The Laker Family of Redhill
 
 
 
 
Redhill, Reigate, the Railway Station and a Hotel

The town of Redhill, originally named Warwick Town, had not been established when the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company completed its line from London to Brighton in 1841. The railway station was a originally half a mile south of the present site but in 1845 was moved to its current position and the Railway Hotel was built alongside it shortly after. Redstone Hill, the thoroughfare on which the hotel stood, probably started life as a farm track but was made up to provide access from the station to the then existing road from east to west that is now the A25. The nearest town at the time was Reigate and the railway station took the same name. In 1843 a spur was built from close to the station to Dover. The town of Redhill, then called Warwick Town, began to be built about a third of a mile west of the station in 1846. In 1849 another spur was made through Reigate to Reading and a new station in Reigate was built, so the station alongside the hotel was renamed 'Reigate Junction'. This station was rebuilt in 1858 and again renamed, this time to 'Red Hill Junction', the name coming from the area of Red Hill Common near the site of the original station and the fact that theearly London to Brighton Line now formed a junction at Red Hill with the 1843 lie to Dover and the 1849 line to Reading via Reigate. During the second half of the 1800s - the period covering most of the Lakers occupation of the Raiklway Hotel - Redhill grew from its humble beginnings into a large, prosperous town with the name of the original Warwick Town slowly changing to Red Hill, partly thriough the influence of the railway station bearing that name. By the early 1900s the name had become simply Redhill. In 1929 the name of the railway station followed suit, dropping the word 'junction' and becaming 'Redhill' also..
 
 
The Laker Family and the Railway Hotel

The 1841 census shows Richard Laker aged 20 living in Elham, Kent, where he was born. He married Maria Price in Elham in the summer of 1842. .
.... On the 9th March 1846, a licence was granted to Richard Laker, in the foreign of Reigate, “For an inn, alehouse, or victualling house, at the sign of the Reigate Junction.” Richard Laker had a copper-plate engraving made:
 
RICHARD LAKER
REIGATE JUNCTION RAILWAY HOTEL
NEAT WINES AND SPIRITS
POST HORSES AND CARRIAGES FOR HIRE.
(Post horses were horses for use for postal deliveries or for hire to travellers)
  
In the 1851 census Richard Laker is shown aged 33 as a licenced victualler at the Railway Hotel, Redhill. It seems that he was the very first proprietor of the hotel as this inn was built c1844-5 by a Mr Brockman, MP for Hythe, Kent, Richard Laker's home area. If Richard was already in the hotel business, or was acquainted with Mr brockman, then it could have been one or other of these connections that moved Richard from Kent to Redhill. Item 131 of Eves 1861 survey terrier shows that the 'Railway Hotel, premises and garden' were not just run by Richard Laker but were owned by him as well, so he either had the money to buy the brand new hotel or had acquired the money to do so by 1861.

Richard's wife, Maria, 30, was born at Cheriton, Kent, once a village but now a northern suburb of Folkestone. By 1851 they had a 7 year old daughter Harriett, a 5 year old daughter Anna Maria, son George aged 3, and son William Alfred aged 6 months. Both girls were born in Kent and the two boys were born in the registration district of Reigate, indicating that the family had moved to Redhill around 1847-8.

Right - The Railway Hotel around 1900, probably looking much as it was originally built. (Image courtesy Philip English)

 
By the 1861 Census Richard Laker was aged 41, his wife Maria the same. He is shown as a hotel proprietor and the address is the Lakers Hotel. Their children are named as Harriett aged 17, Anna aged 15, Richard aged 8, Aurther? aged 5, Edward aged 2 and Blanche aged 5 months. Harriett had not appeared on the 1851 census. She was born at Cheriton, Kent as her mother had been. George and William Alfred appeared on the 1851 census but not on the 1861 census. They would by then have been aged 13 and 10 respectively.
 
