Redhill: Fengates Road

This road is in itself unremarkable: an early example of infill residential development snaking its 250m south-easterly course between the major thoroughfare of the A25 (Hatchlands Road) and the ancient highway of Linkfield Street. Nevertheless the road has an interesting history to recount from early references to the Fengates Estate, through accounts of life in the hamlet of Linkfield Street, the development of the road itself in the late 19th/early 20th century and the subsequent history of its houses and their occupants.

One of the distinguishing features of the road is its residents strong sense of community. Throughout its existence many families have remained for several decades and some houses have had only three or four owners. Unusually the community spirit continues to the present day and is typified by the millennium celebration street party of Saturday 24th June, 2000.

Production has been a collaborative effort with contributions from current and former residents, together with research of original material held at The Surrey History Centre, The Holmesdale Natural History Society and the Redhill Centre for Local and Family History.

We have also been fortunate that the early history is closely associated with Thomas Rowland Hooper. T.R. Hooper was a local resident and, as borough surveyor and distinguished architect, made a significant contribution to the development of Redhill in general and Fengates Road in particular. However, it is for his interest in researching and recording local history that we should be most grateful.

His introduction to a historical and topographical account of the borough, published in 1885 concludes: Made accessible by a convenient railway service, the natural beauties and healthfulness of the neighbourhood have attracted notice, and the latter has been supplemented by a complete sanitary system. The advantages of the country are available with the conveniences of a town where residential expenses are normal; while the distance from London prevents the spoilation that has marred so many once-pleasant suburbs. Fortunately these sentiments prevail today.

To read more from the book, A Celebration of Fengates Road, please visit Opens in a new window

2 thoughts on “Redhill: Fengates Road”

  1. Grace Filby says:

    A famous resident of Fengates Road was Philip H Mitchiner, around the time of the First World War. His father rented the property from the builder, Mr. Hooper, whose family over several generations were educated at Reigate Grammar School. Philip Mitchiner and his brothers were also educated there, having moved from Croydon for this very reason. This led to a distinguished career in surgery.

    He served with the Serbian Army at Salonika and did much to improve public health – he was Chairman of the Linen Committee, honoured for his devoted service, mentioned in despatches and decorated with many medals. He always kept in touch with his old school as Hon. Sec. of the Old Boys Club and later became a governor.

    Between the wars he became a senior consultant at St Thomas’s Hospital, London where he had trained, and honorary consultant at the East Surrey Hospital in Shrewsbury Road, Redhill, just three minutes’ walk from his former home. He wrote numerous books and papers, lecturing on subjects such as the importance of maintaining calm and order during air raids or gas bombing.

    He was honorary surgeon to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II until his sudden death in 1952 aged 64.

    A very keen Territorial Army man from its start in 1908, he rose to the top rank of Major General after a distinguished interlude overseas during WW2.

    From some of the enduring anecdotes, he was evidently a great character and memorable teacher of surgery and public health, with key messages about infection control and prevention – e.g. ‘Sepsis results from infection by germs which are destroyed by boiling..’ and that direct sunlight (UV) kills bacteria. He specified that a cholera sheet is sterile in one hour in the sun. These basic principles still need to be emphasised.

    In 1929 he performed life-saving emergency surgery on a local 5 year old girl who had developed gangrene after a burst appendix. He used “gangrene medicine discovered during the war”. It took a year of careful nursing and rest for her to fully recover. The story is available in detail with official references although the family kept it very quiet for many years.

    After WW2 and during the introduction of the NHS and antibiotics, Mitchiner had the special responsibility of helping an older colleague, the world-renowned bacteriologist Dr. FW Twort, with getting his key messages through to the Government. A short letter had been printed in the British Medical Journal, Nov.11 1944, entitled ‘A QUESTION OF PRIORITY’ but appeals to the Prime Ministers of the time had not resulted in any action.

    After carefully going through all Twort’s paperwork, Mitchiner too, was unsuccessful in bringing about any change to the situation.

    Mitchiner is remembered each year in the Royal Army Medical Service with a Mitchiner Medal and lecture. At Reigate Grammar School the Mitchiner Cup is presented annually.

    At the King’s College archives is his last book review for the Gazette, published Dec. 1952 and written shortly before his death:

    (After treatment – HJB Atkins, 4th ed.)

    ‘It is a pleasure to welcome a new edition … which primarily regards the patient as a human being and gives consideration in treatment to the personal idiosyncrases of the patient; things which are so essential to the individual’s comfort and recovery and which so frequently tend to be overlooked in these days of the earnest application of scientific surgery.’

    He wrote several more paragraphs and concluded with a final reminder:

    ‘Apart from these small points, one has only praise for a sound book which is to be recommended to all house surgeons and to a good many consultants who are inclined to forget that their patients are human beings and respond better if they are treated as such.’

    A PowerPoint presentation or talk about Mitchiner is available on request.

    1. Vanessa says:

      Dear Ms Grace Filby

      i am doing some research about P Mitchiner – i would be very grateful if you could contact me and send me any information you have


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