History of Woking

History of Woking

Woking means " [settlement belonging to the] followers of Wocc (or 'Wocca')". [Ekwall, E., "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names", 4th edn., Oxford University Press, 1960, p. 529.] Over time, the name has been written variously as, for example, "Wochingas", and "Wokynge".


Anglo-Saxon and Norman Woking

Woking appears in written materials which, though created in the 12th century at Peterborough Abbey, formerly known as Medeshamstede, reliably describe earlier events. [See e.g. Stenton, F.M., 'Medeshamstede and its Colonies', in Stenton, D.M. (ed.), "Preparatory to Anglo-Saxon England Being the Collected Papers of Frank Merry Stenton", Oxford University Press, 1970, and Blair, J., 'Frithuwold's kingdom and the origins of Surrey', in Bassett, S. (ed.), "The Origins of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms", Leicester University Press, 1989.] The earliest of these is the grant by Pope Constantine (708-715) of privileges to a monastery at "Wochingas". [Birch, W. de Grey, "Cartularium Saxonicum", 3 vols., London, 1885-93, no.133.] Later in the 8th century a charter of King Offa of Mercia granted further privileges, freeing this church from numerous standard liabilities. [ [http://www.aschart.kcl.ac.uk/content/charters/text/s0144.html Anglo-Saxon Charter S 144 Archive Peterborough] British Academy ASChart Project. Retrieved on May 20, 2008.] This charter is paraphrased in a 12th century interpolation to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's entry for 777 AD, also written at Peterborough:

Woking appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Wochinges". Its description there is complex, since it was then held as three estates, by King William the Conqueror, Walter FitzOther, constable of Windsor Castle, and Ansgot and Godfrey from Osbern FitzOsbern, then bishop of Exeter. [Williams, A. & Martin, G.H. (eds.), "Domesday Book A Complete Translation", Penguin, 2002, pp. 71, 74.]

Woking Palace

A building was first recorded on the site of Woking Palace in 1272. In 1466 Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII and grandmother of King Henry VIII, and her third husband, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, obtained by royal grant the former Beaufort manor of Woking. They lived in the manor house at least until Henry Stafford's death in 1471. The modern Beaufort School in Goldsworth Park is named after Lady Margaret. Henry VII took the manor from his mother and began the process of converting the manor house into a palace. His son Henry VIII continued this process when he succeeded his father in 1509, and the palace became a favorite residence of the king. In 1490 a treaty with Austria, known as the Treaty of Woking, was signed at the Palace by Henry VII.Fact|date=May 2008

By 1620 the ownership of Woking Palace had passed by King James I to Sir Edward Zouch who abandoned the palace and built himself a new manor house at Hoe Bridge Place. ['Parishes: Woking', "A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3" (1911), pp. 381-390. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42992. Date accessed: 08 May 2008.] Thereafter the buildings fell into decay and the original park surrounding the palace was turned over to agriculture.

17th century Woking

In 1651 the Wey Navigation Canal was opened for traffic from Guildford to the River Thames passing through Woking. Over a century later, in 1791, the canal from the Wey Navigation Canal to Basingstoke opened as far as Horsell. Then in 1792 the Basingstoke Canal opened as far as Pirbright. Navigation on the Brookwood Canal stopped in 1947. In 1991, the Basingstoke Canal was formally reopened along its whole length following renovation by volunteers.

In 1661 James Zouch, grandson of Sir Edward Zouch, obtained the Market Charter for Woking. A few years later in 1669 James Zouch from Woking was Sheriff of Surrey (1669-1670). In 1760, James Turner bought from the Earl of Onslow, owner of Woking Manor, some land in the "Tithing of Goldings".


In 1849, Necropolis (cemetery) was first proposed for Woking Parish by the Board of Health. Whilst in 1879 St John's Woking Crematorium was built to be used for the first time in 1884 when the first cremation in the UK was performed.

H. G. Wells wrote his book "The War of the Worlds" whilst living on Maybury road in Woking in 1898. Many scenes from the story are set in Horsell, Woking and the surrounding area.


The 1850s saw the first building of the 'New Woking', with the construction of the Albion Hotel. In 1862, the Royal Dramatic College opened in Maybury on the site which is currently occupied by the Lion Retail Park. The college then closed in 1877. The Oriental Institute opened on the site in 1884 but closed in the 1890s.

The 1880s saw the opening of the Woking Police Station in 1887; then in 1889 Woking Football Club was formed. This year also saw the opening of the Woking Mosque (the first built in the UK). Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal donated money to help build it and it is now called the "Shah Jehan Mosque" in her honour.

The Victoria Hospital opened in 1899.

Woking obtained electricity in 1890 and gas in 1891. In 1899 Woking's sewerage system was built.


The railways came to Woking in 1838 when the London and Southampton company (renamed London and South Western Railway in 1839) railway opened as far as Winchfield. Woking Common Station (Now Woking Station) opened.


