BYGONE CHILWORTH - Memories from the past

by Brian Clifford now living in Dorset.

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Chilworth C of E School had two teachers: Mrs Brown from Albury who taught four classes of younger children in one classroom, and Miss Connie Steere from Shalford (the semi-detached house opposite the 'Parrot') who taught four classes of older children in the other classroom. These two rooms were divided by the kitchen from which the school dinners were served, and Miss Steere's classroom was entered by the front door and a cloakroom. The rooms had really high ceilings, and were a bit like a church inside with much wood panelling.

The older boys' playground was the Station side of the school, and the girls' and younger childrens' was at the Albury end.  Activities such as physical training and country dancing took place in the former, as did dancing round the Maypole, or flag-pole as it was the rest of the year.  Annually, the school used to take part in the County country dancing competition at Ewell.  The less said about the outside toilets, the better!

The classrooms were pretty cold unless you were unfortunate enough to sit right next to the big old iron radiators, in which case you re-lived Tom Brown's experiences at Rugby School!  Short trousers, bare legs and red hot metal are not compatible.

The inkwells in the sloping topped desks were filled by the 'monitors' with powdered ink mixed with water.  After a while these containers got a sludge in the bottom which, combined with the 'dip' pens with 'J' nibs which 'crossed', caused blots on one's exercise books;  the penalty was a 'stinger' across the palm of the hand with Miss Steere's cane. If you enjoyed this sort of thing you could easily earn between two and four of these painful experiences by talking during the Vicar's visit at Friday morning's assembly.

Monday mornings at 11 o'clock we endured (sorry, enjoyed) 'Singing Together' - a BBC programme for schools - when we sung vaguely in unison with the lead/acid accumulator driven wireless.   The accumulator had to be regularly 'charged up', and if you were a good boy you might be chosen to take it to the radio and electrical shop trading under the name 'R&G Cumper' in New Road for this purpose. The cost was 6d (2.5p). No health and safety nonsense in those days! I still know the words of 'Sweet Afton', 'The Lincolnshire Poacher', and the politically dodgy 'Soloman Levi'.

We took turns in the older class to chose the hymn for morning assembly. We always tried to pick 'Onward Christian Soldiers' - a good rousing hymn - but to do so risked incurring the Connie wrath, because she knew we were trying it on.

I think the height of her ire was reached when the Chilworth policeman, PC Oliver, complained to her that some of us had been playing chicken in Dorking Road on our way home from school; I remember the cane figured somewhere in her dealing with this episode.

School dinners, delivered in aluminium containers by an Austin van, came from a central kitchen where the Tillingbourne School is now. They were usually mince, stew, or salad and pretty indistinguishable one from the other. Sweets were usually prunes or steam pudding with runny custard. Lumpy potatoes with black bits in, lettuce with unidentified foreign bodies in, and chunks of fat and gristle were declared excellent fare by Mrs Brown, in who's room meals were taken, and who made sure every scrap was consumed. Of course, food was still rationed then, so I guess she had a point. The meals were served by a lady called Joan (?) and Mrs Clifford.

When the flea nurse called, a section of Miss Steere's room was curtained off while the examinations were carried out - usually the same children were sent home each time!

The only time I saw Miss Steere show joy was when she opened a letter telling her that Enid Parfree, Beryl Wood and myself had passed the 11plus exam.  She had never had a single success before, let alone three!

Enid and Beryl went to the County School for Girls at Farnham Road, Guildford, I could have gone to Godalming Grammar, but in fact passed the following year (at Shalford School) for Guildford Grammar.

One of the Governors used to give every child in the school 6d at Christmas, and I remember he paid for all of the older children to see 'Scott of the Antarctic' when it was first released.

I used to sit next to Peter Balchin in class, we were both inveterate thumb suckers, our birthdays were exactly the same, we received our call-up papers for National Service at the same time, and we were probably the last two(of the very few!) of the Chilworth and Blackheath lads to go into the Army.   

These are some of the other children I remember in Chilworth about that time: Bruce Lunnon, Bobby Lunnon, Terry Fair, Colin Fair, Dennis Hall, Patrick McFadden, Vincent McFadden, Robert Brown, Lawrence Brown, Michael Ede, Freddie Arrow, Alan Hunter, Bernard Selmes, Susan Gunning, John Lemon, Marie Everitt, Francis Frost, David Goddard, Roger Lake, Brian Turner, Brian Tanner, Ron Elson, Sheila Tiller, Arthur Tiller, Michael Hurley, Maureen Taylor, Ray Smith, George and Jane Porter, Judy Oliver, Sylvia Lemon, Reggie Bacon, Timmy Doyle, Georgena Hutchins.

SURREY EDUCATION COMMITTEE exercise book as used at Chilworth C of E School.

