History of the Road

In the text below the house names shown are those by which the house was known when first built. The current name, where this is different, is shown in brackets.

Two of the houses along the road, Noddyshall and Noddyshall Cottage, predate any of the others by about three hundred years. Certain architectural features in the present Noddyshall and Noddyshall Cottage indicate that they may have been built towards the end of the sixteenth century and evidence suggests that two other cottages were built a little later. The four dwellings were built of the local Merstham stone, and were almost certainly built as farm labourers’ cottages. They formed a line running north-south, with the door of each opening on to a track. The northern part of this portion of track is still evident today, forming part of the North Downs Way.

The earliest evidence so far found of the name occurs in the register of Merstham Parish Church (now St Katharine’s), which records the burial of "William WOOD at Nodishall" on "July ye 28th" of 1751. While he did not necessarily live in one of the present-day cottages, of course, it is an indication that there was a habitation with this name at this date. He appears to have been the husband of Mary, with whom he had at least two children (William and Ann).

The first National Census (1801) recorded the population of Merstham as 481; 254 males and 227 females. Of these 122 were employed in agriculture. The parish comprised 97 families living in 92 houses, with a further eight uninhabited. Ten years later the census went into rather more detail: there were 346 males and 317 females, giving a total population of 663. These were in 125 families, who lived in 120 houses (a further 31 were being built). By 1821 408 males and 388 females (total 796) together occupied 141 houses.

An Act of Parliament in 1803 authorised the building of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway; this was an extension to the Surrey Iron Railway that had opened on 26th July 1803, running from Wandsworth to Pitlake Meadow in Croydon. The original plan was that the railway should run south to Reigate, with a branch from Merstham to Godstone Green, although in fact it turned eastwards before entering the village, at the foot of Shepherds Hill, and terminated just east of Quarry Dean Farm. It opened on 24th July 1805. [The line of red dots indicates the route of the CMG Railway.]

In 1824 Abraham BYLETT “of Noddis Hall” was buried, followed two years later by his wife Mary; this is the first sign of the family that was to occupy at least one of the cottages for the next 80 years. Abraham and Mary were, respectively, 91 and 86 when they died - unusual longevity at this time. They had been married (in St Katharine's church) on 14th April 1762 and had possibly lived in the Noddis Hall cottage ever since. Mary's maiden name was SIMONDS or SIMMONS, and this name occurs frequently in the church registers, dating back to 1562. She had been baptised on 21st May 1741, and was the daughter of Henry and Mary. Mary had at least seven siblings, and there were several other Simmons families in the parish. Mary had been confirmed at Croydon on 8th June 1760, along with twenty other candidates.

The history of the BYLETT family is examined in greater detail in a separate section. Click here to learn more.

A Frederick WELLER “of Nodd’s Hall” was baptised in 1828.

By 1831 the recorded population of the village had fallen to 713 (375 males, 338 females). From a total of 134 families the number employed in agriculture was 51, showing little change from a decade earlier. There were 132 houses in the parish with a further 13 unoccupied. The accepted reason for the fall in the population was the closing of the stone and lime works. During the following decade the population rose again to 1,130 in 1841, largely accounted for by the building of the railway and the tunnel under the North Downs.

The tithe map of 1838, at which date the population of Merstham was a little over 700, shows the four cottages, with reference number 357, and they are referred to on the apportionment as “Noads Hall Cottages and garden”, occupying an area of 3r 1p. The surrounding area was part of Home Farm, which had a total area of 219 acres; it belonged to Sir William George Hylton, Bart, and was leased to Michael Stacey.

The London - Brighton railway line opened in July 1841, with a station at Merstham.

By 1851 the village population had fallen again to 843 as the railway workers left, their work completed, and it would not rise again substantially until the last decade of the century: figures (taken from www.visionofbritain.org.uk) are 1861: 846; 1871: 959; 1881: 903; 1891: 937.

