Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A brief history of Worcester Park versus Cheam - Part 1

'What, pray tell, is the history of Worcester Park and Cheam?' I hear you scream. 'You're the Worcester Park Blogger' people yell at me in the street, 'Tell me this town's local history!'

OK, well, just this once. Now pay attention class - there'll be a test at the end....

Cheam, if you aren't familiar with the area, is the posh neighbour of the fair town of Worcester Park. Relations between the two towns have long been strained and have deteriorated to such a point that neither will now recognise the others' exisistence.

The breakdown in relations can be traced to 1730 when the residents of Cheam, tired of associating with their lesser neighbours, hatched a bold plan to mark out their superiority. They decided to do so by building a massive hill to allow them, quite literally, to 'look down' on the people of Worcester Park.

After a year of planning, building of the hill began with the now-famous 'Boxing Day Dig' of 1731. Some 160 men, women and children from workhouses of Carshalton began creating the giant mound using earth dug from what was to become the largest pit in south London (now Croydon).

The building of the hill was a slow and laborious process, not least because the houses and shops of Cheam had also to be elevated every month (to keep pace with the rising height of the new hill) . The movement of these buildings was performed by a skilled band of so-called "shop-lifters", predominantly from Beddington.

Enraged by these antagonistic actions, the people of Worcester Park took up arms and mounted a permanent guard to head off a possible offensive from the the people of Cheam. Records show the formation of a line of armed resistance in 1754 known locally as 'Sentry Row' (later Central Road).

Building of the hill was completed in 1791, by which time the people of Cheam towered more than 200 feet over its nearest neighbour of Worcester Park from where they taunt us to this day.

The rest, as they say, is history.