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• Introduction

• History
• The Godalming

• The Wey

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• Introduction

• Lock
• Barges
• Life on the

• The Horse-
drawn IONA

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• Introduction

• Watermills
• Flour & Bread
• Fulling & Cloth
• Chilworth

• Charcoal

• Brewing
• Papermaking
• Ice Houses
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• Introduction

• Habitats
• Trees & Plants
• Insects
• Birds
• Fish
• Countryside

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• Introduction

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

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• Introduction

• Legends
• The Big Names
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• Introduction

• Boat Art
• Inn Art
• River Graffiti
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• Basingstoke

• Wey & Arun

• The Thames
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We welcome
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More About
Guildford, Surrey

Guildford is the largest town straddling the course of the River Wey. Commanding a key geographic position directly between London and the industrious south coast, especially the long productive naval shipyards in Portsmouth, has given the town many centuries of opportunity.

click for a smile!



Guildford has again (2008) been pronounced the safest place in Britain in Endsleigh Insurance' annual survey of household burglaries. MORE

The Office for National Statistics released (February 2012) data that shows that 62.7% of teenage pregnancies were aborted in Surrey, the highest level since 1998. Guildford had 58% and was ranked the second largest number of teenage conceptions in the county. Overall in Surrey the number of conceptions has fallen consistently. Statistics relate to 2010.

Guildford was rated the most competitive 'city'(1) in 2008 over the likes of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester. The UK Competitiveness Index, compiled by the Centre for International Competitiveness, provides benchmarking of the competitiveness of the UK's regions and localities

Guildford, with a competiveness rating of 121.2 (UK 100), has actually slipped in its score by two points since 2006. The town has the strength as being recognised as one of the country's most important sites for high-technology and knowledge-based economic activity.

(1) The index ranks localities with a population of over 100,000 as a 'city'. London due to its size is rated as a 'region'.

The ten most expensive roads based on house prices in the Guildford area are:
White Lane, Guildford
Woodhill Lane, Shamley Green
Fort Road, Guildford
Guildown Avenue, Guildford
Guildford Road, Sutton Green
Hoe Lane, Peaslake
Church Lane, Worplesdon
Abbotswood, Guildford
The Ridgeway, Guildford
Fairway, Guildford

And the ten cheapest are:
Old School Close, Guildford
Francis Court, Guildford
The Friary, Guildford
Hallowes Close, Guildford
Tarragon Drive, Guildford
Cedars Court, Guildford
Bellfields Court, Guildford
Power Close, Guildford
Poplar Road, Shalford
Hornbeam Road, Guildford
Source: ourproperty.co.uk, November 2006

In 1919 the average price of a house in Guildford was recorded
as being £713 (£19,084 today's values) by Clarke Gammon estate agents. Today (2007) Land Registry records show the average to be well over £300,000.

House prices in West Surrey covering Guildford increased by 11% (August 2006 - July 2007) with the average cost of property reaching £309,000, against a national average of £184,131. Source: Nationwide Building Society

At a time (2008) when property prices are now beginning to take a fall elsewhere in the UK, Guildford appears to be holding its own:

“Guildford is a strong commuter zone with a market which is fed by London but also supported by strong local and international demand,” says Lucian Cook, a director of Savills research. “While applicant numbers fell heavily in some other areas, those in Guildford in November, December and January remained at just under 97 per cent of the level for the same three months a year earlier.” Source: timesonline.co.uk 7th March 2008

And a survey (August 2008) reconfirmed Guildford's position at the top of the Most Expensive University Towns league. The Times survey ranking the town in the number one slot showed an average house price in June 2008 of £363,503 (up from £285,592 five years before) above Winchester, Bath and Oxford. Coventry was bottom with £164,888.

Guildford is ranked (August 2009) as the second most expensive city for students to live in the UK. Coming in at an average weekly rent of £87.86 Guildford way exceeds the national average of £62.61 London took the top spot with rents reaching £104.13, with Cambridge in third place at £86.95. In 2004 average rents for student digs were just £52.44 a week. Source: The Argus 15th August 2009

"Heritage, history and hi-tech business combine to make Guildford a place of exciting and dynamic contrasts. Home to a first-class university, groundbreaking knowledge-based industries, award-winning retail facilities and some of the most beautiful heritage and countryside in the South East, it’s a destination with some clear natural assets." Guildford Borough Council job ad for
'tourism and business partnership manager' 24th May 2007

Some key contemporary architectural milestones for Guildford include:

  • 1933 : Guildford Lido opens. The recently refurbished Olympic-sized pool remains popular today.
  • 1936 : construction starts on Guildford Cathedral. Interrupted by the war the cathedral was not consecrated until 1961.
  • 1939 : Guildford Technical College (now Guildford College) moves to new buildings in Stoke Park.
  • 1962 : Guildford Civic Hall opens and becomes a popular venue with top bands. It has been closed since 2004.
  • 1963 : Guildford's first multi-storey car park opened in Sydenham Road.
  • 1965 : the purpose-built theatre at Millbrook opened as the Yvonne Arnaud.
  • 1966 : work was begun on the University of Surrey.
  • 1967 : the building now housing Debenhams was built for Plummers Department Store. Debenhams took over in 1972.
  • 1973 : the old Town Bridge was closed and Guildford High Street was pedestrianised for much of the working day.
  • 1980 : the new Royal Surrey Hospital in Egerton Road opened by the Queen.
  • 1993 : after a delayed opening Guildford welcomed the Spectrum leisure centre, now home to The Flames ice hockey team.
  • 1996 : converted from an old generating station the Electric Theatre opens.

Women live longer in Guildford than most other parts of the country according to new Government statistics (August 2007). The longevity table puts the town in the top ten with an average female lifespan to be enjoyed of 83.6 years. The national average is 81 years with the top scoring location being Kensington and Chelsea in London at 86.2 years. Source: Office for National Statistics August 2007

A survey published (February 2012) by DiscountVouchers.co.uk showed that shoppers in Guildford were the second most likely group in the country to use online discount vouchers. The survey analysed usage in 100 towns and cities.

“What used to impress me whilst growing up in them days was the friendships that were built up over a long time between struggling but caring families. Neighbours were always in your house, other families crossing over roads to talk over fences and walls. When someone was poorly, every one would help out since you couldn’t afford to go to a doctor or into hospital. You relied on home-made remedies that were tried and tested.” Guildford resident 1930s. Guildford Memories. Michael Green

Stoughton Barracks
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One of the very earliest references to the game of cricket was made circa 1550 for a match played in Guildford at the Royal Grammar School.

Historians at the Surrey History Centre have unearthed (2008) a diary that shows that the national sport of USA was played in Guildford long before American Independence. MORE HERE

Rough Sleeping Statistics England surveyed (2011) all local authorities for a count of people sleeping on the streets.
The number of rough sleepers had increased by 50% across Surrey since the previous year, but had seen a decline of 30% in Guildford. The actual figures are comparitively small with Guildford borough registering four people living rough at the time of the survey. The Homeless Outreach Support Team, which conducts monthly counts in the town, actively patrols the streets to provide advice.

The primary character from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy, Ford Prefect, claimed to be from Guildford, though in fact he was born near Betelgeuse.

“You know,” Ford draws out, swinging his arms so they brush Arthur every so often,” it doesn’t snow where I come from.”

“It doesn’t snow in Guildford?” Arthur asked. That doesn’t sound quite right, but Arthur’s never actually been to Guildford so he’s not going to argue. Ford just brushes some snow from his friend’s shoulder and smiles. “But I know this one place where it snows red. Kind of like blood, I suppose. So it might make you queasy.”

“What?” Arthur laughed. He let Ford lean companionably onto him. “Did you have a few extra drinks while I was in the restroom?”
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams 1978

Local campaigners concerned about the potential negative effects of the government's Plan for the South East Region, which is in its final consultation period, on Guildford's development for the next 20 years have started an awareness campaign to highlight the fact. Abridged content of the leaflet published by the Guildford Society and East Guildford's Residents Associations in September 2008 outlines their concerns:

"Guildford to be turned into a ' super regional hub' and a' centre for significant change'. Targeted for dramatic housing and economic growth linked to a Woking super 'regional hub' ('strategic gap' separating Guildford and waiting to be scrapped)."

"A staggering 8000 to 10,000 new homes in our town. 6000+ new high density homes crammed into the town harming the character and greenness of our communities."

"A vast estate of 2000+ homes (plus provision for 2100 more) in our greenbelt by Burpham and Merrow - also an extension of Woking."

"Major intensification and redevelopment of our town centre."

"Last summer, inspectors increased Guildford's housing targets by 31% over the draft SE plan. In this consultation, the secretary of state proposes that these targets be regarded as a minimum. She wants Guildford to undergo even more radical redevelopment even though she admits we suffer: infrastructure problems: hand: congested and unreliable journeys:. Housing will be largely to accommodate inward migration from London. This is not about sensitive provision of affordable housing to meet local needs."

All along the Wey you will encounter coppiced trees. Coppicing is where trees and shrubs are cut to stumps, and where new growth results in long straight branches that are later cut for poles. These poles were used in everything from making hoops for barrels to walking sticks. Coppicing also encourages growth of other plants on the woodland floor, and attracts other wildlife.

Angel Hotel sign
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Channel Four TV awarded Guildford with the accolade of 9th Best Place to Live in its 2005 show The Best & Worst Places to Live in The UK. A survey carried out by Eve Prime Retail afforded the town with being the most attractive and safe shopping destination two years running from 2004 - 2005.

Surrey Technology Centre

The Business Crime Reduction Group launched their Guildsafe campaign in the town in 2005. The scheme provides for sophisticated CCTV systems linked with radio communication between store security and the police to detect shoplifters by monitoring activity and instantly communicating alerts to all the stores in the scheme. The campaign has seen crime rates drop in the town with would-be shoplifters perhaps deterred by life-size cut-outs of the town centre's PC Neil Smith strategically placed near store entrances. In 2008 a total of 80 shops, pubs and other businesses were sharing security information.

“The purpose of these look-alike policemen is to act as a reminder to most and a warning to a few about the steps GuildSafe is taking to deter, detect and detain shoplifters in the town," said Mel Jones, Guildsafe's Business Crime Manager. "Our members have radios which put them in touch with each other and CCTV in the police station. We also share intelligence and photos on offenders".
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“I moved to Guildford during the post-war period and stayed with my gran in a two-up and two-down mid terrace at the back of what was a then a small dairy. In the morning I would look out of the old grimy glass of the sash window and see the cart-horses setting off. When I first moved there I did not sleep well due to the noise, especially in the winter months when it was pitch black and all I could hear was noisy glass bottles going into the crates, the shifting about of the metal containers and then the horses themselves trotting off. But I got used to it.” Margaret Turner – Guildford resident. Surrey Memories and Families at War. Michael Green

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The Angel is the oldest inn in Guildford and is in the cobbled high street close to the castle to which a tunnel was said to have been excavated. A priest hole existed in a front bedroom and a bullet was found in an old beam here. Room 3 has residing there what has been described as “something that carries with it a deep feeling of depression and fear.” Room 1 had a lady occupant in 1969 that was so shocked with fear that she couldn’t speak except to point repeatedly at a mirror. In 1970 a guest and his wife saw in the same mirror a gentleman sporting a bold moustache and dressed in old fashioned military uniform. Could this have been The Prince Imperial, heir apparent in the French Empire of Napoleon, who stayed here in 1876 occupying a large double front room which has been named after him? Who knows?

The Bargeman

"I was thrown out of my first student digs in Guildford just before Christmas 1984 because my landlord who was a milkman was sick of meeting me on the stairs coming in from a night of debauchery when he was going out to work. He pushed a note under my door saying: "This is not a halfway house. Make sure you and your things are out of here by the time I get back from work today." I did.
Blogger Lloyd Davis 23rd December 2006.

The UK's biggest professional cycle race will for the first time feature its finale in Guildford High Street. Having run eight stages around the UK from Ipswich to Dumfries and Barnstaple to Reigate the free-to-watch Tour of Britain will have covered a total of 1,350km across all of its individual stages by the time the finish line is crossed in Guildford on the 16th September 2012. Of appeal to the organisers (but possibly not the competitors) are the steep narrow climbs through the nearby Surrey Hills.

"We can't finish in London this year because of the strain the Olympics and Paralympics are putting on the city," said race director Mick Bennett. "But the alternative is a brute of a day around the Surrey Hills, which has the potential to be pretty spectacular, followed by an atmospheric finish up Guildford High Street." bbc.co.uk 26th April 2012

Guildford's Friary Shopping Centre was used as a location for filming the Warlord episode's sequence of the massacre on an escalator in the 1970s cult BBC TV series Blake's 7.

“To make Possets”
Worplesdon (Guildford) recipe 1779
“Take a Pint of Cream, Boil it and let it Stand to be Cold, and the Night before you make them Peel a Lemon and let it stand all night in half a Pint of Mountain Wine* then Strain your cream into a Pot then sweeten your Wine. Put in the Juice of a Lemon, then mix it all together, take the froth as it rises, and put into glasses.” Old Surrey Receipts & Food for Thought. Daphne Grimm
*Mountain is a variety of Malaga Wine

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The recently opened (2006) Boileroom provides a new venue for live entertainment in Guildford, and all credit to the owners they're not just sticking to the old faithfuls of live music and comedy. Their first Poetry Night (November 2006) didn't however go totally to plan, as this blogger recounts.

"The place was decked out in candles and it looked pretty intimate and beatish. Nigel was there with his Salvador Dali Moustache, trying to flog his surrealist, subconscious designs to the venue...and he was a poet. It turned out the barman was a singer songwriter as well so within a few minutes there were three of us wordsmiths willing to enthral the throngs with our wit and rhymes.

"By 9.00 however no one had turned up. In fact one person had turned up. She fell through the door wanted to know what the place was about and said she'd be only interested in coming if they played punk. On hearing it was a poetry night she said she hated poetry and told us it would make her want to kill herself. To this old Salvador Dali decided to regale her with some of his rhyming couplets. She didn't stay long.

"But as many have said, you've got to make the most of what you have and the three of us, like true crusaders battled on heads to the wind taking it in turns to read to our invisible audience. And slowly, as rats scurrying from the sewers to the Pied Piper's sounds they appeared. The Sylvia Path types; the severe Russian intellectual; the beautiful, dreamer telling her monologues.

" This was bohemia. Guildford had bohemia and I sat back on my stall and blew smoke to the ceiling as if I was in some kind of Parisian cafe. The candles flicked like branches in the wind; the crowd clapped; inhibitions were lost and it felt like maybe, we might have been doing something different or important or special or bizarre or mad... but at least we were doing something.

"Sadly, the designated host of the evening ended up consuming more than the sensible amount of Carlsberg and by 10.30 was a more offensive, unscrublious and brutally honest host than he was at the beginning of the evening. Oh well. Mental note- do not drink more than four pints at future poetry readings...."
Blogger: Greg : myspace.com. 30th November 2006

Surrey Space Centre
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Cheryl Tweedy, the Girls Aloud singer, was arrested for alleged assault and racial abuse of a toilet attendant in Guildford's The Drink nightclub in 2003.

Amelle Berrabah, a member of the girl group Sugababes, was arrested in April 2007 for allegedly fighting with an unamed 18-year old girl during which it was reported that she pulled out her hair extensions. The arrest was made in Bar Med in Guildford.

"I made the bunting for Guildford High Street for the Queen's Coronation in 1952. I was 16-years-old and had just started working in William Harveys in the silk department. The buyer knew I could use a sewing machine and put me forweard for the job. I cannot remember how much I made but I remember all the red, white and blue fabric that I had to cut and sew on to tape." Myrtle Baker, Letters, Surrey Advertiser 9th March 2012

"Listening to this album it's clear that the power that swept off the stage and in to the unsuspecting audience in the gloom of Guildford's Civic Hall remains undiminished and nothing short of astonishing. If you were there that night then you were very lucky indeed....." Album review - 'King Crimson Live in Guildford, November 13 1972'.
Blog: The Sky Moves Sideways 3rd February 2007

In Merrow, on the northern outskirts of Guildford, a local highwayman James Potter worked at the White Hart Inn and managed to rob many of the passing gentry. He was eventually convicted of stealing 11 guineas and a watch, and was sentenced to death with two other local villains Christopher Ellis and Frederick William Gregg. In 1776 the three were hanged on Ganghill Common. A spectral highwayman was often seen on many occasions on the common before the area became developed over with residential housing

Maori carving, Clandon Park
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“Guildford Manchets”
Guildford 19th century recipe
“Get 1 or 2 pounds of dough in the morning, then butter & lard as you use in puff pastry, and work similar. Be sure and sprinkle salt. Use dough the same morning, prove well before and after being on tin, keep out of draught, work through centre only. Before baking was over lightly brush with egg or milk.” Old Surrey Receipts & Food for Thought. Daphne Grimm

Surrey Police made 2,230 arrests in 2007 following offence detection and evidence collection through CCTV cameras installed in Guildford, an increase of nearly 500 on the previous year. In 2008 there are a total of 60 council-owned cameras in and around the town, with seven mobile cameras and 10 in the High Street. The cameras are operated from a control room at Guildford police station, which also monitors 14 cameras covering Farnham. As there is no legislation covering the installation of CCTV no official figures exist on how many privately-operated cameras are in the town.

A recruitment advert (25th May 2008) on the Surrey Police website for a CCTV operator provides an insight into how the cameras are used:

"West Surrey Division is seeking a highly motivated individual to join its very successful team of CCTV Operators based at Guildford Police Station. The role involves working closely alongside the Force Control Centre, operational Police officers, and local Town Centre shopping areas to keep them informed of incidents, suspect persons and situations. This post is essential in providing the best evidence for proceedings, enhancing officer safety and helping prevent and reduce crime. The CCTV unit has been responsible for a number of arrests and convictions for serious offences and we are looking for someone who has the necessary skills to be part of this successful team.

"Hours to be worked are on a full shift basis, working a 5 week rota to provide cover 24 hours a day. Starting £17,223 plus 20% shift allowance."

Lewis Carroll wrote one of his 'Nonsense Poems' whilst visiting his sister in Guildford who was sitting in vigil alongside the rest of the family for Carroll's nephew who was suffering from tuberculosis and was sadly to die. Carroll wrote this account of The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits in Alice on Stage published in The Theatre magazine 1887.

"I was walking on a hillside, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse - one solitary line - "For the Snark was a Boojum, you see." I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means, now; but I wrote it down: and, some time afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza."

Guildhall Clock
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The South East in Bloom competition 2006 saw Guildford voted Best in Category in the Large Town section and was presented with a Silver Gilt award.

River tile art
A 17th century House of Correction was sited on what is now 50-54 Guildford High Street and in modern times occupied by various retail businesses.

Ghost Club (1) in 2004 undertook a paranormal investigation to determine strange goings-on that had been reported on the premises. These included a 1995 police report detailing officers attending alarms ringing in the middle of the night. At police request the manager turned out bringing with him his young son. Whilst the manager toured the building he left his son with a WPC who reported that the young boy had proceeded to hold a conversation on the stairs with a 'nice old man' who was not visible to the police officer. Stickers the boy had left on the stairs before leaving were found arranged in a neat circle inside the window.

Retail staff had also over a number of years reported being tapped on the shoulder and feeling a presence in the room. The lift would also travel on its own accord and a kettle in the staff room would turn itself on. Other reports include that of a night security guard being pushed over and decorators being handled, all by unseen hands.

The Ghost Club team, who stayed on the premises all night using scientific equipment, recorded a number of unexplained events but sadly without conclusion.

(1) Ghost Club was formed in 1862 to undertake psychical research and specialises in investigating paranormal phenomenon of ghosts and hauntings.

Surrey Research Park

Guildford pioneered the Surrey Street Standards in 2002 which led the way for other towns to adopt the successful scheme. Street Standards is a highly effective, low tolerance approach to tackling antisocial behaviour. A first offence results in a football-style yellow card and a warning, with a second offence red card leading to prosecution. The police also have a specially designed 'Water Bus' equipped with a water jet and brushes. Anyone caught urinating in the street gets a yellow card warning and is made to clean up their own mess. Refusal to cooperate results in arrest.

Town Bridge
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“It’s Friday the 24th and all that can be seen are overjoyed African students going to attend their graduation after years of hard work. Of course there were British students, Indians and others but one could not ignore the statistics showing the ever-increasing number of African graduates at this ceremony at Surrey University in Guildford.

"The nursing students though, who are also celebrating this weekend, face major hurdles ahead as the British government has stopped employing most of the foreign graduates saying the hospitals should first prove they cannot get local talent. 'It is sad really that we are happy today but most of our colleagues have not been employed because the Home Office is saying they should not be given work permits – some of us are already illegal immigrants because our students Visas have run out,' said Stella Marizani.

