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Woking is a large town and civil parish that shares its name with the surrounding local government district, located in the west of Surreymarker, Englandmarker. It is a dormitory town in the London commuter belt and is located south west of Charing Crossmarker in central London. Woking town itself, excluding the surrounding district, has a population of 62,796, and the civil parish, which covers part of the urban area inclusive of Sheerwatermarker and Knaphillmarker, has a population of 30,403. This population is different from the local government district, (the borough of Woking), which has an approximate population of 90,700 (2006 estimate).

Woking also plays a role in literature: it is the town in which the Martians first land in H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It also features in Douglas Adams's The Meaning of Liff, as the word for when you go to the kitchen but forget why.

History

Though Woking's earliest written appearance is in Domesday Book, it is mentioned as the site of a monastery in an 8th century context, as Wochingas. In Domesday Book it appears as Wochinges, being held in 1086 by King William the Conqueror, Walter FitzOther, constable of Windsor Castle, and Ansgot and Godfrey from Osbern FitzOsbern, then bishop of Exeter.

Modern Woking formed around the railway station, built over 150 years ago at the junction between lines to London, the south coast, and the south-west of England, and the private railway to Brookwood Cemeterymarker, which was developed by the London Necropolis Company as an overflow burial ground for London's dead. As a result, the original settlement 1 mile to the south-east, on the river Wey, became known as "Old Woking". Later, Woking was home to the first crematorium in the United Kingdom (St Johns), and the first purpose-built mosque in the UK (on Oriental Road). The Shah Jahan Mosquemarker was commissioned by Shahjehan, Begum of Bhopal (1868-1901), one of the four female Muslim rulers of Bhopal who reigned between 1819 and 1926, and the mosque has given rise to the town's significant Asian community.

The War of the Worlds (1898), by H. G. Wells, based in Horsell Common north of Woking, was an early science fiction novel which describes an invasion of England by aliens from Mars. It is one of the earliest and best-known depictions of an alien invasion of Earth and has influenced many others, as well as spawning several films and radio dramas and a television series based on the story. The 1938 radio broadcast in the United States caused public outcry against the episode, as many listeners believed that an actual Martian invasion was in progress, a notable example of mass hysteria.

Politics

The constituency of Wokingmarker has historically been a Conservative party safe seat, with the Liberal Democrats the principal opposition in the last two general elections. Its current Member of Parliament is Humfrey Malins, who has a majority of around 6,500. The borough council is currently run by the Conservatives. Current candidates for the next general election include Tom Miller for the Labour Party, Jonathan Lord for the Conservative party and Rosie Sharpley for the Liberal Democrats.

Facilities

Woking has a modern shopping centre called The Peacocks and an older shopping area, Wolsey Place.

The main area for evening entertainment is around Chertsey Road which contains restaurants serving a number of cuisines and there are also numerous bars and pubs. The Ambassadors cinemas and New Victoria Theatremarker can be accessed via the top floor of The Peacocks.

Woking has indoor swimming pools, "Pool in the Park", and a separate leisure centre. Outdoor facilities include a skatepark, tennis courts, five-a-side football pitches, a cricket pitch (during the summer), bowling greens, a crazy golf course, and a children's adventure playground. These leisure facilities are all located within the attractively landscaped Woking Park near to the town centre. Woking also has the largest public library in Surrey.

The scene at St Peter's Church, Old Woking is an inspiration for many local artists, as is another local beauty spot at the lock at St John's Lye.

Woking is home to a new arts and heritage centre called 'The Lightbox'. The modern structure, located next to the Basingstoke Canalmarker, was designed by architects Marks Barfield, the architects of the London Eyemarker.

There is also a Hawker Hunter jet fighter painted silver and mounted on a pole roughly ten metres tall outside the 'Big Apple' family entertainment complex. This was used to promote the previous 'Planets' family entertainment complex, designed to look like a space craft, and has never been removed. However, originally the craft was black with various logos and livery on it. These were removed when the Planets complex was taken over.

