A Quiet Part of Woking

THIS week’s Peeps column shows how quiet parts of Woking were around 100 years ago.

In the heyday of picture postcards in the first decades of the 20th century it was not just the main streets and landmark buildings that were photographed and published. Such was the demand for topographical views, side streets and county lanes were also featured.

ON THE SOUTH SIDE: A quiet part of Woking as these picture postcards from the early 20th century would indicate. Pictured here is Maybury hill in the mid 1920s

The three here show a somewhat sleepy Woking, even though not far from the hustle and bustle of the town centre. The photo of Maybury Hill dates to the mid-1920s. On the right is a shop with a sign that reads: “Ye Corner House”. In the distance towards the railway bridge is a motorcar and a horse-drawn vehicle.

A postcard depicting Heathside Avenue from around 1904

The postcard captioned Heathside Avenue must surely be today’s Heathside Road. Postmarked on the back “9pm 23 Dec 1904”, there are plenty of trees to be seen. The direction may be looking west, and if so the buildings in the distance would place them on Guildford Road.

Attempting to locate where the photographer was standing when the view of White Rose Lane was taken is even harder. The postmark is not clear on the back. The month of “July” can be discerned and the first number of the two-digit year is “0”.

This postcard shows White Rose Lane at some point in the first decade of the 20th Century

In his book A History of Woking, author Alan Crosby writes that between 1859 and 1875 a few large houses were built in White Rose Lane. And in 1882 the owners of Heathside Farm sold 16 acres of land between Park Road West and Heathside Road, which “marked the beginning of a westward extension of development”.

Over the decades there has been much development of homes in this part of Woking as properties of different periods and architectural styles can be seen.

Flexees of Byfleet update

The story and pictures of the Flexees women’s undergarments factory that was in Byfleet (Peeps page 26 March) saw a number of people get in touch with details and memories.

Florence Allen said she and her mother worked there. Her job was making the labels to be sewn into the bras and boxes for the garments. Her mother worked on a sewing machine. Many staff were on piece work wages. Florence worked there in the 1960s up until about the early 1970s, and her mother was still there a few years later.

The Flexees factory in Byfleet

She recalls that it was very noisy where the machinists were at work, but quieter in the room she worked in. At Christmas time the managers came round and joined in the celebrations. She says: “One of them asked my mother if I smoked, and then gave me a cigarette. But I did not smoke it and let it burn out.”

Several readers either phoned or emailed to confirm where the factory once stood. Nigel Searle was first to confirm that it was at 120 Oyster Lane, according to a 1968 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Woking, Byfleet & District. Today the site is occupied by a branch of Topps Tiles.

John Wheeler, Pat Andrews and Deborah Hepburn also confirmed the address, while Richard and Rosemary Christophers added further details. They say Flexees was on the east side on the village side of the railway station. And, from old phone books, they have traced the firm to 175 and 229 Regent Street, London, pre-war, and coming to Byfleet in about 1954, leaving about 1973, having established works from 1970 at Treharris in Wales.

Alan Fairlie called to say when he was at school it was a well-known firm to “us kids”. He remembers his geography teacher asking his class if anyone knew anything about local industries. He says: “All the Byfleet kids chimed together: ‘The World’s Loveliest Foundations’,” – that being Flexees’ slogan on the front of the factory.

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

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