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Beulah Grove's Motoring Mystery
Readers could hold the key to solving the mystery surrounding a unique collection of vintage cars which were stored away to rust and decay in West Croydon during the war years.
Those living in Beulah Grove and its surrounding streets during 1930's and 1940s will no doubt remember an elderly couple by the name of Butterfield who owned a strip of large houses at the end of the road. Behind these properties the couple also owned a few acres of land which formed a strip. Behind locked gates on this land stood a large collection of vintage cars. The locked gates and clandestine atmosphere of the couple's property proved too much of a temptation for one group of children, who spent their youth using the car yard as their own personal playground.
Michael Morris, who lived in Beulah Grove as a child between 1936 and 1948 recalls his childhood investigating the strange couple's secret world of vintage cars. He said "The couple were as far as us kids were concerned a very odd couple indeed. They were more like country people who always wore fours and carried walking sticks and guns. They appeared to hate children, although I am sure we gave them cause. On several occasions we were chased from the car yard by one of them with guns, We were terrified of them."
"The strip of land running between Beulah Grove and Wilford Road had a locked double gate almost opposite where I lived. There was also a much grander entrance in Windmill Road which was also a locked double gate. Inside there was the most fantastic collection of vintage cars. There was around forty in all of various stages of decay. Some of them stood in the open and others in a large barn-type building which stood at the far end going in from Windmill Road."
"A car of any kind was rare n those days. My father spent his hard earned army gratuity pay on a pre-war black private car in our road. So what sort of people owned 40 cars ? and for what purpose ?. It was as if they had bought a new car every year since the start of the century, and left them to slowly rot away."
"As you can imaging this new found playground was a magnet for us kids, despite being constantly chased away. Even in the condition that these cars were in at the end of the war they would be worth millions in today's market."
"The biggest mystery was that while these people obviously had a lot of money, why on earth did they live in such a horrible area ?. Wilford Road was such a slum that it was completed destroyed and turned into a park."
"I believe the couple died at the end of the 1940's, so what happened to this fantastic car collection when they died ?."
If this mystery could be unravelled it would make fascinating reading. If you have information that can help solve this mystery call the Croydon Guardian on 0208 329 9313.