The Dorking and District Local Emergency Committee

An investigation of the Draft Report on Preparations in the Event of a Hostile Landing, spring 1916, prepared by the Dorking and District Local Emergency Committee, acting under the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) 1914 (Surrey History Centre ref. 2634/1

As part of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) implemented four days after Britain entered the war on the side of the Triple Entente, on the 8th of August 1914, extensive anti-invasion measures were introduced across Surrey, situated precariously where it was between the south coast and the capital. Standard procedure was that ‘Emergency Committees’ would be established to aid the operation of invasion countermeasures without hindrance to the military or the civilian population. Accordingly, the ‘Petty Sessional Division of Dorking’ was speedily amalgamated, along with the ‘Petty Sessional Division of Epsom encompassing the parishes of Headley, Ashtead, Leatherhead, Fetcham and Great and Little Bookham’, as well as the parish of Walton on the Hill in the ‘Petty Sessional Division of Reigate’, into the ‘Dorking and District Area’ with a ‘Local Emergency Committee’ to oversee the anti-invasion procedures.

Working as part of the greater ‘Second Army Central Force’ based initially at Aldershot and then Tunbridge Wells after November 1916, and commanded by General Officer Commanding Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford, a report compiled in late 1915 outlines the boundaries of the ‘area’ with interesting precision: it is described as having been loosely pentagonal in shape, stretching fifteen miles north-to-south from Ashtead to Ockley and at its widest point 8 miles between Walton-on-the-Hill and Effingham, and at its narrowest being 5 miles between Ockley and Newdigate.

The jurisdictional boundaries of the Emergency Committee for the Dorking and District Area

Title: The jurisdictional boundaries of the Emergency Committee for the Dorking and District Area
Description: by-nc

Four months after the declaration of war, in December 1914, Henry Herbert Gordon Clark of Mickleham was appointed Chairman of the ‘Dorking Petty Sessional Bench’ following the departure of his predecessor ‘owing to illness’. His first action as Chairman was the forming of committees and the appointment of ‘Organising Members’ for each parish, with each Organising Member tasked with appointing ‘Special Constables’ in his own parish to enforce the anti-invasion measures. However, the committee’s efforts were dogged by problems concerning the appointment of Special Constables, precipitated by the absence of local men, who had enlisted in the armed forces, the result being that too much work was left solely in the hands of the Organising Members who often felt exhausted by their workload which consequently led to dereliction of duty and resignation.

As per the raison d’etre of the Defence of the Realm Act, the principal concern of the Emergency Committee was the ‘clearance’ (i.e. the evacuation) of livestock and the local populace in the event of a German incursion from the south coast. Under the supervision of the Emergency Committee, the report was confident that a ‘clearance of the Area’ in the event of an invasion would be feasible and efficient.

As outlined in the report, the Emergency Committee’s modus operandi was: to facilitate the easy manoeuvrability of ‘His Majesty’s [armed] forces’ without hindrance to the local population; the provision of ‘voluntary labour’ for ‘emergency works’ like infrastructural repairs; the removal of ‘stock’ (like food, livestock, ammunition and buildings) that could be used by an invader; the safe conveyance of the civilian population, especially the vulnerable and infirm, to places of refuge; the removal of signposts to confuse an advancing enemy; the requisitioning of vehicles, animals and personnel for the military; to utilise ‘scorched-earth’ tactics, viz. the destruction of infrastructure, telephone lines or any resources potentially of use to an advancing enemy.

List of Organising Members for parishes within the Dorking and District Area

Title: List of Organising Members for parishes within the Dorking and District Area
Description: With amendments written presumably in the hand of H.H. Gordon Clark by-nc

Instructions were received by the Dorking and District Emergency Committee which stipulated that, in the event of an enemy invasion, a nationwide ‘clearance’ would be undertaken, starting in the southeast, which would proceed further north and northwest. The committee estimated that, in the immediate aftermath of a hostile landing and the declaration of a state of emergency, the committee could commence moving vulnerable people with or without having received a clearance order. The Special Constables would then commandeer civilian motor vehicles for evacuating vulnerable people such as the young, aged or infirm to either Royal Holloway College in Egham or the Chertsey Union Workhouse on Murray Road in Ottershaw, Chertsey, both of which had been earmarked by the committee to be repurposed for housing the evacuated young, aged or infirm people from the district.

