Bramley Village Society

Bramley, not to be confused with Bramley in Hampshire, is a village and civil parish about three miles south of Guildford in the Borough of Waverley in Surrey, south east England. Most of the parish lies in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Bramley Village Society (BVS) is a charity with a remit to maintian and improve Bramley's material and social fabric.

About BVS

This article is abstracted from the Bramley Parish Council ‘Centennial Booklet’ published in 1994 and organised by the Clerk, David Morley, to celebrate 100 years of the Parish Council.

The Bramley Village Society was founded in 1973. There was disquiet about plans for several quite large developments in the village, with little apparent concern or opposition from officialdom. Also Party politics had invaded the Parish Council. There was a general feeling that Bramley residents needed a separate and more independent voice, so a group of people from all areas of the village met to set up a committee and plan an inaugural meeting. Civic Trust guidelines were used to formulate a constitution. It would be idle to speculate how much interest such a society would have aroused if conventional planning issues alone had been in question. Dramatically, between the Founders Meeting and the Inaugural Meeting, plans for a Bramley ‘bypass’ were published – a relief road which would have in part used the old railway line, and thus bisected the village. Bramley Village Society instantly had 240 members, rising quickly to 380 a year later.

Sub–committees were set up; Planning (for no one intended to lose sight of the Society’s original purpose), Road and Housing (to investigate the possibilities of low cost housing for young local people), Amenity (to cover such matters as footpaths, play areas, public lavatories – Bramley had none – Tidy Village Competition, Lighting, Preservation, etc.) and Social and Fund Raising (later renamed events).

The saga of the by-pass would fill a book, but although several alternative (often passionately advocated) routes were put forward by groups of individuals, the problem proved insoluble and after about six years the relief road plans were abandoned. It is interesting to note that at the time of writing this article (1994) fresh calls are being made for a solution to Bramley’s traffic problems.

A variety of public and social activities were organised in the early years. Films and talks, generally with dissappointing audience response, dances, carol singing, the Newcomers’ Meeting and the Bonfire. The dances remain vivid in memory - the Barn-e-cue at Brooklands Farm, Grafham, where Doug Hills produced the most wonderful,weird atmosphere with his ultra-violet lighting which revealed cut-outs of bats and spiders in the rafters and, in some cases, among the dancing ladies’ underwear! The dance in the Fete marqueee with the writer and Janet Cartwright stumbling across Gosden Common carrying large containers of soup that slopped everywhere as we ran. ( It was the era of long skirts and dangly beads, and gave rise to the inevitable question “How on earth did I get myself into this?”)

The meeting with the Wey and Arun Canal Society recently in 1994 was a very pale shadow of that of 1975, when most of Bramley crowded into St. Catherines’ Hall and rose in protest at the Canal Society’s then plans for restoration in our area. Of all such activities, only three have stood the test of time: the Ploughman’s Lunch, the Newcomers’ meetings and the Bonfire. The Bonfire was a success from the start, and it is now renowned throughout the area, with Doug Hills (the original Bonfire King) reigning superbly over his well-trained band of helpers. A great deal of work was done by Elsie Lewin’s Housing sub-committee, whose members had hoped to create a Housing Association in the village. This did not happen, but the BVS was responsible for breaking the four or five year deadlock over the purchase of the old Highway Maintenance site and Wise’s Dairy premises - now Windrush Close. There had been plans for a supermarket on this site, and one can only speculate on the Traffic problems thsi would have caused.

Many other things were achieved. The ‘No-waiting’ signs were removed from the many ugly posts and discreetly placed on walls or buildings instead; play areas were tidied; seats were purchased; the Parish Council was chivvied into setting up the present notice boards; the Hall Road garden was created; a decorative scheme was adopted by most of the High St. shops; plaques were erected drawing attention to historic details - items now taken for granted. More recently the BVS instigated the improvements of the Library/Notice Board area of the High Street and volunteers keep the garden in order. The signpost at the crossroads and in Thorncome Street have also been restored;Holiday Fun has been established for youngsters. The BVS has always aimed to be constructive, not confrontational and over the years has gained the respect of the Local Authorities and the Parish Council. Perhaps the most striking fact (viewed now from 1994) that comes from the early minutes was the suspicion, almost distrust, felt towards the Parish Council, but this gradually changed. The breakthrough came when the BVS, frustrated by the party political wrangling within the Council, nominated two genuinely independent candidates in the elections - the late Fred Baker and John Compton. They came easily top ,of the poll, and since then no poll candidate has stood under a Party Political label. For many years now the BVS and the Parish Council have enjoyed a close relationship, with several people on both committees. John Compton, a Founder Member, is the current Parish Council Chairman. There is not room to list all our committee, officers and members since 1973, but Derek Davis was the first Chairman and Gillian Whitelaw the current one, whilst Murray Campbell, a Founder Member, is still Secretary. Our first President was Lord Hamilton. He was succeeded by Jane Fairbanks. Our current membership stands at approximately 1100.


In 2009 the BVS Constitution was revised and the Committee proposed at the AGM that membership shall be free and that all residents of Bramley Parish should be members. This was adopted and the constitution updated accordingly.