For an introduction to the OSS lantern slides project at MERL, read: https://historyofpublicspace.uk/my-oss-fellowship-at-merl-2021/
13 February 2021 – Another of the more obvious locations in the lantern slides was listed as ‘Warlingham steps, Surrey’. This is Jacob’s Ladder, near Whyteleafe South station, Surrey.
This is the same image on the lantern slide, a postcard titled ‘Field Surrey series 224’. This one is off Ebay:
Here is the location, a steep climb of around 200 concrete steps, leading from Well Farm Road (round the back of a new looking Travellodge and flats) through a deep railway bridge, up to Westview Road.
It’s marked on the 1912 OS map 25″ to the mile:
The Bourne Society leaflet on the area states that it was built in the 1880s on the route to Westhall Farm: http://bournesoc.org.uk/bslivewp/wp-content/uploads/Warlingham_history.pdf
It was very slippy and icy underfoot!
Lantern slide and 2021 compared:
As with many of the slides, there isn’t much information on the photo, not even a date.
Jacobs Ladder was built on the route of a public footpath from Well Farm to Westhall Wood. Here’s the OS map from 1871, showing the route starting from an embankment and railway tunnel, although the railway line had not yet been laid:
An obituary notice from 1912 gives the life history of one of the occupants of the farm:
The District Council in 1903 sent the surveyor to check the condition of the steps:
It’s a very suburban middle-class area, with large villas perched on terraces overlooking the steep drop into the Whyteleafe and Warlingham villages. The Victorian OS maps from 1897 show huge houses on large plots spread across the hill. I was intrigued by the street name Kooringa, and comparing with the 1912 map, you can see large houses named Kooringa as well as Kumara and Keilawarra.
Looking the houses up in the census shows the Australian connection. Kooringa and Keilawarra were occupied by coal factors or agents who had evidently made their fortune in the copper mines of south Australia. This 1849 map from the State Library of Australia shows the basic plan of the town built on the Aboriginal site for the settler colonists to live and exploit the natural resources: https://digital.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/nodes/view/815
“The town of Burra began in 1846 as the company town of Kooringa, surveyed and built for the South Australian Mining Association. It was the first such company town in Australia and remained so until the closure of the mine. An Aboriginal word Kooringa (kuri-ngga) means ‘in the locality of the she-oak’. The neighbouring hills of Kooringa and the mine were stripped of their trees for the mine works.”
Let’s look in the census. The first entry I can find for Kooringa is 1901:
By 1911, the Church family had been replaced by the Johnson family, but the head of the household was also a coal agent, who had married the daughter of the previous occupant.
Looks like the Church family had moved next door from Keilawarra house. Here’s the entry from 1891.
Here’s an account of their wedding from the Croydon Chronicle, 29 Sept 1906. Worthington Church is described as the ‘owner of considerable property in Surrey and Essex’. According to another report in the Daily Mirror, the house was worth £300 a year, with extensive ornamental grounds.
On the other side of Jacob’s Ladder is the White House, still there and of some local notoriety as the site of a naturist retreat since the 1930s.
Joseph Lindley’s Survey of 1793 records there being a White House off Godstone Road. The Huguenot Society’s proceedings, vol 7, 1905, record a Huguenot descendant living in the White House.