ripley

“THE roaring, rushing Ripley road is known to every motorist, and the old houses lining the village  street witness a never-ending procession of traffic.”

These words were first published in 1938 in Arthur Mee’s Surrey, part of a series of county guidebooks under the title of The King’s England.

TRAFFIC FREE: Ripley High Street looking towards the church in the early 1900s

There was no bypass then, and during the era of the horse-drawn stagecoach, Ripley was a convenient stopping point on the road from London to Portsmouth.

The Talbot Hotel has a fine brick frontage dating back to the 18th-century. The name is of a white hunting dog, a breed now extinct.

Some parts of the building may date back to the 1450, although most of it is likely to be from the 16th-century and is of a timber-frame construction.

ONCE A COACHING INN: The Talbot Hotel pictured in about 1930

The inn benefitted when sections of the road were turnpike after an Act of Parliament in 1749. Roads were improved and tolls charged for those using them. The golden age of the stagecoach was between 1800 and 1830. But as early as 1769 the Talbot had become a receiving office of the postal service with the Royal Mail coach calling regularly.

Unmissable at the south-west end of the High Street is the parish church of St Mary Magdalen. Its chancel dates to the 12th-century, while its current nave and aisle were built in 1846 and 1869, respectively.

YEW AVENUE: The path to the west door of the church in about 1910

In his guidebook Arthur Mee wrote: “A gloomy yew tunnel leads to the west door of the church, and cobbles form a patterned path to the porch. The chancel is one of the best pieces of Norman work in Surrey, enriched inside by a beautiful band of carved leaves and flowers running round the wall.”

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

For the full Peep into the Past, see the 9 January edition of the News & Mail

NEWARK Mill was a handsome building that stood beside the River Wey Navigation between Ripley and Pyrford. That was until the early hours of 3 December 1966, when it was burned to the ground.

At five storeys high and a “maze of weather-boarded walls at ever-changing angles, tiled roofs with varied gables and jutting dormers,” was how J. Hillier described it in his book Old Surrey Water-Mills, published in 1951. He judged parts of the building to be more than 300 years old.

LOCAL LANDMARK: Newark Mill published as a postcard by Ampletts of West Byfleet

Newark Mill was exceptionally large and a well-known building throughout Surrey and beyond. It is still fondly remembered today, while in 1991 Send & Ripley History Society published a booklet charting its history.

With various owners over the years, in the first half of the 19th-century the miller was Edward Eager. A papermaker by the name of Henry Bailey was miller from 1862 to 1880, although it only ever ground flour.

It had three large water-wheels and two sets of four pairs of grind stones. Milling ceased in 1942 and it was then used to store animal feed. In the 1950s its then owners, the Ockham Estate, sold it to the Rubin family of nearby Homewood Farm.

Before the fateful fire, they had been seeking planning permission to renovate the mill and get it working again, but use it as show-piece building and restaurant.

However, the blaze that took hold 53 years ago this week ended their plans. Reports in the local press afterwards said the sky was lit up for miles around. Fire crews from Guildford and Woking attended, but their arrival was impeded by traffic blocking the B367 Newark Lane.

Such was the ferocity of the blaze, the mill was “rapidly reduced to a pile of smouldering ashes”. Afterwards… “there remained only the twisted pieces of machinery and some of the old grinding stones”.

Reader Mark Coxhead was eight years old at the time and attending Pyrford Primary School. Mentioning this story to him he replied: “In the News & Mail’s report it says Woking Police could not find any trace of arson. However conversely, the booklet by Send & Ripley History Society describes how remains of lamps that used to be put along the side of roadworks and lit at night to alert drivers, were found in the vicinity of the fire. 

“And youths were apparently seen running away at the start of the blaze. That was widely rumoured in the Pyrford community at the time. It is extremely sad that such a magnificent and historic building burned down, especially as it very narrowly survived enemy bombing during the Second World War.”

Ripley, Send and Pyrford’s ‘bomb map’, a copy of which is at the Surrey History Centre, marks a high-explosive bomb landing close to Newark Mill on 21 September 1940. The history society’s booklet mentions an incendiary bomb landing near the mill house in 1941, which ignited a pile of coke.

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

For the full story get the 5 December edition of the News & Mail

BARONS Pub Company has added two premises near Woking to its portfolio, taking the total to nine.

The Jovial Sailor in Ripley and The Inn at West End, the latter being the first with accommodation for the award-winning group, were acquired after a £2,835,000 commercial mortgage was secured from HSBC UK.


OVERNIGHT SENSATION – The Inn at West End is the first of Barons Pub Company’s establishments to offer accommodation

The purchase of the two pubs means Barons will create 40 new full and part-time jobs, in addition to the existing 24 members of staff.

Part of the funding is for the renovation of both pubs, allowing the company to create similar atmospheres to those of its existing establishments. This includes new furnishings and lighting for the restaurant areas, and higher quality catering equipment for the kitchens.

Clive Price, managing director of Barons Pub Company, said: “We’re proud to deliver great food and drink for people to enjoy with their families and friends.

