16 September 2009

Surbiton then and now

The first Kingston upon Thames talk after the Summer break was on the less than compelling subject of Surbiton but I was proved wrong and it was entertaining and informative.

First up we had the history, some of which I knew. Kingston Council laughed at the new railways and chose to have Kingston Station built a mile or so out of town on the south side. The train brought people and jobs and houses and Surbiton was born.

Some grand houses soon followed but Surbiton's green-field location and good rail link to central London have proved to be a mixed blessing and the centre of the town is dominated by flats for the transient young and care homes for the elderly. Family homes and families are a rarity.

The land grab to build more flats continues today and some of the few old buildings are under threat and some others have been lost.

Surbiton may lack much local history but there are compensations and it is clear to see why it remains an attractive place to live, just not for those of us who value the buildings and parks around us.

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