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Borough of Elmbridge
Walton-on-Thames, one of the borough's main towns
Walton-on-Thames, one of the borough's main towns
Coat of arms of Borough of Elmbridge
Dum Defluant Amnes
(Latin: Until the rivers cease to flow)
Elmbridge shown within Surrey
Elmbridge shown within Surrey
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth East England
Non-metropolitan countySurrey
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQEsher
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyElmbridge Borough Council
 • Total37.2 sq mi (96.3 km2)
 • Rank203rd (of 296)
 • Total140,024
 • Rank164th (of 296)
 • Density3,800/sq mi (1,500/km2)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code43UB (ONS)
E07000207 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTQ1402064766

Elmbridge is a local government district with borough status in Surrey, England. Its council is based in Esher, and other notable towns and villages include Cobham, Walton-on-Thames, Weybridge and Molesey. The borough lies just outside the administrative boundary of Greater London, but is mostly within the M25 motorway which encircles London. Many of the borough's urban areas form part of the wider Greater London Built-up Area.

The neighbouring districts are Mole Valley, Guildford, Woking, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames, the latter two being London boroughs.


The district was created on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering two former districts which were both abolished at the same time:[2]

The new district was named after the medieval Elmbridge hundred which had covered a similar area.[3] The hundred appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Amelebrige.[4] The name thus derives from the River Amele or Emley, an old name for the River Mole, rather than elm trees.[5] The district was awarded borough status from its creation, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor.[6]

In the early 1990s the neighbouring London Borough of Kingston upon Thames sought to have eastern parts of Elmbridge, including Long Ditton, Thames Ditton, Hinchley Wood, Weston Green and the Moleseys transferred to it, making the case that these areas had particularly strong social and economic ties to Kingston and Greater London. The proposal was considered by the Local Government Boundary Commission in 1992, but was not pursued.[7][8]


Elmbridge Borough Council
Richard Williams,
Residents' Assoc.
since 17 May 2023[9]
Bruce McDonald,
Liberal Democrat
since 17 May 2023
Adam Chalmers
since 2022
Seats48 councillors
Political groups
Administration (34)
  Liberal Democrats (20)
  Residents' Assoc. (14)
Other parties (14)
  Conservative (12)
  Residents' Assoc. (2)
First past the post
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
2 May 2024
Meeting place
Civic Centre, High Street, Esher, KT10 9SD

Elmbridge Borough Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Surrey County Council.[10] Claygate is a civil parish, which forms a third tier of local government for that part of the borough only; the rest of the borough is an unparished area.[11]

Political control

The council has been under no overall control since 2016. Since the 2023 election the council has been run by a coalition of the Liberal Democrats and most of the residents' associations (RA), led by Liberal Democrat councillor Bruce McDonald.[12]

The first elections to the council were held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements came into effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:[13]

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1986
No overall control 1986–1988
Conservative 1988–1991
No overall control 1991–2002
Independent 2002–2005
No overall control 2005–2008
Conservative 2008–2016
No overall control 2016–present


The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Elmbridge. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2010 have been:[14]

Councillor Party From To
Roy Taylor Conservative 2010
John O'Reilly Conservative 19 May 2010 8 May 2016
Stuart Selleck Molesey Residents' Association 18 May 2016 16 May 2018
Tim Oliver Conservative 16 May 2018 Jan 2019
James Browne Conservative 27 Feb 2019 15 May 2019
Stuart Selleck Molesey Residents' Association 15 May 2019 9 May 2021
Chris Sadler The Walton Society 19 May 2021 17 May 2023
Bruce McDonald Liberal Democrats 17 May 2023


Following the 2023 election and a subsequent by-election in November 2023, the composition of the council was:[15]

Party Councillors
Liberal Democrats 20
Conservative 12
Thames Ditton and Weston Green Residents' Association 4
Esher Residents' Association 3
Moseley Residents' Association 3
Hinchley Wood Residents' Association 2
The Walton Society 2
Weybridge and St George's Independents 2
Total 48

The Thames Ditton and Weston Green RA, Esher RA, Molesey RA, Walton Society, and Weybridge and St George's Independents sit together as the "Residents' Associations Group", which forms the council's administration in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.[16] The next election is due in 2024.