 “Thanks to the support from our HSBC UK relationship manager, Andy Brunning, we’ve been able to bolster our offer and begin our venture into providing overnight accommodation for our customers.

“We look forward to welcoming our new guests in both locations and getting to know the locals.”

Andrew Steer, HSBC UK’s area director for business banking in Surrey and Sussex, said: “We are committed to supporting British businesses, helping them to realise their ambitions.

“Since its inception in 2000, Barons has steadily developed its portfolio of pubs and we were happy to assist the business this time around as they looked to scale up further.”

SATURDAY’S annual music festival at Ripley outshone the shows of previous years, easily achieving its fundraising target on behalf the village scout group.

Free Peace Sweet were one of the early evening bands on stage

Ripley Rocks attracted hundreds of people to Court Meadow, with the proceeds expected to buy a replacement minibus for the group as well as providing funds for the community organisations that helped stage the event.

The teenage members of Minty Hindu.

Richard Ayears, who organises the show with Peter Hookings said “The performers were all great and we can’t thank them enough. The profits for the scout group will be around £10,000, which will pay for a minibus which will also be available for community groups to use, as well as the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers.”

The organisers are already planning next year’s Ripley Rocks, which will take place on Saturday 11 July.

For the full story get the 18 July edition of the News & Mail

HEROES – fans in Ripley show their support as Team GB manoeuvre their way through the scenic village as Olympic fever grips the nation

HEROES – fans in Ripley show their support as Team GB manoeuvre their way through the scenic village as Olympic fever grips the nation

A NATION swelled with pride as the Olympic Games burst into life over the weekend, and Woking was at the emotional heart of it.

Thousands lined the streets as the men’s and women’s road races thundered through the borough.

West Byfleet LI:VE was teeming with Union flags as Olympic fever took a firm grip on the village.

Red, white and blue clad fans roared on Team GB’s world champion Mark Cavendish and Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, only for their  medal hopes to fade on Saturday.

To have something so special come through our tiny community is truly remarkable and something we should all cherish

But they were rewarded on Sunday when Lizzie Armitstead took silver in the women’s race to claim our first medal of the Games.

Robyn Dean, 18, and Jordon Styles, 19, from Georgelands, Ripley, (right) got into the Olympic spirit by painting their faces with Union flags before watching the race in White Rose Lane. Robyn said: “I got a picture of Mark Cavendish, I’m so proud. It’s nice to see the village coming together.”

Woking mayor Michael Smith, who cycled to Saturday’s festivities at West  Byfleet recreation ground, said residents had done the borough proud with their incredible show of support.

He added: “We stood on Parvis Road and it was great to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“The fans and crowd responded incredibly to the road race and it was an amazing coming together.

“It’s unfortunate we missed out in the men’s race but it was a huge bonus to get silver in the women’s event.”

There was an overwhelming sense of pride as pictures of our area’s leafy streets were beamed across the world.

James White, 87, of West Byfleet said: “To have something so special come through our tiny community is truly remarkable and something we should all cherish. I won’t see London host the Olympics again in my lifetime so this is something to savour.”

More than a million fans lined the course for the men’s and women’s race which whizzed by Weybridge, whooshed through West Byfleet, powered on past Pyrford and ripped through Ripley en route to the gruelling climbs of Box Hill before returning to London and the finish line on the Mall.

Anita and Ray French, Sue Gibbs and her daughters Jess and Ellie and their pal Natasha Newson had ringside seats outside Hedgecroft Cottages in Newark Lane, Ripley.

Natasha said: “It was exciting and so fast.” Sue added: “You could feel the breeze coming off them.”

Dutchmen Marcel Elzenaar, Meino Meines, Ed Noorman and Gerard Meines, from Assen, all took part in an impromptu Mexican wave with other spectators in Ripley once the athletes had passed.

Gerard said the village and crowds had generated a ‘very nice atmosphere’.

Little Sam Perei, of Wentworth Close, spent two days with a friend making an Olympic banner to spur on Team GB. He watched the race with his mum Lottie, his brother Harry and their pet dog Amber. Sam said: “I worked very hard on the sign.”

Residents at Boltons Close in Pyrford marked the event with a party.

Despite the huge number of people out celebrating in the streets, Surrey Police have reported just two arrests.

Chief superintendent Gavin Stephens said: “There were only two event-related arrests in Surrey over the whole weekend and this is testament to the fantastic spirit of the thousands of people who came out to cheer on the cyclists.”

DABB HAND – Chris Dabbs shows off his Olympic Torch with wife Helen, son George and mum Brenda

DABB HAND – Chris Dabbs shows off his Olympic Torch with wife Helen, son George and mum Brenda

MARK CAVENDISH and Bradley Wiggins may have electrified the ecstatic crowds as they tore through West Byfleet, Pyrford and Ripley but it was the generosity of one local man that truly encapsulated the spirit of the Olympic Games.