(From the 'Alan's Collector's Emporium' collection)

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This company, known locally as 'the Brown Baby' was operated by Mr Tom Brady, who, together with Bert Short, Mr Muggeridge and Mr Bowler, drove the one-man operated vehicles which were all normal-control Bedfords with Duple bodies with the exception of one Leyland Comet. All the drivers lived in Forest Green except Mr Bowler, who lived in Wallis Wood;  his sons, Chris and Ken decades later worked for Tillingbourne, the former becoming Manager. A picture on the rear cover of Laurie James's 'Independent Bus Operators into Horsham' shows Messrs Muggeridge and Short in the Tony McCann era.

The service ran every two hours alternatively from Forest Green and Holmbury St Mary to Guildford and return.

The 'to Guildford' bus passed New Road, Chilworth at 10 minutes past, and returned at 45 minutes past, each odd hour.   Punctuality and reliability were legendry - the same timings operating since the mid-'twenties.  Punched tickets, printed 'omnibus ticket', were used, and fares collected before departure from termini and on intermediate embarkation.   School passes, issued for travel on London Transport Country Buses were not valid on the 'Brown Baby', although they were on Tillingbourne Valley Bus Services.

This service was very popular with Chilworth people, who preferred to wait for 'the Brownie' rather than catch a London Transport vehicle.  Parcels and other goods were carried, occasionally even livestock. 

[The full-fronted Bedford OB shown on page 77 of Joyce's 'Provincial Bus and Tram Album' (1971) was not operated by Brown Motor Services as credited, but by Tillingbourne.]  


On the right of Mr Petty's 'Tangley Stores' in New Road were two bus garages (on the left was Cumper's radio and electrical shop).   The left hand one was occupied by Tillingbourne Valley Buses, and  the right hand one by Tillingourne Valley Coaches.  The latter had a sign over the door showing ownership, and this business was run by Mr Rhees, who was, I believe, son-in-law of the founder of the bus company. As far as I recall, only two vehicles were owned, and possibly both were normal-control Bedford OB's/Duple.  Grey, relieved by dark red, was possibly the livery.   One of the drivers was Bill Friend, who lived in New Road, close to Chilworth Garage. Some excursions to the seaside were run (a great adventure in those days - the Misses Baker who lived at 76 New Road, and who were in their seventies, once told my mother that they had never seen the sea!), and private hire by the local Women's Institute, British Legion, etc., was catered for.

A service was briefly operated between Blackheath and Guildford, an oddity being that only return tickets could be issued.

This little business, along with Bill Friend, was taken over by Rackcliffes of Guildford (Cookes Coaches), they in turn by, I think, by Warners of Milford, and ultimately by Safeguard. If any of the Chilworth organisations hired a vehicle from Safeguard, Bill Friend was always requested as driver such was the trust local people had in his abilities!


This business was managed by Derek Trice who also controlled Chilworth Garage;  there was cross subsidisation between the two.

Vehicles operated during the period under review were largely various models of Thorneycroft 20-seaters, a Bedford OWB (with wooden slatted seats), some Bedford OB's and a couple of Austins.   At least one of the Thorneycrofts (possibly a Nippy) was full fronted, as was one of the OB's, which is pictured with Jim Hatcher at the wheel on page 77 of Joyce's 'Provincial Bus and Tram Album' (1971) - wrongly credited to Brown Bus Service.  The livery was dark red with grey relief, although I think that for a very short time this was reversed. The fleet name was originally carried on a belt-like device, but later Jack Tubb, who regularly repainted the vehicles, designed and painted a grey scroll to carry these details.

Along with Jim Hatcher and Jack Tubb, other drivers were George Elliott, Jim Cordery, Ray Smith, Tony Chapman, Ron Adams, who lived near to RW Austin, the butcher, in New Road, Joe and Bert (who shared the Guildford-Peaslake route), and Ron (who worked for Tillingbourne twice with an intermission at Aldershot & District).  Reliefs were sometimes driven by Harry Tomlinson and Derek Trice.

The service from Guildford to Farley Green and vice-versa was hourly, the two buses on the route passing at Chilworth Garage at about 50 minutes past the hour. The vehicle arriving at Guildford did a return trip to Warren Road before returning to Farley Green at 35 minutes past the hour. The drivers' shifts changed at the garage at 1350 (or ten-to-two, as it was then!). A relief bus (often the OWB) was operated at about 0805 from Chilworth Station to Guildford (which was just about the last chance one had to get to Guildford from the village before 0900, because the later buses were always full), and another from Guildford to Chilworth at about 1630.   The Guildford-Peaslake service vehicle left the garage at 0710, and carried one or two early workers into Guildford; in the winter a 'push-start'  by theses folk was not unusual!  

Punch tickets were used, and were printed 'Tillingbourne Valley'.  Coming out of Guildford, fares were usually collected on disembarkation; in the reverse direction one usually paid on entry.  London Transport scholars' passes were valid on the 'Tilly'.

