Thames Ditton

Situated on the Surrey side of the River Thames and opposite Hampton Court Park where the river takes a wide loop to the south. It forms a tightly knit settlement with a complex, local road pattern, which makes it more roadside than riverside.

The Swan Hotel, Thames Ditton, 1928 Photographic Record and Survey of Surrey no. 9203

The Swan Hotel, Thames Ditton, 1928
Photographic Record and Survey of Surrey no. 9203

Thames Ditton has an interesting industrial history. In 1874, a bronze foundry was built in Summer Road by Cox and Company, celebrated Victorian ecclesiastical craftsmen and furnishers, specifically for the casting of statues. A series of important commissions were undertaken and included Cromwell (outside the House of Commons), Dr. Livingstone (Glasgow) and Captain Cook (Sydney, Australia). Production ceased in 1939 and the craftsmen were dispersed into war work.

Read Surrey History Centre’s November 2019 Marvel of the Month about a home-produced First World War newspaper produced by the Brockman family.

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29 thoughts on “Thames Ditton”

  1. Keith Evetts says:

    Much information about Thames Ditton and recent back numbers of the quarterly magazine ‘Thames Ditton Today’ may be found at http://www.residents-association.com and you may well want to add a link to that site from this site.

    1. Debbie Crowther Bauer says:

      I may be mistaken but I believe Keith is the person I spoke to over the phone last week, Feb. 4. I was visiting Thames Ditton and trying to find information on my ancesters. William Crowther and Dr. John Dawson are my great, great grandparents. I found much information at the library. I was particularly interested in finding where the Crowthers lived in the 1800’s, a home they all referred to as The Chestnuts. In Mercer’s book C it said that Fred Crowther, who was one of William Crowther’s sons lived at The Chestnuts and that it was on Angel Road near the Hollies, Laurel Lodge #9 and the Red House and that those were the only houses on Angel Road at the time. I walked over and it looks like all the houses are still there except The Chestnuts. I would like to find out what happened to it. It was described to me by my grandfather, Charles Dawson Crowther, as having a stable on one side and tennis court on the other and about an acre of land behind it with fruit trees, in the front were 4 or 5 chestnut trees. It may be the the houses 7a, 7b, 9a and 9b were built on the property. Any information would be appreciated.

      1. Richard Pancoast says:

        Hi Debbie- Wm Crowther and Dr. John Dawson were my great-great grandfathers also. My great-grandmother Marian Crowther was the sister of Charles, Dudley and Wilfred Crowther. She married Samuel Pancoast in New Jersey, and Samuel Jr. was my grandfather and my father was Charles Pancoast, no doubt named for Charles Crowther. I have a letter from Dudley to Wilfred’s son Howard which I transcribed and would love for you to have a copy.

      2. Mark Hamilton says:

        Hi Debbie, I visited Church of St. Nicholas yesterday with my wife and father in law, Lyn ( nee Crowther and James Henry Crowther) We came from South Australia and photographed the headstone of William and Eleanor Crowther. Have you got a photo or would you like one sent?
        Regards, Mark Hamilton South Australia

      3. Anthony Forbes Whitmore says:

        Hello Debbie, This website may still be viewed but as your enquiry was some six years ago – ?. I have no knowledge of your ancestors but I do have some limited knowledge of ‘The Hollies’, on Angel Road as I was, with my mother and father the last to reside in the Hollies until early 1964. I was only 11 yrs old at that date so my memories now are still very pleasurable but somewhat limited of the house and garden which both were quite vast. I have a feeling that the house on one side or the other of The Hollies (which was no. 7) would have been The Chestnuts.(no. 9) I have to correct you in the fact that The Hollies would not have been seen by yourself as it was demolished in later 1964 and most likely the 7a,7b to 9a, 9b are much more recent in date that may indeed have encompassed the Chestnuts ground as well ?? The more I think about it – The Chestnuts would have been no. 9 as I may be imagining but I am sure I remember a tennis court ??. Certainly the garden like ours was large enough – the River Rythe (only small stream size – ran through the rear of the gardens – with a stone bridge in The Hollies case before the modern houses built up on the far side of our gardens.
        I know this may not be that helpful to you but as I am writing a family history that does include The Hollies and that I have found your query of some years ago here I felt that I had to respond. My best wishes, Tony.

