Category Archives: Surrey

Mr Hopkins Revisited

I once signed up for Friends reunited, and uploaded an old class picture from when I was 8 or 9. From Friends Re-united I found a picture of Mr Hopkins our English teacher from about aged 13 to 15. His comment on my first essay in his class was “5/10 : All very sad. Your story is too breathless to make much sense”.

The next one was “8/10: A lively imaginative piece of work.”

But a little later…”At present you are trying too hard for the unusual word and your writing is strained. However I expect you’ll come to terms with it.’

Netherne Hospital 1977 and Netherne Village on the Hill 2009

Here are some pictures of Netherne Psychiatric Hospital, near Coulsdon in Surrey, as it looked around 1977.

The Main Entrance.
The Main Entrance with a direction sign. Press image to see the directions on the sign.
The Chapel.

The Water Tower.

A view of the Wards.

Netherne Hospital opened its doors on the 1st April 1909.

Prior to 1840 patients from Surrey either got sent to Bethlem or a private asylum. In 1840 Wandsworth Asylum was built to accommodate Surrey patients; a second asylum was built at Brookwood, and a third at Cane Hill, but when London expanded to take over a large area of Surrey south of the River Thames, Cane Hill was used for London residents. Then as Brookwood filled up and was no longer large enough for Surrey it was decided to erect a new asylum at Netherne on a farming estate on a hill two miles from Coulsdon.

The direct path to the Asylum was quite steep and crossed high above a railway cutting, and so a zig zig road was constructed up the hill for vehicles.

Netherne was initially designed for 960 patients, but with plenty of room to grow. The main building itself was in the shape of a south facing arc so that all the wards could get the sun during the day. It was unlike previous Victorian custodial style asylums, and built of pale red brick and portland stone on two levels. There were villas separate from the main hospital to give some chronic patients – who worked on the land, and convalescent patients – ready to be discharged, a less institutional type of place to live. There was also a chapel, admin block, recreation hall, accommodation for nurses, and a cemetery. The whole estate was about 350 acres, and employed patients on a farm which included cows for milk, and a piggery with about 120 pigs to consume the food waste.

Thanks to the Surrey Mirror of 9th April 1909 for some of the details.

Yesterday, I drove my son over to Croydon. He had to be at work on Boxing Day and transport was a problem. Then being near my old haunts I went to what was once Netherne Mental Hospital and took this picture of what was once Dickens Ward. The view is little changed. The hospital buildings have been changed to flats, and new houses built all around. The new development is probably about ten years old now, and continues to grow with new houses and is called Nethern Village or Netherne on The Hill.

I have updated this post after adding an entry for 1st April to a new blog called Mental Health on this day in History

South Nutfield 6 – Roadsign

This signpost has changed. The number of fingers are the same but there has been a change of emphasize. The places are unchanged but the names given are quite different .

Crab Hill House -to- Crabhill House
Bletchingley, Godstone -to- Bletchingley
Outwood -to- Outwood, Smallfield
Redhill, Reigate -to- Redhill Aerodrome
Nutfield Stn, Nutfield -to- South Nutfield

Nutfield is part of Tandridge district council now, and so the emphasize is now on other places within that district rather than those outside where people passing through might really be wanting to go. So perhaps this is partly district council exclusivism and partly a desire to stop South Nutfield being used as a rat run. But the most curious change to me is the direction to South Nutfield, as this sign is in South Nutfield.

Do they no longer feel that they belong?

South Nutfield 5 – Oak Tree

This is an oak tree I have photographed many times in the past, but not for twenty or more year. I used to walk past it every day walking Kip – the dog I had back then. The shape of the oak has not changed much in all that time. But it must have grown. There are horses and ponies sheltered under it now. There were cows in my day, and then sheep.

South Nutfield 4 – Christchurch

On Christmas Eve we used to go from the Station Hotel pub to Christchurch, and sing the carols too loud. We used to get looks from a lady in the choir.

Laylines are supposed to meet at Christchurch, according to one internet site?

There used to be two churches in South Nutfield. The Free Church (evangelical) and Christchurch (anglican). Christchurch carries on as a church with a building, and the Free Church was knocked down to make way for two new houses. The Free Church had reformed into house groups anyway so it probably makes no odds.

South Nutfield 3 – Corner Stores

The remaining South Nutfield shop was known in my time as the Corner Stores. I helped Mr Barnett deliver groceries.

It has recently been taken over and called Holborns. The crowd outside are enjoying mugs of mulled wine round a smoking stove. Good to see community spirit is still alive in South Nutfield.

South Nutfield 2 – Shops

On the near wall there was a cigarette machine that never worked. It was already a bygone. Next to that was the newsagent where I’d collect my paper-round at 6:30 in the morning. Next door was the wool shop. Then the post office. Then the garage with petrol pump and pink paraffin where we got our car serviced. A bit further along was a grocers. Also gone, elsewhere in the village, are the baker, and the butcher. They were all there in the 1970s. They are all houses now. Just one shop remains.

Abinger Hammer

This cyclist was with me for a long stretch of the A25. I kept stopping and he caught up and overtook, then I drove past him…

Abinger Hammer is one of those places that made a strong impression when I was young. Thats the famous Clock struck with a Hammer, jutting across the road, and the Abinger Arms behind.

The Silent Pool

Last time I went to the Silent Pool, near Shere in Surrey, it had dried out and all I could see was its muddy bottom. That was about fifteen years ago and a great disappointment. But today it was full of water but looking a bit overgrown with pond weed. Not quite the tree lined eerily quiet lake, of my imagination. There is a story that a brother and sister drowned here, and she is sometimes seen floating on the surface.