Southborough, Kingston upon Thames
The locality’s identity derives from Southborough Lodge, which in turn took its name from the same barrow that gave its name to Berrylands. Thomas Langley built the house in 1808 on a bare part of Surbiton Common, when it was said that the only structure visible from it was Hampton Court. Soon afterwards the track that is now a section of the A243 became a turnpike road and Southborough Gate was installed at the junction of the lane from Long Ditton to Ewell.
Improved roads and the sale of some building plots brought Southborough’s first population surge in the 1860s, with the construction of several grand villas. In the 1880s the tollgate was removed and the Southborough estate was broken up, with modern Tolworth taking shape on some of this land.
In 1927 the Kingston bypass crossed Hook Road and a roundabout was constructed. This became the site for Southborough’s most prominent landmark, the Ace of Spades roadhouse, which incorporated a garage, a mock-Tudor restaurant built with timbers from the barn at Haycroft Farm, a swimming pool and even an airstrip. The Ace of Spades was popular with bypass users, while many locals preferred the Southborough Arms, which moved to larger premises in 1934 and is now the Cap in Hand, which is shown in the photograph above.*
In the years before the Second World War Southborough was fully suburbanised and most of its villas were pulled down in the process. The shops of Ace Parade and Arcade Parade were constructed on the site of Haycroft House and on land that had belonged to one of the area’s grandest homes, The Rhodrons. Having endured a protracted decline, the Ace of Spades finally closed after a fire in the mid-1950s. Its remaining features were lost when the Hook underpass was constructed in 1959–60.
Southborough boys’ school opened in 1963; it is now Southborough high school, a specialist business and enterprise college.
The newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook was an early customer of the Ace of Spades’ repair shop in 1928 after his car collided with a lorry at the roundabout. The former world heavyweight boxing champion Max Baer set up his training camp at the Ace of Spades in preparation for two fights at Harringay Arena in 1937.