A Brief History Of The Development of Brockham
Brockham was originally named 'Brook Ham' from the establishment of a small hamlet on the River Mole (no more than a 'brook' in those days perhaps). General distortion and colloquilisation over the years, along with a tenuous link with badgers commonly known as a Brock - being the ancient name for the animal - in the local area have resulted in the modern day version of the name which was first officially used in about 1800.
Originally a temporary watering hole for travellers between Dorking and Reigate, Brockham remained a very small hamlet for many years. Local residents were mainly farm workers with a smattering of people to provide service for the many large houses in the area (Wonham Manor, Betchworth House, Betchworth Castle and the Deepdene Estate in Dorking).With the expansion of the limeworks at Betchworth and the brickworks in Kiln Lane, the local population began to increase slowly.
It was not until the 1920's however, when the A24 and A25 around Dorking were extensively improved, that the real growth got underway. Firstly, a large development of individual, architect-designed 'executive' homes was established at the north end of the village. In the early 1930's a large private development to the south of the village established the Strood Green residential area and in 1947/8 a number of council-funded homes were developed to the south of the village green close to the local school - The Smithers, Dodds Park and Warrene Road.
The housing boom of the 80s created a demand for 'homes in the country' which artificially inflated Brockham's land and house prices, and as a consequence, the village continues to suffer the problems of trying to meet demand without spoiling the qualities of a small community.
Many of the village's original buildings are made of local materials. Lying, as it does, on the Weald Clay Deposits, most buildings are brick based. Some of the older buildings around the original village centre include timber framing but there are few thatched properties in the vicinity, most original buildings being roofed with clay tiles.
For hundreds of years Brockham only saw a one or two buildings being erected each decade and therefore you will find many 'leaps' in design between neighbouring properties. The inter-war and post WWII periods saw the greatest increase in the number of buildings erected giving Brockham an overall feeling of a 'suburban' area.
Brockham is surrounded by farmland and consequently the predominent industry is agriculture. However, this does not support the local populace and many residents commute into London and the surrounding towns and cities (Dorking, Redhill, Guildford) to work.
As mentioned earlier, there are large deposits of clay in the area but also a strong seam of sand. The clay provided the basis for a large brickworks to be established and thrive for many years before closing in the early years of the twentieth century. This was sited on the road between Betchworth and Brockham which is now known as 'Kiln Lane' in consequence. The extraction of sand from the local area continues today with large excavations at Betchworth and Buckland.
The Village Today
Brockham is a rare example of the way in which rural community values co-exist with the cut and thrust of today's modern suburban life.
Partly 'protected' from the ravishes of London's incessant sprawl by the North Downs Brockham nestles below Box Hill within a mile of the busy A25 route between Dorking and Reigate in Surrey.
The village is centred around a proper village green with its obligatory 2 pubs and local shop. This area is bordered to the North by the River Mole (which will meander through the Surrey countryside on its way to join the Thames at Molesley) and to the south by a band of farmland which stretches from Reigate to Dorking.
Perhaps Brockham's greatest claim to fame is the annual Guy Fawkes Night bonfire celebrations. These have been a regular feature on the local calendar for many years and are now established as a local tradition! The effort put in by the committee responsible ensures that the spectacle is, perhaps, the greatest bonfire night celebrations in the South East of England. A fantastic firework display which is always better than the one the year before ensures massive crowds and the proceeds from the evening are donated to local charities.