K11: Kenley Road


Kenley Road was laid out in 1931-2 with no.2 being completed on 24th July 1931 and later numbers approved in January 1932 and completed in the autumn of that year (for example, no.20 completed 7th October 1932). You can view images of the road during construction  here at the Britain from Above website.

A Change in Route

In Spring 1963, the 213 bus route changed from going along Traps Lane and Coombe Lane and began an additional service along Clarence Avenue and Kenley Road. This became the route as we know it now, but not all residents at the time approved of the change.

The change of route was advocated by the Borough of Malden and Coombe for many years. At a committee meeting of the Public Health, Works and Highways Committee of 24th April 1963, complaints were received from 7 individuals and by one letter signed by 25 people. Chairman of the committee Alderman A Hill responded to the concerns by saying: “I can take this back 30 years and remember well the time these people and others like them objected to a public house being built” before going on to be the ones who used it(!). Another member, Alderman A Arbon-Collins stated that “you cannot hold up progress”. Hard to imagine elected members talking in quite the same tone today, or a change in bus route being described as ‘progress’.

Residents were able to negotiate the siting of new bus stops, firstly in a meeting with Kingston Borough Council and the Transport Board, and later through petition direct to the Department for Transport. There was, for a time, a bus stop ‘on the corner’ which was re-sited onto Gloucester Road after complaints that it was ‘dangerous and noisy’.

The new route ran from 8th May 1963.

To end on…

In the initial coverage from the Kingston Borough News, Kenley Road was referred to as Kenley Avenue. In correcting them, a local resident sent this to the paper:

We will walk up the Avenue not a Bus in sight; But we will run Down the Road for a 213 tonight

  • Britain from Above (http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw040758)
  • ‘Kenley Road Residents Angry’, in Kingston Borough News, 24th May 1963 p.1
  • ‘New Bus Service: Complaints Fail’, in Kingston Borough News, 3rd May 1963 p.1
  • ‘Residents Angry at New Malden Bus Run: Kenley Ave Objections’, in Kingston Borough News, 26th April 1963 p.1



K10: Gloucester Road

K10John Galsworthy, Coombe and the Forsyte Saga

On 1st March 1968, part of Gloucester Road (the section north of the Coombe Road/Coombe Lane juction) was renamed Galsworthy Road. This was after the writer John Galsworthy, but came at the same time as the great success of the TV adaption of his most famous work the Forsyte Saga. [Also, Soame’s Walk, off Trap’s Lane was named after a main character in ‘Man of Property’].

Galsworthy’s connections with Coombe

John Galsworthy was born on Kingston Hill in November 1867 and spent his childhood there until 1886. He died in Hampstead on 21st January 1933 from a stroke, having been suffering from a brain tumour. He had been too ill to collect the Nobel Prize for Literature which he was awarded in 1932.

The connection of Galsworthy with Coombe is actually due to the author’s father, also John Galsworthy, who built large houses on the estate formerly owned by the Duke of Cambridge, off Grange Road. He was a churchwarden at St John the Baptist, Kingston Vale and his wife was a Surbitonian. The houses he built were Coombe Warren (1868, later renamed Coombe Court, demolished 1931), Coombe Leigh (1873, later Coombe Ridge, now Holy Cross Preparatory School) and Coombe Croft (1878, now Rokeby Preparatory School) and the Galsworthy family lived in each of them for a time. John Galsworthy the author was born in another large house called Parkfield, which is now a nursing home called Galsworthy House. Coombe Warren was the inspiration for ‘Robin Hood’ – the house built by Soames in the Forsyte Saga.

‘The Forsyte Saga’, TV Adaptation, 1967-68

The Forsyte Saga TV show was 26 episodes long, and the last major serial to be filmed in black and white by the BBC. Its original run was on BBC2, from 7th January 1967 to 1st July 1967, but it gained huge popularity in 1968 when it was repeated on BBC1 at 7:25pm on Sundays. Kingston History Centre volunteer Dan said it “had the nation in thrall, with a stellar cast!” and my mum said “I saw the TV series (years ago) and found it very sad and tragic then”. The final episode shown in 1968 had 18 million viewers tuning in (compare that to Strictly Come Dancing Final 2015 which gained 12 million viewers). The series went on to be  shown around the world and was the first BBC TV series to be sold to the Soviet Union. It is estimated that it had a worldwide audience of 160 million people.

The Forsyte Saga, paperback edition published 1970

In preparation for writing this blog, I read the trilogy which includes ‘The Man of Property’ (first published 1906), ‘In Chancery’ (first published 1920) and ‘To Let’ (first published 1921). It’s available to loan from Surbiton Library and I well recommend it. The Saga is part one of three which form the Forsyte Chronicles.

The three novels tell the story of Old Jolyon, his son Jolly and nephew Soames, and their children. It is poetically written, from the point of view of the individual characters, how they relate to each other and the world.

A major theme is the concept of ‘property’, in relation to a physical house and also between a husband and wife. When you enter a relationship, and particularly a marriage, do you in some ways take on the ownership of your partner and they you? Can you have expectations on them? Can you judge them as you would yourself? Or do you remain as individuals who just happen to be co-habiting? The novels (and my own reflections) expose that marriage is, at least in part, an outward showing of unity to society, but that within it, both parties remain in some sense strangers to one another (and maybe even themselves), as the concept of ‘self’ is always transitional.

There are no real heroes, but rather each character and their motivations are presented as conflicted and ambiguous. The division between right and wrong and how personal desires can influence or change your moral outlook is explored through different generations of the Forsyte family as they negotiate an ever changing world (The Boer War, motor cars). I felt that it was a moving and honest presentation of human nature.

Death is ever present in the Saga and this really struck a chord with me having recently lost a beloved grandparent. The deaths of various characters are portrayed skilfully and poignantly. Some deaths are anticipated but the last moment is always sudden, always heart breaking. To die an old man is just as painful as to die a youth, despite what the living might say to console ourselves. Galsworthy captured beautifully the feeling of loneliness that one must feel in the moment of death, a final goodbye to yourself, whether worn through old age, through sickness or tragedy. The Saga helped me explore my grief but also made me quite sad at times.


Butters, S (2013) ‘That Famous Place’ A History of Kingston upon Thames Kingston University Press

Galsworthy, J (1970) The Forsyte Saga: Part 1 Penguin Books Ltd

The Nobel Foundation (1932) John Galsworthy – Biographical Available here.

