In the 1870s Surbiton gained the epitaph ‘Queen of the Suburbs’, and the image of Surbiton as the archetypal sleepy suburban neighbourhood was reinforced in the 1975 TV show The Good Life. However, like all suburban areas, Surbiton is full of character and hidden histories. This project focuses on one area of Surbiton – the designated conservation area of Oakhill. The project aims to bring to life and celebrate the stories and history of Oakhill and the people who have lived and worked there.
Oakhill forms a small corner of Surbiton, and lies just south of Surbiton Railway Station. The area is 15.5 hectares in size and contains approximately 456 properties, several of which are listed. The listed buildings include Hillcroft College, the period buildings on South Terrace and the Crown Court on Ewell Road. Ewell Road forms the commercial centre of Oakhill, and to the west is the public park The Wood and the Richard Jefferies Bird Sanctuary. Oakhill is significant as it has for more than a century been a hub for community health care; it is home to the unique educational venture that is Hillcroft College; and the people who have lived and worked in the area have fascinating stories to share - such as being a Wren in the Second World War, visits from Royalty and A-List celebrities, working at No. 10 Downing Street, weighing the local babies, and about being one of the first people to breed tortoises in the UK.
If you explore the pages in ‘Oakhill Heritage’ you can find out more about Oakhill, and if you visit the ‘Oral Histories’ page you can listen to insightful and interesting memories from the people who have lived the history you are learning about. The Oakhill Timeline will give you an overview of the development of Oakhill, Hillcroft College and local community health care.