On Tuesday 14th July 1868 Alfred Nobel demonstrated his recent invention of dynamite to a group of invited guests, among them Sir Charles Fox, a civil engineer who had helped to design the permanent way for the London and Croydon Railway some 20 years earlier. The demonstration took place in the chalk pits at the Merstham grey-stone limeworks. These had been operated by the Hall family business until 1864, and then belonged to the Peters family. The purpose of Nobel's demonstration was firstly to show that dynamite was a comparatively safe material; this he did by throwing a wooden box containing 10lb of the material from a 70ft high cliff and also by putting a similar box into a raging fire. Neither resulted in an explosion of any sort. The second part clearly demonstrated the capabilites of dynamite when detonated electrically: a paper cartridge containing half an ounce of dynamite was placed on a two-inch oak plank and detonated. The resulting explosion blew a hole in the plank.

A map dated 1872 clearly shows the London-Brighton railway line passing through a cutting, to the east of which was a windmill. A track alongside a line of trees or other vegetation lies where the present Road now is. 'Noddyshall Cottages' are clearly marked but the track passes immediately to the south of the hamlet, whereas the Road passes to the north of the southern pair. The map also shows the footpath running south-west from Rockshaw Road to Merstham Station.

The Times of 14th July 1883 advertised the sale by auction of 'very valuable building estate comprising 84 acres'. The plots, varying in size from three to nine acres, were said to possess 'extensive frontages to a newly-formed road, which runs from the London high turnpike road, starting nearly opposite Merstham Church, out to Rockshaw's Mansion and the district roads to Caterham'. One of the agents listed was Cluttons. This is the first indication of the presence of Rockshaw Road.

The first edition of the Ordnance Survey map, dated 1890, shows the four 'Noddyshall Cottages' as an isolated group. Note that the southern two are separate from one another, but the northern pair appear to be joined. They are surrounded by a footpath or track, from which branch off several other paths: one runs north-south immediately to the west, and after passing the cottages heads off north-northwest towards Quarry Dean and a building labelled as 'Summer House'; one leads northwards and appears to be the original route of what is now the North Downs Way; a third runs east-west to the immediate south of the sourthernmost cottage.

There is no trace of a track along the route of the present road (which passes to the north of the southern pair of cottages).

A slightly later map of 1895 clearly shows four dwellings, and also shows the presence of a track between the two pairs - that is, along the route of the present Road.

The 'Quarry Line', which was a second railway line bypassing Coulsdon, Merstham and Redhill stations, was built during the last few years of the nineteenth century, at which time Rockshaw Road had been described as 'nothing more than a cart-track'. Its construction involved the excavation of a second tunnel under the North Downs and the demolition of the Durrant windmill, which had been built in 1756. The date of the opening of the tunnel is described in an article in The Times of 2nd April 1900: the Merstham tunnel is described as a 'true tunnel in the chalk, 2,113 yards long on a gradient of 1 in 205 . . . the north end forms the highest point in the new line'.

The windmill was a local landmark and very popular with artists and photographers, to the extent that Victorian artist Myles Birket Foster once described it as 'the perfect windmill'. However, by the time of the Quarry Line construction the mill was disused and in a state of disrepair. A suggestion that the line should tunnel under the mill was rejected, as the mill was built on heavy clay and this was thought to be too unstable for tunnelling.

The then Rector of Merstham, Revd Reginald Woodhouse, agreed to the demolition of the mill in exchange for some of the wood and other materials; and on 7 October 1896 George Stribbling, a member of the School Board, started to carry out the work using a traction engine. Although he had expected to complete the work by lunchtime, it proved more difficult than expected and the mill did not fall until mid-afternoon. The Merstham School children were let out early to witness the event.

The lychgate at St Katharine's church was built using wood from the mill and two of the French Burrstones form the base. It is dedicated to the memory of William Stacey, the last miller (Michael Stacey was the tenant at Home Farm, on whose land the mill stood, during the early part of the century). Two more stones form the front and back doorsteps of 25 Albury Road, once the home of George Stribbling, and other stones are are on display in the 'Village Garden', just across the road from The Feathers pub. The garden also has a replica of the track used for the Surrey Iron Railway (see earlier) and an explanatory board. The central arch of the railway bridge marks the point where it once stood.