"Some hospitals have been employing the overseas students who were paid over £600 each monthly by the British government during their three-year studies but the Home Office has been refusing to process their permits. Hospitals from Australia and New Zealand have been recruiting the Zimbabwean graduates and their hard-working African colleagues from Surrey since the British government announced its new policy to shut out the people it trained." Source: zimbabwejournalists.com November 2006

Staircase, Surrey Research Park

“Yesterday I went to Guildford where I visited the Farmers' Market. I stocked up on delicious smoked bacon from a stall that sells the best British bacon I 've come across."
Blogger Karin 'Living Faith' December 2006

Four companies listed in the Financial Times' 2006 list of Top 500 Global Companies have a significant presence in Guildford.

Guildford Millmead by Paul Farmer
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"My wife is one of those people who prefers knowing what she's getting for Christmas to surprises. Last year I took her shopping in Guildford so she could choose her Christmas presents. There really are some great shops in this city. I would recommend arriving in the dark at this time of year. As you enter the city centre you'll be struck by the pretty Christmas lights twinkling in the cold night air. When we visited last year there were plenty of stalls on the main drag, so if you fancy some roasted chestnuts, mulled wine or maybe even a nice hotdog to warm you up, you'll be OK here."
Robert North. Enjoy England. December 2006

Adam Curry, a World Wide Web entrepreneur and one of the first celebrities to create and administer a web site, was instrumental in pioneering podcasting in the early 2000s. Dubbed a 'podfather' Curry sends out his influential podcasts from 'Curry Cottage' in Guildford.

“We got to sing with Guildford, a boys school. They were nicer and better-looking than the boys from Christchurch, who were wimps, and Hale, who were pimply-faced jocks (according to all the girls). It was all rather civilised and involved a lot of preparation which was very exciting. I remember aproaching Guildford and pulling into a driveway with an old (new by world standards) limestone church on the left and a huge green lawn spiked with huge Norfolk pine trees. Very dreamy and wintry to alight off the bus and walk in the drizzling rain to the church rehearsal space and have to warm up the vocal chords before launching into the dramatic opening of Kyrie.
Blogger Lovey C 17th December 2006

Guildford Castle Gardens by Annes Stevens
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Despite having a university and a cathedral, considered prerequisites, Guildford has never been successful in its applications to have the status of 'city' bestowed on it.

Guildford Castle, which was also at one time the site of the town's gaol, has its share of hauntings. All that remains of the castle today is the stone keep where a ghostly woman has been seen at the top of the stairs periodically. Another woman, said to be wearing long Victorian period dress, strolls through the castle grounds. Perhaps most distressing of all was the sighting by a young boy a decade ago of 'a man hanging by chains attached to the wall'.

"Went into this pub in Guildford earlier -'The Guildford Tup' - and someone asked if they could put the football on the TV at the bar. The woman at the bar said 'Football. No, Never…..this is a Rugby pub'. Now regardless of whatever people's opinions may be to the game of football, you know - there's too much money in it - it's full of ****** - that is typical of a jumped up pub in Guildford."
Blogger Elsantirey 23rd December 2006

Tunsgate Square, Guildford
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Two MPs agreed a friendly wager on the outcome of a basketball cup final clash (2007). Local team Guildford Heat were up against the Scottish Rocks for their BBL Cup Final in Birmingham. Guildford MP, Anne Milton, offered up a hamper from the Hogs Back Brewery to her counterpart Jim Sheridan, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North. For his part of the wager, Mr Sheridan pledged a bottle from the Diageo distillery in Scotland.

"Jim Sheridan better be very afraid," warned Ms Milton.

Guildford Heat was only formed in July 2005, but the team are currently top of the British Basketball League. They have won both league matches against Scottish Rocks so far this season. But Mr Sheridan was confident of a turnaround in fortunes in the cup final.

"You can rest assured that the Heat will get a roasting," he declared. "I think the Rocks will stand tall and this will be a great event."

And the outcome? Jim Sheridan was parted from his bottle of Scotch - final score 81 - 78 to Guildford Heat as they lifted the British Basketball League trophy.

"Perhaps opposition teams have underestimated us during the last 12 months and maybe they have been expecting this team to fold," said coach Paul James. "The longer they are of that opinion the better. However, my team doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. We all know how hard we’ve been working for this success and we won’t stop now.” Sources: bbconline 5th January 2007; timesonline 8th January 2007

“Touring around pubs doing Mummers' Plays (1), reciting stories and singing carols and wassail songs on a Saturday night in Guildford is not easy, but I guess Pilgrim Morris are used to it! Somehow the morrismen and their entourage managed to squeeze into the main bar of the Star to perform the usual doctor-raising-Turkish-Knight-from-dead play. This was done with far more panache than other, more ponderous Mummer's Plays we've seen! Great fun. Then someone handed around songsheets and loads of us joined in the singing. Although I didn't know many wassail songs I did by the end of the night! The King's Head was closed, so it missed out on it's lucky chalk crosses for the New Year." Blogger Val Badger 7th January 2007
(1) Mummers' Plays are seasonal folk plays originating in the 18th century performed by troupes of actors in the street and at pubs.

Allotment entrance Burpham, Guildford
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“High-fliers who yearn to move to Surrey are looking beyond the familiar territory of Oxshott, Cobham, Esher and Weybridge. What sets you back £2 million near the Chelsea football club training ground in Cobham, with half an acre and a pool, will cost you a paltry £1.5 million in Haslemere, Dorking or Guildford.

"City types with young families are sacrificing convenience for period homes in generous plots in and around Haslemere and along the A25, which links Guildford and Dorking. Both areas offer well-maintained and pretty villages, traditional shops, as well as good independent and state schools.

"Haslemere, not too far from Hampshire and Sussex, is a favourite for commuters, thanks to its 50-minute direct train service to Waterloo. The satellite villages of Midhurst, Fernhurst, North Chapel and Lodsworth offer a slower pace of life, less traffic, splendid countryside, and pubs with log fires and masses of private space. The perfect antidote to London. Guildford and Dorking and their surrounding villages are one of the least densely populated areas in the county and quality properties are hard to come by." Source: timesonline.co.uk 19th January 2007

“We once went to a performance of Salad Days in Guildford. Never have I seen so many blazers gathered together in one place. That somehow left its mark."
Blogger Baralbion 16th January 2007

“The nights were filled with people coming and going below the window and that was because a pub was just on the corner. When the trade stopped on the streets so it revved up behind those pearly windows that always had a fascination for me. They were very decorative then and you couldn’t see in. all you saw was the silhouettes of the people inside, the sound of a piano was always on the go and when it got late there was loud singing even on the street below. You couldn’t complain since it was quite normal and besides, Gran was a regular visitor, going into the snug and sitting there with a half of stout from the money she got from the loan club that day. I used to go down at around ten o’clock at night and ask someone to get my gran out but she would only scold me and bribe me with a glass of lemonade to hang around outside until she emerged. She knew I was afraid of the dark and would not sleep alone in an old house.”
Margaret Turner – Guildford resident Surrey Memories and Families at War. Michael Green

“Huuummm from ‘Stamford Bridge to Guildford,’ quite hasn’t got the ring to it that from Stamford Bridge to Wemberleeeeeeee…. has, but Guildford could be the place that Chelsea Football Club may move to should all efforts to redevelop the exisiting site fail.

"I read somewhere that the site would need a minimum of 20 acres to build a decent sized capacity stadium, unfortunately for Chelsea, Stamford Bridge sits on an acreage of only 13. So what do Chelsea do? Well they could move down the road to Earls Court, or further down the way to White City (which in its former glory was the host stadium for the Olympic games), or as reports suggest move thirty miles away into the Surrey countryside to Guildford.

" With the Cobham training complex not too far down the road and the majority of players living in the Surrey stockbroker belt on millionaires row, perhaps Guildford sounds like the place to move to." Offside Chelsea Blogger Andy 12th February 2007

"It is often the case that you don’t appreciate or realise what is on your own doorstep. How many times have I walked past this place (The Angel Hotel, Guildford) on the way up the High Street, concentrating instead on the glitzy modern shops and what I needed to buy.

"The first time I heard it talked about was on Philip Hutchinson’s Ghost Tour of Guildford which we braved one Halloween! Incidentally a brilliant tour with a guide who is also a well known ghost hunter and sits on the council of the Ghost Club (the world’s oldest organisation associated with paranormal research). It was historically interesting and also quite scary to someone like me who has a very active imagination. Apparently Room 1 of the Angel Hotel, the rightmost front window I believe, is haunted by the ghost of a nineteenth century military man with a moustache - the couple who saw him in the wardrobe mirror at 3am were even able to draw him! It is also said that the wood used in the building was brought in from timbers of old ships and that is why sea-faring ghosts can be seen in the mirrors.

"Over the stairs hangs a stunning 17th century Parliamentary Clock which used to inform travellers when their coach was about to depart. I could sense the atmosphere and history all around, it really was like stepping back in time and felt quite surreal to look out the front window to see present day Guildford High Street still buzzing about its business." Blogger: Flibbertigibbet 18th February 2007

"There is also a tattooist and piercing parlour around the corner right next to the GSA (Guildford School of Art) and ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music) - where lots of students hang out with their guitars and the smell of incense is always wafting around . . . "
Blogger Jen Munro 20th January 2008

From blog diary of theatre director for English Touring Theatre's February 2007 production of French Without Tears (Terence Rattigan) at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford.

"So this is what coming out of retirement entails, is it? After a week of run throughs in the rehearsal room all seems set fair for the production week in Guildford. I knew we had a tight schedule (getting to a first show on the Wednesday night, a matinee and evening show on Thursday, press night Friday) so I'd tried to stitch it all together in the rehearsal room. Music and scene changes all in place etc, five run throughs to begin playing it in. Then last Sunday the actor playing Kit goes into hospital and I go into a tailspin.

"On Monday morning Ben Lambert heroically gets onto a train to Guildford and I start the technical rehearsals with him playing Kit holding a script marked up with the moves. By some mysterious process we get through it, do two dress rehearsals and a first show on the Wednesday as planned. He's terrific in the part, the audience get behind the situation (an announcement is made beforehand) and the result is better than anyone could have expected last Sunday evening. What a business it all is. And people wonder why we're like we are.

"It all looks unbelievably handsome, the music is great, and the play is catnip to a certain generation of the middle-class theatre-going public some of whom excitedly whisper the first big joke before it comes to their neighbour. The play is a period piece and I haven't gone fishing in it for relevance or a new slant. We just tried to find what seemed to be there. Couched in light comedy clothes there is a Chekhovian study of people who try to protect themselves from the emotional hurly burly by adopting artificial stances; it's both moving and very funny when these defences are breached."
Blogger: Paul Miller, Director 18th February 2007

"This is Guildford on a Friday night, with an amorous hint of spring in the air, and we're on top of a multi-storey car park in a place called The Thai Terrace. It's heaving. Two women in their 20s are lolling about on one of the armless sofas and there's just enough room for us, but it's going to be cosy.

"It's not that I, like, fancy him - just that he's a really, really, like, nice person," says the one with a Picasso-esque (Cubism phase) tattoo on her right ankle.

"I know and I think he's, like, really good-looking but just not, you know, sexy," says her friend, who's come out in a pair of gold high heels similar to the ones that brought Naomi Campbell crashing down to earth some years ago." Source: Mark Palmer telegraph.co.uk 24th March 2007

The Royal Surrey's own radio station celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007. Hospital radio was very much in its infancy when Guildford's was launched in 1968 then for the hospitals at St Luke's and Farnham Road. Recognising the beneficial service the pioneering station was providing to patients and staff, the charity Guildford Lions soon raised money to buy more sophisticated equipment, and so Radio Lion was officially born. The station, rightly recognised for its professionalism and popularity, now broadcasts to the Royal Surrey Hospital 24 hours a day and provides a varied listening schedule from music and news to live interviews, comedy and culture.

Radio Lion DJ Mandy Worrall won a national award (April 2009) for her evening show Rock Xtra which regularly features live performances from bands in the area. Her Gold Award for best specialist music programme was presented at the National Hospital Radio awards.

The average height of the BBL Cup and League 2007 basketball champions Guildford Heat is 6' 6" (1.98m). 25 year old John Nottley, who plays Centre for the Guildford Spectrum based team, is a towering 6' 11" (2.1m) tall.

Guildford's Royal Mail sorting office was one of the first in the country to trial (March 2011) ditching traditional bicycle deliveries in favour of two-person teams working from vans. The scheme is intended to improve efficiency as part of the company's modernisation programme.

The meadows by the Wey on Walnut Tree Close, where the Royal Mail sorting office now resides, was the location for eagerly awaited visits by travelling circuses in post-war years until the 1960s. Chipperfield's, Bertram Mills and Billy Smarts Circuses were all regular visitors there. An alternative location included Stoke Recreation Ground.

The animals, performers and equipment were shipped in specially chartered goods trains and walked in procession from the station sidings creating much excitement among local residents at the time.

The first evidence of cricket being played anywhere in the world was recorded in the year 1550, by the pupils of the Royal Grammar School in Guildford.
The first instance of a match to be played between counties in England is recorded to be on 29th June in the year 1709. This match was played between Surrey and Kent at Dartford Brent. In 1727 Articles of Agreement were written governing the conduct of matches between the teams of the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick of Peperharow, near Godalming, Surrey.

Street cleaners in Guildford have started (July 2007) lifting discarded chewing gum off the pavements using a new steam-powered gum-busting machine. Guildford presumably now stands to lose its stuck-up image.

A green housing scheme in the Slyfield area of Guildford became (June 2007) one
of only 20 developments in southeastern England to be awarded an 'excellent' eco-homes rating.

"As part of Open University's James May's 20th Century television program, the Top Gear presenter visited Mission Control in Guildford. In the programme James took a journey through the 20th century by "trying out for himself some of the most surprising and influential technological advances of the past hundred years".

"James asked SSTL (who are based on Guildford University's campus) if he could 'borrow' a satellite to take a photograph of the Earth. Well, an area the size of a tennis court to be precise. A BBC production team, with the help of SSTL staff, spread white sheets on land adjacent to the small satellite manufacturer's headquarters in Guildford, carefully designed to represent a "Space Invader" alien when viewed from above. SSTL's operations team then programmed a series of images which did indeed capture the alien."
Source: SSTL Space Blog 16th July 2007

"Went for a walk around (Guildford Uni) campus at lunchtime – nice to get out of the office. Sat by the lake and enjoyed gazing at the ducks, the coots and the moorhens, the latter of which had two chicks. Lovely. The ducks also indulged in a display of simultaneous leg stretching. Very talented birds really. And I’m amazed they could balance on one leg at all."
Blogger: Anne Brooke 17th July 2007

A groundbreaking
technique for relieving patients from the debilitating symptoms of chronic sinusitis (inflamation of the sinuses which can trigger severe pain) has been pioneered (March 2007) by a Royal Surrey Hospital consultant. Rhinologist Julian Rowe-Jones inserts a small balloon into the sinuses from the nose. Inflated, it displaces the small bone at the sinus junction freeing up the passageway and is then removed.

When going to town everywhere you went were queues of people mainly women and children. I can remember standing for hours with my mother, sometimes you joined a queue and didn’t know what it was for until you got it passed down the line from the front, or you got to the front of the queue.

"When the air raid warnings were going off all night long, we had many sleepless nights; we used to go to bed fully dressed, with coats and footwear ready to put on quickly and run; twice a month my parents went to my grandmas we’d stay two nights, Saturday and Sunday just to get a decent nights sleep without the wailing of the siren, my gran lived in Salisbury, Wilts.

"I remember D Day, my dad came in from working nights on the railways, I heard him saying to my mum “somethings going on”, he had seen trains going down to Portsmouth loaded with troops ,guns, tanks and army lorries. Also on the by pass in Guildford.lorries loaded with troops tanks and guns. So everyone went to see this sight, off our estate. This was D Day the beginning of the end.

"VE day was super, I was 11 ½ years old and we had a street party, every house made and gave something, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits etc. I’d never seen such food for 6 years, Although still on food rationing, everyone dug deep and gave a day to remember."
Betty Ford, Guildford resident.
Source: WW2 People's War BBC

The creation of crop circles in Britain has always stimulated much debate, be they created by natural forces, alien activity or just downright clever creative stunts.

One such formation near Guildford was reported way back in 1880 when a scientist, John Rand Capron, described his sighting: “a field of standing wheat considerably knocked about, not as an entirety, but in patches forming, as viewed from a distance, circular spots. I could not trace locally any circumstances accounting for the peculiar forms of the patches in the field. They were suggestive to me of some cyclonic wind action.” The exact location was not recorded. Source: Life in the Fast Lane 3rd August 2007

"When I was a young child, more than 50 years ago, I used to travel up to London's Victoria Station, to watch my grandfather drive the prestigious Golden Arrow pullman-class steam train at the start of its journey down to Dover.

"I now live in the quiet village of Chilworth. Alongside our garden is a cutting which contains the Guildford to Redhill railway line. The track is not electrified and is frequently used as a route by steam engine preservation societies for private charter trips.

"Last weekend I heard the familiar sound of an approaching steam train, so I stepped through the fence to watch it pass by. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a 12 coach pullman-class train pulled by Merchant Navy engine Clan Line - complete with the original Golden Arrow insignia on the front. The engine and coaches were all fully restored and in magnificent condition. It was a wonderful sight." S C H Wing, Letters, Surrey Advertiser 9th March 2012 (abridged)

Kings College for the Arts and Technology located in Southway was the first privately run state school in the UK. The Guildford college opened its doors to 900 students in 2000 replacing the former Kings' Manor School which had been subject to criticism of failure. Kings College focuses on educating students in at least one technology subject, provides a computer laptop 'buy-in' scheme, and abolished the school bell insisting on a more 'grown-up atmosphere'.

Guildford and nearby Woking have been involved in a pioneering initiative to reduce 'doorstep crime'. Instances of so called 'distraction theft', where criminals under the guise of genuine cold-callers target particularly the elderly and either bluff their way into homes or cause a distraction so an accomplice gains entry, have plummeted since the scheme.

The scheme sets up 'No Cold Calling Zones' - one third of Guildford encompassing over 10,000 homes is now covered - which are policed by special constables. In Guildford the number of reported distraction thefts was slashed from 64 in 2005 to only nine in 2006. Rogue traders have also been thwarted.

"The zones were set up following residents’ complaints or police referrals,” said Mr Ruddy of Surrey County Council. "They cover mixed communities with both affluent and poorer estates. Two thirds of the victims are over 70 and most live on their own. Old people are giving away as much as £30,000 to people cold calling at their home to do building work." Source: timesonline 20th August 2007

An ambitious attraction is being billed for Guildford's Queen Elizabeth Park Late Summer Fayre (September 2007).
A dinosaur roadshow will recall the days when Surrey120 million years ago was a tropical jungle of giant ferns, raging rivers and deep swamps where meat-eating dinosaurs ruled unchallenged.

The Guildford House Gallery is planning to stage a recycled exhibition of art and design in 2008. The exhibition will have as its centrepiece a living room fitted out with goods made from recycled materials including furniture and light fittings. There will also be guitars made from plastic bottles and yoghurt pots on display.

Pattie Boyd's 2007 biography Wonderful Tonight talks of her relationship with the acclaimed guitarist Eric Clapton who lived in the Wey Valley.

"Once we met under the clock on the cobbled Guildford high street. He had just come back from Miami and had a pair of bellbottom trousers for me—hence the track "Bell Bottom Blues." He was tanned, gorgeous, and irresistible—but I resisted."

"Despite being in the middle of foot-and-mouth country, Guildford looked fit as butcher's dogs as they gave Warlingham a thorough roasting on Saturday." From
a rugby match report between Guildford and Warlingham. Guildford won 27 - 7.
Source: Steven Downes. Wimbledon Guardian 28th August 2007

d Borough Council intends to implement a range of new measures to ensure that two thirds of household refuse in Guildford is recycled by 2010. This will include a kerbside collection of leftover food and garden cuttings. The council will also be trialling the collection of discarded household batteries.

The 2007 edition of the UK Millionaires' Map reveals that there are 14,109 millionaires living in the Guildford 'GU' postcode area. This ranks the area in second place behind West London in the league of wealthiest areas in Britain. There are 124 postcode areas in the UK.

The Civic Trust has awarded (2007) Stoke Park and the Sutherland Memorial Park (off Clay Lane in Burpham) with Green Flag Awards celebrating nationally parks and open spaces that are outstanding as welcoming, safe and well-maintained.
Sutherland Memorial Park, which was donated by the Duke of Sutherland in 1954 as a dedicated war memorial to the residents of Burpham killed on active service during WWII, has now won the coveted award four times.

