20th Century


I am grateful to Allan Worth, son of Florence Tedder, who e-mailed photos of his grandparents cottage in Red Lion Road.
Allan says “the cottage was similar to many others. As I remember it, as you entered the kitchen via the porch, the fireplace was to the left on an outside wall, the larder was at the rear down some steps, then to the right were two bedrooms – I can’t recall three. Water was from a well, and also to the right of the cottage was a wooden shed for storing fuel and garden tools. The garden was about half an acre, the property being in Red Lion Road about 100 yards down from the pub and on the same side of the road. The cottage was demolished when purchased by my aunt and her husband, Winnie and Bert Goodall), this was in the mid fifties. A Mrs Smithers live next door. Like so many others, Joseph was an agricultural labourer. The family was large, 9 children surviving. My mother was Florence Sarah Tedder, born 1895, and was the eldest daughter.”

Several of these cottages have survived in the Burrowhill area but only Frogshole Cottage in The Steep survives in original condition.

Chobham 1- Shows the cottage, probably mid to late 20’s, even early 30’s Red Lion pub in the background

Chobham 2 – Shows the cottage plus Florence and her Father (Joseph), about 1928. Note roof is now tiled.

Chobham 3 1929 – My grandmother Rose (or Rosa) Tedder (left) with her neighbour Mrs Smithers. Probably outside the cottage near the shed.

Chobham 4 – 1929. Joseph plucking a chicken. In the background can be seen the gate leading to the lane behind the cottage.

Chobham in the Thirties and Forties.

Extracts from an article in ‘Chobham – AD MM’. Written by Coral Curwen. The paintings were provided by Karen Jane Hallam (b Chobham 1st Nov 1960).

High Street, c 1930.

Painting: N Stone (from a old photograph)

I have lived all my childhood at Pear Tree House – the Seeney’s Comer end of Chertsey Road. Once, this part of Chobham was called Northbourne – it was literally North of the Bourne before the road bridge was built, separated from Benham’s Comer and the High Street by one of many fords in Chobham, with only a foot bridge along the Causeway. Even in my childhood it had the feeling of being a separate hamlet of some antiquity.

We were a close knit, friendly group of neighbours dependent upon each other. Looking back to the years just before the war, the days always seemed sunny, people smiled and sang, my sister and I were treated as small girls and usually wore dresses. My brother was a baby and seemed to mostly be in the pram and we used to help take him for long and lovely walks. We girls took turns on Dinah, a small pony, because our legs got tired.

Next to us at Old Pound Cottage lived Mrs Lloyd. During cider-making we were invited to visit with our parents so we went via the pavement, the small white wicket gate, past the house and down to the depths of the garden among the apple trees, the cider press, various barrels and the wasps! Next to Mrs Lloyd was the Gospel Hall where the singing came from on Sunday evenings.

Ted Pritchard ran a bicycle shop across the road from us at Coopers Platt, he was a famous cyclist – but maybe that was after the war. Mr and Mrs Tanner of some renown, lived, worked and slaughtered at the butchers shop. Sometimes on a bad day, a bullock would charge into our place by mistake! Just along from Tanners was the Electrical Shop – where the “Care” shop now exists.

On the comer, of course was Seeney’s the hairdressers and barbers shop. That was a friendly meeting place on the way to everywhere when everyone walked or bicycled. Just round the comer was the old wooden warehouse where Mr Lamp the upholsterer remade and stuffed mattresses – with horsehair I expect. He worked behind huge wooden doors that opened right up to the roof on hot days and when the mattresses were finished and had to be delivered.

On our side of the road, on the comer lived Mrs Lamb at the Homestead which looked just the same as it does today and has done for hundreds of years. Old Mrs Chown lived in the joined-on cottage next door. She used to visit my Granny to keep her company, but always in her overall in case she could be useful. They used to sew and mend together especially during the war. And next to that at Northboume, my Granny came one day to live and brought Carrie and Joy with her. That was exciting. Our gardens joined at the back, and hers was filled with hedgehogs and hedgehog babies, and Mr Collins came to look after her garden. We could visit him in the big wooden shed with the work bench below the huge sunny window. He was wounded in the Great War and had a bad limp. At ‘levenses time he rolled tobacco from a pouch in his pocket for his cigarettes, offered us incredibly strong peppermints, told us stories, teased us, helped us with our guinea pigs, answered all our questions. That shed was a wonderful place.

