Esher District Local History Society

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Christine Whittle-Dall

Christine Florence Whittle-Dall 1925 - 2016

Maureen and I settled in Claygate in late 1995 and became interested in the local history of the area, particularly when after a few years a collection of topographical picture postcards of the neighbourhood developed.  We were in conversation with friends living in Berrylands about the subject of local history and they mentioned that Christine was the point of contact to find out more, as she was Secretary of the Esher District Local History Society and lived in Telegraph Lane, Claygate.  They knew her as a member of the choir at the Methodist Church on the Ewell Road in Surbiton.

We joined the Society and it was her friendship over many years from that time that led us to Surbiton Hill Methodist Church, Ewell Road, Surbiton in September 2016 for her funeral with a Service led by the Rev. Stan Brown.  The choir were there and during the Service sang the Hymns “Lord of all Hopefulness” and “Abide with Me.”  Tea and coffee were served afterwards and the drinks were served from mugs which had imprinted images of the church on them drawn by none other than Christine.

Christine had published a booklet in 2005 entitled “A Yorkshire Family” and in it set out the circumstances of her finding a small lined notebook with a shiny cover which she had found amongst her mother’s papers.  Her great-grandfather, Charles Bateman, had kept a diary with its first entry in 1868 and this diary had been continued by family members.  There was also a large box of fading family photographs.  Christine described and showed a picture of the family reunion of 1893 when a photographer’s studio in Bradford was visited and the family were carefully posed by him against a background of patterned curtains and a Japanese screen.    

Florence his daughter who was in the studio image was to take up the pen in 1925 after Charles’s death that year and wrote “my daughter Elsie Leach gave birth to her first child, a girl, on July 12th 1925 and the baby was christened Christine Florence Leach.”  Christine had made her appearance in the world only four months after the death of her great-grandfather.  School and work are then described and in 1951 Christine married Donald Whittle who had become a Methodist Minister.  Stephen John, a son was born in 1953 and David Mark their second son was born in 1956.  Tragically Stephen drowned in July 2000 while swimming in a mountain lake in California.  His son Simon currently living in Holland with his wife both attended the funeral.  Mark and family also attended and his career has been meteoric, he is an astrophysicist in the USA.

Donald and Christine had separated in 1982 and she had remained in Bath until 1992 when she came to Claygate to marry Colin Dall.  Christine sets out in an EDLHS newsletter article entitled “Reminiscences” in 2007 how she became Secretary of the Society.  “The AGM of 1997 was held in the drawing room of Claremont Mansion, a gracious room with a grand piano, gilded plasterwork and a huge mirror over the mantelpiece.  Our President David Taylor outlined the position again and said that if no-one volunteered to help, the Society would become defunct.  It was as bad as that! 

My husband, Colin Dall, stood up without prior warning and said that if Roy Simpson would agree to become Treasurer, he, Colin, would act as Chairman.  Also ‘My wife will act as Secretary!’  I was already Programme Secretary for Oxshott Art & Crafts Society and the Independent Painters Group.  One more would not make much difference.  How wrong I was!”        

Simon, her grandson and his wife Dana together with Christine put together a book which was published in 2011 “A Box of Paints.”  It is autobiographical, containing many illustrations of her artwork and details of interests.  Some of her work now belongs to Esher and Claygate residents and many other examples of her work are further afield.

One short extract from the book will give us a flavour:
“Mum, why is the pillar-box red?”  I explained that it is painted with paint containing red pigment because it is a bright colour, which we can see easily.
“But, Mum! (a small insistent voice) – What is RED?”  A much more difficult one to answer.  I tried by saying that all light comes from the sun and is known as white light.  When you see a rainbow the white light is split into a sequence of colours, from left to right red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  At my junior school we used to say “Richard of York gave battle in vain” as a mnemonic.

Christine was President at the time of her death and had presided at the 2016 AGM.

When I look at rainbows in the future I will think of Christine.

Paul Langton

Eileen Bernard

Eileen Bernard

14th October 1928 - 1st July 2013

Eileen grew up in Hinchley Wood when in 1933 her parents bought a house in Manor Road South.  She was fond of the name “The Squirrels” before the road was numbered.   After initially attending school at Clanricards House School on Manor Road North, at the age of 7 she went daily by train to a convent in Wimbledon.  Eileen described in the Autumn 2008 newsletter her father and local priest arranging after the war for German prisoners to be invited to their house and to help in the garden.  The Catholic priest from Arbrook Lane was able to do this as he visited the prison camp to take Mass as the majority of the men were Catholic.

After her marriage and two children, Helen and Andrew, Eileen continued to live locally and she involved herself in many community groups and activities.  In later years she joined the EDLHS and soon found herself taking the minutes at committee meetings.  Lynne Walk, Esher was then her address and many meetings were held there at her invitation.  After health concerns she moved to a care home in Bramley but remained a member and always rang giving thanks for receipt of our newsletter.