Chris Dabbs, 49, who was born and raised in Send Marsh,  was one of the privileged few to take part in the prestigious Olympic torch relay when he carried the famous flame through Market Harborough in Leicestershire last month.

And in a selfless bid to share the glory and prestige with as many fans as possible, Chris brought his precious piece of memorabilia to the road race on Saturday.

The golden torch sparked a photo frenzy, with generations young and old flocking to grab a snap with the iconic torch.

He is always sharing and is always thinking of others.

Chris said: “I wanted to share my experience with everyone at the race.

“We risked being there all afternoon but I bought it out to share the joy and to see people smile is well worth it.”

Chris, who is in a wheelchair after breaking his back testing motorcycles in 1993, was nominted to carry the flame by his
employers, the Bauer group after 22 years of dedicated service.

Since his accident, he has played, coached and has been chairman of Northamptonshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club for eight years.

He also sails with Northampton Sailability, and is a huge fan of scuba diving and races karts.

In his latest project, he has got back into the saddle of a motorbike thanks to The Bike Experience.

His excellent attitude and the way he has coped with his accident are just two of the reasons why wife Helen believes he was nominated by his employers.

She said: “Chris has been travelling to schools, allowing children to get a real good look at the ­Olympic torch.

“He is always sharing and is always thinking of others. He’s also encouraging as many people as possible to back Rachel Morris in the Paralympic Games.”

Rachel is a close friend of Chris and is in a race to be fit to defend her title after securing hand-cycling gold in Beijing four years ago.

She was injured following a collision with a car during a time trial in Hampshire in July.

Her condition, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, involves a malfunction of the nervous system and sensory abnormalities, meaning she takes longer to recover from injury.

The accident has put her Paralympic hopes in jeopardy, but Chris was determined to boost her spirits and drum up support for the 33 year old.

Raving about her previous success, Chris remained confident Rachel would make a full recovery.

He said: “She is really one to watch, she’s a great girl and a top athlete. Everyone needs to get behind her and the rest of Team GB.”

And speaking on the historic moment the Olympic Games passed within a mile of his childhood home, Chris failed to disguise his pride.

He added: “It’s fantastic to see this part of the world used in an Olympic cycle course.

“The opening ceremony was truly spectacular and eccentrically British as well.

“I loved the music choice all the way through, and it’s fantastic that we all get to share it.”

SUITS YOU, SIR - Matt Cobb with his greyhounds sporting Jubilee cravats

SUITS YOU, SIR - Matt Cobb with his greyhounds sporting Jubilee cravats

IT was a weekend none of us will ever experience again. Street ­closures were rejoiced. The weather was not an issue. The Queen was ­celebrating 60 years on the throne and Woking was in the mood to party.

In Chobham a red, white and blue wave of people washed through the high street.

Horsell crowned its ­Jubilee weekend with a collection of hats that Her ­Majesty would have felt at home in.

While hundreds of picnickers ­savoured this historic moment on Byfleet village recreation ground.

A regal parade, fronted by a stirring marching band, hit the right note with revellers at ­Pirbright Green.

In Ripley, hundreds watched on as the Diamond Jubilee beacon was lit on the village green. And Pat Baker, born in the year of The Queen’s coronation, unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

In total, 48 roads were lawfully closed for residents to take their parties to the street.

The Queen is the physical embodiment of all that is great about us and our country

And there were hundreds of impromptu gatherings tucked away in the borough’s streets, as friends, families and neighbours ­enjoyed a right royal knees up.

A sing off and ­Wellington boot ­throwing competition was held at Maitland Close, West ­Byfleet.

Champion ­thrower James Post, 38, said: “Celebrating a ­Jubilee is very unique.

“There will not be a day like this again for a very long time so we should take the time to enjoy it.”

Residents of Lincoln Drive, Pyrford, received the shock of their lives when the Mayor of ­Woking, Michael Smith, arrived with Mayoress Anne Murray and joined in their ­Jubilee bash.

Freda Spickett, 84, of Send, toasted Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953 and remembered it being very similar to her Diamond Jubilee. She said: “It was wet and very cold that day, too.”

As The Queen marked her 60th year as head of the monarchy, villagers gathered on the green to celebrate her outstanding achievement.

A rousing marching band led a parade of patriotism, with young and old decked in their finest royal-themed fancy dress, with red, white and blue the order of the day.

Cunningham House retirement home residents decorated two golf buggies to join in the action before everyone tucked into a mouth-watering lamb roast.

Laura McMurniman, 25, who grew up in the village and was married in St Michael & All Angels church last summer, said: “It’s great how so many different generations are involved.

“My whole family being here made my dad so happy – he was actually born in the village.

“I know she was really busy but I’m sure The Queen would have loved seeing everyone enjoying themselves.”

Laura’s husband Sheldon, 30, added: “Pirbright is the quintessential British village.

“The community spirit and ‘tally- ho’ attitude really does epitomise everything we are celebrating this weekend.

“The Queen is the physical embodiment of all that is great about us and our country.

“Even the cricketers were out and about gearing up to try and get some overs in despite the rain.”