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"Surbiton Past" by Richard Statham

9 years ago...

Last Xmas my girlfriend bought me a most amazing and little-known book entitled "Surbiton Past" penned by a longtime resident of ours.
It's a fascinating, and extremely well researched 126 pgs of pure historical fact.

How "Surbiton" was first mentioned in the doomsday book, how "Surbiton" came from a saxon word - SurBelton (Sothern Watchtower) as opposed to Norbiton/Norbelton, or something like, and is of course up for conjecture.
Apart from Surbiton the book includes the same in-depth history of Kingston and Chessington/Hook which have since year dot been intertwined with each other's development it seems.

Written records kick off for real in about 1235 (although excavations have revealed New Stone Age artifacts here dating back to 8000 BC in Ravens Ait and Roman coins have been found in Chessigton). Through the Tudor period Surbiton remained part of the Royal Manor of Kingston but later broke away as a rebellious teenager.

The old centre of Surbiton was around where the Waggon & Horses and the Assembly Halls currently stand and at the site of the Waggon and Horses a toll gate was later built across the only thoroghfare south - primarily to fleece weathy Kingstonions and their coach-companions on their way south to Chessington.

Surbiton at one point almost dissapeared, but regainened it's former glory and found it's way back into popularity with lots of industry anf farming being the mainstay of the local economy for a long whilen through the 19th century.
The SW railway bought increased wealth from London and the construction of the huge cutting thru Surbiton Hill employed 100's of Irish labourers who were said to drink in the (now-defunct) Railway Tavern. Surbiton Stn opened in 1838 as "Kingston Station" !!!

Surbiton's population and wealth mushroomed consistantly thru the 20th century to now.

The book has loads of pics and fotos - old estate plans and the very first 'map' of Surbiton somewhere in the pages. There's even a 1900 photo of the workers in the cornfields along Ewell Rd!!!! And the original Waggon & Horses public house, and Tolworth manor.
As the decades appraoach moden day more records and data has been put to the record in this, "a must" book. [ISBN 1-86077-026-6]

My only disapointment is it's eulogy stops short in the early 60's. (Yet the book was published in 1996). And of course the 60's to present is the era I am most interested in.

How can that gap be filled?
Does anyone own this book, with perhaps a reprint/addendum bringing the history of Surbiton upto date?
Does anyone out there know of a similarbook covering the last say century to date?


That sounds like an interesting book, I will track down a copy.

I'd also be interested to hear about the developments in the last 50 years.

From the look af the town now, it would appear that it was the suburban developments around Berrylands that were the prime parts of Surbiton in those days while a lot of the now sought-after Victorian properties in the river roads were either razed completely or turned into cheap office space, some of which survives to this day.

I do wish that the planning had been a little more controlled in the 1960s-70s as I believe that Surbiton would be up there with places like Richmond if it had been able to retain a little more of it's Victorian character.

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