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United Service Transport Mosaic

Restoration of the mosaic

This is the last survivor of three late 1920s mosaics on premises belonging to ‘The United Service Transport Company Ltd’, one of the first ‘Passenger Transport and Goods Contractors’ in the UK. The company was established by Walter Flexman French in 1919. Flaxman French had run a successful business in Balham from 1881, making bicycles, and was a pioneer in the early days of motor bus operations in the southern counties, running holiday makers to coastal towns. 1920s & 30s day trip travel was novel and thrilling, offering the fun of the ‘coach party’ as well as new landscapes and fresh air. Destinations included Bognor Regis, Bournemouth, Brighton, Clacton, Eastbourne, Worthing - and for sites such as the Southend Illuminations. Coaches also went to race meetings at Windsor, Goodwood and Newbury.

United Transport was also known as United Green, reflected in their green and gold branding. The Merton Road garage was one of three built in the 1920s to house their fleet of motor coaches and commercial vehicles. It continued at the site until 1965 when the garage was sold to Hertz. Since 2011 it has been used by the luxury car dealer Jack Barclay primarily for repairs to Bentleys.

The mosaic has missing tesserae, a part blown glazed brick frame and cracks throughout, and has previously been part repaired with cement. HOLT is supporting the project which will include cleaning, removal of cement, grouting cracks, anchoring the mosaic to wall, replacing missing tesserae the blown moulded glazed brick frame. It is possible that on close inspection of the roof and the back of the parapet brick wall, structural and waterproofing repairs will be needed.

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