This week, Peeps into the Past reader William Francis shares his memories of growing up in Horsell in the 1920s and 1930s.

William, aged 99, recalls the days when cows walked through Horsell.

He said the Statham family had its dairy in South Road – where Bedford Close is today – and its cows would be taken along Cheapside to graze and would then walk back on their own in time for milking.

William also remembers the post office was in High Street, near the junction with Bury Lane. He recalls seeing an old woman doing the books by candlelight. The premises were later occupied by Benstead’s garage and cycle shop.

Adjoining the Crown pub was a cobblers, and further along – near the Cricketers pub – was an old barn and also a pound for stray horses. William says the pound consisted of four posts with a bit of fencing and a gate, but he never saw any horses in it.

There was a water/sewage pumping station at the junction of High Street and Thornash Road, and Mr Rosum, a Woking Urban District Council worker, looked after it. He lived in a house next door with a monkey puzzle tree in his lawned garden.

William has clear memories of the cottages, and their washing lines, on the common, and the Gypsy encampments towards the junction of Well Lane with Abbey Road.

He remembers the Gypsies’ caravans and that they were very clean. He says there was a very pretty little Gypsy girl who was known as Musey Mac. The Gypsy children attended the Horsell schools and William adds they never left any mess.

At Woking’s Six Crossroads there was often an Automobile Association patrolman with a motorbike and sidecar. William names the AA man as Mr Irwin, who lived in Ormonde Road, Horsell.

Barges on the Basingstoke Canal are also recalled by William. He says that at Spanton’s timber yard beside the canal, there was an outlet that had something to do with cooling at the electricity works. The water being pumped out was warmer than that in the canal and was popular with the swimmers.

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]