The civil parish of Southwater covers 5.41 sq miles (14 km sq) and includes the hamlets of Newfoundout, Marlpost, Two Mile Ash, Christ’s Hospital, Stammerham and Tower Hill, as well as Denne Park House and the Boar’s Head pub at its northern boundary. Lintot Square, the centrepiece of Southwater village, is just under 4 miles south of Horsham’s town centre. At the 2011 census, the population of the parish was recorded as 10,730.
Southwater’s population has increased dramatically over the last four decades, yet it still maintains its village identity and spirit. Newcomers are warmly welcomed, maybe because most of us are recent arrivals too, relatively speaking. There are residents whose families have lived here for many generations, such as the Charmans and the Pipers.
It’s thought Southwater was so called because it lies south of the river Arun that runs through Horsham. The name is first mentioned in documents from 1346, where it appears as Suthwatre. For centuries this land was mainly agricultural, comprising numerous farms of varying sizes dotted along ancient tracks. Today, only Great House Farm survives as a fully intact working relic, much treasured by the community. The others are evidenced by house or road names throughout the parish. Examples are Blakes Farmhouse, Pond Farm House, Andrews Road, Little Bridges Close, College Road, Cripplegate Lane and Mill Straight, where there was a farm as well as a mill.
Station Road’s name reflects the fact that there was once a railway station here, in addition to that at Christ’s Hospital. Opened in 1861, it served the brickworks as well as the growing community, before being axed in 1966 during the Beeching cuts.
Southwater Brickworks, which opened in 1890, supplied engineering bricks all over the world. They were used in the building of Victoria Station in London, as well as for London’s sewer system, and for air-raid shelters during World War II. It was a major employer until it succumbed to economic pressures, closing down in 1981, after 1,000 million red bricks had been produced from the local clay. It was in those clay pits that the fossilised bones of an Iguanodon were first discovered in 1928. The brickworks site, which was previously Andrews Farm, then became Southwater Country Park.
The park covers 90-acres including the three lakes formed from the old clay pits. Facilities include a visitors centre, café, skatepark and adventure playground, plus water sports. The Downs Link passes through the park, following the line of the old railway track.
Southwater has seen a tremendous amount of residential and commercial building since the 1980s, when the earlier Timbermill development began to be extended into Cedar Drive. This area alone now totals in excess of 2,000 homes. The Blakes Farm Road estate followed in the 1990s, with Oakhurst Business Park being built later at its northern end.
In 2006, the old 60s-style shopping precinct was demolished and a new village centre built at a cost of £25m. Comprising a mix of public buildings, commercial and residential units, the eclectic style of Lintot Square created a much needed and very attractive hub, giving the village a unique character.
Lintot Square was named after Barnaby Bernard Lintot, an important publisher born in the village in 1675, and it features a bronze sculpture of the Southwater Iguanodon.