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The history of the Tillingbourne Valley brought to life thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund

The Surrey Hills Board has received £92,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project which will celebrate the industrial heritage of the Tillingbourne Valley in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The project, titled “The Tales and Trails of the Tillingbourne Valley” will encourage the villages along the valley to research and record its unique industrial past that has stamped its character on their communities. Leather, Paper, Iron, Gunpowder and Corn milling are some of the industries the water power of the River Tillingbourne supported for centuries but memories and knowledge of this history are fading fast.

David Wright, Surrey Hills AONB Board Chairman comments;
“We are delighted to have received this grant and the aim of this Lottery funded project is to give the next generation who may know little about the history of the area they live in, a chance to get their hands on the facts and explore the past story of their communities in an engaging way”.

The parish’s of Shalford, Chilworth and St Martha, Albury, Shere, Gomshall, Abinger and Wotton fall within the Tillingbourne Valley and their communities will be actively engaged in the project. A series of Tillingbourne Trails will be developed that will promote walks along the footpaths of the valley and its surrounding hillsides.

Local schools and young people will be able to get involved through outreach workshops which will help to bring history to life by creating puppets based on the historic characters and stories of the different industries within the valley.

The project will very much need the support of volunteers who will be required to help with archiving, research and oral histories as well as becoming river wardens and walk leaders. It will be vital for volunteers to learn about nature and water conservation, and gain the skills to maintain and improve the beautiful River Tillingbourne for future generations to enjoy.

This project is great news for Shere Museum as they will benefit from a new ‘Tillingbourne Gallery’ which will become a permanent source of inspiration and information on the Valley’s industrial history displaying artifacts and research findings developed during the project.

Sheila Jones of Shere Museum comments;

“Shere Museum are delighted to be such a big part of this project. This project will help us to engage pro-actively with a new audience and bring to life this very important part of industrial history that has been forgotten to many. We will be calling on local residents to have their stories recorded for posterity to inspire the younger generation”.

Christine Howard, Chairman of the Surrey Hills Society and member of the Steering group comments;

“This project is all about bringing people together, through a shared love of their surroundings and its roots.  A pageant at the end of the project is planned to celebrate the success of the project and bring together the stories that have emerged.”

A new website will be created to showcase the project and a series of local celebration events are planned to engage as many people as possible.

To find out more about the Tales and Trails of the Tillingbourne Valley project visit https://www.surreyhills.org/board/tillingbourne-valley/