Faded London

12 years ago...

Just found this excellent blog on surbiton.
This person has wandered around our locale, spotting things we locals might not always notice......

check it out.

Anyone else seen any blogs that give us a different view on the architecture/scenery in surbiton

Do post links


I lived in surbiton between 1951 - 1956. age at the time 11 - 17. great times. went to school at hollyfield rd. lived in old victorian
house no 1 the avenue. then tolworth no 41 worthington rd. now in australia. if this message gets thru will expand.

I lived in No 1 The Avenue when the building was a block of 12 studio flats from 2002- 2016, I think the building which was there before was knocked down in the early sixties.
When it was a Victorian house I believe it was owned by the convent next door, it was one of the best roads to live in and still is today, I had been living in Surbiton- Tolworth since 1972-2002, I now live in Southampton and like it very much reminds me of Surbiton very much, I’m now 78.

Hi Fred,

I'd be interested to hear about your memories of Surbiton. I've been living here for two years and found information on this site about a big house that you might remember - it used to be on Lovelace Gardens where there are now lots of purpose-built blocks of flats (not high-rises bot sort of three, four, five storeys). Here's the link: http://www.surbiton.com/node/241

This was the house which I described some years back. It was the home of the variety artist Horace Kenney 1889-1955 and of his son the film actor James Kenney 1930-1987. The Kenney family lived there from 1948-1961. During that time it was operated by Mrs. Kenney as a boarding house for officers of HM forces and she also ran a kindergarten school as an additional business. It had twenty one rooms including the huge cellar, three large lawns, a kitchen garden and a lodge which included stables. The property was extremely cold and expensive to run and the gardens labour intensive and was regrettably sold off in three stages, initially the lodge around 1949-50, then two lawns for the building of four maisonettes in 1957, and finally the main house in spring 1961.

It was never discovered who originally owned the property, built around the turn of the 19th/20th century, but it was suspected to have belonged to a very rich man, possibly a stockbroker, who became a victim of the slump during the 1920s. In this respect I believe the name "Hursley" is significant. I think it was occupied by the American forces during the war and it was they who blew the central heating system up which was never repaired.

The whole of Lovelace Gardens, Lovelace Road and up through Corckran Road to the Langley Avenue was full off very impressive properties which in the end were pulled down to build modern flats from the mid 1950s.

A lot of jokes are made about Surbiton being the capital of suburbia but during the 1950s it was a really nice place to live where everybody talked to each other and ran a business of one sort or another. There were out and out jumped up self made suburban snobs who chose not to speak and look the other way, especially down Lovelace Gardens. They had cars and would frequent the Thames Yacht club and such places. At eight in the morning the station platforms were full of bowler hatted gents with umbrellas, briefcases and the Times under their arms and if one sat in their seats, WOW............!

Hope this gives you the info. you wanted as well as a bit of a laugh about old suburban Surbiton. Feel free to ask questions.

I read your entry with great interest, In 1987 I moved into the house that the Kenney's bought after the larger property you were discussing. They did not go far, we are in St Matthews Ave. This house; huge to us, - but a very modest size when you consider where they came from, had a very small nursery running in part of the ground floor when we bought it. It was called 'Hursley Nursery'. I took over the nursery when we moved in, it is now called 'Child's Play' and after much development is going from strength to strength. I had some knowledge of the Kenney's previous home, but nothing like the detail you have, it is fascinating, when I have more time on my hands I would like to look into this further.
Before we moved in I spent quite a bit of time with James Kenney, he was a delightful man, his death was a very sad loss.

A bit of a mix up. Please refer to "Hursley".

Yes it was a sad loss but he had kept threatening to do what he did long before our mother died. For years both before and after his acting career had faded out he had totally depended upon her and was a very difficult person for the rest of the family to live with. He had always depended on drink to get by both day and night but after the benzedrine and dexedrine it was cannabis. The public and even his closest friends did not see his moody and depressive side.
He played his parts well and appeared pleasant and likeable but lost the plot completely when our mother died intestate, as I suppose anyone else would have done under the circumstances. The house had to be sold to you to pay the increasing interest on unpaid estate duty and his brother in Australia wanted his quarter share due to him by law from the morning mother died. It was impossible to raise money for some alternative solution and the legal system would only allow the business to be run at no profit for as long as it took to sell the house. Catch 22. He became irrational and never gave life a chance and nobody suspected that he had planned his end down to the last detail, not even the stupid solicitor who arranged two "confidential" wills for him in one year without ringing the alarm bells. Read into this what you will but imagine how this left everybody feeling as well as the condemnation from those who formed their own opinions. Not really a nice subject here but it exposes the truth after twenty four years. I arranged two funerals in the course of one year and disposed of his ashes the way in which he requested. As to how I feel now? It has never gone away. His whole life is in a box under my bed.


As a little boy, my son Jon attended the Hurslery Nursery and loved James and his sister Eva (and Mrs. Kenney). James was a fun loving inspiration to many of the children and we were all very fond of him. I was saddened by the circumstances of his death. I recall later meeting Eva who was working at the Liberty Store several years later. She seemed happy and had found a new purpose in life. Mrs. Kenney (also Eva) was a powerful woman and it is tragic that her affairs were not better resolved.

We later moved to the US and lost touch.