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (undated) John Galsworthy in Coombe [leaflet available at Kingston History Centre]

K09: Kingston Hospital

K09 Blog illustrationSomewhere to Call ‘Home’ – A History of the Children’s Home at Galsworthy Road

Before the private housing development Blenheim Gardens, Galsworthy Road was the site of Kingston’s Barnardo’s Home, the place to call ‘home’ for up to 150 young boys in the borough. It was an imposing building dating from 1875, and closed August 1968 with the first of the present houses completed in June 1970.

Metropolitan Convalescent Institution, 1875

K1-0180The imposing, 13th century, ‘Gothic’ style building originally opened in 1875 as the Metropolitan Convalescent Institution for poor children recovering from serious illness. The Institution had been founded in 1840 in Mitcham, with a later home at Hendon (from 1866). By 1875, 50,000 ‘inmates’ had been admitted, of whom 35,000 were cured, normally within 3 weeks.

Kingston’s home was designed by Mr H Saxon Snell, at a £10,000 cost, of which £2,000 was provided by anonymous donation. The site alone cost £1,500 and furniture was an additional cost. It was 3 storeys high with a T-shaped plan. It had lofty, well ventilated rooms, and a central 90ft tower  on which was originally stored 3000 gallons of water in case of fire. The ground floor had an entrance hall, two large day rooms (one for boys and one for girls), a dining room, matron and servants’ rooms, kitchen and offices. Other floors were filled with large dormitories and nurses’ offices, designed so that three wards could be supervised by one nurse in order to save money. An infectious ward  was built should it be needed and isolated from the rest of the building. Invalids had to pay for their transport, but otherwise their rehabilitation was free, and it was intended for 180 children.

The building was constructed without all of the funding in place to pay for it, and opened on Monday 12th July 1875 by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VI) and his ‘amiable and beloved wife’. They accepted a collection of 17 purses from assembled ladies towards the charity’s costs, which according the Comet, were temporarily misplaced after the event. The royal couple arrived at 16:40 and left shortly after 5pm when they retired to Mr Sim’s residence at Coombe Wood House. The occasion of the opening led to local upset as the Borough Council who felt they had been excluded by the Institution’s Committee but wished to present their appreciation to the Royals. Arrangements were hurriedly made and “thereout grew no little dissatisfaction and heartburning”, i.e. it was a great success. An arch was ‘thrown’ over Gloucester Road and very prettily decorated with flags, shields, coloured bunting and young trees, the later provided free by Veitch & Sons nursery. Four hundred schoolchildren occupied the corner piece of ground at the junction with Gloucester road and the main road; thousands gave a hearty and loyal welcome, as businesses were invited to close at 2pm to allow local residents to line the streets;  All Saint’s bells rang; 120 men of the 12th Surrey Regiment Volunteers paraded as a guard of honour but arrived too late due to a mix up on times and felt they were a laughing stock of the town (which reading over 140 years later still feels quite heart breaking!).

Princess Louise Home, 1892

In April 1892, the building was bought by National Society for the Protection of Young Girls, and opened by Princess Louise who gave her name to it. The intention of the Home was to prevent vulnerable girls from falling into a life of prostitution, “to educate, train, feed, clothe and prepare them for future usefulness as domestic servants, to procure situations for them, provide them with an outfit and generally watch over, advise and counsel them”. These children might be orphans, abandoned or neglected and were aged between 11 and 15. Princess Louise took an active role in supporting the charity, attending the AGM and prize giving. One such event took place in 1903, when a “a tiny dot, the youngest inhabitant of the House” presented the Princess with a bouquet. An outbreak of Scarlet Fever in 1902 had prevented the previous meeting.

1903 was the first year that the charity ended in deficit. A quote from 1908 tried to rouse additional subscriptions: “It was to institutions like this that the nation must look to see that its most valuable assets, the girls of the country, were fit to join the battalion of Imperial matronhood upon which this Empire must depend in the future”, at the time 143 girls were being supported there. The Home ran a successful laundry service for the local area in an attempt to generate their own income.

Eventually, the Home was closed in September 1929  when it lost its Ministry of Health certification as an industrial and training school after a poor inspection.

Dr Barnardo’s Home, 1933

The Home was purchased in August 1932 by Lady Daziel of Wooler and presented to Dr Barnardo’s charity for use to house 150 boys which opened the following year. Dr Barnardo had himself lived in St Leonard’s Lodge, Surbiton from 1897 until his death in 1905 and helped thousands of homeless and destitute children. For a rather creepy video from the first year, see Christmas time, 1933.

One resident of the Barnardo’s Home was Leslie Thomas, author and former Evening News writer who reflected on his experiences in a Surrey Comet article of 1975.  Residents were apparently called ‘Dickie’s Boys’ (one reason given for this was that apparently Lady Daziel’s nickname was Dickie). Thomas’s book ‘This Time Next Week’ (1964) was about his time there. He was orphaned at age 12 after his father drowned in a torpedo attack in 1943 and his mother died of cancer shortly afterwards. He described a “dozen rather grizzled spinsters [who] were in charge of dormitories”. Some parts of life at the home must have been fun, and one example has been recorded in this video: Model Railway 1954.

Kingston’s Home closed in August 1968, and Barnardo’s stopped running homes and orphanages in the 1970s.

Thomas, after reflecting on his life (he was very successful, being paid around £100,000 for 3 novels in 1975), said ‘as for the rest, I just want to be happy’. I think this is a very powerful and important message, and am personally very proud of the history of each of these institutions which were at least trying to improve the lives of the youngest and most vulnerable people in society.



  • Butters, S (2013) That Famous Place: A History of Kingston upon Thames Kingston University Press
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (2016) Building Control Database Available here: http://www6.kingston.gov.uk/propertyServices/Building/Search
  • Sampson, J (1997) Kingston Past  London: Historical Publications Ltd
  • Sampson, J (2006) The Kingston Book  London: Historical Publications Ltd
  • Surrey Comet: 16th June 1875, p.3; 10th July 1875, p.1 & 4; 17th July 1875, p.4; 13th June 1903, p.7; 18th July 1908; 20th August 1932, p.7; 18th January 1975, p.10

Pelican Crossing, for Safety’s Sake (1975)

Surrey Comet1975 Pelican crossing copy.jpg

Stumbled across this whilst researching the next stop, from Surrey Comet January 18th 1975, p10, and thought it was pretty cool!

Coventry Transport Museum

The leaflet says “transport yourself somewhere different” and that’s what I did this weekend, visiting Coventry Transport Museum as part of my trip to the Midlands and back up to the Toon for Easter.

Coventry, much maligned, is really worth visiting if you want to understand how cars have changed British cityscapes for better and for worse. It is also in my experience full of very friendly people who like what they like, and want you to be you, which is really nice. As well as the Transport Museum, I also visited the Herbert Art Gallery, museum and local history centre, only arriving 20 minutes before closing time. Along with the Cathedral, these three are the main tourist attractions of the ‘Phoenix City’.

