Sale of West Lodge goes to Secretary of State

Representatives from St Martha Parish Council and Chilworth2gether attended an Executive meeting of GBC on Tuesday February 20 when the future of West Lodge was on the agenda.


Selling West Lodge on the open market has always been Guildford Borough Concil’s Asset Department’s preferred route, and unfortunately the combined forces of St Martha Parish Council, the Chilworth Gunpowder Group and Chilworth2gether, in a Working Group formed by the Parish Council, have been unable to come up with a suitable proposal that will meet GBC’s demands for full commercial viability.

Residents in the west of the village will be interested to note that it was their elected Borough Councillor, Councillor Illman, who led the GBC’s recommendation that West Lodge should be sold. Describing the Grade 2 listed building “a bungalow”, and failing to mention the scheduled status of the Gunpowder Mills, Councillor Illman recommended the sale of West Lodge should be presented to the Secretary of State. It transpires that there are covenants applying to West Lodge at the moment that would inhibit its sale, and these need to be removed.

Our other local Councillor, Councillor Billington, also argued that residential use would be the best option for West Lodge, relying on its listed status to protect it from unsuitable development.

Both St Martha Parish Council and Gavin Morgan spoke from the Gallery.
St Martha Parish Council confirmed their regret that restraints placed on the Council by GBC meant that they were unable to come up with a community based solution to secure the future of West Lodge, warning that “once it’s gone, it’s gone” and that the most intact and usable building on the Gunpowder Mills site would be lost for ever.

Gavin Morgan sees West Lodge as another example of GBC seeking to rid itself of many of its cultural and Heritage assets, like the Guildford Museum and the Electric Theatre. He is supportive of further action to find an alternative use, and continues to challenge the Asset Department on its policy.

The St Martha Parish Council working Party will continue to monitor the situation and is likely to make representations to the Secretary of State. It will be closely watching for planning applications, should the sale go through, to ensure that the constraints applied to the Council’s proposal are applied to others consistently.

The two roomed Lodge is valued by GBC at £185,00 with a further £100,00 minimum spend needed to bring it up to basic residential standard. It is Grade 2 listed and subject to other restraints.


Green Flag hoisted in the Gunpowder Mills

It was a proud day for GBC Countryside Wardens, the Gunpowder Mills Group and Chilworth2gether as the Green Flag, a nationally recognised award, was finally unfurled in Chilworth Gunpowder Mills.

Shown here is Andrew Norris, Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Group, raising the flag at the entrance to the site, with the Countryside Wardens to the left, who were instrumental in submitting the application, saluting the flag. A special thank you goes to Alison Boyce, now working at Merrist Wood, for her motivation and effort to achieve the award before she left GBC.
GBC entered the Chilworth heritage site for the award and fulfilled the many criteria required, including sensitive management, conservation techniques, and community involvement.

Look how rewarding our working parties are!


Here we are in action in the Gunpowder Works, coppicing straggly hazel and encouraging new growth.

We meet at the weekends several times a year and spend a good morning in the fresh air, doing something really useful and helping to preserve our heritage site as a peaceful place for a quiet walk, and a haven for wildlife, including dormice.

Do feel free to join us at our next working party. Come for as long, or as short a time as you can spare – you will be welcome. Meet at the picnic area at the bottom of Vera’s path.

Countryside Wardens Nick and Alison work with the group, provide tools and even a drink. They check on safety and ensure everything we do contributes to the Management Plan for this historic site.

Chilworth Gunpowder Mills picture Gallery

Gunpowder Mills front page – illustrated with photograph of The Swing Bridge
swing bridge p2

aerial photograph of Gunpowder Mills site from the air – copyright Andrew Norris
air photo from north 2009

The Millstones
millstones at incorporating mills buildings 20-22

The Incorporating Mills
incorporating mills 1885 building 52

West Lodge building – used by workers to report for duty and leave any inflammable material

Incorporating Mills building
incorporating mills 1860s buildings 20-22 p2

Expense Magazine building

Incorporating Mills 1885
incorporating mills 1885 building 52

Gunpowder Mills map and historic information to download

Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Is a scheduled ancient monument. Enhance your visit to the Gunpowder Mills in their magic woodland set by downloading the following information and guided trail. See also a set of images showing the historic remains, shown under Gunpowder Mills Picture Gallery.

Thanks to Andrew Norris, Chilworth Gunpowder Group for the images, and to Glenys Crocker for permission to download the map.
walk leaflet 2010 rev2b page 1
walk leaflet 2010 rev2b page 2