See also: Elmbridge Borough Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2016 the council has comprised 48 councillors representing 16 wards, with each ward electing three councillors. Elections are held three years out of every four, with a third of the council (one councillor for each ward) being elected each time for a four-year term of office. Surrey County Council elections are held in the fourth year of the cycle when there are no borough council elections.[17]


The council is based at the Civic Centre, off the High Street in the centre in Esher, which was purpose-built for the council in 1991.[18][19]

Sandown House: Council offices until 1991, now flats.

When the council was created in 1974 it inherited offices at the Town Hall on New Zealand Avenue in Walton-on-Thames from Walton and Weybridge Urban District Council, and at Sandown House at 1 High Street from Esher Urban District Council. It initially used Walton Town Hall, a 1960s building, as its headquarters, retaining Sandown House as additional offices.[20] The new Civic Centre was built on land behind Sandown House, which has since been converted into flats, whilst Walton Town Hall has been demolished.


St George's Hill Golf Club in Weybridge

In common with the nearby Surrey boroughs of Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell, much of Elmbridge is a continuation of the built-up area of suburban London, and the areas of Molesey, Long Ditton, Thames Ditton, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Cobham and Claygate lie within the social and commercial orbit of neighbouring Kingston upon Thames.[7] Molesey, Cobham, the Dittons and Claygate were included in the Metropolitan Police District from 1840 until 2000.[21][22]

Elevations, landscape and wildlife

The northern third of the borough is flatter and fertile with free draining slightly acid loamy soil, similar to the south, as described in the Surrey article. In the next third, the first of the remarkable acid soil heaths in west Surrey begin to appear in places here [n 1], characterised by undulating heaths: these sandy and stony reliefs start in the east in the Esher Commons, covering the central swathe of the area including Oxshott Heath and Woods and areas of Weybridge and areas surrounding Wisley, a natural soil for pines, other evergreen trees as well as heather and gorse, described as naturally wet, very acid sandy and loamy soil which is just 1.9% of English soil and 0.2% of Welsh soil.[23] Claremont Landscape Garden and Fan Court (now independent school) is on part of this elevated soil as is St George's Hill. Most undeveloped land in Elmbridge is Metropolitan Green Belt.

The central band of forest/heath includes part of the Wisley and Ockham Commons reserve within the national wildlife trust scheme: see Surrey Wildlife Trust, several pine heath based golf courses and in the north there are reservoirs, on the side of which there is sheep grazing.


The Mole, passing the Grade I Church in Stoke D'Abernon,[24] Cobham Mill at Grade II[25] and Painshill Park and the Wey, passing Silvermere Golf Course and the Brooklands circuit, hotel and retail park, cut through the borough from south to north reaching the River Thames which denotes the northern border, stretching from Weybridge to Thames Ditton apart from inclusion of inhabited islands such as Wheatley's Ait[n 2]. The Wey and Mole have sources beyond gentle valleys which cut through the high North Downs to the south.

Settlements within the Borough

From East to West:

Affluence and The "Grandees"

The borough is home to some of the county's highest earners.[27] It has been labelled Britain's Beverly Hills by sections of the press. Famous residents, past and present, include Sir Cliff Richard, Mick Jagger, George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Wood, Andy Murray, Kate Winslet, John Terry, Gary Lineker, Mick Hucknall, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Theo Paphitis, Chris Tarrant, Peter Crouch, Michael Aspel and Shilpa Shetty.[28]

St George's Hill is noted as the site of one of the earliest experiments in common ownership of land by ordinary people, in a marked contrast to the area's modern status as a wealthy private estate. In 1649 the "Diggers", one of the radical groups set up in the aftermath of the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I seized common land in the area and lived by simple farming. As well as debates about religion and how the country should be run at this time these groups complained that even the Parliamentary side in the Civil War was dominated by "Grandees" i.e. wealthy nobles who often spent their time in comfort conducting fatuous debates in Parliament while the less well off risked their lives in the war to defeat an absolutist system. They were the subject of a long campaign of harassment by a local landowner and were eventually removed following a court case.[29]


The M25 motorway has several junctions nearby and the A3(M) from London bisects the borough.

The main north-south road is the A244 for instance to London Heathrow Airport and starts in the borough at Walton Bridge leading to Esher and Oxshott then to Leatherhead. The east-west Leatherhead to Horsell, Woking road, the A245 leads by Cobham and Brooklands, Weybridge.

