In 1867 16 acres of Redhill common had been secured for use by borough residents. But by 1881 the lord of the manor, Earl Somers, was still digging gravel from the common, with train loads of spoil being removed.

The banks on the east side of the common by Sandpit Road are evidence of the diggings.

There were those to whom the word spoil' applied not just to what was being removed from the common but also what was being done to it.

They conceded the lord had the right to the gravel but pointed out that commoners had equal rights to herbage and queried whether the lord had the right to destroy one by removing the other.

They began to take steps towards testing Earl Somers' rights to remove gravel.

The man mainly involved was Samuel Barrow of Linkfield Street, owner of Redhill tannery. He commenced action in Her Majesty's High Court of Justice in 1882.

The result was an agreement, dated March 2, 1883, between Earl Somers and Messrs S Barrow and W B Waterlow in which the lord agreed to stop digging operations in consideration of a sum of £3,000 £1,000 paid by Samuel Barrow, £1,000 by Walter Waterlow and £1,000 by Reigate Corporation.

Samuel Barrow and Walter Waterlow did the borough a great favour. Not only was digging stopped but a conservation body was set up for the common, with improvements made and the common looked after for many years.

Work carried out by the group included new paths, tree planting, especially the Queen Victoria Jubilee plantation at the top of the common and the Diamond Jubilee clump near the gates leading to High Trees, plus the construction of the upper lake on Earlswood Common.

Work included the reconstruction and enrichment of the undercliff designed by Richard Peat of Meadvale (adjudged the best of six submitted).

In 1884 the common alongside Mill Street was laid out as a pleasure garden as part of the programme of improvements to the common.

The Common Conservators were abolished in 1945 and the common is far less open today, with much of it returning to woodland.

Article by Alan Moore, author of A History of Redhill volumes 1 and 2,