A look at the town centre, 1980s-style

WE are not going far back in time with Peeps into the Past this week – only to about the 1980s, from when these photos look to date from.

The scenes, and many more, were photographed by the late Tony Dorman, who captured some interesting views as Woking town centre was being redeveloped.

Picture 1: Looking along Victoria Way, with what would become the Toys ‘R’ Us car park on the left

I’m finding it hard to place some of the exact locations Tony photographed – perhaps readers can help and I welcome your comments.

Picture 1 looks along Victoria Way, with the multi-storey car park on the right and what became the Toys ‘R’ Us store on the ground floor. There are plenty of road alterations taking place on the left.

Picture 2 is surely Church Street West, looking back towards the town centre. The multi-storey car park seen in the previous picture can also be viewed along with the-then BAT building (correct name Export House) looming up on the right. No vehicles in sight, therefore I guess the road was not yet open.

Picture 2: Church Street West, looking back at the town centre

In picture 3 you can see the spire of Christ Church in the town centre and Woking Borough Council’s civic offices on the left, noting its red and gold coat of arms on the wall. And how white the new building looked then – it’s much darker now.

The council moved into its purpose-built offices in Gloucester Square in June 1983, which helps to date these images.

Picture 3: The then newly constructed Woking Council offices, with the spire of Christ Church to the right

Things get harder with picture 4, although I recognise a part of the Victoria Cottage Hospital on the left. I think the rather forlorn modern building that dominate the photo is Ryde House. This was built in the early 1960s, its design being typical of the times.

The building looks unoccupied in Tony’s photo – perhaps it was soon to be demolished? The shop on the ground floor to the left has a sign that reads ‘HOME DESIGN’.

Picture 4: Part of Victoria Cottage Hospital on the left, and what may be the soon to be demolished Ryde House office block

And I can’t quite work out where I am with picture 5. The shop on the right is J H Barrenger Ltd, the leather specialists. The tall building looks like Dukes Court.

A guide book for Woking, dated 1991-92, states that Dukes Court was completed in 1985, and at 220,000 sq ft was then the biggest office building in Woking. The guide book also said that Woking’s office space more than doubled in the 10 years between 1974 to 1984. I can quite believe that.

Picture 5: What could be Dukes Court, towering over leather specialists J.H. Barrenger

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call 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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