The report goes into great detail regarding the strategic importance of Mole Valley, noting that the area between Dorking and Leatherhead, which the River Mole courses through, is vital in that the main road and railway line connecting Leatherhead and Horsham (the present-day A24) both run parallel to the River Mole. Moreover in this area is the strategically important Burford Bridge: being the largest and only road bridge that spans the River Mole, it would be administered solely for military purposes and likely destroyed in accordance with the ‘scorched-earth’ policy. In the event of an invasion, this section between Dorking and Leatherhead would be the main route by which stock from West Kent and north-east Sussex would be channelled, in a north-westerly direction.

In overseeing the mobilisation of vast numbers of stock and civilians, numerous roads throughout the district would be administered by the military, namely the roads connecting Betchworth and Banstead (the A217 and B2032), as well as the A24 connecting Epsom with East Horsley. The assigned route would be to Guildford via Leatherhead, crossing at Thorncroft Bridge in south Leatherhead and proceeding along the A246 connecting Leatherhead with Guildford.

The report claims that the ultimate objective of the Emergency Committee was the mobilisation of cattle from vulnerable areas likely to be affected by an enemy incursion temporarily to large parks to the northwest, such as Windsor Great Park, Burwood Park (now a housing development in Cobham) and other areas. Livestock being moved from west Kent in a northwest direction would have been kept off the main roads as much as possible and travelled west via byroads from Walton on the Hill to Headley to Mickleham, crossing the A24 into Norbury Park and continuing in the direction of Bookham Common and Cobham. However, the report voices logistical concerns that the suggested locations would quickly exceed their capacity in accommodating such large quantities of stock, therefore necessitating the requisition of other locations in the North Downs, described as having an abundance of ‘considerable stretches of Common’ and ‘forage’ to manage the large influx of cattle.

The report claimed that the committee had received instructions, as per the ‘scorched-earth’ policy, to disable all motor vehicles left behind following the declaration of a state of emergency and the mobilisation of the District’s population by removing the wheels, magneto and carburettor. Moreover, civilians in possession of petrol stocks of more than 30 gallons would have to surrender them to the authorities, who would then duly remove or destroy them. Five surveyors were drafted in by the committee to oversee the destruction of all signposts, for instance a Mr. W. Rapley in Dorking and Mr Sidney R. Drake in Leatherhead. Regarding the provision of vehicles and bicycles for use in the event of invasion, owners of two or more bicycles or motorbikes and the owners of bicycle shops would be required to surrender at least one to the authorities, which would then be requisitioned for official use and/or destroyed.

Special Constables were tasked with directing the movement of livestock and military convoys in transit. They were to be supplemented by Boy Scouts belonging to local troops along with the local Church Lads Brigades and the members of the 10th (Mid Surrey) Battalion S.V.T.C. [Surrey Volunteer Training Corps], whose commandant was the chairman of the Dorking and District Local Emergency Committee, H.H. Gordon Clark. The available quantities of stock, forage, vehicles and manpower were indexed and given to ‘Superintendent Coleman, at the Dorking Police Court’, the District official charged with overseeing the countermeasures upon receiving authorisation from the military after an invasion.

All illustrations are from Surrey History Centre ref. 2634/1 and are copyright of Surrey Heritage.