  2. Bill Langley says:

    Does anyone remember the Solatron company? It was housed in what at one time had been a form of night club, right on the bank of the river with broad stone steps leading into the water. Whilst I worked there, in the prototype shop around 1955, Stone urns and a tall flagpole stood in the remains of the garden. On good days the staff would spend the lunch break in the garden feeding the seagulls and the competing crows. At home In Surbiton we had to call on our local plumber to fix a leak in the old lead piping. Mister Pero was a well built man whose hobby was single sculls and he had the arms to prove it. Chatting over a cup coffee he asked me where I worked, on telling him he asked if the flagpole was still there, he smiled when he found it was. He then told me about the night club, when the young starlets would arrive by boat and be entertained, may be on a casting couch. Mister Pero played the trumpet and played in the band at the club and more than once had shinned up the flagpole clutching his trumpet during the odd police raid. He said he would sit on the truck, and watch the police search around the grounds, wait until they had gone then slide down and go home . He was so pleased that it was still there. Do you remember those days? .

    1. Lynn Antill (nee Hedges) says:

      I lived in Alexandra Road in the 1950’s & 60’s and the Solatron Factory was at the bottom of Queens Rd & Alexandra Rd. I remember all the Children who lived in those roads ( me included ) were treated to a Christmas Party & gift and I think an outing sometimes.
      I remember going down in the Summer evenings talking to the Security men and they used to let us ride our bikes round the car park. Sometimes when he wasnt looking we would climb over the wall by the river and camp out on an old boat moored there called Katrina. Funnily enough when I married and moved to Farnborough in 1971 I was rather bemused to find Solatrons had re-located there too but were by then known as Schlumberger.

      1. Linda Thompsonn says:

        Well I never Lynn, I used to live next door to you in Alexandra Road with my Grandmother Violet Russell, I married at the bill he church and moved to Worthing in 1979. Often wondered what happened to you and your brother

        1. Sharon Wilson says:

          Hello there ! I also live in Alexandra Road, from 1957 to 63, before we moved from there to Colchester, on the Essex/ Suffolk border when i was 9. I lived at no16, which was the first council house 0n the Right.Our back garden backed onto the Rec, right where the swings and things were. I went to Thames Ditton Infants school ,then to the Junior school behind .My twin sister and 2 brothers (Graham and Simon) used to play over ‘The Fields’ along the bank of the river.
          My name was Sharon Cross and my twin Sister was Sheridan.The families in the street I remember The Coles, The Bailey’s ( Lesley Bailey was a friend ouf ours) and Marie Fenwick
          I also think i recognise your maiden name too, might that have been possible? Happy memories of a lovely village.

      2. Joshua Hedges says:

        Lynn,
        I’m in the USA and recently started looking into my family history. My dad says that the family comes from Thames Ditton and possibly has some history with the The Old Swan. Unfortunately when I still had an Ancestry.com account there were very scarce records that could corroborate that. Would be very interested in correspondence with you or anyone you know who may be able to tell me more about the Hedges family (or families) in Thames Ditton in the early 20th century. Thanks!
        -Josh

      3. Sharon Wilson says:

        Hello there ! I also live in Alexandra Road, from 1957 to 63, before we moved from there to Colchester, on the Essex/ Suffolk border when i was 9. I lived at no16, which was the first council house 0n the Right.Our back garden backed onto the Rec, right where the swings and things were. I went to Thames Ditton Infants school ,then to the Junior school behind .My twin sister and 2 brothers (Graham and Simon) used to play over ‘The Fields’ along the bank of the river.
        My name was Sharon Cross and my twin Sister was Sheridan.The families in the street I remember The Coles, The Bailey’s ( Lesley Bailey was a friend ouf ours) and Marie Fenwick
        I also think i recognise your maiden name too, might that have been possible? Happy memories of a lovely village.

  3. g l says:

    does anyone happen to know of a wildlife project based on ditton island or other ait in elmbridge in the 60s and 70s. this was mainly for medium-sized cats and large owls. it seems to have been sited at the upstream end near a neglected orchard. quite well-known at the time, the cats featured in photo shoots for rock stars and one of the owls went on to ‘act’ in a cult sci-fi series. [note this sounds like something on eel pie but t.d. isle is the best guess here]

  4. Mike Ormian says:

    My grandmother lived at Alexandra Terrace, Thames Ditton between 1934 and 1937, when she moved to 55 Alexandra Road.
    On Goggle Earth I can find pictures of Alexandra Road, but not Alexandra Terrace – do you know where it was and what happened to it?
    My father was a partner in the Highfield Press, a print works in Alexandra Road and I started my working life in a company called Surrey Travel Service on Winters Bridge about 1959.
    Before working at the Highfield Press I think he worked at Rola Celestion (?) as a french polisher. As I am writing about my family history I would love to know if there are any photos etc., that I could include?
    As a young boy in the 1950s I would walk from the trolleybus terminus down to Alexandra Road to see my father at work. I was always fascinated by the foundry which was almost opposite the riverside pub (name unknown)
    Many thanks
    Mike

