Early 1960's Woking

1960-61 - Chobham's Changing Shopping Scene & the Rise and Fall of Village Banks.

New buildings on the corner of Chobham High Street and Vicarage Road in 1961 and later at Kings Court, replacing the Kings Head in the High Street, where the Westminster Bank also replaced the Horse & Groom in 1961. The High Street then had as many banks as pubs (Barclays also being in the road), whilst about this time other banks were opening in Horsell (Barclays), Kingfield (Lloyds), Knaphill (Midland and later a new Barclays), Byfleet (Lloyds, Barclays and Midland), and West Byfleet - which by the mid 1960's would have the 'full set' with the construction of Sheer House.

1960-61 - Woking's Old Council Offices Replaced by the New Post Office.

The history of the Post Office in Woking from the days when it was delivered by horse from Ripley to when the train took the strain in 1865 with a post office on the corner of the High Street and Church Path, followed by moves into Chertsey Road, Walton Road, Chertsey Road (again), and then as a temporary measure the site of the old Rendezvous Restaurant in Commercial Road until Woking Council, Surrey County Council and the Ministry of Works could agree on the new building (opened in 1960) on the site of the Old Council Offices (now part of the site of the Victoria Square development).

1960-61 - Gloster's Ltd.

The development of the company founded by Henry Gloster in 1876 in Chobham Road and its expansion to take over the garden of the original Albion Hotel and develop it with shops including the Corn Exchange (demolished in 1960 and replaced by new shops) and the Central Stores. Also their warehouses at the Market House in Old Woking and in Walton Road, the take-over of Drake & Mount Coal Merchants, and the companies move into 46 Commercial Road (after the Post Office moved) following the demolistion of their offices and stores on the site next door and the construction of five new shop units.

1960-61 - New Shops in Commercial Road.

A look at developments in Commercial Road from the Pearl Insurance Building at Sparrow Park to Gerrard's and Tesco (opened in June 1961) at the junction with Chertsey Road, where also new shops were being built on the site of the old Gaumont Cinema.

1961-62 - Gammons and Early Closing Days.

Recalling James Fielder Gammon (of Guildford) Department Store on the corner of Chobham Road and Commercial Road and the take-over in 1962 by Debenhams. Also the campaign in 1962 by local shops such as Maxwell's Music Shop and Russel's Jewellers, to introduce the 'Sainsbury's Experiment' and abolishing half day closing on Monday's and Wednesday's, for all-day closing on Sunday and Monday, predicted by Elton's Stationers not to work).

1961-62 - The Inconvenience of a Closed Convenience.

Problems over vandalism and the cost of up-grading the public toilets in Woking, including the underground loos at both ends of Commercial Road, in Chertsey Road, Byfleet, Horsell, Knaphill and West Byfleet, where only some were provided with hot water (often just in the ladies) and some provided with no wash-basins at all. Also a look at plans from the old Tesco site mentioned above.

1961-62 - The Merger of Woking & R.A.C.S.

Looking at the History of the Woking, Horsell & District Co-operative Scoiety from their beginnings in 1899 in a shop in Chertsey Road, to their move a couple of years later to Church Street, where additions were made over a number of years so that eventually they had departments where everything could be bought from their own baked bread, to groceries and provisions, draperty, boots & shoes, furniture, funerals and travel. Also the opening of branches in Kingfield, Knaphill, Horsell, Maybury, Pirbright, Send, LIghtwater, Sunningdale and Camberley, and the take-over in 1913 of the Surbiton Co-op - before the Woking Society amalgamated with the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society in 1962.

1961-62 - Robinsons Rejected Redevelopment

The rejected plans of Robinson's Department Store in Chertsey Road by Surrey County Council's Planning Department on the grounds of lack of parking space, despite other recent developments in the town not required to include similar provision, such as Bel Air Dry Cleaners in Commercial Road, whose local rivals, Jons in Goldsworth Road, also fell foul of the planners on parking when they wished to build a drive-through dry cleaners.

1961-62 - Premier House and Ryde House - The Start of the take-over of Woking by the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society Ltd.

The redevelopment of Ryde House in Chobham Road and the former Grand Theatre and Woking & District Water Company's offices on the corner of Commerical Road and Percy Street (Victoria Way) by Norwich Union with shops and offices designed by Osborn & Hollis architects of Woking. The new Ryde House, built by W Deakin & Co Ltd, was later replaced by the Victoria Gate development, whilst Premier House (later renamed Globe House), built originally by James Miller & Partners (Hayes) Ltd, is now part of the Victoria Square development.