At the end of the 19th century the Noddyshall cottages were the only buildings in the area, although the road was under construction. Mains water was connected to the two southernmost Noddyshall cottages in 1899, at which time the occupiers were John BYLETT and George BALES. Lord Hylton, the owner of the land on which Rockshaw Road was built, died in the same year. His successor showed little interest in Merstham and it was from this date that various parcels of land were sold to developers and architects, of whom the most prominent was Paxton WATSON.

The first census of the twentieth century (1901) shows that the population of the village had risen to 2,015; one of the reasons for the sharp increase was undoubtedly the surge of new house-building around this time. Only three of the Noddyshall cottages were occupied, according to the census, which was taken in April: the resident families were James and Harriet KING (although King was in fact an alias for Bales) and two adult children, one of whom was George; Arthur and Blanche CHEASLEY and a daughter; and John and Francis [sic] JODE or JOAD with six children.

An indenture of 1900 (see Noddyshall) states that the land to the west of Noddyshall was owned by Robert Percy SELLON; and one of the first houses to be built, in 1903, was Albury Edge. Percy Sellon was shown as a voter from 1904, although the entries in the Electoral Roll from 1904 to 1908 show him as being at Albany House. No such house has been traced, and it is likely this this is a misrecording of Albury Edge, or perhaps the name of the house was changed.

1904 is the first year in which any dwelling other than the Noddyshall cottages is shown on the Electoral Roll. From 1905 a  Charles BOWLER is listed, although the address given is simply ‘Rockshaw Road’. Charles remained on the electoral register for Rockshaw Road until 1909 without, alas, any definite indication of which house he lived in, although it was likely to have been one of Albury Edge, Oakwood, The Mere, or Withyshaw as all these houses had been built by about 1905. So (apart from Withyshaw, which was about half a mile to the east) the first houses were all placed reasonably close together, with Oakwood adjoining the footpath to the station and the other houses either side of the Noddyshall cottages.

Although the motorway wasn’t to appear for another sixty years, the Surrey Mirror of 5 January 1906 carried an article entitled “The proposed Motor Way” . . . “ Shepherd’s Hill is shown to be cut in two, and instead of starting from the main road with an easy grade, as at present, to commence with a grade of one in ten, in order to secure sufficient height to carry the public road over the motor way. The junction of this road with the main road is already somewhat dangerous, and will be rendered considerably more so if the suggested alteration be made. The path and occupation road leading from the main road, at [the] foot of Shepherd’s Hill, to Quarry Dean, Rockshaw Road, Tollsworth, etc. will pass under the motor way, the latter being carried by a bridge 20 feet span and fifteen feet high. The path from Merstham station to Rockshaw Road (about 800 feet west of Noddyshall Cottages) is shown to pass 14 feet below the motor way. The path leading from Merstham station to Warwick Wold, etc. will be carried over the motor way at its present level.

The next house to appear in the Electoral Roll was Clavadel, immediately to the east of Oakwood and on the other side of the footpath; in 1908 the owner was Henry W NICHOLSON, although it seems that he lived in Thornton Heath and was not resident in the house until some years later.

By the end of 1910 11 more houses had been built: Little Ganilly (Rondels), Court Lodge, West Cross, Lamberden (Whitmore), Standish, Little Shaw, and Mill House from Clavadel westwards towards the railway; The Red House, The Georgian House, and The White House (The Garth and Garthside) to the east of The Mere; and Chaldon Rise still further to the east.

At least two of these houses, possibly more, were designed by Paxton Watson, who was living in The Barn House (Quality Street) at the time.

One of the distinguishing features of the "Watson" houses, and one of the most easily recognisable, is the distinctive arched window. This can be seen on Whitmore, Lowood, Standish, The Garth, and several houses in the road.


