New development will pay tribute to Egham's history

Gem Cinema Egham

New apartments and business buildings being erected in the centre of Egham by Runnymede Borough Council will be named after prominent historic locations in the town, councillors have confirmed.

Three blocks of housing are currently being constructed at the junction of Station Road North and High Street, creating greater choice for local people wanting to continue to live in the town, and to house those wishing to move to the area. They will also contain a cinema and shops.

Once completed they will be named:

  • Corn Merchant House,
  • Gem House, and
  • Liberty Hall.

They will provide 27 affordable for rent homes, seven shared ownership homes and 67 market rate sale or rent apartments. Building work has been in progress since December last year and is due to be completed in early December 2021.

A fourth block will provide accommodation for students at Royal Holloway, University of London, and will be named Parish Hall.

The development as a whole is currently known as Egham Gateway West. The individual building names were approved by councillors after being researched and submitted by Egham Town ward councillor Isabel Mullens and her husband, with the support of Egham Residents' Association.

Interesting recent history
Cllr Mullens said: "Local people in Egham will be living alongside these new buildings for many years to come, and some may well set up home in them, so it's pleasing that they will see the breadth of the area's history reflected in them. 

"Egham is very famous for its connections with the sealing of the Magna Carta, but it has had a very interesting local history in more recent times, I hope people are inspired to learn a little more about the town they live in when they see them in such a prominent location."

Cllr Nick Prescot, Leader of the Council, said: "We recognise the impact which these new buildings will have on the centre of Egham, and we fully expect them to make a positive contribution to the town's social and cultural life. 

"Once they are occupied, I'm sure local businesses will also appreciate the extra footfall which the new residents and students will bring to them."

Well-researched names
He added: "Councillors were pleased to receive such a well-researched set of names and to be able to adopt them."

Cllr Prescot also said the Council was committed to supporting local people, improving the Borough's economy and enhancing its environment. He said this programme played a key role in doing so in the north of the Borough, following on from the opening of Egham Orbit leisure centre last year.

Tribute to local life
The block to be named Corn Merchant House will occupy a site associated from the 1850s to early 1960s with corn merchants. When the railway came to Egham, a connecting track was laid to the buildings behind, running adjacent to Station Road. The name will reference the historical 19-20 century use of the site.

The south and west facing rooms in the block to be called Holloway View will have clear views of Royal Holloway, University of London. Naming the block in this way acknowledges this view and references the 19th century establishment of what was then Royal Holloway College. It also emphasizes the continuing strong links between Egham and the University.

The block which will house the new Everyman cinema will be called Gem House. Egham's first cinema, the Gem Electric Theatre, opened in 1910, close to the western end of the High Street near the Station Road junction. It was owned by a prosperous Egham jeweler and diamond cutter. The name reflects early 20 century entertainment in Egham, and is a distinctive name for the home of the new cinema.

The student accommodation building will be called Parish Hall. It will be located largely over the footprint of the circa 1910-1969 'Parish Room' building. Naming the new student accommodation block Parish Hall references the site's 20th century use, and acknowledges its association with Egham parish, given its address in Church Road.

Read more about the Magna Square development