During daily busy periods, the buses were always well overloaded.  There were frequently as many standees as seated passengers (especially the full-fronted vehicles - where passengers could sit on, and stand round, the engine cowling!).    It was always a first-gear grind up Lower High Street from Park Street to turn into Quarry Street (there was, of course, no Millbrook), where more people would be waiting and would be sardined in!  School boys standing behind the driver's seat would be allowed to operate the long handle that opened the passenger door at the bus stops. Carefree days!

I think one of the full-fronted vehicles was depicted in a very early 'Buses Illustrated'.

As with the 'Brown Baby', Chilworth people preferred to patronise the local service rather than London Transport.

The small change collected in fares was welcomed by the Chilworth shopkeepers, who could swap bank notes for copper and silver at the garage.


In the late 'forties, and until the advent of the ubiquitous 'RF', Route 425 from Guildford to Dorking via Chilworth was operated by AEC Regals of the 'T' type (9-T-9 or 10-T-10 - I cannot remember which), side engined 'Q's, and underfloor engined 'TF's. All were ex-Greenline, and, as far as I recall had this name under the 'London TransporT' on their sides. These vehicles were extremely comfortable.  They were two men operated, one of the conductor's duties being to open and close the manually operated passenger door. Bell punch tickets were issued, the fare from Halfpenny Lane to Guildford being (in 1949) 2.5d (1p).

Despite a fifteen minute headway at the start of the period under review and competition in part from Tillingbourne Valley Services and Brown Motor Services, the route was very well patronised, and Chilworth folk could have difficulty getting on a bus during rush hours or Saturday mornings. A Gomshall to Guildford relief ran through New Road at about 0825 weekdays. Only five, or possibly eight, standing passengers were permitted at the conductor's discretion, and some crew interpreted this very strictly.

At this time, the East Shalford Lane Estate (now Hornhatch) consisted largely of asbestos pre-fabs, and when the bus arrived at this stop, the conductor would call out 'White City'!

The arrival of the 'RF' was not well received; local people thought of it as a rather ugly, noisy 'tube'!

Mr Hedger, who later became the Prudential insurance representative, once worked for this operator.

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The stationman at Chilworth and Albury (as it was then) was Mr Gunning who lived with his family at the station house. His daughter Susan went to Chilworth C of E school. Parcels, etc., could be despatched or collected from the station.

The signalman operated the level crossing gates manually, i.e. he pushed them open and shut.

The station sidings were used for carrying away sugar beet harvested from Major Steward's Sample Oak farm, and for coal for Shepherd and Hayward. On at least one occasion the station was used as a film set.

I recall, one of the signalmen at Tangley level crossing was called Charlie (Charlie Greenaway), he lived at Hornhatch.  He operated these gates in similar manner to those at the station.  A small flower garden was cultivated around this small signal box, which controlled home and distant signals. The box, with its privy, was painted in Southern Railway green and cream.

This crossing was closed for some days in 1948 or 1949 when a number of goods trucks ran away from the station and came to grief at Tangley catch points.

The crossing at East Shalford Lane, normally closed to road traffic, was controlled by Mr Percy who lived in the crossing keeper's cottage.  Two insurance agents were killed when their car was struck by (?) the down Birkenhead-Dover express.  The crossing was being manned at the time by an unauthorised person, I believe.

There was also a foot crossing between Magazine Lane and a footpath at the rear of New Road parallel with the track. This footpath could be followed through the back of Hornhatch Estate and ultimately all the way to Shalford, via the common.  New Road was built originally by the railway company because of its truncaton of Magazine Lane.

Some of the classes of locomotive pulling the three-carriage passenger trains and the, sometimes very long, goods trains were 'Q1' class 33001/2/3/4, 'M7' class 30056, 'G6' class 30268, 'L12' class 30428 or 30425, 'U' class 31620/21/27/28/29 31800, 'N' class 31851/2 31862/63.   The 'U' and 'N' classes were, by far, the most often noted, followed by powerful, though not pretty, 'Q1'.   The highlight of the day was the 'Birkenhead Express' running from Birkenhead to Dover and return. Later, the uncomfortable 'Tadpole' sets were introduced.

One of the drivers on this line was Mr Manville, who's son Brian ('Biff') later fired for him.   Biff later became senior driver and inspector at Horsham

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The nurseries in Chilworth were owned by Basil Wellington Lake who lived in the detached house next to the drive of Tillingbourne School.  They were situated opposite his residence, and stretched between New Road and the footpath adjacent to the Reading - Redhill railway line; they have since been replaced with a housing development. Several large greenhouses lay back off the road, the intervening cultivated space being often sown with lettuces. There were fruit bushes at the rear of the greenhouses. There was a large wooden shed for selling produce etc., and, in season, one could buy the best quality tomatoes for about 9d (say 4p) per pound, and ones suitable for frying or chutneying for just a few old pence. The entrance path to this shed and the nursery lay off of New Road and was immediately adjacent to the last semi-detached house on the left of Chantry Road. In later years, Basil's son, Roger, took over the business.