Energy policy

See related article: 'Energy policy of the United Kingdom


Woking council is one of country's leaders in adopting greener energy technologies. Several combined heat and power stations provide district heating and electricity, and electricity is also provided by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and solar cells dispersed throughout the borough. These are linked via an innovative private electricity distribution system operating completely off the public power grid.

In order to do this the local government laid new power lines to all locations on the Woking sustainable community energy system (due to Department of Trade and Industry regulations). Should the public power grid fail, central Woking would continue to have an energy supply.

The cost for providing this is approximately UK£0.01/kWh less than for public electricity. It has been reported that the borough saves UK£974,000 a year in energy costs if the installation costs are ignored. By March 2004 the initiatives had also cut the borough's carbon emissions by 17.24%, and those of the council by 77.4%.

Woking Station Canopy, which was approved by Woking Councillors in March 2004, was built in 2007. It is equipped with photovoltaic cells to collect sunlight and convert it into energy.

On 23 March 2007, Prince Charles opened a climate change exhibition in Woking. The exhibition, which was a joint venture by Business in the Community and BCSC and endorsed by the Climate Group, featured display stands with information on issues like recycling, energy use, transport, waste reduction and food sources. He also inspected work on the Albion Square canopy. After the launch, the Prince took lunch at Auberge. He then gave a speech to introduce Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, which was being viewed by local business leaders.

Transport

Rail

Woking railway stationmarker is situated on the Alton Line, Portsmouth Direct Line, South Western Main Line and West of England Main Line. Accordingly, there are frequent trains to and from London Waterloomarker (via Clapham Junctionmarker), a journey taking approximately half an hour. There is also the twice hourly Waterloo/Woking stopping service that calls at many stations between Waterloo and Woking.

A canopy costing 2.8 million pounds has been built between the station and the main shopping area of the town. It stretches from the railway station entrance (town - platform 1 - side) to Albion House and includes landscaping of the area which, along with the canopy, creates a new entrance to the town from the railway station.

Road

Woking is accessible from M25 motorwaymarker, M3 motorway & the A3.

A320, the main access road, passing through the centre of town connects to the M25marker junction 11 to Woking's north and to the A3 to its south at Guildfordmarker. M3 motorway Junction 3 connects to Woking either via Chobhammarker (B3046) or A322 & A324.

Bus

A RailAir coach service connects Woking and London Heathrow airportmarker. The service runs approximately every 30 minutes from the railway station main entrance to the airport bus station and terminal 5. Gatwick Airport can be accessed via Guildford railway stationmarker or Clapham Junctionmarker.

The bus services in Woking are mainly operated by Abellio, Arriva and Countryliner. The main bus terminal is just outside the station and provides services to Byfleetmarker and West Byfleetmarker, Camberleymarker, Guildfordmarker, Kingstonmarker, Ripleymarker and Stainesmarker.

The Bustler community transport service operates in and around Woking, serving people with a transportation disadvantage.

Canal

The Basingstoke Canalmarker passes through the north of the town.

Suburbs

Woking has several suburban districts, including:Horsellmarker, Hook Heath, Mount Hermon, Barnsbury, Maybury, Sheerwater, Goldsworth Parkmarker, St Johns, Pyrfordmarker, Kingfield, Westfield, Ridgway and Old Wokingmarker.The adjacent village of Knaphillmarker is often considered an outer suburb of Woking. Old Wokingmarker is cited as a separate village. Mayfordmarker and Sutton Green are to the south on the border between Woking and Guildfordmarker.

Sport

Football:Woking has a non-League football club, Woking F.C., that competes in the Conference South (tier 6). The origin of the club's nickname, the "Cardinals", is disputed. One attractive proposal is that the name was acquired because Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, after whom the smaller of the two shopping centres is named, was staying with King Henry VIII at Woking Palacemarker (the remains of which can be seen near the River Weymarker at Old Woking) when he heard he had been made a cardinal by Pope Leo X in 1515. A more prosaic alternative is that the Cards are so named because of the cardinal red in one half of their home strip. It is interesting to note that this colour was chosen because of the town's link to Cardinal Wolsey. The Borough also supports three clubs playing in The Combined Counties Football League Division 1 (tier 10), these being Knaphill FC, Sheerwater FC & Westfield FC.