What follows is an account of my experience at the Transport Museum and also a bit about the history of the town presented there.

History of Coventry told through Transport

From ribbon weaving, timepiece manufacture and a small sewing machine industry, to cycles and finally cars, Coventry is clearly full of engineers, makers and practical problem solvers, people who can think stuff up and then make it with their own hands. The museum tells this story through a chronological presentation and by dividing the available space into ‘zones’ such as zone 02: “A new motor industry 1900-1914”.

On entry, it smells beautifully like engine oil, produced by the tractors in the temporary exhibition, but perhaps off-putting for cafe goers. It took me back to sometime in my dad’s garage where he was messing around with engine bits from his Coventry made 1959 Alvis saloon, happy and nostalgic.

There is a big ramp and stairway up to the entrance desk and then you are straight into the first ‘zone’. I learnt how Coventry used to make silk ribbons from 1700 to 1860s, which employed half the town. By the 1850s, watch-making and some sewing machine manufacture were the primary industries. I learnt this from a number of key industrialists who speak to you as you go by and are quite attractively illustrated. There are also videos throughout the museum which explain the wider changes taking place, narrated by one female voice and presented very clearly.

The first transport themed display is a timeline of bicycle development which became Coventry’s main source of employment in the second half of the 19th century. The first British bicycles were based on the French ‘velocipede’, but called Hobby Horses after the children’s toy because you moved them much in the same way, i.e. by shoving off the ground with your feet. Between 1868 and 1895, Coventry became the cycling capital of the world, with 30 factories at the end of the  period, employing skilled engineers. Between 1870 and 1885, the front wheel of the cycle increased in size towards what we call the Penny Farthing. This was primarily for athletic young men because it was all about speed and required physical strength to control. A whole raft of other machines were invented for less athletic men and for women including the 1881 Singer Challenge Tricycle which had space at the back for women’s billowing gowns, later developed into the Safety Bicycle with dropped frame, guards, gears, brakes and comfortable saddles for men and women. My favourite bit was the explanation and debate about Rational Dress which allowed women to wear practical knickerbockers instead of dresses to cycle in and was debated at the Museum (and in the 1880s) by men writing letters to newspapers. You can hear two opposing views with the best quote being: “If practical female dress is developed from cycling, I’m all for it”.

After the cycling boom, at the turn of the 20th century, Coventry became the centre for the motorcar industry. I really enjoyed the 1910 ‘Trip to London’ installation which saw the train, car, motor bike, pedal cycle and horse and cart race for the capital and arrive in that order. I found my favorite vehicle – the green 1913 Swift Cyclecar which was a hybrid of car and motor bike, lighter and cheaper than many of its contemporaries. Swift were one of 20 car manufacturers in Coventry at that time making a quarter of all British cars, the need for skilled workforce driving up the town’s population before World War One and producing lighter cars intended for mass consumption. There is then a small display about how these factories contributed to the war effort and what sort of things they made from ammunitions to knapsacks.

After the First World War, the production line principle reduced the need for skilled labour, leading to cheaper products and over 2 million private cars on the road by 1939. There is an explanation of how the shape of cars changed to reflect the art deco style, and you can design your own with tracing paper and light box templates provided. Some of the cars were simply enormous!

During the Second World War, there were 9 ‘shadow’ factories, called so because they were set up by the national government pre-war copying existing factory production lines. I played a game of ‘spot the enemy aircraft’ and got 8 out of 10 (unfortunately, accidentally shooting down two friendly craft, but one was a Spitfire so I don’t feel too guilty – long live the Hawker Hurricane!). The presence of so many factories made Coventry a prime target of the Luftwaffe and led to the destruction of most of the medieval town during bombing in 1940 (and particular the night of 14th November). There is a section of the gallery where you can go through the ‘Blitz Experience’.

Coventry’s medieval street pattern was considered too narrow for modern use even before the war. At that time, the City had the highest car ownership in Britain and roads were being widened through demolition. After World War Two, the city had to decide whether to rebuild as was or take the opportunity to try something new. It was re-planned  using modernist architecture principles by city architect, Donald Gibson. The idea was to encircle the new town centre, with its high-rise blocks and central retail precincts with a primary ring road for motor cars. The museum presents the debate of history versus progress, restoration versus innovation, comparing with the German city of Dresden which has rebuilt its historic fabric after destruction during Allied raids and subsequent Communist rule and blocky architecture. The ring road really is divisive, I hate having to negotiate crossing underneath it to get into the centre of town, but also really appreciate being able to walk everywhere within the centre, and personally quite like the shopping precincts. To create this architecture, it must have been an incredibly optimistic time in the 1950s, when they thought that things would always get better, unable to predict they cycle of recessions we have since experienced, which has left Coventry and many other city centres around Britain with a perpetual half-finished feeling. You can vote for rebuilding or the future at the Museum.

Peak car production was between 1962 and 1964. Fast-forward to the 1980s and you can experience what it was like during the closures of Coventry’s car factories due to recession (Between 1974 to 1982, British employment fell by 27%, Coventry’s by 46%). There is a picket line, which calls out “scum, don’t you cross the line!” as you do so. There is also a reconstruction of the board room of Peugeot Company where you can listen to the debates between managers and the union representatives of the workers. This was the last car factory to close in 2006. The friendly woman explains how the prosperity of Coventry was far too dependent on this one industry, how communication broke down between union leaders and managers, leading eventually to the demise of the industry as wages sky rocketed, production slowed and the quality and development of the product stalled.

The Museum is massive. I was pretty tired by the time I reached a general gallery showcasing a variety of vehicles from funeral hearses to caravans and police cars. There is also a collection of dinky toys (the TIATSA model world). Upstairs includes a section on future technologies e.g. environmental design, aerodynamic innovations, plus the Jaguar interactive experience and Coventry Champions section. Back down a pokey stairwell to the supersonic machines section – it’s all very sci-fi and quite scary to me – giant land speeders with a pay to ride experience. I wasn’t much interested in these galleries.

As the Museum’s leaflet points out, it “isn’t just for transport enthusiasts; it’s for storytellers and escapists; speed freaks and thrill seekers; history buffs and culture vultures”. All in all, it really is successful at proving that transport history is actually social history and worth all of us paying a little bit more attention to. Worth a visit if you can.

K08: Queens Road – Kingston Hospital

K08 Banner

The Rationale for Road Numbering / One Road’s role in the London Olympics

Queens Road, also known as the B351 in Kingston and the B353 in Richmond goes from Kingston Hill (A 308) all the way through Richmond Park to Sheen Road (A305).

