London to Portsmouth – via Burpham

Moira McQuaide Hall’s history of Burpham

The village of Burpham grew up around the London Road as this was the main route between London and Portsmouth. Well used by the Royal Navy and other travellers, coaches and riders came through Ripley, Burpham, and on to Guildford on their way south to the coast.

A 1603 map showing the London Road.

From 1555 to 1835 responsibility for maintenance of the Burpham stretch of the road fell to Worplesdon Parish, which included the Manor of Burpham. After the Wey Navigation opened in 1653 much of the heavier freight traffic moved to the waterways, then again with the coming of the railways in 1845, traffic moved away to the trains. In the 18th century Turnpike trusts were formed so that toll fees could be collected and the money used to maintain the roads. In Burpham the toll gate, Green Man Gate, was between the New Inn Farmhouse (now the doctors’ surgery) and the Anchor & Horseshoes pub.

In 1889 the new Surrey County Council took responsibility for main roads. Motor cars gradually replaced horses towards the end of the century, and as they became more popular the speed limit was raised to 12 mph by 1900, and speed traps were brought in for the London Road. By 1905 tar macadam was used on surfaces, improving the quality of the roads. World War One brought an increase in traffic, due to troop movements, which damaged the road surfaces. In the 20th century road haulage increased, especially with the creation of motorways.

The A3 passing the original sites of The Parkway and Ladymead.

In 1934 the Guildford and Godalming bypass was opened, taking traffic to the side of Stoke Park, now Parkway and Ladymead, but this didn’t reduce the number of vehicles coming through Burpham. The sixties and seventies saw further plans, potentially dividing the village in two, by knocking down Pimm’s Row, and isolating both the Burpham pubs. Following objections from local residents, another plan was agreed, taking some of the Primary School’s playground, and cutting off the old Jacob’s Well Road.

The new A3 road, diverting the London to Portsmouth road around Guildford, with slip roads off at Burpham, Dennis’s Roundabout and the Cathedral, opened in 1981. On Charles and Diana’s wedding day a tug of war was held on the empty road between teams from the two Burpham pubs.

Today the traffic problems on London Road have increased. Commuters approaching East Guildford leave the A3 at Burpham, Aldi shoppers queue for the car park and many cars queue through Burpham to get onto the A3 north. Can this be improved in the future? It remains to be seen.

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