In 1830, the Woking Parish experienced civil unrest. Whilst in 1834 Guildford (affecting Woking parish) and Chertsey (affecting Horsell parish) Poor Law Unions were formed.

Notably in 1864 Guildford and Chertsey Highway Districts was formed. In 1872 Guildford and Chertsey Rural Sanitary Authorities formed; and 1874 saw the formation of the Woking School Board.

The Woking Local Board formed in 1894. It first met in Goldsworth Hall with 18 councillors representing the wards of Knaphill, St Johns, Mayford, Sutton, Brookwood, Old Woking, Maybury. By 1895 Woking Urban District Council was formed, replacing the Local Board and Chertsey Rural District Council.


In 1894, the 'Woking News' was first published from offices in Chertsey Road. Each copy cost 1d. In 1895, the 'Woking Mail' was first published from offices in Goldsworth Road. Each copy cost ½d. Later, these papers merged to become the 'Woking News and Mail'.


In 1930 Woking Civic Arms was granted the motto "Fide et Diligentia" meaning "By Faith and Diligence".

In 1924 'Woking Offers' free paper advertising local traders started. By 1928 'Woking Offers' was renamed 'Woking Outlook' to be renamed 'Woking Review' in 1933. It is believed to be the oldest free newspaper in Britain.

In 1924 Waterer's Park was left to Woking U.D.C. by Anthony Waterer of Knaphill Nursery. Knaphill Football Club started playing there.

In 1945, a V-2 rocket launched by Germany landed on Woking.


In 1902 Woking's gas street lighting was replaced with electric. Five years later Horsell obtained a sewerage system. During World War II, Woking Fire Brigade placed under the wartime control of Surrey County Council.


Around 1900, the original Woking open air swimming pool was opened. By 1935 the second Woking open air swimming pool was opened which led to the formation of the Woking Swimming Club in the same year.

In 1929, Woking Library opened.


In 1902 Guildford and District Motor Services started a bus service in the Guildford and Woking area. Furthermore Woking and Bagshot Light Railway was proposed that would have run over what is now Goldsworth Park on the Woking side of the Woking/Horsell parish boundary. By 1910 the project died out.

Then in 1915 Guildford and District Motor Services was bought by Aldershot and District Traction, who eventually took over its services in the Guildford and Woking area. In 1923 Southern Railway formed. It ran most routes through Woking Station.

During World War II, Southern Railway placed under Government control.


1907 saw Horsell merge into the Woking Urban District Council.

In 1933, Chertsey Rural District Council abolished; and most of Byfleet and Pyrford Parishes and part of Woodham tithing in Chertsey Parish and part of Bisley Parish were joined with Woking Urban District Council.

Then in 1936, a small part of Byfleet, around the Mill, that had been joined with Walton and Weybridge. The new W.U.D.C. boundary in 1936 was mostly the same as the current Woking Borough boundary.

During World War II, Surrey was divided into two emergency control areas.
**The West Emergency Area comprised the councils Bagshot RD, Caterham and Warlingham UD, Chertsey UD, Dorking UD, Dorking and Horley RD, Egham UD, Farnham UD, Frimley and Camberley UD, Godalming RD, Guildford B, Guildford RD, Hambledon UD, Leatherhead UD, Reigate B, Walton and Weybridge UD and Woking UD.
**East Emergency Area (later called = Group 9 London CD) comprised the councils Banstead UD, Barnes B, Beddington and Wallington B, Carshalton UD, Coulsdon and Purley UD, Croydon CB, Epsom and Ewell B, Esher UD, Kingston B, Malden and Coombe B, Merton and Morden UD, Mitcham B, Sutton and Cheam B, Richmond B, Surbiton B and Wimbledon B :CB=County Borough, B=Borough, UD=Urban District and RD=Rural District

Martinsyde site in Woking

In 1907, Martinsyde Aircraft factory built on the site of the Oriental Institute to increase production. Then in 1917, Martinsyde Aircraft moved its head office from Brooklands to the Woking Factory. In 1920, though, it was devastated by fire and aircraft production stopped, though motorcycle production continued until 1922. In 1926, the site became James Walker Engineering to be renamed "Lion Works".

1922 was significant as Martinsyde built the round-tank model B 678cc and model C 498cc motorcycles. In 1924, the assets of Martinsyde Aircraft passed to Air Disposal Company (Airdisco).


In 1983, Woking was twinned with Amstelveen in the Netherlands, though the Charter of Friendship was signed in 1989. Then in 1992 Woking was twinned with Le Plessis-Robinson in France, though the Charter of Friendship was signed in 1993. In 1999, Woking twinned with Rastatt in Germany, though the Charter of Friendship was signed in 2001.

Large local employers

In 1947 Kenwood started in Woking 1960 leaving the town two years later. In 1957 James Walker Engineering opened a new site in Old Woking; it closed in 2006. In 1963, McLaren Racing Team formed; in 1999 they started to build new Mercedes SLR.