During the 1940's this business in New Road (almost opposite the entrance to Lake's nursery) was operated by Mr Prentice (although I have a feeling that the building was owned by the Friary Brewery). By the end of the decade, the shop was very old fashioned and run down.   Soft drinks and beers were left in their crates which were stacked sideways one upon the other, and as a full bottle was removed for sale, an empty one took its place.  Deposits were charged on the bottles, and varied from 2d (1p) for a soft drink's bottle, through 3d for a beer bottle to a massive 7/6d (35.5p) for a soda-water syphon!

Subsequently, the business was taken over by John (an ex-Co-op manager) and Hilda Holland, who rapidly revitalised the business, selling a wide range of wines, spirits, beers, groceries, provisions and fruit and veg. Some of their wholesalers were Kingham and Kingham from Farnham and (I believe) Stephensons from Castle Street, Guildford. A range of Friary and Fremlin (both Guildford breweries) bottled ales and stouts were carried along with a barrel of draught beer. Soft drinks were supplied by R Whites, R Fry and Co ('Fryco'), and Purnells of Guildford ( who produced ginger beer in stone bottles).

Bacon was purchased in whole 'sides', and sliced on the bacon slicer to rashers as thick or thin as the customer wanted.   Cheddar cheese came in 'rounds' about 60cms or so in diameter, and, before being cut up for selling, had to be 'skinned'.  This involved removing an outer coating of waxed muslin, and was a most patience-trying job - especially on a mature cheese!   Eggs often came from Australia by boat in large cardboard crates - the smell, by the time they got to the shop was appalling; customers served with a bad egg (which was often!) were asked not to bring them back - they were readily replaced!  Potatoes were bought in bulk from a farm in Blacksmith Lane. Sultanas and currents were served loose from wooden boxes.  Vinegar was sold loose from the barrel, as was Esso Blue paraffin - customers brought their own bottle or can.  Fruit and veg was displayed outside the shop. The storeroom was a large shed at the rear of the premises, and the fruit and veg store was a small lean-to close-by.   Some of the brands sold were Rinso soap powder, Tiptrees jam (this was supplied from the manufacturers in wooden boxes with the jars protected by straw - mice used to nest in this and eat the labels off the containers!), Nevilles's bread, Procea Bread, Brands meat paste, VP Port and Sherry, Fairy soap, Brooke Bond 'Dividend' tea (with a 'divi' stamp  which was detached from the packet and stuck on a card), Telfers meat pies, Ticklers jam, Westons' 'Wagon Wheels', IXL tinned jams, Red, White & Blue coffee, Camp coffee, Grape-Nuts breakfast food, Brilliantine dressing, Woodpecker cider and Digger Shag tobacco. Some old cigarette brands were: Gold Flake, Player's, Senior Service ('Satisfy'!), Park Drive, Player's Weights, State Express 666, Du Maurier, Wills' Woodbines (9d [4p} for 10).  A large loaf or a pint of milk was 5d (2p). Hilda made her own 'pressed' ham from the odd bits of bacon left over from the slicer. Every Monday the shop window was re-dressed by John with an attractive display of goods, and all the shelves were cleared, cleaned and re-stocked.

Some of the people who worked in the shop were Joy Roff (later Joy Chapman, wife of Tony), my brother, Barry, myself (on Saturdays), and latterly my first wife, Pam. Customers' orders were made up in the morning for delivery in the afternoon.  Barry was originally the delivery boy, riding a trades bike far too big for him that he could scarcely see over the boxes of groceries he was delivering.   When serving in the shop, he had to stand on a box to reach over the counter!  When old enough, he was taught to drive the business' A40 Austin van. No matter how many items a customer asked for, as the assistant fetched each one from the shelf he/she mentally added the price to the previous ones, thus keeping a running total which was immediately quoted to the customer as the last item was laid on the counter. Two unusual customers spring to mind: one lady who every day purchased one egg for her daughter's tea, and another who came in the same time every afternoon and asked for 'my loaf and a pot of paste'!  As far as I recall, the shop was closed for an hour or so in the evening, re-opening from 7pm to 9pm for off-licence sales. Sunday openings were from about midday to 1.30 pm, although the then Sunday trading laws allowed only a very restricted range of goods to be sold. Wednesday was half-day closing.

John and Hilda Holland eventually moved to another business in Grafham, Sussex, and some time later the Chilworth off-licence premises were converted into a private residence.

Brooke Bond Dividend Tea stamps, one was found on every quarter pound packet of Tea.

(From the 'Alan's Collector's Emporium' collection)


Although primarily a newsagency, this store run by Miss Dann on behalf of her aged and deaf father (who I remember delivering papers and collecting the cash at a venerable age), also sold a variety of, mainly, non-perishable groceries. It was situated at 90 New Road. Miss Dann's brother, Gordon, was a mechanic with C A Botting and Sons of Albury Mill.