1961-62 High Density Housing in Heathside

Woking Council's plans to designate part of the Heathisde area as the Mount Hermon High Density area, with sweatners such as a proposed new Primary School on the site of Ringrone and Lismore House in Heathside Road and a new commuter car park in Heathside Crescent.

1962-63 More Houses for Mayford

A look at how the building of a new Mains Sewer through the area brought pressure for development to the village including a proposal by Cllr Rhoda McGaw to build 350 council houses to the north of Saunders Lane (with later private schemes by Winchester Estates and E.H. Childs), as well as notes on smaller scale developments such as Prey Heath Close, Woodpecker Way, Mayford Close and developments on the field of Honeypot and Ellis Farms.

1962-63 The Problem of Woking's Refuse (and the villages that tried to refuse the refuse)

Since the early 20th century Woking had been dumping its rubbish on whatever low-lying ground and holes it could find, but by the early 1960's with the dump at Elmbridges (where Willow Reach is today) full and the one at West Byfleet almost full, new sites were sought at places such as Ellis Farm in Mayford, the chalk pits at Wanborough, Send Hill, Chobham clay quarries, Border Farm at Mimbridge, the Sandpits on Horsell Common, and the disused railway cutting at Bisley Camp. In the end Smarts Heath (Martlands) at Mayford and Martyrs Lane in Horsell were chosen, as well as new ways of disposing of the rubbish at the Sewage Works site in Old Woking.

1962-63 The Shops of West Woking

The late 1950's and early 1960's saw a number of new shops built in the Knaphill area, including on Anchor Hill by its junction with Barley Mow Lane; in the High Street between Highclere House and Rice's Store; next to The Crown; and on the site of Madden's Post Office (Albion Parade). Together with a new Co-op and the opening of Ashley Cook's laundry in The Broadway, Knaphill was established as the main shopping centre for the west of Woking, although plans to build on the garden of the Brookwood Hotel, and the opening of Mac's Store in Connaught Road meant that Brookwood was trying to keep up with the times. Meanwhile at St John's, the only extra shops were those at the Hermitage Estate.

1962-63 Canal Houseboats and Vandalism

The dispute between Woking Council and the New Basingstoke Canal Company regarding the morring of houseboats on the canal between Sheerwater and Pirbright Bridge at Arthurs Bridge, St Johns Lye and Hermitage Bridge, and the problems of vandalism such as the blowing up of a bridge by local children with gunpowder made at school.

1962-63 The Condemned Cottages of Old Woking

The continued destruction of Old Woking with the demolition of Poundfield House and its replacement with Poundfield Gardens and Poundfield Court; the proposed Old Woking by-pass that would have split the village in two (demolishing Ivy Cottage at Send Corner) and cutting off The Old Manor House and Old Brew House from the rest of the village; the condemning of 1-2 Church Street and 178-182 High Street as unfit for human habitation; and the demolition of 187-189 High Street (Townsend Cottage), that would mean by the time the village was given Conservation Area Status in the 1970's, there was little left to conserve!

1963-64 The Church of the Good Shepherd at Pyrford

Built to the design of David Nye on land in Coldharbour Road that had been bought from Lady Lovelace in 1938 for a new chapel of ease to St Nicholas', Church Hill.

1963-64 Sheer House at West Byfleet

Built between Byfleet Corner, Lavender Park Road, Madeira Road and Station Approach on the site of the Sheer House Hotel and the land of John O'Gaunt. Designed by local architects Scott, Brownrigg & Turner for the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society.

1963-64 More Condemned Cottages and the Consturction of Community Buildings in Old Woking

The demolition of some condemned buildings such as 63 High Street, and the old Crowder Cottages in Kingfield, but also the saving of some cottages at 84-88 and the Old Cottage in Old Woking High Street, together with notes on the construction of the Old Woking Community Centre and the Catholic Church of Our Lady Mother of God at Kingfield.

1964-65 The Ups & Downs of Ockenden

Looking at attempts to redevelop the site of Joyce Pearce's family home on the corner of White Rose Lane and Hillview Road, with tower blocks that would have been larger than Craigmore Tower at the time being built at the junction of Constitution Hill and Guildford Road - and  the award of an O.B.E. to Joyce Pearce for her work with Ockenden Venture.

