Merstham High Street

This site is under construction. Please revisit from time to time to check progress.

The purpose of this website is to gather together memories of how people remember the High Street - which shop was where, who used to occupy the various shops, and so on. The majority of the information currently available comes from Trade Directories and Electoral Rolls.

Any memories that you have would be very welcome, and should be sent to

For the purposes of this site, the High Street extends from "The Feathers" to Station Road (the former Barclays Bank). In most cases, information about the occupants of the various properties starts with names obtained from the 1911 census.

For some reason that has not been explained, during the second half of the 20th century the numbering of the buildings along the east side of the High Street was changed: for example, the building that is now Gervase Cottage (next door and to the right of Surrey Flooring) is shown on the 1964 OS map as number 26; its number today is number 30. To avoid any confusion, earlier numbers are shown in red and current numbers in blue. To add a further complication, in the early years of the 20th century properties were often numbered according to the estate plan (practically the entire village was owned by the Jolliffe family at that time); these numbers appear in green.

The Feathers

"The Feathers" is now the only pub in the village. At the start of the 20th century the landlord was Mr W E King, but by 1910 Thomas Walker had taken over and is recorded at this address in the 1911 census. He ran the pub with his wife Eva Theodora - they were both from Lancashire and had been married less than a year. There were four 'live-in' staff, of whom only one was local, from Caterham.

During the first half of the century there were several changes of ownership. In particular, John Wakeford (with his wife Edith( was the licensee during the war, but by 1955 a company (Clarke Baker & Co. Ltd) was named as the owner.

34 High Street

Across the public footpath is the first building [40] in the short terrace between The Feathers and the entrance to Salters Cottages. Now a private house, for many years (at least 1911 - 1956) [138] this was a boot-repair shop [34]. In 1911 the owner was Richard Smith, who was originally from Westerham. He ran the shop and lived there together with his wife Emma and sister-in-law Ann Deighton. Of their eight children, three had died and just one - daughter Elizabeth - was living with them. Also living there was a grandson Edward James, who had been born in 1904.

Another of Richard and Emma's children, and brother to Elizabeth, was William Smith, born 6 August 1872 and baptised at St Katharine's on 22 September the same year. Richard died on 29 January 1917 and was buried (at St Katharine's) on 2 February. William, and eventually his son Russell, took over the shop and ran it until at least 1951.

32a High Street

The next doorway is again now a private residence - and it leads to the flat above the adjacent shop (no. 32). In 1927 the occupant of the flat was a Mr H Wood, then for several years (1942 - 1948) Mr Walter James Russell lived here. When he left the new occupant (1951 - 1956) was Mr Charles Cook.

32 High Street

The shop on the corner of the short passageway to Salters Cottages is now the village barbers [38], but for many years it was the village butchers [32]. In 1911 the shop-keeper was Harry Ball, who lived there with his wife Olive and their three young children Gordon, Vera and Raymond. A lodger, Augustus Davies, is also shown at this address. From at least 1927 the shop was known as "Thomas Joyce, butcher" but by 1956 it was managed by Arthur Knight. It is likely that Harry retired, as from 1927 he and Olive were living along the road at no. 20.

There is a story that there exists an underground passage under the road that connects with the former slaughterhouse, but this is likely to be apochryphal and probably never existed.

passage to Salters Cottages

Between the (now) barbers and computer shop is a passage that leads to Salters Cottages. This is a short terrace of three small cottages that was originally built as five dwellings for some of the workers on Home Farm.

In 1911 the five cottages were referred to as numbers 174 to 178.The census gives the number of rooms in each dwelling, from which we find that the cottages were not all the same size: the first and third, 174 and 176, each had two rooms, while the two southern-most cottages (177 and 178) had four rooms. The second, 175, had three rooms.

The first was occupied by James Edward Barber (a bricklayer), his wife Eliza, and their two children James Edward and Clara. Later, from at least 1935 to 1956, one of the cowmen at Home Farm, Ernest Wilmshurst, lived here.

