Made for the middle market, the houses came with gas lighting and indoor toilets.

Chapter 4 – The Early Years

As the century drew to its close the road began to take shape. George Martin at number 1 and Alfred Comber at number 32 were hard at work building houses, and their work would have been overseen, and overlooked by T.R. Hooper and his family from their home, ‘Glinton’, on Ranelagh Road. They were not the only builders however. Mr Worsell designed numbers 62 and 64 as well as many other properties in the area. Though he never lived in either house himself, number 62 remained in his family until the late 1960s.

Hughes Store and Post Office 1915.

Hughes Store and Post Office 1915.

These modern houses with their gas–lighting and indoor toilets were designed for the middle of the market: the shop–owners and craftsmen, the clergy and teachers in the local community. The plots, being sold individually, were also designed individually and due to the shape of the road the gardens vary wildly in both size and shape. Where people owned two adjacent plots they often lived in one and rented out the other.

1921 Surrey Mirror advertisement.

1921 Surrey Mirror advertisement.

For those living on the road from 1905 onwards Linkfield Street would have provided many amenities. They could have taken their laundry to Miss Whitmore in Vine Cottage (number 43), had their dresses made by Mrs Mann (number 49), had their boots mended by A. Holman, had their hair done by George Yeatman and bought groceries and posted letters in Hughes’ store at number 20. If you were of a particular political persuasion you could even have attended meetings of the Liberal Association at Lorne House (the dwelling house attached to the tannery).

If they were well–to–do there were a range of educational opportunities available for their sons on Elm Road: Radnor House School for Boys at number 5, Elmside School for Boys at number 15 (attended by Leslie Martin of number 1 and Stanley Charlwood, later of number 35) and Mr Taylor, a private tutor at number 11. The boys of Radnor House School were always impeccably dressed. They were taught to doff their caps and say ‘good morning’ to any residents who passed by whilst they were on the common.

From the outset the residents had strong connections with St. Matthew’s Church. The Rev. Walter Martin of number 50 and the Rev. Vickers from number 58 were both curates there.

The home of William Wallis of number 31 was referred to as the Surrey Convalescent Home. In fact it was only in the year 2000 that direct relatives of William Wallis moved away from the road as Bob Crittenden reveals:

Mrs Wallis

Victorian portrait believed to be Arthur Wallis’ mother.

“Number 31 was built in 1894, I think, and it was first bought by Mr W J Wallis and his wife who called it ‘Silbury’. In fact some bills have continued to have this name on them! I have some wrapping paper with copperplate writing and Victorian stamps date July 1897, which I found under the old linoleum in 1978! It was his nephew, Arthur Wallis, and his mother who moved there in 1924.

After meeting my mother’s sister Phoebe Watts on the train (Arthur got on at Redhill and she also went up to London from Coulsdon South where she lived) they married in 1936. Phoebe then went to live at number 31 also!

My mother Elsie married my father John Crittenden in 1939 after meeting through my aunt and uncle’s wedding! Bridesmaid and Best Man!

Arthur and Phoebe Wallis wedding day

Arthur and Phoebe Wallis on their wedding day in 1936.
Best man John Crittenden is standing next to the bride’s sister Elsie Watts.

Newspaper clipping

Account of the event.

Dad was also brought up in Redhill at Osborne Road and knew uncle through Holy Trinity Church where both worked in the Sunday school.

On Redhill Common

Arthur Wallis, Arthur Watts and John Crittenden on Redhill Common 1936.

Consequently with family and the Redhill area, my sister and I were often brought to Fengates Road on the 406 bus from Tolworth where we lived, for the day or to stay for a few days.

As Uncle Arthur worked as a railway clerk at the station, I often used to spend time train spotting on the platform, while he was working. We also used to go for walks on the Common or go out picking blackberries and there were some excellent bushes on the disused land on the corner where Donyngs is now!

Uncle Arthur died in 1963 but Auntie Phoebe lived in the house until her death in the autumn of 1977.

It was in early 1978 that we bought number 31 and moved from Wimbledon with our three small children Kate, Jane and John. Over the years we adapted the house and improved it but we were always keen to keep its Victorian character. We finally moved out in 2000 thus completing over 100 years of family history in ‘Silbury’.”

The Crittendons

The Crittendens.
Kate, Lynn, Bob, Jane and John.

Many residents of the road were involved in community activities. George Ashdown, of number 50, was Secretary of the Princess of Wales female lodge number 8111, and the Juvenile branch of the Prince of Wales Lodge number 5174; George Frisby of number 9 was a teacher and member of the Holmesdale Naturalist Society. This pattern seems to have repeated itself across the years and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that many of the Fengates residents attended the fund–raising parades that were such a feature of life in Reigate and Redhill in the early years of the 20th Century.

One person that we can identify with certainty is Mr Worsell. Not only was he a builder but he was also a volunteer fireman in the Redhill fire brigade. In those days there were no full time firemen and when the alarm went up the volunteers had to stop what they were doing and rapidly assemble. As you can see he cut a dashing figure in his uniform.


Volunteer fire brigade

E. Worsell pictured in his volunteer fire brigade uniform and (possibly) second from left on the Redhill Manual Fire Appliance pictured in 1907.

As already mentioned he built number 62 and, as was common at the time, he rented it out to tenants until his daughter Hilda moved in with her husband Charles Brett and their family in the late 1930s.

In the meantime the ‘Great War’ and its aftermath were to have a great impact on life in Fengates Road.

We have been unable to trace whether any permanent residents enlisted. However there was one highly notable tenant, our very own ‘Fengates Hero’ who lodged at number 42, and whose adventures have been researched by the Holdstocks (number 48).