The History of West Ewell - Plough Rd to the Railway

We are grateful to the family of the late Derek Phillips for their permission to use much of the text and images from the website that was set up and run by him. Derek was very interested in local history and his community and a short biography can be viewed on the introductory page.

Plough Road Cottages
Plough Road Cottages.
Image Credit: D. Hughes

Plough road had a number of cottages at the top which housed a Cobblers and a blacksmith in the early 1900's. This picture shows them probably in the 1960's when they appear to have been in use as homes and be unoccupied. The Chimneys' of these cottages can be seen in the next picture. Many thanks to Mr. Hughes of Devon who send me this photo.

Photo of West Ewell, c1955, ref. W503012
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

The Plough, West Ewell, c1955

The new Plough pub was built between 1925 and 1934 and replaced an earlier Pub building. The area between Plough Lane (now top of Northcroft) and Chessington Rd was a cabbage field. You can see the chimneys of the cottages where the cobblers and blacksmith would have been. The Plough Pub Closed on May 15th 2007, was sold at auction and is currently boarded up.

The terraced houses, Ewhurt Terrace, Woodley Terrace. were built in 1905 and 1906 respectively. There was once two shops in the terraced houses in Plough Rd. One closed in the 1970's. The other closed in the 60's. One was owned by a Mr Wilde who also had cows on a nearby field. At this time there was open country from Plough Rd to the railway. Southville Close and Kingsmead were built first by a builder called Turner who then went on to build the south side of Northcroft. Houses in these roads cost less than £800 and were finished in 1929.

A resident of Belfield Road remembers that there was no houses between their home & the railway so people who lived there who travelled to London on the train could wave home from the train. Because of the way the land was divided up between owners the road was built in two parts, the top half (Chessington Rd. end) was built first and the second part was built after the war. The road was not made up, nor was there any drainage until 10 years after the houses were built, car axles were level with the road in the winter mud. The different styles of house and the change of road surface indicate the 2 periods of building. (I have been told that electricity became available around 1926, which would be at least three years before the houses were built! I need to check that detail out) Northcroft Road was built up to what is now the end of Belfield road, although at that time there was just fields and allotments.

Northcroft Road 1929.
Northcroft Road 1929.
Taken from an upstairs window of one of the first houses
to be built in Northcroft Rd; looking north east across what is now
housing and the Hogsmill open space.
Image Credit: The Late Ralph Vilven

In Northcroft Rd, which was then called Plough Lane, there were four black cottages (Black, no doubt, because they had a coating of pitch) which had been built around 1800. These were originally used by powder workers in the days of the Gunpowder Mills. A local builder called Mr Root bought the black cottages and demolished them, some of the land was sold (No's 1-11 odds) and some used for the two dark brick semi's in Northcroft Road which were built for the his daughters for when they got married.

Mr Root built many houses in the locality including two at the junction of Plough Rd & Northcroft Road, a terrace of cottages in Plough Rd Extension and a cottage in Meadow Walk by the Railway bridge.

The Plough Road extension was called "Wilderpath" because it went down to the "Wilders". There were more black cottages called Vine Cottages there with a well by the side and still more on the other side set back (nearer top of running track).

The area that is now the allotments behind Northcroft Road was the cricket field for the locals, as shown in the picture above. All these roads had gas street lights up until 1931/2 when they were replaced by electric lights.

Chessington Road Nr Bakers Field
A postcard view of Chessington Road Nr Bakers Field
This undated view shows the 4 blocks of terraced cottages
and, on the far left, part of the 2nd semi.

The first stage of building in modern West Ewell was in the area next to the field known as Bakers Field; which is opposite the junction of Riverholme Drive and Chessington Rd. A builder called Baker built a number of cottages to the west of it. Starting with his own house next to the field in a pair of imposing semi's; it would seem from the style, that this builder probably built Oakdale Road and the four terraces of 4 homes on either side of it.

Charles Fredrick and Rachel Allum were the first tenants of No. 113 when they moved from Ewell in 1902. The house is on junction with Oakdale Road and was then number 10 Chessington Rd. One wonders if Mr Baker had intended to build a further 4 blocks of terraces on Bakers Field, which would have given symmetry to the development, or perhaps he liked living next to the field.

