Late 1960's Woking

WOKING'S HISTORY & HERITAGE

(Featuring the Articles and Archive of Iain Wakeford)

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Late 1960's Woking

1965-66 - The Changing Face of St John’s (& Knaphill).

With Watney Combe Reid (Alton) Ltd holding a competition to name a new pub they were building on Hermitage Hill (coincidently won by someone from their home town in Hampshire who proposed the name ‘The Surrey’), whilst down the road the Howard Collings Group of Companies were building a row of seven shops on the corner with Barrack Path (named Graphic House after the investors, the pension fund of the newly merged print union, the National Graphical Association), and Stoneslade Developments Ltd of Teddington were constructing the tyre showroom of Oliver Cox Ltd at 10 Robin Hood Road. Meanwhile in Knaphill A & J Simmons Ltd’s controversial plans to replace the shops on the corner of the High Street and Sussex Road with a petrol station were approved (but later changed), whilst W Deakin & Co Ltd also had problems trying to develop an estate on the site of The Mount and Barley Mow Cottages at the top of Waterers Park.


1965-66 - Initial Proposals to build the Bullbeggars Estate in Horsell,

Fierce local opposition to the Council's plans led to the formation of the Horsell Resident’s Association, with many not so much against the building of houses on part of Goldsworth Nursery and the Roake Brothers’ Whapshott Farm, but simply against them being council houses (the local Vicar wanting the houses to be ‘a showpiece, not just an ugly council estate’).


1965-66 - A brief look at the History of Telephone Exchanges in the Woking Area

With the introduction of Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) in March 1965. Since about 1898 or 1899 operators would have connected your calls at the Woking Telephone Exchange in The Broadway (behind the Post Office in Chertsey Road), with Byfleet’s exchange being set up by 1906-7, Brookwood in 1910, and one at ‘Hook Heath’ in 1905-6 (run by the National Telephone Co Ltd probably from the Post Office on Star Hill). Meanwhile in the mid 1960’s, to avoid confusion with Cobham, it had been proposed to change the name of Chobham to Chobham Common, but with STD it was deemed not necessary.


1965-66 - The housing development of Priors Croft in Old Woking

Unlike Bullbeggars at Horsell, the new council estate between the High Street and Rydens Way was virtually unopposed, but was nevertheless not without problems as the builders A H Swann & Sons found the soil conditions required special foundations (at extra cost to the council) – a situation not experienced by local firm A & J Simmons who were seeking permission to build what became Trentham Gardens (behind the new Baptist Church Hall), nor C W Norton, who were building Hassall Court for the council off Old Woking High Street.


1965-66 - Walton Court

The proposed new development was to replace a number of condemned buildings such as Firgrove Terrace in Boundary Road, Nos 129-143 Courtney Road, and 204-246 Walton Road, but attempts to demolish 248-270 Walton Road were stopped (as were plans by the council to condemn some of the houses in Walton Terrace). The new estate was set to become a ‘paradise for kiddies’, but meanwhile a Civic Trust Award for the Maybury Estate was giving Woking Council a headache about where it should be placed.


1965-66 - Restrictions on New Office Development to just Local Companies

New Government guidelines led to some imaginative solutions from the likes of Gilbert Ash, whose ‘local’ branch was in Goldsworth Road (and the newly constructed Albion House); whilst NSS Newsagents were at Ryde House in Chobham Road; Kennedy & Donkin were in Premier House (above the newly opened Maples Furnishing Store); Bell & Howell Ltd were in Stewart House; and Commercial Union were at 30 Commercial Road (to name just a few national and multi-national companies who then had office in Woking). A proposed new development at the Railway Hotel in Guildford Road by Friary Meux Ltd was not successful, however, helping preserve what is now The Sovereigns and some of the shops towards York Road.


1965-66 - The Ignorance of Imitation

Woking Council's possible envy of developments elsewhere in Surrey in the early 1960's, such as Chertsey Council's new Civic Offices at Addlestone, Guildford's theatre, civic hall, library and multi-story car park, Croydon's Public Hall,  Walton's Indoor Swimming Pool, new shopping centre and town hall, and Farnham's new police station.


