K14: Coombe Girls Schools


Coombe Girls’ School, originally Coombe County Secondary Girls’ School pre-1965, opened in 1955. It is listed under both Clarence Avenue and Darley Drive in Kingston’s planning database (the later is a bus blind destination for when the 213 is running a shortened route). The Planning Record shows that movable classrooms were added in 1966, the caretaker’s flat in 1972, garages in 1975, a portable double classroom in 1993, a three storey extenstion in 1998, a new sixth form centre 2001, extensions in 2003 and 2009, the refurbishment of a lab in 2004, Sports Hall and Music & Drama suites in 2004, and GP surgery 2004. This shows how the demands on the school have changed and increased over time to accommodate more and more students and to offer a wider curriculum.

A guide to Secondary Education at Kingston History Centre dated 1971 includes a page on Coombe Girls’ School, written by the then Headmistress Mrs A P Taylor.  It mentions route 213A in the second line! Accommodation at the time included 3 Housecraft Rooms, 2 Needlework Rooms, 3 Art Rooms, 5 Science Laboratories, a Language Laboratory, Main Library and 6th Form Reference Library, Gymnasium and Redgra Hockey Pitch. The general course in the first 3 years included Modern Mathematics, Nuffield Science, French, Geography, History, Religious Education, Housecraft, Needlework, Art, Music and Physical Education. English teaching included speech and drama. After that, English, Maths and French were compulsory but otherwise pupils could choose their courses. It was expected that all pupils complete 6 or 7 ‘O’ Levels. At the time, there were 1000 pupils, 100 in the 6th form which offered various  ‘A’ levels, a Commercial Course (shorthand, typing and an ‘A’ level in Economics) and supplementary ‘O’ Levels. Out of school activities included a guitar club, Christian Union and Trampolining. All girls were expected to do homework and to wear school uniform.

Plans to build a sports centre in 2000 had 300 strong resident opposition. An Ofsted report in 1999 said the school had “unsatisfactory” physical education, music and drama facilities. Community use for new facilities was part of the lottery funding, set to be open 9am until 10pm weekdays and 9am until 5pm weekends. Neighbours were against the increase in noise, parking and traffic problems which a new facility might bring and formed an action group in October 1999 to fight the proposals. At the time, 1200 pupils were using the original 1950s sports hall which has been built to accommodate 600, and spending valuable time travelling to facilities at Kingsmeadow and the Malden Centre for lessons. Residents felt that the nature of the area as primarily residential was under threat. The community use of new facilities (eventually built in 2004) doesn’t seem to have happened, although Kingston Adult Education did’ provide tennis courses at the Coombe Evening Centre’, based at the School on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings for a time.

The Girls’ School now forms part of an Academy Trust alongside Coombe Boys’, Coombe Sixth Form and Knollmead Primary.



Selective Secondary Education in Kingston

On the formation of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in 1965, the Council ran its own schools, further and higher education. It was responsible for around 17,500 pupils, in 39 primary and 15 secondary schools. In 1966, 1700 11 year olds would transfer to secondary education and participate in “A procedure… used to select those pupils who appear to be capable of benefiting from a more intensive academic course”, i.e. the selection process to enter Grammar education which only 20% pupils would be offered.

The test was open to any resident or pupil currently attending school in the borough, and the guidance says that “nothing is lost by unsuitable candidates not taking the  tests” which is certainly an exercise in understanding double negatives. The tests were 3 papers in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning, taken in January 1966, plus an essay submitted at some point during the preceding term; results were adjusted for the age of the pupil. After the results, parents were able to select a first and second choice of school, “organised on a neighbourhood basis” with each school serving its locality. At this time, Coombe Girls School had Grammar places available alongside standard secondary education, i.e. it was mixed stream school.

“Every effort is made to select at eleven years all those pupils who will be suitable for a full course leading to GCE ‘A’ Level but there will be some pupils whose capacity for advanced study does not become apparent until later”.

If you went to a comprehensive and achieved 4 passes at O-Level then you may still be considered for 6th form at a Grammar School, dependent on an entry interview/assessment process.

In 1967, national government promoted and began to enforce comprehensive education rather than the academic selection process of grammars.

I went to a mixed, none-selective state high school and personally don’t think that it is appropriate to judge a child’s ability at the age of 11 years old. I value my time at school as it allowed me to interact with many different types of people and to appreciate that not all knowledge is academic. To limit somebody’s options as a child is to limit the contribution they can make as an adult and I am an advocate for access to an education at any age when a person shows the inclination for it.





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]

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.

K02: Eden Street

K2: Eden Street

Since at least 1315, Eden Street was called Heathen Street, a reflection of its location on the edge of Kingston, where the heathens (those who didn’t belong) lived. Victorian sensibilities made the name change desirable – particularly as a number of churches had been built along the road and it was becoming embarrassing for 19th century Christian types to admit their address was ‘No. ___ Heathen Street’. The name change leant itself well to a new shopping centre Eden Walk: with apple logo and serpentine-shaped paths, the evocation of paradise on earth, or possibly a symbol of humanity’s great fall?!

Eden Walk Shopping Centre

The construction of Eden Walk in the 1960s and 1970s unearthed (literally) a 600 year old pottery kiln at No.70 and No.72 Eden Street. During the medieval period, Eden Street would have been on the outskirts of the Market town of Kingston. These sites were productive making and trading places, and are thought to have provided Henry III’s court with a massive order of 3,300 pitchers in the years 1264-66 of Kingston-type white ware.  The street was also the site for the meat industry: butchery, leather and horn trades – messy activities that were better sited out of town centres.

A shopping centre at the site was first conceived in 1936 by Kingston Council in part to provide much needed multistorey parking, and it was the first and only foray into retail development by the Borough. Its construction proved to be a bit of a headache and indeed there has been continued redevelopment on the site for the last 50 years, whilst shoppers continue to shop and Kingston continues as a primary shopping destination for Greater London.

Rapid development in the first part of the 20th century led to some major problems in Kingston, particularly regarding on street parking and congestion through the centre. These were problems of affluence – too many people able to afford cars and willing to travel into Kingston to spend. The Council recognised that something must be done and originally planned for a multilevel car park on what had been the Horsefair (where John Lewis is). Indeed, the basement for this was constructed prior to the Second World War when it was converted into a civil defense centre. After the war, it became a cricket training school and Eden Street was identified as the new prefered location for car park and shopping area as the Council already owned land at nos. 45 and 49 Eden Street. This development was Eden Walk Phase I, a plan to provide 26,000 sqft of shops and 14,000 sqft of offices. This phase began in 1964 and was completed in 1967 and provided the side of Eden Walk which presently includes Sainsbury’s and a smaller Marks and Spencer.

Then the Council planned for Phase II – the side including BHS and the creation of Alderman Judge Mall. This phase required the destruction of Lankester’s 17th century gabled properties and The Three Compasses public house. It also meant the council had to compulsory purchase 1.128 acres which led to major legal wranglings, time delays and spiraling costs. Indeed, the land price doubled from the start of purchase.  By the early 1970s, councillors were questioning where the town’s ‘facelift’ had gone, The development was considered even more important as Kingston Town’s population had declined by 6000 in the period 1965-1973 and something had to be done to continue attracting trade. Plans were finally drawn up in 1974: costing £5.4million, the development would include stairs and lift to four 1st floor shopping units and a car park with total capacity of 707 vehicles. The upper floor would also have a restaurant and coffee shop. At ground floor, space would be provided for a flagship store (BHS), and 23 smaller unit totalling 80,000 sqft retail space . Phase II construction began  June 1977 and was designed by architect Basil Roberts, who said of the development:  ‘everything possible had been done within the severe economic limits to make the scheme pleasing to the eye and sympathetic to Kingston’s medieval core’ (Surrey Comet, 18/6/1977, p.5). It was completed in 1979. A lead-lined time capsule was buried with the development but I didn’t find what was buried inside it, just the Surrey Comet article with people’s suggestions: stuffed fish, old and new money, Rolling Stones records and a packet of crisps, can of pop and one cheeky suggestion of burying the whole of the Kingston Council! After the hoohar of getting the development underway, one can perhaps understand some of the resentment held by local traders and shoppers too!

The original Phase I was enlarged 1983-85 to provide the present Boots store and more retail space for M&S. This extension replaced the Knapp Drewett/Surrey Comet offices. The whole complex was sold to a private company for only £16million in 1990, bearing in mind, Phase II alone cost £6 million in 1977, this doesn’t seem like a huge profit – if after inflation it even constituted a profit at all.

The modern shopping centre boasts an M&S, Boots, BHS and Sainsbury’s  among an array of other shops. It is presently undergoing yet another redevelopment led by Stanley Bragg Architects. What they call Phase I, (or more like phase III or even IV) was approved in January 2011 and involved re-cladding, new canopies, signage and lighting plus large ‘signage poles’ on the Eden Street side of the centre. Phase II plans were submitted in April 2011 to provide a new anchor store with an entrance onto Union Street, new paving, layout, seating and planting – this work is yet to be completed.


Butters, S (1995) The Book of Kingston Baron Birch (no place of publication)

Eden Walk Shopping Centre:  http://www.edenwalkshopping.co.uk/

Kingston Borough News: 6/12/1974 p.3

Museum of London, Ceramics and Glass – Surrey Whiteware http://archive.museumoflondon.org.uk/ceramics/pages/subcategory.asp?subcat_id=701&subcat_name=Surrey+whitewares

Sampson, J (2006) The Kingston Book London: Historical Publications Ltd

Stanley Bragg Architects http://www.stanleybragg.co.uk/projects/79?page=1

Surrey Comet: 5/1/1973 p.8; 8/12/1973 p.1; 4/12/1976 p.1; 18/6/1977 p.5; 11/11/1977 p.9; 26/3/1993 p.4; 8/10/10 p.13; 29/4/2011 p.2

Wakeford, J (1990) Kingston’s Past Rediscovered Chichester: Phillimore & Co

K01: Fairfield Bus Station


A History of the Cattle Market

Livestock had been sold in Kingston’s Market Place on Saturdays since 1603, when James I of England granted the rights to a market for the purpose. The Cattle Market as held on a Monday was only introduced in 1918 (March 12th), to supplement market days on Wednesday, Thursdays and Saturdays providing increased access to the food supply during World War One. Due to increased motor traffic and space requirements, the Monday Cattle Market was moved to the Fairfield site and officially opened by the Mayor, Councillor G D Densham on Monday 20th April 1925.

The Surrey Comet for April 25th describes the new market in some detail. The Fairfield site was five times the size of the Market Place, with pens for sheep and pigs and special sheds for calves. The surface was covered in concrete, with a weighing machine between the enclosures and the selling place through which each animal was passed and their weight shown on a large clock face. There were 80 pens for pigs, 26 for sheep, 400ft of cattle rails, and a shed for dairy cows and calves. A granite run for horses meant that the animals didn’t need to be tested on the roads. Granite sets paved the areas between pens and there was also a toll collector’s office and toilet. The whole market was enclosed by 6ft high iron fencing, and cost the borough about £6000 to build.

This market proved so popular it was expanded in size in 1926, but its success was short lived due to rapid housing and road expansion in the interwar years which swallowed up the farmland surrounding Kingston. The Second World War provided a much needed boost to the market as it was designated an official trading place by the Ministry of Agriculture. After the war, there was another rapid decline in livestock sold but even in 1953 300 cattle, sheep and calves and a whopping 8000 pigs were traded. The Cattle Market finally stopped trading in 1957 and was replaced by a regular Monday Market and car park.

The car park itself was just one of many developed in Kingston: the first public car park was on Eden Street West and opened in 1925. A car park at the Cattle Market site was first proposed by Alderman A G Knowlden in 1955, however the large basement car park wasn’t constructed until 1985 along with the development of the new Fairfield Bus Station and Kingston Town Centre ring road.. The finished construction provided 491 underground spaces. It was refurbished in 2008 by Stirling Lloyd Construction costing £360,000 for 14,000m2. Surface parking costs £1 per 30 minutes during the day and £2 flat rate in the evenings, with 100 spaces available, and basement parking costs £1.40 an hour plus 70p for every further 30 minutes, or £2 flat rate in the evenings. An annual season ticket costs a whopping £2592.00 – so I’m glad I’ve got my bus!

