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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
Meadrow - Railway Hotel, Godalming
Railway Hotel

Godalming's first railway station was opened on Monday 15 Oct 1849[1], close to the corner of Chalk Road and Meadrow, and connected the town with central London without having to travel by coach. The line was on an embankment that finished at Chalk Road[2].

In 1850[3] a new hotel, the Railway, was opened on the eastern side of the embankment. Its first licensee was Thomas White, a Guildford born brewer. White was a brewer, maltster and a wine and spirit merchant and an 1855 advertisement for Thomas White of the Railway Inn said he was supplying families with home brewed ales and porter from the Bridge Brewery[4]. His hotel (advertised as the Railway Hotel and Commercial Inn a few weeks later) was "at the entrance to the Railway Station". "GENTLEMEN and FAMILIES travelling the South-Western Railway will find superior accommodation ... where every attention is paid to their comfort". He supplied them with "wines and spirits of the best quality, Dublin Stout and Bass's and Home-Brewed Ales". There was a well-arranged billiard room as well as superior stabling. Flys and phaetons were always available to provide additional transport if needed[5]. And at Christmas time the same year he was offering a One Guinea Hamper that included a bottle each of brandy, port, sherry, whisky, rum and gin[6].

When Godalming Station opened in 1859 the station next to the hotel became known as Godalming Old Station. The hotel's trade was likely to have been affected although the passenger train service, bringing potential customers, continued until 1897[7].

Thomas White and his family moved to West Surrey House in the 1860s and afterwards to the Stone House on Bridge Street[8]. He had become a member of the Establishment by 1871, serving as a J.P. and Alderman[9]. In 1890 the 4-Quarter Brewery Plant of White's Brewery was put up for sale[10]. Thomas White eventually moved to Surbiton with his second wife and died there in 1905[11].

There was a toll bar on the turnpike road not far from the hotel. In 1854 one William Dunaway was summoned for "having fraudulently passed through a gate on the turnpike road without paying the toll". He faced a £5 penalty[12].

Benjamin Battson had become the licensee by 1867[13]. He was "known to be a collector of curiosities" and in 1879 he had "on view a very fine specimen of the Golden Carp that had been taken from a drift pond on the London and Portsmouth-road", some two miles away. It was taken to him and placed in a small tank but did not survive[14].

Mr. Battson died in 1885 but his wife continued running the hotel until 1890[15]. She was followed by Frederick W Pitchers and his wife Emily[16].

The photograph dates from the time Lascelles Tickner and Co. owned the hotel. Over the door is the name M. Eaton. Mary Eaton had taken over from her brother Francis by 1904[3] [17]. On the right of the hotel and its porch is a small building. This was the Fountain Inn and belonged to Hodgson's Kingston Brewery[3]; the name is on a sign above the window (behind where the two girls are standing). It was older that the Station Hotel[18]. There was a shop in the same group of buildings.

In 1933 Godalming's Fire Brigade were called to deal with a fire which partly burnt out the club room at the back of the hotel. By this time it was owned by Messrs. Hodgson, Kingston Brewery. What were described as buildings underneath the club room were also damaged, and the flames burnt through the floor to the roof[19]. The hotel was rebuilt and eventually became the Wey Inn. The replacement building, no longer an inn, stood empty and forlorn on the corner of Meadrow for a long time but has re-opened (2022) as a well known wine retailers.

"Old Station Hotel, Meadrow, Godalming". Craddock, Publisher, Godalming, Copyright. Unused. Half penny stamp.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched by Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Era", 14 October 1849. London and South Western Railway's announcement of the opening of the branch line from Guildford, with timetable of trains from London Waterloo.

[2] Ordnance Survey map, Surrey Sheet XXXI: Surveyed, 1871, Published, 1873.

[3] Date from Janaway, John (2003) "Godalming and Farncombe Pubs and Breweries", Ammonite Books, Godalming, Surrey. ISBN 1-869866-14-2.

[4] "West Surrey Times", 13 October 1855.

[5] "ibid.", 3 November 1855.

[6] "ibid", 8 December 1855. The hamper seems to have consisted of a "Bottle of GIN. Bottles and Hamper included. Every Article warranted genuine and of first-rate Quality".

[7] Farncombe Station opened in 1897, which ended the passenger service to Godalming Old Station next door to the hotel. It would also have affected the hotel's trade as the Old Station became a goods yard.

[8] 1861 census. The hotel was then said to be on London Road.

[9] 1871 census. He was still earning his living as a brewer, maltster, spirit dealer and retailer, employing 6 men.

[10] "West Middlesex Herald", 12 November 1890. Tenders for the sale were to be sent to Friary, Holroyd's and Healey's Brewery Co.

[11] 1901 census and probate records.

[12] "Sussex Advertiser", 18 April 1854. Evasion of Tolls. George Baverstock had seen a cart which dogs were drawing, first in Guildford, and afterwards (the same day) on the turnpike road, near the Railway Hotel, in Godalming. Charles Mandeville, the toll-gate keeper, said the defendant went through the gate that day, and was pushing the cart himself, whilst the dogs were running beside it. The defendant was cautioned but had to pay £1 for the fine and expenses.

[13] 1867 Post Office Directory.

[14] "Fishing Gazette", 21 February 1879. There was a good deal of debate about the fish, as it was claimed to be "the largest known". Unfortunately, it wasn't in a good shape, having lost a large part of its dorsal fin and did not survive for long.

[15] "West Surrey Times", 14 March 1885. Mr. Battson, who had been seriously ill, took his own life. There were a number of later references to Mrs. Battson being at the hotel.

[16] The Pitchers were found in the 1891 census and Kelly's Directory of the same year. Emily Pitchers, Frederick's wife, was living in Portsmouth with her children in 1901. Her husband went to South Africa and was last heard of in 1900 (probate records, 1908). There is a casualty amongst Boer War lists that is likely to be him [as Pitcher].

[17] Dates for the Eatons also from the 1901 census, the 1911 census and "Kelly's Directory of Surrey", 1913. Francis George Eaton was in Godalming 1898 (in "West Surrey Times", 28 October 1898) but was in Guildford in 1911.

[18] James Penton, was a Beer Shop Keeper here in the 1841 census, when he was shown living at as "Deanshold Place Named Pentons Buildings, Godalming". He had founded the Fountain Inn about 1830.

[19] "West Sussex Gazette", 11 May 1933. A car was destroyed in an underground garage and chairs and other furniture were ruined. At the same time the Railway Hotel was knocked down the Fountain next door and a shop also on the site as a whole were also demolished.

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