Southborough, Kingston upon Thames

The southernmost part of Surbiton, Southborough is Hook’s half-forgotten little sister, situated to the west of Tolworth

Hidden London: Rickard's Close by James Emmans,

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 lat­er became the Cap in Hand.

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.

Final own­ers Wether­spoon closed the Cap in Hand in Jan­u­ary 2016 and it is like­ly to be replaced by flats.

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.

Postcode area: Surbiton KT6
* The picture of Rickard’s Close on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright James Emmans, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.