In 1910 the electoral roll shows nine residents in the road, although only two – William FERGUSON, at Little Ganilly, and Henry NICHOLSON, at Clavadel – were owners; the remaining seven were eligible to vote as ‘occupiers’. Two of these, James COCHRAN and Edward PHILLIPS, were at Noddyshall (James Bales had moved to Worsted Green), and the five others were listed with nothing more than ‘Rockshaw Road’ as their address. They were W H EDINGER, Thomas R MALTWOOD, Percy SAVILL, Walter de Hylton SCOTT and Frederick W MEDHURST. Later lists enable the first four of these families to be ‘housed’ at The Red House, The Mere, Oakwood and Noddyshall respectively; the address of the Medhurst family has not yet been identified but it is likely to have been Clavadel since Henry Nicholson had married Blanche Medhurst in 1895. Hartley F STRAKER and his family were at Court Lodge.

During Derby Day in 1911 Merstham experienced a serious thunderstorm, during which some soil from the Quarry Line cutting fell in and exposed the numerous and deep workings of the famous old stone quarries, in which some large stones cut and shaped were still awaiting removal. These quarries, dating back to the 13th century, had supplied stone for the King's Palace at Westminster, for Windsor Castle and for the old St Paul's Cathedral

By 1911, with the population of Merstham now standing at 3,508 (including 950 'lunatics' at Netherne Asylum), Edward SANT at West Cross had joined the list of owners. Two further names were shown as occupiers: Geoffrey H DREW, at The White House; and Cecil J WALDRON at Mill House. There were ten cars in the village. The first regular bus route through Merstham (to Redhill) started the same year; and in 1914 The London General Omnibus Co. Ltd. were advertising (on route 160) a fare of 8d from Stockwell to Merstham, or 10d on to Reigate.

During the years leading up to the First World War a further 11 houses appeared, which completed the southern side of the road. Albury Edge Lodge was built within the grounds of Albury Edge; Tanglewood was built beyond The White House, with Mill Ash, Bytheway and Pickett Wood (now demolished) further to the east, but west of Chaldon Rise; while Relf House, Lowood, Bovey Tracey (Pucklechurch), Gatton Rectory (Kingsdown), Bartonbury, and Firle Beacon (Middle Fell) filled the road with houses as far as the railway line.

View (with artistic licence?) looking south from the Pilgrims' Way in about 1912. The western end of the Road can clearly be seen as it passes over the railway in the cutting.


Taken from www.oldmerstham.org with permission and sent to me by Alex Hunter (see Acknowledgements).

By the outbreak of the First World War twenty-six houses had been built, all along the south side of the road, and these, with two of the much older Noddyshall Cottages, completed the south side (with the exception of Heronswood, built much later). Several of these houses had been built by the firm of Whittakers. William SALMON was shown as the owner of Little Shaw and Percy SELLON was at Albury Edge. A contemporary map shows two of the Noddyshall cottages as the only buildings to the north of the road.

A Parish Meeting held on 27th March 1914 discussed the proposed erection of four street lamps in the Road at a cost of £25. Walter Scott (Noddyshall) gave it as his opinion that the street lamps were unnecessary, and various other speakers testified as to the 'uselessness of the lamps'. Mr Scott's motion was carried and the lamps were not erected. Later that same year, on 4 December, the Surrey Mirror noted that a Mr W Lucas, of East Dulwich, had written to enquire if the laying of sewers in Rockshaw Road was contemplated by the Council. The newspaper reported that "it was decided to reply in the negative". One hundred years later the situation remains the same – Rockshaw Road has no mains sewerage.

In 1915 a total of 27 voters were listed, with 24 families shown as ‘owners’ and a further three as ‘occupiers’, plus two lodgers (at Noddyshall and Oakwood). The houses now extended eastwards as far as Chaldon Rise; Paxton Watson, architect of many of the houses in the village, was living at Pickett Wood while The Revd Arthur George ROGERS, Rector of Gatton, had moved into Kingsdown. The roll for 1918 shows a drop in the number of voters to 20 although by 1922 the number was back up to 25.