1964-65 War on the Green Belt at Byfleet

The development of Weymede and Grassmere (Green Lane Farm) to the north of Parvis Road by Eric Lyons and Span Developments; Shrapnells (Green Lane Close); and Petersham Close, Granville Close, Melville Court, Weybarton, Fullerton Drive and Fullerton Way (and Deers Farm in Wisley). Also attempts by the Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund to develop the land behind the Clock House and West Byfleet Builders Ltd to build on Piper Hill.

1964-65 The Hermitage Tunnels

Rediscovered in 1964 and investigated by the Chelsea Spelaeological Society under the houses of Batten Avenue and Oakway in St John's, the tunnels led to local press speculation at the time that they were dug by the original 14th century hermit to either the nunnery at St Cathernine's at Guildford or the priory at Newark; they were the hide-out of 18th century highwaymen such as Dick Turpin; or were escape tunnels from the 19th century Invalid Convict Prison or later Inkerman Barracks across the road, when in fact they appear to have been nothing more than underground reservoirs (or level wells).

1964-65 The Closure of Inkerman Barracks

With the removal of the Royal Military Police to Chichester the site was ripe for redevelopment with some suggestion that part of the site could be used to house workers at the Fighting Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (the Tank Factory) at Chobham, and others pointing out that as the site had originally been a prison why not use it as the site for the proposed High Security Prison proposed for the Shaftesbury School site in Bisley, rather than using some of the site for the new Knaphill Secondary School (named the Winston Churchill School after Lady Churchill misinterpreted a suggestion from a local schoolboy).

1964-65 The Wey Navigation

Donated to the National Trust in 1964 by Harry Stevens the waterway was one of the first in the country to use pound locks, introduced from the continent by Sir Richard Weston in the early 17th century where he demonstrated the new method of raising (and lowering) barges at Stoke-next-Guildford on his 'new ryver' through the grounds of his Sutton Place estate - long before the Duke of Bridgewater was supposed to have 'invented' canals.

1964-65 The Trinity Methodist Church, Brewery Road, Horsell

Begun in April 1964 and dedicated in June 1965, the church was designed as an octagon by architect Edward D Mills to replace the old Methodist Church in Commercial Road, Woking, which had been sold to the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society in March 1963 in advance of redevelopment.

1964-65 Rebuilding Albion

What might have been if the building and rebuilding of the railway station had ever coincided with the rebuilding of the Albion Hotel site from the first square building in 1856, to the partial rebuilding of the station in the 1880's, the second Albion Hotel in the 1890's, the new 'Odeon Style' station of the 1930's, to the final construction of Albion House in the mid 1960's.

1964-65 Woking Town Centre - A Dream or a Nightmare?

A look at the numerous plans for the new Woking Town Centre in the early 1960's following Professor Buchanan's influencial 1964 report on 'Traffic in Towns' and what might have been had some of the plans to create a car-free twon centre had become reality.

1964-65 The True Cost of Redeveloping Woking in the mid 1960's

£20 million, 3 jet aircraft, or £250 for every man, woman and child in the district - or the closure of several local businesses due to the uncertainty of constant redevelopment (or its threat), including the impact on A A Humphrey's Ladies Fashiopns in Duke Street in July 1965 - not necessarily compensated by the opening offers a couple of months before at the new Halford's shop in Commercial Road.

1964-65 When Seeing Stars in Woking was 'Not Unusual'

With the Beatles having membership of the Woking YMCA and the Rolling Stones playing at the Atalanta, popular music was an important part of the local scene in the mid 1960's with record shops such as Maxwell's in Station Approad and Chertsey Road (and later Aerco on the corner of Chobham Road and Church Street) catering for all tastes in music. Local bands enjoyed new places to play and practice such as the new Sheerwater Community Centre, whilst a new singer from South Wales called Tom Jones played at the 'Ata' the week his debut single 'Its Not Unusual' hit the top of the charts, having been co-written by his manager Gordon Mills and Woking's Les Reed (who just a short while before was playing the piano at the James Walker Social Club where he worked).

On the night Jones played, Cyril Maitland took a number of photographs for the Daily Mirror -reproduced on this page by permission of Trinity Mirror Newspapers.