Twinning Partnership since: 1971
Population: approx. 80.000
Location: The Borough of Surrey Heath is located 50 kilometres southwest of London in the County of Surrey. The main town of Surrey Heath is Camberley where about half of the population lives. The balance live in the villages of Bagshot, Bisley, Chobham, Deepcut, Frimley, Lightwater, Mytchett, West End and Windlesham.
Current Mayor (2021/22): Councillor Helen Whitcroft – A mostly ceremonial position, a new Mayor is elected by fellow Councillors every year.
Current Leader of the Council – 2020 -. Councillor Alan McClafferty – the Leader is the Borough’s most senior Councillor, and is elected by Councillors every four years.
Social Media: @SurreyHeath
Establishing the partnership
The twinning partnership was established in 1971. Councillor Ian Goodchild, the Mayor of the Urban District of Frimley and Camberley and Mayor Karl Mai signed the Twinning agreement.
The Borough of Surrey Heath has only been in existence since 1974, when the Urban District of Frimley and Camberley, was merged with the Urban District of Bagshot and several adjacent villages.
Settlement of the area in the Stone Age is well documented, and there is evidence from the Bronze and Iron Ages and of Roman settlements. Several local place names indicate an Anglo-Saxon foundation. Chobham is mentioned in the first ever-English land register, the Domesday Book of 1086.
Nutrient-poor sandy soil meant that the heathland of Surrey was sparsely populated until the 18th century.
For hundreds of years it had been on a main transit route between London and the South Western area of England. The main A30 road, which passes through Bagshot and Camberley, was home to a number of inns and stables that were used by the many horse drawn carriages and their passengers who passed along the road from London to the South West. The route was also famous as a place where highwaymen would often stop coaches at gunpoint and rob the passengers. One of the most famous highwaymen who were active in the area was a Frenchman named Claude Duval (1643-1670). One of the Public Houses in the current Camberley High Street bears his name.
The area was given greater importance in 1812 with the establishment of the famous Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Camberley. This was, and is, the principal Officer training establishment for the British Army and the Armies of many other countries. The nearby Staff College, built in 1862, prepared Officers for Senior Staff duties.
Numerous shops and other suppliers became established to serve these large military establishments. That settlement was originally formed in two areas called York Town and Cambridge Town. The name Cambridge town was soon changed to Camberley to prevent postal confusion with the University town of Cambridge.
In 1878, the new South West Railway opened better transport routes to London.
Bus lines were established as early as 1913 and today Surrey Heath has easy direct access to the whole world: London‘s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are both within easy reach.
Surrey Heath today
Whilst the Borough still retains its strong military connection, it has grown over the years to become a major commuting home to many people who work in London and at Heathrow Airport and with its airlines (British Airways is based here). It has also become the base for many important Information Technology and Pharmaceutical corporations and other light industrial and distribution corporations. Camberley is home to the regional offices of Bank of America and the UK headquarters of the famous German company Stihl.
A major regional hospital – Frimley Park, is also based in Camberley.
Windsor Castle, the river Thames, Ascot horseracing, Lego Land, Thorpe Park, Farnborough (home of the birthplace of flying), McLaren Motor Racing Headquarters, and the world famous attractions of London, are all within easy reach of the Borough.
Sports and leisure opportunities
Camberley and the surrounding area is famous for its golf clubs. Wentworth, Sunningdale, Camberley Heath, and Windlesham are all very close.
The area also has many football and rugby clubs and has a strong athletics club.
Camberley has a brand new leisure centre. This features an indoor swimming pool, multiple badminton, basketball, netball and exercise courts, a climbing wall and an attractive cafe/restaurant.
The Borough also has several large recreation grounds, which incorporate the usual football and rugby pitches, special children play areas etc. The largest also fronts the Basingstoke canal (water sports), and has an extensive model railway centre, par 3 golf course and a cafe.
Visits by delegations from the municipal council