These cottages faced open land for 30 years until the building of housing on the other side of Chessington Rd, Belfield Rd etc. Many of the residents living here were no doubt employed at the local Mental Hospitals.

It is interesting to remember that behind Chessington Road, immediately at the end of Oakdale Road, was a working industrial steam railway serving the mental hospitals. (check out The Industrial Railway Record) One locomotive driver, a Mr. Bridges used to stop his engine at the end of Oakdale Rd to visit his mother.

The end of what is now Longmead Road was curved with the brook which has an S bend in it around where the shops are. If was often foggy here.

When Station Avenue was being built a perfectly straight row of around 30 Elms had to be blasted down. The houses behind the station appear to have been the first built - as they were originally numbered 1-4. The first occupants moved in in late 1935 At one brief period you could walk from Station Avenue to Chessington Zoo completely across fields. The field where Station Avenue was built had previously been pasture for cows, some were kept at the end of the road until the maisonette's were built in 1937, and would come to the back gates of the houses to feed. The house owners apparently took a dim view of these new flats that were built opposite, which at that time were all rented. They were called "The Brummels" but were numbered in the early 50's. Around the same time they were offered to the tenants for sale for £850. (rent was 22s and sixpence)

Photo of West Ewell, c1950, ref. W503002
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Chessington Road junction with Station Avenue, West Ewell, c1950

There was an area at the end of Station avenue (Even numbers side) which was not built on until some time after the war and was all overgrown. Some of the shops at Station Ave/Meadowview were built before war and the remainder after.

The Highways House/Revere site was a tarmac factory, they ground the stone and mixed it with tar. There was a regular appearance by a steam roller. There were two cottages opposite this (now Station Ave) that were so smelly and smothered in tar that they were pulled down.

The area of land to the south of West Ewell (to the left on the above picture) which is now Longmead Estate was the Epsom Council Sewerage plant. Effluent was dried and ploughed into the ground and potatoes grown there. These were used by Marshall's fish and chip shop next to the Epsom Odeon (The Original 1937 Odeon opposite the clock tower) who were renowned for their excellent chips.

The Fitznells Farm Estate

Evans Sales Literature
Image courtesy of the Phillips family © 2007

The details above were taken mainly from interviews I recorded in the mid 1990's with a number of residents who lived in the area as it was built up. These memories give us an insight into the personalities who were around at the time and the observations that they made as the landscape changed around them.

I have not delved into document archives for this story, but no doubt there are many details that could be discovered in the records of the builders, local companies and other institutions.

Although I have not gone out of my way to formally research documents relating to West Ewell; I had the unexpected pleasure of receiving a large envelope of documents through my letter box after moving house in 2004. These came from my solicitor and consisted of a set of mortgage documents and searches for my home from the time it was built as well as documents appertaining to the ownership of a large portion of West Ewell by Augustus Gadesden, resident of Ewell Castle; and the subsequent disposal of it by his heirs after his death. This page is devoted to explaining the contents of these documents

1927 Plan- Click Image to enlarge
1927 Plan- Click Image to enlarge
This map does not include the parcel of land bought from
Alexander Bridges in 1878. This must have been sold off earlier
as building started in the Plough Rd area in around 1928.
Image courtesy of the Phillips family © 2007

This document, dated 1927, has had to be drastically reduced in physical size in order for it to be scanned; and further reduced electronically to enable it to be used in this web page. During this process the pink colouring used to denote the extent of the Fitznells Farm has bleached out.

The approximate area of the farm extended from the railway west wards to the allotment gardens marked at Plough Road. It was bordered in the north by the Hogsmill River and to the south by Chessington Road. There was also some land on the East of the railway north of what we now call Old Schools Lane - where the Salaisian Playing fields are. There is a finger of land not owned by the farm just below the words "West Ewell"

The use of the name "West Ewell" on this map is the earliest that I can find - so until I can find evidence to the contrary I shall consider this the first map of West Ewell

Augustus Gadesten died on the 15th of August 1901. In a will dated 11th April 1900 he left his estate to his sons James, Augustus and Edmund. In 1903 James sold his third to his brother for £25,000. Whether the above map constitutes all the land in the estate I am unsure, however in 1906 "Part" of the property is leased to Ernest Hilliard for 21 years; at the end of which the land described as "Fitznells Farm" to Sidney Parks trading as Modern Homes and Estates Ltd, for £12,500. It seems that the depression of the 1920s had reduced the value of the land considerably over those 21 years. Six years later, in February 1933, Sidney Parkes sold the land to Carshalton Beeches Estates Ltd for £32,000. A nice little earner! The land was then sub-divided into smaller plots and sold to various builders for development.

