THE Atalanta ballroom in Woking’s Commercial Road will be remembered by many who were in and around the local area in the 1950s and 60s.

Artists who would soon become famous played there, including The Who, The Kinks, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, The Small Faces and The Rolling Stones. And jazz artists included Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk.

In the 1950s it hosted many dance bands, including The Les Reed Band. Les was born in Woking in 1935 and went on to write and co-write such hits as The Last Waltz (Engelbert Humperdinck), Delilah (Tom Jones) and A Kind Of Hush (Herman’s Hermits).

With its wooden sprung dance floor, the “Ata”, as it was affectionately known, was certainly the meeting place for young people at the time, although there were some punch-ups between local lads and visiting soldiers from nearby army camps.

Bob Potter, who later created the Lakeside leisure complex in Frimley, ran it back then. Typically, Monday nights featured up-and-coming bands; Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday (afternoon) was bingo; Wednesday, ballroom dancing; Thursday hosted more bands and dancing; and Friday and Saturday were “all nighters” going on until 5am, sometimes featuring musicians from the US.

Reader Mark Coxhead adds: “Plans for the new town centre in the early 1960s did include a replacement for the Atalanta, probably on the first floor of an office block and akin to something more like a nuclear bunker than a historic dance hall, with a proposed rent of £4,500 that was too excessive for Bob Potter.  

“There was a public outcry about its demolition for the new Wolsey Place shopping centre, and even a large petition did not deter Woking Borough Council and the building was demolished in January 1972.”

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]

For the full story, see the 2 July edition of the New & Mail