Editorial Team


CONVICTS themselves were used in the construction of an imposing prison built on barren heathland at Knaphill in the late 1850s.

Here, in a further story about Woking Invalid Convict Prison, later Inkerman Barracks, is the tale of one such prisoner who was transferred there from another prison to provide labour and then serve out the rest of his sentence.

ARMY USE: The prison was acquired by the military in 1892 and became Inkerman Barracks, seen here in the early 1900s

Previously the Peeps page has told the story of ‘Prisoner No.1’ William Stratham. Its third inmate was pickpocket William Privett, from Winchester in Hampshire.

He was born into an average, working-class family in 1835. His father, another William, was an agricultural labourer and his mother had no listed profession, but it’s likely she took in laundry for her neigbours.

William had five siblings, Jane, Elizabeth, Henry, Edward, and Charles. They lived in the Hampshire area for the entirety of their lives, across various parts of county, not moving above, or much below, their status of the “industrious poor”.

William, as the eldest child, may have felt the pressure to help support his father’s growing brood as quickly as possible. It is probable he started working with his father, digging ditches, fixing fences, any labour to increase their meagre income before he had turned the age of 12.

By the time William turned 20 he had perhaps grown sick of the endless drudgery. Perhaps the death of his grandfather aged 51 had soured him. Perhaps insalubrious companions persuaded him – but whatever the cause, he stole a silver pocket watch from Daniel Stockman in October 1855. He was caught and sent to prison remarkably quickly: there he would stay for four years.

William spent time in London’s Millbank Prison first, then Portland in Dorset, and finally transported to Woking to eke out the last few months of his penal servitude helping to build the invalid wings of the prison.

He was released at the end of his sentence in October 1859 and returned home to Hampshire.

William did fairly well for himself for a time. He became a fitter, a skill perhaps acquired in the jail. In addition, he met Eliza Jane Stripe, and they became close, very quickly. Within three months of his return, 18-year-old Eliza found herself pregnant.

William did the right thing by her, although if this was by choice or coercion, we’ll never know. But in May 1860 the pair married in Portsea and awaited the coming of their first child. A son, William, who arrived in October of 1860. He survived just three months.

William and Eliza went on to have a daughter, a girl they named Jane. Jane would later become a seamstress, she would die aged 27, a spinster buried in unconsecrated ground.

But William never knew this as in 1866, aged 31, he died: leaving his three-year-old daughter in the care of his 24-year-old widow.

Thanks again to historians Daniel Shepherd and Gem Minter who have researched and written this story of William Privett as part of their studies into Woking Invalid Convict Prison and the inmates once housed there. They have formed the Institutional History Society, dedicated to exploring England’s institutional system in the 19th century. Its website can be found at www.institutionalhistory.com

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

AS THE current star of What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Elesha Paul Moses has been wowing audiences around the country performing the songs of Tina Turner.

But it’s not her first time paying tribute to a megastar, as she also toured the country paying tribute to Whitney Houston in Queen of the Night.

“It’s funny really, they’re such different sounding performers,” she muses. “Tina’s not got a growl as such, it’s just something which is there in her tone. It’s really difficult. People think it’s shouting but it’s not, it’s a very particular tone that she has, and she’s so free with her performance.

“Then when I’m on stage as Whitney it’s almost the opposite.” But don’t ask Elesha to pick her favourite.

“That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child,” she exclaims. “I love them both in totally different ways. With both, I’m always learning, but especially with Whitney there are songs I have to always go back to and re-listen to how she sounds, I’m constantly learning how to improve with her voice. Then with Tina it’s all the fun of her performance.”

But the singer, who has appeared on both X Factor and The Voice, is more clear about her favourite Turner song.

“Oh, there are so many I love,” she says. “Proud Mary is obviously so much fun, but I also love Typical Male and I Can’t Stand The Rain. But for my absolute favourite, I’ll go Proud Mary. It always used to be Simply The Best, which people really loved and went mad for, but these days it’s definitely Proud Mary.”

She says she can understand why Turner, who is now 80, is still massively popular. 

“She’s just such a great all-rounder, and she appeals to men as well as women,” says Elesha. “She’s a great rock and roll artist, she’s still here and she’s still doing so well.

“Her songs have never gone away either. Even youngsters now, they know tracks like Proud Mary. You do those songs and they’re all over it, and it’s not fading away.

