Monday, 26 April 2010

Holly, Croquet and The Berrylands Dairy

It's funny how sometimes good can come out of a bad situation. Not that this was particularly bad, but one evening last week I was supposed to be at the grand opening of my niece's Headmasters hairdressing salon in Surbiton and my quick internet address check had thrown me a curve-ball. What I assumed was the salon address actually turned out to be the Headmasters Head Office and whilst an obliging member of staff was kindly finding out where I was actually supposed to be, I had a chance for a quick look around the immediate area. Which was very fortunate because this caught my eye on the other side of the road...
The archway fronts onto Ewell Road and is in the middle of what looks like a lateish-Victorian building. Not that I'm any great judge of these things but the 'established' date of 1840 looks well on the early side for the building to me. The cobbled path beneath the arch winds back to what once must have been a fairly substantial, prosperous and busy dairy yard, if the quality of the archway can be taken as any indicator.

Berrylands itself lies between Surbiton and the A3 and intrigued by such a self-confident and solid  inscription in what seemed to be a fairly insignificant area, I thought I'd do a little digging around to see if I could throw any light on the history of the dairy itself.

I soon found out that most of the area that now makes up Berrylands used to be farm land  and according to to one source there were two farms, Berry Lodge Farm and Berrylands Farm. However according to the Kingston Borough website, there was actually just the one, originally Berry Lodge Farm but which later changed its name to Berrylands, just to confuse everyone! This farm was a significant and ancient building and was even noted in the 1911 edition of A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3 
The only house in the district covered by the modern Surbiton marked on the maps of the 18th century was Berrylands Farm. It certainly existed in 1736 and is probably much older..
The significance of this farm for both the dairy and the surrounding area is that it seems to have had a large dairy herd pretty much dedicated to supplying the rapidly expanding area of Surbiton. Whether the arrival of the railways also meant that there was the opportunity to send milk into the heart of London as well I couldn't say but I'd be very surprised if the dairy wasn't owned by the farm owner as well. After all if you've a monopoly on a local product I couldn't see why you'd let a middle-man in to 'cream off' some of the profit.

Following up on the dairy theme there's a small snippet in the Livestock Journal of 1922 that would suggest that the milk (and good quality stuff at that) was still flowing freely at that particular time
HOLLY, W. & SONS, BERRYLANDS, SURBITON. Registered herd, Pedigree heavy milkers. Societies milk records, tuberculin tested. Stock bull (Stagenhoe Governor) has won several first prizes, Champion Cup at Reading, also Silver Medal Dairy Show 1920; also numerous prize-winners, including first for best heifer, second in Milking Trials and Silver Medal at London...
There's another entry in the Agricultural Gazette of the same year which remarks on the quality of 'Tolworth Lassie' another of the Holly families prize-winners, as being a 'wealthy type of heifer, remarkably well-grown and showing promise'.

It also seems that the dairy building wasn't the original one, as I suspected. There's a Kingston document regarding the nearby Fishponds Conservation area which is illustrated with a number of maps. This clearly shows that the  dairy building wasn't there in the 1880's but may have been by 1896. It's not too clear to be honest, but what is clear from the old maps is the increased population bought about by the arrival of the railways in the 1840's, which just so happens to be when the dairy was founded.

As time went on the dairy land was supplanted by further building and even a few sporting facilities as the following note in the records of the Surbiton Croquet Club archives of 1911 indicates - "The Hon. Secretary reported ... that Mrs Stevenson had applied for a croquet section of the club to be formed and additional lawns laid down on the land adjoining the club forming part of Berrylands Farm."

Even up to 1939 the Holly family seem to still have been a force in the club as in that year records note that the  "... prizes will be presented by Mrs W Holly (president)." Sadly she died later that year in her 70s and I would imagine that that and the post war building boom might well have been the catalyst for the final break up and sale of the remaining land and whatever remained of the dairy herd itself.

One last little mystery caught my attention, and that was the fairly plain mosaic in the shop front to the left of the arch. I imagine at some point that this could well have been the dairy shop but sad to say I can't be sure because whatever name in the middle was originally, it's been very thoroughly erased by later owners!
(Before I forget - if you find yourselves in Surbiton in need of a new hairstyle try the new Headmasters opposite the station. If I still had any hair worth dressing I'd be there like a flash!)


Anonymous said...

An intriguing tale of a by-gone era. It's a pity that mosaic has been vandalized.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thanks for that post on Berrylands. All I knew was what you can see from the train, and let's face it, it isn't very appealing! Oh, and of course there's that spoof song: