THE HISTORY OF A SURREY VILLAGE
Welcome To The Blackheath Village Archive
Blackheath is a pretty village nestling in the Surrey Hills, situated approximately 35 miles from London. Although a small village, it has a wealth of interesting history despite being a fairly 'new' village in historic terms.
On 20th August 1849, the railway came to the area. The nearby Chilworth Railway Station was opened. It brought a momentous period of change for Blackheath and the surrounding villages.
During the middle to late 1800's, Blackheath had few inhabitants, and the original settlers lived simply with little amenities. The arrival of a number of wealthy eminent Victorians into the village changed that. The influential men and their families were generous with philanthropist tendencies. They funded and guided numerous village projects including the building of a church, a village hall, water supplies and eventually some street lighting.
Over the centuries, another huge influence on the village of Blackheath was the Chilworth Gunpowder and Paper Mills. The factory was situated just below Blackheath in the Tillingbourne Valley, at a safe distance from the accidental explosions which became more frequent. With origins dating back to the 16th Century, the mills were a major employer in the area and there was a need for local housing for the workers. Many Blackheath men relied on work at the mills, producing gunpowder and paper for banknotes.
During the First World War the mills became an important part of the war effort, they were by that time producing cordite. As the men went off to war many Blackheath women joined the mills workforce.
In 1864 Queen Victoria reviewed her troops on Blackheath and an edition of the Illustrated
Times of that year featured the event and published several illustrations. As a result of this occasion the local inn was named 'The Volunteer'.
There are numerous stories from that time to the present day, passed on through generations of Blackheathen families. As amateur historians, we are striving to research and record as much information as possible for future posterity.
We are always thrilled to hear from anyone who may have any further information, stories or images to add to what is a growing collection, an important record for posterity.
Jayne Barlow/ Graham Hayward
Blackheath Village Archive