This general grocery store was situated between Cumpers' radio and electrical shop and the Tillingbourne bus garage;  the site is now occupied by a filling station. The business was run by Mr and Mrs Petty, and I believe deliveries were made in a 5cwt Fordson van painted black and signwritten. The exterior of the shop was also painted black and signwritten. Greengroceries were displayed on the forecourt which lead rather steeply down from pavement to shop door.


Mrs Everitt run this small shop which was next to the village hall;  I believe it is now a private residence. Like Mr Prentice of Chilworth Off-Licence, this lady stored her soft drinks in the original crates turned on their side. She sold a small variety of general groceries, and would on occasions help local people out by selling an item not included in the list of goods one could retail under the Sunday Trading laws! She had a daughter, Marie, who attended Chilworth C of E School.


Owned by Mr and Mrs Bartelett, this general store was situated in Dorking Road next to the footpath leading to the old gunpowder factory - it was the last house on that side of the road before the Percy Arms public house. As with Chilworth Off-Licence under the Hollands and Tangley Stores a full range of groceries and provisions was offered. These premises have been converted to private housing, I believe.



Jack Bailey lived in New Road (close to right hand side of Chilworth Garage) but farmed at Lockner.  He made his deliveries in a green 5cwt Fordson van.   His bottles (including quarts) were painted with his business name and address, and, as was normal then, the caps were waxed cardboard inserts.   He eventually sold out to Mead Bros of Christmas Hill, Shalford, who in turn were taken over by Home Counties Dairies and subsequently Unigate.   Jack was a well-known and popular character with a tendency to hyperbole and a problem with his r's:  he once alleged that he "shot forty wooks with one barrel", and grew a marrow so large he "had to lay a couple of his wunner beans across the stream to woll it over to the other side".


Mr and Mrs Kennett farmed at Magazine Farm.  Mrs Kennett delivered milk locally twice daily by bicycle, serving it from a churn with an enamel jug. (Does anyone know if bottles were used at all?) Mr Kennett road around the village on horseback, and was decidedly irritated if he caught the local youngsters in his fields;  I can vouch for the fact that a horsewhip around the legs is a definite deterrent to trespass!


Mr Bowbrick lived in Wonersh (as you enter Wonersh from Shalford, it was the last house on the left before the Common).

He delivered by van, and was helped by his daughter, Thelma. He always wore a pork-pie hat!

d.  LOCKS 

This was a Shamley Green business which served a few customers in Chilworth. Its roundsman was Mr Tanner from New Road, who's son, Brian attended Chilworth C of E School.


The 'Co-op' also delivered in Chilworth. In those days, if doorstep deliveries of milk or bread were required, the customer had to purchase 'tokens' from Co-op shops. Each token had a value in milk or bread, and sufficient to the value of one's order had to be left out for the roundsman otherwise no goods would be left. It was believed at that time that the token system was introduced to prevent dishonesty on the part of the deliverymen, but presumably it was also a method of ensuring that members received their 'divi' on doorstep deliveries.

Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society tokens.

(From the 'Alan's Collector's Emporium' collection)



Kings bakehouse was at Albury, and the business was known as the 'Midnight Baker' because of the lateness of the hour the bread arrived!   Originally, deliveries were made in a two-wheeled, green painted and sign-written, closed horse-drawn cart driven by one Les Berry, who, when I was a little lad, used to delight in driving it as close to me as he could without actually running me over!   When this appliance was dispensed with, an early Reliant three-wheeled van was used driven by Sheila King.  A selection of bread, usually still warm, was brought to the door in a large wicker basket. The bakehouse (which was where about opposite the Drummond Arms was eventually demolished, and replaced by houses.


The 'Co-op' also delivered bread, using the 'token' system.



Austin's butcher's shop was situated on the corner of New Road and Chantry Road, and was managed by Mr Upfield and his wife (?Pam) who often sat in the cash kiosk taking the money. They had a son (Colin) and a daughter.  As was the custom in those days, very little meat was cut up until it was required by a customer, so complete carcasses and half- carcasses hung in the cold store. The substantial wooden counter had become very dented and cut over the years. The usual sawdust covered the floor of the shop. Deliveries were done by Mr Upfield's assistant, Bill Lemon (who's son, John, attended Chilworth C of E School, and later became a police officer). The Lemons lived next door to the shop. Austins also had a branch in Guildford (?Stoughton). 


The 'Co-op' had a travelling butchery van - similar to a Luton van with a centre opening door at the rear. The customer stepped inside, chose their cut, and the driver/butcher prepared it. Bear in mind that it was unrefrigerated and, on summer Saturdays, arrived at New Road at lunchtime having been on the road all morning...

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[For a small, basically ribbon, development, Chilworth had a surprising number of tradespeople offering a wide range of services. I will try to recall them working through the village from Rice's Corner towards Albury, as it were.]

a.  MR HEARD (or HERD).

Mr Heard ran the dairy farm at Rice's Corner;  he also used some of the fields adjacent to Bradstone Brook, and these were entered through double wooden gates at the junction of New Road and East Shalford Lane. I think the farm was later run by his son, Bill.