Her funeral service took place at Church of the Holy Name, Arbrook Lane, Esher on 9th July 2013.  In accordance with their mother’s wishes, Helen and Andrew arranged the service to be conducted according to the Tridentine Rite.  The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962.

The Mass which was celebrated by Father Martin Edwards, parish priest of St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth, who knew Eileen well, was sung throughout. After burial at Ditton Lawn in Long Ditton Andrew her son gave a eulogy in the reception room at the church hall.

Colin Dall

30th January 1924 - 9th October 2009

Colin Dall was born in Woking and became in his later years a Vice-President, Chairman and Newsletter Editor of the Society.

Colin gave us an insight into his early days when he wrote 2 articles for the Winter 2001 and Spring 2002 newsletters entitled "A Surrey Boyhood". He described living in Pyrford and going to Woking Grammar School, cycling both ways in all weathers. He continued, that when going to stately homes or museums today he is taken aback by "outdated objects" being displayed which were a norm of his childhood, mangles, cane carpet beaters, meat safes and stone hot water bottles. He also saw what must have been one or two of the last horse-drawn barges along the Wey, witnessing the complicated manoeuvre when the patient, handsome horses came to a bridge.

Until his voice broke he sang in the Evening Choir at the old Pyrford Church. He remembered walking with his father to West Byfleet Station on the evening of 3 September 1939 at the outbreak of war and seeing trains arrive blacked out showing only a few bluish lights. He added that the war curtailed bike rides somewhat, as they often ran into camps of soldiers, mainly Canadians. His own contribution to the downfall of Hitler before he joined the Army later, was to enlist as a member of the Home Guard. He chose the HG rather than the Air Training Corps at school because the ATC would have seemed just another school activity, whereas as a Home Guardsman he was given the whole range of adult duties. He finished the pair of articles by stating that the rosy veil of memory made this a glorious boyhood.

Colin's studies were interrupted by the war and he served in Burma in the later part. He contracted TB and was invalided back to England. After convalescence he finished his studies and gained a first class degree in French. He had wanted to go into law as a barrister or solicitor but had lost time so went into the Civil Service and rose to become a Court Administrator in the Lord Chancellors Department. In his own time he qualified as a barrister but did not practise. He became a Magistrate and was Chairman of the Magistrates at Kingston for many years. He was brilliant with words and generous to a fault with a dry, witty sense of humour.

His son Jonathan speaking at the funeral on 22nd October 2009 said that he was a "Guardian reader".....with all the connotations that that statement has. It was the start of many conversations with his father and he reminded us that he was kind, concerned for others, caring, broad-minded intelligent and continued to grow and develop.

He had performed music as a member of Gemini opera and in the opera chorus he was usually asked to play specific roles such as the jolly inn keeper or village elder. His favourite musical memory of him was when dressed as a cardinal he bestowed blessings to the congregation!.

One of many personal memories of Colin is when unsure of the location of a property on an old unused postcard of Telegraph Lane, he identified it immediately. Then with meticulous attention to detail he recorded on the back in pencil the location and date of demolition of the property. He was a rock solid, dependable and thoughtful man who had done so much excellent work for the Society.


Esher A Pictorial History front cover


Anthony Philip Mitchell

19th February 1914 - 3rd December 2007

Anthony Mitchell was born in London, the son of a Fleet Street journalist, and lived in Surrey for most of his life. He developed a keen interest in history - and English literature from an early age. After a brief career in journalism, interrupted by service with H.M. Forces, he entered the Civil Service, serving in various government departments, including the Patent Office.

After retirement he fully occupied his time with the study of local history, and writing. He was for 13 years the Honorary Secretary of the EDLHS and remained a member. In 1990 his book on the life and work of Thomas Earp, the Victorian sculptor, his maternal grandfather, was published.

The illustration alongside is from the front cover of a book he published in 1995, Esher, A Pictorial History. The book contains a superb range of pictures, each carefully captioned, giving a vivid insight into the life of Esher. It has a wealth of information about the locality and has assisted many people to increase their knowledge of the area.

A Requiem Mass was held at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Thames Ditton on 13th December 2007 before his interment at Molesey Cemetery.


Derek Leonard Brown

Derek Leonard Brown

26th August 1919 - 4th July 2007


This Obituary appeared in an August edition of the Esher News and Mail.

Former district librarian of the then Esher Urban District, a founder member of Esher Literary Society and of Esher District Local History Society, Derek Brown has died in Nantwich, Cheshire, aged 87. In a tribute Gordon Weaver, former director of the Wolsey Press and managing editor of the Esher News, said: Derek always tried to make his libraries places that people were glad to visit., thinking of himself as "mine host" to the world of books. "A cheerful, helpful and unassuming man, who always had time for people, he played a significant part in developing the interests of the communities in which he worked and lived." Mr. Brown was appointed Esher District librarian in 1957 and brought his wife Barbara and their two daughters Joyce and Linda to live in Oak Lodge Close, Hersham, where he became secretary of the local residents' association, was a member of St. Peters Church parochial council, edited the parish magazine and served as both sidesman and vice-chairman of the church fellowship.