Sutherland Memorail Park, Burpham, Guildford
click on image to enlarge

Since 1974 Guildford University students have raised money for charity in the Annual River Sports Day held on the River Wey.
In 2007 the event, which had always previously been run in June was held instead in September to coincide with Freshers Week as a way of welcoming new students. After the university's sub aqua club had spent the previous day clearing the river at Millmead of debris, 150 students took part in a series of events including raft races, tug-of-war competitions and water gladiator jousts, with the entrance fees being donated to the Guildford charity Disability Challengers.

"I recently bought in a charity shop, Guildford Corporation's Official Guide for 1939. It was supposed to include a map, but inside was a typed slip stating that owing to police regulations the map has been withdrawn for the duration of the war. However, upon production of the slip at the municipal offices after the war, the map will be supplied free of charge. If I contact Guildford Borough Council I wonder if they will have any left?"
Source: N. Harris. Letters. Surrey Advertiser 11th April 2008

"I just arrived today in lovely Guildford, England, just a 30-minute train ride southwest of London. Better known as the home of Surrey University and Hoof & Mouth (SIC) disease.
One of the first things I noticed is the sky. I never get to see clouds in L.A. and I just realized I miss them. Samantha took me straight out for fish and chips. I don’t have Photoshop to fix the color on this photo, but I figure it’s appropriately English to post an image of off-colored food like this. Notice the grease - yum!"
Blogger: Susanne 'The Butterfly Net' 14th September 2007

Stoke Cemetery and The Mount Cemetery in Guildford contain between them 8,000 memorials made up primarily of headstones. Under legal obligations policed by the Health & Safety Executive Guildford Borough Council has to inspect all such memorials at least every five years and make safe those that pose a threat to public safety whilst they try to track down the owners responsible for their upkeep (which we assume are the living ones . . . ). Six people, mostly children, have died nationally over the last 12 years from headstone related accidents.
Source: About Guildford (GBC publication) September 2007

BBC TV's popular new talent contest The Voice saw (April 2012) two young Guildford musician's battle through to the second round. Pixie Highley and Indie Murton are both students at Guildford's Academy of Contemporary Music. The duo had to inspire the four judges, who are seated with their backs to the stage at the beginining of each act for a blind audition, to turn their chairs around before the act finishes. All four judges had turned their chairs within 30 seconds of the act starting.

The next phase was where the judge the duo had chosen to be their mentor coaches them for the remaining parts of the competition until they are eliminated or win. Sadly the girls were eliminated in the second round.

"It was edited very unfairly and made us look very bad and like spoilt little girls," said Murton after the braodcast. "Some of the contestants have said that as well and that things came across in the wrong way. We have a management company and a PR company and we are planning on showing what we are really like and that we can sing and go further." gethampshire.co.uk 24th April 2012

Guildford library leads the league of forgetful borrowers in Waverley and Mole Valley with books and late fees worth over £60,000 from 5,602 people. Godalming weighs in with £20,000 owed.
Source: Surrey Advertiser 5th October 2007

Web developer and Guildford resident John Tabatabai walked out of a London casino (2007) almost £600,000 richer after winning second place in the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe. If he'd come first he'd have won £1m.

The Periodical Publisher's Association chose Guildford as the only UK town to feature in a focus for pioneering new research to determine consumer buying and reading habits. Dubbed 'Magazine Town' panels of magazine readers kept diaries and attended consumer panels over September 2007 in a bid by the association to provide groundbreaking direction for beleaguered publishers. A school in Godalming was selected by the PPA for visits by two high profile editors for career briefings.
Source: ppa.co.uk September 2007

A survey (2008) of British reading habits in addition to revealing that 30% read magazines in the loo showed that the people of Guildford were the biggest readers of fishing magazines in the country. Well, what else would you expect with such a beutiful river on their doorstep?
Source: magazinesbymail.net 11th August 2008

The 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment paraded through the town on 20th November 2007. The 600 soldiers from the battalion, also fondly known as the 1st Vikings, have recently returned from a tour of duty in Helmand Province of Afghanistan where they were in action against Taliban forces. Nine Vikings were sadly lost in action in the six-month tour. Although the battalion recruits in East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Essex it is based in nearby Pirbright.

Surrey Police reported (January 2008) that Guildford has the highest number of non-Surrey criminals committing crime in the town compared to the rest of the county. 51% of the 10,513 crimes committed over the last year were by villains coming into the county, with those travelling down from London being the biggest group (31%).

Guildford leads the country's rankings for having the highest divorce rate (2007) making Guildford County Court one of the busiest in the UK. Legal firms in the town cite added financial pressures at Christmas as being instrumental in many break-ups, with the money orientated profile of many of the town's residents providing extra pressure.

The Wey Valley was hit by heavy rainfalls and high winds in the second week of January 2008 but luckily escaped the extreme flooding being experienced in Oxfordshire and Yorkshire. The Upper Wey and Lower Wey was placed on flood watch with particular concern in the Guildford area.

Two historical re-enactment enthusiasts married (January 2008) at St Mary's Church, Quarry Street in full medieval wedding dress. The ceremony attended by guests also suitable attired was followed by a procession up the High Street to a reception at the Guildhall.

Lifetime cloud-lover Guildford resident Nigel Foster is the latest of 11,000 people to join the Cloud Appreciation Society. Founded by a Briton the society is campaigning to fight the banality of 'blue-sky-thing' . . .

A policeman who lived in Shamley Green in the 1940s became a successful author with his accounts of life on the beat in the local area. Louis Quinain had two books published by Methuen. The first in 1946, Country Beat, is catalogued as being autobiographical and features stories with intriguing titles including the Cowman's Gas Meter; The Case of the Errant Pony; The Case of the Foreman's Spades and The Unfinished Burglary. His second book Policeman On The Green was published in in 1948.

An online petition has been launched on 10 Downing Street's E-Petition site to protest at what the petitioner sees as 'an act of betrayal' against the residents of Guildford. The PM's office established the site in 2006 to gauge public opinion and "offer a modern parallel which is more convenient for the petitioner (than paper-based petitions presented at the PM's door)". The petition is worded thus:

"The plan to create a regional hub in Guildford and increase the population by 25% using 'inward migration' is an attempt to manipulate the political demographics of the area.

"Because the region is an EU creation, 'inward migration' does not mean people from elsewhere in the UK, it means people from elsewhere in Europe, who, grateful for a new life will vote to a man, for whom they see as their benefactor.

"Similar programmes of gerrymandering are taking place elsewhere in the UK. These are not the actions one expects from properly elected democratic representatives, who should be seeking to satisfy the will of their own people, and not forever be seeking ways to thwart it. Gerrymandering is an act of cynical betrayal of the people of Great Britain." Source: petitions.pm.gov.uk February 2008

There is much to satisfy those we mourn the passing of the Guildford-based Friary Meux brewery. Sellers regularly post details of the brewery's products on the online auction site eBay. Current (February 2008) items include a half-pint glass (£4.97); 1960's beer mats (£0.99); a cellar management booklet (£0.99); bitter pump clip (£2.00) and a Friary Meux Hawkwood limited edition first day cover franked 'Godalming 22.01.84' (£9.99) featuring the brewery's historic heraldry. Starting life as The Friary Brewery in 1865 Friary Meux as it became brewed its last pint in 1969.

Guildford Borough Council has decided (February 2008) to withdraw funding from a drop-in centre for old people. The Riverside Cafe in the town, which is run by Age Concern, has had its annual grant of £30,000 stopped. There is now concern that the centre, which also provides a restaurant, a footcare clinic and drop-in computer facilities will have to close. However the council announced (March 2008) that the charity can continue to use the site rent free, although without the grant a fund-raising campaign will be needed to keep the centre running.

A Home Office review of the impact of 24-hour drinking in England and Wales concedes that the controversial policy has failed in many areas to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime. The report (February 2008) shows that violent crime rose in Guildford by 12%. This compares unfavourably with Birmingham (6%), Nottingham (3%), Croydon (-16%) and Blackpool (-11%).
Source: independent.co.uk 24th February 2008

In 2003 Surrey County Council were forced to remove a 13ft (4m) high climbing frame they had erected at Henley Fort on the Hog's Back. It transpired that the structure violated the council's own rules in that they had not secured planning permission. The Victorian defensive fort is used as an outdoor education centre. Planning permission now secured (2008) a new and less intrusive structure has been erected in its place.

Guildford police has expressed concern over the growing craze for urban 'free running' or Parkour (1) that has hit the town. Participants use buildings, walls and fences to move from point to point as efficiently and quickly as possible, and in the view of the police are placing themselves and others in danger. One police officer reported that she had seen free-runners swinging across the river using a road bridge and then crossing three lanes of traffic to go down the other side. Common sites in the town include the Friary Centre, flats, bridges, rooftops, subways and car parks. Source: bbc.co.uk 18th March 2008


(1) Parkour or l'art du déplacement is said to have been founded in France in the 1980s and has a worldwide following who regard the activity as an art and a physical philosophy

"Sam invited me and my housemate to go visit her in Guildford. It is so serene with lush greenery all around and all those tudor style shop plots so well-preserved. No wonder Guildford is one of the best place to live in Britain."
Blogger: Junie 21st March 2008

In the late 1990s local radio station 96.4 The Eagle introduced the local populace to their new mascot, Talon, a silver body-suited female android. The busty silver-haired 'robot', actually two models Sophie and Gill who took turns wearing the costume, became so popular that she did public appearances.

"Amid snow, gales and mud, 3000 competitors from many countries took part in this four day festival which started with a sprint race at the University of Surrey at Guildford. The sprint race was on a sloping university campus with many buildings, courses of less than 3 km and winning times of 15 minutes or so with lots of controls: something we could easily emulate here (Ireland).

"The two day individual event followed at Leith Hill and Ashdown Forest (of Winnie the Pooh fame), and a relay at Eridge Old Park.
These are some of the best areas in southeast England for such events. Blogger: The Irish Orienteer 29th March 2008

As part of the Territorial Army's centenary celebrations units from Farnham, Redhill, Reigate, Chertsey and Camberley marched from Town Bridge to Holy Trinity Church watched by hundreds of sightseers. The April 2008 march celebrated Surrey's commitment to the part-time volunteer fighting force which has over 33,500 soldiers. The TA was founded in 1907 with full mobilisation in the First World War with units fighting alongside the regular army. 6,900 TA soldiers fought in the Iraqi War and 1,200 personnel actively support regulars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

For one hour on the evening of Saturday 29th March 2008 Guildford was plunged voluntarily into darkness. Queen Elizabeth Park resident Susie Maguire had campaigned tirelessly to encourage the people and businesses of the town to turn off their lights in solidarity with the now international event Earth Hour (1). The popularity of the event saw Guildford Cathedral in darkness, together with local restaurants that joined in replacing electric light with candles.

(1) Earth Hour was started by the people of Sydney in 2007 to draw attention for the need to cut down on electricity consumption in order to reduce the greenhouse effect for climate change.

On April 3rd 1962 panda crossings
were introduced in the UK for the first time as a safety feature for pedestrians. The light controlled crossing had mixed effects across the country, with traffic chaos reported in Croydon and technical difficulties bringing the scheme launch in Weymouth to a complete halt. The authorities in Guildford however proudly reported a smooth and trouble-free inaugural day.
Source: timesonline.co.uk 3rd April 2008

"Police today revealed that a 27 year old English teacher has been beaten by the checkout staff at a supermarket in Guildford, Surrey.

"An eye witness said "It was horrible- the man simply pointed out that the sign reading 'ten items or less' should in fact read 'fewer than ten items' because less means 'not as much' and fewer means 'not as many'."

"Police say that following these comments the checkout staff set upon the man using cash bags and an assortment of frozen foods. Six employees have been arrested."
Spoof blogger: Rickie E. Room thespoof.com 4th April 2008

Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian KGB Colonel who became a double agent and defected to Britain in 1985, was taken in November 2007 to the Royal Surrey Hospital from his home near Guildford for treatment of suspected poisoning. The ex-spy claims he was poisoned by the KGB.

A sand sculptor constructed (April 2008) a scale model of Guildford Cathedral from rotting vegetables to encourage people to make their own compost. Mark Anderson created the 4ft (1.2m) tall replica at Bocketts Farm near Fetcham.

Records held at Companies House show that women in Guildford are among the most enterprising in the country. During 2007 103 new all-female director companies were registered in the town adding to the 2,785 female directors already living in the area.

A 1937 steam locomotive called at Guildford, Woking, Gomshall and other Surrey stations as part of a whistle-stop tour to celebrate its restoration. The Royal Scot carried 200 passengers on its April 2008 nostalgic tour organised by The Railway Touring Company.

The now derelict building that was once The Green Man pub on London Road in Burpham has had all the tiles lifted off the roof to deter squatters from using the site (April 2008). The building, which sits on the site of public houses spanning 400 years, is earmarked for demolition but local residents are campaigning for it to remain land used for a replacement pub. Aldi Supermarkets, the new German owners of the property have stated (June 2008) that they intend bulldozing the site although the local council says they have not received a planning application.

Formed in 1983, Friary Guildford Brass Band have had a successful history qualifying for national brass band championships and winning a regional first section championship in 2003. In addition to making around 20 public appearances in the town each year, the band undertake high profile engagements elsewhere. These have included playing onboard the QE2, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Cafe Royal, Ascot and Newmarket race days and the British Grand Prix. The band also take up engagements in Europe.

The first recorded full-time brass band in Guildford was the town's Friary Meux Brewery Band in the early 1900s.

Official figures from the Church of England reveal that weekly attendances for nearly all of their 43 dioceses in the period 2001-6 were in decline. Guildford diocese showed a 7% decline. The worst was Sheffield at -15%. Seven showed no change or an increase with London heading the tables at +12%.
Source: cofe.anglican.org 12th May 2008

British Telecom (BT) has submitted (May 2008) a list of payphones that it intends to take out of service due to them no longer being financially viable. Citing 99% of homes having a landline and a 85% having a mobile phone as the cause, many of the street phones are the traditional red boxes. The council fearful that the loss of the traditional boxes will have a negative impact on the local heritage has canvassed public opinion before responding to BT.

Phones for removal in Guildford include those in London Road; Southway, Mareschal Road; Clandon Road, Woking Road, Worplesdon Road; Madrid Road, Cunningham Avenue; Wilderness Road and Epsom Road.

“Homelessness became very severe with families of large sizes living in two-up two-down accommodation. Also the grandparents lived in the household and they would care for the children when the parents were out working or looking for it. Some children slept in one big bed often three at the top and three at the bottom. Grown-ups such as brothers had the one bed and if there were visitors they would use the settee or landing or bathtub.” Guildford resident 1930s. Guildford Memories. Michael Green

The much awaited release (May 2008) of Ministry of Defence classified UFO sightings has revealed how the Wey Valley has not been high on aliens' Must Visit lists. Of the handful of 'sightings' reported in the area, one file details a report of a frisbee shaped object moving across a clear blue sky near Farnham Road Hospital in 1985, and a 'reflective jelly bean' was reported hovering over the A3 in 1998. Other files held by the National Archives tell of two police officers, also in 1985, calling in the sighting of a "white light with a tail and no sound or smell" fall 400 metres out of the sky at Horsell Common near Woking, and of a series of orange lights spotted moving slowly accross the sky in nearby Godalming.
Source: http://ufos.nationalarchives.
gov.uk/ 15th May 2008

The Ministry of Defence released (August 2009) UFO reports for Surrey during the early 1990s. The sightings include two ' browny grey' objects spotted hovering for two minutes above the railway bridge footpath in Woodbridge Hill on July 4th 1994 in the evening. In March 1993 a single saucer shaped bright light was reported above Guildford police station, and despite being the size of 'a football pitch' moved through the sky noiselessly. In 1990 a Shalford resident reported a small star shaped blue light in the sky.

A report based on a survey (May 2008) of small businesses around the country has revealed that Guildford is ranked fourth nationally in the costliest locations. The Alliance and Leicester survey results for high costs are primarily pinned on high labour costs and rental property values, these in turn driven by the desirability of a location. Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Oxford were in the top slots.
Source: manchestereveningnews.co.uk 30th May 2008

Guildford was selected by the London 2012 Games organiser LOCOG (March 2012) as one of 11 locations in Surrey to be honoured with Olympic Flame torchbearers.

Having been carried through Godalming the flame is to be driven to Guildford where a series of runners will carry it from the roundabout below Guildford Cathedral towards the town centre via Farnham Road, Bridge Street and Millbrook before finishing in Stoke Park.

"Please could they (the Town Centre Management Group)
(1) bring their influence to bear to ensure that without further delay the setts in the High Street are restored to their original beauty and provide a safe surface for all users. In its present state our historic High Street is both unattractive and unsafe for pedestrians - something of which Guildford cannot be proud." Auriol Earle. Letters. Surrey Advertiser 30th May 2008

(1) Town Centre Management Group was set up in 1993 as a partnership between the private and public sectors to 'ensure the continuing prosperity, vitality, viability and attractiveness of Guildford town centre'.
(2) A sett is a small square block usually hewn from granite that was used traditionally as a hard-wearing surface for roads before the introduction of tarmac and concrete. These are distinct from cobblestones which are rounded stones.

Little Shrubs, a children's gardening club in the Joseph's Road area of Guildford, were awarded (2008) a £500 grant by the High Sheriff of Surrey to help them continue their work in collecting litter, clearing weeds and maintaining a new allotment area. The kids aged between four and fourteen have succeeded in reducing litter, vandalism and anti-social behaviour since the area has been visibly improved.

The Guildford Fiesta, a free public event launched in 2007, has received (June 2008) a grant of £9,205 from the National Lottery to help fund music and arts workshops run during its annual street carnival.

It appearsthat it's not just lead from historic building roofs that thieves are targeting given the rocketing prices the scrap metal market is commanding. Telephone subscribers in the Surrey area have had a loss of service (2008) when external wiring has been stolen for the value of its copper. “I can confirm that incidents of copper theft do occur on an infrequent basis, and that a couple of such incidents have occurred recently in the Guildford area,” said a BT spokesman. The Times newspaper reckon that this might be a bit of an understatement as they estimate 1,400 numbers have been affected in Surrey alone. Source: timesonline.co.uk 21st June 2008

A national league table published (June 2008) by locallife.co.uk has placed Guildford fourth in the country for the number of tradesmen living in the town. The number of tradesmen, which covers everyone from plumbers, carpenters, painters, plasterers and roofers, rank every 261 residents with one.

A scheme dreamt up by the Safer Neighbourhood Team targeting noisy Guildford students stumbling home after a rowdy night out has been launched (June 2008) in the town. The acronym stands for Silent Students Happy Homes (!) and is emblazoned on bar staff t-shirts and posters. Somehow the scheme organisers have enrolled university students to act as volunteer marshalls - now probably the most unpopular people on campus . . .

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) based in Guildford's Rodboro Buildings has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise (July 2008). The academy, which has 1,200 full-time students, was recommended for the award by the Prime Minister for providing a unique education philosophy that focuses on placement within the music industry.

Guildford's Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) 35-member Gospel Choir reached (August 2008) the semi-finals of the BBC's popular Last Choir Standing contest. Made up of ACM music students aged 17 to 27 the choir was led by music director Mark de Lisser. They were beaten by a Welsh choir Men Aloud. The choir recorded their favourite songs and released the collection as an album.

In a nationwide survey (2008) of the best returns for landlords renting to students Guildford fared less well than compatriots further north, mainly due to higher property prices in the south. At an average yield of 4.79% Guildford lagged a long way behind the top university city Durham at nearly 14%. The average landlord makes an annual return of 7.17% receiving £9,685 in rent a year on property worth £152,964. Source: The Press Association 19th August 2008

Thirty soldiers marched (August 2008) from Plymouth to London passing through Guildford to highlight the plight of their fallen comrades in the Iraq and Afghan wars - and to raise £100,000 for the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey. Three 10-man teams carrying a stretcher symbolising their fallen comrades took it in turn to march for 20 miles in rotating six-hour stints over five days.

Clandon Park near Guildford is featured in new film The Duchess starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. Film crews moved in (August 2008) to film a dining scene in the house's magnificent marble hall, with another scene faeturing musicians filmed in the saloon. MORE HERE

40 years ago in 1968 Guildford was inundated by flooding when the Wey burst its banks after prolonged heavy rainfall. Four decades later is the town any safer? MORE HERE

The decision by Guildford Borough Council to scrap the town's shuttle bus service (2008) has it seems upset many of the town's traders. The service, which started in 2000, connects the town centre with car parks in the town. One of Guildford's assets is also it would appear a hurdle for the town's shoppers. The picturesque steep cobbled High Street, which is often featured in publications around the world, is also seen as a potential deterrent for visitors who without the shuttle bus to ferry them up the hills traders fear will go to other towns without such steep hills. Scrapping the service will save the council £90,000.

