The Hockering Estate
The name Hockering comes from a small village in Norfolk where the Smallpiece family (the original owners of the land) once lived. The Smallpieces were large landowners in the Woking area, with farm land in Old Woking, Kingfield and the Heathside area. By the early 20th century they lived at Aldridge House (a house later used as a Convent School) on the site of what is now Pembroke Gardens.
In 1904/5 they started laying out the new estate on their land, but it was not long before they realised that perhaps they had "bitten off more than they could chew" and reached and agreement with Mr. W.G. Tarrant, a Master Builder from Byfleet (who had already constructed several of the large houses on the St. George’s Hill estate at Weybridge).
The estate originally had 107 plots, none covering less than an acre of ground, but in 1910 Tarrant acquired the neighbouring Roundhill Estate from the family of the Earl and Dowager Countess of Lovelace and laid out several more plots for his fine houses. Walter George Tarrant was born in Hampshire in 1875. He worked first as an apprentice carpenter before setting up his own business in Byfleet in 1895 (first as a carpenter, but later as a builder). He quickly gained a reputation for his high quality work and with the birth of the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement Tarrant’s style soon became popular. In 1912 he published a book entitled ‘Ideal Designs’, which included details of twenty homes he had planned for the St. George’s Hill Estate. He apparently built twenty houses in the Hockering too – many of which still stand today.
During the First World War building work on the estate ceased, but Tarrant and his firm remained busy making pre-fabricated buildings for the war effort. As well as his main machine shops, mill and yards at Byfleet, "W.G." also established his own brickworks at Chobham (and in Hampshire), with a joinery works at Weybridge and his own nurseries (for landscaping the gardens of the new houses) at Pyrford and Addlestone.
After the war work continued on The Hockering with the company careful to maintain the exclusive feel to the area, with gravel roads (only surfaced in 1924 after a special levy was imposed on the residents to cover the costs) and gates installed at each entrance between 1922 and 1924. The wide grass verges – retained by the company to restrict extra unwanted development – also helped to enhance the estate.
By then the Hockering Residents Committee had been formed (initially as a way of collecting contributions for road maintenance), but later acting as a Residents Association, with trustees appointed to look after the roads (the title of which was finally transferred to them in 1987).
From the twenty original houses built by Tarrant in the early 20th century, the number of houses has now reached over ninety – several of the larger houses now having part of their land built on by smaller properties – but any future development should be restricted as in 1990 the entire estate was designated a Conservation Area by Woking Council with at least seventeen houses now locally listed building (and one, Greenways in Daneshill, being nationally listed at Grade II).
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