At that time the farm was described in the conveyance documents as follows:-
ALL THOSE the several pieces or parcels of arable meadow and pasture land and the messuage tenement or farmhouse thereon and the gardens pleasure grounds conservatories stabling and farm buildings thereto belonging and the five cottages also erected thereon called or known by the name of Fitznells Farm situate in the Parish of Ewell in the said County of Surrey and containing in the whole by estimation 125 acres 2 roods 24 perches more or less and more particularly delineated in the plan annexed thereto and thereon coloured pink.
Proposed road layout plan dated 1935 - Click to enlarge
Proposed road layout plan dated 1935 - Click to enlarge
Image courtesy of the Phillips family © 2007

This road layout plan is dated 1935 but was probably drawn up in the late 1920's. It will interest anyone who is familiar with the streets of West Ewell today. It shows a grid of roughly east-west orientated roads named 1st to 9th Avenue with an inverted L shaped road named Fernley Drive where Station Avenue and Eastcroft Road are now. This plan was rejected in favour of longer roads in a roughly North South of approximate north-south orientation.

The road we know as Green Lanes was originally going to be Castle Drive East and West (no doubt after Mr. Gadesdens home; Ewell Castle) with a bridge over the river in the middle rather at the two ends as we have today. We can also see that the shopping parade was planned to extend right up Chessington Road to Riverholme Drive.

I have no idea why this layout was not built; it may have been to do with efficient use of land or even the run of the rainwater drains.

This map explains a mystery that has interested me for many years. There is a wide footpath running between Station Avenue and Green Lanes that would have been valuable building land. Perhaps the land on either side was sold to different builders (as the different styles of houses would suggest) before the new road layout was drawn up, when the layout was altered this land remained undeveloped.

We can also see why Belfield road was built in two halves. The finger of land not owned by the Gadesdens, as denoted in the 1927 map above, was built on first. There is a visible line in the road and the houses change from a mix of different building styles to semi-detached properties at the point were the pre-war and post-war parts of the road are. In Northcroft Rd there is a line in the road at the bend where the Fitznells farm Land finished.

Text written by the late Derek Phillips

Boring legal stuff relating to this page

As explained earlier the text and images for this page came from the website run by the late Derek Phillips. To preserve his work and allow ready access to it, it was decided to merge his local history pages into the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer website. Of necessity some minor changes to the text were necessary and the layout has been changed to fit in with the house style of Epsom and Ewell History Explorer but in essence the web page is Derek's.

The family of the Late Derek Phillips makes every effort to ensure that the information on this web page is accurate. However, they cannot accept responsibility for any loss or inconvenience caused by reliance on inaccurate material contained in this site. Links to other sites are provided for your convenience, the Phillips family cannot give endorsement of them. They cannot be responsible for any information contained on other websites.

All material on this site (including text and images) is copyright. Every effort is being made to ensure that all sources are credited. Where no credit is given then it should be assumed that the copyright in any particular item resides with the Phillips family or that the Phillips family should be contacted to ascertain who owns the copyright before text or photographs are reproduced elsewhere. Educational use is permitted provided that no changes are made to the material and Derek Phillips is acknowledged as the source.

Commercial usage is prohibited unless formal written permission is obtained beforehand.

Derek Phillips
Derek Phillips
Chessington Road
Chessington Rd
Hogsmill River
Hogsmill River
Rembrandt Tour
Rembrandt Tour
Ruxley Lane
Ruxley Lane
West Ewell History 1
West Ewell 1
West Ewell History 2
West Ewell 2
West Ewell History 3
West Ewell 3
West Ewell War Memories
West Ewell War