Guildford rock band Elmor were runners-up at the Vodafone Live Music Awards (September 2008) for best unsigned band. the five-piece act won a national competition for unsigned bands earlier in the year and had the opportunity of playing at Guilfest. Fame beckons?

“We caught a train Sunday morning to Guildford in Surrey, approx. 40 minutes from Waterloo Station. Here we put to use our Time Out ‘Country Walks near London’ guide and set off on a 10km walk to Gomshall via Shere.

"We first walked through the centre of Guildford, a lovely surrey village (sic) then climbed a steep street, stopping off at the pretty gardens and ruins of Guildford Caste. Further up the hill past some huge bungalow homes we entered an open field (Pewley downs) with stunning views across the countryside. From here we walked through paddocks, lanes and bridle trails, all open to the public but part of privately owned land so we were literally walking through people’s farms.

"Out first stop was the Church of St. Martha-on-the-Hill at the summit of a ridge, this church was formerly a stop on the Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury and was restored in the 19th Century. Here we ate our M&S picnic lunch sitting on a bench overlooking the valley and watching the many families with young kids and dogs hike by. We marched on past fields of rabbits, deer, horses and sheep, a farm with a ginormous pig as big as a small car and passed through more farms along hedge-rowed paths full of blackberries – it was an idyllic English Spring day.

"Finally we came to Shere, known as the prettiest village in Surrey. Here we fed the ducks on the stream and strolled through town past the church of St James – dated from 1190 and a rare example of a church constructed entirely in the Early English Transitional Style. Finally we ended in Gomshall and had to wait an hour for a train back to Guildford then home to London. This one day was definitely worth the price of this Time Out guide – highly recommended, the directions were incredibly precise down to the tiniest detail and we had another magical day away from hectic London life.” Blogger: Doug & Jodie 6th October 2008

An initiative set up by the Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy, which was launched in October 2008, provides a team of volunteers to patrol the streets of the town looking out for street revellers who are in need of help. Guildford Street Angels has a core of 50 uniformed volunteers who work in three teams to identify individuals who may be in a vulnerable state and need assistance in finding a taxi or train, or perhaps reuniting with friends.

A Guildford lay-by cafe faces closure after a council warned it would revoke the license if it refuses to serve healthy food. The Daily Telegraph’s restaurant critic, Jasper Gerard, sampled its cuisine (November 2008).

"Skip’s greasy spoon, on the hard-shoulder of the A281 outside Guildford, might never trouble the man from Michelin. But so what? Yesterday I was to breakfast at Grant Harris’s catering food van and lunch at a new restaurant in Mayfair; it was breakfast I looked forward to.

"The decision by Guildford Council to revoke the street trader’s license of roadside snack vans unless they offer healthy alternatives such as salads and low-fat yoghurts smacks of "let them eat tofu": people with silver spoons judging greasy spoons. If we want fried food, isn’t that our right? Why must a small business stock rocket and sun-dried tomatoes it has no hope of selling?
Standing at the white caravan I’m swiftly served a mug of freshly brewed tea as I hungrily explore the menu – costliest item: £3.10 – and even a highly favourable restaurant review, albeit one published in Auto Trader.

"I resist the "dog roll" and order the chef’s signature dish: "egg, sausage and bacon stick". Ah, wonderful: good crisp roll, fine egg and grease-free meat.

"An electrician who comes daily says he will boycott Skip’s if the tuck changes: "If we wanted salad we know where to buy it," says Tony Hinton, 26. "It’s about choice." Customers include women and office workers. Geoff Thorpe, once a Wye College "boffin" who now inspects the healthiness of lettuces is another regular: "You come here knowing what to expect. I love salad, but occasionally I like an egg bap."

"So why not leave it to market forces? As a savvy businessman Harris will adapt as palates change. But regulation? The Soviet Union tried that with art, and it wasn’t an unalloyed success. With bureaucratic interference, the law of unintended consequence invariably intervenes: yesterday Skip’s had never been so busy, packed with well-wishers and TV crews who had read about the cafe in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph.

"In my reviews I award marks, based on what a restaurant of its type should reasonably deliver; and while Skip’s might never bag a Michelin, it hereby receives a Gerard 10/10." Jasper Gerard - telegraph.co.uk 13th November 2008

Damien Hirst achieved fame and notoriety with his provocative artworks featuring animal carcasses. Guildford man Mark Chambers it transpires was the supplier of the animals, and he was hoping to secure at least the reserve price of £10,000 at auction (March 2012) of a signed copy of Hirst's 1997 autobiography I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now

The high price rests on the inscription Hirst added, which said simply 'For Mark love Damien Hirst Thanks' with a cartoon sketch of a the skull of a cow with 'Moo' in a thought bubble, and the provenance provided for the role the recipient played in Hirst's success. Mark Chambers ran a 'knackers yard' at the time.

"He came to the yard with his actor friend Keith Allen and we delivered the cow and calf carcasses to his studio in Brixton. After that we used to deal with his agent. We supplied sheep, pigs, cows and calves, all of which had died naturally, all cut lengthways or like cucumbers." Surrey Advertiser 16th March 2012

Cyclists in Guildford were up in arms (November 2008) when the council admitted that long awaited work that had been promised on a roadside cycle path linking the town with Godalming had been put on hold due to the same council resources being needed to complete an extension to the park-and-ride facility at Artington. “That’s for motorists, it’s going to encourage more people to drive,” said Cyclist Touring Club information officer Julie Rand. Surrey Advertiser 21st November 2008

"Carnage UK pub crawls are organised by Varsity Leisure Group Ltd and have been staged for students across the country. Students are required to wear fancy dress, and the theme of the current series of events is 'Dirty Porn Star'. But they have been criticised by police and councils.

"During a recent Carnage UK event in Guildford, Surrey, groups of students descended on bars and clubs, wearing little else other than t-shirts and underwear.

"However, Paul Bahia, founder of Varsity Leisure Group, which runs the Carnage UK events, said in a recent interview: 'We are not irresponsible or promoting binge drinking. Our events are heavily focused on group identity and social and ethnic cohesion.' telegraph.co.uk 21st November 2008

"I've only ever performed naked on one occasion, for about five seconds at the end of a production of Alan Ayckbourn's Way Upstream, at, of all places, the Yvonne Arnaud theatre in Guildford. I don't think the good burghers of Surrey knew what hit 'em – I'm speaking metaphorically now – but the moment in rehearsal when I got my kit off for the first time was something of a watershed. For days beforehand, whenever we reached "the scene", I'd faff around, neatly sidestepping the stage direction itself, miming the removal of my trousers. Finally I could put it off no longer – after all, we were opening the following week." Michael Simkins guardian'co.uk - theatre blog 13th January 2009

Fly-tipping in the borough of Guildford increased by over 10% in 2008 and yet no prosecutions were recorded against the illegal tippers. Between April and September 844 fly-tips were recorded despite the council's investment in two additional CCTV cameras. The council spent £130,079 on removing illegally dumped rubbish in the last financial year.

Fly-tippers if caught face a fine of up to £50,000 or a maximum of five years in prison.

A Guildford resident struck gold when she decided to sell some old stonework that had been in the garden of her home since her childhood 60 years previous. It transpired that the two wellheads in a Gothic design were originally from London's old Palace of Westminster and sold for £12,400 at auction (January 2009). The pieces dated from around 1805 and after the Lords Chamber at the Palace was burned down in 1934 the architect in charge of designing its replacement had disposed of much of the surviving stonework. It's not known how the stonework came to reside in a Guildford Garden.

Guildford engineers Thomason's claim they have created the world's largest hanging basket. The basket, which measures 20ft x 10ft (6m x 3m) and took 50 bags of compost to fill, was hung (January 2009) on the front of Hotel Indigo in Paddington, West London.

The Epsom Road site in Merrow abandoned by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2008 has been acquired by property developers who intend to erect houses. Linden Homes submitted an application (November 2008) to build 199 homes on the derelict site, officially listed as 98-122 Epsom Road. The full application was approved in February 2009 ensuring that it will be the largest housing development in Guildford for many years.

The estate will consist of a mixture of properties ranging from two bedroom flats through terraced houses to five bedroom detached homes, and will include a mix of 35% as ‘affordable homes’. Uplands House, the listed 19th-century mansion at the heart of the site will be converted into flats if the plan proceeds as submitted. A walkers right of way has been agreed with the developers running through the estate linking Merrow Downs with Epsom Road. Linden Homes were the developers of the Queen Elizabeth Park site on the old Stoughton Barracks.

Guildford Heat basketball player Brian Dux, who was left in a coma after a car crash in November 2007, is making a good recovery and (February 2009) is now able to walk with a stick. His family say that he is hoping to return to the team when he has made a full recovery.

A Guildford surgeon became the first in the UK (March 2009) to undertake a procedure to permanently remove sweat glands from a patient’s armpits in order to counter excessive sweating. Consultant surgeon Mark Whiteley successfully undertook the hour and twenty minutes procedure at the Whiteley Clinic in the town on a restaurant manager from Hindhead. One in 20 British adults suffer from excessive sweating.

The recession is biting hard for Guildford commercial property landlords. Guildford Borough Council reported that in March 2009 360 business premises lay empty across the borough, and these continue to act as a millstone around the necks of their owners who are still having to pay business rates on the vacant properties. In April 2008 the business rate relief for empty properties was cut by the government resulting in £4.4m annually being paid out on 331 of the premises with an average bill of £13,339 in 2008/09. A further 34 of the properties currently qualify for short term exemption.

A care home in Guildford finished second in the BBC’s Making a Difference Challenge. The Queen Elizabeth Park Care Home in Hollowes Close kitted out a lounge with memorabilia dating back to the 1940s and 1950s to trigger memories for residents suffering from dementia. BBC TV presenter Christopher Payne from the Antiques Roadshow visited the home to present the award in April 2009.

The drummer of the new wave group The Vapors (number three in UK singles chart in 1980 with Turning Japanese) has made a comeback in Guildford – but this time selling records instead of making them. The Vapors was formed in Guildford a couple of years before their chart success. His independent CD store opened in March 2009 in Chapel Street.

A charity specialising in helping people with learning disabilities is attempting to remove squatters (May 2009) from a property they need to reopen as a residential care home. The squatters have taken over the building in Epsom Road, Guildford to run workshops on music, IT and art for young people ‘who are uncomfortable with formal education’. The charity Affinity Trust has reported that the squatters have treated the building, which they are calling ‘the mothership’, well but hope that the court order now in place will enable the charity to provide their specialist services on the site.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre held auditions (June 2009) for sheep and their owners to star in a new musical version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. This resulted in the corniest bit of copy writing by a hack in the Surrey Ad this year: ‘...asking sheep to bleat with the beat and ram home their talent’. Cripes!

The celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is opening a restaurant in Guildford as part of an expansion strategy for his group of Jamie’s Italian restaurants. Contracts have been signed (June 2009) on a 25-year lease of the 4,624 sq ft unit at 13 Friary Street.

The Guildford Town Centre Management Group launched (June 2009) what they have described as a ' pioneering' virtual tour of Guildford town centre on their website. The tour, which combines Google maps with video, 360° panoramic photos and static images provides a detailed and interesting way of taking a look at all of the streets of the town. Visitors can also download brochures, menus and even make reservations at restaurants in the town. Join the tour HERE

Two brothers, Marc and Damion Watson, from Guildford reported sighting two strange lights in the night sky in July 2009. “My brother was out in the garden smoking a cigarette when he called me outside to look at something, what we saw were two lights in the sky travelling from west heading east, the first was very high and looked like a sattelite but it was being followed at the same speed by another one which was very low and very bright, they didnt have any flashing lights like a plane and made absolutely no sound. They both continued right a bove us and continued east until we could no longer see them.” Source: uk-ufo.co.uk 13th July 2009

Guildford Borough Council is one of three councils in the county piloting (July 2009) the Eat Out Eat Well campaign which is being underwritten by the South East’s Department of Health to the tune of £15,000. Those eateries in the town participating will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze award according to their ‘commitment to food hygiene, providing customers with information about ingredients and offering healthy options’.

WEY 007
A new BBC1 series of Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, which is to be screened in September 2009, includes scenes of an auction filmed (July 2009) in Guildford. Antiques Roadshow presenter Katherine Higgins chose Chalk Hill, a modernist family home that also operates as an art gallery, in Chantry Hill Road as the location to film the charity auction she hosts as the grand finale of the series. Ninety guests bid for lots that included playing cards and chips used by James Bond in Casino Royale with the money raised donated to the Emasithandane Children’s Project in Cape Town, South Africa. Katherine Higgins lives in Guildford.

"When I was a young girl, growing up around Shepherds Hill [Stoughton] it was a good place to live. Neighbours popping in and out for a chat, everyone was helpful. We had some good shops that we could rely upon. There was Sparrow the butchers, a wool shop, a post office and a newsagent. As children, we used to get a sixpence pocket money for a few sweets and a comic. We had a shop that sold vegetables and even a library just inside the recreation ground. Sadly it has all gone." A Croft. Letters. Surrey Advertiser 17th July 2009

The president of the Guildford Art Society Jane Allison had the opportunity to paint a portrait of the oldest surviving veteran of the First World War just prior to his death. Henry Allingham, who was the last survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland had celebrated his 113th birthday on 6th June 2009, had been quoted as putting his longevity down to 'cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women' although during the sitting he told Allison that he always started the day with the healthy option of a full English breakfast.

"I wrote to Henry Allingham last summer to ask if he would sit for me as I felt it was a rare chance to paint somebody who is so old and whose life had spanned three centuries," said Allison. "He very kindly agreed and sat for me about three times for an hour before he had had enough and it was time for lunch. During the course of the sittings he told me that he still became upset when he thought about the Great War and, in fact hadn't spoken about it for 80 years. It was only when he became 100 that people started asking about it. Before that he had led a very ordinary life devoted to his wife and daughters, both of whom, to his great sadness are now dead. I discovered that in some ways, however, he was not ordinary at all. He bought himself a mountain bike at the age of 90 and lived on his own, looking after himself until he was 110."

"My painting of him wearing his medals, although not his latest Legion D'Honneur, is very much how he appears in public-alert and cheerful, charming and instantly likeable. Interestingly, he doesn't look that old, compared to some others I have painted. He still has a great zest for life which include starting each day with a full English breakfast." Surrey Advertiser 3rd July 2009

Henry Allingham died peacefully on the 18th July 2009. Ed.

A combined study funded by Guildford Borough Council and the University of Surrey was published (July 2009) providing information about the borough's economy. Based on research from local businesses and organisations the data is intended to assist with the future planning of the council's economic development strategy and action plan, and to also help the council assist businesses in future development.

The report highlights Guildford's positive position as one of the most prosperous locations in the south-east boosted by a "thriving local economy, a highly skilled workforce and high levels of entrepreneurial activity". The report does warn however of overdependence on the public and service sectors, and recommends planning for greater diversification into new and expanding business areas. The report anticipates an increase of over 15% in the local labour force by 2026. Over half of the businesses surveyed expect to increase their floor space requirements within the next 5 to 10 years.

A Guildford shopkeeper discovered a discarded wooden model of Guildford town centre in a skip outside an empty house in Cline Road when he went to open up his shop (October 2009). The architect's model, which probably dates back to the 1960s, was labeled 'Guildford Town Centre : scale 1-500' with the name of a Surrey County Council planning officer and consisted of hand-sculpted wooden buildings and landmarks including Tunsgate and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. The 3-D model measures seven feet in length and contains hundreds of miniature buildings and features road vehicles. Brian Cowen of Sound Post Instruments is hoping that the museum or another local institution will preserve the model and put it on public display.

A Surrey Advertiser reader cast more light on to the mystery:
"I worked in the Surrey County Planning Department between 1964 and 1974 and during the mid to late 1960s was in a team working on Guildford town centre. I can confirm that the model dates from the mid-1960s. I can well remember the model maker building it at County Hall. The mid-to late 1960s was a time of considerable development pressure on Guildford.

"The university was under construction and large town centre development schemes were under consideration. The model was built to assist in assessing the three-dimensional impacts of various proposals [Friary Centre, new bridge over the river at Friary Street, Tunsgate Square, Phoenix Court]. In practice I think the model was little used. I suspect the model was lost following the reorganisation of local government in 1974." Martin Taplin. Letters. Surrey Advertiser 16th October 2009

A Surrey actor and film producer chose Guildford and nearby Pirbright as locations for a new film exploring how a father could find himself resorting to the most extreme situation of taking the life of his own child. Father's Day scenes were shot at the Manor House Hotel in Newlands Corner in February 2009. MORE HERE

The complaints of a town centre resident against music playing at night from the Pews Bar (21 Chapel Street) lead to this entertaining letter published in the Surrey Advertiser (October 2009):

"It seems that one person's campaign has curtailed a simple pleasure of hundreds of Guildford residents. You report that the Borough Council’s environmental control officer visited Pew's Bar at 9:30pm one Thursday to find that "he could quite clearly hear the sound of a singer and a guitar". Apparently the musician was playing "louder than the sound of drinkers conversations". Not exactly a Motorhead gig, then, but apparently still enough for a ban.

"At least it clarifies council policy: the only acceptable musical performances are those we cannot hear. It's a novel approach, but not likely to attract either musicians or audiences. The fact is that if you choose to live in a town centre you will hear noise at just about any time of the day and night. If you really can't cope with nice songs played by one man and his acoustic guitar for two hours in the middle of the evening once a week, maybe you should turn up the telly, or buy some earplugs. On second thoughts, let's make Guildford a music free, car free, sneeze free zone after 7pm. Sounds perfect." Simon Prichard, Letters, Surrey Advertiser 23rd of October 2009

Guildford Police are rightly chuffed that they’ve now got one of the highest tech suites of police cells in the country (December 2009). The six month £1.3m refurb ensures that offenders gracing the premises get the very best attention.

Each cell is biometrically monitored to alert police within 45 seconds if a detainee stops breathing, has more natural light, and recessed sinks built into the walls (apparently designed to prevent flooding). Offenders are also monitored by 65 CCTV cameras ensuring that there is literally nowhere to hide, and they have a choice of 24 cells (there were only 13 in the original unit) including one designed to cater for disabled visitors and dry cells which have no toilet or sink to allow trouble-free collecting of forensic evidence. The custody suite also has new interview rooms, command centre and digital fingerprint scanning technology.

“The team has been so excited. They are passionate about the new suite,” said Julie Murray, the station’s Custody Inspector. “We have the most up-to-the-minute technology, Guildford station must be the most up-to-date in Surrey. For instance we’ve got 65 cameras, those are for the protection of the detainees as well as for my team.”

No offence, but let’s hope none of us have to pay a visit to try out the facilities anytime soon . . .
Source: Surrey Advertiser 4th December 2009

In December 2009 an upmarket beauty clinic threw a launch party to mark its opening in Guildford High Street - and then simply vanished. Or at least its owners did. Uptown Girl was the brainchild of husband and wife team, the Zacharowitz's from South Africa, who having allegedly taken early occupancy and who were due to sign the lease following day, disappeared leaving suppliers and the owner of the shop in the lurch. It is thought that the Zacharowitz's had returned to South Africa.

A supervised test by the high IQ society Mensa (January 2010) examined 13 people including children at the Guildford Institute to see if they matched the IQ in the top 2% of the population. The results of the test, which examined logic and sequences to language skills, intriguingly were not announced at the time - perhaps because the organisers thought the rest of us might suffer from inadequacy . . . Suffice it to say that a number of entrants who were interviewed by the Surrey Advertiser afterwards said that the experience was "not too taxing"; "good fun"; and "very challenging". Fittingly the test administrator said afterwards: "It doesn't mean that you are worse than someone who has joined Mensa or that you won't be a successful person in your life." Oh, that's all right then . . .

Dan Magness, a Guildford football coach, broke the Guinness world record (January 2010) for the longest distance travelled while continuously kicking or heading a ball in the air. He covered 36 miles (58km) (the previous record was 26 miles (42km) ) in 14 hours and in doing so stopped off at every Premier league football ground in London. Magness from Bellfields has turned his skill into a money earner as he now performs hundreds of halftime shows at football grounds up and down the country.