Across the Windsor Road, at Chobham Cottage lived Mr and Mrs Tom Sutton, elderly and kindly people. Mrs Sutton was friendly; Mr Sutton stood up very straight, wore a stiff white collar with sharp points that turned down, a black tie and a camel waistcoat, and he always used his walking stick. He and my father loved to talk farming together. He was there the day my father tested the fire escape from the top floor of the house with a rope and harness, and his big feet brought down all the window boxes.

Beyond was The Grange, a very large house in a very large garden with rhododendron bushes, where we went to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on a lovely hot sunny afternoon. The Wigan family lived in Chobham House – the whole of it! Ruth Wigan took me to school with Margy and Gary in the governess cart. I can remember two problems in life at this time. One was getting into that cart each morning with a frisky pony at one end, and the step to get in at the other – neither of which would keep still. The other was the Steam Roller, an enormous handsome conglomerate of metallic bits and pieces, two huge wheels, an enormous roller in the front, a roof, a shining silent fly wheel spinning and various puffing, spitting bits in between. It lived in a green shed at the bottom of Waterperry Lane. That was fine while it was housed. One day we must have met it on one of our walks, thundering and steaming down past the Round Pound. The whole earth trembled. My recurring nightmares were for years about being chased by this monster.

High St

Painting: N Stone

A great occasion each summer was the coming of the Life Guards. Very early in the morning, they passed along Chertsey Road, turned left onto the High Street, wave upon wave of them, trotting to summer camp at Pirbright. Shining black horses in all their jingling gear, carrying the soldiers all the way from Knightsbridge Barracks. In our beds we used to hear them coming, hear the trotting. Leaping to the window cill, we would watch them passing. About 20 horses in each group riding 4 abreast. About 100 horses passing by – it was a wonderful sight.

Another seasonal event was the bringing home of the bracken for wrapping the nursery plants sent away during the winter months. In the autumn, great wagons drawn by huge shire horses brought the dry bracken down from Brick Hill and the Common to the nursery packing sheds at Hillings Nurseries.

During the winter the thrashing machine and traction engine and its accompanying machines travelled from farm to farm round Chobham and further afield – Seeney’s comer was a good vantage point to witness whatever was going on.

The War came. After much thought we were evacuated.

Two and a half years later in Spring 1942, we were able to return. So much had changed. The house had criss-cross sticky paper across the glass and gloomy black-out curtains. A small room downstairs had an additional thick concrete ceiling. We all slept here and, until the doodlebugs and rockets began to come, we felt safe. My father was away a lot of the time and my mother worked hard at so many things and always had the radio on in the kitchen. This meant we were left to our own devices much of the time and had special jobs; feeding and looking after rabbits – we knew they were to supplement the diet of Seeney’s Corner; picking caterpillars off the cabbages in the kitchen garden across the road, keeping the weeds at bay and tending the animals. Clothing coupons were short, so when we weren’t at school my mother put us all in flannel shorts, and we got on with life, for the most part happily. Granny was patient at mending our torn and worn out clothes.

We had grown up while being away. My sister was now 7 and I was 10, our legs had grown longer. Our house had a telephone – Chobham 42 – and we became messengers with news of relatives and friends of our neighbours away at the war. This took us further afield. We came to know Mr and Mrs Watts at the farm, and the huge black barn that backed onto the road where the parade shops now are. The geese were fierce there, down to the fields and the river. Along past the end of Delta Road and Waterperry Lane to the huge old apple orchard where Brookleys is now.

The Grange had become a factory for Negretti and Zamba, instrument makers for aircraft and tanks and Chobham House had become a nursery home for children from London. Up the footpath past the house and round the corner, the path went over the weir and die sluice gates to the Mill. Water thundered through the sluices from the mill-pond down into the river below with the enormous millwheel turning and dripping beside, forced round gracefully and slowly by the water in the chute. From inside the mill the connecting machinery grumbled and creaked, and ground relentlessly on. It was fascinating and impossible to hear anything that was said. The mill yard beyond was busy with horses and carts, men in caps shouting, laughing and teasing. Tom Varndell used to tease most of all, but he gave us bits for the animals.

