Ventnor Road covered reservoir, Sutton: loss of an interesting monument

1980/5 p2

 

Ventnor Road covered reservoir, Sutton: loss of an interesting monument

 

The spread of Victorian Sutton out onto the chalklands, roughly the area south of the station along the Brighton Road and the turnings off it up to the 1862 Tollbar, did not take place until the 1860s. Until that time the only house on the chalk was the Georgian farm at Sutton Lodge. The first houses built on the chalk were Wellesley Lodge (1866), of which only part of the brick boundary wall survives along Grange Vale, and Stowford (1865), called Yarra Bank, perhaps from the Surrey dialect pronunciation of ‘yarrow’ – the yellow wildflower of the chalk.

 

It was mainly as a result of our efforts that Stowford was saved from demolition two years ago and survives in a fairly unaltered condition as an English school.

 

What made intensive residential development possible on the chalk was the initiative of the Sutton Water company which in 1863 built a covered reservoir on a site which now lies at the junction of Brighton and Ventnor Roads. The reservoir was lined in brick and sealed by a skin of concrete and over two thirds of it stood above ground level. It was roofed with a series of brick vaults and was filled from deep wells, with a purifying plant at one end.

 

The engineer’s house was a nice Victorian cottage with decorated barge-boarded gable on its south side. Amazingly, both house and reservoir survived until March 1980. The reservoir was no longer in use as such but had been adapted as a shelter during the 1939–45 war. The house was in use as an ordinary dwelling. The whole site was bulldozed in March/April 1980 and houses are now being built on it. As far as I can ascertain, no photographs or records have been made of this interesting industrial monument but it is possible records of it survive in Sutton District Water Company’s archives and I am pursuing this.

 

Norman Nail