Surrey County Council started to install (March 2010) a new system of public street lighting throughout the county to replace the orange glow of existing lights to brighter white 'smart lamps'. The energy efficient technology, which is expected to save more than 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 25 years and £12 million worth of tax payers money due to lower energy bills, will be remotely controlled from a control centre in Merrow, Guildford. From here lighting for the county's 89,000 street lamps will be increased where and when it is most needed and reduced when it is not according to the times of the year.

A hand stitched embroidery of Guildford town centre which measures 27 ft.² is being created (March 2010) for the new Civic Centre which is due to open in 2012 in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. The embroidery, which is being stitched in sections, features historic landmarks including the cathedral plus significant events such as Guilfest and notable residents.

A Guildford space scientist, who had been working on ways to control satellites at the university's space centre, has transferred the technology he was developing to robotics and has now adapted this to computer graphics. Dr. Alexandre Pechev's work has rewarded him (March 2010) with an entrepreneur award from experts at the Royal Academy of Engineering, and video game developers are showing a keen interest in adopting his technology.

Athlete Adelle Tracey, who is a member of the Guildford and Godalming Athetics Club, has been selected (March 2012) as one of five Surrey athletes who are being featured on themed library cards by Surrey County Council to mark the London Olympics.

Barclays Bank, in undertaking research into the state of business and the local economy in Guildford, revealed (April 2010) that more than 4,000 new businesses were started in the town over a two year period. 840 of these established between 2005 and 2007 reached a turnover exceeding £100,000 within a two-year period, and 160 made it to the £1 million plus mark. This level of activity meant that the town exceeded the national average of 15.1% of businesses achieving £100,000 and 2.9% £1 million over the two year period.

The Mandolay Hotel in London Road Guildford has applied (April 2010) for a licence to host combat sports including cage fighting. If successful it will be the only venue in the borough legally entitled to stage fighting events.

"An old pub is sold, its ancient timbers are ripped out and it becomes… a shoe shop. An old established coffee importer/cafe closes - its modern replacement fails. The Corona disappears and, at least as regards coffee, send in the clones. Guildford's only field sports shop is sold, becomes a sports clothing shop - which fails; and is now a computer games store. Guildford's only independent hardware shop self-immolates and becomes…a clothing shop. Guildford only second-hand bookshop is sold, becomes (naturally) a failed clothing shop and, rather than an independent cinema, will become again a clothing shop.

"The common thread is local character and culture giving way to the bland (with no disrespect intended to clothes or shoes, which I do understand to be necessary). But, at least we might expect an end to the pretentiousness that lead to applications for Guildford to become a city. No self-respecting city would neglect local business or cultural initiatives to this extent." Tim Langhorne, Compton. Letters. Surrey Advertiser 5th November 2010

A sign of the times has been the epidemic nationwide of theft of metal of all types to be sold on illegally as scrap. Guildford's street furniture has been targeted repeatedly which has included the loss of metal road signs. The council announced (February 2012) that it is to replace all street signage with signs manufactured from plastic and fibreglass.

"It is an excellent idea," said Les Hammond owner of Guildford Scrap Metal Exchange. "We support anything that prevents metal theft and we don't want stolen metal coming into our yard." Surrey Advertiser 17th February 2012.


























Town of The Golden Ford

Guildford is a market town and the county town of Surrey, and is located in a gap in the North Downs where the River Wey breaks through the hills. The name Guildford translates from ancient English as ‘the town of the golden ford’. The ford to which this refers is that that was once located next to the spring at St Catherine’s Hill.

Straddling the main road network linking London with Portsmouth, and boasting a railway network that radiates out in six directions, has been a key to the town’s success. The first railway reached the town in 1845, and in the decade after this when the railway finally reached Portsmouth, the thriving London-Guildford-Portsmouth coach trade floundered, and along with it the majority of the coaching inns that relied on the coaches passengers for their trade.

Guildford Station 1909
Guildford Station 1909
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection


Ancient Settlement

There is evidence that Guildford was the site of ancient settlements including Saxon. The Saxon settlement was originally established on a site on the east side of the river, but which grew to encompass the west bank of the river around the site of St Mary’s Church in Quarry Street, the oldest building in the town. The site of a Romano-British temple has been identified at Wanborough on the outskirts of the town.

The first written record of the town is in the will of King Alfred when he gave Gyldeford to his nephew Etheldred. The town was at the centre of much of the period’s power upheavals and had its share of bloodshed. When King Canute died, there was a period of unrest in England with confusion over the succession. Alfred Atheling (brother-in-law of Edward the Confessor and son of Ethelred the Unready) sailed to England from Normandy with an army in an attempt to take the throne. He was captured at Guildford after being betrayed by Earl Godwin and his eyes put out. His supporters were massacred and their remains were buried in the Saxon cemetery on the outskirts of Guildford at Guildown.

Guildford had become one of the most important towns in Surrey by the time of the Norman invasion in 1066. An eye witness account at the time tells of being able to see the sacking of Shalford Manor with smoke from the burning building clearly visible from the Saxon tower of St Mary’s church. William the Conqueror passed through Surrey on his way to London from Hastings.

At the time of Edward the Confessor (1003 – 1066) the town was still in the ownership of the Crown, and was to remain so until the time of James I when it was granted to the Earls of Aunandale, and eventually ended up in the hands of the Onslows of Clandon.

The town was sufficiently important in Anglo-Saxon times to have had its own mint.

Guildford High Street
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Royal Castle

A royal castle was built in the town in the time of William the Conqueror. The ruins of Guildford Castle that remain today are confined to the central square keep and a few outer walls. The Norman keep (GR: SU997494) was the only one to be built in the county, and is of three stories towering 70 feet (21 metres) above the town. The walls at the foundations are 10 feet (3 metres) thick and are cased with chalk, flint, sandstone and ragstone and have herringbone and fern leaf decorations.

Guildford castle and gardens, Surrey

The structure, which was probably built not long after William the Conqueror seized power in 1066, follows the classic Norman design of a motte on which the central tower was erected with the chalk excavated for the mound leaving a deep defensive ditch, and a bailey which provided a secure courtyard below. Much of the original bailey ditch was filled in when the bailey was further extended in around 1200 to where Quarry Street now is. The original buildings in the bailey would have been of timber but were upgraded to stone structures in the 12th century.

The fortification was built in stages. First a 'shell-keep' of chalk was built around the top of the motte. In the 1130s and 1140s the 'great tower' was built in two phases with the height of the first phase battlements marked out in the plaster, this probably being the king's private apartments and which would have been reached by an outside staircase. Not long later a second floor was added.

Norman castle keep, Guildford

Henry III (1207-1272), who favoured Guildford castle and was to often take up residence here over the Christmas festive season, spent a great deal of money on upgrading the buildings and provided for lavish decorations.

As the only royal castle in Surrey it became an important administrative centre and served as the headquarters of the sheriff, who acted as the king's deputy in the county. Trials were held here for serious crimes and by the time the king had new apartments constructed in the bailey the keep served as the gaol for both the counties of Surrey and Sussex, with early reference dating back to 1202 when a record of 4s was made for repairs for that purpose. It appears that the gaol here was still operational in 1508 according to deed records for the maintenance of prisoners made at that time, although not for county use. A new gaol was built in Quarry Street in 1604 which was in use until 1822 at which time it was resited to South Hill. This was the last gaol in Guildford and closed in 1851 after which time prisoners were sent to the House of Correction in Wandsworth in London.

Guildford Castle and gardens, Surrey

The ruins near the Castle Hill entrance are thought possibly to be the site of the King's Great Chamber which would have served as his private quarters. Official records suggest that the chamber was panelled with wood, the ceilings were decorated with moons and stars, and the windows were glazed - a real luxury in the 13th century. Both the king and queen had their own private chapels near the Great Chamber.

The Great Hall would have been the focus of royal life at the castle, and close by there was a complex of buildings that accommodated an entourage of officials, courtiers and servants who attended to the king and queen's every need. The royal children would have been housed here too. It is thought that the Great Hall was sited where the Victorian brick houses stand today.

The Castle Arch by the museum was constructed as a fortified gate by Henry III in 1256. It was constructed by the king's master mason John of Gloucester, and you can see the grooves on either side of the gateway in which the portcullis (1) slid into position to seal off the entrance. In 2009 renovation and repair was carried out on the arch, a Grade II* Scheduled Ancient Monument. The structure itself was deemed as being sufficiently sound but the renovation was needed to repair and protect the surface which has been cracking and crumbling due to water and frost damage to the chalk.

Guildford Castle keep, Surrey

A bronze relief mounted on the gardens' wall by the Castle Street entrance depicts  the castle as the artist imagined it to be in the 13th century. It shows the fully completed keep with its motte and bailey defences rising high above the town. There is activity within the castle walls and two mounted figures accompanied by a dog approach the gate either side of two peasants carrying a deer slung over a pole.

The plaque carries the following inscription:

An impression of Guildford Castle in the C13 viewed from above the ‘Great Gate’ built in 1256 (now castle Arch Quarry Street). In the panel ‘The Great Hall’ Henry III holds his ‘Curia Regis’’. The High Sheriff argues. William of Gloucester, the King’s minter shows Prince Edward the newly minted gold penny – the first gold coin to be issued to the realm. 1257 – the chancellor holds the draft charter establishing the Shire Court in Guildford for ever. In her garden the Queen, Eleanor of Provence reads the legend of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. (2) G Ratcliff 1975

(1) The portcullis would have been made of wood or metal, or most likely a combination of the two, and as a large latticed grille was cranked up and down in its grooves by a system of chains or ropes using a winch.
(2) The legend tells of the struggle the king has in saving Jerusalem from the Muslim conqueror Saladin, the leader of the Arab world. The conflict lasted for 18 months.

Queen Eleanor was very cultured and matched the refinements introduced by the king at Guildford with a colonnaded garden and tiled pavements.

Guildford Castle and gardens, Surrey

Maintenance records have survived which chart daily life at the castle, which at its zenith was regarded as one of the most luxurious royal residences in England. These include orders in the time of Henry III for the repair of the great hall, the decorating of the king’s bed, and the arranging of the queen’s herbary. There were regular royal visits with records of Henry II, John and Henry III having often stayed there.

The outlaw Gordon was arrested in the area by Prince Edward and was delivered into the hands of his father Henry III at the castle. Visits by Edward III were recorded in 1336, 1340 and 1347.

After Henry III died in 1272 the castle had a chequered history in terms of its preservation. The brick window frames and fireplaces in the keep were added in the 1540s when the castle was owned by the Daborne family.

Guildford Castle and gardens, Surrey

However by the 17th century it had fallen into disrepair and was eventually bought in 1611 from James I by one Francis Carter who renovated the keep. The family eventually gave up the keep as a home and built a house by the Castle Arch, now the museum. By 1630 the house which was built into the northern gate tower wall had been constructed in a hall-and-crosswings plan typical to the area. It was around this time that the roof of the great tower was removed, probably for use as building material. It is clad in brick with tile-hangings on the upper storeys. The mueum took over the building in 1898.

By 1885 the castle had deteroriated quite significantly and the ruins were bought by Guildford Borough Council from Lord Grantley in order to protect them. Almost £750,000 was committed by the council in 2003 to a major conservation project on the structure, which is scheduled as an ancient monument. In 2004 a new roof and floors were put into the tower.

Guildford Castle and gardens, Surrey

The grounds of the castle were opened to the public in 1888 on the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's coronation by the Borough Surveyor Henry Peak following extensive restoration and today are well maintained offering a quiet retreat from the hubbub of the High Street a hundred yards away. Peak had specifically intended the grounds to be 'public pleasure gardens' and the layout clearly reflects that. A commemorative plaque to Peak was erected in the castle grounds in 2008. MORE ON PEAK HERE

Castle Cliffe Gardens as named today include the extension added during Henry III’s reign and the ruined walls in the corner are thought to be the quarters of Henry’s son Edward (1239-1307), referred to in documentation as ‘the Lord Edward’s Chamber’. He was to become king as Edward I and was also known as Edward Longshanks in deference to his 6ft 2in stature. The gardens were once part of the grounds of the house of Castle Cliffe further up the hill and were gifted to the borough by Harry Stevens in 1971. The Stevens family around that time also owned the Wey Navigation on which they operated their extensive haulage and barge building business which centred on Dapdune Wharf, and they had also gifted the navigation to the National Trust in 1964.

The Victorian Peak's Pond at Guioldford Castle, Surrey

In 2007 the Guildford Society re-opened Peaks Pond which had been filled in and which has been restored to its 19th century glory using the original design including the fountain and edging. The Society contributed £5,000 towards the project. The pond is maintained by Guildford Borough Council and has solar powered fountains which constantly recycle the water they use.

The area of the grounds that today contains the bandstand and bowling green had been laid out as formal gardens by the early 17th century. This part probably formed the outer bailey of the medieval castle. At the time of the 1888 public opening of the gardens the bowling green had gone to be replaced by the Mayor’s Lawn, and was not reinstated as a bowling green again until 1907. The Guildford House Gallery has in their collection a painting of the green made by Thomas Remington in the early 19th century. The Guildford Castle Green Bowling Club is active here.

A Victorian bandstand also graces the gardens under the setting of a great oak tree. Regularly the venue for all manner of public performances from brass bands and orchestras to rock bands and theatre groups. The Pranksters Theatre Company which was founded in 1977 has for over 25 years put on performances here and The Herald Players have been performing open air Shakespeare here since the 1960s.

Guildford War Memorial at Guildford Castle, Surrey

Standing proud at the northern end of the green is the Guildford War Memorial. An impressive arch designed by local architect F J Hodgson set in a Garden of Remembrance the memorial has four large panels on the outer pillars containing the 440 names of those local people who gave their lives in the 1914-18 war. A central pillar added to the memorial, which was originally dedicated in 1921 to the First World War, carries four smaller panels with 202 names from the 1939-45 war added in 1952. Many of the soldiers listed had served with the local regiment, The Queen’s, based at Stoughton Barracks. A full list of all those commemorated can be found HERE.

An original gas street lamp has been preserved here. It was originally erected by the Guildford Gas Light and Coke Company in 1824 for the trustees of the turnpike road at the junction of London and Epsom Roads and is highly unusual being constructed of stone with a 10ft (3m) fluted Doric column standing on a square pedestal and plinth.

Alice Through the Looking Glass satue at Guildford Castle

The stunning life-sized statue of Alice Through the Looking Glass was created by Jean Argent under commission from the Municipal General Insurance company and was erected in the gardens in 1990. Author Lewis Carroll’s family lived in The Chestnuts on Castle Hill with their house overlooking the gardens from 1868 until 1919 and he died here in 1898 having caught flu. Although Carroll lived in Oxford, as head of the Dodgson family (3) being the oldest brother to six unmarried sisters after the death of their father he acquired the lease for the house to provide a home for them. He did visit frequently during university vacations and many of his later works were inspired by his stays. Alice in Wonderland had been published before he came to Guildford although in 1871 he completed his second Alice book Through the Looking Glass whilst staying at Guildford. It is also believed that the idea of The Hunting of the Snark came to him whilst taking one of his many long walks in the area. The statue stands in the garden that once belonged to Castle Gate which is immediately beyond the railings. Its location is also quite apt in that the author was a frequent visitor to a young girl Miss Edith Haydon who lived at Castle Gate. He took a photo of her standing against the sloping garden wall here. On the wall is a plaque commemorating the opening of the Castle grounds extension in 1989.

(3) Lewis Carroll was the pen name of the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who was an Oxford mathematics tutor at Christchurch College in Oxford.

"With 15 minutes to spare while awaiting the start of my language class, I visited the Castle Grounds in Guildford which have special memories for me. It was a joy to sit on a seat in the sun by the bowling green - it is a credit to the people who care for it, a true oasis. The bandstand looked lovely from where I sat and I shall return to see the tulips in bloom." Wendy Humble - Letters Surrey Advertiser 10th April 2009

The castle keep is open to visitors for a small entrance fee from March until September, although opening times vary according to the season. The gardens are free to access and are open all year round from dawn to dusk.

Running beneath the castle and into the hill across the southern boundary are extensive chalk tunnels and galleries. These caverns consist of a large cave measuring 45ft by 20ft (14m by 6m) and reaching to 9ft (2.7m) in height from which run passages running as far as 120ft (36m) in different directions. One of the tunnels was dug 105ft (32m) beneath what is now the road through Quarry Hill.

These man-made workings, which consist of eight linked chambers, are ancient quarries which provided the building materials for the castle and other early buildings locally, and Quarry Street running alongside was named after these. The quarries were particularly renowned for the durable properties of chalk clunk. Archaelogists believe that a perpendicular shaft sunk into the workings from above was a cesspit probably used for the gaol above. Some historians believe that in 1688 the women and children of the town hid in the tunnels to avoid detection by an invading Irish army.

The caverns, which are sealed and not accessible to the public, have been opened in modern times to quarry chalk for repairs to the castle.

Castle Cavern entrance by Chris Warner

Guildford historian Stan Newman, who believes that the caverns were the site of a brutal massacre of 600 Norman soldiers 1,000 years ago, is campaigning (April 2008) to have the underground caves opened up to the public. The soldiers were killed along with Prince Alfred, son of King Ethelbert, by Godwin the Earl of Kent in a power struggle. In pre-war years, after a clean-up organised by Lord Grantley in 1869, the caverns were accessible by the public which included lantern-lit tours. One tour in 1905 attracted 2,500 visitors. However Guildford Borough Council, who commissioned a survey in February 2008 by structural consultants, believe the caves to be too unsound and will require considerable work to make them safe for public access.

The site of another quarry (GR: SU998487) half a mile away in Chantry View Road (off A281 Shalford Road) is the subject of continuing local debate after the application by a property developer to build 14 houses on the site was resurrected (March 2009). Latchmere Properties original application for 31 apartments was rejected after strong resistance for local residents and the lodging of 85 objections with the council.

Royal Charter

Guildford has had the status of a Borough since the 11th century, and became the County Town in 1257 having been granted its Royal Charter by Henry III the year before. From the time of Edward I until 1867 the town had two members of parliament representing its interests when a new Act reduced this to one. The Act provided for a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councilors.

Guildford Castle Gardens by Annes Stevens
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Rapid Growth

The town you see today is considerably different from that even of the 18th century. The town in a 1739 map The Ichnography compares significantly in size with that of a 1613 one, showing little growth between the two. The High Street was all dominant with gates and passages leading to North Street and Castle Street. Other streets were populated but not to the degree they are today. Plots along streets were divided up into gardens, one of which as the garden of the Red Lion provided produce for the kitchens, and it is said that Samuel Pepys particularly enjoyed the asaparagus grown there when he stayed in the town.

The population of Guildford in 1739 was 2,574 and by 1801 it was only 2,634. It grew slowly until the coming of the railway.

Guildford from Stag Hill looking east by Terry Mansell

The town has seen incredible population growth over modern times. By 1901 it was over 43,000, the rate of growth far exceeding the national average for the same period. Driven by the town’s strategic location straddling the navigable river, and its proximity to both London and the industrious south coast centering on the shipyards at Portsmouth the population had exploded by 2001 trebling to 129,717.

“Homelessness became very severe with families of large sizes living in two-up two-down accommodation. Also the grandparents lived in the household and they would care for the children when the parents were out working or looking for it. Some children slept in one big bed often three at the top and three at the bottom. Grown-ups such as brothers had the one bed and if there were visitors they would use the settee or landing or bathtub.” Guildford resident 1930s. Guildford Memories. Michael Green

The economic profile of the town is well documented. The dominant trend has been to shift the town away from industry to a service provider with 74% of the local population being employed in the service sector. This was only 48% in 1841. For Guildford this sector provides services in shops, hotels, catering, financial, local government and health care. The census of 1841 had the majority of workers in the service sector classified as domestic servants, who at the time did not work just for the rich but also in most middle class houses and even for the best paid skilled manual workers. Over this 160 year period Guildford has consistently had a far higher proportion of workers in the service sector than the national average.

Onslow Village by Paul Farmer
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Guildford has been blessed by relative wealth through much of its history, and ever since national censuses began has had unemployment rates significantly lower than those recorded nationally. For example in 1931 male unemployment nationally was running at almost 13% of the working age population, in Guildford this was running at 5%. In 2001 nationally this had dropped to 6%, with Guildford only having to support a 2.6% unemployment rate. The distribution of wealth has dramatically broadened since 1841 when 17% of male workers had middle class jobs. In 2001 that percentage had jumped to over 64%. One measure of relative wealth used by statisticians has been the facilities available to home dwellers. In 1951 over 18% of households lacked their own toilet, by 2001 this lack of such an essential facility had virtually been eliminated (0.6%). Other measures included the percentage of households with more than one person per room, which from the first available records on this measure in 1931 to the 2001 census Guildford was running at a considerably lower percentage than the national average.