High Street, ‘the Causeway’

Painting: N Stone

The best place to play was the Causeway. Mr Wood, the road sweeper was a good friend there. We fished for sticklebacks and minnows with jam jars in the leat, found snails and bugglywigs of all sorts. Sometimes we could venture up the river as far as the mill sluice to find crayfish in the sluice brickwork, but we had to watch for Tom raising the mill sluices at the end of the day or we should get a real soaking!

We had a chestnut tree just by the back gate. It had been pollarded many times and in summer it made a leafy canopy to climb into, sit and watch the world go by. Bread was delivered by pony and cart from two of the bakers in the High Street. Mitchells pony was our favourite. The steam roller had by now become a friend, and shuddered along the road most mornings and evenings. But now we had to watch for the tanks and bren-gun carriers weaving their way through the village. They were alarming things to meet, it was difficult to know which way they were actually going to go, especially when cycling to school.

Things were not the same, times were anxious, people were tired, my mother didn’t whistle any more. We went to church with my Granny and mother each Sunday and sang “for those in peril on the sea”. Even the church seemed dark in those days. Outside the seasons went on, the sun shone, the rain poured down, the river ran on. So another three years went by, the tension began to ease, and one day the church bells really rang out again and a great bonfire was built up at the Treacle Mines by Killy Hill and everyone went wild. Gradually familiar people returned to Chobham.

Real life began again, but it was changed, so changed – and we moved on.

Chobham in the 1950s

Rob Searle’s reminiscences of walking to school; published in Chobham AD MM.

In the late 1950s I and my friends from Alpha Road were allowed to walk to and from Chobham Infants School, unaccompanied by parents. The windows of many local shops and businesses inevitably encouraged us to dawdle, with no adults to urge us on our way. The businesses mentioned below are all long-gone, but remain in my memory of a village which was very much a self-contained community.

Harold and Annie Clarkes’ comer shop at the junction of Alpha Road and Chertsey Road was a grocers which sold large amounts of Stansfield’s fizzy drinks to pupils from the secondary school at the top of the road. Specialities loved by smaller children were frozen Jubblies and Jungle Juice drinks in pyramid-shaped cartons.

On the other side of the road was a high hedge and an old barn, as the Watts Farm Parade shops and Barn Mead houses were not built until the 1960s. Serious young cyclists aspired to a bike hand-built by Ted Pritchard, whose shop was in Chertsey Road where J. Baker Secretarial Services now has its office. Ted sold Raleigh cycles and accessories and did repairs in an extension at the back with a hardened dirt floor. He also sold fishing equipment to aspiring small anglers.

A couple of doors down was Tanner’s butchers. It was ruled by the fearsome Grace Tanner, remembered locally for her slow driving and long lines of cars stuck behind her van. Her butcher for many years was my great uncle Alf Collyer, who once slaughtered beasts behind the doors next to the shop. We would see him in the back of the shop busily dealing with carcasses hung from huge hooks.

Where the disabled supplies business now trades was Joe Littler’s electrical shop, with dummy Ever Ready batteries in the windows and a glimpse of radios, lamps and other appliances on display. The strings of colourful fairy lights at Christmas seemed particularly magical, as my house had no mains electricity – we had candles on our tree.

Seeney’s hairdressing salons – men on the right and ladies on the left – were at the end of Chertsey Road. Mum insisted I wore a woollen balaclava helmet after getting a short back and sides there, “to avoid catching a chill”. The road junction was named after the business, although few people now call it Seeney’s Corner.

Along upper High Street, where the saddlers now have their shops, was Causeway Interiors, run by the Lamp family, who sold carpets, curtains and fabrics. I also have vague memories of the building formerly being another hairdressers and of the coal merchant which once operated between the shop and Cannon Cottage.

The now-closed Jillifar’s clothes shop at the start of the High Street proper was a traditional greengrocers, originally run by the Benham family then the Hogans. It had vast displays of fruit and veg and exotic smells coming through the doors. ‘The main Benhams/Hogan shop next door – later W.H. Cullen and now What Not Antiques – was where a shop assistant once smacked my hand as I pinched some sultanas when Mum’s back was turned. Boxes of loose goods, from biscuits to seeds, and large brass scales were features which I remember well. I worked at Cullens on leaving school, myself keeping an eye out for youngsters tempted to take things without paying.

The next shop was a cobblers where you could purchase good, stout shoes and later get them properly repaired. They sold the old-fashioned dubbing which Dad bought to rub into my ankle-high football boots.

The best smells in the street came from Mick’s Cafe next door – chips and a strong cuppa with everything, and a pinball machine with bright flashing fights as entertainment. Proprietor Mick Baleham declined to provide takeaway chips, although he did sell us some of the best ice creams in Chobham, Eldorado brand if I remember correctly. Boshers the jewellers are now in the premises.

A big asset to the village were the joint gas and electrical showrooms between the cafe and the chemists. Bills could be paid and appliances of all types bought there.

Jummy Medhurst, who once ran a newsagents where Lloyds the chemists now trades, seemed to be a permanent fixture in the High Street. He often stood leaning on the wall at the opening of the courtyard alongside his former shop, hands in pockets, watching the world go by and grunting greetings to friends and acquaintances.

Past the church was Grimditch the butchers, in the listed building which is soon to become the offices of a firm which recruits information technology staff. The shop always had far more meat on display than rival Tanner’s and the floor was liberally covered in sawdust which spilled on to the pavement.

The most-fascinating “shop” was further down the street, I think in what is now “Fleurs Chinoise”. It was Chobham’s telephone exchange, with a window full of tangled wiring at the back of the switchboard. We could peer through to see an operator at work, manipulating large plugs on thick leads.

The Four Seasons restaurant premises was then Chobham Dairy, selling milk and dairy products, with an array of sweets which sometimes attracted my pocket money. The shop always smelled of slightly stale milk.

Around in Station Road, The Ridgeway was the village’s main source of newspapers, magazines and children’s comics, as well as having the best selection of sweets in jars. The shop – now Frascati restaurant – had a large, illuminated tree at Christmas and I remember my brother and sisters being photographed in front of it with a visiting Santa. Next door was the Aladdin’s cave of Southern Appliances, which not only sold electrical equipment – including still-rare televisions – but carried out repairs in its workshop at the rear. I bought a little Marconi transistor radio there in the 1960s, using money earned doing paper rounds for The Ridgeway.

Coming back to High Street, Chobham Motors – now Chobham Service Station – was a good source of Esso promotional badges and key rings if you asked the owners nicely. It was one of five petrol stations in the village.

The Old King’s Head, on the site of John’s hairdressing salons and Pyramid, introduced me to the smell of pubs. We lingered near the high steps, sniffing the mixture of beer fumes and cigarette smoke wafting out while glimpsing men drinking and chatting in the gloomy interior. Many years later, I discovered that beer tasted every bit as good as it smelt sadly not in that particular pub.

Alldays was Belcher’s Stores, with extensive banks of polished wooden shelves and cupboards behind the counters, brass labels and an impressive provisions department. The shop assistants wore chest high, stripy aprons and looked sternly at small children.

In what is now Gemini Gems, the small shop run by the Burrows family was a magnet which often attracted my 3d a day pocket money. The “thrup’ny joey” bought a “lucky bag”, containing sweets and a plastic toy, or a sherbet dip. As well as sweets, the shop also sold bread and cakes.

Next door was yet another general grocers, now the Melita Boutique. We knew the shop as Blackstones, although older people still called it Lascelles after the family which previously ran it for many years. As a special treat, I sometimes spent my 3d on half a small white loaf still warm from their oven. My friends and I would eat the bread with great enjoyment on the way to school.

Adamsons the jewellers and watchmakers had their shop opposite the church in the ornately-decorated Terracotta Cottage. A cacophony of chimes from the many clocks on sale could be heard if you passed by on the hour. Brothers Bert and Reg Adamson were respected local craftsmen.

Hill’s the bakers next door filled its window with chocolate eggs and animals at Easter and beautifully-iced cakes at Christmas. The smell of baking bread and the sight of the large display of cakes and huge variety of loaves inside was a spur to a hungry child to hurry home for lunch.

Being restricted to our route to school and its short diversions, my tour has not included many other shops and useful businesses which have disappeared since the 1950s. They include New Era Stores in Windsor Road, small general stores in Red Lion Road and Scotts Grove Road, Chobham Mill and Chews Garage at Burrow Hill. Did anyone ever go outside Chobham for goods and services?