1966-67 - St Columa's House

The building of the St Peter's Sisterhood's retreat and conference centre on Maybury Hill, designed by Romily Bernard Craze.


1966-67 - Pyrford's Painters, Ancient & Modern

The restoration of the ancient wall-paintings in St Nicholas' Church, contrasted with the new Pyrford Playgroup founded in the Village Hall.


1966-67 - The Common Misconception of Common Land

The purchase by the Horsell Common Preservation Society of the common in 1966 from the Earl of Onslow.


1966-67 - Saving the Canal

The formation of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society following letters to the press in 1966-67 from Jim Woolgar and Les Harris protesting against proposals to culvert the waterway by the New Basingstoke Canal Company.


1966-67 - The Travails of Travel Around Woking

A look at ambitions plans for by-passing Woking Town Centre suggested by local architect, Frank Hogg, in contrast to Woking Council's own schemes for extending Stanley Road, across Walton Road, to Chertsey Road - and how work on railway bridges at Sheerwater Road at West Byfleet and Triggs Lane at Goldsworth caused chaos for local drivers at that time.


1966-67 - Fires & Liars

A spate of files in Woking including at the St Peters Convent in Maybury, the Trinity Methodist Church in Commercial, the Boys Grammar School at Heathside and Jepson's Fish & Chip Shop in Old Woking, were nothing compared to the blaze at Creators Plastics Factory at Sheerwater, where delays (either by the firm or the fire brigade) led to £1,500,000 worth of damage.


1966-67 - Newark Mill

The refusal of Guildford R.D.C to grant planning permission for the conversion of Newark Mill into a restaurant may have saved the area from development, but it couldn't save the building from fire. Ironically it was not the only mill lost at that time as Chobham's mill had previously also been burnt to the ground (and later Thorpe Mill, which had been turned into a restaurant, was condemned by the construction of the M3 Motorway).


1966-67 - Clock House, Byfleet

The development by the Fellowship Trust (founded by Joseph Atkinson) of the Clock House into retirement flats, opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


1966-67 - Mount Hermon & Heathside Developments

The accusation that Woking Council were putting the 'cart' of more residents before the 'horse' of better facilities in the town, with the approval of high density schemes in Brooklyn Road, at Effingham Court, Elmdene Court, Craigmore Tower, and Woodlands, Highdene and Elmcroft overlooking Woking Park, as well as in Goldsworth at the new Triggs Close development on the site of the Farm Hotel.


1966-67 - Debenhams Department Store Closure

The 1967 closure of the Gammons Department Store on the corner of North Street and Market Street in Guildford and transferring some staff to the soon to be redeveloped 'mass media' Gammons in Woking and the 'quality trade' Plummer Roddis store at Millmead Guildford.


1966-67- The Death of the Earl & Countess of Iveagh - Rupert Guinness & Lady Gwendolen Onslow

A Look at their life and local work, having lived at Pyrford Court (designed by Clyde Young) since their marriage in 1903, where before the First World War they set up the Emigration Training School at Woking Park Farm, and between the wars created the Pollenarium in Carters Lane at the suggestion of Alexander Fleming, with the Guinness Diary at Hoe Bridge Farm producing Tuberculin Tested milk to local households and institutions.


1966-67 - Woking Civic Society - In April 1967 the Society sought to show how Woking's Roadside Eyesores could be improved with the planting of trees and the removal of uneeded signs at the junctions of Chertsey Road and Commercial Road, in the car parks off Bath Road, Commercial Road and the Broadway, and how the High Street could look better if colourful decorative screens were placed on the railway embankment


1967-68 - School Building in the West of Woking - With the enlargement of Brookwood Primary School (to cope with the enlargement of nearby Pirbright Camp) - possibly one of the last school buildings in Woking designed by County Architect, John Harrison, before he retired in 1963; as well as the new Hermitage Primary School, the Roman Catholic St Hugh of Lincoln Primary School, and the replacement for Knaphill Secondary School (Winston Churchill), designed by the new Surrey County Council Architect, Raymond Ash, with its 'Bituturf' sports hall, and 'sexist' Housecraft and Practical Block, where the girls were to be taught domestic science and needlework, and the boys woodwork, light engineering and technical drawing.


