The name Addlestone is thought to derive from ”Attel’s Denu” meaning the valley belonging to Attel. By 1241 the name had evolved to Attlesdene, although this again altered over time with the town being called Addlestone by 1610.
Addlestone began life as a quiet agricultural hamlet which served the needs of Chertsey Abbey. Until the late 17th or early 18th centuries much of the present centre of Addlestone was a ‘heathy common’ known as Addlestone Common or Marlheath.Addlestone stretched from Crockford Bridge to the Crouch Oak, and from Woburn Corner to the Spinney Oak at the junction of Church Road and Spinney Hill.
The hamlet was clustered around the George Inn, established c.1600. The predominantly agricultural nature of the town resulted in the growth of many large farms, such as Hatch Farm and Crockford Bridge Farm, which, documents show, were in existence in c.1700. They are still present today.
The town of Addlestone first showed signs of growth in the 17th and 18th centuries. Coxes Lock Mill, Addlestone, was built in 1776-1777 and with the joining of the Basingstoke Canal with the Wey Navigation in 1796 traffic on the canals increased significantly. The barges using the Navigation carried timber, coal, corn, flour, wood and even gunpowder. Local industries grew up connected to the canals, although the area did not change dramatically until the following century.
The Enclosure Act
The 19th century was a time of great change for Addlestone, as it was for the rest of the Borough of Runnymede. The Enclosure Act of 1808/14 saw the loss of much common land which had previously been farmed communally. In an attempt to make farming the land more intensive and therefore more profitable, the land was allocated to local landowners, householders and villages who had previously farmed the areas and had rights to use the commons. Under the Enclosure Acts some land was set aside as smallholdings for ”the poor and dispossessed” which were administered by a local charity. This land, known as ”The Poor’s Allotment” were set aside particularly in the Row Town area.
Roads and amenities
It was at this time that new roads were laid to provide access to the newly enclosed land, and it was these roads which provide Addlestone with the shape we know today. At this time the population began increasing rapidly. Many cottages and houses were built during this period, the majority of which are still standing.
With the increase in population came the need for more amenities for the town. Prior to the 1830s, residents of Addlestone had to walk to Chertsey every Sunday to attend Church, but in 1836 it was decided that a church was needed, and the money to build it was raised by public subscription. St. Paul’s Church was consecrated in 1838, and in 1857 it became the parish church for Addlestone. In 1841 a school was built behind the Church to educate the local children. It was about this time that the Baptist church, originally in Prairie Road, moved to Crouch Oak Lane. The current building was rebuilt in 1870.
Dawn of the steam age
A further change was to come to Addlestone in 1848 with the arrival of the railway. The census data from 7 years earlier shows that the main occupation in the area was still agriculture. In 1841 the population of Addlestone was 1149 (62 of which were children) â€“ 543 male and 607 female living in 214 houses. 171 of the men were employed as agricultural labourers, and 75 of the women were in domestic service. The other types of employment for the people of Addlestone at this time were Bricklayers, Brickmakers, Gardeners, Wheelwrights, Carpenters, Innkeepers, Farmers, Bootmakers, and Blacksmiths.
The improvements in access and transportation that the new railway made possible resulted in wealthy commuters moving in to Addlestone, and building larger houses befitting their social status. With the increase in population came the increase in houses, public houses and social amenities.
In 1871 Princess Mary Village Homes was established as a refuge for girls whose fathers were in prison or who needed care. This school, far ahead of its day, was finally closed in 1980, and the buildings demolished to make way for housing development.
Addlestone expanded greatly between 1914 and 1939, as the local economy was boosted by the Bleriot Aeroplane Factory, Lang’s Propellor Factory and the Weymann’s Coachworks.