As to rail, the South West Main Line cuts through the borough, with four stations from Esher to Weybridge, one of which several express services call at: Walton on Thames in the Ashley Park estate of the south of the town. The branch lines have services with four stations in the borough via Cobham & Stoke D'Abernon to Guildford; and a branch to Thames Ditton and Hampton Court railway station in East Molesey, both within Transport for London's Zone 6.

Bus services include TfL Oyster card services to East and West Molesey, Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Esher.

Cycling is very popular, with the Thames Path passing through the north of the borough and the 2012 Summer Olympics hosting both of the main road cycling events in the borough with most of the road section around Hampton Court and with the sections of the routes taken to and from Box Hill.


The economy is diverse, with a strong local service sector, including numerous bars and restaurants,[28] homes built and being built for city workers as the majority of locations have access to one of the Home Counties fastest commutes,[30] trades including interior supplies, fitting,[28] gardening, golf course/landscape management and a developed public/education sector. Of international renown are the employers Sony, Procter & Gamble, JTI (formerly Gallaher) and Toshiba Information Systems alongside the local corporate venues and day-out attractions of Sandown Park Racecourse and Mercedes-Benz World. As of 2012, Elmbridge residents had average weekly earnings of £1162.[31]


The Borough of Elmbridge is not twinned with any towns. However, between 1966 and 2009 Elmbridge was formally twinned with the Paris suburb of Rueil-Malmaison, Hauts de Seine, France.[32]

Coat of arms

The council's arms were created upon the formation of the present day district, being formed out of symbols taken from the local towns and villages with the Latin motto meaning until the rivers cease. The arms include a depiction of an elm tree on a bridge, being a play on the district's name.[18]


  1. ^ See also Bagshot Formation, Chobham Common and Surrey Heath
  2. ^ Also in the borough other than the riverside properties on Wheatley's Ait are the largely undeveloped islands of Desborough, D'Oyly Carte and Sunbury Lock Ait in the River Thames
  3. ^ Also including Whiteley Village


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – Elmbridge Local Authority (E07000207)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  2. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan District (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 17 November 2023
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 3 January 2024
  4. ^ Surrey Domesday Book Archived 30 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Room, Adrian (1988). Dictionary of place-names in the British Isles. London: Bloomsbury. p. 128. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  6. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b "The boundaries of Greater London and the London Boroughs: Report No 627" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Review of Greater London, the London Boroughs and the City of London: Report No 667" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Council minutes, 17 May 2023" (PDF). Elmbridge Borough Council. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  10. ^ "Local Government Act 1972",, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  11. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  12. ^ Coady-Stemp, Emily (18 May 2023). "New Elmbridge council leader announced as former Kingston chief executive". Surrey Live. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  13. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  14. ^ "Council minutes". Elmbridge Borough Council. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  15. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Agendas, minutes and meetings". Elmbridge Borough Council. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  17. ^ "The Elmbridge (Electoral Changes) Order 2016",, The National Archives, SI 2016/301, retrieved 9 January 2024
  18. ^ a b "The History of Elmbridge Borough Council". Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  19. ^ "No official opening for the 'Elmbridge Palace'". Esher News and Mail. 15 July 1992. p. 4. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  20. ^ Municipal Year Book. London: Municipal Journal. 1976. p. 728.
  21. ^ "No. 19904". The London Gazette. 13 October 1840. p. 2250.
  22. ^ "Greater London Act 1999: Section 323",, The National Archives, 1999 c. 29 (s. 323), retrieved 10 January 2024
  23. ^ "LandIS - Land Information System - Homepage Soil Portal".
  24. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Mary (1030111)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  25. ^ Historic England. "Cobham Mill (1190885)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  26. ^ "Modern map of Lower Green Esher". Lower Green Esher. 22 November 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  27. ^ Surrey Press & Herald "Elmbridge Stumps up £1Bn Annual Income Tax" Claire French, 20 May 2013
  28. ^ a b c Bennett, Oliver (21 January 2011). "Is Elmbridge Britain's Beverly Hills?". The Independent. Independent Digital News & Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  29. ^ Bernardes Roberge, Lívia (23 March 2022). "Seventeenth century squatters? The Diggers and the occupation of St George's Hill". Elmbridge Museum. Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  30. ^ "National Rail Enquiries - Official source for UK train times and timetables". National Rail.
  31. ^ BBC News - Hart in Hampshire remains UK's most desirable place BBC News 22 December 2012 Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
  32. ^ "Elmbridge twinning info".

51°22′12″N 0°21′42″W / 51.3700°N 0.3618°W / 51.3700; -0.3618