19th centuries, to enable Sutton Archives to afford the purchase cost of £500. The deeds were sold to Sutton Archives by a private dealer.

Before this acquisition the Archive had only nine deeds of the Barrow Hedges Estate in its possession.

Kath Shawcross, Borough archivist at Sutton Council, said:

“A few months ago we were offered the deeds for purchase by an historian looking to sell the documents. We want to thank CADFAS for their generously funding of three-quarters of the £500 price to enable us to purchase the documents for the borough.

“The 64 deeds will really help us understand the development of the Barrow Hedges Estate area south of Carshalton Road. The earliest deed we have is 1783 and the most recent 1928.

“We only had nine deeds in our possession before, so this additional purchase is of immense value and will enable us to learn more about the history of the borough. Without the generous assistance of CADHAS we would have been able to bring these precious documents back to Sutton.”

CADHAS members have visited the library to view the deeds.

Richard Fitch, CADHAS Secretary, said:

“We are delighted to assist Sutton Archive with the purchase of these fascinating historical documents and bring them back to the borough. We are pleased to do our part in bringing back these deeds to the borough as they will enable us to learn more of Sutton’s history.

“The deeds will be kept safely in the library and made available to anyone who wants to view them. It’s great to bring some of Sutton’s heritage back home.”

Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“We want to thank CADHAS for their generous financial gift that has enabled us to bring together more of Sutton’s history under one roof. These deeds will prove invaluable to historians or anyone in the borough wanting to learn more about life in Carshalton more than 200 years ago.”

The documents can be viewed by appointment in Sutton Central Library by telephoning Sutton Archives on 020 8770 4747.

Still time for Sutton residents to have their say on future of library services


Sutton Council is reminding residents they can still take part in the public consultation on the future of the borough’s library service.

Around 2,200 people already have voiced their opinions in the 12-week consultation, which runs until Wednesday 16 December 2015. A public meeting at Sutton Central Library on Saturday 14 November saw residents discuss issues with councillors and find out more about the proposals.

Sutton Council is being forced to look at changes to the library service due to unprecedented government cuts to its annual budget. As a result, it has to save £74m from its annual budget between 2011 and 2019. The council’s annual revenue budget is currently £148.4m (2015/16).

So far the council has saved £43m from its annual budget, with a further £31m to go.

As part of the cost-cutting measures, the council has identified £1m of savings from the annual libraries, heritage and art budget, which currently stands at £4.4m. It launched the campaign through its Sutton’s Future campaign to ensure that residents can have their say in the future of the service.

Options for consultation include the closure of Beddington Library and the discontinuation of the Mobile Library service, considering a community library model that increases the number of volunteers and volunteer roles, and sharing services with a neighbouring borough.

An enhanced housebound library service to cater for vulnerable residents is already being provided in partnership with Sutton’s Old People’s Welfare Committee, who provide Meals on Wheels services for the council.

Carshalton Central Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee at Sutton Council, said:

“We have had a tremendous response to our consultation so far and there is still time to have your say. While we have to reshape our library service because of Government cuts to our budget, we want to maintain the quality and customer standards that people expect.”

The library consultation is through the council’s Sutton’s Future campaign, which was launched last year to involve residents in helping to make savings due to unprecedented government cuts. It includes an online survey, available here, and an independent telephone survey of 1,000 residents.

In January 2015 Sutton Council adopted a Library Strategy for the borough’s library service, setting out the strategic and operational direction for the service to 2019. It has four key aims:

  • Literacy: growing the readers of the future.
  • Meeting the needs of an aging population.
  • Narrowing the digital divide.
  • Creating a viable, sustainable and quality service within available budgets.

Sutton library users can have cake and eat it too

Sutton Central Library now offers visitors the chance to get refreshed as they read at a new café in the centre. Gosto Fino’s is a small café run by Joao and his team offering a range of beverages, sandwiches, and tasty snacks for readers to enjoy as they use library services.

The café caters for all tastes with a wide selection of fresh ingredients, including a variety of vegetarian options. Seating is available for readers to take the weight off their feet and relax with their drinks and snacks. 

The shop is open from 9.30am – 5.00pm Monday, 9.30am – 7.00 pm Tuesday to Saturday, and between 1.30pm and 4pm on Sundays

Cllr. Jill Whitehead

Cllr. Jill Whitehead

Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of Sutton Council’s Environment & Neighbourhood Committee, said: 

“Libraries are important hubs for communities – the addition of Gosto Fino’s means there are now even more reasons to visit Sutton Central Library. What better way to while away an afternoon than by picking up a great book and settling down with a hot drink at your local library.”

You can have your say on the future of Sutton’s library services by taking part in the Sutton’s Future debate by clicking here.