Prior to the coming of the railway this was a small hamlet within a district of Reigate parish called Linkfield, which also included three other hamlets, namely Linkfield Street, Wiggey and Meadvale.Earlswood is located approximately one mile south of Redhill along the A23 and is bounded by Nutfield in the east, Horley in the south and Reigate in the west. It is part of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Johns.
In 1844 the population of both Linkfield and Woodhatch Districts was about 1200 people. Hence Earlswood and its extensive common lands were sparsely populated at that time. St. John’s was called Little London due to the poor construction of some of its houses, some were built in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, including the Plough public house.. Reigate Union Workhouse was built on Earlswood common, close to St Johns in 1794. It closed in 1938, to be replaced by Redhill General Hospital, which later moved to a site off of Three Arch road and is now The East Surrey Hospital. The old site became a housing estate.
The London to Brighton railway Company was formed in 1837 and 5000 navies were employed to dig out cuttings and tunnels. The Company first opened the London to Brighton line in 1841. The railway had an immediate effect on the population which grew rapidly around Redhill and Earlswood.
The first District church in the borough of Reigate was St. John’s which was built in 1844 to accommodate the rapidly growing population. In 1849 The Philanthropic School for Juvenile Offenders moved from Southwalk, in London and relocated to a new site in Earlswood. St. John’s School was built close to the Church in 1846 and later expanded in 1861 and 1884.
The Royal Earlswood Asylum was built on part of Earlswood common in 1853 and a railway siding was laid from Earlswood Station to the Institute to provide the means of supplying Coal and other goods. The first inmates moved in on the 15th of April 1855 and later that year Prince Albert officially opened the Institute. One of the most notable inmates was James Henry Pullen who could not read or write when he first came to the site but developed as a genius at drawing, painting and mechanics. He built a number of complex and detailed models including a large model of The Great Eastern ship. Many of his exhibits are on display at the Belfrey shoping Centre, Redhill.
Local Buildings and Sites
- St. John’s Church
- Earlswood Railway Station
- The Plough public house
- Earlswood Common
- St. John’s School
- Union Work House
- Methodist church Earlswood
- Earlswood Village
- Earlswood Asylum
- Philanthropic Farm School
Links to other sources
Redhill Centre for Local & Family History: www.surreycc.gov.uk/redhilllocalhistory
Alan Moore’s local history site: http://redhill-reigate-history.co.uk/index.htm