A resident has started a campaign to have the new hospital in Surbiton named after a 19th century pioneer who founded the town.

Bob Phillips, of Broomfield Road, wants the new hospital on Ewell Road, also home to a primary school, named after businessman Thomas Pooley, a man who built what would become modern Surbiton.

Mr Pooley, originally from Cornwall, moved to London in about 1830 to seek his fortune, eventually settling in Kingston, where he operated several malt houses.

He would go on to build a hub around a newly-built train station, later to become known as Surbiton, but was forgotten after litigation forced him into bankruptcy.

The “ill-educated” outsider’s success earned him covetous glances from Kingston business leaders, whose Machiavellian plotting would eventually lead him to sign over the rights of the town.

Buoyed by an article by June Sampson in last week’s Comet, Mr Phillips has now called on GPs behind the hospital project to “redeem the historical oversight” and restore Mr Pooley’s legacy.

He said: “We are building a hospital – the most important civic building that we will create in this town for many, many years to come. This provides the perfect opportunity to recognise our founder.

“Thomas Pooley’s contemporaries did everything they could to bury his achievements, and to bury him. And they buried him really well – so thoroughly, historians ignored him until June Sampson rescued his reputation.

“This is a shameful story, but one that now gives us a fantastic opportunity. Let us have Thomas Pooley’s name remembered on our grand new hospital.”

A spokeswoman for Kingston PCT said they were currently considering names for the hospital.

She said: “We’re very grateful for the suggestion – this isn’t a name we had been considering for the health building but any decision on the name will be made taking into account a wide range of views.

“We’re also carrying out work to acknowledge the history of the building and local area and we’re intending to acknowledge the local contribution made by Thomas Pooley in this way.”

Name suggestions can be emailed to communications @kpct.nhs.uk.