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