A B (C & D) Roads

Roads have been classified in some way in Britain since the 1920s when it was realised that a system was needed to help motorists identify the best route of travel, depending on road condition and size as well as distance between key destinations. The system was overhauled in the 1960s. Local Highway Authorities now manage the classification of roads but must seek approval from the Secretary of State when identifying A and B roads. They also manage the ‘Primary Route Network’ on behalf of the Department for Transport, the roads usually marked green on maps. The ‘PRN’ identifies primary routes (normally made up of an A road or series of A roads) to link primary destinations, primary destinations are selected by the Department for Transport depending on population, attraction, ‘nodes’ (where various routes meet) and number of nearby primary destinations. Kingston and Richmond are both primary destinations within Greater London.

A-roads are meant for large scale transport between and within areas, they are the widest and most direct route between destinations. B-roads are classified as links between A roads and smaller roads on the network. Classified roads are unofficially called ‘C’ and ‘D’ roads, with unclassified routes (local roads) making up 60% of roads in the UK.

The Department for Transport maintains a list of road numbers which are meant to be ‘used in a consistent fashion’. The Local Highway Authority applies for a number and can ‘reserve specific numbers…for future use’ should they so desire!

Olympics 1948 and 2012


“Come on Team GB” Men’s Olympic road race coming up Kingston Hill – by Heather Mathew, submitted to Kingston History Centre’s Les Kirkin Photography Competition

Queen’s road was used during the 2012 London Olympic Games on the route of the road cycling competitions. The Men’s Race was held in glorious sunshine on Saturday 28th July and the Women’s Race in pouring rain and thunderstorms on Sunday 29th July. I remember going home from work on the 213 on the Saturday and thinking of what had taken place only a few hours earlier on the same roads. On the Sunday, it was quite strange to see Kingston and all those familiar sights on the television  whilst routing for Lizzie Armitstead to win out (she went on to win the Silver Medal).

More than 200 world-class cyclists took part in the events which led to road closures and crowd management throughout Surrey. The races started in the Mall in Central London at 10am and 12noon respectively before heading to Hampton Court, Surrey and Box Hill and back to Central London via Kingston. Both races were expected to cross Kingston Bridge at 3pm and to arrive at the Kingston Gate to Richmond Park within four minutes of entering the borough, with the finishing line at the Mall around 20 minutes away!

The Cycling Time Trials also came to Kingston Borough on 1st August, after which (later Sir) Bradley Wiggins said “coming back round the roundabout in Kingston, I’m never going to experience anything like that in my entire career” as the crowds went crazy!

Sixty-four years earlier, on 28th July 1948, was Opening Day of the other London Olympics. The flame was carried into Wembley Arena by John Mark, a 22 year old described as ‘a young Greek god’ who came from Berrylands.

What had been a military encampment at Richmond Park was converted into an improvised ‘Olympic Village’ for 1500 male athletes (about a third of the overall number of competitors) on 15 acres of high ground near Ladderstile Gate, accessed via Queen’s Road. There was a gym, cinema, and “Scandinavian Vapour Baths”. Exclusive use of Surbiton Lagoon between 8am and 11am for swimming teams had been negotiated. The site was staffed by 300 young people, mostly from the National Union of Students. London Buses were used to transport athletes to competition venues as coach hire was too expensive in the post-war austerity.

Afterwards, the camp was used for military purposes again, until it was dismantled 1966


Department for Transport (2012) Guidance on Road Classification and the Primary Route Network. Available here.

Royal Borough of Kingston (2012) London 2012 Games and Cultural Programme of Events in Kingston

Surrey Comet, 3rd August 2012 ‘Wiggo feels the noise’, Letters Section and ‘An Olympics to remember’ by June Sampson

Surrey Comet, 31st July 1948 p.3 ‘Olympic Flame was lit by Surbiton Man’

K07: Park Road

K07 blog illustration.jpg

Two tales from World War Two

Trying to understand today what it must have been like to be a civilian during the Second World War in Kingston is quite impossible. The continuous threat from bombardment, the rationing, the worry for loved ones on the front, carrying your gas mask everyone, queues for the buses, houses destroyed down your street, patches of intelligence about the atrocities in the East – the sheer pressure of the situation, and the only consolation that it least it was shared by everybody, and we were just “another south-west suburb” (Surrey Comet, 1944). This blog is about two aspects of the war experience in Park Road, Kingston: bombardment and war time manufacturing.

“V Bomb Kills Five”

There were a number of HE (High Explosive) bomb strikes on or near Park Road early in the war recorded by the ARP Wardens of Kingston Council on a ‘Bomb Map’ available at Kingston History Centre. They were at 20:43 on 30/10/1940, 19:19 on 12/11/1940 and 20:33 on 29/11/1940. The Park Road – New Road junction was also the location for the only V-2 rocket to land in the former Borough of Kingston, the present monument at the site erected in 1995.

V-2s were retribution weapons, the first long-range guided ballistic missiles, sent over London by the German Luftwaffe as payback for the effective bombardment of German cities by the Allies. According to Wikipedia, modern reconstructions estimate that they create a crater of 20m wide, by 8m deep, ejecting around 3000 tons of material into the surroundings.

The bomb landed at 14:35 on Monday, 22nd January 1945. The article to the right is how the Surrey Comet wrote about it in their issue of 27th January 1945, page 7.

Later, A.W. Forsdike, Town Clerk and ARP Controller, wrote a report on the incident. There were 5 immediate fatalities, and 3 later in hospital as well as 120 injured. The injured were treated at the Aid Post and Kingston Hospital: “at one period it was thought that the hospital may become congested”. In total, 40 people were hospitalised. Kings Road, Tudor Road, New Road and Elm Road were also damaged with a total 2004 houses affected (33 demolished, 80 seriously damaged).

His report describes how “the most severe and widespread incident in the Borough” was managed by a mixture of civilian volunteers and service personnel. ARP Wardens, the National Fire Service and Police were in action by 14:42. British soldiers from the nearby barracks and American Forces from encampment in Richmond Park cleared the roads within 3 hours. A mobile First Aid post was set up by the Women’s Voluntary Service and Housewives. Dangerous work was carried out to rescue those under rubble by Wardens and the Heavy and Light Rescue Parties from the Borough’s Villier’s Road Depot, led by a man called Coulton: “All the living casualties were extricated within about an hour”.

