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BLACKHEATH – History

It was not until 1833 that the Rate Book shows that there were several families listed as having some sort of tenure on the “large waste called Blackheath consisting of heath, useful only for turf cut therefrom or fir or larch trees”. By 1867 the number of inhabitants had increased from 12 to 26 and by 1873, it was recorded that there were 39 cottages, one pub and one beer shop. In the latter part of the 19th century, the owners of Chilworth gunpowder factory built the terrace known as Mitchell’s Cottages for their employees. In the explosion of 1913, leaves from the trees surrounding the gunpowder works were carried by the wind and fell on Blackheath.

From the 1880’s a number of developments took place in the village. Sir William Chandler Roberts-Austen had settled in the village and, in conjunction with his colleague Henry Prescott, paid for a number of houses to be built or converted, several of them by the architect Charles Harrison Townsend (whose work included the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Bishopgate Institute and Horniman Museum). In 1889 Roberts-Austen paid for the construction of the “Village Pump” by the crossroads as the village had no water supply at that time. In 1892 he also commissioned Townsend to design a church for the village and St Martin’s was dedicated in July 1893. Prescott paid for the building of the Village Hall in 1897 on land given by Mr Cowley-Lambert from part of the Little Tangley estate and also paid for the construction of The Vicarage to house the first curate of St Martin’s in 1901.

Further developments took place over the years with the last new houses being built in the 1970’s. There were originally two shops in the village. Both were grocers and one also contained a Post Office. This latter survived the longest but closed in the 1980’s. (This is a much abbreviated account taken from the Introduction to ‘History of Blackheath’ with the kind permission of Brigadier Dick Hume)

In the 2002 Waverley Borough Plan, Blackheath was designated as “a settlement without boundaries”. This sets very strict restrictions on further development of the village and only in exceptional circumstances will any new build be permitted.


The Village from Derrys Hill looking North


The Well by the crossroads (c1920)


Petrol pumps outside Pear Tree Cottage looking West (c1960)

Historical photographs kindly supplied
by Mrs B Hockley
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