“Tina’s had difficult times too over the years, but she came through it and is married and happy now. I think people like that side of her story too, as well as the brilliant music.”

What’s Love Got To Do With It? is the ultimate tribute concert to the singer who started out as part of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue back in the 1960s.

Elesha, backed by a full live band, performs all the classic hits including Private Dancer, What’s Love Got To Do With It?, Proud Mary, River Deep, Nutbush City Limits, Simply The Best and many more.

Elesha Paul Moses will star in What’s Love Got To Do With It? at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, this Friday, 24 January.

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

A VETERAN village panto director bowed out from the role with a smash hit and packed houses for her final production.

Gertie Goose, Jill, Jack and Billy celebrate their good fortune

Linda Street ended 18 years of directing and producing for Byfleet Players on a high note with a well-received staging of Mother Goose.

Fairy Goosedown introduces the show

The village hall echoed to loud boos for the villain and plenty of laughs, applause and plenty of traditional audience participation over four performances last week.

Linda joined the players after directing pantomimes at St Mary’s Primary School in Byfleet. Preparing for a show takes up much of a whole year, as she usually starts planning for a show in January.

“After 18 years of directing and producing pantomimes, I have decided with a heavy heart to take a break,” she wrote in the programme.

Merphisto shows that he is still “unbowed”

“I would like to thank my two children for their continued support during panto season, especially in the months leadings to opening night. Elliot has been involved in panto one way or another since he was three years old.”

Other cast members included Albert Hickey (Merphisto the villain), Emily Garrad (Gertie Goose), Karen Skilton (Lucy the Goose), Fiona Fennell (Jack), Sarah Perrin (Jill), Kim Sullivan (Billy), Sharon Harrison (Fairy Goosedown), Denise Stiff (Nifty), Kimberley Jean Grove (Shifty), Christine Austin, Paula McEwan-Jenkins and Sue Thomas (Villagers)

See more pictures in the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

From its roots as a soup kitchen and winter shelter to a charity offering services all year round, the York Road Project tackles homelessness in Woking. Jennie Buzaglo finds out more:

THE York Road Project is a charity working with people at risk of homelessness or who are homeless in Woking. Having grown over the years, it is grateful for community support that enables it to help others.

“Without the local community, I really don’t know what we’d do,” said Cherisse Dealtry, chief operating officer, as she thanked residents for their ongoing support of the charity.

Cherisse Dealtry, chief operating officer of the York Road Project

It started as a soup kitchen run by volunteers from churches in the area before officially becoming a registered charity in 2001. It’s grown in terms of services it provides in that time, as well as local awareness.

Councillor Will Forster announced it as his mayoral charity when he wore the chain of office in 2018-19, even spending a night on the streets of Woking as part of the charity’s sleep-out fundraiser.

The charity provides accommodation for anyone experiencing homelessness, as well as support in the form of day services, along with an outreach team and wellbeing project to aid rough sleepers and people with complex needs.

Anyone who would like to donate to the charity but isn’t sure exactly what might be needed can look at YRP’s wish list on the Amazon website. It gets updated regularly, depending on what is most required. “During Christmas we ran out of shampoo so we put it on the Amazon wish list, and just before Christmas I think we received 12 big bottles sent to us that we wanted,” said Cherisse.

She revealed that Twitter has also benefited the charity hugely as they often tweet when they need something and the online community will respond immediately.

“We tweet about how much we want to thank the community and we mean it so much,” she said. “People are phenomenal, it’s brilliant and we really can’t thank them enough.”

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

PRIDE in Surrey will return to Woking this summer after the success of the first event last year, with up to 15,000 people expected to attend.

Organiser Stephen Ireland said there will be several improvements to the parade and festivities that were held in Woking Park last summer.

Pride in Surrey organiser Stephen Ireland expects an even bigger turnout for the 2020 event

This year, it is hoped the Pride Park celebrations, with entertainments and stalls, will be held closer to the town centre, which will also have events happening throughout the day.

Pride in Surrey 2020, on Saturday 8 August, will begin with a parade from 10.30am in the town centre, leading to the ticketed free-to-attend park event.

Stephen told the News & Mail that a survey of some of the 7,700 people who attended the inaugural Pride in Surrey last year showed that they wanted more things to do and more facilities.

He said that this year there will be a longer parade route that runs straight into Pride Park, which will be larger and have a bigger capacity.