1967-68 - Skeet & Jeffes New Store in Church Street - Founded in 1891 by W R Skeet in the former Post Office on the corner of Church Path and the High Street, he joined with H D Jeffes (and A W Sharpe) in 1907 when he was outbid for the site by the London County & Westminster Bank (see date 1908 above the Nat West door), and moved to Chobham Road where as well as selling ironmongery, they also became builders merchants. The new building in Church Street (on the site of the former Drowley & Co builders yard), was designed by local architects Scott Brownrigg & Turner, with groundworks by Ebenezer Mears of Byfleet, builders W Deakin & Co Ltd of Woking, A & C Steer of Chertsey Road as heating and plumbing sub-contractor and flooring by Woking firm E & A Humberstone.


1967-68 - Horsell's Expanding Shopping Centre - In September 1967 Horsell's new Barclays Bank was built at 109 High Street (with the help of local firms such as G Loveland Ltd of Chertsey Road, Woking as Main Contractors, W L Sirman as lighting & electrical engineers and fittings supplied by Skeet & Jeffes). This was followed in 1968 by the construction of Maple Court on the opposite side of the High Street (with room for Horsell's first betting shop, the Silver Spring laundrette, W.L. Mead's hairdressers and Horsell Hardware), and in 1969 by the new RACS Co-operative store (again across the road - now the pet shop).


1967-68 - The Shock Clocure of St Mary's Hill School, Horsell - In November 1967, John Lindsay, the Treasurer of the St Mary's Hill School for Girls on Church Hill, Horsell, announced the shock closure due to lack of funds. The owner and principle of the school, Miss Iris Auer, was away in India, and despite attempts by former headmistress, Mrs Jean Marshall, the boarding and day school could not be saved with the land eventually being sold for the development of Lych Way


1967-68 - Parking Problems in Woking & West Byfleet - The introduction of yellow lines in the High Street of Woking, opposed by the Woking & District Chamber of Trade, was blamed for the closure of Colman's Furniture shop in the street that had been trading in the town for over sixty years, first opening in Chertsey Road in 1904 before moving in 1926 when that site was taken over by Woolworth's. The parking of commuter cars in West Byfleet was also causing concern after parking charges were introduced in the village's car parks, with the Byfleet & Pyrford Chamber of Trade worried about the effect it would have on local shops - although in West Byfleet the problem was more easily solved than Woking, possibly because the chairman of the Highways Committee, Cllr Henry Cawsey, ran his electrical shop in Station Approach in the village.


1967-68 - Bomb Hoax & Fires at Robinsons - My early memories of afternoon tea treats in town is obviously playing tricks on me as I thought I remembered witnessing the aftermath of the fire in the restaurant of the Chertsey Road Department Store. But that happened in the early hours of a Sunday morning in November 1968, making my memories of standing in a crowd outside the shop more likely to be the earlier bomb hoaxes in August 1968 or even May 1967.


1967-68 - Restaurants and Take-Aways - A look at the start of Woking's café culture, with notes not just on Robinson's Restaurant, but also the Wimpey Bar in Commercial Road; Michael's Steakhouse in Goldsworth Road; the Ritz and West End Restaurant in Chobham Road (serving British and Greek food); the Tong Du Chinese on the corner of Church Street and Chertsey Road; the Ba-Fa in Duke Street; Shahee Mahal Indian Restaurant in The Broadway (opened in April 1968 serving 3 course lunches for 5/-); and Tandori Mahal, replacing the Yorkshire Restaurant in Commercial Road, opened in the autumn of 1967 by Mr & Mrs Jaffar Ahamed, despite the council's refusal to allow an 'oriental style' front, as it was considered 'out of keeping' with the area. They were not the only place to fall foul of the council's concerns as the new Kentucky Fried Chicken Take-Away was not allowed to display the sign 'It's Finger Lickin Good', as Woking's Tory Councillors considered it alright for Carnaby Street, but not Commercial Road.


