The Tillingbourne, situated in the Surrey Hills, was one of the most industrialised river valleys in 17th century England. Much of its milling had origins since at least the time of Domesday in 1086, with some of its production (such as gunpowder at Chilworth) of national importance up until the First World War.
Stretching from its source at Leith Hill to where the river converges with the Wey at Shalford, the Tillingbourne’s 11 miles of constant flow led to centuries of exploitation. With approximately 50 water wheels at its height, powering 24 known mills and supporting 12 different industries at various periods in time, including weaving, tanning, iron-working, paper-milling and gunpowder production, the valley’s idyllic landscape holds a significant legacy of cultural heritage. The Tillingbourne Tales HLF project worked with communities along the valley to research the Tillingbourne River’s industries, promote heritage trails, capture local knowledge through oral histories, and work with river wardens to monitor and record the beautiful River.
The lottery funding has enabled the Shere Museum to become a hub for all the research effort and through the “Tillingbourne Gallery” provides a permanent source of inspiration and information on the valley’s industrial history, displaying artefacts and research findings developed during the project.