Spotlight on Woking
Aquick perusal of Woking’s history and you’ll find a town that’s always had one eye on the future. Whether it’s the musings of the author HG Wells in his world-famous War of the Worlds, the state-ofthe-art Formula 1 and supercar engineering at Mclaren or the town’s impressive ability to transform itself into a dream destination for food lovers for the annual Woking Food and Drink Festival, Woking is a forwardthinking place that’s constantly evolving.
And yet, this innovation and relentless dreaming is deeply rooted in history. For one, Woking is home to Surrey History Centre and its seemingly endless shelves of documents and curiosities, which paint the story of our county.
There’s also the Shah Jahan Mosque, which, built in 1889, was England’s first mosque; the atmospheric Brookwood Cemetery, which first opened in 1854 and was at one time the largest cemetery in the world (some have likened its evocative nature to Paris’ famous Père Lachaise); and the remains of Woking Palace, which was once a countryside retreat for royals.
It’s fair to say that over the years, like many Surrey towns, Woking struggled to find the balance between preserving its historic character and meeting the demands of modern Britain and ever-increasing population growth. The past decade or so, however, has seen monumental efforts to transform Woking’s town centre into a more cosmopolitan destination – and those efforts continue today.
As these words hit the page, they are reaching for the stars in Woking and a cityscape skyline continues to take shape. The tallest tower in the new Victoria Square development, for example, reaches some 34 floors high. When completed, in the next year or so, this will introduce two giant apartment blocks and a Hilton Hotel (with a Skybar on the 22nd floor) into the mix of Woking life.
These are by no means the only modern high rises coming to town. Suffice to say, such blue-sky thinking means that it’s going to get busy in the future. Some have even suggested that Woking could make a bid to become Surrey’s first city…