1967-68 - W Deakin & Co Ltd - comparing the numerous developments by the company in the late 1960's including Robin Hoood Crescent at Knaphill (in the former brickworks of the Woking Prisons); Whopshott Farm Estate at Horsell; Fircroft, Hillview Road and the prospective development of Orchard Mains at Wych Hill - as well as their own office development at Lynton House on the corner of Station Approach and Victoria Road, replacing their cramped accommodation behind the shops of Guildford Road.


1967-68 - Stream Cottages & The Sanway Laundry at Byfleet - two key sites in the history of Byfleet that were threatened with redevlopement at this time. Stream Cottages and the former village workhouse in Rectory Lane condemned by the council and due to be replaced by the houses of Stream Close, and the Sanway Laundry, originally Henry Dennet's brewery, later run bythe Holroyd family and merged with Healy's Brewery of Chertsey and the Friary Brewery at Guildford. In 1967 the laundry, which had moved to the site sixty years previous, closed with concerns for what development might replace it. In the end, despite calls for Woking Council to step in, a private developer (Venture Estates Ltd) demolished the old factory and built The Willows on the site.


1967-68 - The House in the Wood on Horsell Common - together with Thistle Cottage, was bought by Woking & Surrey County Council's in 1967 so that the dangerously decaying structures could be demolished and the site returned to nature.


1967-68 - Schools in Byfleet & West Byfleet - the opening of the new St Mary's Primary School in Hart Road, replacing the original village school on the corner of Rectory Lane and the High Road, which was then temporarily used as the Infant's School before work could begin on the proposed new school at Sanway; and the proposed, but never built, new Secondary School at West Hall, to replace West Byfleet Secondary School which later merged with Fullbrook School at New Haw.


1967-68 - Work on Woking's New Youth Centre & Schools to Begin Soon (or not as the case may be).

The planned replacement of Monument Hill School on the corner of Alpha & Beta Roads; the rebuilding of the Park School and the removal from that site of the Youth Centre to temporary accommodation in the Drill Hall in Walton Road until a new centre, YMCA hostel, restaurant and multi-storey car park can be built in Brewery Road in Horsell; the building of a new CofE Primary School in Meadway Drive and the promise of work to begin soon on the new Horsell Secondary School in Morton Road (replacement for the old Goldsworth Secondary School and Chobham Secondary School).


1967-68 - Little Brother Needs More Memory - In 1966 the Ministry of Labour reported that in January 1964 there were 600 computers in use in this country with 6,000 predicted by January 1974. Most of those would be for large international companies or organisations, such as the Ministry of Agriculture who were one of the few in this area to have computers at that time. The Treasurer's Department of Woking Council were looking to acquire an International Computer & Tabulations Ltd (ICT) machine, but with a row in the council chamber about how the machine should be purchased, together with self-proclaimed 'experts' in the council being in favour of an International  Business Machine (IBM) computer, the costs of the project spiralled out of control and even when it was delivered it soon had to be upgraded at extra cost to the ratepayers.


1967-68 - Ban Building on Old Woking's Floodplain - Proposals by Unwin Brother's Ltd to build houses, flats and maisonettes on their land at Woking Mill in the floodplain at Old Woking (and within the propsed Green Belt), fortunately met with opposition in the late 1960's from Woking Urban District Council, the Metropolitan Water Board and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, as had they been built they would have added to the problems caused by the floods of September 1968 that devastated properties in Old Woking High Street (and elsewhere in the Wey valley).


1968-69 - By the 'Fleet', not in it! - How the September 1968 floods affected Byfleet, with the Surrey Advertiser providing the Chief Constable of Surrey a birds-eye view of the floods from their hired helicopter as it viewed the Manor Farm Estate, Weymede, Plough Bridge and the poor residents of the Clock House and other properties in Byfleet.


1968-69 - Furnishing the New Homes of Woking - Evolving 'High Street' Shopping Habits.

