Surbiton, is a suburban area of south-west London within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. It is situated next to the River Thames, 11.0 miles south west of central London. Surbiton was formerly within the County of Surrey, but became part of Greater London in 1965 following the London Government Act 1963, together with many areas including neighbouring Kingston and Richmond. Surbiton possesses a mixture of Art-Deco courts, more recent residential blocks and grand 19th century townhouses blending into a sea of semi-detached 20th century housing estates.
- See the article on Thomas Pooley for his rôle in the establishment of the present-day town of Surbiton.
- See also the article on the Municipal Borough of Surbiton for the period 1855 – 1965.
The present-day town came into existence after a plan to build a London-Southampton railway line through nearby Kingston was rejected by Kingston Council, who feared that it would be detrimental to the coaching trade. This resulted in the line being routed further south, through a cutting in the hill south of Surbiton. Surbiton railway station opened in 1838, and was originally named Kingston-upon-Railway. It was only renamed Surbiton to distinguish it from the new Kingston railway station on the Shepperton branch line, which opened on 1 January 1869. The present station has an art deco façade.
As a result, Kingston is now on a branch line, whereas passengers from Surbiton (smaller in comparison) can reach London Waterloo in about 15 minutes on a fast direct service; as well as places further afield, including Portsmouth and Southampton. This has made Surbiton a convenient and attractive location from which to commute into Central London, reflected in the size of its population.
Resident artists and writers
The Pre-Raphaelite painters John Everett Millais (1829–1896) and William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) came to Surbiton in 1851, 26 years before Richard Jefferies (1848–1887). Millais used the Hogsmill River, in Six Acre Meadow, Tolworth, as the background for his painting Ophelia. Holman Hunt used the fields just south of this spot as the background to The Hireling Shepherd.
In the mid-1870s the novelist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) lived in a house called 'St. David's Villa' in Hook Road, Surbiton for a year after his marriage to Emma Gifford. H.G.Wells, in his comic novel The Wheels of Chance, describes the cycle collision of 'Mr Hoopdriver' and a 'Young Lady in Grey'; the young lady approaching 'along an affluent from the villas of Surbiton'. The writer Enid Blyton (1897–1968) was governess to a Surbiton family for four years from 1920, at a house called 'Southernhay', also on the Hook Road. C.H. Middelton (1886-1945), who broadcast on gardening during the Second World War, lived in Surbiton, where he died suddenly outside his home. The artist who brought Rupert the Bear to life for a whole generation Alfred Bestall sketched out his cartoons from his home in Crane's Park, Surbiton Hill.
In popular culture
A 1972 episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a mock documentary which investigated whether the residents of Hounslow, another London area suburb, had long ago been descendants of the people of Surbiton "who had made the great trek north."
Surbiton's main claim to popular fame is as an icon of suburbia in such British television programmes as The Good Life (starring Richard Briers, Penelope Keith, Paul Eddington and Felicity Kendal), though location filming was done in Northwood, North-West London), and John Sessions' comedy series Stella Street, which has on occasion led to the town being nicknamed "Suburbiton". Other names for the town include "the 'Surbs" and "the 'Tron" in reference to '80s movies The 'Burbs and Tron.
Surbiton station features in the 2009 film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Blood Prince, with actors Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter and Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore. Filming took place in November 2007. The station also appears in Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, a TV adaptation of the short story by Agatha Christie and the first episode of the 1989 ITV series. Having been set in the 1930s Art Deco period and external shots of Hercule Poirot's fictional residence Whitehaven Mansions being filmed at Florin Court, the station assists in maintaining the authenticity of the programme and was built within a year of Florin Court.
In the episode of EastEnders broadcast on the 23 November 2012, Ava Hartman, daughter of Cora Cross, refers to her difficulties of being a black woman growing up in Surbiton in the late 60's and 70's adopted by white parents.
Surbiton is served by a number of regular bus services
- For education in Surbiton see the main Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames article.
From 1998 to 2008 Surbiton hosted the first round of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) season. The Surbiton Trophy was part of the ATP Challenger Series and in 2009 the venue was moved to Nottingham as part of a reorganisation by the LTA.
Surbiton is the current home of both male and female football teams, Darkside FC, Surbiton Wanderers and Surbiton Town Ladies FC.
Surbiton is famous for Surbiton Hockey Club, which was established in 1874, and is regarded as one of the best hockey clubs in the country. Its men's and ladies 1st XIs currently both playing in their respective national premier leagues, while its youth section regularly produces players of international quality.
Surbiton is also the home to Surbiton Croquet Club, which is amongst the strongest croquet clubs in the country, and with seven lawns, one of the largest.
- George Best — a footballer who died there (having been born in Belfast and lived much of his life in Manchester)
- Alfred Bestall — illustrator of the Rupert books
- Charlie Brooks — actress
- Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton — equality and human rights champion
- Rosalbina Caradori-Allan — opera singer
- Julian Clary — comedian and novelist
- John Cooper — car maker
- Allan Cuthbertson — actor
- Edward Davey MP — Cabinet Minister
- Phyllis Dixey — singer, dancer and impresario
- David Essex — musician, singer-songwriter and actor (Lived on Ditton Road for 16 years until 2002)
- John Foxx — musician and digital artist (Former Resident)
- Eileen Gray — cyclist
- Jennifer Guy — actor, Cavegirl
- Thomas Hardy — author (while completing and for the publishing of Far from the Madding Crowd)
- Eamonn Holmes — television presenter
- Saskia Howard-Clarke — Big Brother 6 (UK) contestant and glamour model
- James Johnston — Rugby union player (Lived in Surbiton until 2013 while playing for Harlequins)
- Art Malik — actor
- John McCririck — horse racing pundit, Celebrity Big Brother (2005), and Ultimate Big Brother (2010)
- James McQuillan — contestant on television series The Apprentice, 2009
- Mr Middleton — gardener, writer and BBC broadcaster
- Elizabeth Norton — historian and author
- Betty Nuthall — amongst other major titles, winner of the 1930 Women's US Singles Tennis Championship. Ranked number 4 in the world.
- Andy Parsons — comedian, Mock The Week
- Jon Richardson — comedian, 8 out of 10 Cats, Stand Up for the Week
- William Robinson (Governor of Western Australia) grew up in Surbiton.
- Helen Sharman — first Briton in space, first woman to visit Mir space station.
- David Spinx — actor
||Hampton, East Molesey||Kingston Upon Thames, Petersham||Kingston Upon Thames|
|Long Ditton, Hinchley Wood||Chessington||Tolworth|
The clock tower at Surbiton was built to celebrate the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII.
Surbiton Branch Post Office, subsequently redeveloped by CNM Estates.
- "Railways South East". Retrieved 2007-08-10.
A township developed on the hill near the railway. This was named New Kingston, New Town and Kingston-upon-Railway before becoming Surbiton
- The Enid Blyton Society, Chronology, retrieved 2012-02-10
- Daniel Smith (2011) The Spade as Mighty as the Sword
- Monty Python's Flying Circus, Episode #28, first aired 28 October 1972
- The Good Life house for sale
- "the adventure of the clapham cook" (in english). 1. Season 1. Episode 1. 8 Jan 1989. 38:28 minutes in. itv.
- Poirot at Amazon.co.uk
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming (Page 89)
- https://twitter.com/JayVJohnston July 2013
- Kingston Borough Council
- Surbiton - 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
- Surbiton People
- Surbiton Croquet Club
- Surbiton Caledonian Society