This gentleman lived about five houses down on the left hand side of Chantry Road, and in his spare time was the local barber.   In the evening, he would cut a man's hair for 6d (2.5p) or a boy's for half that amount. I recall he had a disabled arm, which I believe was due to active service during the war.


The Misses Baker were elderly spinster sisters who lived at 76 New Road, and were the village seamstresses. Much of this work was done by Gertie, whilst Lou cultivated their long garden and an allotment on the railway embankment beyond. Despite Lou's venerable age they were more than self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. Every Sunday these two remarkable ladies walked, morning and evening, to Guildford and back to attend church. Occasionally, they accepted a lift by car on their second return journey.  Gertie was very plump and Lou very thin!. I think they passed away in the late 1950's or early '60's. 


Mrs Hinds (?Hines?Hindes) ran Chilworth Post Office at 80 New Road. The range of services was much smaller than today, and consisted mainly of issuing postage stamps, postal orders (fixed denominations), money orders (random amounts) and registered letter envelopes (various sizes denoted by a letter of the alphabet).  Savings Bank business was also conducted (the interest rate on Post Office Savings accounts was for years 2.5%!). National Savings stamps were sold in denominations of 6d (2.5p) and 2/6d (12.5p); these were stuck into little books (about 10 or 12 to a page), and when redeemed were removed, the books being perforated for this purpose. One could also save by sticking 1d postage stamps on a card - I think these held twelve stamps - and when full could be exchanged for two 6d savings stamps. Chilworth Post Office was a telegraphic office, so urgent messages could written on a special form, and handed to the Postmistress who telephoned it through to the 'Telegrams' section of the GPO (in the good old days when the Post and Telephones were combined under the General Post Office banner!), who then telephoned or telegraphed it through to the post office nearest to the addressee's home. From here it was delivered in a little yellow envelope by a telegram boy on bicycle or motor cycle. When I was about eleven or twelve years old, I held this illustrious position in Chilworth!. After school, I would check to see if there were telegrams to deliver in Chilworth or Albury (on Albury's early closing day). I was paid 2d (1p) if the address was in New Road and up to 2/6 (12.5p) if I had to go to Farley Heath (hard earned money on a lady's ancient bike, in the middle of winter, in the pitch black, looking for a vague address in the middle of nowhere!). I had to wait to see if there was a reply, and if the envelope had a black margin round it, I had to say, as I handed it over, 'I'm sorry I have got bad news for you' - it would be notification of a death. Weddings should have been a source of considerable income, but Mrs Hinds would wait until she had a bundle of greetings telegrams before despatching me for one payment!. I was good at arithmetic as a child, and on Saturday mornings I would do her paperwork - totalling and balancing the stamps, postal orders, etc. My morning's work netted me a payment of two 6d savings stamps (5p)!   Sadly, Mrs Hinds was struck and killed by a motor vehicle at the junction of New Road and East Shalford Lane.

Mr Alf Prentice, the postman, worked out of here, and used to do three deliveries a day. It was possible to post a letter for a Guildford address in the morning in Chilworth, and receive a reply in the afternoon delivery. At Christmas, Mr Prentice used to do the preparation in the shop, and casual employees did the deliveries.


Two ladies who lived at (I believe) 88 New Road (next to Dann's newsagency) undertook the 'laying out'  or preparation for burial of the locally deceased.  I remember that at least one of the ladies always wore black! 

Freddie Arrow, who was my age and lived at this address caused my first ride in a military ambulance (purchased for civilian use), when he accidently knocked me over at Shalford School and caused me a sprained ankle! 


This was one of Derek Trice's interests, and, as noted elsewhere, there was considerable cross-subsidisation  with Tillingbourne Buses. Some of the folk who worked for him were Jack Tubb, George Elliott, Ron Cordery and Harry Thompson (or Tomlinson).  The last named lodged with Mr and Mrs Booth and their daughter, Jill, in New Road. I have a feeling that petrol was retailed here before the filling station opposite was built, but am very unsure of  this.


A business trading under the name R G Cumper or R&G Cumper was operated from a shop constructed of corrugated iron situated to the left of Tangley Stores. I believe there was another branch of this business at Gomshall. Wireless sets were often powered by wet cell lead-acid accumulators in those days, and they could be 're-charged' here for 6d (2.5p) each. Radio components, such as valves, were stocked in addition to a range of electrical requisites. Subsequently, I believe the premises were occupied by County Oil Heat Company and J&M Garden Machinery.

At the rear of this building, but not associated with it, was a timber yard about which I recall little. [In later years, and for a considerable time, ex-London Transport GS 1 (in Tillingbourne Bus dark red livery) was parked here!]


