Mr Mousley's Powder Puffs
On 17 February 1920 Mr Frank Mousley of Priests Bridge SW14, filed an application to the United States Patent Office in relation to: certain new and useful Improvements in and Relating to Powder-Puffs and Face-Powder Boxes or Containers. The patent was granted in October 1920. Powder puffs became popular after the First World War - women would apply a moisturising cream to their faces and then dust with face powder for a smooth effect. As the decade developed, powder compacts became much desired accessories.
In the 1920s Mr Mousley's company at 6 Priests Bridge (at the east end of Mortlake parish) was known as Beaverpuf Ltd. This small but enterprising company manufactured not only powder puffs, as the name suggests, but also an array of toilet requisites. At the British Industries Fair of 1929 (at Stand number J.159) Frank Mousley is listed as manufacturing: Sun-ray Preparations, Perfumes, Powder Puffs, Patent Adaptable Fur Buttons, Cigarette Match Books, antiseptic Sundries; specialising in Bulk Production of Face Powder and Blocks for Compacts.
Mr Mousley also owned a commercial garage at Priests Bridge and, next door to Beaverpuf, he had another workshop where he manufactured tennis rackets. Mousley's interest in tennis was also reflected at the other end of Mortlake parish. From early in the 20th century, he was a coach at the tennis courts he owned at the corner of the Upper Richmond Road and Derby Road. A part of Deanhill Court, built in the 1930s, now stands on this site.
In the early 1920s Frank Mousley moved to The Wilderness (telephone: Prospect 4547), a house which stood just south of his tennis courts in Derby Road. This was a four-bedroomed double fronted house "with a good garden". Earlier there had also been stables and a coach house in the grounds. Before the late 19th century, The Wilderness had been known as Rose Cottage. Frank had moved to The Wilderness with his wife Flora and their three children. There was then a large brick-built single-storey building in the grounds which had been used as a laundry and office. In 1923 a planning application to extend this building was made. This became the Wilderness Works and Mousley began to produce his popular powder puffs there, following the increasing demand for them in the US. It is sometimes claimed that this was the largest powder puff factory in the world but there is unfortunately no evidence to uphold this claim.
Mousley described his natural Beaverpuf powder puff, as The Ladies' Natty Friend, delightfully soft to use and superior to artificial puffs. It was a face powder container combined with a powder puff which was made from lambswool. Both were held in a leather pouch as shown in the example on the left.
He was still living with his three children at The Wilderness in 1939. Now a widower, Mousley continued to manufacture powder puffs at the Wilderness Works, as well as tennis rackets at his workshop at Priests Bridge. He died in 1950, aged 79.
The house and Wilderness Works were still standing in 1960. However, two years later, a planning application was made to demolish the buildings and to build flats on the site. This application was successful and Park Sheen, Derby Road was built. The tennis courts are long gone but a footprint of the Works is still discernible in the car park north of Park Sheen.