Epsom is the home of the Derby, where racehorses from the training stables can be seen every morning riding out on the world-famous Downs. But it has had many other industries since the 1820s, when a rural parish of farmers, millers and maltsters embraced new urban trades. Resident gentry patronised clockmakers and herald painters, while stagecoaches on the Brighton road needed wheelwrights and saddlers. Gunpowder mills on the nearby river were profitable but dangerous. When the railway came, dairymen and brick-makers soon learnt to supply the London market. With its own brewery, printworks and ironfounders, Epsom had every Victorian amenity.
The expansion of suburbia in the 1930s brought new opportunities for builders and landscape gardeners, cut short by the Second World War when people learnt once more to rely on local resources. The following years saw international companies of engineers relocating to Epsom while local family firms learnt to live in a global world, all breaking off once a year to host the greatest race in the world. With a mixture of old and new photographs, reminiscences and new documentary research, Epsom at Work pays tribute to a Surrey community that is so much more than a one-horse town.