    1. Reg Cheek says:

      Hi, Mike Ormain, I don`t remember your Father being a partner in Highfield Press in the 50s he may of worked there, my Father an Mother owned Highfield Press Ltd and it was a limited company and they were the only directors, What was your Fathers Christian name? Mrs Booty was my Fathers secretary, I think my parents sold the business around 1964.
      Does anyone remember the bakery that was on the corner, I think that was owned at the time by Mr Clarke and his son, lots of bad floods in Alexandra Road back then when the Thames would come right up to Summer Road, my dads place got flooded out, anyway its nice to here from other people who were around at that time, if anybody else knew my Dad, it would be nice to here from you.
      Many thanks
      Reg

      1. Michael Ormian says:

        Hello Reg,
        How exciting to hear from you!
        I had always thought that my dad, HAROLD (aka Harry) Ormian, was a partner in the Highfield Press, but then I was only a kid so didn’t know anything about the world of business!
        I met your dad on occasions – was his name Harry? I think I also remember playing with you at the print works? I may possibly have visited your house for some reason but can’t remember where it was.
        I remember the big double gates to the workshop, and the great pot-belly stove that heated the print-shop. I think it burned coke and was incredibly smelly, but highly efficient.
        I used to help my dad with the guillotine and used the printing press, with a big flywheel on the side. It sort of opened and closed its jaws and you had to place a sheet of paper inside before the thing closed. Definitely needed nimble fingers!
        I suppose my most enduring memory of the Highfield Press was the distinctive smell of gelatin being heated to re-coat the ink rollers.
        When I visited the print shop on a weekend or during school holidays, I would spend ages collating the pages of print jobs. I also learnt to ‘fan’ paper to prevent the pages sticking together when it was put through the printing presses. I still use exactly the same skill now when I load paper into my computer printer.
        I am slowly writing my life story for my children and would really like to include any pictures or information about the business that you might have?
        My email address has recently changed and you could contact me directly on: [email protected]
        I look forward to hearing from you.
        Kind regards
        Mike Ormian
        PS: I do remember the bakery, especially a very pretty assistant who I ‘dated’ for a very short time – she smelled good enough to eat!

        1. Reg Cheek says:

          Hi Mike, I sent another email to you back in April this year but never got a reply back from you, I still don`t have any photos of my Father`s print works but I do have some of Thames Ditton, drop me a line when you have a minute
          Kind regards
          Reg Cheek

      2. Linda Thompson says:

        I lived with my Grandmother from 1954, in Alexander Road, the bottom of the road used to flood quite regular, the whole road flooded in 1953, but that was the only time my gran lived there since she was three months old in 1912. Yes I remember the Highfield press they would give us kids paper now and again, the bakers was there for years, only made hot cross buns on good Fridays and where wonderful when I got married, guaranteed the bread for my wedding reception in 1977 during bread strike .

        1. Reg Cheek says:

          Hello Linda, I remember the floods of 1953 I was only eight at the time and my Father`s place, Highfield Press got flooded especially the paper store, I don`t quite remember whether the bakers got flooded or not, I know there were two big steps at the back of the shop, its nice to hear that you were given paper when you kids, I don`t remember that.

  5. David Green says:

    The pub by the Rola Celestion works was The Swan. The pub was owned by Earnie and Dorrie Cartright, this was in the 50’s and 60’s. They had a very fine restaurant quite unusual for a pub in those days. There was a public bar on the right hand side looking from the river terrace and car park. On the left side was the car entrance and the saloon bar. If you were privileged to be invited to the signet bar that would have been above the saloon and only operated on Sunday. Charles and John Cooper (Cooper racing) were frequent customers together with Sir Fred Pontin of holiday fame. Once a month Dorrie and Earnie would invite the lads round to their home Church Cottage in Church Lane. There you would be given Walkers Black Label and Earnie would tell you about the days racing at Sandown Park and Hurst Park.
    I think it was 1969 or 70 on Earnies death that Dorrie sold the pub to Grand Metropolitan Hotel group for 75,000 pounds freehold. Wonderful days. Mention also The Angel (Frank and Eileen Beezley) and all the other Ditton pubs.

