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About Surbiton

Surbiton, a suburban area of London in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, is a commuter town next to the river Thames, populated with a mixture of Art-Deco courts, spacious and grand late-19th century town houses blending into a sea of semi-detached 20th century housing estates.

History

There is evidence that a settlement has existed at Surbiton since at least 1179. At the time, it was known as Suberton(e), [from the Old English south buritum' or granary]. Norbiton lies to the northeast, and is separated from Surbiton by the Hogsmill river. Before the arrival of the railway, Surbiton was little more than a farm. Maps from as late as the early 19th centruy show it as little more than a crossroads, but far nearer Kingston than the current station. It was at the base of the hill, not far south of the current Kingston University site.

The town started to prosper when a plan to build the main railway line down to the south coast closer to nearby Kingston was rejected by Kingston Council, fearing the detrimental effect it would have on the busy coaching trade. This resulted in the line being routed further south, through a cutting in the hill south of Surbiton. Surbiton railway station opened in 1838, and was originally named Kingston-upon-Railway,[1] and was only renamed Surbiton to distinguish it from the new Kingston station on the Shepperton branch line which did not open until 1 January 1869.

As a result Kingston is now on a branch line whereas passengers from Surbiton, a smaller town in comparison, can reach central London in one direction in about 18 minutes on a fast train and stations as distant as Portsmouth or Southampton in the opposite. This makes Surbiton a good town from which to commute into central London, and the population reflects this.

The Arts in Surbiton

The Pre-Raphaelite painters John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt came to Surbiton in 1851, 26 years before Richard Jefferies. Millais actually used the Hogsmill, close to Tolworth Court Bridge, as the background for his painting ‘Ophelia’. Holman Hunt used the fields just south of this spot as the background to ‘The Hireling Shepherd.’

Surbiton's main claim to popular fame is as an icon of suburbia in such British television programmes as The Good Life (starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal, though location filming was done in Northwood, Northwest London), and John Sessions' comedy series Stella Street, which has on occasion led to the town being nicknamed "Suburbiton". Other related trivia: the character from the 1980s ZX Spectrum computer games Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy was described as a Surbiton resident, and Black Sabbath played at the Surbiton Assembly Rooms on 19 May 1970. The council sold the Assembly Rooms to Surbiton High School in the 1990s.

Food, drink & entertainment

Surbiton has a number of drinking establishments the largest of which is the Coronation Hall. When opened on 21 June 1911, the day of King George V's coronation (hence the name) it was a cinema capable of seating 600 people. Later renamed The Roxy, and then The Ritz, it continued showing films until 1966. The building then became a bingo hall and was almost converted into a naturist health club. The building is now a pub: its new owners restored the original name and decorated the interior with film memorabilia.

Surbiton. (2008, March 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:59, April 11, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Surbiton&oldid=202262693

Comments

On my recommendation, my partner is in the process of purchasing a buy to rent property in Surbiton. The reason for this advice is that Surbiton with reduced prices, compared with inner London is near to the capital, to Kingston upon Thames and to the Green belt and this with its ideal rail links to Waterloo, makes the town an ideal geographical location for commuting etc.

It may be of interest that I spent my first 22 years in Surbiton. I was born in Avenue Elmers in November 1947, lived in Claremont Road until 1959 before moving to King Charles Road until 1970. First I attended Arundel House School in Surbiton, which sadly has disappeared but later I moved on to Kingston Grammar School.

My parents had lived in Surbiton between 1940 and 1970 bfofre retiring to Aldwick near Bognor Regis in West Sussex to the house where I live now. When they retired, initially I moved in with my brother where I stayed for nine months at his maisonette in Thames Ditton with a view of Hampton Court Palace.

I have many memories of Surbiton in the 50s and 60s and I am pleased that it has retained a quiet charm to the present day.

Hi Nicholas Prosser,
Recently moved to Selsdon Close which was built just below Avenue Elmers in the 1970s. I would be interested in any memories you have of what was there previously, and of the building of the close.

Hello Nicholas

I was interested to read that you were born and went to school in Avenue Elmers. I live in High View in Avenue Elmers and have been trying to find out something about the house that previously stood on this site. Having looked a t a number of street directores and censuses, I believe it was probabably a house called Crossways or possibly one called Penquite. I wondered if you might have any recollections of this.

Thank you.

Hello Nicholas

I was interested to read that you were born and went to school in Avenue Elmers. I live in High View in Avenue Elmers and have been trying to find out something about the house that previously stood on this site. Having looked a t a number of street directores and censuses, I believe it was probabably a house called Crossways or possibly one called Penquite. I wondered if you might have any recollections of this.

Thank you.

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