In 1967 Cambell & Allen, furnishers of Duke Street, closed their doors in Woking (and moved to Haslemere), followed the next year by Colmans in the High Street (with Mr Colman moving to Brighton to set up a ladies fashion shop). Meanwhile in April 1969 Robertsons Brothers (who had traded in the town for sixty years) shut up shop in Maybury Road, whilst Scotts of Woking (Furnishers) in Commercial Road had quietly been replaced by a branch of the Midland Bank by December 1968.

But it was not all doom and gloom as Lucketts moved from Walton Road to Goldsworth Road in February 1969 and Court Furniture Store opened in the High Street in June 1969 (who along with Maples in Premier House and John Perrings in Goldsworth Road), continued to serve the new home owners of Woking for many years.


1968-69 - Woking - 'The Town Everyone Loves to Hate' was the headline in January 1968 when the future looked bright with its proposed multi-storey offices, towering flats, glass-fronted offices, new civic buildings, indoor pool and shoppers paradise (as well as a new dance hall and health centre) - but perhaps the vision of one local resident hit the spot with his view of four floors of covered shops and cafes, rather than the open-air planned precinct.


1968-69 - More Colour TV's than Colour Licenses - a 1969 local 'investigation' into the difference between licences sold at Woking's General Post Office and the number of sets sold by local firms such as D W Hughes & Sons Ltd in St Johns, Knaphill and their newly opened 'stereo and colour vision studio' in the Central Buildings, Chobham Road; Maxwell & Sons in Chertsey Road and Guildford Road; Shees in Commercial Road; and McEwan's in Duke Street (later Goldsworth Road, where in the early 1970's my family would rent their first colour TV).


1968-69 - Late 60's Luxury Hotels (and other accommodation) - the opening of the Crown's House Hotel in the Old Woking Road at West Byfleet (now the site of the Yeoman Harvester), adding to the local accommodation provided by the not so luxurious Byfleet Hotel in Station Road, the Blue Anchor Hotel at Byfleet, and even the Cotteridge Hotel in Guildford Road, Woking or the recently renovated Wheatsheaf Hotel at Horsell - although possibly on a par with the two-star Mayford Manor Hotel at Mayford.


1968-69 - Woking Hospital Ups & Downs - looking at changes to local hospital provision due to the expansion of the St Peter's Hospital site at Chertsey leading to the closure of the Woking Maternity Hospital in Heathside Road and its proposed conversion into a geriatric unit, whilst other alterations at the Woking Victoria Hospital and Brookwood Hospital made their future secure, along with the Rowley Bristow Hospital at Pyrford, whose 'open-days' in the late 1960's were a great success,


1968-69 - The Old Brew House, Old Woking - built by William Harvest in 1715 was under threat in March 1969 with plans to demolish it and replace it with flats and shops. Fortunately the building was saved, although later Riverside Gardens was built within the grounds and on the site of the old butcher's shop next door.


1968-69 - The Great Green's of Ripley Fire - when in February 1969 Greens Hardware Store in Ripley High Street was engulfed in flames when a delivery of paraffin spilled, causing an explosion and requiring fire engines from Woking, Guildford, Camberley and Esher to attend. Also a brief look at the widening of the A3 on either side of the village of Ripley in the late 1960's (leaving the village centre still a bottle-neck).


1968-69 - Putting Woking in  Whirl - the Woking Round Table's event first held in July 1969 - the successor to numerous carnival processions and events such as the Torchlight Society's Bonfire Night Parades in Victorian times; the Peace Celebration after both World Wars, and the Hospital Carnivals of the 1920's and 30's.


1968-69 - Woking's New One Way - around the streets of the town centre, forcing four lanes of traffic into two outside the Railway Station (from The Broadway and Chertsey Road into the High Street); causing chaos at the traffic lights at the junction of the High Street, Commercial Road, Percy Street , Goldsworth Road and Guildford Road at Victoria Arch; and problems from the buses negotiating the turn from Chobham Road into Church Street.


1968-69 - New Shops for Knaphill - a look at new developments in the village such as the Orchardlea Parade on Anchor Hill and the Anchor Parade with its new Post Office, Darby's Baby Centre and Tesco supermarket.




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