The war put a stop to any building for almost a decade, and The Times of 9 June 1919 carried an advertisement for 'nearly a square mile of land' which Lord Hylton was proposing to sell for development. No precise location is given, other than 'Merstham', but the advertisement stated that 'the holdings vary in size from five to over 400 acres'.

The next batch of houses was rather more utilitarian, mainly because of the lack of available materials. The first house to be built on the north side of the road was Heart's Delight (Clouds) in 1921 (by which time the village's population had risen to 3,597) and Innesfree had appeared by 1925. The first mention of Ash Pollard is found in the electoral register in this year although the house may have been built several years earlier. By this time, too, several of the 'cottages' started to appear (Chaldon Rise Cottage, Pickett Wood Cottage, Mill Ash Cottage). Still in 1925, The Times of 3 October advertised the sale by auction of The Mere and The White House. The sale was by order of the late Mrs A. L. Stoneham, who presumably owned the freehold of these properties. Both the houses were currently leased: The Mere until June 1937 at £150 per annum, The White House until March 1932 at £115. Incidentally, it had been Mrs Stoneham who sold the southern Noddyshall cottages back in 1907.


The same sale (1925) also advertised 11 acres of valuable building land, with a frontage of 685 ft to Rockshaw Road (probably on the north side, as the south side was already built on). The photograph alongside shows harvesting in 1926 alongside Rockshaw Road - this was almost certainly on land belonging to Quarry Dean Farm.

An area of 11 acres, with a frontage of 685 ft, has a depth of about 700 ft, or 230 yards, indicating that this site could be that now occupied by the group of houses comprising 'The Close'.

By 1928 Roemarten (Beechside) had appeared, followed soon afterwards by the first two houses in what has become known as 'The Close', Mon Repos (The Firs) and Noddys Cottage (Uplands Cottage). In 1930 British Railways (Southern Region) built 20 houses to form Ashcombe Close, between the railway lines. They are similar in design to the 24 cottages built a year or so earlier just north of Tadworth station to form a road named Ashcombe Terrace, and they were all for railway workers. The railway through Merstham was electrified in the same year: the population of the village, taken in the 1931 census, had by now reached 4,495. By the middle of the 1930s three more houses had been built in 'The Close' - Ockley Wood Cottage, Fairmead and Lynwood. At least two of this group of houses, Noddys Cottage and Fairmead, were tied cottages built to house workers at the 'big' houses. Bedlam's Wood (the only housse built to the north of the road at the eastern end) and Greenacre, on the corner with Warwick Wold Road, appeared at this time.

This view, taken from the garden of Whitmore in the 1930s, gives an idea of the peaceful surroundings.

Kelly's Directory for 1934 lists only 26 private residents in the road, compared with 35 houses listed in the 1935 electoral register, indicating perhaps that some of the houses were occupied by tenants at this time. By 1936 Kelly's shows 33 distinct residences, plus 20 in Ashcombe Road, and shows the 1931 population as 2,760 (civil parish) and 3,050 (ecclesiastical parish).

During August 1937 the railway track in the 'Quarry Line' tunnel was replaced with 180ft long rails with welded joints; this was the first main-line tunnel in the country where such rails had been used.

An article appeared in The Times of 26 October 1938 giving the proposed routing of a new trunk road to Brighton. It would 'pass under the Caterham-Merstham Road [Shepherds Hill] near Alderstead Heath', where a reverse curve of 1,000 ft would be necessary; the road would then pass under Rockshaw Road. The proposal was rejected 'by a substantial majority' of Surrey County Council; Alderman Ede stated that the proposed road would have no commercial or military value, and 'if this and other contemplated road schemes were carried through it would mean that the middle and eastern parts of Surrey would be intersected at very short intervals by a succession of wide concrete roads dealing in the main only with pleasure traffic'.

