Celebrating our 50th Birthday

Happy Birthday Lynton! This bright and
homely development is a shining example of
how a few determined village people can
really make a difference.
Fifty years ago, on June 3 1967, the Bishop
of Guildford, the Rt. Rev. George Reindorp,
officially opened a private ‘home for the
elderly’ at Lynton, St Leonards Road,
Thames Ditton. This was the culmination of
five years’ work by a group of local
residents, inspired and spurred on by the
dynamic young curate at Thames Ditton’s St
Nicholas Church, Revd Geoffrey Fraser.
Aged just 33, he was a passionate and
persuasive young man, deeply devoted to his
parishioners, particularly those of increasing
years and infirmity. He was especially
concerned to find, during his research for
Christian Family Year, that many members
of his flock were parted from their families
when they were shunted off into what were
then known as ‘old folk’s homes’.

Geoffrey felt that Thames Ditton should
have its own unique ‘home’ for the elderly,
where people could go if they could no
longer manage at home but crucially could
still live independently, with the aid of
support and assistance. He convinced a
group of local people to get behind just such
a project and eventually to establish the
charitable company Thames Ditton Homes
Limited to develop and manage a new home.
The first task was to find a suitable
development site, the second to find the
people to create the dream. Geoffrey came
across a young architect, John Deal, who at
29 was just embarking on his career, mainly
designing house extensions. They hit it off
immediately. Geoffrey knew John was the
right person to design and implement his
vision, and convinced the rest of the
committee to back his instinct.

A plot was finally secured at Lynton on St
Leonards Road and work began on the
design. Initially the work started as an
entirely private venture, supported by St
Nicholas Church, the local Congregational
Church, Townswomen’s Guilds and the
Chamber of Commerce. However, the scale
of the development meant additional support
was needed and Geoffrey worked with the
then Esher Urban District Council to gain
government investment in the scheme.
With designs in place, plans approved for 15
single and two double flats, and building
tenders completed, work began on the site.
Building work did not run smoothly and, on
his first major assignment as architect, John
had to deal with a builder’s bankruptcy,
which provide a few sticky moments.
However, the tight control he had
maintained over works and materials meant
that the impact on Lynton was contained and
eventually another builder completed the

Overall the project cost about £60,000 – the
equivalent today to about £1.3 million. (The
UK average price for a detached house in
1962 was £2,500 compared with £207,000
today, according to the Nationwide House
Price index.)
Nearly 10 per cent of the cost was raised by
Thames Ditton Homes Limited and the rest
was covered by a 60-year mortgage from
Esher Urban District Council. Local
organisations played a role in getting the
home ready: the common room was
furnished and fitted by Surbiton Pilot Club
and garden furniture and part of the laundry
room was given by Weston Green Evening
Townswomen’s Guild. It had also taken
thousands of hours of volunteers’ time over
the five years from conception. Lynton was
and is a sheltered housing development with
on-site support. In 1967 a Mrs Julie Lewis
was employed as a ‘housemother’, although
today the role is that of Resident Manager
with warden duties.
In the midst of all the effort Revd Geoffrey
Fraser moved away from Thames Ditton,
first to a position in Peaslake and was then
appointed the Vicar of Dunsford with
Doddiscombsleigh in faraway Devon.
Lynton was his first project and gave him
the taste for developing property for social
purposes. In his career he developed more
than 100 units, always with John Deal as his
architect. These ranged from …. to …. He
was evidently a man whose faith dictated
that he get things done! Sadly he died just a
few weeks ago, aged 83.

All property needs to be maintained and
updated and Lynton has not stood still. The
original design included shared bathrooms,
common in those days. As accepted
standards changed there was another period
of refurbishment and development and from
1989 to 1991 which cost £650,000 and was
financed by a social housing grant from the
Homes and Communities Agency. This
included an extension along with the creation of individual bathrooms; the site
now has 15 units.

Thames Ditton Homes Limited is still run as
a charity by a Management Committee of
volunteers according to its original ethos; to provide housing and any associated
amenities for elderly persons of limited
means with a link to Thames
Ditton. Over the last 50
years 68 local people have
been involved in keeping
Lynton going. Hopefully the
next 50 years will see
equally enthusiastic

If you have an
interest in volunteering, or
wish to put a name on the
resident waiting list, please
email: contact@tdhlynton.co.uk