Corporal Herbert William Pope

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Cpl H W Pope
Army Service Corps (ASC)
R4/072830
Died, 8.11.1919
Age, 42

Herbert William Pope lived a peripatetic life before the outbreak of war in 1914. He moved around the country working with horses; however, he was not a countryman by birth having been born in Marylebone, London in about 1876. Herbert married Frances (Fanny) Pearce of Truro, Cornwall in the summer of 1898 at Whitechapel. By 1901 he was employed as a groom at Boveridge House racing stables at Cranborne in Dorset. Herbert and Fanny shared their home with six boarders – all jockeys or racing lads. Their son, Ernest William, was born on 22 August 1903 at Cricklewood, London and baptised on 7 February 1904 at Colerne in Wiltshire. Ten years later the family lived at 6, New Road, Leighton Buzzard where Herbert worked as a groom at hunting stables.

His experience of working with horses must have led to his deployment to a Remount Squadron with the ASC. By 1915 Herbert had moved to Surrey; he underwent his medical at Chertsey Town Hall on 22 August and enlisted at Guildford the next day. He was five feet and six inches tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a sallow complexion. Herbert was assigned to Romsey Remount Station where he remained throughout the war. At the start of the conflict the British Army had 19,000 horses, by the end they had purchased 468,000 animals in the UK and a further 688,000 from N. America. To process this vast number, remount stations were set up around the country including Ormskirk, Bristol and Romsey – all with essential close access to port facilities. Herbert was likely to have travelled to Devonport to collect horses from America; some were wild and unbroken and needed very skilful handling. They were then transported to Romsey by train as were other horses from around the country. Herbert would have been involved in walking the animals through Romsey to the Remount Station; there was usually one man to three horses. They were taken at first to the reception area known as the Kraal where they spent about two weeks. Many arrived frightened and tired; some had to be put into stocks for grooming. Herbert would have needed all his skills to deal with such difficult cases. As many as 830 horses might be received in one day. He may have been among those who escorted 1,200 horses over three days in March 1917 to Southampton. Horses spent about one month at the centre.

From March 1918 Herbert’s health deteriorated: in that month he was hospitalised with sciatica, followed by influenza in July and in December he was admitted to the Central Military Hospital at Winchester with bronchial pneumonia, but was diagnosed with tuberculosis in both lungs. This was deemed to be attributable to his war service. He was discharged on 19 April 1919. Herbert died in Greenwich on 8 November. His home address at the time of his discharge was at Moorcroft Stables, Heath Road, Weybridge.

Herbert’s widow and son continued to live in Weybridge, at 16 Monument Road. She died in 1928; Ernest remained at the same address and in time was joined by his wife Margaret and their family. On the eve of the Second World War he was a toolmaker (aircraft), like his father bringing specialised skills to the war effort. Ernest was at the same address when war ended in 1945.

In July 2015 a statue of a war horse and soldier was unveiled in Romsey’s Memorial Park.

Sources:

The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – Army Service Corps Remounts Service, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
British Army Service Records, 1914-1920, www.findmypast.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, www.ancestry.co.uk
George, Pat Romsey Remount Depot, LTVAS Group Newsletter, July 1999, www.ltvas.org.uk
The 1939 Register, www.findmypast.co.uk
Romsey, Hampshire: Preparing Horses for Battle, www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01z6pqk
Romsey Remount Depot, www.romseyboysww1.com
Surrey Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk

Father and Son – F C Selous and F H B Selous

A Father and Son killed on the same day one year apart

Two names on the Great War memorials at St Michael and All Angels Church in Pirbright commemorate the sacrifice of an extraordinary father and son – Frederick Courteney Selous and Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous. Nineteen year old Frederick died in the skies over Belgium on 4th January 1918, a year to the day after his father had been killed by a sniper while fighting in East Africa, aged 65.

Frederick Courteney Selous was born on December 31st, 1851 into an aristocratic family of Hugenot descent, one of five children living at 42 Gloucester Road, Regents Park. At the age of nine he went to school at Bruce Castle, Tottenham where he gained a reputation for rebelliousness and an independent spirit. His life was destined to be full of adventures, and almost came to an early end when he was involved in a disaster on the ice in Regent’s Park, which took place on January 15th, 1867. Around 200 skaters on the frozen lake were suddenly plunged into the water, of whom 40 died from drowning or hypothermia. Somehow fifteen year old Freddy managed to scramble to the shore.

