K05: Norbiton Church

K05 Banner

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Amy ‘213Bus’ Graham, MA Heritage (Contemporary Practice)

I know I haven’t posted in a while. It is not through lack of trying, I’ve just been doing other things!

MA SubmissionAmy '213bus' Graham MA










Firstly, I realise that I never said a final thank you to everyone who submitted their thoughts, memories and collections to my project during the completion of my Masters degree in Heritage (Contemporary Practice) at Kingston University. I submitted on September 3rd 2013: my essay (or ‘critical reflection’) which was a sort of academic piece on the project and how I completed it, my bus costume, my collection of bus related material and a project diary/book with essay, blog posts and future proposals inside. Please accept my huge thanks for your contribution big or small, I have felt so privileged to meet/make contact with you and represent the 213 bus and what it means to people who use it. In the end, I received the dissertation prize (though no actual prize!) and got a distinction for my degree so am very happy!

Secondly, the reason I have been so busy of late is that my MA degree allowed me to apply for and successfully get the Local History Officer position within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. I now work full time researching Kingston’s local history and looking after our collection of photos, newspapers, books, leaflets and other ephemera. The good news is that I am now is an enviable position in terms of accessing bus related local history materials, the bad news is that I am exhausted from each day at work and can’t quite motivate myself to stay late to research bus stuff! I hope I will gradually adjust to the new timetable and would like to be a bit more consistent in posting from now on.

Thanks for reading, keep your thoughts, memories and questions coming!

100 Years of Merton Bus Garage

Sunday 17th November 2013

Last Sunday I hopped on a 93 towards Putney Bridge, alighted at ‘Morden Road / South Wimbledon’ bus stop and walked into my first bus themed heritage event – the centenary of Merton Garage.

Organised by Trevor Johnson (General Manager at Merton and Sutton Garages) and his colleagues, the event included stalls, tours of the garage and historic buses to board. They were fundraising for charity Mencap, who provide support to people with learning disabilities and their families.  For the garage, it was also business as usual on the day – so there were bus drivers trying to get on with work when we were poking our noses into their Output (a new definition for me – the room where drivers sign on and off).

One of the buses on display included the new Boris Bus. This was the first time I’d been on one, I’m not so sure about the colour choices but otherwise it’s alright isn’t it? I almost bought a Central area bus map from 1934 but decided against it, instead picking up an 1950s picture of an OK Bus, Country Durham for my dad.

Met up with my 213 friend Roger and he paid for me and him to go through the bus wash (on a bus, I’d add – otherwise a bit rough and wet!). We also went on a tour around the garage which including standing underneath a single decker to look at the engine. Mentioned quite a few times was ‘Adblue’ (cow’s urine) used to clean the engine exhaust fumes (I think , ah… apparently ammonia reduces the nitrous oxide emissions from diesel engines). There was quite a bit of discussion on the restrictions involved in bus provision and TfL’s targets etc. I’m surprised there is any money in it at all to be honest! Each bus is serviced 12 times a year, so every 28 – 35 days and the maintenance team service 25 buses a week. A bus is expected to last for around 5 years and it’s engine power is tempered down using the gear box to ensure a smooth-ish travel experience.

On my way home, I boarded an RTL bus from Merton Bus Garage to Wimbledon Village. The Underground sign of South Wimbledon glowed warmth in the twilight; a male clippy in modern dress gave us a ticket from whirring machine then came round with a bucket for donations; I was slightly concerned that the engine might give up the ghost when going up the hill to Wimbledon Village as it got very slow and you could hear it chugging along. When I got out, I had to walk to the front and shout a thank you to the driver as he was isolated in his little driving booth. The bus looked so beautiful when lit up at night, emitting a warm light rather than the blue tinged glare of modern buses. 

Another highlight was the 50p cupcake – yummy!

The actual anniversary was the 20th November. Originally opened in 1913 by London General Omnibus Company, the garage was modernised in 1960 and again in 1991. It is responsible for the maintenance of vehicles also kept at Sutton Garage – so any poorly 213s come here. The 213 (as 113) was allocated initially to Merton Garage in 1921 for 2 months only before transferal to the newly completed Kingston and Sutton garages.

Morning chat at Malden Green Avenue (well, one street away)

A gentleman called Ron invited me round for tea with him and his wife Julia months ago. They were so lovely and hospitable, I am ashamed it has taken so long for me to write up their 213 story.

