Sunday, 23 January 2011

Thames Tributary Mole - Brockham

Thames Tributary Mole
The Mole flows north and then turns south east

TQ 18598 50183

Area off the main Reigate Road and near a series of mines and line works on the hillside along with the remains of older 'big' houses - like the Castle



Post to the west Betchworth Park
Post to the south Brockham


Betchworth Castle
A ruin of a fortified medieval house, built on a sandstone slope above the Mole, probably to defend the gap in the Mole Valley. At Domesday it was held by Richard de Tonbridge and was built as an earthwork fortress by Robert Fitz Gilbert in the 11th and as a stone castle in 1379; later rebuilt, by Sir Thomas Browne in the 15th. Chalk was used as the building-stone. In the 18th it was partly demolished and became a ruin. It is on the Golf Course and considered a dangerous structure.

Brockham Limeworks
In the 19th chalk was quarried here. The chalk was dug by hand and burnt for lime in two batteries of kilns. These were originally flare kilns but later converted to a design patented in 1870 by the manager, Alfred Bishop - patent 'Brockham' kilns. The western battery includes two Brockham kilns on either side of a central access tunnel which dates from an earlier kiln pair. The inner ends of the coal chutes can be seen. The eastern battery had a number of pairs of flare kilns, each served by a tunnel for loading and unloading. The kilns at the north end were rebuilt as 'Brockham' kilns. The lime works closed in 1936 and the machinery scrapped during the Second World War. Some kilns, stables, store, office and cottage remain –although some alterations were made for a proposed museum. It was serviced by its own narrow gauge railway dating from the 1870s. The site has been used as a location for Dr.Who.

Brockham Hearthstone Mine
Hearthstone has been mined south of the chalk from the 19th as building stone and for whitening hearths. The mine at Brockham had 3 drift entrances which were south of the lime works and east of Bishop's Cottages. A brick-lined shaft was dug near the limekilns through to remove stone by crane - remains can be seen. There was another shaft south of the 'Pilgrim's Way'. The mine was closed about 1898, reopened in 1904 and finally closed in 1925. Cavers in the 1990s noted that floodwater had been found at the bottom in the 1930s. They found that the original shaft was 58 feet deep with two rails running from one collapsed level to the other opposite. Heavy roof falls barred progress in either direction

Brockham Brickworks
The brick works was here from about 1860 in the area of Gault Clay between the lime works and the railway, at its peak around 1900 there were many brick kilns. There were also two entrances to the hearthstone mines, an open quarry, remains of track beds and the flooded clay pit. The works closed in 1910, and the plant was demolished. The flooded clay pit is now used for angling.

Castle Gardens
8-14 Castle Cottages. Listed. Part of 18th stable block of Betchworth Castle. Built in 1798-9 to a design by John Soane. The stables were built round 3 sides of a quadrangle and Faced with flints.
Chalk Pit Lane
Bishop's Cottages. Built for lime workers and named after the quarry manager who invented the 'Brockham' kilns. A smithy is shown on maps, presumably for railway horses and nearby was a saw-pit, for props for the mine.
Level crossing keeper’s cottage, SER LSWR gates still there

Pilgrims Way
Supposedly the route taken by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral to see the shrine of Thomas à Becket – but they are also likely to have travelled on the main road to the south
The path passes through Brockham Lime works. The old yew trees lining the path may have been planted to define boundaries and a programme of replanting is underway. The path was also lined by elm trees; all dead due to Dutch elm disease.

Reigate Road
The Arkle Manor. The pub dates from the 1920s but was renamed after the race horse in 1972.

White Road.
Old hollow way called ‘white’ because of the chalk


Sources
Arkle Manor. Web site
Industrial Archaeology of Reigate and Banstead
Subterranea Brittanica. Journal.
Pevsner and Cherry. Surrey
Surrey History
Surrey County Council. Web site

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