Stephen said he expected an attendance of more than 10,000, and the cost of putting on the event could rise from £32,000 last year to a maximum of £45,000.

FOR more information, visit www.prideinsurrey.org/morepride,  call 01483 663700 or email contact@prideinsurrey.org.

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

MORE than 1,500 letters of support for plans to redevelop the Woking FC stadium and build associated housing have been delivered to the borough council.

Rosemary Johnson, the club chairman, delivered the 1,513 letters last Friday helped by Kelvin Reay, the club’s football liaison director, and Sam Loxton, the commercial director.

Rosemary Johnson, the Woking FC chairman, delivers letters of support for the new stadium and housing to the council offices, helped by Kelvin Reay, left, and Sam Loxton. Picture by Terry Habgood

More than 1,300 came from people in Woking and the surrounding area, with others from as far as Tanzania and New Zealand. Some 184 people wrote from The Netherlands.

The council has received 629 objections and eight comments of support on its website containing details of the main planning application, for a new 9,000-seat stadium and 1,048 adjacent flats in five buildings between three and 11 storeys.

A secondary application, involving moving the David Lloyd health club to Egley Road and building 36 new houses, has received 333 objections and one comment of support.

Mrs Johnson, said outside the council chambers: “We are delighted to have received over 1,500 letters so far in support of this scheme. More than 200 of these are from outside England, which shows our small club has international appeal. When they come to Woking for games they are supporting the wider Woking economy.

“The plans for Woking Community Stadium are about more than just a building. Although the development will give a much-needed cash injection to the club and attract investment into the game, it is actually about more than even football. The keyword is ‘community’, for this scheme will benefit the whole community.”

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail, and see letters on page 10

WOKING have snapped up striker Alex Wall as they look to boost their chances of securing a place in the Vanarama National League play-offs.

The 29-year-old left National League South outfit Hemel Hempstead Town last week, when his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

Woking boss Alan Dowson with new signing Alex Wall

Wall, who stands 6ft 3in, will be a Card for the remainder of the season. And he will be aiming to rediscover the fine form which saw him grab 21 goals in 33 games for Concord Rangers, another National League South side, last term.

Among his 2018-19 tally was a strike at Woking on Good Friday as Canvey Island-based Concord claimed a 2-1 victory.

Wall made his name with Maidenhead United and had spells with a host of clubs including Luton Town and Bristol Rovers.

Cards’ boss Alan Dowson said: “I’ve been after Alex a long time and tried to sign him in the summer.

“He’s a big strapping boy, a good lad and a very aggressive player, which is something we need up there.

“We chatted with him last week, and he played against our first-team lads and battered the two centre halves and scored two goals on Saturday morning in a practice game.”

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

Kat Wright, 19, has an exhibition of her work at the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices Centre in Goldsworth Park, which runs until 2 March.

“The reaction has been really positive,” Kat said. “A lot of people have commented on how realistic and detailed the work is, as well as how the expression of the animals has been captured.”

PET PROJECT – Kate with her exhibition wall at the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices Centre

Kat’s work combines her love of art and animals. “I’ve been interested in art for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I would always be doodling on the corners of all my schoolwork, and it would almost always feature an animal.

 “As early as primary school, I achieved awards for artwork, and it was often said that my work was advanced for my age.

“I’m mostly self-taught, and learnt a lot of the techniques I use through trial and error, or looking at the work of other artists. I studied art as a GCSE and went on to take a C-Tec Applied Art course at Woking College, in which I achieved a Distinction and a Distinction*.

“I’ve always been a huge animal lover, too. I had my first pet, a guinea pig, at the age of three, and my first dog when I was eight. I’d wanted one since I was very young.

ANIMAL SPIRITS – Kat with her greyhounds, from left, Cooper, Poppy, Skye and Ruby

 “I really brought the two together when I was 13. I did a drawing of somebody else’s dog as a gift, and through that I got my first paid commission.

“I’d never considered doing pet portraits as a job until then, and it was surreal to know that people liked my work enough to pay for a drawing of their pet.

“Now I’ve started to turn my hobby into a business and do commissioned pieces, but the excitement and pride of being entrusted to draw somebody’s beloved pet never wears off.”

An exhibition to showcase Kat’s talents was a natural next step.

“My mum works for Woking & Sam Beare Hospices and told me about the exhibition wall in the reception and café area. The work that the hospice does is wonderful, so I was more than happy not only to display my artwork for the people there to enjoy, but to support them in some way as well.