He played a prominent part in Esher life during the 17 years he was district librarian, hosting art and photographic exhibitions. He organised monthly lectures in King George's Hall, now continued by Elmbridge Council as the Royston Pike Lectures, named after the author and former Esher council chairman. Mr. Brown worked closely with Royston Pike and they arranged many events, including displaying the local history collections in St. George's Church. There was an active programme for children in which he was helped by local residents such as the author Antonia Ridge and playwright RC Sherriff and other authors. During his tenure, new branch libraries were opened at Thames Ditton and Molesey, and when Esher Urban District became Elmbridge in 1974 Mr Brown was appointed assistant county librarian for Surrey County Library's northern group, with his headquarters in Weybridge. He retired early in 1980 to care for his wife, a sufferer from Parkinson's Disease, and they moved to Cheltenham to be nearer their family. After her death in 1987 he took an active part in the town's life serving local societies and as vice chairman of Cheltenham Liberal Democrats.

A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Derek Brown took place on Friday 2nd November 2007 at St Peter's Church, Leckhampton



Ray Lewis

13th October 1933 - 11th November 2006

Hon. Treasurer 2001 - 2006

A tribute read at Ray's Funeral

Arthur Raymond Lewis: gentleman; much loved husband, father and grandfather; Royal Air Force Officer, aircrew navigator; Chartered Accountant; Entrepreneur; Businessman; Chairman of government and charitable bodies; encourager of young people; gourmet; a man of many dimensions.

I first met Ray on the 16th September 1952, which was the first day of our National Service in the Royal Air Force. We became and remained firm friends for the rest of our lives. Fresh from school, we learnt new excitements, such as marching to breakfast by the light of the moon and giving attention to those mysterious things in officer training - Personal Qualities, or PQs. Ray very soon showed his qualities when planning to get home for Christmas from the Isle of Man, where we were stationed. Most of us had our eyes fixed on the dreary boat to Liverpool, but Ray calmly chartered an aeroplane and sold us seats! This was an indicator of so much of the pattern of his later life:

Rational analysis of needs

Identification of an opportunity

Willingness to take risks (he might not have sold all the seats on the Dakota)

Resolution to see a project through

These were shown when, as a partner in a successful accounting firm - Sturges, Fraser, Cave & Co - he astonished us all by deciding to leave the profession and become first finance director, then managing director, and finally chairman of Frazer Nash. And so progressively he built-up an impressive range of top management activities:

Finance Director and then Chairman of the Salamander Group of Property Companies

Chairman of Surrey Training and Enterprise Council

Treasurer of Cranfield University

Chairman of the Group of Trading Companies owned by Cranfield University

Chairman of the Elmbridge Independent Mediation Service

Chairman of the Grange at Bookham, which cares for the disabled

He had an active role in the Prince's Trust, and in the Year in Industry scheme - for giving industrial experience to young people either before or during their university years.

In all of these activities he added to the earlier qualities of rationality and enterprise a concern for people in their work, and a wider interest in the different elements of society - business, government and charitable services - how they worked and helping them to work better together. Where I have had cause to speak to these organizations, the message has always been the same - Ray made an outstanding contribution, whether in finance, in strategy or day to day management: he was very competent, and also very considerate of others.

His style of operation brought many different types of people together in common enterprises and in constructive co-operation. He was held in great affection and esteem. One friend and colleague has written:

"Whilst it was common business interests that brought us together, relationships were always warm and personal and went well beyond those of working colleagues. He was a true friend over the thirty or so years I knew him, and worked with him, and never once do I recall any disagreement or conflict. This must be very unusual. He was the perfect Chairman - wise, patient, learned, conscientious, but above all unfailingly sensitive to those around him".

One characteristic to which children and, I am sure, most of the children of his friends can testify, was a strong and supportive interest in young people and their development. Excellent lunches - they were always excellent lunches - with Ray and Anne would be quietly accompanied by penetrating questions about career plans and situations. To a degree, they had to sing for their supper, but afterwards they were the stronger for it.

And then this dreadful illness of these last months. We all experience the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but this seemed particularly harsh - coming from nowhere and quickly taking Ray from amongst us. His response was stoical: "There is no cure". But despite this we still managed the occasional glass of champagne. Champagne, of course, was one of the enjoyment themes of Ray's life and I ask you now - in your mind - to raise a metaphorical glass, in memory of a good man: his presence enriched us: his passing reminds us of what we have lost.

Thank you


24th November 2006