Incident Control was set up in houses opposite Alexandra Hotel for three weeks, manned by ARP Wardens. An Enquiry Point was managed by the WVS for one week after the event and they also managed a large number of curved asbestos huts later erected to meet the housing shortage on the road. Forsdike wrote that: “Owing to the tremendous demand for labour in the London area, we are only permitted to repair houses up to a standard laid down by the Ministry and known as “reasonable comfort”. Plastering, painting and distempering (except patching) at the present stage, is entirely prohibited, except under exceptional circumstances.”

For me, the most evocative and poignant description in the newspaper article is the call by rescuers for silence. Silence. Silence, in order to listen for life, rescuers ‘holding their breath whilst…bent low and strained to hear a noise which would guide them to a rescue’ (Surrey Comet, 27/1/1945). It is unsettling to imagine the scene, as children were dragged alive from the rubble.


Park Works, 16 Park Road

One way in which we remember the past is through the designation of the built environment as having some sort of historical interest: this could be through identifying conservation areas, or protecting certain buildings from adaptation and demolition. This is done at local level by the Council and at national level by Historic England (previously English Heritage).

The south of Park Road is in a conservation area and ‘area of special local interest’, designated in June 1989 by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. In April 2015, a planning application was made by Countywide Design to convert Park Works, 16 Park Road (a site on the junction with Borough Road) from multiple occupancy industrial estate into homes and white collar office accommodation. The application was withdrawn in November 2015.

In the early part of the 20th century Park Works was used by Jabez Summers and Son who were builders. From 1922 to 1971, H D Symons & Co Ltd used the works and in war time they were involved in producing glass fabric insulation used in the aircraft industry. This activity was considered of national importance, damage or destruction to/of the factory was to be reported to the Ministry of Home Security (ref.Emergency Control File).

The factory expanded in 1939 to a design by A.P. Starkey, better known as an Odeon Cinema architect, to house 260 workers, of whom 230 were women. The two-storey facade to Borough Road was added at this time, with a pillbox or fire watching post incorporated into the design in early 1941, after the previous winter’s bombardments of the local area (as detailed above). To avoid disruption to production, factory owners would often build their own watchtowers which would  allow work to continue below as the air raid sounded. Employees would keep a look out above and warn of likely incendiary devices, at which point workers would rush to the shelters. The factory therefore represents a number of interesting historical themes: the significance of local, small scale manufacture to the war effort, women’s roles in the war, and wartime design. The Borough Road facade is now listed Grade II thanks for the efforts of a man called Nigel Bailey, who has kindly written the following:

When I was alerted to the fact that Park Works was under threat of demolition, I was motivated to get it listed for two reasons, firstly because it is a rather unique building, secondly because it was clearly part of Kingston local war time history. The building had a story to tell. I started with the Pillbox-study-group.org.uk. I was surprised that despite them not being aware of it, they seemed unintererested. I wondered if they thought it was a folly, not a genuine pillbox. When I discovered that the original drawings for the building described it as a fire watch post, it convinced me that the building was all the more unique. After all, there are lots of pillboxes dotted about the countryside.

It still irritates that I couldn’t establish exactly what was manufactured at the factory. Insulated electrical wiring seems most likely. Not quite the story I was hoping for, but I was pleased that Historic England agreed with my supposition that it was supplied to the Hawker Aircraft industry for use on the Hurricane fighter planes. The high point in my research was when I found a letter in the Kingston Emergency Control File, kindly retrieved by Kingston Local History, which described Park Works as being of national importance during wartime.

My pleasure at Park Works being grade II listed was slightly dampened by the fact that Historic England only listed the front section of the building- the canteen- and fire watch post. The saw tooth roofed workshops, where the manufacturing took place, remain unprotected despite the delightful architectural interiors.

 It is only through the effort of local people, that the past can be remembered and preserved and I personally feel that Park Works story is worth looking after. I visited the site yesterday and can appreciate that it isn’t the tidiest part of our shared borough, but factories are messy places, they are where things are made which demands a certain amount of chaos. Park Works also remains an important facility for small local businesses.


Both stories – one of destruction and the other of production – seek to illustrate the human experience of war in Kingston, and how we attempt to remember, understand and protect it in the present. This blog is written in remembrance of the eight casualties from the V-2 rocket strike, of whom we only know five names.

 Amy Ethel Dormer
Patricia Land
Winifred Gertrude Maton
Mary Read
Vera Styles


Bailey, N (2015) Park Works: A case for its Ptotection  Unpublished, available at Kingston History Centre

Built Heritage Consultancy (2015) Park Works Kingston upon Thames: Heritage Statement  Available here.

Burford, R (2015) ‘Small businesses fact the boot as developers plan Kingston industrial park redevelopment’ Your Local Guardian Available here.

Butters, S (2013) ‘That Famous Place’: A history of Kingston upon Thames Kingston University Press

Forsdike, A W (1945) Town Clerk’s Air Raid Reports 1940-1945 Unpublished, available at Kingston History Centre, reference KT189.

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (2015) Planning Database Available here.

Royal Borough of Kingston (2016) List of Conservation Areas Available here

Surrey Comet, 27th January 1945, p.7.

Wikipedia (2016) V-2 rocket Available here.

K06: Gordon Road

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The story of 155-157 London Road, Kingston

The present site of Wickes Superstore was previously Norbiton Bus Garage and before that the site of Snapper’s Castle. Snapper’s Castle wasn’t actually a castle, but its history was really interesting, and Snapper wasn’t a king, dragon or monster, but a man called Michael who sold antiques. The failure of Norbiton Garage is linked directly with the move towards privatisation of public bus services, a move which was not welcomed by passengers or staff at the time and had to be semi-reversed in London at least when it failed to deliver. The following story is one of opportunity lost, of destruction both of material heritage and the livelihoods of some local bus workers.

Hertingtoncombe Manor House

The origin of two semidetached houses on London Road, Nos.155 and 157, with their Gothic facade and roof crenelations date back to the 17th century. In 1644 it was the residence of Sir Robert Wood, a Cromwellian supporter. Later, John Rous resided there – he was sugar plantation owner and a Quaker who was imprisoned and publicly flogged for his beliefs. Later still, a resident called Edward Belitha left money to Kingston Corporation to education “20 poor persons’ daughters”; the chief clark of the House of Commons, Nicholas Hardynge resided there and so too for a time the Reverend Richard Wooddesson, Head of Kingston Grammar School. From 1774 to 1839 it was the Parish Workhouse, extolling virtue, sobriety, obedience, industry and labour upon its residents.

In 1841 it underwent extensive alterations made by Charles Molloy Westmacott, a publisher, art critic and historian who came from a family of sculptors, artists and architects. He installed wood paneling formerly used in Kensington Palace, whilst incorporating many of the earlier buildings’ features and fittings. The ground floor was 2 main rooms split by sliding doors, its facade had oriel windows, elaborately carved oak doors, corner turrets, and 4 tall ecclesiastical windows;. It was successfully listed Grade II in 1975 for architectural and historic interest.

