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The Broom Family have been farming in Dorking for over 100 years. Tom Walwin Broom came from Devon to Dorking in 1897 to take up the tenanacy at Sondes Place Farm in 1897.  He left his family farm in Culmstock where they had been working the land since 1648.
 

Sondes Place Farm, was the home farm for the Denbies Estate and was rented from Lord Ashcombe. The buildings at Sondes Place (now the apartments known as Sondes Farm) where built as a model farm in the middle of the 19th century. TW Broom built up a dairy and beef herd, as well as developing an arable business. Due to its proximity to the town, the development of a fresh milk supply business was key to his move from Devon.

 

circa 1920, Sondes Place Farm
Sondes Place Farm circa 1920

In 1921, Lord Ashcombe died, and Cubitt Estates Ltd had to sell considerable properties and land to pay death duties. A sale was held at the Red Lion in Dorking in September 1921 and Tom Walwin Broom bought Sondes Place Farm, as well as other fields and cottages. The dairy business continued to grow and he opened a dairy shop at 38 South Street Dorking (Currently Friths Chemist shop). TW Broom was also one of the founder members of Dorking Rugby Club, in the early days the club played on the fields at Sondes Place. He farmed in Dorking until his death in 1944, leaving four children.

The youngest, Harry, carried on the business and bought 2 other farms, Milton Court Farm, and Springfield Farm just after World War 2. During the post war years the milk delivery business was wound down and the farm focused on supplying milk in bulk to the wholesale market.

 

Old Picture of the farm

By the late 1960ís the Broomís had had 3 dairy herds, By the late 1960ís the Broomís had had 3 dairy herds, Jersey, Guernsey and Friesian. In addition they were also renting land at Landbarn Farm from the National Trust and Coombe Farm from Wotton Estate.

The late 70ís saw the government introduce an early exit plan for dairy farmers to cut the over production of milk. The Guernsey herd was the last to be sold in 1979. The farm business then moved to concentrate on arable and beef production which was driven by Tom Broom, Harryís eldest son.

He farmed alongside his father until his sudden death at the young age of 44 in January 1984. Tomís widow Kate Broom continued to run the farm with Harry on a reduced scale and much of the tenanted land was given up. Harry died in February 1993.

Today Tomís youngest son, Hugh (aka Bert), manages the farm with his partner- assisted by their young children.

 

 

Sondes Place Farm, Dorking, Surrey, England

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