An example of Kat’s work

“For the duration of the exhibition, I will be giving 10% of the sales to the hospice.

“The best time to view is during the café’s opening times, which is 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. That way people can combine it with popping in for a drink and a snack.”

Kat already has about 40 commissions in her portfolio, 15 of them in the past year.

“The majority of my commissions are from dog owners,” Kat added. “What I see the most of is probably sighthound breeds, such as greyhounds and whippets, due to my involvement with and special interest in these dogs, but I’m willing to draw any animal.

“I’m hoping to see more small pets such as rats and hamsters this year because I’m also very interested in rodents. I’ve started to offer smaller sizes specifically for this kind of portrait, and overall I’m seeing more of a variety of pets lately, particularly an increase in cat commissions.”

For anyone interested in commissioning a piece or to see more of  Kat’s work, please visit Facebook – Draw My Pet – https://www.facebook.com/pets by kat/; Instagram @pets_by_kat  –  https://www.instagram.com/pets_by_kat or by email:  kathrynwright422@gmail.com

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

A COUPLE who are both Radio Woking presenters have been selected as finalists to win a wedding worth £5,000 at a luxury hotel.

Lara McNamee met Jon Andrews when she turned on the Christmas lights in Epsom in 2014.

Jon Andrews and Lara McNamee

The couple knew each other from exchanged tweets but had never met and a mutual friend had suggested that Jon to go along to the lights switch-on.

“It was instant attraction,” Lara said. “It was like we had been together forever.”

Jon has been a Radio Woking presenter for about four years and recently Lara started her own show, in the Sunday 9am to noon slot.

Lara entered the wedding competition on a whim after seeing an advert and was very surprised when she received a phone call to tell her that she and Jon were in the final 10.

The competition is being run by the four-star Balmer Lawn Hotel & Spa in the New Forest to celebrate the venue’s 1,000th wedding.

Family, friends and acquaintances are voting online and the couple with the most votes will be given the wedding with the second and third placed pair being given a £1,000 discount off their wedding at Balmer Lawn Hotel if they were to book this year.

Lara said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who are voting for her and Jon.

“I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but, although it would be really wonderful to win the wedding, I already feel like a winner meeting Jon,” she said.

Voting closes at midnight on Friday 24 January and can be done by visiting https://www.balmerlawncomps.com/winterwedding/

For the full story get the 16 January edition of the News & Mail

A PIRBRIGHT man who took up real tennis after being diagnosed with leukaemia has completed an epic challenge, playing in 45 courts around the world and twice competing against the Earl of Wessex.

Graeme Marks, 56, completed the challenge in two and a half years and is now hoping to play on new courts being built in France, the US and Australia over the next year or so.

NET GAINS – Graeme Marks took on the real tennis challenge after being diagnosed with leukaemia and has twice played the Earl of Wessex

Graeme was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, which affects the white blood cells, four years ago and says it was a reality check, leading him to move home from Abu Dhabi, where he was working in financial services.

He went from full-time work to being a consultant and later took up real tennis, an indoors version of the game that predates lawn tennis, as he no longer had the energy for his sports of cricket and triathlons.

“It’s ideal as its indoors and courts are booked for only an hour,” Graeme said.

He said the game is not only about power and speed but also involves tactics and is sometimes called “human chess”.

“There is a very good handicapping system, so you can be thrashed by a 15-year-old or a 75-year-old.”

Graeme said his involvement in real tennis soon became an obsession and he embarked on trying to play on courts around the world, with his brother-in-law, Nick.

At the same time, the Earl of Wessex, a keen real tennis player who learnt the game at Cambridge, was taking part in a year-long tour of every court in the world as part of his work for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

A raffle prize and a real tennis competition win meant that Graeme played the Duke twice, losing the first match but levelling the series with a victory in the second one.

Because of the Earl’s passion for the sport, it is now included as one of the bronze activities that make up the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Graeme’s leukaemia is now in remission, although he has to take chemotherapy tablets.

He said he hopes to play on a new court in Sydney in his native Australia, where a niece is due to be married over the next couple of years.

“The friends I have made, on and off court, and from all walks of life, have been fantastic. I have also loved the physical and mental challenge of the sport and the travelling around the world,” Graeme said.

For the full story get the 9 January edition of the News Mail