Around this time Old Mill House, together with the mill and the workshops in the area west of the railway lines, was demolished and four cottages (Quest Cottage, Glenside, Little Cottage and Firle) built in its place. Further up the road, one more house in 'The Close', Lynwood, was constructed. A Conveyance dated 21 November 1938 specifies a piece of land with a frontage to the Road of 120ft and a depth of 363ft, which gives exactly one acre, on which 'no more than one house is to be built, of not less value than 1,500'. This was the land on which Russett Cottage (Russetts) was to be built. A similar document must have existed for Spaxton, as they were both built around the same time. Closer to the main A23, Dormers and Opsis (Badgerwood) were built just before the outbreak of war. With the exception of a few houses built later the north side of the road, plus the west side of 'The Close', was now complete. The two northern Noddyshall cottages were still in place at this time.

During the Second World War Innesfree was demolished by a flying bomb and the roofs of both Spaxton and Russet Cottage were damaged, although the remainder of the road escaped with little damage. The New Housewas built on the site of the demolished building, although with a different orientation; it is the only house in the road not 'square on' to the road.

The local Home Guard had its headquarters at Reigate. The Merstham contingent was under the command of Cyril Bowring (Georgian House), with Sydney Figg (Mill House) as 2 i/c. Their chief responsibility was the safety and integrity of the railway lines.

The two Piemedes (Piemede and Little Piemede) were constructed during the early years of the war, and Knightons (in 'The Close') a few years later. Most of the remainder of the building in the road - Heronswood on the south side, Lockhart (Kingfisher Cottage) on the north, three (now demolished) houses to the east of Tanglewood, and the entire eastern side of 'The Close' - was constructed during the decade following the end of the war. Towards the end of the 1950s the two Noddyshall cottages to the north of the road, having been empty for some years, were demolished. Shepherd's Corner, on the corner of 'The Close', was built at the beginning of the 1960s on land that had been part of The Firs.

Sheila Alexander (from Oakwood) remembers that milk was delivered along the road by Mr Martin with his horse and cart. Eggs and cream came from Mr Harrison's farm, now long gone from sight beneath the foundations of the M25. There was no National Census in 1941 because of the War; the next one taken, in 1951, shows that the population of Merstham had dropped below its 1931 level and was now 3,568. Even in the mid-1950s the bisection of Merstham by a major road was in sight: The Times of 10 May 1954 printed a letter from Revd J. W. Poole, at Merstham Rectory, in which he complained that the proposed South Orbital Road would run between the village and the church, and effectively cut Merstham in half.

The coming of the motorways

On 16th December 1964 residents in the road received a shock. Until then they had been assured that a new London-to-Brighton main road (which had been planned since the 1930s) would pass some miles east of Caterham, and thus have no implications for Merstham. On that day national newspapers published a proposed route for the M23. Barbara Castle, the Transport Minister at the time, stated that the motorway would pass through Hooley and then east of Redhill. It was clear that this posed a definite threat to Rockshaw Road.

Individual residents of the Road who were in the process of modernising their homes advised the Department of Transport of their concerns, and asked whether contracts already placed would qualify for compensation if it turned out that they would be affected. All were assured that compensation would be assessed when - or if - their homes were taken over.

The route of the M23 was still tentative, as the site where it would cross the M25 had not yet been established. A Merstham Protection Society was set up in the village: early in February 1967 it received the news that an interchange covering over 150 acres would be built within a mile of the centre of Merstham. Objections to both motorways had already been lodged.

At that time the M23 was projected to run from the western end of Shepherd's Hill, through Roemarten and Clavadel and across the Mere. The objections raised stated that this route would cause instability of an underground lake, destroy Quarry Dean Farmhouse and obliterate the only surviving in situ rails of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone railway (as well as cause the demolition of two of the oldest houses in the Road). The objections were unsuccessful and a meeting of residents from the Road was held in the Village Hall. A very experienced surveyor told the meeting of the existence of the underground caves to the north of the Road and he assured the meeting that there was no possibility of the motorway cutting through at the planned point (i.e. through Clavadell).

This was the start of the Residents' Association.

