Surrey Industrial History Group (SIHG)

Surrey's Industrial History

Some Notable Surrey Industrial History

Basingstoke Canal

Opened from the Wey Navigation to Basingstoke in 1796 with 37 miles of cut and 29 locks, of which 28 are in Surrey. Through the efforts of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society and of the two County Councils, which took over the derelict canal in the 1970s, restoration was completed in 1991 as far as Greywell Tunnel (5.5 miles from Basingstoke). The John Pinkerton trip boat operates in summer. There is free access to the towpath. See a view of the Curzon Bridge and one of the flight of 14 locks at Deepcut. (TQ 055 620 to SU 718 514).

The Beehive, Gatwick

In Surrey until 1974. This circular building was built in 1936 as the first control tower and terminal building at Gatwick Airport. It is now used as offices (TQ 285 399).

Brockham and Betchworth Chalkpits

The Dorking Greystone Lime Co. works on the escarpment of the North Downs at Betchworth has important examples of Dietzch lime kilns which can be viewed from the North Downs Way, heading west from TQ 210 517.

There are also remains of flare kilns here and at the nearby Brockham chalkpit. This is a public open space for which a self-guide trail leaflet is available (TQ 198 510).


The world's first banked motor racing circuit was built at Brooklands, Weybridge in 1906-7. The site was also a pioneer aviation centre and was used for the manufacture of aircraft until 1987. A museum has been created with exhibits including a restored section of the track, buildings associated with the heyday of racing and flying and a World War II Wellington bomber recovered from Loch Ness (TQ 070 630).

Catteshall Mill Turbine

This Fourneyron water turbine is a large and rare example of an early design of turbine and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It was installed in Catteshall Mill in 1869 to drive paper making machinery. It was rescued when part of the building was demolished and is now at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower, Cobham

Built in 1822 as one of a chain of towers for sending signals from the Admiralty in London to Portsmouth and Plymouth. It was restored in 1989 to mark the centenary of Surrey County Council. Open as a museum in summer (TQ 089 585).

Chilworth Gunpowder Mills

One of the longest working gunpowder mills in Britain, Chilworth was active from 1626 to 1920. The mills were powered by the Tillingbourne and later by steam. Remains of mill races, incorporating mills and edge runner stones can be seen along a footpath running eastwards from Blacksmith Lane (TQ 024 476).

Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway

This horse-drawn plateway built as an extension to the Surrey Iron Railway in 1805 and closed in 1837. It was not completed to Godstone but terminated at lime works and stone quarries at Merstham. There are remains of a cutting by the A23 at Hooley (TQ 288 544), remains of a bridge nearby at 'Starbucks' / Dean Lane (TQ 288 558) and sleepers where rails used to be displayed at the corner of Quality Street, Merstham (TQ 289 533). Access at any time.

Farnham Maltings

Farnham was once famous for hop growing. The Maltings in Red Lion Lane is mainly 19th century but incorporates parts of an earlier brewery and tannery. It was owned by Courages from 1920 to 1956, saved by public subscription in the 1960s and converted for community use (SU 841 466).

Guildford Treadwheel Crane

The Wey Navigation was opened in 1653 and the crane, which stands on the redeveloped riverside at Guildford, probably dates from the late 17th century. It was used to load and unload barges at the former wharf, close to its present position, and was worked by men walking inside the 18 foot diameter wheel. Access to exterior at any time (National Grid Reference SU 994 494).

Knighton’s Glass Furnace

Chiddingfold was the main centre of glass manufacture in Britain in medieval and Tudor times. Remains of a two-chamber furnace for annealing crown sheets of glass can be seen in Sidney Wood, Alfold. Nearby are remains of locks on the disused Wey and Arun Canal. On a Forest Trail with access at all times (TQ 017 341).

Outwood Windmill

The oldest working windmill in Britain, built in 1665. It is a post-mill with patent shutters and when the wind is adequate still grinds corn. Although currently not open to the public, it is visible from the road, (TQ 328 456).

Shalford Mill

This well preserved early 18th century water mill has been refurbished and has public access to all floors for the first time in decades. There are regular guided tours. The building has remained almost unaltered since ceasing operations in 1914, (TQ 001 476).

Tillingbourne Valley

The constant flow of the Tillingbourne powered a total of 30 mills with 50 waterwheels, some of which are mentioned in the Domesday Book. Find out about the Tillingbourne Tales and Trails project, (TQ 140 442 to SU 997 480).



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