The Laundry

[Drawing of part of the laundry display] Our laundry display contains a collection of washday implements from before the advent of automation. Included are a large box mangle, washboards and tubs, along with some of the cleaning agents in common use.

Heating and Lighting

Heating equipment from early times - cresset fire dogs, basket, fork and straight spits - is on display. You will find cookers and heaters ranging from paraffin appliances to the elaborate wood-burning stove, Grand Rapids and a Victorian cast iron radiator.

Methods of lighting on show include the candle lantern, Aladdin lamps and the Tilley table lamp which was pressure paraffin powered.

[Drawing of a selection of the cooking appliances on show]


In the horticulture display are tools of all descriptions - secateurs, sprayers, a Victorian cloche, trugs, mowers, a Victorian lawn edger, a hollow bamboo pole made into a hand lance for fruit tree spraying, a Victorian lawn sprinkler and many other items.

One of the hand lawn mowers was advertised in the Country Gentleman's Association catalogue of 1894.

[Drawing of a corner of the gardening display]

The Arboretum

Planting at the Old Kiln started in the 1950s. Over 100 varieties of trees from all parts of the world show their form and colour throughout the year. The trees are numbered and a list of both Latin and English names is available to visitors.


The museum has a fine collection of the tools used by the forester - from billhooks for brashing young conifers and general coppice work, including hazel, chestnut and ash; axes for felling trees and trimming the branches; saws of all shapes and sizes for felling, cross—cutting, pit sawing and so on; cant hooks for turning the looks; to larger items for moving the felled trees...

The Timber Nib or Bob

An implement, drawn by horses, used to extract lengths of timber from the forest. Debris, soil and the risks of fouling stumps of felled trees made the task very difficult.

The nib was first made to straddle the log, the pole was upended and the log was chained to the axle of the nib. The pole was then pulled down, thus lifting the end of the log off the ground allowing it to be towed without the risk of fouling.

[Drawing of the timber nib]

Timber Carriage or Pole Waggon

This was used to transport timber from the forest to the sawmill. The carriage was loaded and drawn by horses - a very heavy job.

The Old Kiln Light Railway

The railway, operated by a group of volunteers who have collected and preserved rolling stock and diesel and steam locomotives, is of particular interest to railway enthusiasts. The line is in operation on Sundays and bank holidays, in the main season, to provide rides for children of all ages!

The Gibbs Collection

The business of J. Gibbs Ltd. was established in 1844. A wheelwright by profession, John Gibbs started to trade as a wheelwright and blacksmith at the Bedfont site. By 1907 the company's interests had extended to include the manufacture of specialised tools as well as road vehicles to supply the needs of local market gardeners. Thus Gibbs evolved from builders of horse-drawn vehicles to motor garage distributor. The story of J. Gibbs Ltd. is one of a family concern keeping pace with the rapid development of machinery for the farm, earning the Royal Warrant in the process.

The Forge

A fully working reconstruction of a village blacksmith's workshop complete with all tools for farriery and general ironwork can be demonstrated to schools and other groups when pre-booked. Many of the items came from George Instone's shop at Cove.

This is a working shop and is currently used by three blacksmiths who undertake commissioned work and also forge-work craft courses. To find out more about them and their work please visit their website.

[Drawing of blacksmith's forge and tools]

The Windpump

This 100 year old windpump provided the water supply for Copse Farm at Holmwood, six miles south of Dorking, until at least the 1960s. It then stood out of use but undamaged until the great storm of 16th. October 1987.

The ten foot diameter fan was then blown to earth and it was in this condition that the Surrey Industrial History Group found it and decided to restore it. The farmer gladly presented it to the group and the museum and thus it became a landmark for the Rural Life Centre.

It is a hybrid pump, with parts from Climax (the working mechanism) and Duke & Ockenden (DANDO - the tower). What makes this pump unusual and particularly attractive is its wrought iron decoration and eiffelation (the main supports are curved like the Eiffel Tower).

Such windpumps were once a common sight in the country providing water for livestock in remote locations from, often quite shallow, wells.

Other examples were used to produce electricity and it is in this latter use that such machines are making a comeback in both large and small forms.

[Drawing of the Holmwood windpump]

The Gipsy Caravan

[Drawing of the gipsy caravan] This superb replica gipsy caravan was built by one of our support group members using only model plans. It took many hours of meticulous work and is complete inside as well as out.

Rural Life Centre : Old Kiln Museum : Accredited Museum
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund
Reeds Road, Tilford, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 2DL.
01252 795571 (Fax. 01252 795571)

The Old Kiln Museum Trust is a registered charity
Copyright Old Kiln Museum Trust 2007

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