In its final years it was affectionately known as Snapper’s Castle due to the distinctive nature of Michael Snapper’s antiques shop. Meanwhile, next door a local firm of automotive suppliers Derrington’s ploughed their trade.


Norbiton Bus Garage

The garage originally opened in May 1952 on a site behind the Car and Antiques shops on London Road. Its opening wasn’t covered in the local press, but it was big enough for 75 buses and included a maintenance area. Routes 65,131,201, 206, 213 and 264 were based there.

By 1973, the London Transport Executive believed that the only solution to improving bus operations in the Kingston was by expanding Norbiton Garage, for which a Transport Act was granted in 1975. This gave them compulsory purchase powers among other things and they wished to use these powers to demolish Hertingtoncombe Manor. There was local opposition so a public enquiry took place, London Transport versus Kingston Council, Kingston Society, Kingston upon Thames Archaeology Society, Surrey Archaeology Society, and the Ancient Monuments Society, with the additional backing of the Greater London Council. The arguing was extensively covered in the local press, but in the end, London Transport won out. In giving permission for the demolition,  Mr John Eyre, Inspector for the Department of the Environment who conducted the public enquiry stated that “the public good would best be served by a better transport system”. The site was eventually cleared in 1978, but then in 1980 plans for the garage were shelved and the site left derelict.

Eventually, Norbiton Garage extension was built and opened officially on 13th January 1984 (and for operations the following day). It had accommodation for a fleet of 115 vehicles, and 400 staff over three areas – an operating block with workshops, administration, lockers, WCs, a games room and canteen (for 56 people at a time), a dock area and ancillary block. Kingston  Garage remained in use as a station for passengers. It had cost £4.6 million and the Brick Bulletin No.1 of 1985 wrote that is featured “a textured facade of considerable dignity”, it was also described as ‘the jewel in the crown of the London Bus Service’. Grade II listing hadn’t saved the Manor House but interestingly, 3 tree preservation orders had to be adhered to and water mains to the south of the site had to be left accessible, severely limiting the layout of the design.

Sadly, Norbiton Garage was shortlived. Everything changed in 1987 when the  Conservative government decided to privatise London’s bus services, creating London Bus Ltd, a process of deregulation which is against my own political standpoint and seems to involve running a fairly efficient public service into failure through a lack of investment and by disenfranchising your dedicated workforce (nobody is in the public sector for the money!), offering privatisation up as salvation, a process which I see repeated elsewhere today. London Bus Ltd tendered operations at Norbiton as a lower rate of pay which led to a reduction in drivers wages by £37 per week (equating to -25%) and increased working hours, plus a worsened pension deal. If the workers didn’t agree to contract changes then they would be made redundant at the end of June 1987 without redundancy pay, affecting drivers, mechanics, cleaners and other staff. Staff naturally went on strike, with disruption to services and graffiti appearing throughout Kingston at bus stops, and regional television coverage. Watch this video which explains the changes to contracts in 1987, and follow the links to other exerts including interviews with affected drivers. One of those was Graham Burnell who said:

I was a driver at Kingston and Norbiton garages from 1975 until 1990 … Unfortunately in June 1987 Norbiton became the first London bus garage to become a low cost unit where all routes were put out to tender and were won by reducing the drivers’ pensionable pay to £3.20 per hour whilst the London fleet rate was £4.17 per hour. We were also given decrepit vehicles to drive and the 39 hours week became 45 hours. Instead of the economical operation of a garage each end of the route i.e. Sutton and Norbiton, the tender trap meant all buses must come from one operator and consequently Norbiton ran empty buses to and from Sutton and West Croydon as positioning journeys whereas previously all buses ran in service. Our pay cut helped pay for this uneconomic operation.

The routes were re-tendered in 1990 and all but the 57, 71 and X71 were lost by London United to operators based at other garages. Subsequently, it was uneconomic to keep Norbiton Garage open and the last service ran just after midnight on 6th September 1991. The Surrey Comet described it as “the most visible casualty of privatisation” (6/9/1991), for the 100 staff still based there in 1991, it probably felt pretty personal. London Transport went on to sell the site for redevelopment, and Wickes opened there in 1995, “the finale to a sorry story of instransigence and needless loss” (June Sampson, in Surrey Comet, 7/4/1995).


  • Brick Bulletin: ‘Norbiton Bus Garage’ No.1/85 p.9-13
  • Burnell, G (July 2013) personal correspondence
  • Butters, S (2013) “That Famous Place”: A history of Kingston upon Thames Kingston:Kingston University Press
  • Surrey Comet: ‘Buses: Just who is thoughtless?’ 8/5/1987 p.2; ‘Bus Service attacked by Chief’ 17/7/1987 p.3; ‘A Crazy Plan on the Buses’ 31/7/1987 p.2; 16/7/1977; ‘Castle loses fight against bus invasion’ 11/2/1978; 20/1/1984 p.13; ‘Bus Garage to close in autumn’, 28/6/1991 p.1; ‘Snappers Castle loss still rankles’ 7/4/1995 p.18


K05: Norbiton Church

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Norbiton Hall (mansion and estate)

Norbiton Hall estate dates from 1174, when Henry II granted the manor of North Barton to one of his Knights of Anjou. The site was later part of the Lovekyn chapel endowment. Over the years it has been the residence of Eramus Ford (1532; Commissioner of Sewers who complained to the king that 35 of his finest elm trees had been destroyed, possibly for the construction of Hampton Court), Richard Taverner (1547; High Sheriff of Surrey, and protestant preacher who translated the bible into English), George Evelyn (1588; brother to the diarist John), the Countess of Liverpool (1829; widow to Prime Minister, the Earl of Liverpool).

Described by former resident in 1965, William Hardman as ‘one of the prettiest places in Surrey’ with beautiful gardens growing peaches, apricots, melons and a greenhouse full of strawberries, a copper beech under which the children sat with their governess, a great cedar and a vast magnolia where Hardman and his wife entertained their guests. Hardman even held an horticultural exhibition there in 1867.

The lands around Norbiton Hall mansion were gradually sold off from 1868, Birkenhead Avenue was laid in 1882 and by the turn of the 20th century the house and the remaining 4 acres of ground were surrounded by ever busier roads.

*Hardman was a Kingston Magistrate and High Recorder. During his time at Norbiton Hall, he received almost daily in a dedicated ‘Justice Room’ the drunk, disorderly and vagrant of Kingston. In a letter, Hardman wrote ‘they howl and groan before me in vain, [and] tell of piteous tales to a deaf ear’, a compassionate man, clearly!

