Saxon farms once occupied cleared land below the downs where Reigate now is. William de Warenne, who fought at the Battle of Hastings, was endowed with Surrey estates and in the 12th century built a castle which encouraged a new settlement to grow close by for protection and trade.

This was the beginning of Reigate, a village which was to grow into a prosperous market town set in a rural area along the ancient route along the foot of the downs.

It was not until the railway came, 700 years later, that anything happened to permanently disturb its tranquillity.

The area of St John's, once known as Little London, was populated in 1840/1 by workers building the London to Brighton railway.

The people of Reigate, believing this to be the centre of an important new community, built a new church there in 1843. A school was also built.

By 1844 there was a railway station at Earlswood, not far from St John's, but in 1845 this was relocated to the site of the present Redhill station. In 1846 leasehold land was sold for development in the current Warwick Road area and a new settlement, briefly known as Warwick Town, evolved and Little London grew no more.

The new settlement spread towards the station and soon became known as Red Hill, after the reddish sand workings on the common to the south.

A new town had been born that was eventually to outstrip its Reigate neighbour.

l Article by Alan Moore, author of A History of Redhill volumes 1 and 2. For more information visit