The next cottage [175] housed the Stripp family. Thomas was a carter at the farm, and his wife of eight years was Ellen May. They had five children, all under nine: Frederick George, Albert, Thomas, Georgie, and Lily. This cottage was also home to William Hughes, a 44-year-old farm labourer, who lodged there. The occupant changed several times. In the years prior to the war, Herbert Boggis and his wife Ellen were the tenants, but during and after the war it changed hands every four or five years.

The middle house of the terrace [176] was occupied by a member of the long-established Batters family - Rachel. Although she had been married for 19 years, her husband was not listed on the census. Of their seven children, one had died but five were living with her at Salters Cottages. Twenty years later, in 1935, the occupant was William Henry Auton with his wife Annie and daughter Phyllis, but by 1948 the occupant was Leonard Victor Hills. During the late 1950s Ronald Medhurst lived at this address.

Next to Rachel, at no. 177, was George Henry King, a 40-year-old farm labourer. Althbough he and his wife Catherine had been married for five years, they had no children.

The last cottage in the row [178] was home to Walter Wickham and his wife Emily. He was another farm worker, a cowman. They had been married for 11 years (in 1911) and had five children, all of whom were still with their parents. They were also providing a home for Alfred Finch, another cowman.

The former Baptist Chapel

The building on the next corner is now a computer shop. The first building on this site was a Baptist chapel [30], built in 1874 with help from the chapel at Redhill. The congregation met there until 1958, when a new site (on Weldon Way) was made available. The building was demolished, and a new commercial shop [36] built by Mr Jim Francis.

What was it before it became the village computer shop?

28 High Street

Next door to the former chapel was the village Post Office. It was run by Mrs Florence Emmeline Cecile Beswick, a 47-year-old widow, and her daughter Gladys Dorothy. Florence's husband Arthur had died in 1896.

By 1927 it had become a confectioners, presided over by Mr Alfred Evans [28]. He was there until at least 1956 with his wife Rose. It is now a shop [32] selling flooring, tiles, and carpeting.

28a High Street

The inconspicous door to the right of the flooring shop gives access to the flat above. It is clearly labelled 32.

Gervase Cottage

The dwelling now known as Gervase Cottage [30] [137] was formerly the village baker [26]. In 1911 the proprietor was George Robert Partridge. He was assisted by his wife Mildred, who was from Chelsfield in Kent, and by a 14-year-old niece Blanche Christian Arnot. A son George Harry and two daughters, Ena Kathleen and Mabel, completed the household.

From at least 1927 to 1937 the shop was run by Mr Evan Addison and his wife Rose.

At the beginning of the war it was empty, but by 1948 it had been converted into a private dwelling and was occupied by Mr Sydney Matthewman. During the early 1960s Sydney and his wife Phyllis moved to Albury Edge West (in Rockshaw Road - see for more details. Another tenant in the same building remembers him as 'an eccentric character, often dressed in jodhpurs and a heavy wool jacket, and wearing a monocle'.

Gable House

Hunger's End

In 1911 the next two buildings, the one now known as Gable House [24] and the shop Hunger's End [26] were one concern; the building, which on the ground floor was a grocer's shop, had ten rooms in all and was occupied by a branch of the Underwood family. Ralph and William were grocers and drapers, sons of William who was listed as a 'retired grocer and draper'. Edith Agnes and Margaret completed the family, and also living there were assistants Albert Arnold and Ronald Mitchell, shown as 'draper' and 'grocer' respectively. One servant, Emma Amy Bignall, presumably 'lived in'. Ralph and William were still here in 1939, along with their sisters Edith and Margaret.

By 1951 the shop had been taken over by the South Surburban Co-operative Society, and at some time during the following few years it was divided to be as we see it today. Henry Burt, a dispensing optician and also a 'registered medical auxiliary', was shown at no. 24 while the larger portion of the building remained as a grocery store, albeit now as a branch of the SSCS.