St Catherine's Chapel by David Hogg
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Guildford Museum
Houses Large & Unique Collection

Guildford Museum (GR: SU996493), founded in 1898 when the Surrey Archaeological Society was formed, resides in an old house in Quarry Street built into the old castle walls adjacent to the castle gate. The museum boasts the largest collection of archaeology, local history and needlework in Surrey, including original collections dating back to 1854.

A rich resource tapping into the history of this important hub on the River Wey, the museum has rare items on display including Palaeolithic hand axes, a Roman priest’s headdress, Saxon coins, medieval tiles, 17th century pottery and glass. Hundreds of items over the years have been donated by people which has helped the total collection reach an estimated 78,000 items (2009). A large proportion of the collection is made up of objects found in the area, manufactured here (for example an original Friary brewery wooden cask) or were owned by someone with a strong link to the town (a good example being toys belonging to the Rev Charles Dodgson's family aka Lewis Carroll).

The museum collection includes the human remains of 85 individuals ranging in date from the Neolithic (10,000 to 4,000 years ago) to as recently the medieval period (up to 700 years ago). Several exist as almost complete skeletons although the majority are only partial remains such as a skull or long bone from an arm or leg. The collection includes the remains of 47 people excavated from an Anglo Saxon cemetery in Ashtead near Leatherhead between 1985 and 1989. The museum, along with others throughout the country, has been formally contacted (August 2008) by a Pagan group Honouring the Ancient Dead requesting that they are involved in decisions as to how such human remains are dealt with in storage, display and reburial. The museum’s response to the group’s questionnaire requesting information about human remains held can be found HERE.

Guildford Castle grounds 1906
Young visitor to the Castle Grounds 1906
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Cobbled Streets

“Guildford. Its aspect is striking and picturesque; its principal street abounds in quaint old gables, overhanging panelled fronts, and long latticed windows; its irregularity of site, its diversity of buildings, and its mixtures of the ancient and the modern render it piquant and imposing; its thoroughfares also have a remarkable air of cleanliness and order; and its environs combine the attractions of fine close views and rich distant prospects” An entry in a 19th century gazetteer

The Guildhall (GR: SU997495) in the High Street was built in Tudor times, and was converted in 1683 to include the highly distinctive decorative clock made by John Aylwards that considerably overhangs the granite sets of the cobbled street below. Innerworkings of the clock date back to 1560 and the original bell, purportedly from St Martha’s Chapel, had to be replaced when it became cracked. A fifty foot long hall contains portraits of Charles II, James II and the Speaker Onslow. The council chamber above the hall has at its end an unusual chimney piece which was originally sited at Stoughton House. A set of standard measures presented to the town by Elizabeth I are kept in the Guildhall, and are one of only a few complete sets that have survived.

Guildford High Street 1908
Guildford High Street 1908
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Vandals damaged the Guildhall clock (September 2010) when they climbed temporary scaffolding erected to the outside of the building for maintenance work and wound the clock forward by pulling on the hands. A specialist was employed to repair the internal mechanism.

Neighbourhood Inspector Tim Shaw, said: “This may have been intended as a harmless prank but it has caused significant damage to the mechanism of the clock." getsurrey.co.uk 21st September 2010

Opposite the Guildhall is the Tunsgate (GR: SU997495) The market that had traded at the bottom of the High Street was relocated here in 1818 and a few market traders still use the grand Tuscan style portico today. As the official Corn Exchange, where merchants secured trade for grain with the many millers along the Wey Valley, the building was also often turned over to serve as the Assize Court with many a comment made as to the dust and musky smell of the hastily cleared out interior. Once the Assizes were lost to Kingston-upon-Thames and the Corn Exchange became less important with the decline in the milling industry, the building was part demolished to open up access to the street behind. The portico did originally have four pillars evenly spaced but the two central ones were moved in 1933 to allow motor vehicles to pass through.

The Guildford Institute

The Guildford Institute, on the corner of Ward Street and North Street, was originally founded as the Guildford Mechanics Institute in 1834 during a nationwide drive to meet the demands of the Industrial Revolution and the powerful social changes being triggered at the time. By the end of the century the Institute was a formative and popular focus for social and cultural life in the town.

The existing building was constructed in 1880 to house the Royal Arms Coffee Tavern and Temperance Hotel and was designed by architect AJ Sturgess with the foundation stone laid by the Earl of Onslow. The venture very quickly foundered and the building was sold to the Guildford Working Men's Institute in 1891, which merged the following year with the Mechanics Institute to form the Guildford Institute. The building had facilities for lectures and classes and provided a well-stocked library and museum.

After the Second World War new government bodies were formed which were to provide many of the educational functions the Mechanics Institute had been formed to provide, and so the organisation quickly fell into decline. The Ward Street building was Grade II listed in 1974.

The Institute’s library has a large collection of press cuttings books and photographs, much originating from the late Victorian period and early 20th century, and has a large collection of annual volumes including the Illustrated London News, Punch, The Engineer and The Sphere (1). Members also have access to a borrowers library of newly-published books including fiction and non-fiction, including biographies and autobiographies many dating back to 1892 when the library took up its present location.  The library has over 13,000 catalogued volumes of which almost 2,000 predate the First World War. An index of much of the library’s resources has been made available online.

The Beano Restaurant in the Assembly Room and Ladies Room serves vegetarian lunches every weekday and the first Saturday of the month during school term time.

A brass plaque by the door commemorates the fact that Guildford Chess Club has played matches at the Institute for over a century, and continues to do so.

Surrey University announced (December 2007) that it will be withdrawing from a long standing association with the Institute, originating in 1982, which had provided much needed funding to keep the organisation afloat.  The university, in a ‘merger of partnership’, made use of lecture rooms whilst the Institute could continue to organise regular talks and events for its 500 members. Other organisations were also able to hire facilities in the building. The University estimated that it has supported the Institute to the tune of £500,000 over the last 10 years, which has included an annual grant of £30,000 to fund educational courses and a £200,000 interest free loan. The arrangement came to an end in August 2008.

The Institute continues to generate an income by hiring out facilities including meeting rooms and providing educational courses, although there is some doubt as to how it will now face a certain future. A new management committee formed to manage the split with the university also introduced new initiatives with a new adult education programme and strengthened the regular programme of current affairs and arts lectures.  The paid positions of caretaker and receptionists were also replaced by volunteers to save money, and the library continues also to be staffed by volunteers.

(1) Illustrated London News (published 1842 - 2006), Punch (published 1841 - 2002) ,The Engineer (founded 1856 and still publishing) and The Sphere (published 1900 - ??)

The Institute was used by BBC3 to film part of an episode of it's Naked series showing five female estate agents undergoing a radical confidence building programme. The scene filmed at the Institute involved the group individually having to undertake a persoanlpresentation to members of the Guildford Debating Society followed by a questions and answers session. The episode was broadcast in February 2009. The series, presented by psychologist Emma Kenny, seeks to test how far a group of people will go to overhaul their self-image.

Psychologist Emma Kenny and image consultant Jonathan Phang launch a radical self-confidence building course, as a group of five professionals undertake a series of challenges designed to help them get rid of inner demons and help their self-esteem at work and at home. It culminates in a dramatic naked stunt in which we find out who has gained the confidence to literally bare all.

Five female estate agents must address a live audience and reveal their most intimate fears, jump from a 200ft bungee and confront loved ones to heal rifts from the past, before taking on the most dramatic challenge of all - to walk down a catwalk naked. Source: BBC 3 February 2009

Ancient Coaching Inn

The Angel Hotel (GR: SU996495) is the only coaching inn left in Guildford and the courtyard where the horses were changed lies behind. Beneath the inn lie remarkable vaults dating back to the 13th century which have since been converted into a restaurant. The Angel boasts of famous customers who have stayed at the inn by naming rooms after them. These included Sir Francis Drake, Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton, and Jane Austen. Oliver Cromwell billeted his troops there which forced the inn into bankruptcy.

The Angel Hotel

The earliest records relating to the building are contained in a deed when Sir Christopher More bought the property from Pancras Chamberleyn in 1527 for £10. Sir Christopher More’s son and heir, a minister to Elizabeth I, was later to build nearby Loseley House. The first documentation relating to the building as an inn is that of the will of a yeoman of Cranleigh, John Astret, who bequeathed it to his son Thomas in 1606. The building was almost demolished in 1989 for conversion of the site to shops, but planning permission was witheld following a well publicised public outcry.

“The town of Guildford, taken with its environs, I, who have seen so many many towns, think the prettiest, and taken altogether, the most agreeable and most happy looking that I ever saw in my life. Here are hill and dale in endless variety; here are the chalk and the sand vieing with each other in making beautiful scenes; here arc a navigable river and fine meadows; here are woods and downs; here is something of everything but fat marshes and their skeleton making agues.” William Cobbett 1830

The Guildford Coach ran a scheduled service at the end of the 19th century from London to the Angel Hotel. Their timetable printed in 1895 showed that passengers departing from outside the Berkeley Hotel in Piccadilly, London at 11.00 am would reach Guildford before 4.00 pm. The return journey from outside the Angel Hotel departed at 4.00 pm and arrived back in Piccadilly at 7.00 pm. The fare one-way was 10 shillings, although for an extra 2s 6d you could secure a box seat. Passengers’ luggage was carried free. It was possible to travel part of the route with a 4d per mile charge and a minimum fare of 1s. The timetable shows that horses were changed at Kingston Vale by Richmond Park and again at The Bear in Esher in Surrey. Passengers were able to follow their journey and look out for landmarks and places of interest listed on the timetable.

Guildford as toytown by Jamie Durrant
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Another historic inn in the town is The Three Pigeons at the top of the High Street. A Grade II listed building, which reportedly is graced by a poltergeist, is believed to have provided various services to the public including serving ale from 1646 with its name taken from adjoining grocers, although it didn't become a fully fledged inn until 1755. As the inn grew in popularity it underwent a number of extensions, one of which involved taking over the adjoining Nags Head Inn. The inn was owned by a local brewery in the 19th century and for which the following advertisement was placed in a trade directory in 1874:

Thomas White - Brewer, Maltster and Spirit Merchant - begs to inform the Gentry and Public generally that he has a large and well selected stock of Spirits and Wines at reasonable prices. T.W. begs to call special attention to his home-brewed Beer, Ale and Stout. Having recently made great additions to his brewery, he is now enabled to supply families with large or small casks in prime condition. The family Bitter Ale at 1s. and the Stout at 1/4d per gallon can be strongly recommended.

The Three Pigeons in Guildford

Severely damaged by a fire in 1916 The Three Pigeons was rebuilt in its original 17th century style with a mock Jacobean front. As a public house The Three Pigeons in common with other hostelries in the town was used for public meetings. A meeting was convened in the inn's Market Room by a Guildford tobacconist and fishing tackle dealer in 1883 the outcome of which was the founding of the Guildford Angling Society, which is still an active club today. A popular pub with locals it also became a focus of many local events. A 2006 charity fund raising event billed as 'Pubwatch Jailbreak' raised £25,000 for local children's hospice CHASE. The Three Pigeons Team won the event by getting as far away as possible without incurring any cost - and reached Milan in Italy.

The inn has been sold to a company that will be converting the premises into a restaurant and wine bar in November 2007 effectively closing a chapter covering 360 years of history as a public house and presumably will lose its local community focus. Annual visits by the Guildford Mummers (1) are also likely to cease. However the new owners have released a statement saying that they intend to 'return the pub to its original design' and will retain the pub atmosphere on the ground floor with the restaurant confined to the first floor.

(1) Mummers recreate traditional English rituals through storytelling. A Mumming troupe, which is an all-male group dressed in black clothing with blackened faces, visit places where the public are free to gather and perform Mummers' plays. The name originates from medieval times although the Mummers tradition is documented from the mid 18th century. The short plays tend to focus on a battle between good and evil culminating in the administering of a magic potion by the Mummer's Doctor and a declaration that the public house is free of evil by the marking of a chalk cross on the door.

Undercrofts & Caves

Similar medieval vaults, or undercrofts, to those beneath the Angel can also be found beneath 72-74 High Street and 50-54 High Street The latter was discovered in 1995 when the building was being refurbished prior to becoming a bookshop. It appears that the chamber was only in use for about a century and was then blocked off. Its exact purpose is not known although a suggestion has been made that it was a Medieval Jewish Synagogue. Further work in 1997 revealed a house of correction elsewhere on the site dating back to 1611. Ancient manmade caverns have also been long documented in the steep chalk ridge on which the town stands and were re-excavated in 1869.

“I will always remember the children that brought a lot of life to the streets, be it in winter or in summer. They would always be singing.” Guildford resident 1930s. Guildford Memories. Michael Green

Guildford Castle 1965
Guildford and Castle c1965
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Guildford's Friary Brewery

At an unknown date prior to 1868 Thomas Taunton founded a new brewery in the town. He was already the owner of the Cannon Brewery when he founded the new Friary Brewery, which was named after the Dominican friary that had been established in the town in 1275 by Queen Eleanor, mother of King Edward I. The brewery, which occupied the site that the Friary shopping centre was later to be built on, proved to be a great success and provided significant local employment.

The land was purchased for £3000 and in the process he also secured a steam flour mill which was on the site. Taunton sold the business in 1874 to his business partner Charles Master after a business disagreement. Master paid £950 but also agreed to take on a debt of £2000 that was still outstanding from the original land purchase. The Master family retained ownership until 1959 when the brewery was bought by the London brewers Meux and effectively merged to become Friary Meux. Meux at the time of the merger owned 500 licensed premises and over 140 off-licences in the south of England. The Friary Brewery eventually closed in 1969, six years after Allied Breweries took it over.

Guildford Museum has a number of items from the brewery. These include beer labels, a collection of photographs of the brewery in action, and a perfectly preserved wooden beer cask. The unused cask was donated by a collector who had bought it from the son of a cooper who was employed at the brewery in the early 20th century. The cooper had made the cask himself but had decided to keep it as a memento and it became a feature in the corner of his kitchen in the 1930s. It was his son who eventually sold the cask.

The Jellicoe Roof Garden

"Tucked away from the bustling throng below, is a special place, hidden from everyone, except those in the know and the birds. The Jellicoe Roof Garden must be one of Guildford town centre's best kept secrets." bbc.co.uk 28th July 2009

Harvey’s, a department store at 105 - 111 High Street in Guildford, commissioned Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe to design a roof garden inspired by the launch of the first Sputnik earth-orbiting satellite, and to provide “primarily a sky garden, … the underlying idea has been to unite heaven and earth; the sensation is one of being poised between the two”.

Guildford Roof Garden
Guildford High Street 1908
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

When it opened in 1958 it became a popular attraction offering views from the curved lines and circular shapes of a viewing platform over the town to the Downs from across a pond with stepping stones and a waterfall that cascaded down three storeys on the south side of the building.

The garden eventually fell into disrepair and was closed until the House of Fraser took over the building in 2000 and in an ambitious renovation reinstated a smaller garden, sadly without the spectacular waterfall and upper viewing platform, and added the atrium to the front of the store. A condition of the planning application was the reinstatement of the garden.

“It is now looked after by Iranian gardener Souren Ala who fell in love with the garden, after finding it crumbling and overgrown five years ago. But he is moving on to pastures new and the hunt is on for a new caretaker. Souren found the garden by chance, when he was shopping in the department store whose roof it occupies. It was in a poor state of repair but the garden designer decided a bit of expert care was all it needed to thrive once again.
He persuaded the General Manager to let him transform it, back to its former glory.” bbc.co.uk 17th August 2009

In 2008 the upper pond was converted into a gravel filter bed providing for clearer water and the need for less maintenance. The plants around the pond include many grasses, varieties of iris and willow with water plants making a central feature. The Jellicoe Roof Garden, which is Grade II listed by English Heritage, is at its best in late summer and is free to visit during store opening times.

George Abbot

The son of a cloth worker, the young George Abbot (1562 - 1633) lived in a house adjoining the bridge in Guildford. A local story relating to how George was to become one of the most powerful figures of his time centres on the river and relates to the dream that his mother had just before his birth. The dream depicted that if she ate jackfish or pike the very next day her child would be empowered with an occasion of such luck that he would rise to great distinction, and hence would be able to pull himself from the abject poverty that otherwise would confront him. She followed the guidance given in the dream, having caught the fish herself in the river below the bridge. As George Abbot and his brother Robert were playing one day on the bridge two gentlemen being struck by their extremely dishevelled appearance and having heard of the curious dream placed them at their own cost at school and were later to sponsor both boys through university.

George Abbot was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611 and was one of the learned contributors in the translation of the Authorised Version of the Bible.

Abbot Hospital

Hospital of the Blessed Trinity or Abbot Hospital (GR: SU998496)at the top of the High Street was founded in 1619 by Archbishop Abbot, “out of love to the place of my birth”, as an almshouse for the poor. Built to look like the buildings of an Oxford college it has apartments for 12 Brothers and 8 Sisters who had to be aged over sixty, unmarried and Guildford residents for at least 20 years. A building with an impressive gatehouse and the Royal Arms of James I over the door, it has as an interesting feature the tall chimneys that tower above.

George Abbot has a tomb in the Church of Holy Trinity opposie Abbot Hospital at the top of High Street.

As an experiment in June 2005 the Master of Abbot Hospital decided to open their doors to the public for guided tours to include the recently repaired tower, and the Wey Valley site's editor was lucky to be in the first group to be shown around. Well worth a visit, especially to be able to sit in the little chapel with its oversized stained glass windows and climb up the stairs all the way to the roof above the gatehouse and which provides commanding views over the town. Check for a notice on the door to see whether these tours have been extended. The ‘hospital’ still provides accommodation for the 12 Brothers and 8 Sisters, and in the garden to the rear additional accommodation has been built to extend the protected accommodation to more residents.

George Abbot pub sign

The Monmouth Room at Abbot’s Hospital hosted an exhibition (November 2008) to tell the story of its founder and the hospital during its early years between 1622 and 1650. George Abbot was determined to repay the town’s kindness in enabling him to attain great status despite coming from a humble background in the town.

"George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury (1611-1633), is possibly the most famous Guildfordian in the town’s history,” said the hospital's master, Tony Richmond. "He was born in 1562 to a cloth worker and attended Guildford’s Grammar School before going on to study at Oxford University. His intention was to provide housing for the elderly poor of the town – 12 single men and eight single women, under the care of a resident master. Originally Abbot’s Hospital only accommodated single people, but a new block built in 1984 within the grounds now enables seven couples to be housed.” Source: Surrey Advertiser 14th November 2008

The Master of Abbot's Hospital, Anthony Richmond, has adapted Abbot's A Brief Description of the Whole World which was originally published in 1599. The new edition released by local publishers Goldenford has been edited to 'to be accessible to readers of today while still keeping the flavour of George Abbot's work', but has attracted criticism.

"You could say it should not have been changed for modern tastes but there was a concern that if we did publish it all and it got into the hands of someone who felt supersensitive, they might have been offended," said Jennifer Margrave of Goldenford Publishers. Source: Surrey Advertiser 2nd March 2012

"We would not accept hanging, drawing and quartering, eye gouging, castration, beheading, or public hanging and many other forms of torture, particularly as punishment, but they happened and we know about them as they come down to us, unadulterated by the fear that such descriptions would offend someone." Michael Reading, Letters, Surrey Advertiser 9th March 2012

In editing the 16th century manuscript Richmond took modern sensibilities into account. In Elizabethan times the former Archbishop of Canterbury held what today would be regarded as fairly racist opinions of foreign peoples and would have been handicapped by a narrow view of the world in general. The editor has retained in the new edition the author's original comments that the indigenous population of the tropics were 'not only blackish, like the Moors but are exceedingly black and therefore at this day are named Negroes, than whom no men are blacker', which may hint at the more extreme views of those comments that were removed.

The book was published in October 20111 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Abbot's work on the King James Bible.

Church of Holy Trinity

The tombs of Archbishop Abbot and Speaker Onslow, an influential local landowner and politician who is often referenced in this web site, are in the Church of Holy Trinity (GR: SU998496) opposite Abbot Hospital in the High Street. It is the only large 18th century church in Surrey, and for a while served as Guildford’s cathedral. A statue of Abbot rests in the south transept showing this great benefactor on a pile of books with skulls and bones. This strange choice of objects relates to Abbot as a man of considerable learning and emphasises how short our stay on earth is. There is a chapel commemorating the Weston family, whose members included the second Sir Richard Weston the creator of the Wey Navigation in the 17th century. The Right Reverend George Reindorp was the first bishop ever to be enthroned whilst being televised in 1961 here, the same year as the new cathedral was to be consecrated by the bishop.