In 1976 British American Tobacco moved into Export House Tower. Telewest took up occupancy in 2001, becoming Virgin Media six years later.


1954 Woking Squash Club was formed and in 1968 Woking Archery Club was established. In 1994 Woking Football Club won the FA Trophy, winning it again in 1997.

Town planning

1953 the Surrey Plan foresaw a Woking Urban District population of about 67,000 in the mid-1970s, but the 1961 Census figures exceeded that amount. In 1965, a revised town plan foresaw a population of 97,000 by 1981 and proposed building 3 new housing schemes, one of which was known as 'Slococks', to be built on nurserylands owned by Slococks. By 1970, New Ideal Homes and Woking Council agreed to a partnership to build 'Slococks'.

In 1973 the plan to build a housing estate was approved by the Government. The project was called Goldsworth Park. Work started in Goldsworth Vale (phase one was Wilders Close etc.), with plans to build approx. 4,500 homes for approx. 15,000 residents. It also planned for a lake, sports facilities, golf course, shops, swimming-pool, library, industrial estate, youth centres, pubs, churches, fire station and social facilities. A year later the first owner moved into the estate.


In 1971 Wolsey Place Shopping Centre opened. About this time Centre Halls and Woking Centre Library opened.

Then in 1973 the new covered Woking Swimming Pool was opened (called the Centre Pool), near to where Toys'R'Us and Peacocks Corner are now on the A320. The Pool in the Park opened in 1989.

In 1977, Marjorie Richardson (the former 46th Woking Urban District Council Chairman for 1962/3) opened a centre in Woking for retired people. 1983 saw the opening of the Woking Civic Offices by the Duke of Gloucester.

In 1992, Peacocks Shopping Centre, Library, Town Gate, Cinema and New Victoria Theatre and the Leisure Lagoon at Pool in the Park opened. Centre Halls, Centre Pool and Woking Centre Library had been demolished to make room for them. Then in 1996, The Planets Entertainment complex was completed.

In 1999, the Surrey History Centre officially opened by HRH Charles, The Prince of Wales. In 2007, work finished on the Albion Square canopy outside the town side of Woking railway station costing £3.1 million.


In 1974, Woking Borough Council was formed, replacing the Urban District Council and was under Conservative Control. In 1994 Woking Borough Council switched from Conservative to No Overall Control. In 1999, Ian Eastwood became Deputy Mayor. Also in that year, the South East Regional Assembly was set up covering Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

In 2006, Woking Borough Council announced a Housing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project called Priority Homes - Putting Affordable Housing First [http://www.woking.gov.uk/housing/policies/future/priorityhomes] . The proposed development will provide much needed affordable housing to the area within a mixed tenure community on a single site, Moor Lane, in Westfield.

On Friday 23 March 2007, HRH Prince Charles opened a climate change exhibition at The Peacocks shopping centre. The exhibition, a joint venture by Business in the Community and the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) endorsed by the Climate Group, features displays with information on "issues of recycling, energy use, transport, waste reduction and locally sourced food."

Telephone codes

Sometime between 1989 and 1994, it had changed from 04862 to 0483. The original reason for this was that 04862 was a RING code of GUILDFORD and actually meant 0GU62. British Telecom decided to move most UK RING codes to their related CORE codes (Guildford CORE code 0483 actually stood for 0GU3).

In 1994, Woking's STD telephone code changed from 0483 to 01483 along with most areacodes in the UK on Phoneday.

Transport issues

On 14 December 1993, an explosion on the railway lines between Woking and West Byfleet disrupted rail traffic and forced the closure of 9 stations in the area.

In 1996 South West Trains won the franchise for most rail routes through Woking Station (the former BR Network South East/South West Division). In 2002, Arriva's Woking depot in Goldsworth Park Trading Estate closed, buses moving to Guildford.

Other notable events

In 1963, the Rolling Stones played a concert at the 'Atalanta' Ballroom in Woking.

Paul Weller was born on 25 May 1958, in Sheerwater. He went on to form the Jam in 1972.

In 2001, C&A closed its Swiftflow distribution depot on Goldsworth Park Trading Estate. Then in 2003, a new, bigger warehouse was built on the site of the old C+A warehouse in Kestrel Way.

Mayors of Woking

:See List of Mayors of Woking

Partisan composition of Woking Borough Council

Woking Borough Council is usually elected by thirds: That is, approximately one-third of the members are re-elected at each election, each serving four year terms, with one year out of every four not having Council elections.

The Council was, however, re-elected whole in 2000 after wholesale boundary changes to the Wards.

Party Control

*1974–1986: Conservative
*1986–1992: No Overall Control
*1992–1994: Conservative
*1994–1996: No Overall Control
*1996–1998: Liberal Democrats
*1998–2007: No Overall Control
*2007–present: Conservative

ee also

*Woking (UK Parliament constituency)


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