Margaret Underwood died around 1952, and William died in 1954, followed by Edith two years later. Ralph died the following year. None of the four siblings had married, and so there were no children to carry on the family business.

The glazed door at the extreme left of the Hunger's End coffee shop gives access to the offices on the floor above.

Merstham Glass Ltd

The next shop along the road [20] was a 'General shop', presided over by Fanny Blaker and her daughter Kitty. This building had only four rooms (in 1911) and so must have been only part of what is now Merstham Glass Ltd.

The right-hand half [135] had a further four rooms, and appears to have been a private dwelling: it was occupied by 77-year-old Caroline Hall and her 37-year-old unmarried daughter Cora.

The 1939 Register shows only one dwelling here, and it is apparent that the present-day Merstham Glass Ltd shop is not an amalgamation of two earlier buildings, so possibly the two former buildings had been pulled down and rebuilt. The occupants of no. 20 were Harry E Ball, a retired butcher (he was 66), and his wife Olive, who was 58; she is shown as a grocer and greengrocer. They had moved here from no. 32 some ten years earlier. Olive's maiden name had been Blaker; it is likely that she was the daughter of Fanny next door.

Olive died on 2 February 1941, and was buried at St Katharine's. Harry survived her by 14 years and joined her in 1955, followed by their son Gordon (1984) and his wife Gwen in 1988. Harry and Olive's daughter Vera was buried in the same grave in 1990.

Flint Cottage

The dwelling on the corner, originally no. 18 but now no. 22, is known as Flint Cottage. In 1911 this was another grocer's shop, with William Slogrove and his wife Ruth Ellen in residence. Their unmarried daughter Edith Jane, aged 29, lived with them but their five other children had left home; their eldest son, another William, was to lose his life just after the end of the First World War. William was originally from Ashdon (Essex), while Ruth came from Gainsborough.

William and Ruth, together with son William, are buried in St Katharine's churchyard: William died 31 May 1915, Ruth on 31 March 1930, and son William on 3 December 1918.

By 1927, and probably well before this date, the shop had been taken over by Frederick Barwell, a tailor. He lived there with his wife Kathleen and their son Alan. As well as being a 'master tailor', Frederick was also a Special Constable.

From 1955 the occupant was Raymond Ball, presumably the son of Harry and Olive Ball who had lived next door until Harry's death in that year.

The next group of shops, between the two Station Roads, was not there in 1911. Instead there was a row of small cottages.

Cottage of Content On the western side of the High Street, the first building (from the south) was the Cottage of Content. It had been one of the local pubs in the village since at least 1840. In 1911 (photograph) this was managed (owned?) by James Arthur Bish. He was local, having been born at Earlswood in 1882, but his wife Emily Eliza was from Wangford, in Suffolk. James and Emily were still running the pub in 1918, but by 1927 it had been taken over by Benjamin Wilkinson and his wife Jemima. They were there for many years, until at least 1956 although in the latter years their son had taken over the licence following the retirement and death of his parents (Jemima died in November 1941 aged 83, Benjamin died six years later at the age of 90; both are buried in the 'new' churchyard).

Next to the pub was a short cul-de-sac at right-angles to the main road, with a row of cottages along the northern side known as Elm Cottages. The cottages were numbered 121 - 127 on the estate plan, but by the time of the 1939 Register the numbers had become 1 - 7. Most of them had just three rooms, although 1 and 6 had four rooms. The cottages are still there today.

7 Elm Cottages [127]

In 1911 the occupant was Maria Louisa Burrows, a 53-year-old widow. Her husband, John, had died in 1902 although he had been only 42. With Maria were three of her sons, one daughter, and two grandchildren. The eldest son, Albert (26) was also widowed; by profession he was a gamekeeper. He had married Eliza Alice Livett in 1908, but she died within only a few months. Her death was while she was in the 'Rural Isolation Hospital' so it is likely that she was suffering from something highly infectious, perhaps tuberculosis. She had been buried at St Katharine's on 21 November 1908. Maria died on 2 February 1924. Both Maria and John are buried at St Katharine's.