His education continued at Rugby School. According to his official biography –

“While at boarding school young Freddy was found by a schoolmaster laying on the cold floor beside his bed in the middle of the night. When asked by the schoolmaster what he was doing young Freddy replied “Well, you see, one day I am going to be a hunter in Africa and I am just hardening myself to sleep on the ground.”

F C Selous as a young man in hunting gear. F C Selous as a young man in hunting gear.

Frederick Selous did exactly that and set off for South Africa at the age of 19 where he became famous as a hunter, naturalist, explorer and soldier. His exploits became the stuff of legend and he is thought to be the model for the character of Allan Quatermain created by the novelist Sir H. Rider Haggard. In later years he was to become a friend of US President Theodore Roosevelt and Cecil Rhodes, and donated many specimens to national collections – a statue of him has a prominent place in the Central Hall of the Natural History Museum. He took part in the First Matabele War of 1893 in which he fought alongside Robert Baden Powell.

After many years of African adventures he returned to England and in 1894 married Gladys Maddy, buying a house called Heathland in Worplesden alongside which he created a museum housing a number of his specimens. The couple had two sons, Frederick Hatherley Bruce, and Harold Sherborn Selous. Frederick senior loved outdoor sports, particularly cricket, and played regularly for his local club at Worplesdon, taking part in all their matches until 1915. He remained extremely fit and was an enthusiastic cyclist, as a diary entry from September 5th, 1909 (when he was 57 years old) attests:—

“I got home yesterday evening, having bicycled all the way from Gloucester—about 100 miles—in pouring rain most of the way, and over heavy, muddy roads, in just twelve hours, including stoppages for breakfast and lunch. I am not at all tired to-day, and next year, if I can get a fine day, I shall see if I cannot do 120 miles between daylight and dusk.”

Upon the outbreak of the Great War, despite the fact that he was now in his sixties he sought to enlist and sought the support of M.P.s and a friend, Colonel Driscoll, to plead his case. His application for service was submitted directly to Lord Kitchener, and he received this reply via H. J. Tennant, M.P.: ‘I spoke to Lord Kitchener to-day about you and he thought that your age was prohibitive against your employment here or at the seat of war in Europe.’

In November, 1914, he was acting as a special constable at Pirbright and was rather depressed that he could get nothing better to do, and that his eldest son Freddy would soon have to go into training as a soldier. Eventually his persistence paid off and on February 4th, 1915, he went to see Colonel Driscoll, who said the War Office had stretched the age-limit in his case, and that he would take him to East Africa as Intelligence Officer. His wife also went into service for the country, travelling to Le Havre to work in the Y.M.C.A. hut there.

Selous landed at Mombasa on May 4th, 1915 with his battalion, the 25th Royal Fusiliers. His company were an odd assortment, including “men from the French Foreign Legion, ex-Metropolitan policemen, a general of the Honduras Army, lighthouse keepers, keepers from the Zoo, Park Lane plutocrats, music-hall acrobats, but none the less excellent stuff and devoted to their officers.”

By the end of June the battalion was in action, crossing swamps and scaling cliffs to attack German forces on the Western bank of Lake Victoria at Bukoba. Selous was chosen to lead a patrol reconnoitering the town of Bukoba itself in which they encountered heavy opposition form snipers and machine gun emplacements. Eventually the town was taken, at the cost of 8 dead and 12 wounded.

