1900-1999

Pillboxes were defensive structures crucial to the defense of Surrey in World War 2 Image: Paul Bowen

Pillboxes were defensive structures crucial to the defense of Surrey in World War 2
Image: Paul Bowen

Twentieth century Surrey was shaped by the demands of war. The county once again took up the challenge of supplying London with food. Defensive posts were spread across the countryside and key towns were defended against enemy attack to block the invasion route to London. But the twentieth century also saw a growing specialisation in Surrey’s industries as the county began to take on an important role in the development of England’s aircraft and car manufacture.

Houses

  • Homewood, built in 1938-9 by Patrick Gwynne in Modern Style
Homewood, Porstmouth Road, Esher Reproduced courtesy of Surrey History Centre Part of the Historic Buildings and Antiquities photograph collection CC1101/3/59/290-293

Homewood, Porstmouth Road, Esher
Reproduced courtesy of Surrey History Centre
Part of the Historic Buildings and Antiquities photograph collection CC1101/3/59/290-293

Other Landmarks

  • Pill box, Waverley Abbey Site, Farnham – anti-tank defences including pillboxes and other structures
  • Pill box, Elstead Mill – a hexagonal pillbox on the GHQ line along the River Wey; disguised as a summerhouse
  • Pill box, Silent Pool, Albury – a hexagonal pillbox on the GHQ line along the River Wey; disguised as a petrol station with pumps
  • The Sea Wall, Hankley Common, Farnham – a reconstruction of Hitler’s Atlantic wall, which had been built along the coat of France and Belgium. It was used to test assault equipment on obstacles likely to be found during a landing in Europe
  • Tweedsmuir Camp, Thursley – The remains of a large Canadian-built camp set up during the Second World War
  • Air Raid Shelter remains, Farnham Park
  • Anti-tank ditch, Seale
  • Bronze Foundry, Thames Ditton – produced monumental statues from 1874-1939, including the Quadriga at Hide Park Corner
  • Bottings’ Albury Mill, Postford on the Tillingbourne – used 1910 roller equipment to grind corn up until 1990
  • Brooklands, Croydon, Dunsfold, Fairoaks, Egham, Gatwick, Horne, Hurst Park, Kenley, Lingfield, Redhill, Stoke d’Abernon and Wisley – Airfields in Surrey, active during the Second World War
  • World War 2 Nodal points at: Dorking, Guildford and Redhill (Category A, administered by Chatham garrison) Betchworth, Byfleet, Cranleigh, Egham, Godalming, Godstone, Haslemere, Horely, Leatherhead, Limpsfield, Newchapel and Shere (Category B)

Museums containing 20th Century collections

6 Responses to 4. Twentieth century

  1. Ann Palmer says:

    I would like more information on Witley
    Army Camp – pictures especially.
    Also details of when the Van Doos (22e Royal Regiment) were resident in Witley
    Camp. I believe they were at Laurentide.

    • David Wilson says:

      I was a child living at 62 Vale Farm Road on the day the Germans dropped a parachute mine, trying to hit the Victoria Bridge. It damaged the windows in our house and completely destroyed the block of shops on the corner of Percy Street and Goldsworth Road. Glass was strewn along Goldsworth Road as far as the Aldershot and District Bus Depot and Perrings furniture store.

      There was also bomb damage from another raid close to Woolworth’s in the CBD.

      I think the land on the North side of Woking Station also suffered damage.

      Later in 1944-45, we had quite a few doodlebugs fly over, but I don’t remember any hitting the town.

      There were a lot of Italian prisoners working on the railway up near the ‘Tin Bridges,” as we called them in those days and quite a few Germans, who seemed to be free to stroll around the town and along the canal towpath. We used to have snowball fights with them; some were good natured, but one or two had a nasty streak and tried to hit us with ice lumps.

      We only had a cupboard under the stairs for shelter during the blitz years, but were provided with a Morrison Shelter in 1944, which we erected in the front room.

      I am now nearly 78 and memory is fading, but I still remember some events quite clearly. The glow of London burning on the horizon, the shrapnel pinging on the slates on our roof and the road. Picking up burnt out incendiary bombs in our garden and taking them to school to swap. A German parachutist landing in our road and being taken away by the Home Guard. Carrying my gas mask in its cardboard box everywhere I went. The beauty of the searchlights tracing across the night sky and the occasional barrage balloon coming down in flames. The drone of the bombers as they came over, heading for London and most of all the odd empty desk in my classroom where someone had been killed, or possibly evacuated.

      My mother wouldn’t let me be evacuated saying that we’d all die together if the worst happened.

  2. Trevor says:

    We have formed a community project team to research the fallen soldiers remembered on the Burpham War Memorial. We are trying to locate the residents or family friends of those men in order to bring their stories to life. We want to be able to display this locally together with a view of Burpham in 1914. Would you be able to assist me in this task?

  3. Mary Redgwell says:

    Was there an Army camp in Witley/Milford/Elstead area in World War 1? Would there have been employment for a trooper in the Life Guards involving looking after horses?

  4. Ann Best says:

    Was there a Navy Camp in 1900 to 1925 in Farnham or close by?

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