In the 1871 census Richard Laker and his wife Maria were aged 52 and 50. The hotel was listed on the census form as the 'Junction Hotel'. Daughter Anna Maria was aged 25, George 23, William Alfred 20 and daughter Blanche 10. The Hotel tap, the licenced premises next to the hotel is listed for the first time with William Apted and his wife as the publicans. Whether or not this was in the same building as seen above is uncertain as other information says 'the Lakers Hotel Tap was opened circa 1904 and was attached to the west side of the Lakers Hotel. The first proprietor was Mr H A Blake. It seems that this Tap was absorbed into the main hotel circa 1908'. (source Richard Symonds)
  
Another view of the Lakers Hotel very similar to the one at the top of the page. The large sign just by the horse and cart in the foreground reads 'Lakers Railway Hotel'. The notice on the building where the further horse and cart is parked reads 'Lakers Hotel Tap'. Presumably the drivers of the carts are inside the respective buildings, perhaps enjoying a liquid refreshment, while the horses wait patiently outside. This photo comes from a postcard that was postally used in 1905, although the date the actual photo was taken is unknown. (image Alan Moore collection)
   
 
George Laker, 1847-1918, eldest son of William and Maria Laker. (Image courtesy Philip English) John the waiter at the Lakers Hotel. The photo is dated 1876 and was taken at the studio of F.Otto's School of Photography, High Street, Redhill. (Image courtesy Philip English)
  
James Killick, a solicitor, the brother of Eleanor Laker (Image courtesy Philip English)George Morrison, another solicitor, this time from Reigate and no relation but presumably a friend of the Laker family as this photo was kept by Philip Laker (Image courtesy Philip English).
  
Note:- A Mary Ann laker died in the registration district of Reigate (which includes Redhill) in 1870 aged 61. It is not known if she was a part of this Laker family. 
  
Richard Laker, licensed victualler, died on 25th Oct 1872 at the Junction Hotel, Redhill. He was aged about 51. His will was proved by his widow Maria Laker (described as the relict), George Laker and William Laker, Gentlemen, the sons, all of the Junction Hotel, the Executors. The effects were under 5,000, although that was a great deal of money at the time. The date of death of Maria Laker is unknown but in the 1881 census his son William Laker, aged 30, is the proprietor and married to Eleanor. She is 29 and was born at Reigate as Eleanor Killick. No children are shown. the hotel is again named in the census as the Junction Hotel. The Lakers Tap now has James Martingale and his wife as publicans.
 
A birth certificate supplied by Mr Philip English shows that in 1886 a son William Alfred Laker was born to William Alfred Laker snr and his wife Eleanor. The Hotel is called the Railway Hotel in the certificate.
 
1891 census - William and Eleanor are now aged 40 and 38. Their children are Mabel aged 8, Spencer aged 7, Philip A. aged 5 and Hilda aged 3. William Alfred born 1886 (shown above) is not listed. The hotel is called the Lakers Hotel. (Is there some confusion between William Alfred b1886 (certificate) and Philip Alfred Laker b1886 (census)?
 
The 1892 Petty Sessional Report states: 'The Railway Hotel, Redhill Station. Fully licensed. Owned by Mrs Laker of Redhill, and run as a Free House by William A Laker. This inn is a family Hotel and is frequented by railway travellers.' Who was the Mrs Laker who was the owner? Was she Maria Laker wife of Richard Laker? If so she would have now been aged about 72. She does not appear in either the 1881 or the 1891 censuses.
 
The next known family event is that of the death of Eleanor Laker in 1897 aged 44. The 1899 street directory shows William A. Laker still at the Railway Hotel and the 1901 census shows him as a widower. Living with him are his daughter Mabel aged 18, son Philip aged 15, daughter Hilda aged 13 and William's sister Blanche aged 40. William Alfred Laker Snr died in 1901 and it may have been at this time that the hotel finally left Laker family ownership.
 
If the hotel and the Lakers did not part company in 1901 then it was not much later as this detail from a card posted in 1908 shows that the hotel had gone out of the Laker family by that year, W.R.Allard being shown as the proprietor The hotel is still retained the Laker name, however, and it can be seen from the upper picture that it had been extensively enlarged on the right hand (west) side. As can be seen from the lower part of the card this was in the days before the hotel was extended and still had a garden. (Image Alan Moore collection) The menu for the Holborn Restaurant in London.where Philip Alfred Laker celebrated his coming of age (then 21) on Wednesday 30th January 1907 with twenty-one friends. The menu was specially printed and there was a very good choice of dishes available. Wines came from the years 1893 and 1898. (Image courtesy Philip English)
   
Note - The name of the hotel has been referred to by several names above but may not have been officially named the Lakers Hotel until 1904. It was the Lakers Railway Hotel when the Laker family were there and then the 'Railway' part of the name was dropped, making it simply the Lakers Hotel.
   