The first church on this site was built in the 14th century but the present building dates from 1763. The previous Holy Trinity church was destroyed in 1740 when the tower collapsed, apparently after some ill-advised alterations. The new building was not started for another 11 years with much of the money for the rebuilding being donated by the Earl of Onslow, marked by his family crest above the clock face.

The rector of the Holy Trinity Church is scratching his head after planning permission to install a disabled ramp and handrail in place of the front steps of the church in the High Street was refused (March 2010). The application, which is intended to ensure that the church complies with the requirements set out in the Disability Discrimination act 2005, has been refused due to the impact the plan will make on the area around the Grade 1 listed church.

"The reality is, we have been showing his plans to the council for many years and, until now, they have been in favour of them," said Rector Rev Robert Cotton. "Part of these plans was a disabled access ramp and I cannot understand why at the last minute they decided to change their minds and we are not clear about their reasons for this change of heart. We have got to do this, we are determined to provide a safe and proper access to this important public building. The plans have always been the same. They will not be visible, they will be kept behind the railings. There is still a funding gap but it's very hard to generate funds unless you can prove you're actually going to build it."

"The construction of the ramp would involve a considerable amount of engineering," said Ms Williams in the borough council planning department's report. "The existing wall to High Street would have to be strengthened. Furthermore, despite the huge amount of excavation, construction and disruption that be required for the ramp at the front, it still would not provide independent access into the church. The mobile metal ramp would still be necessary to allow access into the church itself via the south west door. In these terms the proposal does not provide a proper disabled access into the church."

Surrey Advertiser 5th March 2010

The High Sheriff of Surrey played out the tradition of pledging the loyalty of the people of Guildford to the monarch in a Queen's Diamond Jubilee ceremony (February 2012) on the steps of the Holy Trinity Church. Professor Michael Joy made the proclamation at a meeting of the Sheriff's Court of Surrey which was founded in the Middle Ages. The Sheriff's Court had conducted a proclamation on Elizabeth II's succession to the throne on the steps sixty years ago.

Tunsgate Square, Guildford

Early Games of Cricket at the Royal Grammar School

Guildford’s Royal Grammar School (GR: TQ001496) in the Upper High Street dates from the time of Henry VIII and was constituted a free grammar school by Edward VI in 1552.

The original school was founded in 1509 after Robert Beckingham, a Freeman of the City of London, left a bequest to establish a free school in the town. His executors three years later conveyed the lands of Beckingham's estate to a body of trustees including the Mayor of Guildford and four 'sad and discrete men' who had formerly been mayors, and it was from the rental income of these lands that the school was funded.

The trustees petitioned Edward VI to grant them further endowments for maintenance. This resulted in the king in January 1552 ordering that there was to be "one Grammar School in Guildford called the Free Grammar School of King Edward VI for the education, institution and instruction of boys and youths in Grammar at all future times forever to endure".

The site at the time was right at the limits of the town, and overlooked open countryside and the cricket ground that was in popular use in the mid 16th century.

The school was to quickly outgrow its original facilities and following the purchase of land in the High Street in 1555 construction of new buildings, today referred to as the Old School, commenced two years later with these being completed in 1586. The school was extended on the Allen House Field plot on the opposite side of the road in 1963. Coincidentally the year prior to the new building being finished the Old School suffered substantial damage from fire.

After centuries of providing free education, including a period of voluntary controlled state education provision which was introduced with the 1944 Education Act, Guildford Grammar School withdrew to become independent and fee-paying in 1977.

There is a chained library in the school which houses books originally bequeathed to the school in 1573 by a previous pupil Bishop John Parkhurst. These books include Walter Raleigh’s History of the World which he completed whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Boys at the school participated in cricket matches as early as 1550, which is one of the earliest references to the game, and there are examples of cricket bats used at the time on display at the school. The Oxford English Dictionary highlights this 1550 game reference to 'creckett', which was made in the official records of a court case held in 1598, as the first in the English language.

We have not been able to qualify whether the following account published around that time is a reference to this case. It refers to a dispute about the enclosure of a piece of land in Guildford and John Derrick, a coroner, was recorded as stating in his evidence that:

". . . for fifty years or more, and that when he was a scholar in the free school at Guildford he and several of his companions did run and play there at cricket and other plays."

The long list of famous alumni included brothers George Abbot, Maurice Abbot the Lord Mayor of London, and Robert Abbot the Bishop of Salisbury who were all educated there having been sponsored by a local benefactor. Bishop Cotton was another notable pupil. Others include Speaker of The House Arthur Onslow - Admiral of The Fleet Sir Thomas Byam Martin (1773 - 1854); Lord Mark Kerr (1776 - 1840); Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir George Grey (1812 - 1898); Air Chief Marshall Sir John Allison (b. 1943) and Terry Jones (b. 1942) of Monty Python fame.

Guildford Grammar School celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2010. To mark the occasion a lineup of comedians who attended the school undertook a commemorative comedy gig at the Stoke Pub (February 2010) - You Must be Stoking! The lineup included former Guildford resident MacKenzie Taylor (who achieved comic notoriety with his act as a part of the Edinburgh Festival which included getting people to read from a phone directory - where he even managed to get Les Dennis, Tony Robinson, Mike McShane and Maureen Lipman involved), George Egg (with his impossibly large briefcase containing a battery of religious props); and Adrian Mackinder with compere Paul Kerensa.

And as a slight deviation: one of the oldest private schools in Western Australia is Guildford Grammar School. Founded in 1896 the school near Perth has absolutely no connection with the hallowed halls of our own Guildford Grammar School.


The IRA Bombings

Old fire station

The original Guildford Fire Station (GR: SU997496) in North Street, built in 1872 to house one of the first hand pump appliances, now houses public toilets. In the picture above, the white building to the right was once the Horse & Groom public house which was wrecked by an IRA bomb in 1974. The pub was targeted as it was popular with off-duty soldiers. Four soldiers and a civilian died and 65 people were injured in the blast. Another Guildford pub, the Seven Stars, was also targeted but the landlord had enough time to evacuate the building and there were no casualties when a bomb exploded inside.

"By this Saturday afternoon, the team is ready for their first operation. Two young women from north London carry the bombs. Dowd drives the team to two pubs in Guildford, Surrey in a white Avenger. O’Connell and one of the women go into the Seven Stars pub, and Dowd and the other woman into the Horse and Groom. As each pub fills up with army boys and WRAC, the Irish couples order drinks. Bags containing the bombs are slipped under seats and they leave.

"The four meet up in a car park. Dowd is 15 minutes late, and then they get caught in the one-way system. They turn on the car radio to listen to the news. At 8.30pm, the bomb at the Horse and Groom explodes and five people (one soldier and four civilians) are killed and more than 100 were injured. When the bomb at the Seven Stars goes off an hour later, the landlord has been able to evacuate it and there are no injuries." Channel 4 History. 'The Year London Blew Up'

In the following year three men and a woman were jailed for life for the bombings, although they became known as 'The Guildford Four' when the case was revealed to be seriously flawed. After what was considered to be 'the biggest miscarriage of justice in Britain' their sentences were eventually quashed in 1989. The real killers were never found. It was the tireless campaigning of Sarah Conlon, whose husband and son were two of the Guildford Four, that not only resulted in their names being cleared but also in a public apology in 2005 by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. MORE HERE. Three police offices were later charged with fabricating evidence but the charges were eventually dismissed.

A Hollywood film released in 1993 told the story of the Guildford Four. In The Name of The Father was directed by Jim Sheridan and starred Daniel Day Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite and examined the strains in a father-son relationship behind the scenes of the bombing.

BBC News Online published the following on the 34th anniversary of the 5th October 1974 bombings:

1974: Four dead in Guildford bomb blasts

At least four people have been killed and more than 50 injured in two explosions in southern England this evening.

Bombs went off in two pubs packed with Saturday night revellers in the town of Guildford. Many of the victims were soldiers back from duty in Northern Ireland. The first bomb exploded in the Horse and Groom pub just before 2030 BST, destroying the front of the building and shattering the windows of neighbouring shops.

A second bomb exploded half an hour later in the nearby Seven Stars. Most of the casualties were the result of the initial bomb, which went off without warning. All pubs and two cinemas in the Surrey town have been shut down for fear of further attacks and police have sealed off the area.

David Howell, former Minister for Northern Ireland described his horror at the injuries caused by the bombs.

"I'm afraid I thought I'd seen the last of this in Belfast. It's quite clear that we must hunt down the maniacs and the animals who would do this kind of thing," he said.

The most seriously injured have been transferred to St. Luke's Hospital in Guildford which is receiving blood plasma from London hospitals to treat casualties. Surrey Ambulance Service is said to be stretched as crews struggle to cope with the large numbers of wounded.

Guildford is situated close to a number of garrison towns. Its night life is popular with soldiers who are part of the 6000 military personnel in the area. Senior police officers say given the severity of the explosions and choice of targets, the attacks are likely to be the work of Irish terrorists, but no official confirmation has yet been given. Special Branch are currently interviewing witnesses.

The BBC have a video giving eyewitness accounts HERE

bbc.co.uk 5th October 2008

Two off-duty soldiers who lost their lives in the Guildford bombings have had their names added to the war memorial in their home town (October 2008). Privates John Hunter and William Forsyth of the Scots Guards who died in the Horse and Groom blast are honoured alongside victims of both world wars on the memorial in Barrhead near Glasgow.

The Fire Service

The town's fire service is today housed in a 70+ year-old building complete with old-fashioned fireman's pole on Ladymead at the Stoke Interchange by the A3.

After a decade of squabbling with the council Surrey Fire and Rescue Service have been given the go-ahead (March 2008) to have the facility, regularly described as 'in appalling condition' by the local press, replaced. The 2.7 acre (11,000 sq m) site looks set to be sold to a property developer who would also provide a brand new building whilst using the remaining land for redevelopment.

The estimated cost of refurbishing the existing building, described as being 'so bad it is not far off being condemned', is over £100,000. Another fire station in the Wey Valley, Farnham, is in a similar state.

The new fire station complete with an educational facility for fire prevention lectures, and an area set aside for specialist training on road traffic accident attendances was planned for a 2011 opening. However Surrey County Council's redevelopment plans unfortunately came to nothing as it appears that there was no interest in the property that needed to be sold off.

The council announced (January 2010) that the building was no longer for sale 'following a review' of the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's property portfolio.

"We are committed to delivering service property improvements and have been working closely with county council colleagues to develop property improvement options," said a Surrey Fire and Rescue spokeswoman. Source: Surrey Advertiser 29th January 2010

Plans for redevelopment of Guildford fire station, which is to be funded by Surrey County Council, were revitalised in December 2011. An open day to publicise the development plans, which include an enlarged and more energy efficient building, was held in April 2012. The new facility will be built on the land that in earlier plans was to be sold off, allowing significant funds to be saved by allowing the fire service to continue operating on the current site during the building works without having to temporarily relocate. The derelict building on the site, together with a residential property will be demolished.

The new plans allow for the fire officer's rest areas to be housed at ground level removing the need for a fireman's pole. A public consultation room will also be provided. Improved training facilities highlighted in earlier plans are being incorporated, with part of the space providing for physical objects such as a ditch, lamppost, bollards and road junction markings to allow for realistic road traffic accident attendance and investigation training.

"Because seconds count in an emergency, the new fire station will be cleverly designed to allow firefighters to get out of the door and on their way to an incident as quickly as possible," said Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council's cabinet member for community safety. bbc.co.uk 16th April 2012

Pewley Down by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website

The Electric Theatre

The Electric Theatre (GR: SU994495), in Onslow Street is a community arts centre and as the imaginative name hints at, resides in a converted power station that once provided the public electricity to the town. Operated by the local council the theatre provides a welcome opportunity for amateur theatre and music to be staged for public audiences.

The theatre marked the start of its 10th anniversary celebrations by transforming the plaza into a festive ice rink over the Christmas and New Year period (2006-7).

Guildford Cattle Market 1924
Cattle Market, Guildford 1924
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The Motor Industry

The Rodboro Buildings (GR: SU994495) on the corner of Onslow and Bridge Streets was custom built to house the first production line of motor vehicles in Europe, and as such is the oldest purpose-built multi-storey car factory in the world. Owned by Dennis Brothers who originally manufactured bicycles, the business developed into motor cycles and eventually motor vehicles. Their first motor car was launched in 1902, buses in 1903, with vans, lorries, and ambulances following. The ever resourceful Dennis’ also manufactured military tanks, motor mowers and refuse carts at one time. Local court records at the end of the 19th century show that the Dennis brothers were fined 20 shillings for "driving furiously up Guildford High Street at an estimated 16 mph" in their first motorised vehicle.

The name of the buildings changed to what we have today when the Rodboro Boot and Shoe Company bought the building Dennis having moved into a larger factory on Woodbridge Hill to expand their fire engine manufacture in 1910, the name Dennis Vehicles and later Hestair Dennis, becoming synonymous with this type of vehicle worldwide.

Newlands Corner tearooms with motor vehicle 1950
Motorists at Newlands Corner Tearooms c1950
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The Rodboro Building now houses the Wetherspoon public house on the ground floor and a music school on the floors above. The Guildford Academy of Contemporary Music, which was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2008, was launched in 1995 moving into the Rodboro Building in 2004. The school, which started as a guitar teaching project on the back of a Prince's Trust grant, today has 1,200 students. Graduates include soloist Newton Faulkner, Amelle Berrabah of the Sugarbabes, Nick Harrison, Ben King now with the Yardbirds, Guy Davis of Reuben, Nick Tsang of Bo Pepper, and Sam Odiwe and Luke Higgins of the up-and-coming Bryn Christopher Band.

Dennis experimented with social engineering when in 1933 they built a large estate of 102 workers houses on what was then the outskirts of the town to house workers from Coventry, having bought White & Poppe the engine manufacturers. Dennisville (GR: SU984497) survives in name only today.

In 1990, and then a much contracted business, Dennis Specialist Vehicles moved to the Slyfield Industrial Estate on the banks of the Wey to the north of the town. Their Woodbridge Hill factory has been redeveloped and is now a swish complex of office buildings.

John Dennis Coachbuilders, the fire engine bodybuilder, has reported a doubling of its workforce (June 2009) following an increase in orders over the next 18 months. The company has benefited from a new government centralised purchasing service which only places orders with approved manufacturers including John Dennis Coachbuilders, and also through the pioneering of a new plastic body.

"About a year ago the government changed the way fire engines were produced. It was centralised rather than each service getting their own," said managing director Alan McClafferty. "We have had big wins recently from fire and rescue services in Essex, East Sussex, North Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear. We started using it [ the plastic body] instead of aluminium four years ago and it's become a market leader. The reason JDC is winning a lot of these contracts is because of this body. We are in that very odd position of being a manufacturer in the South East, which is becoming a rarity. All new staff have been in the assembly department. We buy ladders and pumps from specialists, take the chassis from Volvo or Scania and turn it all into a fire engine. Work is very varied as we make a wide range of vehicles, ranging from small 4x4's, to huge combination fire engines and aerial platform vehicles, with small batches of any one order. Our aim is to make sure it continues to be a good company to work for."

Such is the success of the company that it has applied for planning permission to build another 40,000 sq ft (3,720 sq m) factory.

Surrey Advertiser 19th June 2009

In an endorsement as to how important Dennis is as a vehicle manufacturer three senior government ministers attended the launch (July 2009) of the company's new fleet of environmentally friendly buses. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, and Transport Minister Sadiq Khan were able to try their hand at the wheel of the company's new low carbon buses which release lower carbon emissions and use at least a 30% less fuel than equivalent conventional buses.

The company division trading as Alexander Dennis will benefit from the Department for transport's new £30 million fund for new hybrid vehicles. The Department has confirmed that around 300 of Dennis's new Enviro400 hybrid buses are likely to be purchased through the fund.

“I have to congratulate the government on moving so quickly with this project," said Colin Robertson, chief executive of Alexander Dennis. "As many will know we have for some months been lobbying hard for this type of intervention and it is good to know that they realise the potential to deliver this major ‘green’ initiative, to stimulate activity in the sector and to protect jobs at a very difficult time. The task now will be to ensure that the process moves quickly and we have hybrids in production in 2010. If we can do this it will be a major boost to the whole industry sector.” Source: Surrey Advertiser 17th July 2009

The motor industry gripped Guildford early on for Puttocks, who originally established themselves as a livery stable in 1814, quickly saw the rapidly growing opportunities from motoring. The company converted over to vehicles in 1903 and became the first to provide motor cars for hire in 1905, the first taxi in 1908, and the first charabanc (a vehicle designed to carry a large group of passengers, so a precursor to the bus) in 1910. The company still operates today as a car dealer in Guildford.

Motorcycle in Guildford 1965
Motorcycle, Guildford c1965
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

A prolific local family when it came to the motor industry, the Jacksons, profited by the rapid growth of motoring in the late 19th century. Their garage sites ranged from those at Jackson's Corner off the A3 near Compton; Portsmouth Road, High Street and Woodbridge Road in Guildford; and Borough and Ockford Roads in nearby Godalming. As well as selling and servicing cars the family also specialised in motorcycles and bicycles.

“When we moved to Guildford in the 30s I remember it was grey and raining and all the chimney pots were smoking. Those days seem a long time ago, Guildford with its cobbled street and still running pancake races on pancake day with fairground music from the organ and clowns all the way to Friary.” Tom Curtis – Guildford resident. Surrey Memories and Families at War. Michael Green

A Godalming family-owned company that evolved from the earliest days of motoring in the late 19th century, FG Barnes, opened a garage alongside the new bypass at Woodbridge in the 1930s to handle its newly won Bedford agency. These premises, with three days notice, were requisitioned by the Government during the Second World War to service Churchill infantry tanks built in Guildford through a Dennis Brothers and Vauxhall partnership.

Barnes moved to Sandford Garage at 60 Epsom Road. This 1930s garage building with its art deco design to the front was in 2005 subject to conservation area consent when plans were submitted to redevelop the site, with the intention of retaining the front facade of the single storey structure. The restored garage was opened in October 2008 with the event marked by a themed party and a parade of cars dating from the 1930s including an MG and an Aston Martin.

World War II Churchill tank
Churchill IV tank c1941
Image released into public domain

As the company grew rapidly during the 1950s and 60s it led to them becoming instrumental in the development of the Slyfield Trading Estate by the local council as they sought to find a substantial site on which to base their business. FG Barnes was one of the first business to move to the estate in 1972 having spent £100,000 on a new building. The opening ceremony saw the High Sheriff of Surrey arrive in one of the first Bedford motor coaches to be used on Britain's roads. FG BARNES IN GODALMING HERE

Two other local businesses, EJ Baker and Charles & Holbrook Crow were involved in the early motor industry in the town. The Crow brothers ran a motorcycle repair business in Upper High Street, with their garage later taken over by Baker for motor vehicles. Out of town in Shalford William Charles Warn founded his garage in 1908 to repair motor cars and cycles and sell Anglo American petrol (1).

In 1898 Drummond Brothers began making lathes at Rydes Hill and quickly developed and specialised in gear cutting machines for the expanding motor industry. The business closed in 1981.

Pinzgauer, a manufacturer of military vehicles, in 2000 opened a 21,000 sq ft (2,000 sq m) facility in the Midleton Industrial Estate in Guildford where the shells of vehicles manufactured at their plant in Fareham in Hampshire are assembled. The location in Guildford provides easy access to local military vehicle testing grounds. Specialising in 6x6 all-terrain vehicles the company produces armoured vehicles for the Ministry of Defence. The company won a 100 vehicle order in 2006 for its Pinzgauer Vector which is designed to minimise the impact of roadside bombs.

The British aerospace company BAE Systems acquired the company (2007) from its American owner for £2.3bn. Pinzgauer vehicles were originally designed and built in Austria but are now produced exclusively in the UK. The vehicles also have non-military applications including versions produced for the Fire Service. BAE announced (2007) that their next-generation wheeled all-terrain Pinzgauer 2 will be assembled at the Guildford factory.

Sadly it did not take new owners BAE Systems long to restructure their acquisition with their announcement (January 2008) that it is to downsize the Pinzgauer Guildford operation with the loss of 76 jobs. The factory is to retain a core team of 25 people to support the vehicle fleets in the UK and New Zealand. Manufacture of the all-terrain vehicles is to be moved to Africa.

In the event 48 people lost their jobs (April 2008) with those remaining staying behind to complete the last orders for the Pinzgauer 1 with ther Pinzgauer 2 production moving to South Africa. The factory was finally closed in August 2008 when a batch of 20 vehicles for the Ministry of Defence had been completed marking a production output of 1,200 vehicles since the building was first leased in 2000.