The Chilworth doctor lived at the Old Manor House which was bounded by Magazine Lane, Dorking Road and Halfpenny Lane.   Servants' accommodation was provided in an annexe built around the double garages. The house was surrounded by extensive gardens, and a large paddock complete with a stream was part of the estate. I believe the paddock, which ran along the side of Magazine Lane, has now been built on. In 1948, Dr Gerald Paterson, his wife Margaret, and their two children Richard and Jennifer moved to Chilworth from Portsmouth where Gerald had been in general practice. With them, as gardener/chauffeur and cook, came my parents along with my brother, Barry, and myself. My father had worked for several doctors and dentists in Portsmouth. Dr Paterson was either the son or nephew of Carter Paterson, the well-known carrier, and had at one time been a naval doctor. He was a quiet man who worked with Dr Bateman of 'Sandacre', Shalford in respect of days off and holidays. He had a penchant for Rover cars - usually Rover 12's or 14's, and received delivery of a new one shortly after arrival in Chilworth.   Richard and Jennifer both went to boarding school.

My father dammed the stream, and kept ducks on it;  Jennifer's bad tempered horse, Teddy, owned the paddock.


The equipment for pumping water from the Tillingbourne stream was situated on the left-hand side of Halfpenny Lane (as you head towards St. Martha's). The water was pumped up to St. Martha's and gravity fed to Chilworth. The man in charge was Alf Baker, who lived in a property adjacent to the pump-house. Alf had the habit of turning up for his evening pint at the 'Percy Arms' almost at closing time!


Mr hedger lived in a bungalow opposite the old Manor House, and was the local Prudential Insurance agent. I believe he rose to a senior position in this business. He had previously been a London Transport bus driver or conductor.  His children, Martin and Susan, attended Chilworth C of E School.


Fred lived in a chalet bungalow on the right-hand side of Dorking Road, and practiced as an osteopath, although this was not his original calling. His son became a stockbroker, and lived in Wonersh Park.


This business traded from a yard in Sample Oak Lane at the rear of the station under the name of, I believe, C H Frost and Son.  Two brothers were involved:  I think Frank Frost (who lived in Dorking Road) ran the firm, and Fred Frost (living in New Road) was the plumber.  Charlie Valler was the carpenter, and his very high quality work can still be seen in Wonersh Park;  he lived with his wife Dora close to the Police House in Dorking Road.  Mr Brown, the bricklayer, lived in New Road, opposite Chantry Road, with his wife and two sons Robert ('Mousey') and Lawrence. Tools and materials were often transported on a large hand-cart signwritten with the trade name.   Frank was also the local funeral director, and his building employees acted as pall bearers.   I remember that Frank's wife rode a lady's 'sit up and beg' bicycle with the dress protector over the rear wheel;  they had a daughter, Frances.


'The Percy Arms' was licenced to Mr and Mrs Tester.   I remember Mr Tester was not a well man and walked with the aid of a stick.   The pub consisted of three bars: the public, the private and the lounge, and the cost of the ale was related to the degree of comfort the drinker opted for!   The public bar was very spartan and contained the dart board; this was the haunt generally of the younger patrons - the prices were the lowest, but private and lounge customers were served first!

The private bar was the smallest and situated between the other two.  It was frequented by the 'better class' (!) artisan imbibers, and the beer was a penny a pint more.  (My father made a set of bar-skittles which lived here for some years.)

It was the regular haunt of such well known characters as Geoff Warner, the local tractor driver, Jack Bailey, Alf Baker and my parents.  The lounge bar was by comparison very plush and more expensive, and was generally frequented by the 'passing trade'.   There were tables and chairs on the front verandah.


These were the coal merchants who operated from Chilworth station goods yard, where bulk deliveries of coal and coke were received by rail.   Coal was rationed, but householders could receive extra supplies of 'nutty slack' which was 90% dust and 10% bits of coal!  However by mixing it with a little cement, and making it into small bricks, it could be burned.

I believe the coal lorry was an Austin, painted green and signwritten white; and the Haywards lived in Blackheath.


Mr Porter was the local chimney sweep.  He lived opposite Lockner Farm;  he had twins, George and Jane, who attended Chilworth C of E school.


Major Steward owned and ran three farms: two at Wonersh and Sample Oak at Chilworth.   They were managed by his bailiff, the elderly Mr Cooper, who was an expert shot with his .410 despite the barrels being so bent that if you looked through them there was only a half moon of light at the end!  An important crop was sugar-beet which was despatched in specially ordered trucks by rail from Chilworth Station.  Casual labour in the form of gypsies was hired for weeding the crops with dutch hoes.  Major Steward's tractor driver on Sample Oak Farm was Geoff Warner who lived in a tied house at Sample Oak Cottages.   My father was his gardener, assisted by a Mr Turner and a local lad from Dorking Road, Ken Mitchell. Mrs Steward's mother was Lady Cook, widow of Sir Thomas Cook the travel agent, and lived at Sparke's Place Wonersh.   Every employee received a tractor-trailer load of logs each year, and a joint of pork from pigs slaughtered on the farm by Mr Collins from Cranleigh. (In those days, only half the pig could be retained by the breeder, the remainder was distributed by the Ministry of Food.)

