A Visit to Surbiton

19 years ago...

Having read all your past entries about the old place and thinking that I must bring myself up to date before adding anymore, I decided to visit Surbiton and take a few snapshots last Wedneday.

The first things that struck me were the number of speed cameras and the frustrating traffic congestion, far greater than just a few miles out. Then I thought it would be a good idea to park in Lovelace Gardens, as I used to, and walk into the centre.

I could not believe what I found. No space whatsoever anywhere! Had an old freind in Arlington Road not still been in residence I would have had to give up and go home. He kindly let me use his space with a visitors card.
To see wardens going round placing tickets on cars in residential areas was incredible

First I visited where I used to live before moving in 1961 to St.Matthews Avenue. My old home used to occupy the space now taken up by "Hursley Court" down to and once including No.12 which is called "The Old Coach House". My home had 21 rooms if one included the cellars underneath. There were over one hundred fruit trees in the garden which once included a kitchen garden at the rear of No. 21 which we used to call the lodge. This whole property cost my parents £5000 with a little help from the bank in 1948.

Of course we were not the kind of rich people who originally owned the house which my parents bought as a business venture, having moved from Ashley Road, Thames Ditton, and before that Springfield Road, Kingston, where I was born. Although my whole family was connected with the theatre and had been since the eighteenth century, times were hard and the house had to be let out to army officers who worked in Chessington. My mother also ran a day nursery there. After my father died in 1955 everything began to get too much for my mother and second part of the garden was sold off to Wallakers for £3000 to build four maisonetts and later the main property for £17,500 where "Hursley Court" now stands. I would like to know what that lot would be worth today. What I would really like to know about is the history of Loveace Gardens and Lovelace Road and the period of when this prestigious and very grand estate was built around the 1900s. Very rich people indeed must have lived there and must have employed many local people as their servants and butlers. Can anyone point me to finding out more with original photographs of the then newly built houses?

Anyway Having walked the streets of Surbiton and snapped away I purchased three very good books which are "Surbiton Past" by Richard Statham, "Surbiton Memories" by Mark Davison, and "Surbiton Bombed" by Mark Davison and Paul Adams. Three excellent books which can portray old Surbiton life far better than my hazy memory is able to, apart that is from the period of the 1950s which not many have contributed to. Perhaps the younger generation of those years have simply moved too far away and have not the same interest as myself. It is very sad that there were no 1950s references to St. Andrews Primary School which stood in St. Andrews Road.

I really want to contact school leavers of Summer 1955.

Please , please, somebody speak to me on these forums and this website as there seems to be a lot of readers but not much input, even though it exists primarily for local people. If you have a computer and view, do not be afraid to add comment. The British are losing the power of speech and self expression.

Have a good weekend, Peter.


Your memories of Lovelace Road and Surbiton are very interesting, I moved to the area in 1976 but know the area well, having worked for Wallakers and other estate agents in Surbiton. Old buildings and their history fascinate me. If you contact June Sampson who works for the Surrey Comet she is a mine of information about the history of Surbiton, Kingston and surrounding areas. She may help you obtain photos of the house where Hursley Court now stands. Also, you may find that registering on Friends Reunited (yes, I know, everyone is on facebook now !) you may find old school friends from 1955. Good luck and please don't stop contributing to Surbiton.com. Maybe people don't reply but they do read the posts !

Having run into one of your later entries by accident, I have just logged on to read more about your memories of Surbiton. Finding this old post I have discovered how it is you are able to offer such fascinating detail about the Kenney's wonderful house; to you it was home! Does this make you James' brother?

The answer is yes.

I am his youngest brother but for very good reasons I have avoided discussing on this website the more private and tragic aspects of my family members who, in spite of their very famous and remarkable historical Irish connections 200 years ago, were in the finality and reality of things not very well off. This was not only made worse by the war but by their insistence on pursuing careers in the literary and performing arts with no means of fallback other than a hard working mother to support them. Worse still any money they made was spent as it was earned on the good life.

Because of what I witnessed I had no wish to follow in their footsteps and from quite an early age I developed an interest in aviation but my family stood in the way of me joining the RAF because THEY were not suited to military service. Consequently I bucked the system, became a tear-away, went against the grain and did what I wanted. For this I was later labelled "A squallid factory worker" while building military aircraft.

I really am more interested in the history of my old Surbiton of which I have such fond memories and would like to know of more film archive of the pre and post war years.

I can write a potted history of the Kenneys if thought appropriate on this website but it will have to be by special request from the administrator. I have tried to avoid requests on IMDB but would be pleased to do so here as I have all that remains in the form of factual material handed down through the generations from circa 1800. If I don't do something with it then it will probably end up on some rubbish tip when I die. The family lived in south west London before moving to Kingston in the early 1930s and via Thames Ditton to Surbiton where they remained.

Hello Anthony, am I right in thinking that your mother ran Hursley Prep School ? I went there when I was little around 1958 - 1960.

I remember a very nice young man who used to talk to me when I was sad, might this have been you ?

I came upon this by sheer luck, having met a lady on Friday who lived in Lovelace Gardens, I was being nosey and Google Earthed her address and came on Hursley Court and put two and two together.

I have spent years trying to find out where my first school was without any luck up to now and my Dad couldn't remember.

There is also a very active forum for Thames Ditton and a busy group of local historians. Any memories that you have of your time in the village would be much appreciated. Here is a link http://residents-association.com/

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