THE snowy scene pictured here shows the original Monument Bridge over the Basingstoke Canal in Woking, as 
featured on a postcard from the turn of the 20th century, as Peeps into the Past looks back on the history of this landmark.

From the handwriting on the back of the postcard, it appears to have been sent by someone called Lily to 
William Elliott in Yeovil, Somerset, and is postmarked Woking with a date of 
16 January 1905.

The bridge was known locally as Bunker’s Bridge, the name said to have originated from nearby squatters’ camp Bunker’s Hill. The camp took its name from the Battle of Bunker’s Hill in the American War of Independence.

Monument Bridge was built in about 1788. Its name derives from the fact that it carried the road, Monument Hill, to a monument/tower that once stood in Sir Edward Zouch’s grounds, now the site of the Hoe Bridge Golf Centre.

By the 1930s, plans were being drawn up by Woking Urban District Council to replace the bridge.

And in the News & Mail of 
23 December 1938, it was reported that workmen reconstructing the bridge uncovered a wooden sill from the bed of the canal, originally placed there to form an emergency dam. It consisted of a wooden gateway that also could have been raised to hold back water while repairs were being made in the event of the canal bursting its banks.

To remove the wooden sill, the 
workmen “knocked away the inside wood, leaving only the framework, this being bodily removed by a large crane”.

The report added: “The sill is to be 
replaced by one of concrete, to be 
slotted so that planks can be placed in to serve the same purpose.”

The News & Mail of 18 August 1939 reported that the bridge was nearing completion.

It said: “The bridge, which is the 
seventh constructed by Woking 
Council since the authority obtained powers in 1911 to carry out these works, is the finest in the locality.

“The former little humpbacked bridge, which only had an 18ft roadway, with no footpaths between the walls, has been replaced by an imposing structure of modern design in which the width between the walls has increased, with footpaths and dual carriageways divided by an island extending 110ft.

“Executed in a colour scheme of cream with green on the panels of the main pillars, the work is a striking example of the modern style of bridge building.”

However, the new bridge came at a high price for the time. It was originally estimated at £9,000, but the final figure was £12,780.

That figure was not known when the News & Mail published its report.

However, the newspaper did say that when the work was “put in hand”, the Ministry of Transport pledged to pay half of the cost, which it did.

The report also said: “It seems clear the ratepayers will get something of a shock when the final figures are placed before them.”

On a happier note, the report added: “Crossing the bridge is now a real pleasure for car drivers, compared with the anxiety of wondering what one would meet over the crown in the old days.

“It is understood there will be no 
formal opening in connection with the new bridge, even when the last details have been completed, though it represents a greater improvement than the rebuilding of the Chertsey Road bridge in 1923. This was opened by Sir Henry Maybury, the then Minister of Transport.”

Thanks to Mark Coxhead for the research he carried out for this week’s Peeps.

* IF you have memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area and its people which you would like to contribute to this page, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or write to the News & Mail.