In May 1967 Barbara Castle announced that the M25 would now be planned to pass under the A23 and the railway lines, instead of being carried overhead. The position of the motorway interchange was still not confirmed, but this announcement led to the compulsory purchase of some of the houses in the road (among them Noddyshall). On 28th July 1967 the Ministry of Transport published proposals for a four-level interchange at Merstham to link the two motorways.

Later that summer soil cores were taken from a point opposite Clavadel at a depth of about 80 feet. After a couple of weeks the drill penetrated an artesian well and water blew about three feet into the air and gushed down the road into the village. It continued to flow for about 36 hours. Following that research it was announced that the interchange would be further east, and occupy 124 acres at Warwick Wold.

In the early 1970s two bungalows, Sarum and Fircroft, were built on the land formerly occupied by the demolished Noddyshall cottages and Dell House was built at the bottom of 'The Close'. These were the last houses to be built in the road.

The Times of 24 August 1972 carried an aerial photograph, on page 14, of the work at the motorway junction. Although the centre of Merstham, including much of the south side of Rockshaw Road, was declared a conservation area towards the end of 1973, this did not prevent the construction of the M23, which opened the following year. This was achieved by the demolition of Bedlam’s Wood on the north side of the road and eleven houses on the south. At the same side the Road was re-aligned to enable it to pass over the motorway.

Rockshaw Road was designated a 'motorway haul route', which meant that it would be used by heavy vehicles to carry spoil to and from the construction. The plan was to close the road at the western end, but Dr Trigg (Middle Fell) argued forcefully that his having to drive five miles around Warwick Wold would put patients at risk. A suggestion that access for pedestrians could be made from the southern end of Ashcombe Road was rejected by British Rail. A Bailey Bridge was constructed just to the south of the existing road bridge and it remained open to vehicular traffic. It was said at the time that moving the site of the intersection meant that the contractors, French, had to be compensated for the longer M23 route and this added about £4m to the costs.

Unsurprisingly, all this work started a slow trickle of some of the wealthier families away from the road. Roadside verges were destroyed by the heavy traffic and, when the construction was finished, the Association tried hard to get the rural character of the road restored while Reigate Borough Council insisted that kerbs would be installed. The Association, under Ronald Prentice, forced two concessions: first, that granite setts would be used at the entrance to drives to reflect the quality of the houses and second, that householders would be able to choose to have a grass strip on the pavement. Some did choose grass, but others did not want the trouble of maintenance and declined. The AA made formal representation that the entry into the Road from the north was unnecessarily risky because the radius of the kerb was too small. This was rejected, but remains a problem today, contributing to the very poor sightlines across the first railway bridge.

The M23 was opened for traffic on Thursday 19th December 1974, and The Times carried an aerial photograph of part of the motorway on the preceding day. A section of the M25 was opened in February 1976; on 3 March the same newspaper published a photograph of the aptly-named 'Spaghetti Junction'. At the time the M25 extended for only seven miles, from Reigate Hill to Godstone; the entire motorway was opened in October 1985.

During the final two decades of the twentieth century no new building has been carried out, although several houses have been 'extended'.

This photograph, taken in about 2000, clearly shows the motorways (M23 running north to south from the top left and the M25, east to west, at the bottom) surrounding the Road, which is across the centre of the photograph.

The original road followed the gentle curve of the visible part of the road; the re-alignment following the motorways can be seen starting at the western end of the bridge over the M23.

The footpath between Clavadell and Oakwood, which has been in existence for well over a century, leads over a footbridge across the M25 (to the right of the two railway bridges in the bottom left-hand corner) and on to the Merstham East Housing Estate, built in the early 1950s to provide housing for ex-LCC residents.

The North Downs Way passes along the road from the A23 until just opposite Noddyshall, where it cuts across the open ground to the west of Sarum, passes under the M23, and follows another ancient footpath north-eastwards, across the Pilgrim's Way, and on to Chaldon. It can just be seen disappearing off the upper right-hand corner of the photograph.