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Norbiton Hall (flats)

A consortium of local businesses proposed a dog race track on the site in 1933 but this was rejected by both Kingston Council and National Government on appeal.

The site instead was developed into 192 flats by the London County Freehold & Leasehold Properties Limited who by 1935 had £8,000 000 of assets in the form of 7000 flats. Their purpose was apparently to ‘provide a public service for a public need’ through ‘labour saving flats designed on the most scientific lines’ – they had 18 branches including the headquarters at Marble Arch, London.

Norbiton Hall flats had built-in cupboards, dust chutes, constant hot water and for £85 per year – which included rent, rates, water, porterage, grounds maintenance – got you a dining hall, reception room, two bedrooms and tiled kitchen and bathroom. The bathrooms were the ‘last word in luxury’ with generously proportioned baths, chromium fittings, tiled floors and walls; meanwhile the kitchens  facilitated ‘perfect management’, apparently.

The Plaque on the side of the hall was unveiled by Sir Alfred Woodgate, Mayor of Kingston and reads ‘Here formerly stood Norbiton Hall. Built in the 16th century on Lovekyn’s Chapel land. It has been the residence of Richard Taverner, George Evelyn, Sir Anthony Benn, The Countess of Liverpool and others’


  • Butters, S (2013) ‘That Famous Place’: A history of Kingston upon Thames Kingston: Kingston University Press
  • Sampson, J (2006) The Kingston Book London: Historical Publications Ltd
  • Surrey Comet, 3rd December 1977

K04: Tiffin School, London Road

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The History of London Road (Part 1) – From Tiffin School to Clarendon House

These photos were taken of the north side of London Road, Kingston on a sunny day in March 2015. Looking at the variety of buildings you can see remnants of Kingston’s past – in the physical structures, but also in the types of businesses (undertaker, garage, restaurant, offices) and even in the names of some of them, which have survived for longer than the 213 bus has been running.

Using the Kelly’s Street Directories for Kingston editions of 1922,  1925, 1930, 1935, 1940, 1951, 1956, 1960, 1966 and 1971, and a variety of resources available in Kingston’s Local History Collection, the following is a collaged together history of London Road, no. 117 to 151 from 1921. It isn’t intended to be comprehensive, nor would such a history be possible to write – there is so much to tell even along this short section of road.

Lovekyn Chapel or the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene

Founded in 1309 by Edward Lovekyn and largely rebuilt in 1213 sweeps past the Lovekyn Chapel352 by his son John (a saltfish merchant, and four times Mayor of Kingston), it is now Grade II* listed and one of few remaining freestanding chantry chapels in England. Edward VI dissolved chantry chapels in 1547, and his sister Elizabeth I decreed the chapel and endowments to a free grammar school (Kingston Grammar) in 1561. Classes were held there until 1878 when the school moved to new purpose built premises. It was used as the gymnasium from 1904 to 1937 (see fabulous photo in Butters (2013, page 338)) and latterly as the  Carpentry workshop. It was restored in 1999 and opened as an arts and music venue

No.115 London Road

Also called Walnut Tree House, Elmfield was previously Chapel Farm, on the estate of the Lovekyn Chapel, but it ceased as a working farm in 1737. The Chapel Farm included the main house of brick, stables, coach houses, barns, other outbuildings, a dove cote and 9 acres of land. Most of the house was rebuilt in 1754, and much of the surviving building is original including a fanlight over a first floor door, staircase and some fireplaces. In 1851 is was a school for girls, in 1861 it was The Elms, a private home.

The site was briefly the home for the School for Physically Defective Children. This first opened in October 1905 at Church Road, then moved to Fairfield South in December 1912 and to the Elmfield site in March 1922 but had to vacate it in 1929 when Tiffin School moved there. Kingston Local History collection hass a souvenir pamphlet about the official opening of purpose built premises on Grange Road in 1931, describing the building which is now Bedelsford School.

Tiffin School

‘Bricks and mortar may not be all that is required to make a school, but a dignified, well-designed structure may go a long way towards scholastic efficiency and the promotion of the right atmosphere’  letters page, Surrey Comet 2nd November 1929.

Tiffin Boys School moved to the Elmfield site in 1929, to a new school building which including land purchase and furnishings cost Surrey County Council approximately £50,000 (land was £5,800 for 5 acres). It was officially opened on October 31st 1929 by Lord Ashcombe, Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, in the attendance of: the Mayor of Kingston, Bishop of Kingston, Chairman of Surrey County Council, Chairman of Maldens and Coombe Urban District and a whole load of other officials and prominent Kingstonians including Mr R H Turk (of Turks Steamers), Mr V Knapp (publisher of Comet) and Mr L H Bentall (of Bentalls).

The Building comprised of 14 ‘light and airy’ classrooms, 5 science laboratories, an art room, a special room for geography, a library and ‘in the house which was being reconditioned’ [presumably Elmfield] a music room, dining rooms and a kitchen. It was designed to accommodate 600 boys. Reported in the Surrey Comet at the time, salaries amounted to £11,000 per year total. 130 boys entered examinations for a scholarship each year, of which 14 were awarded in 1929, and although 98% were ‘fit to enter a secondary school’, only 10% went on to accept a fee-paying place.

In Kingston District in 1929, 1200 children were being education at Kingston Grammar and the Tiffin Schools; 250 were in Junior Technical Schools, 240 in Day Commercial School, and approximately 1750 taking evening classes at the Technical College.

The Tiffin brothers were wealthy brewers in the 17th century who left a sum of £150 for the education of poor boys and apprentices, which in turn led to the establishment of the Tiffin Schools by Kingston Corporation for lower middle class children. The school opened in January 1880 with 36 boys and 46 girls at what is now St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School on the Fairfield. By the end of the 19th century, the school had 700 pupils and 1899 saw the girls vacate to premise on St James Road. In the 1918 Education Act, all children to be educated to 14; which increased demand for school places. In 1929 there were 486 pupils at Tiffin, and the Fairfield site didn’t have an assembly hall big enough to address the whole school, so it was quite a momentous occasion to move to their new home.

The Queen Elizabeth Road building of 1929 now has lots of additions – South Building (1986), Chester Centre (1991), Sports Centre (1996), Dempsey Centre (2004). School now has over 1000 pupils.

No.119 London Road

G52 - Powell Undertakers

Powell, Albert Percy is listed as undertaker there in 1922 Now Greenwood, an independent, family run funeral directors. (left is a bill for a funeral which is part of our ephemera collection)




No.121/127 London Road

Fulford Garage (K1-2363)

Fulfords of Kingston: Fulford Garage, described as a Coachworks in 1922, was established in 1877. In the Street directory of 1966, they are described as motor body repairers and collision refinishers. They are still in business today.



