Though agriculture has always been a major Surrey industry, leather tanning and car-production were also important. In the south west of the county hops were widely grown. Hop picking was a big social occasion, and in the late summer of 1914 many families and workers in Surrey would have been preparing to move into a hop growing area for the harvest.
1914 would also have seen one of the last harvests of peppermint, lavender and camomile, introduced into the Wandle valley by the Huguenots, French Protestant exiles who arrived in the sixteenth century. At the outbreak of war, this land was taken over for food production. The Wandle had also powered the textile industry for centuries and by 1914 Morris & Co., and Liberty & Co. were well established at Merton Abbey Mills. Morris & Co. were keen to revive old crafts that were being pushed out in the age of the machine. The Surrey Advertiser provides an example of one such handicraft when it announced the death in January 1914 of John Peters, one of the last ‘stockingers’ or stocking makers, an industry which had formerly thrived in Godalming.
New industrial developments included the establishment of the vehicle manufacturers Dennis Brothers in Guildford in 1895. From bicycle and later car production, by 1914 Dennis had shifted production to commercial and utility vehicles, predominantly fire engines, buses and lorries.
Part of the The Last Summer display