According to Camberley’s earliest historian – George Poulter, the very red building in my photo (I believe it has now returned to white) was the much altered remains of a miller’s house.
A great deal of research has been done on the subject by Ken Clarke (Time Gentlemen Please) and he has found licensees going back to 1841 – at that point it was the Bricklayers Arms, which makes a good deal of sense given the amount of building that was going on in Yorktown. It was surrounded by what was then known as ‘the labouring class’ but it could also ‘accommodate’ five people as guests.
By the early 20th century it was run by Sophie Gomm who had been given it as as a wedding present by an uncle. It was then called ‘Gomms Hotel’ later changing to the Crown. She and her husband ran the White Hart Hotel in Blackwater from 1870 to 1882, which was a much grander and more important establishment. In 1886 they were back at the Crown.
It was Mr Gomm who did the original research about the miller’s house and believed he had found proof that the site of Blackwater Mill was just across the road. Apparently, there was still a mill-stone on the hotel’s site, at one point.
He was also an excellent wood-carver and St Michael’s Church has carved panels, the base of the pulpit and other carvings which are his work.
By 1908 it was in the hands of a Staines brewery and included a skittle alley. However, in the 1950s that it became known as ‘Little America’ because of the large number of Americans who drank there – being stationed at Blackbushe Airport. A television set was installed in the bar – an expensive innovation at the time.
It is now a restaurant sandwiched between a modern office block and the remains of nineteenth century homes and shops.