Stepping Stones

One Man's Property Story
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The Independent Online

Richard Hurst has bought four properties over the years, and most have tended "through pure coincidence" to be near the River Mole.

Richard Hurst has bought four properties over the years, and most have tended "through pure coincidence" to be near the River Mole.

But the management consultant's first attempted purchase in 1972 couldn't have been further away. "I almost bought a two-bedroom flat in my hometown of Leicester." On the brink of exchanging contracts, Richard was offered a job in London, after using the prospective purchase to prompt his future employers into a quick decision.

Once in London, he rented a one-bedroom flat in Streatham for £250 a month. "It was a lot of money at the time, and my father's awe-struck comment was that £250 was more than he earned in six months in Leicester." Richard remembers the area as being "very exciting" - there was a double murder nearby.

In 1976 Richard move to Bedford, where he lived for a few years in a two-bedroom semi which cost £28,000, but then job changes saw him moving all over London and he sold for £30,000. "I rented in Harlesden, Ealing and Barnes before I moved to a family-owned flat overlooking the A1 in Hendon," he says.

The new location was far from peaceful. "It was about 200 yards from traffic lights and on a hill, so you could hear approaching lorries changing down gear. It was incredibly noisy, but free."

In 1982 Richard paid £55,000 for a small Victorian cottage in Thames Ditton, Surrey, which needed some updating. The birth of his first child, and plans for another, prompted the next move in 1985. This time he bought a "very elegant" three-bedroom, turn-of-the-century Victorian semi in East Molesey on the River Thames near Hampton Court, for £125,000. But after separating in 1993, his wife and children stayed in the house while Richard rented a two-bedroom house in Walton-on-Thames and then a two-bedroom flat overlooking the River Mole in Hersham. Continuing the pattern of River Mole-side living, Richard, after a great deal of searching, bought his current home, a 1905, two-bedroom maisonette near Dorking, at the foot of Box Hill.

Richard says this flat "is the first to reflect my taste alone" and has "the creative influences of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Ikea and simplicity". There is a huge loft area, which he plans to covert to another bedroom and a study, and has been commandeered by sons Adam and Jack as their den on weekend visits.

The flat's location is ideal for Richard, who travels regularly by motorcycle into central London where he acts as a consultant to the Royal Academy of Drama & Art, but his sons' preferred mode of transport is the dinghy moored at the back. Richard is happy in the flat, although he admits "it is not a palace. Nothing's yet finished and some's not even started".

Those moves in brief

1976: bought semi in Bedford for £28,000, sold for £30,000 in 1978.

1982: bought Victorian cottage in Thames Ditton for £55,000, sold for £70,000.

1985: bought Victorian house in East Molesey, Surrey, for £125,000.

1997: bought Betchworth maisonette for £86,000, now worth £110,000.

If you would like your moves to be featured e-mail or write to: Jackie Hunter, Stepping Stones, The Independent, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL