ONE of the many great things about writing Peeps into the Past is how a topic can lead to another.

The potted history I wrote in December about the Knap Hill Nursery led to reader Dave Williamson adding details of his family’s association with the garden nursery firm, and some lovely pictures of the tied cottages in which they lived, as featured in February.

Dave followed up by emailing me a photo of the parade of shops in St John’s Road, taken in the 1956, and gifting me an old metal printing plate from Knap Hill Nursery.

He takes up the story: “While looking for photographs relating to the nursery, I came across one showing St John’s in the 1950s.

“This was a professionally taken shot which my parents saw in the local paper, almost certainly the News & Mail, and my father wrote in and asked for a copy.

“The reason he wanted a copy was because he is the person up the ladder cleaning the windows above FG Bigwood’s cycle shop.

“Following demob from the RAF after the Second World War, he bought a window cleaning round that originally relied on a bicycle and trailer.

“However, by the time of the photo he had become the owner of a Ford van that’s also featured in the photo. The original photograph is very clear and with a magnifier you can even read the registration plate – SML 973.”

The van is on the left side of the road, just past the shops near the post box and the tall trees.

Dave adds: “The picture dates from 1956 as evidenced by the poster for The Ritz cinema which is showing Now And Forever starring Janette Scott.

“Bigwood’s cycle shop also sold other things including some toys. I remember buying a rubber-powered, balsa-wood aeroplane called a Sleek Streak there for half-a-crown and flying it on St John’s Lye, opposite.

“On the opposite side of St John’s Road were the offices of a private bus company whose windows my dad also cleaned. I remember him telling me how he could look through the upper windows and see thousands of bus tickets stored.”

The metal printing plate is reproduced here in positive form, by scanning the plate and flipping the image.

I emailed a copy back to Dave and he replied: “It is now clear that they leave a gap between Knap and Hill in the places where the nursery is mentioned, but not in the address, with the word Knaphill.

“I have magnified your scan. The part of the plate at the top, with the image of the Barrs Lane entrance to the nursery, reveals the sign boards either side of the gate have a capital ‘H’ for Hill, again indicating two words.

“I remember standing at that gate in the 1950s watching the fire brigade put out a fire in the woodland opposite.

“As a small boy that impressed me quite a lot, and for a while I wanted to be a fireman.”

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: [email protected]