When developing our most recent site at 168 East Street, Epsom the unusual building that sat on the site led us to explore its fascinating history.
The building was seen by some as a beautiful piece of art deco architecture and others as the ugly little brown building falling into disrepair. Unfortunately many of the unique art deco features such as the beautiful lights either side of the main door and the sun ray blocks on the front façade had been removed years before we took ownership of the building and it wasn’t until we found a photo online that we appreciated the building.
The photograph we discovered online clearly showed the signage on the building of “C.T Osborne ( Chossy Ltd )” and with a little more digging into the history of the company discovered it was former leather works, who were best known for producing the “Chossy” saddle bag.
In order to retain some of the history of the site, with the demolition of the original factory, we chose the name Chossy House for the newly built flats and Osborne Close for the newly built houses at the rear part of the development in memory of Mr C.T Osborne and the Chossy Saddle bag factory.
As we came to the end of this development we began to wonder if Mr C.T Osborne had any descendants in the area who might be interested that their family now have a close named after them. Some Googling and research later we found a Mr John Osborne and his wife, Susan, living not far from Epsom. Mr John Osborne is the grandson of Mr C.T Osborne and he ran the family business after his father and grandfather until his retirement in the early 1990’s.
We had the pleasure of showing Mr and Mrs Osborne around Osborne Close and Chossy House last week. One of the new residents of Osborne Close, Catherine, very kindly hosted us all for tea and fantastic home made cake.
Oakton Site manager Sam Bailey, discovered whilst chatting with Mr Osborne that the enormous air raid shelters on the site were there from the days during the war when the building was owned by the Ministry of Defence. Further to that the building was used by Walls Ice cream as one of their “ Stop me and Buy one” distribution sites. The Osborne family took over this site on East Street after their original factory in Bermondsey, London was bombed during the war. The family lived in Ewell and decided to move the business closer to home.
This lovely opportunity for the Oakton team and the new residents of Osborne Close and Chossy House to meet with Mr and Mrs Osborne has further preserved the history of No 168 East Street.
Finding out facts like the Osborne family paid £50 for the land to create the driveway off Dirdene Gardens to access the rear of the factory. Without them purchasing this Osborne Close would not have been possible to develop today.
Before the demolition of the building we salvaged the brass plaque above, polished it back to its original state and have mounted it on wood as a feature along with a picture of a Chossy saddle bag in the communal area of Chossy House.