During the basement car park construction, the Monday Market took place on a site in Ashdown Road with 180 regualar and 40 casual traders using 250 pitches. Today’s Monday Market sells bric-a-brac and is much reduced in size. It is managed by KingstonFirst on behalf of the Council, with 50 traders selling from 9am-1.30pm. One 10ft pitch costs £25.70 per week.

When the land was granted for the Cattle Market in 1925, it came with this interesting condition of land use: ‘that if at any time the said land shall cease to be used for the purpose hereby authorised such land shall again become an open space or recreation ground’. The Borough seems to have conveniently forgotten this clause – unless you count a car park as ‘open space or recreation ground’*!

* Indeed, if you search the web for ‘Cattle Market Car Park Kingston’ you can find some interesting options for potential recreational activity in the car park toilets. Not what the Ministry of Health had in mind when they attempted to protect Kingston’s open spaces, I think….


Surrey Comet: April 25th 1925, March 6th 1982,  June 7th 1985, November 20th 1987

Sampson, J (2006) The Kingston Book. London: Historical Publications Ltd





Waiting for a bus….

Avid Readers (hehem….),

May I again apologise for the long delay since my last post. It has been totally hectic as I have put the final touches to two modules’ assessments: one about the future of Local History Museums in London, the other about Torture at the Tower of London. Exciting stuff, but not what this blog is all about.

So, I promise I have been procrastinating, I mean, working when I could on this project and have been going through all the photos I have taken on the route, editing and renaming them. I have designated all the stops a special code which may or may not prove helpful in the long run. It is useful because now all the files are in route order e.g. from Kingston, Fairfield Bus Station is ‘K1’, Eden Street is ‘K2’, Cromwell Road is ‘K3’ etc. It is not useful because duplicate stop names now have two codes e.g. Fairfield Bus Station is also ‘S46’ being the last stop from Sutton on the 213. I’m not sure I’d make a very good archivist, managing information is tricksy!

Waiting for a 213?

Waiting for a 213?

As well as messing about on Photoshop, I have been practising the art of  ‘participant observation’. If you ever use the 213, I’m the one with the little green notebook writing down everything you say! Mostly I have been observing myself as the little gems of insight below will attest:

8/5/13 towards Kingston, 1pm: Ate my lunch on the bus, it was tricksy because of the balsamic dressing – not too stinky though

8/5/13 towards Sutton, 6pm: Bus on diversion due to closure of Eden Street. Smells of lime jelly; traffic is bad

9/5/13, towards Sutton, 7.50pm: Cold, drizzly rain makes waiting for the bus not very nice! Bus on diversion from Kingston Hospital to Langley Grove, down Coombe Lane West and Traps Lane

10/5/13, towards Kingston, 9am: Ran for the bus – always a difficult call because you never know if the driver will wait; still no announcement for Brabham Court; Gary the Transport Surveyor for RBK was on the bus, ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’

24/5/13, towards Sutton, 5pm: Two guys and a lass talking about clubbing, the lass had spent so much at Ann Summers she ‘got free lube’ and was happy to share that insight with the whole bus.

25/5/13, towards Kingston, 9am: Just missed my usual bus and since they aren’t so regular on Saturdays it means I will be later for work than I want to be; X26 goes past at 9.03am, could’ve probably made that had I walked directly to Worcester Park

More to follow – I promise to start some serious eavesdropping. The problem is, most of it isn’t particularly wholesome listening. In the past I have heard about: a man going to the magistrates’ for a hearing telling his mate he hopes to get off a custodial sentence; a woman arguing with her partner over the phone about custody of their child; a man questioning the paternity of an unknown woman’s baby, and how the likely father was a nutcase; who fancies who, who is sleeping with who. Maybe it’s just that these are the conversations which stick in the mind… I should probably frequent the lower deck more often to hear about babies and shopping….