Promotion from Lieutenant to Captain followed and on 26th September 1916 Frederick Courteney Selous was awarded the DSO for conspicuous gallantry, resource and endurance. General J. Smuts, who was in command of the British Forces in German East Africa, gave an account of the fighting on January 4th, 1917, when Selous met his death:-

“Our force moved out from Kissaki early on the morning of January 4th, 1917, with the object of attacking and surrounding a considerable number of German troops which was encamped along the low hills east of Beho-Beho (Sugar Mountain) N.E. of the road that led from Kissaki S.E. to the Rufigi river, distant some 13 miles from the enemy’s position. The low hills occupied by the Germans were densely covered with thorn-bush and the visibility to the west was not good. Nevertheless, they soon realized the danger of their position when they detected a circling movement on the part of the 25th Royal Fusiliers, which had been detailed to stop them on the road leading S.E., the only road, in fact, by which they could retreat. They must have retired early, for their forces came to this point at the exact moment when the leading company of Fusiliers, under Captain Selous, reached the same point. Heavy firing on both sides then commenced, and Selous at once deployed his company, attacked the Germans, which greatly outnumbered him, and drove them back into the bush. It was at this moment that Selous was struck dead by a shot in the head. The Germans retreated in the dense bush again, and the Fusiliers failed to come to close quarters, for the enemy then made a circuit through the bush and reached the road lower down, eventually crossing the Rufigi.”

The grave of F C Selous in Tanzania, image courtesy of the South African War Graves Project. http://www.southafricawargraves.org/ The grave of F C Selous in Tanzania, image courtesy of the South African War Graves Project. http://www.southafricawargraves.org/

Frederick Courteney Selous was buried in a lone grave near where he died, beneath a tamarind tree in what is now the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.

The naturalist, artist and travel writer John Guille Millais wrote a biography of F C Selous, and it included a note from Theodore Roosevelt:—

“There was never a more welcome guest at the White House than Selous. He spent several days there. One afternoon we went walking and rock climbing alongside the Potomac; I think we swam the Potomac, but I am not sure.…. Later I spent a night with him at his house in Surrey, going through his museum of hunting-trophies. What interested me almost as much was being shown the various birds’ nests in his garden. He also went to the British Museum with me to look into various matters, including the question of protective coloration. I greatly valued his friendship; I mourn his loss; and yet I feel that in death as in life he was to be envied.

It is well for any country to produce men of such a type; and if there are enough of them the nation need fear no decadence. He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, with just the right alternations between the wilderness and civilization. He helped spread the borders of his people’s land. He added much to the sum of human knowledge and interest. He closed his life exactly as such a life ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country while rendering her valiant and effective service. Who could wish a better life or a better death, or desire to leave a more honourable heritage to his family and his nation?”

Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous was born on 21st April 1898 in Wargrave, Berkshire, where his grandmother lived at Berrymore House. He was educated at Bilton Grange and from 1912 at Rugby School, where he proved to be an excellent athlete, being in the Running VIII, and in 1915 Captain of the Rugby XV.

He entered Sandhurst in September, 1915, and on leaving in April, 1916, was gazetted to the Royal West Surrey Regiment and attached to the Royal Flying Corps. On 3rd May 1916, at Catterick Bridge Military School he took his flying certificate in a Maurice Farman biplane and proved to be an excellent pilot. In July, 1916, he went to the front and was awarded both the Military Cross and the Italian Silver Medal of Military Valour. Returning to England in April 1917 Selous joined the Central Flying School as an Instructor.

Replica Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a biplane at Brooklands Museum, Surrey. Replica Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a biplane at Brooklands Museum, Surrey.

By September 1917 he was back in France with No. 60 Squadron, flying Royal Aircraft Factory S.E. 5a biplanes. On 8th November he was credited with a victory over a Rumpler C-type German reconnaissance plane over Klein-Zillebeke, and on 28th December was credited with a victory over another Rumpler C-type that crashed west of Roulers (Roeselare).

The squadron moved bases a number of times but by the winter of 1917 was based at Ste-Marie-Cappel. Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous died while piloting S.E.5a No: C5334 and leading his Flight over German lines near Roulers (on the Menin Road) on January 4th, 1918, precisely one year to the day after the death of his father. He was still only 19 years of age.