   
The Laker Family in Canada
Philip Alfred Laker pictured with his wife Elizabeth Jane, nee Barwick, shortly after their marriage c1910.
(image courtesy Philip English)
A portrait of Elizabeth Jane Laker. (Note - If she was in Canada awaiting her fiancee to arrive and he went down with the Titanic then the marriage to Philip Laker would have been after 1912) (image courtesy Philip English)
  
A postcard sent by Philip Alfred Laker to his son? Eric from Camp Hughes in Manitoba, Canada in August 1916 before he was posted overseas to the front. Philip was a machine gunner and fought at Vimy Ridge and Passchendale.
(Image courtesy Philip English)
Philip Laker in England during WW1 withone of his nephews, Harold Allingham (Image courtesy Philip English)
  
  
Philip Alfred Laker on his first day home after serving in WW1 (Image courtesy Philip English)
Vern Laker lowers the flag as one thousand legionaires observe a minute's silence during a special ceremony at the Duncan Memorial in June 1985. Located at the top of Prevost Mountain on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, are two monuments. One was erected in 1929 honouring WW1 veterans, the second was erected to honour WW2 veterans.(Image courtesy Philip English)
  
A letter written by Philip Laker in 1955 describing some of the 'old times' at the Lakers Hotel.
  
My Dear Phyllis,
............I must write and thank you for your letter and most interesting enclosures. The certainly brought back many pleasant memories.
.....Your mother and I spent hours piecing together the past from the photos you sent and others I had. Yes, the old order changed and I am afraid "Lakers" of old is a far cry from what it was in the old coaching days.
.....I think there were three packs of hounds who hunted in Surrey then, and as our hotel was in the centre of the hunting country it was the rendezvous for those who could afford to send their horses down by train from London (we had really good stables and of course grooms to look after the horses) change into their hunting togs, and then after a bottle of champagne away they went.
.....I know that sort of thing is scoffed at in this country but believe me it was a wonderful sight to see a meeting of the hounds, men and women impeccably dressed, the pink coats of the men in direct contrast to the ladies black habits, and all mounted on some of the finest horseflesh one could see.
....Contrary to the belief of certain people they were not snobs but kindly and generous, and after a days hunting dined on the best, which I believe "Lakers " had the reputation of being able to serve.
.................Philip Laker was born in 1886 so would have been a teenager when the hotel passed out of the family. Nevertheless he would have heard many stories about the times and events he describes above from his father and other family members.
  
A letter written by Philip Laker in 1962
 
(The printed transcript was later done by his daughter to preserve it as the original writing was fading).

Mssrs T.R.Morley,
London, England.

Gentlemen,
.... In being through some of my souvenirs just recently (I'm at an age when one does that sort of thing) I came across a letter written by my cousin the late Francis Hewson of T.& R.M. under the date of Aug. 10 1946. In it he described the tragic of 18 Wood St. and the neighbouring area during the battle of London.
.... I had not seen him or heard from him since 1917, at which time, on leave from France, I had dinner with him in Town, afterwards paying a visit to some of the old haunts.
.... On the death of my uncle, the late Philip Shepherd, (also of T.& R.M.) in 1912, and the late Wally Clarke, who always looked me up in Winnipeg on his way west, the links with the past were broken. However my cousin mentioned in his letter that I could get in touch with any od Morley's pensioners through "Threads".
.... Incidentally, I like to consider myself one of the "old brigade", having spent spent several happy years as a young man fresh from St Dunstan's, in H.T.J.K. (country): first swamping off & then graduating to books & invoices - then to Canada in 1907.
.... I should be interested to know if any of the following are still in the flesh - Monty Harris, Harry Childs, J. Norman, George Berry. Thanking you in advance for any information you may be able to give me & feeling sure the new Morley's rising from the ashes of the old will always stand, as of old, for quality.
.... Yours Sincerely, Philip A. Laker.

 
This letter gives us the date that Philip Laker went to Canada. It also suggests that he had worked for a firm called T & R Morley of 18 Wood Street, London. When he went to Canada was it as part of his work with that company?
  
