Trades
Up

 

The following is extracted from Joy Mason's book "CEBBA'S HAM; THE STORY OF CHOBHAM".

Trades and Businesses

Brickmaking

In the 1600s or possibly earlier, clay suitable for brick making was found around the area we now call Brickhill. Bricks continued to be made around there until about 1880. making of the bricks led to a great dispute between certain of the parishioners and the Lord of the Manor, Lord Onslow. Concern grew among the people as the demand for bricks increased and more and more of their common was destroyed by the digging and also by the building associated with the making and firing of these bricks. The ovens were fired with gorse. Gorse was the principal fuel of the parishioners for the fierce heat that it produced. The main branches of the gorse were used as firing, the rest of the bush for the repair of roads and also as rough fencing.

As a result of a court case in 1879 the Brickhill yards were run down and brickmaker Noble moved to a site near Valley Wood Place. Its entrance can still be seen. It was managed by Mr. Sturt, and brickmaker Lawrence moved to Bracknell. Noble moved again in 1897 to Park Hill opposite the Victoria Memorial. That too closed in 1909. Some twenty years later a new yard opened at Castle Grove and remained in operation untiI the late 1930s.

Silica sand used in glass making was found at Burrow Hill. The exact date the mining began or where the product was afterwards sent is uncertain. What is known is that by the 1920s it was only a very small concern, the sand being used in the manufacture of early scouring powders. The site has always been known locally as the treacle mines. Why treacle? No one really knows. One theory is that after the Great Camp of soldiers in 1853 the soldiers buried their empty treacle barrels on this site. I think that is unlikely and that it was all a sort of joke. The site is now the Metco Works.

A document dated 1664 records the following trades in the village:-

three weavers, three smiths, one cordwayner [leather worker], six taylers, one millwright and one miller. The names recorded were those who were exempted from paying the hearth tax. There were 59 of these, and 82 who paid the tax and do not have their own occupations recorded. They were labourers in the main. The smiths were important for they not only shod horses but also made the iron work needed in house building, such things as nails, hinges, bolts, handles etc.

Shops

Chobham used to have a weekly market and an annual fair on Ascension day. The market was held in the street by the church. It is said that the little iron-fenced triangle of land between the White Hart and the churchyard was where the pigs were sold. 1 do not know when the market was first started or when it ceased to function but it was in full swing in 1844. The gradual development of modern Woking probably took its trade. However Chobham once again has a weekly market held on a Thursday in the Village Hall, thus history is repeating itself.

The house and shop on the south side of the churchyard stand on the site of Maud Makeles' cottage, bought by the Abbot in 1344. In fact some of the ancient cottage may still be part of the structure of the present building, which dates to the late seventeenth century. The shop extension on the road side has always been there for the timber framing at the back of this extension has never been exposed to the weather. The shop was probably always a butcher's with a slaughter house at the rear. High_St_1900.JPG (25833 bytes)Old photographs, some nearly one hundred years old, show the shop with two pollarded limes outside. These limes were festooned with turkeys at Christmas. The butcher's shop was moved to new premises next door in 1964. Poorer families relied largely on their backyard pig for meat, only buying scraps of meat and bones from the butcher. Before refrigeration meat was a very perishable commodity. Meat over a day old was sold cheaply and quite a large family could be fed for a few pence with the addition of plenty of home grown vegetables, dumplings or a big suet pudding. All in all, a much more nutritious and delicious meal than many served to families in these so called affluent times.

The Medhurst family started a small printing business in 1800. It was housed in a small building at the rear of what is now the chemist and next to the White Hart. They printed small leaflets and booklets, including a most interesting small history of Chobham which was on sale to the many visitors who came to see the Great Camp of soldiers which gathered on the common in 1853. The Medhursts also printed sale posters and, well into this century, picture post cards of Chobham. They also ran a chemist shop together with the printing business, for in the parish registers of 1845, a Thomas Medhurst is recorded as being a chemist. But latterly the shop was run as a newsagent and sweet shop. About 1946 'Jummy" Medhurst retired and the shop became once more a chemist, although "Jummy" continued to live above the shop until 1975.

Occupying a prime position in the village, facing the church, is a very fine medieval building partly converted to a shop. This timber-framed house was brick encased in the eighteenth century to bring it up to date. It has an internal jetty, a refinement only found in quality houses. Earlier this century the shop was owned by the Lascelles family and used as a grocer's and pork butcher's and baker's. They fattened their pigs in the yard at the rear of the premises. The sausages, pies, faggots, brawn, black puddings and other delicacies made there were delicious and far superior to modern factory-made products. Their pork, home-smoked hams and bacon were superb and people travelled long distances to this shop. Lascelles' smoke house was used by the villagers, for once the old open hearths began to be bricked up and fitted with coal ranges, they had nowhere to smoke their bacon. There were other smoke houses in the village. When Benhams built their grocer's shop next to Frogpool House they smoked their own bacon and ham in a chimney belonging to a tiny old cottage at the back of the shop. This cottage, rediscovered when the old shop was demolished in 1960, was restored and is now lived in once more. There was another smoke house at the rear of the forge at Burrow Hill which was still in use in 1950.

At the Woking end of the village street was another large shop, run by the Belcher family. It combined a grocery business with Drapery and Outfitting, housed in an old building which retained its original Victorian shop fittings until 1970.

Gas and Electricity

Chobham once had its own gas works, situated at the beginning of what is now Leslie Road. All that remains of this however is a small cottage attached to a larger house. In 1869 Old Chobham House, The Grange, the village street and other houses were gas lit. But as gas for cooking did not come till later, and by then electricity had arrived, the old gas works closed.