From two contemporary reports he was either involved in a mid-air collision or his aircraft broke up in a dive during the attack. Lieutenant Edward Thornton, flying close to him at the time, described what he saw:— “I was up at 15,000 ft. over the German lines, when I saw Captain Selous take a dive at a German machine some 2000 feet below. What actually happened I do not know, but all at once I saw both wings of the machine collapse, and he fell to the earth like a stone. We were terribly upset at this, as he was idolised by us all’

The major commanding his squadron, wrote a letter of condolence his mother:—

“It is a severe blow to the squadron to lose him, for he was beloved by officers and men alike. In fact, his popularity extended to a much greater area than his own aerodrome. In the short time that I have known him I have been struck with the courage and keenness of your son—always ready for his jobs, and always going about his work with the cheeriest and happiest of smiles. He was the life and soul of the mess.”

Group Captain Alan John Lance Scott, CB, MC, AFC, in his book “Sixty Squadron RAF 1916—1919” (pub. Greenhill Books 1920) wrote in the most glowing terms about Frederick Selous, comparing him to some of the celebrated air aces of the Great War:-

“As good a flight commander as we ever had, he was a great loss to the squadron. Without, perhaps, the brilliance of Ball or Bishop he like Caldwell, Summers, Armstrong, Hammersley, Chidlaw-Roberts, Belgrave and Scholte, to name a few only of the best, played always for the squadron, and not for his own hand. He took endless pains to enter young pilots to the game, watching them on their first patrols as a good and patient huntsman watches his young hounds.

The character of Selous, like those whom I have mentioned, not to speak of many others whom their comrades will remember, attained very nearly to the ideal of a gentleman’s character as described by Burke, Newman and Cavendish”.

Sources:

“Life of Frederick Courtenay Selous, D.S.O. Capt. 25th Royal Fusiliers”, J.G. Millais 1919.

“Sixty Squadron RAF 1916—1919” pub. Greenhill Books 1920, A J L Scott, CB, MC, AFC

Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War Volume VI

Royal Aero Club Aviators Certificates 1910-1950.

Newspaper stories in the Surrey Times and Surrey Herald.

 

 

Mislaid Remount Service Horses

Researched by Jenny Mukerji

Horse Census HO45/10840/333647/20  (National Archives, Kew)

This is a large folder which included papers on cattle, poultry and other livestock information as well as horses. However, most intriguing is the correspondence between the Deputy Assistant Director of Remounts at Command Headquarters and local constabularies regarding Army Service Corps (ASC) Remount horses that had been boarded out to local farmers and had gone missing! The earliest date of this section was 9 February 1918.

Apparently some of the military had been boarding out their horses with local farmers and had not been properly recording the details. When the soldiers moved on, they had not been taking all of the horses with them. The horses then ‘disappeared’.  The Remount Service officials were asking the local police to look into it. There is a letter from the Surrey Constabulary at Guildford asking for clarification as to what to do.  However, the police maintained that they had more important things to do and that it should be a matter for the Remount Service to track down these horses. Local chief constables stated that their men would report any suspicions they had about a horse to the Remounts for them to further investigate.

Bearing in mind that all Remounts were tattooed, anyone with one of these horses illegally, couldn’t really get away with it! I do feel that this scenario would make a good comedy drama television programme!

Most of these horses had, however, been located by the end of the war.

Here is a transcription of a War Office Memo relating to the subject which is also part of HO45/10840/333647/20:

(Typed) War Office 9/2/18 (stamped received by the Home Office)

Misc. Crim.

Tracing Army Horses boarded out with farmers etc and lost sight of by the local military.

Forward Copy of instructions they propose to issue to Remount Officers as to the co-operation of the police.

Minutes

Originally (./18 the W.O. Suggested to Remount Officers that they should ask the police to go the round of stables and farms etc and find out if any horses there were army horses which had been boarded out, lost sight of by the units

concerned and left in civilian hands without proper record having been kept. It seemed to be impracticable for the police to do whilst Colonel Sanders now agrees that the police should only be expected to report to the Remount Officer for inquiry any case in which they suspect that an army horse may be in wrong hands, and be concurs in the terms of the draft circular within.