  
Another Look at the Railway Hotel in 1861 and 1877
  
Shown left is part of Eve's 1861 survey map showing the area around Redhill station. The colouring shows the area referred to at the beginning of this page as item 131, the 'Railway Hotel, premises and garden' that were not just run by Richard Laker but were owned by him as well. The block of buildings that were the hotel, tap and outbuildings that mostly still exist today can be seen with other buildings behind them. These latter were presumably the stabling and grooms living quarters associated with the hotel in the days fifty years before motor vehicles would start to become commonplace, and which are referred to in the above letter. This map has been previously used to pencil in some of the old field names in Redhill and some of these can be seen, confirming the statement in the above letter that the hotel was on the edge of a very rural area.
On the right is an 1877 map with the Railway Hotel grounds this time coloured yellow. The buildings are shown in outline only but can be picked out. This map also shows the paths on the land behind the hotel. The area of land is quite large and the gardens shown in an earlier photo on this page may have been fairly extensive. Perhaps it is reasonable to assume that some of the land may have been given over to growing produce for the hotel. They have been replaced by the present day car park and the rear extensions. The area is still fairly rural with the exception that the number of cottages on the opposite side of Redstone Hill has doubled and what what as trackway between fields Little Horseley and Great Horseley has been made into a road. Although not named on the map this is the present day Cavendish Road.
...
  
Unfortunately not many advertisements for the hotel have been found. Those from the Laker family period would only appear in 19th century publications so are rare, but perhaps if the establishment was very successful there was little need to advertise. This the only reference found from from the Laker family years and is no more than brief entry in the 1899 street directory.commercial section.This advertisement dates from 1909 when the hotel
had presumably been sold. Edward Allard is shown
here as the manager, not the owner, but it is not clear
how much can be read into this. He clearly thinks that
the garden, stabling and billiard room are star attractions.and that it is worth mentioning his IOW
hotel.
  
What a difference as a few years make. Suddenly there is no mention of stabling but instead motor cars ar welcome. The garden is not mentioned, perhaps some of it is taken over for parking cars. The billiard room is still worth a mention as is the large function room. And Mr Allard seems to be the proprietor after all.This advert from 1936 is different again - only the Lakers name and the telephone number remain the same. At least it seems to recall some of the class and splendour of the old days.
  
  
The Lakers Hotel Today 
  
The sign that now stands in front of the hotel

Still known to local as Lakers, Charrington’s took it over in the early 1960s and it is now part of the huge Mitchell and Butler chain. Their marketing department has applied corporate branding and the interior of this Victorian bar-cum-hotel has been so thoroughly modernised that not a single original feature appears to have survived and it is now impossible to discern the original layout.
The present pastel-shaded and light-wooded decoration is still in a traditional vein, however, and the many wooden dividing screens help break the large interior up into more secluded and intimate drinking areas. Heavily food oriented, as the name would suggest, meals are available every day from 12-10 (11-10 Sunday).
Attached is a 37 bedroom hotel. The old Laker's Tap became "Bob’s Bar" in the 1970s and rivalled the Home Cottage (the old Railway pub opposite) for popularity. .

 
The Lakers Hotel pictured in April 2011. The old building that used to be the Lakers Tap still stands up the hill and the full extent of the early 1900s extension can nearly all be seen on the right. It seems that no effort was to match the original brickwork, which is a shame
 
Stepping slightly to the right a similar perspective but including Redstone Hill, the road that was once a farm track.
 
It can be seen how close Redhill railway is to the hotel as the camera is turned around after taking the above photo.
The man with the orange bag is just approaching the station entrance.
 
The Railway Station as it looked in 1912, probably little changed from Laker family days. This was the main entrance until 1934. All that remains of the original facade today is the pavement and wall on the left. (photo Alan Moore collection)
 
At the rear of the hotel just parts of the roof in the centre of the above photo reveal the position of the original building.Swinging the camera to the left in the shows the
extent of the rear extensions that stand where gardens once were.
  
This photo taken from the hotel forecourt shows the posters on the far left that adorn the way up to Redhill railway station. To the right of the inn sign is the lower part of Redstone Hill that turns under the railway and continues into the centre of Redhill town. On the far right the beginning of Cavendish Road, once a track between fields, can just be seen,
  
Sources of information
...Photos and information from Mr Philip English of Canada
...Maps, photos and other historical material in the possession of Alan Moore
...Photos taken by Alan Moore in Spring 2011
...Census records
 
If you have any information on the above please contact author.
 
This is a page on Alan Moore's website www.redhill-reigate-history.co.uk
28.1.12