The next family to occupy this cottage was that of William and Rosella Biggs, and they lived here until at least 1955.

6 Elm Cottages [126]

Next door to Maria and her family were Thomas Hughes, his wife Fanny, and son Thomas. Thomas senior was a carter, employed at the Lime Works. He had been born at Ipswich, and Fanny at Bentley, in Essex, as Fanny Elizabeth Cason. Their marriage had taken place in the Guildford area towards the end of 1890, and their daughter Fanny May was born at Shalford (near Godalming) in December the following year. The family then moved to Merstham, where Thomas was born; he was baptised at St Katharine's on 30 June 1895. The family remained here for many years. In 1911 son Thomas was an 'under-gardener', and his sister Fanny was employed as a housemaid, and 'living in' at Oakwood, in Rockshaw Road, working for Percy Savill. In 1924 she married Frederick Prior, and some time later they moved in to live with Fanny's parents, who both died in the 1940s: Fanny in June 1940 and Thomas in 1946. Both are buried at St Katharine's in the 'new' churchyard.

Frederick and Fanny had both been born in 1893, and following their deaths in 1963 and 1986 respectively they were also buried in the 'new' churchyard.

5 Elm Cottages [125]

This cottage was home, in 1911, to George and Rosanna Wickham (age 71 and 68 respectively), son Henry (37), a grandson George (18), a 32-year-old lodger, William Reed, and Sarah Winch, a servant. All were from either Surrey or Sussex, with the sole exception of Rosanna, who came from Scotland. The three younger men were all farm workers: William was a shepherd, and George a cowman, working under his father who was the head cowman.

None of the family appear to have been buried in the local graveyard. Perhaps they moved away, for by 1927 the residents at no.125 were James Thomas and Eliza Emily King. After the deaths of both his parents (Eliza in 1934, James in January 1940) the cottage was taken over by their son, also James Thomas, and his wife Mary Grace. They lived there until at least 1948. Mary died on Christmas Day 1951, and James died in February 1972, aged 86. All four are buried at St Katharine's.

4 Elm Cottages [124]

Although No. 124 was just another 3-room cottage, in 1911 John and Rose Morley lived here with seven of their children. John was a carter for a haulage contractor; he and Rose had been married for 25 years. They had 12 children, although two had died in infancy. The ages of the children living with them ranged from Herbert (22) down to Leonard (just three years old).

By 1927 the Morleys had left, and the occupants were Sarah Snelling and Dorothy Streeter. Although Dorothy was 25 years younger than Sarah, in 1939 they both worked in a restaurant as 'cleaner and help'. They lived at Elm Cottages until at least 1956, possibly until 1964 when Sarah died at the age of 84.

3 Elm Cottages [123]

In 1911 the occupants of No. 3 [123] were James and Eliza King. They had been married for 26 years and had three children, all of whom were still living at home with their parents: they were James Thomas (25), Mary Ann (23) and Frederick Charles (13). James (senior) was a carter, as were several of his neighbours. James the younger was an 'engine driver's mate', driving a steamroller for the local Council, while Mary Ann was a domestic servant.

Eliza died on 26 June 1934, aged 70, and the 1939 Register records James as the sole occupant of the cottage. He died the following year, on 15 January 1940, aged 81. Both James and Eliza are buried at St Katharine's.

2 Elm Cottages [122]

John and Robert Quiddington, father and son, lived at No.122in 1911; Harriet, John's wife, had died in 1898 aged just 49. Although John was 75, he was still working as a wheelwright at the Lime Works, and Robert was a bootmaker's assistant.

1 Elm Cottages [121]

The Bullock family were at No. 121 in 1911. This was a young couple, George and Lilian, with two daughters Lilian (3) and Ethel (2). George was a telephone operator working for the National Telephone Company, presumably at the Telephone Exchange in Station Road.