Southern Railway SUGAR BEET wagon label as used at Chilworth Station.

(From the 'Alan's Collector's Emporium' collection)

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The fire engine was shedded in a building reached by a drive opposite Lake's Nurseries.  (The same drive served the central kitchens which produced the local school meals.)   It was a retained brigade headed by Derek Trice and staffed mainly by his employees. These part timers were called out by the sounding of the old war-time air-raid siren, and the memory endures of them charging along New Road on their bicycles or running like the devil to get to the fire station!

Villagers used to come to their front gates to watch the appliance go by, bell ringing wildly despite the lack of other traffic!    Many of the incidents attended were heath or corn-field fires, although I do recall a major fire at Surrey House in New Road, when a Guildford crew had water on the fire before the Chilworth brigade!


The stage of the village hall had two sets of book shelves:  one filled with children's books and the other with adult books.   These were supplied by the Surrey County Council Library Service, and were 'changed' about every six months.   The library was open from, I believe, 6pm to 8pm on Thursday evenings, the books being collected and issued by Mrs Davies and Miss Bailey who sat at a desk on the stage.  These facilities were entered by the left-hand door at the rear of the hall. Each library member had two little cardboard 'envelopes' (one fiction and one non-fiction).  The librarian took an identifying card from a pocket in one's chosen book and placed it in one's envelope which she kept and filed.   Upon return of the volume one got the envelope back, ready to be used for a new choice of book.  One idiosyncrasy was that the fiction 'envelope' could be used for an additional non-fiction book, but the non-fiction one could not be used for an additional fiction book.


In those days, most working chaps took a great interest and pride in their vegetable gardens, and spent many hours after work or on Sundays (Saturday was still a working day) tending them.  Chilworth had many such who belonged to the CSPVA (as it was known).   An annual show was held at Bradstone Brook, when prizes as high as 2/6 (12.5p) could be had for growing the straightest parsnip or the most shapely potato.  Mr Sopp and Mr Arrow were very frequent winners, and in the children's section, Arthur Tiller was notorious for regularly winning the 'greatest number of cabbage white butterflies caught' competition!    A good deal of hanky-panky was alleged to go on with many a 'I'll swap you a good truss of my melon-size tomatoes for a bundle of your three-feet long runner beans' deal being done!  All serious stuff!


For a while, a gentleman from Guildford set up a portable screen on Wednesday evenings in the village hall, and showed black and white films.   The first performance was 6pm (admission 3d) when pictures, often Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello, suitable for youngsters were shewn.. The 8pm performance cost 6d, and was for a more mature audience, although the chairs were not as conducive to courting as the  double seats in the Guildford cinemas!


Once a week meat pies were sold from a van parked in the village hall car-park.  Bearing in mind the current food rationing, this was a popular service, although by today's standards the pies were horrible, and were reputed to contain horse-meat from the New Forest or Dartmoor!


Bats, Stag Beetles and Mayflies  were legion when we used to play in New Road.  Where are they all today?


Children used to get two weeks holiday from school in October, when, if we were (or looked) thirteen years old, we could work on the local farms harvesting the potato crop. A generous farmer would pay 1/- (5p) an hour, but the average was 9d (4p) an hour and could be as low as 6d (2.5p).  It was hard work and long hours from early in the morning until latish in the afternoon, but we loved it.  A strip of field was allocated to each picker, and as the tractor passed by it spun the potatoes out of the ground.  Before the tractor came back the other way spinning more potatoes, the first lot had to be cleared and bagged in hessian sacks.  I remember working at Butler's farm in East Shalford Lane well before I was thirteen!


Chilworth Manor was occupied by Sir Lionel Heald and Lady Heald and their son, Rufus. Sir Lionel was Attorney General in the post-war Churchill Government. The manor was reputed to have a passage connecting it with St Martha's Church.


An elderly lady lived in Dorking Road who was the local representative of the RSPCA. For 9d (4p) she would supply children with a RSPCA lapel badge.  For some reason these were much sought after, and we used to badger (no pun intended) her incessantly until stocks came in.

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I think that completes most of my principle memories of Chilworth in the early 'fifties, but I will append a few notes about individual folk I remember not previously mentioned.  I am sure that I have made loads of mistakes in my recollections above, and I would love to receive corrections at   It would be particularly nice to receive word of Dennis Hall, Beryl Wood and Michael Jones (whose father ran Shalford British Legion) who were then my young friends. Many happy hours were spent listening to 'Roses of the South' on Dennis's wind-up gramophone or playing in the British Legion cellars!

Finally, I would like to thank Alan most sincerely for suggesting this site and for actually posting the information. Frankly, I haven't a clue how it is done!    What I do know is that his site is a credit to him, and may it go from strength to strength.

Content for this web page was kindly supplied by Brian Clifford

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