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There were already some roads in the area. Worcester Park Road is an ancient boundary road; The Avenue, Royal Avenue, Grafton Road, Salisbury Road and Cromwell Road had been laid down in the 19th Century. The two main roads, London Road and Kingston Road, however, are much older.
London Road is the old Roman Stane Street, constructed in the 1st Century AD, which ran from London to Chichester. The present road is not quite on the line of the Roman road, which ran just inside the park, crossing the marshy ground opposite Briarwood Road on a causeway. When the old Queen Victoria public house was demolished in 1937, the road was found. The metalling was so solid that pneumatic drills were needed to cut through it.
The road leaves the line of the Roman road at the Briarwood Road bend. The second bend, by Nonsuch Park gates, was, until about 1960, considerably sharper than it is today, and the road narrower. On the bend, opposite the gates, was a hedge, with large elm trees. The monument at the gates commemorates the wife of a Victorian owner of the park, a tireless worker in the cause of temperance. A sore trial she must have been to the locals.
The park gate, formerly called Red Gate, had a Gothic Revival gatehouse, demolished about 1960. Further down, where now is a scout hut, was a farm house, and opposite, between Ewell Park Way and Elmwood Drive, a large Victorian mansion, Ewell Park, stood in its own grounds, with a gate and lodge at the corner. This was on the site of a farm, Bowling Green Farm, and the house was formerly called Stoneleigh; hence the name.
The Ewell By-Pass was built about 1931, the Organ Inn being rebuilt at the same time. Next door, the building now occupied by offices, was an alehouse called the Brick Kiln, from the brickworks opposite on the site of the filling station and the houses beyond. C.S. Willis, the local historian, writing in 1930, says:
“In Edward’s map, 1790, London Road is marked Elm Lane; I have heard it called by that name; and when there was a hedge and ditch with elm trees all the way to North Cheam it was a delightful country road, and alive with chaffinches”.
In 1577 it was described as “the green way to London”.
The Kingston Road is at least medieval, and probably dates back to Saxon times.
This again was a pleasant country road, half its present width, the eastern half being the original road and the hedge in the central reservation, I think, the remains of the old hedgerow. Coming from Tolworth, the road stretched, wide and empty, with the wood, Taylor’s Shrubbery, on the left, and cornfield stretching down to Ewell Court on the right. It then ran past Ruxley Lane, which was a country lane, and The Queen Adelaide, a Victorian pub rebuilt in 1932, before reaching fields to the railway, where a few weather-boarded cottages clustered on the old cinema site. The red-tiled roofs of the council houses on Beggar’s Hill were the first buildings in sight.
Both these roads were turnpiked in the 18th Century, London Road in 1737, and Kingston Road in 1755. That is to say, they were administered by turnpike trusts, which undertook the upkeep of the roads, charging tolls for the purpose. There was a tollgate on the London Road, at Woodgate, 100 yards south of the Organ Inn, opposite the Congregational church. The turnpikes finally came to an end with the establishment of county councils in 1888.
This then is the picture of the district as it had been for some 200 years. In that period there had been little change, the chief being the coming of the railway.
This was the LSWR line from Waterloo to Epsom, opened in 1859. In our area there were three crossing places, two cattle arches through the embankment, and a bridge over the cutting. The two former still exist, the one 100 yards south of the Stoneleigh Station, the other half a mile to the north; the bridge, demolished some years ago, stood halfway between, at the top of the hill by the brickworks.