Redhill

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Redhill is a town in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, England. The town, which adjoins the town of Reigate to the west, is south of Greater London, and is part of the London commuter belt. In 2001, the town, including the two large southern neighbourhoods of Earlswood and Whitebushes, had a total resident population of approximately 26,000 people.

Redhill is situated immediately to the south of a dip to 135m from 160m–180m in the North Downs, through which passes the London-Brighton road. Beneath this pass, rival railway companies excavated the Merstham tunnels, which are still used by regular commuter trains and occasional goods transport, with the two railway lines intersecting to the south of the station. A major factor in the development of the town was the coming of the railways. Redhill railway station continues to be an important junction.

A town formed here in part of the rural parishes of Reigate Foreign and Merstham when a turnpike road was built in 1818. The settlement was originally known as Warwick Town after Warwick Road and became known as Redhill when the post office moved from Red Hill Common in the south-west of the town in 1856.

Redhill is one of the few places in the UK where Fuller’s Earth can be extracted. Alfred Nobel demonstrated dynamite for the first time at a Redhill quarry in 1867.

A large Victorian psychiatric hospital to the south of Redhill, the Royal Earlswood Hospital, initially the Philanthropic Society’s farm school for convicts’ children, which was first established in 1788 at St. George’s Fields, London, relocated here in 1855. Prince Albert laid the first stone[3] in 1853; the hospital was for 40 years home to two of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s cousins  Katherine Bowes-Lyon and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, both of whom had learning difficulties. Another inmate James Henry Pullen (1835–1916) was an autistic savant. He was a brilliant craftsman and artist whose work was accepted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Some of Pullen’s ship models, designs and art work used to be on display at the town’s Belfry Shopping Centre but have now been moved to the Langdon Down Museum in Teddington. The hospital site has now been converted to apartments.

Richard Carrington, an amateur astronomer, moved to Redhill in 1852, and built a house and observatory. Dome Way, where Redhill’s only tower block stands, is named after it. The site suited an isolated observatory, being on a spur of high ground surrounded by lower fields and marsh. Here in 1859 he made astronomical observations that first corroborated the existence of solar flares as well as their electrical influence upon the Earth and its aurorae. In 1863 he published records of sunspot observations that first demonstrated differential rotation in the Sun. In 1865 ill health prompted him to sell his house and move to Churt, Surrey.

St John the Evangelist, built in 1843, was the first of Redhill’s three Anglican parish churches. The parish originally stretched from Gatton in the north to Sidlow in the south.

The construction, to the east of Redhill, of the M23 motorway between 1972 and 1975 reduced north-south traffic through the town.

The natural gap in the North Downs north of Merstham is at an elevation of 135 metres above sea level, and there are gently undulating slopes of significant chalk, sand, and some fuller’s earth deposits, underlying regular fertile humus topsoil in the distance to Redhill’s town centre, at an elevation ranging from 81-83 metres. Similarly, Reigate’s High Street is at an elevation of 83-85 metres; however, Reigate’s undulation is greater throughout, leading to the strategic siting of its castle there, further along the Holmesdale gap between hill ranges in southern England.

The Redhill Brook runs through the town, mainly culverted, and upstream to the immediate north-east of the town are The Moors nature reserve and the large 2010-2012 (mid and low-rise) Watercolour housing development, comprising 25 acres of lakes, paths and habitat managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The brook enters a culvert behind the station and briefly reappears in Halford’s car park. The flat area of Redhill’s town centre was formerly the marshy flood plain caused by its often silted waters. The railway and A23 also pass through or near the gap cut by the brook through the Greensand Ridge at Earlswood, just south of the town. The meandering stream joins the River Mole south west of Woodhatch, Reigate at an elevation of 50m  metres, after flowing southwards then westwards.

Redhill is at the junction of the A23 and A25 roads. The M25 and M23 motorways are within three miles. The nearest junctions are at Reigate Hill (M25 J8), Hooley (M23) and Godstone (M25 J7).

Redhill railway station is at the junction of three lines: the main London to Brighton line, the North Downs Line from Redhill to Reading, and the Redhill to Tonbridge Line. Until 1845 there was a separate station from which one could travel to Ashford and Dover.

Numerous bus services are operated to the town, by Arriva, Metrobus and Southdown PSV. In May 2008, route 100 to Crawley became part of the Fastway bus rapid transport system, following redevelopment of Redhill bus station.

Air access is available at London Gatwick Airport, which lies about seven miles to the south, as well as the small Redhill Aerodrome (EGKR) south-east of Redhill town centre. Heathrow airport is thirty miles to the north-west and both Luton and London City airports are accessible by train.

Redhill has a pedestrianised High Street, which is adjoined by the Belfry Shopping Centre. More shops are available at the Warwick Quadrant. There is also a street market each Thursday and Saturday, sometimes including a French market.

Redhill is part of the Reigate and Banstead local government district. Not far from the town is Gatton Park, an estate once owned by the Colmans; the estate has a private chapel (now open to the public) and a Japanese garden.

The town has a distinctive red-brick complex called the Warwick Quadrant, which houses the Harlequin Theatre and Cinema, and the public library, as well as Sainsbury’s and other shops.

The former Odeon cinema was built in 1938. It was converted into a night club in 1976, operating under various names until 2011 when it was closed down permanently to make way for new housing; however, the listed Art Deco façade is to be retained.

Redhill has in the past hosted an annual air display at its aerodrome, as well as a steam fair.The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run passes through the town each year.

Sutton and East Surrey Water, AXA breakdown assistance, Travelers Insurance, and Aon Risk Services have their headquarters in the town. There are also three industrial and business estates: Holmethorpe Industrial Estate, Kingsfield Business Centre, and Reading Arch. Other companies operating in the town include Cruisers coaches, Redhill Tyres, and Black & Veatch Group Ltd.

Redhill Aerodrome (IATA: KRH, ICAO: EGKR) lies 2.8 km south-east of Redhill and operates pleasure flights, flying courses, and private commercial flights.

Whilst the town is a hub in commercial terms, with a shopping centre and several offices of large companies, a large proportion of the economically active population work in Greater London and other parts of Surrey.

For some central government statistical purposes, Redhill and Reigate are classified as a subdivision of the Crawley Urban Area. Redhill is 18 miles east of Guildford. The average commuting distance in 2001 for workers was 13.8 kilometres (8.6 mi) in Redhill East and 13.6 kilometres (8.5 mi) in Redhill West. Unemployment stood at 1.81% in the east and 2.13% in the west in 2001.

Surrey County Council has one representative, elected every four years, from Redhill. 6 councillors sit on Reigate and Banstead borough council

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