The Reminiscences of Mr and Mrs McMillen


We lived in Redhill for more that fifty years from September 13th 1855. We first lived at Wellesley Cottages and you could see right through to Station Road (see note below). When Ladbroke Cottages were built we moved to 3, Ladbroke Cottages, Redhill. in 1855 the population of the town was only 1,700 and there was a cornfield where Ladbroke Cottages were to be built two years later.

I was a train driver, starting with the North Western Railway Company in 1841. I then moved to the Great Northern Railway Company, the last train I drove for them was one from York to London especially chartered for the Duke of Wellington's funeral. Other specials I drove carried the Prince Consort, the ex-Empress Eugenie, Mr Gladstone and Queen Victoria, the latter on three occasions.

My final move was to the South Eastern Railway Company. While with this company I was the driver of a train from Reading to Redhill when the engine overturned near Pym's sandpit at Reigate. I was badly shaken but uninjured. The coaches were zigzagged behind and one lady passenger was hurt. I heard the whistle of the 7.20 from Redhill to Reading and walked down the line to stop it and avert an even worse accident.

In 1855 there were only a dozen houses in Redhill High Street, and no houses at all in Brighton Road up to the Firs, then occupied by the Rev. Gosse. The Market Hall was not yet built and the site was a quagmire in need of drainage. The land was then owned by the railway company who had wanted to erect cottages there but were advised not to as the land was too marshy. This kind of waterlogged land had been built on in Ladbroke Road where common lodging houses had been erected just above where the Surrey Mirror building was later built. Sometimes it was so wet that the occupants had to move upstairs and have supplies put through the bedroom windows.

When we came here the tollgate on the corner of Station Road and High Street was still there. There was one policeman and one postman. The only licensed premises were the Warwick Hotel, the Lakers Hotel, the Royal Oak, the Tower - then a beershop - the Foresters Arms and another small beershop in London Road. There were a few shops in Station Road; premises recently acquired there by Mr Arthur Knight provided a grocers on one side and a drapers on the other. St Matthew's Church was then a temporary building on the site where the boys' school was built. Opposite was a small butchers shop with the post office nearby.

At that time the road beyond the bridge at Linkfield Corner was very narrow and Garland Road was then a Grove though which Mrs McMillen often walked on her way to Garlands, the house of Mr Richarson on Whitepost Hill. Before the gas works were built three of four old thatched cottages stood on the site. An old blind man lived in one and sold flowers and dealt in chickens. The cottages were burnt down but the gas works was not built until some time after that.

In addition to the beer house in London Road there were four cottages. The ground where the cottage hospital was built was an open field where violets could be gathered. Lamberts bakers shop had just been completed in the High Street and Chapel Road and several other roads in the vicinity had not then been laid out. Some gentlemen, including Mr Waterlow, Mr Richardson, Mr Walker and Mr Hanbury bought the land and erected Ladbroke Cottages. Thirty-one were built altogether although only nineteen had been built when we moved into ours.

Note - Wellesley Cottages are not known although there were Wesley Ciottages in Linkfield Lane
These reminiscencess originally appeared in the Surrey Mirror in 1908 To contact Alan click here.