This Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) project focuses on the wonderful and unique industrial heritage of the Tillingbourne Valley, encouraging the villages along the valley to research and record its unique industrial past that has stamped its character on their communities.

The Tillingbourne flowing from under Shalford Mill

The Tillingbourne flowing under Shalford Mill

The Tillingbourne, situated in the Surrey Hills, was one of the most industrialized river valleys in 17th century England. Much of its milling had origins since at least the time of Domesday in 1086, with some of its production (such as gunpowder at Chilworth) of national importance up until the First World War.

Stretching from its source at Leith Hill to where the river converges with the Wey at Shalford, the Tillingbourne’s 11 miles of constant flow led to centuries of exploitation. With approximately 50 water wheels at its height, powering 24 known mills and supporting 12 different industries at various periods in time, including weaving, tanning, iron-working, paper-milling and gunpowder production, the valley’s idyllic landscape holds a significant legacy of cultural heritage.

Tillingbourne at Gomshall Mill

Tillingbourne at Gomshall Mill

However, understanding of this historic landscape today is often poor, and engagement with the valley’s heritage is at times limited. This ignorance brings with it inevitable risks to heritage conservation and management.

The Tillingbourne Tales HLF project invites the various communities along the valley to work together and engage in this unique landscape by researching its industries, promoting heritage trails throughout, capturing local knowledge through oral histories, and working with river wardens to monitor and record the beautiful River Tillingbourne.

Explore this website to uncover more about the project and its legacy, and to learn about the exciting volunteer opportunities!

As always, the research and work is ongoing. Please contact us at [email protected] with any questions or comments.