GymnasticsWoking Gymnastics Club is one of the largest in the country with 1,250 active members making it the largest youth organisation in the area. The club provides professional gymnastics coaching for all ages (babies to adults) and has a very successful squad of boys and girls producing many Great Britain gymnasts. The club has a purpose-built facility (refurbished in 2008) next door to the Football Club.

Rugby:Woking has a rugby union club that competes in Surrey League 3 (Level 11). Since the 2006/07 season they have run two teams successfully, with the second team acting as a great breeding ground for new talent and offering the older players a social game on Saturday afternoons. They train weekly on Tuesday evenings at Byfleet Recreation Ground. Woking RFC are always on the look out for new players, regardless of ability.

The local senior club Chobham Rugby Club has 6 senior teams, the 1st XV, 2nd XV (Cannons), 3rd XV, 4th XV (Devils), 5th XV (Crusaders)& Veterans (Martyrs).

The 1st XV play in London Division 2 South (Level 6), finishing third in their first season at this level (07/08). All four other senior teams play in the John O'Neil and Partners Surrey Reverse leagues. The Devils won their league cup in the 2006/7 season. Chobham won London 3SW in 2006/07.

There is also a large junior and mini section with many County and Divisional players. One of the products of the youth system, Dan Frazier, has just signed with NEC Harlequins at 18.

Hockey:Woking Hockey Club women's first XI compete in the English Hockey League Women's League 1 (tier 2); the men's first XI compete in a regional league. The club has two AstroTurf pitches at a clubhouse based in Goldsworth Parkmarker.

Cricket:Woking also has a number of strong cricket clubs including Old Woking CC, Woking & Horsell CC, and Westfield CC.

It is also home to Pyrford Cricket Club. Founded in 1858, Pyrford is one of the oldest cricket clubs in Surrey, and has achieved remarkable success in recent years. Well known former PCC players include former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu, New Zealand wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins and Sky Sports presenter Charles "Got Him" Colvile.

Motor Racing:The McLarenmarker Formula One motor racing team is based near to the town, as is Räikkönen Robertson Racing, begun by Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen.

Korfball:Woking Korfball Club has been active for 25 years, training and playing in the Woking area. It operates in the London league, challenging for titles every season and with 2 or 3 teams of players appearing regularly for the club. In the Season 2007/2008 Woking was second in the London & District Korball Association's Senior Premier League.

Thai Boxing:Woking has two Muay Thai (or Thai Boxing) clubs one of which uses Woking Leisure Centre while the other (Shinkick) has its own premises in Old Woking.

Cycling:In 2009 Woking played host to a round of The Tour Series on 2 June, a new championship of televised town and city centre criterium-style races, established by the organisers of The Tour of Britain bike race. The race took place on a Tuesday evening on a circuit centred on Victoria Way.

BasketballThe Woking Blackhawks Basketball club was founded in 1999. They won their first title in 2004, the u16 Surrey Central Venue League and Cup 2003/4. In 2008 they were voted Surrey Sports Club of the year. They currently have 10 sqauds with over 150 players, male and female aging from under 10's up to adult level.

Education

Primary Schools

Infant and junior schools in the area include:Goldsworth Primary School, Hoe Bridge Schoolmarker, Knaphill Junior School, Knaphill Lower School, Horsell CofE Aided Junior School, Horsell Village School, The Prins Willem-Alexander schoolmarker (Dutch private primary school), St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Primary Schoolmarker, St. Dunstan's Catholic Primary School, Barnsbury Primary School, Westfield Primary School, The Hermitage Junior School, Sythwood Primary School and The Oaktree School, Beaufort Primary School and St John's Primary School, Greenfield School.