No.135 London Road

Tram Depot (K1-2155)London Transport Executive (Tramways) Sub-station was built in 1906 by Courtney and Fairbairn at a cost of £1669 to house three 500kW rotary converters and 10 200Ks transformers to power the borough’s tramways.

Electric trams were seen as an alternative to horse-drawn omnibuses (‘holty-jolty things’). The metal lines needed better quality roads and overhead cabling. The 32 miles of tramline were begun on 3rd April 1905 and involved the work of over 100 men. Many buildings were demolished for the necessary road widening but they still managed to official open on 1st March 1906. Kingston Corporation had proposed its own scheme in 1900 but after debate in parliament, it was London United Tramways, chaired by Sir Clifton Robinson a Hampton resident, who provided the network. Trams were replaced by Trolleybuses on 15th June 1931, which in turn were withdrawn in May 1968

 No. 137 London Road

H Taylor and Co. (K1-6724)Originally the site of the (Three) Jolly Sailors a large inn dating back to at least 1768, which closed in 1913. It has been the premises of Taylor, H and Co. Cycling shop and later Motor Car Agents, then Kwik Fit tyre dealers


No.141 London Road

Vine House was built in 1737 by gentleman of means, Richard Garbrand. Between
1921 and 1933 it was the dental surgery of Frank Bevan, but it lost its front garden during street widening and the windows of the basement were bricked up as the road was raised. Converted to shops in late 1930s, the frontage was restored in 1966, and interior restoration by Haslemere Estates completed in 1979.

No.145 London Road

Hepworth Iron Co. (K1-2002)This was a complicated site, including the building, left – which still survives and was used by Hepworth Iron Co. Ltd. There was also a huge factory on the site, which housed at one time Micro Precision Products.


In 1930, no.145 was home to the Surrey Group Anti-aircraft Searchlight Companies, Royal Engineers (TA) and 316th (Surrey) Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company HQ. By 1938, Perring, John Ltd ‘complete house furnishers’ had a “bright modern store” there.


Perring War Effort - Imperial War Museum collection“You’ll fine style you can be comfortable with at Perring’s”

Set up in 1892 by two brothers, John and William, with premises at Richmond and Paddington, the businesses expanded to Twickenham, Putney and Tooting and Harlesden and Willesden. By 1938, John’s chain had 20 branches and William’s had 13. Shops in Kingston, Sutton and Guildford converted in World War Two to factories led by volunteers producing 8.5million armature coils (electrical equipment for planes radios). Perrings had the most outworkers employed by a single organisation during the war effort. It was an all female staff, highly skilled, manipulating 450 miles of wire per day which was not much thicker than human hair under the directorship of Sir Ralph Perring. In 1992 the company still had premises at Eden Street and Head Quarters at Avenue House, Malden Road, Worcester Park, but they went into receivership in 1994.

No.145a was Hickman and Bishop estate agents, also Nash and Thompson Ltd aka Archie Frazer Nash, sports car designer and manufacturer, inventors of the FN Gun Turret – an hydraulic powered machine gun turret dated 1929 and later fitted to Hawker airplanes.

No.145b was McMurdo Instrument Co. Ltd electro-mechanical engineers and Mirco-Precision Products Ltd photographic Equipment Manufacturers. Their parent company, Celestion, started in Hampton Wick in 1924 as the Electrical Manufacturing and Plating Company. They built loud speakers – becoming Celestion Radio Co. and Celestion Ltd in 1927 manufacturing radios and gramophones. Production at their factory on the site was badly hit by the recession of the ‘30s, but from 1940 to 1945 the sole factory output was W-type loudspeakers for radios. Production moved to Thames Ditton in 1948.

Micro Precision Products started in 1940/1 by Patrick de Laszlo – owner of Celestion Ltd. and McMurdo was a subsidiary. MPP was the selling agent for their products. Alfred James Dell was an instrumental figure in the company – involved in design, manufacture and financial management for almost the entirety of the company’s existence. McMurdo originally made petrol cigarette lighters from brass, moving on the photographic equipment such as enlarges, tripods and projectors. Eventually MPP duplicated German style camera manufacture of twin lens reflex. 300 employees at the London Road site, but they moved to 22 High Street, Kingston in 1961, and the business failed in 1982. Croner House is now there, the base of Wolters Kluwer UK tax and accountancy Products and Services.

No.147 London Road

Rawlplug House (K1-3374)Sergeants James W, builders merchants, were founded in 1880 and moved in 1920 to London Road where they stayed until 1963, claiming to have invented the humble breeze block there.

Now the site of Clarendon House which was  built as Rawlplug House. Rawlplug were originally plumbers who then became engineers and building contractors, and made their millions when they invented the Rawlplug – a small insert to fill a hole into which you want to screw, now common place in all our walls in the extruded plastic variety (if you’ve ever drilled into a crumbling wall you will have used a Rawlplug). They had their headquarters at Kingston from 1966-70 and then again in 1988 until (possibly) 1999.

Did you know?

London Road was previously called Norbiton Street


  • Bunker, B (1980) Tiffin school Centenary: the first 50 years
  • Butters, S (2013) ‘That Famous Place’: A history of Kingston upon Thames Kingston: Kingston University Press
  • Curtis-Brignell, D (1990) The History of Vine House
  • Greenwood, G B – Kingston upon Thames: A Dictionary of Local History
  • Holmes, R (undated) Pubs, Inns and Taverns of Kingston Fairford, Glos.: Wildhern Press
  • Kelly’s Street Directories 1922-1971
  • Mannings, C (2001) Then and Now: Kingston upon Thames Stroud: Tempus Publishing
  • Perring, M (1992) Perring: 100 years of Style and Comfort
  • Royal Borough of Kingston (1931) Municipal Clinic, School and Offices Souvenir
  • Sampson, J (2004) Paintings of a Changing Kingston
  • Sampson, J (2006) The Kingston Book London: Historical Publications Ltd
  • Skinner, B (2004) Micro Precision Products: The MPP Story and the Products Newquay: MPP Publications
  • Surrey Comet – November 2nd 1929 p.10/p.16 (Tiffin School opening) and April 7th 1995 p.19 (article on Tramways by June Sampson)
  • Wakeford, J – Kingston’s Past Rediscovered
  • Ed. Watson, H A J (1979) Centenary Supplemant in The Tiffinian Vol.61
  • http://www.researchpod.co.uk/pdf/get_a_grip_history_of_rawlplug.pdf