Camberley, the town that grew up back to front……

It is a ‘fact universally acknowledged’ that towns grow up by an advantage point (like a fording point, or a hilltop) and then develop wealthier areas to the west.  There have even been theories that this is because the prevailing wind is usually from that direction so that noxious smells from industries and slums are not carried toward sensitive noses!

Camberley, however, not only expanded eastwards first,  but actually managed to be created twice!  The Yorktown section (to the west) grew up solely to service the Royal Military College which had been established at Marlow, but was moved to Sandhurst in 1812 for complicated reasons (more on this excellent story, another time). At the time Blackwater was the only recognisable settlement after Bagshot on the London to Exeter road and the businesses that clustered round the northern end of the road to Frimley were initially called ‘New Town, Blackwater’.

Then in 1860 two enterprising brothers in law, Captain Charles Raleigh Knight and Major Robert Spring bought pretty much the whole area from the River Blackwater to the Maultway.    At that time the army had decided that it was necessary to build a purpose built college for the training of officers already in service (as opposed to cadets just starting out, who went to the RMC) and this was put next to the RMC – to the east of Yorktown.

My two postcards show (on the left) the Duke of York hotel built in 1812 to house families visiting the cadets.  The much later card shows some of the shops built to the east, near the Cambridge Hotel, built by Captain Knight in 1862 for his new development around the Staff College.

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3 thoughts on “Camberley, the town that grew up back to front……

  1. Hello, I am very interested in the early history of Camberley….Was “Cambridge Town” named after the then Duke of Cambridge? If so, what prompted the naming? Was it because the Duke of Cambridge visited RMA or just in his honour as he was then the Chief in Command for the British Army? I appreciate your response, thank you. Viviana Chamorro

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