Ron moved to New Malden with his parents in 1967. In 1975, he and Julia were married and lived together in Motspur Park, both working in accountancy, Ron for Kingston NHS at  Kingston and Surbiton Hospitals. In 1993, they moved to Mayfair Avenue, near to Malden Green Avenue stop.

They have two sons, and Julia remembers travelling on the 213A for hospital appointments during her pregnancy in 1979. One son went to Tiffin Boys, the other to Sutton Grammar so they both used the 213 but going in opposite directions. Nowadays, Julia uses it to get to fitness classes in New Malden and they both may occasionally catch the bus from New Malden Station after coming back from central London – I do this too if I’ve missed the train to Worcester Park and it saves a walk at the other end! Because the 213 links to lots of other routes and is regular, it is a very useful bus. Also changes such as the Oyster Card system and ‘countdown’ at stops and on mobile phones have really improved the customer experience and generally made it easier to use.

Ron is very interested in heritage and local history, and provided me with a list of useful local history publications. Here are some of the things he told me:

– The place name, ‘Malden’ is derived from ‘Maeldune’ meaning ‘cross on the hill’ in Old English, which refers to the ancient church of St John the Baptist in Old Malden

– New Malden Railway Station kept having its name changed. When is was first built in the mid 1800, it was called ‘Malden’, then ‘New Malden and Coombe’, then ‘Coombe and Malden’, then ‘Malden for Coombe’, then ‘Malden’ again  and finally in 1957 it was named ‘New Malden’ Station. A case of confused identity maybe?

– Longfellow Road, Worcester Park was apparently childhood home to John Major, whose father was a garden gnome maker. Longfellow Road itself is one of the oldest in Worcester Park so maybe that is why it has a stop named after it, rather than there being a stop called ‘Worcester Park High Street’ or even ‘Central Road’ instead.

– Malden Road leading to Worcester Park used to be lined with lombardy poplars (we’ve got a lovely photo of this in the Kingston Local History Room collection). Many of the trees were found to be diseased and had to be cut down in October 2010. They have been replaced by oaks after a public consultation.

Ron and Julia’s Photos from Worcester Park Running Day 2008 and RF 60th Anniversary 2012

Another time, Ron took me for a little tour of the local area, showing me St John the Baptist Church, and the extend of Nonsuch Great Park, which is Worcester Park now and how the road names come from the old field names. We then went up Trap’s Lane in Coombe and looked at John Galsworthy’s house on Coombe Hill and what is now Rokeby School. After that we visited Kingston University’s Roehampton campus which is part of what was the KLG spark plug factory. This was significant to Kingston’s history as Kenelm Lee Guiness (KLG) supplied spark plugs to Hawker Aviation and both of these factories were reasons to bomb the local area during the Second World War.

Meeting Ron and Julia made me realise that being here (living in Worcester Park/London), it can be possible to make yourself a little place, feel a sense of community and start to know people. I moved here almost two years ago and through this project I have realised just how many interesting people I have met and come to know. Also, learning stories about a place’s past helps you understand reasons for the present, and makes me feel a sense of continuity and embeddedness, that my experiences flow back through time and have been shared by countless others. Maybe people can have more than one home, they can belong to more than one place and time. I need to remember this feeling and be positive about the now, finding meaning and joy in my everyday life – that’s the point right?

21/3 on the 213

I meant to write this last Thursday, sorry for the delay!

I caught the bus from Kingston (Fairfield Bus Station) at about 9.10pm as I’d been working late. The bus was really busy – presumably with other late workers – who mostly got off at The Plough, Old Malden.

At around Cambridge Road, New Malden, I overheard a conversation between a young woman and her friend (well… I didn’t hear the friend as it was a phone call!) and the basic message was that the woman on the bus was advising her friend not to get sacked, and rather, to hand in her notice. It seemed like pretty sensible advice to me. I guess that the reason I remember the conversation is I was thinking about my own career at the time.

As well as studying for my MA, I work for Kingston Museum and Heritage Service 4 days a week. I really enjoy my job as I am learning a lot – not just about the heritage sector, but also about working for a local authority and also how to behave professionally. It’s a tough world out there, and you have to make the most of every opportunity – above this, I think it’s really important to get along with people.

Heritage might appear to be about material things : objects, castles, 1950’s buses, but fundamentally it is actually about people: who they were, what they valued and what they have chosen to give to us (their future). What the woman on the bus was telling her friend, was ‘don’t jeopardise your future’  and this too is the basic message of heritage. Learn from people who came before, let’s share their stories together, and tomorrow will be better.