Secondary Schools

Secondary schools in the area include: Bishop David Brown Schoolmarker , St. John the Baptist Schoolmarker, St Andrew's School The Winston Churchill Schoolmarker, and Woking High School.

Other Schools

Woking Collegemarker is located in Old Woking and provides post-16 education.

There are also private sector schools. There are several private preparatory schools in Woking: Hoe Bridge(lads), St Andrew's, Greenfield, Oakfield School and Ripley Court are all mixed, while Halstead School is girls only.

Peer Productions, a large theatre company, is based at the Woking Youth Arts Centre in Knaphillmarker. It provides dramatic education for students of all ages.

Woking is also home to the Tante Marie cookery school, the UK's oldest established professional cookery school. According to the Woking News and Mail, it has now been bought by famous chef Gordon Ramsay who intends to set up his own catering college.

Healthcare

Woking comes under Surreymarker PCT (Primary Care Trust), administered and run by NHS. Group of GP's together with Woking Community hospital serves the local resident's primary healthcare needs.Specialist hospitals near by are St Peter's Hospital, Chertseymarker (for A&E) and Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildfordmarker.

For private healthcare needs, Nuffield Hospital mainly serves Woking's local residents.

Woking used to have its own hospital with maternity and A&E amongst other departments. Woking Victoria Hospital was situated on the corner of Victoria Way and Chobham Road, right by the Basingstoke Canal, from 1950 until the mid-80's.

Notable residents

Sculpture of a Wellsian Martian Tripod.
Woking was home to author H.G. Wells, who had the Martians in The War of the Worlds land on Horsellmarker Common, close to the town centre. There is a large sculpture of a (Wellsian) Martian Fighting Machine in the town centre commemorating Woking's fictional destruction.

The English composer Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) lived and died in Woking.

Friedrich Engels was buried at Brookwood Cemetery near Woking (the London Necropolis Company site) - see the article in The Times of 12 August 1895.

The Jam are from Woking, and its singer/songwriter Paul Weller (who later, together with Mick Talbot, formed The Style Council) was born there in 1958. The song A Town Called Malice was written about Woking, and Weller's 1995 solo album, Stanley Road, is named after the street in which he was born and lived.

Kazuo Ishiguro studied at Woking Grammar School.

Other notable people who were born in Woking include: Ian Ogilvy, actor, 1943; Ron Dennis, CEO/Chairman of the McLaren Groupmarker, 1947; Liz Lynne, Liberal Democrat politician, 1948; Rick Parfitt, guitarist for Status Quo, 1948; Brian Hooper, Olympic pole vaulter; Douglas Pearce, founding Neofolk musician behind Death In June and Crisis , 1956; Carl R May, sociologist, 1960 ; Susie Dent, a lexicographer and the dictionary expert on Countdown1964; Delia Smith best selling cook; Ben Charles Edwards, Photographer/Filmmaker; The Times journalist, Andy Heath (1981) and Harry Hill, comedian, 1964. Matt Willis; band member of Busted and winner of I'm A Celebrity... lived in Woking attending Woking High School. Whilst Peter Davison from (Doctor Who) attended The Winston Churchill School marker.

The Spice Girls started their careers at a Knaphill-based studio after being picked from an audition of hundreds in June 1994. Peter Gabriel, who founded the rock group Genesis and went on to become a renowned solo artist, lived in Chobhammarker and went to St Andrews School in Horsell in the 1950s and 1960s.

Literature

Douglas Adams describes Woking in The Deeper Meaning of Liff (ptcbl. vb.) as:
Standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for.


Emergency services

Woking is served by these emergency services:

McLaren

Woking is home to the McLaren Groupmarker, an umbrella organization that most notably includes McLaren Racingmarker, which fields the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing cars (currently driven by Jenson Button and former World Champion Lewis Hamilton), and McLaren Automotive, builder of the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren supercars.

Twin towns



See also



Notes

Further reading



External links




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