Perhaps as a direct result of his early interaction with James, my son Jon is now working in Hollywood as an Editor/Director.

It might be appropriate to update the IMDB listing for James, to ensure that he is properly remembered.

Please feel free to contact me.

Rickard Jorgensen

Thank you for your correspondence.I only thought to check back online having read the information you had shared. I had formed no opinion past the fact that James was easy to get along with in the brief time we spent together, so have no concerns with regards to that. I love our house & although life is far from easy, there is much happiness here.

Such a shame about the houses in Lovelace Road/Gardens. I had assumed that these roads had been extensively bombed during the war leading to the loss of these fine houses. What a disgrace that they were deliberately knocked down to make way for the ugly blocks of flats that are now there.

Surbiton and Kingston would have been much nicer areas if planning had been done properly in that period. The Cambridge and Alpha estates were built in place of lovely old Victorian cottages which are very popular today and could have been restored to a much better standard than the estates which replaced them.

Surbiton is a great area, but is seen as a bit 'low rent' compared to some surrounding places. This is because of all of the flats we have instead of the Footballers Wives type mansions in Esher for example.

If a lot of this original stock had been kept (large Victorian houses in Lovelace, small Victorian cottages elsewhere), I would have thought Surbiton would be even more sought after than any of it's neighbours.

As I remember as a boy growing up in Surbiton, all of the houses in Lovelace Gardens with the exception of one at the junction with Lovelace Road had suffered only minor war damage. This was as a result of the shock of a V1 flying bomb landing between Victoria Avenue and Balaclava Road. There were two cleared areas, one behind St. Andrews Hall, built in place of a damaged house, and another immediately on the other side of Balaclava Road. St Marks Curch was hit with incendiaries.

As kids we all bought home made coconut ice from the vicar of St. Andrews Church at thruppence a bag to raise the money to have St Marks rebuilt. The Germans did target the Brighton Road railway bridge as it was important strategically, being on the main route to the naval base at Portsmouth. There was an anti aircraft gun platform built on the south west side of the bridge. Tolworth, Chessington and Kingston suffered much more on account of the German's westerly French based air fleets using the A3 to guide them up to London and attempting to bomb factory areas on either side. The Germans were quite indiscriminate on occasions and my then young sister and brothers survived being straffed by a German aircraft.

No, most of the grand houses of the area in question were just too expensive to run in spite of attempts to divide them into flats, so the owners made quick fortunes for the time by selling them for flat developement. "Hursley" was sold for £17,500 in 1961, or the price of a couple of new present day Rolls-Royces. When "Hursley" in its entirety was bought as a business venture in 1948 it cost £5,000, almost entirely raised through the bank.

I think aesthetically pleasing architecture was the last thing on any developer's mind during the post war building boom. Everything had to be tall and square with as much accomodation as possible. Even Hursley Court is in my opinion ugly.

If you are really interested in the history of Surbiton and the surrounding areas try to obtain "Surbiton Memories" ISBN 0-9543759-1-2 and "Surbiton Bombed" ISBN 0-9543759-0-4 which were £9.95 each

My home from 1948 until 1961 when it was sold to Wallakers for redevelopement.

Great spot, and a really nice write-up.

Most people visiting Surbiton expect it to be rows of 1930's semis, and are often quite surprised when they find out that most of it is quite different.

The massive amount of hideous buildings that the council allowed to be put up during the 1960s and 70s mask a lot of the beautiful older buildings that survive in Surbiton - it is very far from a standard slice of suburbia.

Hi Guys,

I am not sure whether it's the most appropriate place to ask this kind of question. But I am planning to buy a house/flat in Surbiton and move in with my wife and son(soon turning 3). So any lowdown on the area e.g. which places/streets to avoid when looking for house/flat , what are the good nurseries/schools in the area , crime/dodgy people in the area etc.


avoid tolworth - used to live there and my car was vandalised on a daily basis and house burgling bad too - head towards maple road area or Berrylands (Southborough if u have ££)

Perfect spot for a family James,

If you look, you will figure out which spot is for you. Like all of Greater London it is a mix of all sorts, but is generally a smart spot to live.

No real crime/dodgy people as such.....just a sunny idylll ;-)

Fag An Bealach


Surbiton is generally a good area with not too many places to avoid. I will attempt to give a quick run down on each part:

River roads - This is one of the most popular parts of the area, comprising several roads running between the river and Maple Road. This is the 'younger' area of town, and it is popular because you can walk to the river and station very easily and it is very local to the nice bars and restaurants on Maple Road. The downside is that flats here are probably 10-20% more expensive than the rest of the area and houses even more so.

Berrylands - This may be more suitable as you have a family. This is Surbiton's true suburban area, full of 3 bed semis with good sized gardens. It has it's own station, but if you live on the Surbiton side of Berrylands you can walk to the main station in a few minutes. Be careful of the Alpha Estate which has a few rough looking roads.

Southborough - This part of town is mainly large executive homes, but there are some smaller houses and flats. Quieter than the town centre, but not so convenient, especially for walking to Kingston.

Tolworth - As you head down the A240 Ewell Road past the Fishponds Park, Surbiton turns into Tolworth. This is a much cheaper area, primarily because it has a slow station and the main Broadway is a bit run down. I wouldn't necessarily dicount the area though, as there are several good schools and houses prices are a lot cheaper than Surbiton itself.

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