? Issue circular as in draft (someone’s initials)

(Handwritten)  (initials)   27/2/18

(more initials) 28/2/18

Circular issued to (more initials) 1/3/18

copies to  Comm. Of Police

Capt (?)

(more unreadable writing)

In the margin: Memo within as to possibility of proceeding against persons retaining army horses Lt Bond (WO) called (initials)

Addlestone Institute Opens 1917

Researched by Jenny Mukerji

The Addlestone Institute, at New Haw opened its doors to guests from the veterinary profession on 25 September 1917. It was a purpose-built state-run diagnostic service laboratory which had its origins in 1865 when it was necessary to counter the disastrous epidemic of cattle plague (rinderpest, which had caused the loss of an estimated 400,000 animals). This embryonic work had been carried out in the Royal Veterinary College in Camden Town.

However, their work load increased with the Swine Fever Order of 1893. This instructed the Board of Agriculture to develop its own diagnostic laboratory to control the spread of Swine Fever. Over the years, the laboratory’s responsibilities widened to cover a broad range of scheduled animal diseases and by 1905, it became evident that larger premises were required.

In 1905, Sir Stewart Stockman (1869-1926) was appointed Chief Veterinary Officer and the following year the laboratory transferred to larger premises at Sudbury, North London. Once again the work outgrew the laboratory’s premises and in 1908 Alperton Lodge, a country house in Wembley was bought and adapted for use as a laboratory.

The expansion of the laboratory’s research function led to the need for a new purpose-built premises with improved animal accommodation. Added to this was  the laboratory’s work to produce vaccines, for a number of animal diseases, as a result of the Great War cutting off supplies from the Continent.

A suitable site (Moated Farm Estate, Addlestone) was found and in March 1914, £28,650 of Government funds were made available for the land and buildings. Although the contract was signed in 1914, the hostilities delayed completion of the buildings until 1917. The main building stood on one side of a quadrangle and contained five laboratories. The other three sides were taken up with loose boxes and other animal housing. There was also a special building which was used for the production of swine fever antiserum, which by 1917 was being produced at a rate of 43,000 doses a year.

In 1994 the Institute, then the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL), celebrated its centenary and by 2000 the name had changed again to the Veterinary Laboratory  Agency (VLA). Its name is constantly changing and in 2017 the name is Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Sources: 1894-1994 CVL 100 years – Working for Animal Health, New Haw, Weybridge, Surrey, KT15 3NB (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, 1994).

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animal-and-plant-health-agency

Mr Pinckard’s Gift to the Nation

An intriguing article has come to light in the Surrey History Centre archive. A newspaper cutting dated 1911 (newspaper title unknown) in the Manor of Witley records (SHC ref. 1889/Box 2) says

“Gift to the Nation

Army Remount Breeding

Mr. George Pinckard, of Combe Court, Witley, one of the most beautiful country estates in Surrey, has made a gift to the War Office of 450 acres of land, together with kennels, stables, and cottages, situated in that county, for the purposes of breeding Army remounts. Since the advent of the motor-car there has been an incredible diminution in the number of horses in the British Isles, especially those available for military purposes, and the War Office officials have unhesitatingly accepted Mr. Pinckard’s generous and patriotic present to the nation, which is estimated to be equal in value to nearly £20,000.

Since Mr. Pinckard relinquished the Mastership of Chiddingfold Hunt he has lent the estate to the hunt, but as the neighbourhood has now ceased to be hunting country he has taken the opportunity of making this gift to the nation.”

The cutting is dated prior to the outbreak of the First World War, so did the War Office continue to use the site as a remount depot during the war? Where was this large area of land located? If anyone has information please contact us. This item came from a collection of papers that span the war years and more intriguing discoveries may come to light.