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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
From New Way (2), 1907

Frith's panorama from New Way shows more of the industrial area on Mint Street and near to Godalming Station than the previous image. In the foreground is part of the railway track to the south-west of Godalming New station. The line here had been single track between Godalming and Havant initially but became double track from 1878[1]. At the very bottom of the picture one of the tracks shows a turnout rail, probably at the point where the single track began.

The three main buildings shown here were part of the town's industrial heritage. From the left we can see the long, thin mill building that housed Allen and Solly's hosiery manufactory for some years in the nineteenth century. Above it is the spire of the parish church. The white chimney in the middle of the image belonged to the hosiery[2].

Then we can see Rea and Fisher's Oak Bark Tannery, with its large chimney rising high into the sky. Above the tannery's building with the curved roof is a blackened building, undoubtedly the remnants of the 1905 fire at the factory. The View from Holloway Hill, Godalming, about 1900 has more about the tannery. The mill pond and Allden's Mill next to the far corner of the pond have been discussed on the previous page.

There isn't a great deal of information about Allen and Solly's Mill Lane factory, but at the Great Exhibition in 1851 Allen and Solly, then of Nottingham, displayed their hosiery alongside Mr. Fry of Godalming[3]. Godalming's hosiery factories were on short work in 1865, with trade in paper and leather also affected[4]. We know that the firm was definitely in Godalming in 1861 and probably a little before that (around 1860), so they would have been affected[5].

A notice of a sale at the King's Arms was placed by Messrs. Mellersh in 1877... "by order of the Trustees of Mrs. Bateman, deceased"[6]. Emma Bateman, nee Bicknell, had passed away in 1875; her first husband was the Godalming brewer William Smeed (d.1858) and she then married, in 1864, Stephen Edward Bateman[7]. At this time she put the brewing estate into a trust[8].

Her estate included six properties connected with brewing: the Sun Brewery, the Sun Inn, the Little George Inn and The Railway Tavern which were all in Godalming; the White Horse Inn at Hascombe; and the Woolpack in Elstead. Also for sale was the "Hosiery Factory As let to Messrs. Allen and Solly at 32l. 10s. a year"[6]. The brewing concerns were all bought by Alfred Agate[8] but it is unclear who bought the hosiery. They must have left the town by 1891 (see below)[5].

An obituary in 1886 announced that Mr. George Henson, aged 83, had died on Sat 13 Mar and stated that he was the son of William Henson, "inventor of the manufacture of fleecy hosiery, which for so many years was carried out at the Langham factory". George Henson had managed the Langham factory on Catteshall Lane, and then moved to Solly's. Unfortunately, he became blind and had to give up his post[9].

There then followed an exchange of letters as there was some disagreement about the fleecy hosiery patent. Henson's grandson, Frederick, claimed that Henson had sold the rights of his invention to George Holland who then claimed the patent[10]. Thomas Holland, of the Godalming and Langham factories, stated that when the patent was taken out only Henry and George Holland were in the firm and George Henson "was simply the mender and packer, and had nothing to do with the books"[11]. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this argument the patent had been taken out by George Holland[12]. It is worth mentioning here that the Hollands sold the Langham factory about 1850. In 1855 William Nevill, a Stoke Newington merchant, became the factory owner but Langham's was again up for sale in 1881[13].

Frame-work drawers, shirts and pantaloons were first made in Holland, London and Godalming in 1790[12] so the town had a long history of making fleecy hosiery.

In early 1887 John Henson was the foreman at Messrs. Allen and Solly[14]. On Friday, 1st July both indoor and outdoor employees of the hosiery factory were entertained to a sumptuous supper at the factory in honour of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. There were 160 guests, mostly females. John Henson, the manager, gave a speech in which he denied the rumour that the firm intended closing the factory by Christmas. Frederick Henson was also at the party[15]. By 1891 several of the Henson family had left Godalming[16], along with other mill workers who had moved to Allen and Solly's new hosiery in Arnold[17]. However, a few hosiery mill workers remained[18].

"Godalming from New Way". F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate, No.57510. First published in 1907 and printed in Saxony. Not used.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Mitchell, Vic and Smith, Keith (1985), "Southern Main Lines: Woking to Portsmouth" Middleton Press, ISBN 0 906520 25 8.