  6. Nicholas Simpson says:

    I am researching the history of my 1932 Alvis car. It’s first owner was Mr William Leslie Herbert of Drucemoor, Weston Green Road, Thames Ditton. I have written to that address but received no response. Does the property/address still exist? Was Mr Herbert well known? I was hoping to trace the address and copy a picture of the property from Google Earth, but I cannot identify it from the address I have.
    Anyone help?

    1. Nigel Venus says:

      Hello,
      I used to live in Thames Ditton in the 50’s and 60’s and know the area well. Have you had any luck finding a photo of the address? I could check it out for you when I next visit TD.

      1932 Alvis,…nice. I have a modest 1932 Austin Seven!

      Regards

      Nigel Venus

    2. Becky G says:

      My parents used to live in Drucemoor in the 90s. It’s definitely still there. I’ll try to get a photo for you

  7. Natalie Green says:

    Are you related to a man called William Green by any chance? I am looking for my grandfather and he may have lived in Thames Ditton.

  8. Anthony Forbes Whitmore says:

    Re, The Hollies, Angel Road, Thames Ditton.
    I fell across this website (as one does) in the process of writing my family history and have responded to an enquiry regarding the Portsmouth Road end of Angel Road (no.7) so if I may take the liberty of expanding what I remember regarding ‘The Hollies’ (as a pre teenager then) . I know (assume) that the house was built in the Victorian period and that the now well regarded artist J.Jessop Harwick (specializing in floral and country scenes resided there for approximately 30 yrs ( I may stand corrected about the exact number). It was a large house and garden by anyone’s standards for these days but the most intriguing part for me (as a young boy) was the two story annex attached to the main house which was the artist studio of those days ( I cannot comment on if it was contemporary to the original house – obviously) that had a very wide roof section of glass that had a wooden roll shutter inside to close up ( like a giant roll top desk shutter) )when not requiring the natural light for commencing work.
    Truly, this house should have remained and indeed a blue plaque mounted for the artist J.Jessop Hardwick who I gather died in 1917. I have no idea as to the intervening history of the house until my father leased it. I was led to believe that that the landlords of that time were the local council ?? That must have been the case as a compulsory purchase order was granted and this fine old house was demolished in 1964 and four modern houses were erected on the grounds. The 1960’s and 70’s were playgrounds for developers all over the country – so much history has been deleted unecessarily ( I happen to live now in a small town in the ‘sticks’ of Fenland that the antiquarian William Stukeley’s original large house was demolished in the same fashion — in the late 1970’s !! by the local council – members of whom I know for a fact had never heard of him. ??)
    Getting back to ‘The Hollies’ – as a young boy I used to climb easily the very large and fine oak tree that must have been planted as an original n the rear garden – it was massive to me. Every Summer season an Eagle Owl used to come back to this tree , they are unusal but not rare to be annually regularly seen that far south – there were times when I was probably 20 odd feet up and a good few feet above, the Eagle Owl looked sternly at me as if to say ‘get out of my space’- ‘this is my tree’. Tree protection orders were not a consideration then.

    Anyone who has any further information I would be grateful – I have most probably some of the last photographs taken of ‘The Hollies before the demon developers demolished.

    1. bill o'dwyer says:

      Re, The Hollies, Angel Road, Thames Ditton.
      Hi Anthony,
      we have recently moved to nr 5 Angel Road and so interested to hear of your memories of the road. We woud be very happy to see any photos of the Hollies/local area before the 1070’s development, many thanks. Mr and Mrs O’D.

  9. Lee says:

    Hi, I’m looking to find out anything (photos would be amazing!) about the building that is now Premier Wine on Thorkhill Road in Thames Ditton. I know at one point it was Claydon’s Stores and that a butcher’s shop was next door but one. If anyone can help it would be very much appreciated. Many thanks in advance. 🙂

  10. Alison Wheatley says:

    Fascinating insight about Angel road houses 7-9. I live in one of those now with the river Rythe running through the garden. There are remnants of old landscaping in my garden with brick bedding borders. The stone bridge is still standing!

  11. philip says:

    I am looking for information about my father, Peter Frank Brimble, who was born in Thames Ditton on October 20, 1921 at a place called Canterbury Cottage on Weston Road. His father was Frank George Brimble, his mother was Edith Alice (Gosden). I don’t know if Canterbury Cottage was a family home. Can anyone tell me more about Thames Ditton in those years? Or about the Gosden family?

  12. Gary says:

    Does anyone know anything of the Thatcher family in Thames Ditton ? Charlie,Walter,Edgar,Percy,William Thatcher.

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