Our Quiz Trails are full of local history ...
Our Quiz Trails are full of local history and often the facts we discover are so interesting … here are some!
St Helier Hospital hasn't always been white!
Queen Mary, wife of George V and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, laid the first foundation stone at St Helier Hospital. The site was donated by Lady St Helier in Wrythe Lane in 1938. The first patients began passing through its doors in 1941 although the building wasn't fully complete until 1942. Less than a month later, the hospital was damaged in a bombing raid. Former Prime Minister John Major was born in the hospital in 1943.
Two further strikes in June 1944 caused further damage, but the hospital remained open to locals. It was painted green towards the end of the war to make it less of an obvious target for German bombers.
The much-loved white hospital is famed for accommodating the first kidney transplant but also holds the less esteemed honour of caring for the first patient to die of coronavirus in London.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visited the hospital in 1963 to celebrate the hospital Jubilee year and Diana, the Princess of Wales opened the new maternity unit in 1987.
Queen Mary's Hospital for Children, a dedicated children's hospital at St Helier’s, was named after Queen Mary.
The Ashley Centre in Epsom is named after Mary Ashley – the land the shopping centre is built on was her back garden! Ashley House is where Mary Ashley lived here between 1800 and 1845. It’s lovely to stop and imagine what Epsom might have looked like back in those times - with the fashions of the day and transport being by horse and carriage. The Boot Scraper was at almost every doorway in the days before pavements. There to scrape clean the bottom of the footwear before entering the house - essential with all those horses!
Now flats, Ashley House was acquired by Surrey County Council in 1934 before use as the Epsom Registry Office. George Harrison of the Beatles fame married here! George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, 21, married in January 1966 with Paul McCartney as the Best Man. A huge crowd gathered!
In 1979 Pattie Boyd famously married George Harrison’s friend, Eric Clapton - he had pursued her, writing his hits Layla and Wonderful Tonight about her. Pattie says that Clapton said to Harrison, “I have to tell you, man, that I’m in love with your wife.’ Eric and Pattie finally got together in 1974, marrying five years later ... separating in 1984.
They Think it’s All Over… It is Now!
Undoubtedly one of the most famous lines in the whole country. The 1966 World Cup Final which saw England claim victory. Sir Geoff Hurst scored England’s fourth goal to see off West Germany.
“Some people are on the pitch… They think it’s all over… It is now!” ... words spoken by Ewell man Kenneth Wolstenholme. His words went on to become the title of a sports TV programme - They think It’s All Over.
Kenneth started his career in the Royal Air Force with whom he completed more than a hundred highly dangerous sorties over Occupied Europe. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal.
After the war he married and lived in Worcester Park while working as a commentator for the BBC, as well as supporting Epsom and Ewell Football Club for many years. Kenneth and his wife Joan moved to West Street, Ewell village where they lived until moving to Torquay in their later years. They had two daughters together.
At the time he was commentating on the 1966 World Cup, Kenneth was aged 46 and reminisces that it was “unquestionably the high point of my career.”
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