[2] Head, Ronald E. (2005) "Godalming", The Francis Frith collection, ISBN 1-85937-976-1 (with research by John Young). This book shows a black and white version of this postcard and identified the hosiery chimney.

[3] "Morning Chronicle", 15 October 1851. The Great Exhibition. Clothing. Class XX

[4] "Surrey Advertiser," 29 July 1865.

[5] Allen & Solly hosiery manufacturers, with a factory on Mill lane, were in Godalming in 1861 and 1878 as they advertised in both trade directories, but did not advertise in the 1891 directory.

[6] "Hampshire Telegraph", 21 April 1877.

[7] "Sussex Advertiser", 2 May 1848. "At St. George's Church, Bloomsbury, Mr. William Smeed, brewer, Godalming, to Miss Emma Bicknell, of the same place". In 1861 and 1871 she was living at The Sun with her family.

[8] Janaway, John (2003) "Godalming and Farncombe Pubs and Breweries", Ammonite Books, Godalming, Surrey. ISBN 1-869866-14-2. Janaway dies not mention who bought the Hosiery Factory.

[9] "Surrey Advertiser", 15 March 1886 [Monday]. Obituary notice.

[10] "Surrey Advertiser", 5 April 1886.

[11] "Surrey Advertiser", 12 April 1886 (and other editions).

[12] The evidence for this is shown in:
i. "The Repertory of Arts and Manufactures: Consisting of Original Communications, Specifications and Inventions, and Selection of Useful Practical Papers from the Transactions of the Philosophical Societies of All Nations, &c., &c," Vol XV (1801) London, printed by Nichols & Sons.
Specification of the Patent for Fleecy Hosiery to Mr. George Holland of Broad Street in the Parish of Bloomsbury in the County of Middlesex, Framework Knitter ... pp.17-19.
Dates Sept 22, 1788
ii. "Leicester Journal", 2 May 1845. Framework Knitters Commission:
1786 - Fleecy hosiery, lined with wool. Now in use.-George Holland, London; died, having obtained competency by the invention.
1790 - Frame-work drawers, shirts and pantaloons first made in Holland, London and Godalming.
iii. In 1881 George Henson was shown as the Foreman In Hosiery Manufactory.

[13] Kelly's 1855 directory shows that Nevill and Co. were manufacturers of patent fleecy hosiery at Langham's Mill. He was living at Langham in the 1871 census but passed away on 6 Jan 1874. The "Surrey Advertiser", 20 June 1881 announced the sale of Langham by Messrs Mellersh. It became the home of the Godalming Steam Laundry.

[14] "Surrey Advertiser", 3 January 1887. John Draper, a carpenter, assaulted John Henson - not for the first time.

[15] "Surrey Advertiser", Monday, 4 July 1887. Enjoyable Treat to Factory Employees.

[16] In 1891 George Henson Junior had moved to Nottinghamshire and John was in Camberwell In 1901 John was in New Maldon, George junior was living with his nephew William in Arnold, Notts but Frederick was still in Godalming - he was married with children and living on Victoria Road.

[17] (i) King, Rev. R. W. and Russell, J. (compiled by) (1913) "A History of Arnold", H. B. Saxton. An online transcript of this book reads "In 1877, Messrs. Allen, Solly & Co., makers of underwear and hosiery, removed from Godalming to Arnold", but this could be an error as they were still in Godalming at that time and remained in Godalming for at least ten more years. However, Kelly's Directory of 1891 shows the manufacturers in Arnold; they were not listed in Arnold in the 1885 version.
(ii) A search of the 1891 census for Arnold reveals the following had moved to Nottinghamshire: the Alexander family; fwk James Blackman with wife; George Boxall with wife and son, GB not b Godalming; Abel Mayers and family, all b Godalming; William Hankins [Hawkins], his brother and daughters; George and William Henson, with William's wife and family; Alfred Johnson and family; George Tickner; members of the Mandeville family; John Searle, his wife and daughter.

[18] Henry Wallis and Henry Woods, both Framework Knitters in a Hos M [Hosiery Mill], were living on the Mint in 1891. Joshua and John May, along with Charles Searle on Ockford Road.

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Related pictures:

From New Way 1907

New Way, 1907

Mill Lane, 1907

The Mint and Mill Lane

Tannery fire 1905

Godalming Station