Myatt Road, SW9

Place Name

Joseph Myatt (December 1771 – January 18, 1855) was a pioneering market gardener who with his sons grew produce for sale in the bustling city from their land in Camberwell that he had leased sometime around 1816. ​Kathryn Darley’s excellent family history explains: “The property Joseph rented at Camberwell soon became known as Myatt’s Ground. It was sometimes referred to as being located in Loughborough, then a small hamlet adjacent to the main part of Camberwell. Joseph grew a large range of vegetables and fruit which he sold at the London Borough Market. As well as producing standard varieties, he put his years of experience in plant propagation to good use. In the 1820s he developed several new varieties of vegetables and fruits. These he gave the Myatt name: examples are the ‘Myatt Keeping-Onion’, the ‘Myatt Cabbage’ and the ‘Myatt Early Prolific Potato’.” And it was here that he experimented with growing rhubarb, which had until relatively recently been used purely as a medicinal plant – a laxative. However, after a slow start, in which he was ridiculed for this daring enterprise, the sale of rhubarb took off. When Joseph decided to move further out to Lewisham he passed the running of the Camberwell operation to his oldest son James and his wife Sarah. The 1851 census notes that Myatt’s Ground occupied 40 acres and employed 18 labourers. However change was in the air and James decided to transfer the Camberwell business out of London. Darley adds: “It was a canny move; the new Worcester to Oxford Railway had just opened. The very same railways that took away farming land in London also meant that fresh produce from Offenham could now be transported by train to the city markets that James knew so well.”

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