(1) The Anglo American Oil Company was established in the UK in 1888 and was well known for its Pratt's brand of motor spirit. The company was the first to introduce sealed two-gallon cans for petrol distribution. It was later to become the Esso company.

Three miles south of Guildford in the village of Shalford a revolution in green car design is being pioneered by the racing car designer Gordon Murray. His company is developing a car 'so compact that three vehicles can fit in an average sized parking space' and will be lighter and easier to manufacturer than any other car on the road today. MORE ON GORDON MURRAY

Royal Surrey Hospital

The original Royal Surrey County Hospital (GR: SU988494) was built in Farnham Road in 1862 for a cost of £15,000 with accommodation for 60 patients, and ‘was constructed on arrangements approved by Miss Florence Nightingale’. By 1867 the hospital had 60 beds and treated 248 inpatients and 1,580 outpatients. During the war the RSCH treated many war casualties and was involved in the rehabilitation of disabled service personnel. In 1948, when the hospital was taken over by the fledgling National Health Service, it had 228 beds. The town was able to offer a full range of district general hospital services in 1952 when the RSCH and St Luke's Hospital combined forces. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited the hospital in 1957.

The Royal Surrey Hospital in Farnham Road, Guildford 1909
Royal Surrey Hospital, Farnham Road in 1909
with allotments opposite
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The County Hospital relocated to its new complex in Egerton Road, which was opened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in January 1980 and at that time had 364 beds and nine operating theatres. The Farnham Road site now provides specialist mental health services.

The Royal Surrey became one of the first self-governing NHS Trusts in 1991 and now treats over 260,000 patients a year with over 56,000 passing through A&E. 3,400 staff including 362 doctors and 754 nurses service 570 beds in 20 wards and 12 surgical theatres. The hospital was under threat of closure (2007) under cost-cutting plans proposed by the government. MORE HERE

The Royal Surrey moved a step closer to gaining independence after its bid to apply for foundation status (1) was approved (March 2008). The application process to the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority (SHA) was likely to take 12 months and if successful will free the hospital from the shackles of having to respond to many of the government's much ridiculed targets. As a Foundation Hospital the Royal Surrey would also have greater control over its future and finances, as this statement by the hospital suggests:

It is vital to us that we offer the right services for our patients and the best way to achieve that is to listen to and involve patients and their carers, local people and our staff. 

In addition to increased accountability, this status will also provide the Royal Surrey with greater flexibility on how we invest in services.  We have worked extremely hard in the last few years to improve our financial position and in the last financial year delivered a surplus of £2.5 million.  However, as an NHS Trust we are currently limited in how we can spend that surplus and how responsive to local needs we can be, as we are accountable to the Department of Health through the Strategic Health Authority - NHS South East Coast.  This means that many of the decisions we want to make locally for you have to be authorised centrally. 

With NHS Foundation Trust status we will have the freedom to respond to local needs and priorities and re-invest any surplus we generate to the benefit of our patients.  Most importantly the status will mean that we will no longer be directly accountable to the Department of Health, but to our members and elected representatives and that could be you. Source: www.royalsurrey.nhs.uk February 2009

The three-month public consultation ended in February 2009 and provided an opportunity to recruit more members of the public for Foundation Trust Membership which had reached over 12,500 members. The public consultation saw hos attend 18 public meetings across the county, as well as in West Sussex and East Hampshire. 20 further meetings were held with other groups including parish councils. A decision on the hospital's status is due on July 1st 2009.

(1) NHS Foundation Trusts remain part of the NHS but are much more accountable to local people. NHS Foundation Trusts place more emphasis on ensuring that they listen to and involve staff, patients and local communities in how the hospital is run and are accountable to them.  NHS Foundation Trusts have less central government control and are given more freedom to respond the needs of local people. They are authorised and regulated by the independent regulator Monitor, whose role it is to ensure that the Trusts are well managed and financially stable in order to maintain high quality standards for patients. They continue to be part of the NHS and deliver NHS care and treatment based on the founding principles of need and not the ability to pay. Source: www.royalsurrey.nhs.uk  

The health secretary Alan Johnson officially opened England's biggest bowel cancer screening unit at the Royal Surrey in March 2008. The £250,000 southern hub of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme serves a population of 13.4m people and is part of the NHS' plan to check everyone between the ages of 60 and 69 for the disease by the end of 2009, and 70 to 74-year-olds from 2010. By the time the unit had been officially opened 110 people had already been diagnosed with bowel cancer. The laboratory, which is a partnership between the University of Surrey and the hospital, tests bowel motion samples for tiny traces of blood to see if further action is needed. Royal Surrey has been a centre for the prevention and treatment of bowel cancer since 1983. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK.

The Royal Surrey was awarded (October 2008) the highest possible rating for quality of services covering patient safety, cleanliness and waiting times by the Healthcare Commission. It also scored a good rating for how well it was managing its finances. However the hospital underachieved in its MRSA targets. The hospital was also named as one of the UK's best 40 acute trusts based on criteria including rates of MRSA and an inpatient survey in May 2009 published by CHKS in their Top Hospital Awards.

The Care Quality Commission (2) publishes an annual health check report assessing hospitals around the country. Their 2008/9 health check (October 2009) rated the hospital's services as excellent ranking it in the top 22% of acute trusts in England. The commission surveyed all 392 trusts in the country giving ratings from excellent to good, fair and weak for overall quality and financial management between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009. The Royal Surrey is the only acute trust in the South East Coast region covering Surrey, Kent and Sussex, to be rated excellent.

(2) The Care Quality Commission is an independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England. It inspects and enforces standards across NHS trusts, local authorities, private companies and voluntary organisations.

A forward thinking employee at the Royal Surrey has managed to save the hospital £57,000 on electricity bills (2009). Gary Mountjoy, estates manager, realised that by exchanging the 12,500 traditional fluorescent lighting tubes with new energy efficient ones would more than halve the trust’s energy consumption for lighting. He also managed to secure funding from the government’s energy and sustainability scheme to make his initiative affordable. He has since been presented with the Low Carbon award at the annual South East Coast NHS Best of Health Awards.

The hospital announced (April 2010) delivery of equipment to provide treatment to sufferers of cervical and womb cancer using a technique known as brachytherapy. The treatment involves delivering the radiation dose directly to a tumour or right next to it, rather than using radiotherapy which bombards the whole area with radiation. This not only restricts damage to tissue at also reduces the number of treatment sessions needed.

"It was the very first kind of radiotherapy and has been in use since 1900's - but it's changed very little since the 1930s," said Dr. Alexandra Stewart, a cancer expert at the hospital. "What has happened over the last few years is that people realise they should be using all the available techniques and what we have now is a new way of giving as a focus brachytherapy treatment, which can be made individual to each patient's particular needs. In Guildford, we've just got the kit and were putting it through its paces. Then we will be able to use it to treat more people. Cervical cancer sufferers are particularly going to benefit from the new equipment and it will mean we have a new way of treating womb cancer." Surrey Advertiser 9th April 2010

The method can be applied to most cancers including prostate cancer, which normally takes up to seven weeks of treatment but applying brachytherapy reduces that to just one or two days. More information can be found HERE.

Next door to the old hospital in Farnham Road is the site of the Hillier Almshouses built by the trust named after its founder. The buildings provided for seven women to be accommodated and they were enlarged 12 years later. These original buildings were demolished in 1971 and replaced by Hillier House which provides asheltered housing for older people and is managed by a Registered Social Landlord (2). The property today has 36 studio flats and as an almshouse charity caters primarily for women members of the Church of England who have previously lived in the Guildford area. Elizabeth Hillier had established her original almshouse charity in Shoreditch, London in 1798.

(2) Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) are independent housing associations registered with the Housing Corporation under the Housing Act 1996.

The Royal Surrey - Seven Ages of Britain

The Royal Surrey Hospital was featured in the last of the series of David Dimbleby's Seven Ages of Britain broadcast on BBC1 on the 22nd March 2010.

In the programme, Age of Ambition, Dimbleby was illustrating the concept of free medical support for everyone put forward by the Economist William Beveridge (1879 - 1963) in 1942 in wartime Britain. It was his concept that was adopted for the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1946 and state funded hospitals. The programme decided to use an operating theatre at the Royal Surrey, Guildford to illustrate the point.

The programme provided portrayals from a series of 100 paintings and sketches created by the artist Barbara Hepworth (1903 - 1975) and who was granted permission by the new NHS to shadow surgeons at their work as a way of celebrating their work and those of the theatre nurses, who had in their turn saved her own daughter from the effects of bone disease in 1947.

This was followed by a four minute long scene which showed Dimbleby presenting to camera in the operating theatre and also talking to the surgeon Professor Karanjia (1) during an operation. Below is a short transcript of the conversation.

Dimbleby: "Can I ask what you are doing? Or is it not a good moment?"

Karanjia: "No it is. You are very welcome to ask. I am marking the line of division of the liver now."

Dimbleby: "And this is where you are going to cut it?"

Karanjia: "This is where I'm going to divide the liver."

Dimbleby: "When Hepworth was doing her studies of surgery she talked about the coordination, how beautiful the coordination was between the team. Is that at the heart of it? Coordination?"

Karanjia: "Yes I think it is. It's a team effort. Everyone has a role."

Dimbleby: "You rely on everyone else to do their bit?"

Karanjia: "Very much so. I couldn't do this job without the people I work with."

Dimbleby:"And is she to you just a body or have you met her and talked about it?"

Karanjia: "No, no, no. I have seen her and counselled her in great detail about what we are going to do."

Dimbleby: "So you know whose liver this is?"

Karanjia: "Very much so. The day you start working as a factory worker you should go and be a factory worker. It's not that kind of job."

The Royal Surrey had announced the filming of the programme in the NHS Trust's November 2009 newsletter InPractice Royal Surrey well before it went to air.

David Dimbleby visits the Royal Surrey. BBC television presenter David Dimbleby recently paid a visit to the Royal Surrey to film for his new television programme in which he explores the creation of the National Health Service. As part of the filming he donned blues and scrubbed up to watch Professor Nariman Karanjia perform surgery. Mr. Dimbleby was clearly intrigued by the work of Professor Karanjia and kept his TV crew waiting while he watched the operation in awe.

(1) Professor Karanjia, who trained at Guy's Hospital Medical School in London, where he was awarded five medical school prizes, is a specialist in liver resection (removal of liver tumours surgically).

Guildford Technical College
& Merrist Wood

Originally housed in a building in Park Street the Technical Institute, which was founded in the town in 1908, moved to its new home in Stoke Park in 1939. The move reflected the rapid increase in demand for technical training but at the outbreak of war the new college, complete with purpose-built underground air-raid shelters, was immediately requisitioned by the War Office who moved sections of Surrey County Hall and Wandsworth Technical School to the building. RAF and Naval Officers were also trained in radar technology at the site.

After the war the college was reinstated and by 1947 it had five departments offering courses in commerce, engineering, science, building and domestic subjects. The college continued to expand and by 1969 two new buildings had been opened including a five-storey education block.

In the 1960s the college lead the way in embracing computer technology and pioneered courses for industry and the Ministry of Defence. These included calibration, production control, computer-aided design and motor vehicle technology.

In 1992 the institution was incorporated as the Guildford College of Further and Higher Education and quickly became one of the highest rated colleges in the country winning a string of awards which included becoming the first educational institution in the south-east to win EXCEL-SE bronze award for business excellence and was the only further and higher education institution named in Vision 100, an index of 'visionary public and private sector organisations' in the UK. In 2003 the Guildford and agricultural college Merrist Wood merged.

The modern institution was rebranded simply as Guildford College.

Today (2008) the college has extensive workshops providing a wide range of disciplines with state-of-the-art facilities. These include a multimedia studio, art and design ceramic and textile studios, dance and drama studios, science and language laboratories, engineering and motor vehicle workshops, and industry-standard training kitchens and restaurant. The IT department also maintains a resource of over 700 computers for student use.

The college has had planning approval (December 2008) for their 'pavilions in the park' development at Stoke Park. The new campus, which is projected to cost £90m, will consist of six pavilions providing new classrooms, coffee shops and computer rooms. Much of the existing campus will be demolished to make way for the new buildings. However funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) college rebuilding programme was withdrawn (March 2009) after it emerged that the LSC had been trying to juggle work on 144 colleges totalling £5.7 billion and that they couldn't meet a commitment at that level. Their decision affects 100 rebuild programmes across the country.

It was confirmed that the college's Pavilions in the Park Campus project has been indefinitely put on the backburner (June 2009). The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has announced that it does not have the necessary funding available exactly one year since the college was granted planning permission. The LSC has now put on hold 183 build programmes nationally after claiming more colleges than expected applied for grants, and in the process triggered a public debate as to whether the council is 'fit for purpose'.

"Thankfully, as no building work had started, there has not been any disruption to our staff and students," said Clive Cooke, principal of Guildford College. "We are now investigating alternative ways of raising the standard of our teaching and learning facilities. Inevitably the process will be slower as the funding is not forthcoming in the short term, however, we are still hopeful that the outlook will improve after the next two academic years. Local support for the redevelopment programme has highlighted the critical role Guildford College and further education plays in the community. We will seek ways of working with other community stakeholders to support the improvement of college property."

"For Guildford next step is to begin a process of consultation in the autumn," said a spokesman for the LSC. "A total of 13 colleges were put through on the basis of a fair and transparent process and the next spending review will determine how much money can be made available in the next financial year." Surrey Advertiser 3rd July 2009

The Merrist Wood campus, which is located three miles (5km) away in Worplesdon, operates courses in land-based disciplines including horticulture, floristry, landscaping, animal and countryside management, sports studies and equine management. The campus has one of the largest indoor horse riding arenas in the country and an animal care unit that includes exotic animals. Students from Merrist Wood regularly undertake work in estates across the country including Winkworth Arboretum near Godalming and Claremont and Painshill Park near Cobham.

The first records of agricultural activity at Merrist Wood date back to 1318, and the estate was granted to George More of Loseley by Queen Elizabeth in 1582. Merrist Wood House on the estate was built in 1877 but it wasn't until 1943 that an educational institution was established on the estate in response to the Government's plans to establish a Farm Institute in every county in the country. The first courses, that opened in 1945, concentrated on agriculture and horticulture and a herd of 30 dairy cows and 50 ewes was introduced.

The college lost its full stock of cloven-hoofed animals in the 1958 Foot and Mouth outbreak with the slaughter of 134 cattle, 156 sheep and 218 pigs. The Surrey Farm Institute was renamed as Merrist Wood Agricultural College in 1967 after which courses in new disciplines including arboriculture, landscaping and nursery management were introduced. The college won three medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006 and a Gold Medal and Best in Show at the Hampton Court Flower Show in the same year.

The Guildford College Group that operates both Guildford College and Merrist Wood is also responsible for Farnham College.

The Farnham Road Cottages

A little further down the road closer to the station used to be a row of timber-framed cottages, two of which had characteristic jetty overhangs above the street and five steps up to their front doors which made them a favoured subject for artists and photographers alike. Locally referred to as The Farnham Road Cottages they were actually split on the corner betwen Farnham Road and Park Street (GR: SU993495). The cottages, which were originally built as four houses for craftsmen's and tradesmen's families in early Jacobean times, became the focus of a long-running campaign to save them. In the nineteenth century the houses had become less desirable and were subdivided into smaller homes with a living room on the ground floor with two or three small bedrooms above. To the rear was a scullery with a sink and tap for cold water. There was no indoor sanitation.

By 1910 the properties had deteriorated to such a degree that moves were made to demolish them, which resulted in such enthusiastic opposition from the local populace that the local authority agreed to save them. During the war years the cottages proved popular as they were cheap to rent in times when earnings were scarce, but by the 1950s they again became the subject of concern. Guildford Borough Council declared them unfit for human habitation in 1954. Popular opinion at the time was simply that the council wanted to clear the site as part of their town centre redevelopment plans, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings argued that the building structures were sound and should not be demolished. They were also now Grade II listed. However after several years of debate the cottages were finally demolished in 1957. Source: Matthew Alexander 'From the archives'. Surrey Advertiser 8th February 2008

The Oldest Building in Guildford
- St Mary's Church

Thought to be the oldest surviving building in Guildford, St Mary's Church (GR: SU997494) in Quarry Street originated as an early Christian church built by the Saxons in the 7th century AD. The original Saxon wooden structure, which probably would have been at the centre of the town's first Saxon settlement, has long gone replaced with a stone church around 1050, with the surviving stone tower dating back to that time. The shallow lesenes (1) and narrow double-splayed windows visible from the inside are typical of Saxon structures of this type.

St Mary's Church, Guildford

The chancel (2) to the east of the tower was rebuilt in stone not long after the Norman conquest (1066) with a further extension in the form of two transepts to the north and south of the tower built around 1120. The tower itself is thought to predate the Norman Conquest.

The church was held in the second decade of the 12th century under appointment by Henry I, by the Canons of Merton Priory who held it until the Reformation enforced by Henry VIII. Considerable other building works were undertaken throughout the 12th and 13th centuries indicative of the importance given to the church at the time. Kings and their courts are known to have worshipped at the church during the middle ages.

There are traces of wall paintings dating back to the mid 13th century, thought to have been made by William Florentine who at the time was the painter commissioned to undertake works at the castle close by. In the Middle Ages the church had at least six altars including the high altar, with the smaller altars providing private places of worship for local nobility.

In 1825 the chancel was shortened to widen Quarry Street, and there is an engraving in the church made around this time showing the chancel in its former glory prior to the reconstruction. Additional restoration was undertaken in 1863 by one Thomas Goodchild who moved the gallery and fortunately did little to interfere with the rest of the structure for often cosmetic purposes, as was so common in Victorian times. The clock and boundary railings were added at this time, and a brass chandelier that had hung in the church since 1730 was sold to the parish church of Horsell near Woking where it still hangs today.

A remaining chandelier, which was presented to the church by Muslim soldiers has been restored (2008) to provide light from 18 candles. The chandelier, which has been rehung with the ability now to lower and raise it by a counterweight pulley system, bears the inscription: 'To the memory of Violet Sophia Maxwell, mother of their Squadron Commander, this candelabrum was given by the Indian Officers and Men of the Mohammedan Squadron XI King Edwards's Own Lancers 1914'. The Maxwells were a distinguished military family who had lived in Guildford from 1871.

St. Mary's church stands on the declivity of the hill, in Quarry street, a little south of High street; is supposed to have been built by some of the Testard family; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a chapel having semicircular apses on each side of the chancel, which itself had originally a semicircular apse; has a tower resting on four open arches; includes Norman and early English parts, in irregular connection with later portions; underwent restoration in 1862, at a cost of £2, 520; and has a large later English east window, which was filled with stained glass, as a memorial to the Rev. T. Ludham, about the beginning of 1865. John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)

The tenor bell in the tower, which has one of the oldest peals of bells in the county, was temporarily removed in 1999 to have a crack that had appeared across its crown repaired by SoundWeld in Cambridgeshire.

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is said to have preached at St Mary's regularly (he had been ordained as a Deacon in 1861) and his funeral service was held here in 1898 prior to his burial at The Mount Cemetary in Guildford.

St Mary's is administered by the Guildford Deanery under the Church of England's Diocese of Guildford.

(1) lesenes are pilaster strips used to provide ornamental columns
(2) the chancel is the space around the altar housing also the lectern, pulpit and seats for officiating ministers

The west wall of the church, which was rebuilt in Victorian times using unsuitable mortar, is now in dire need of repair. Prevailing wind and rain for a century and a half has worked on the mortar with the result that now flints are working loose and falling out. A flue for the church boiler exits through the same wall and is adding to the problem. Fund-raising events have been started (June 2009) in order to commence expensive repair work.

Guildford Cathedral

Guildford Cathedral (GR: SU985500), with its distinctive gilded copper angel that hovers awkwardly over the 160 ft (49 m) tall central tower, sits on top of Stag Hill overlooking the town, the hill apparently so named because kings of England favoured hunting there.

Guildford Cathedral

Construction started in 1936 on six acres of land that had been gifted by Lord Onslow. This is one of only two new Anglican cathedrals to be consecrated, and the only cathedral to be built on a new site, since the Reformation. War held up construction and the consecration did not take place until 1961. The foundation stone, which was laid by William Lang the Archbishop of Canterbury , was brought down from Jarrow, and rests on top of stones from Winchester and Canterbury Cathedrals linking Dioceses of Guildford, Winchester and Canterbury with the home of the Venerable Bede (673 – 735) who died at Jarrow.

The bricks used in the construction were made from the red clay dug from Stag Hill, and reportedly overproduction generated much needed revenue when bricks were sold for half-a-crown a pop. Signatures of several members of the Royal Family including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who attended the consecration, can be seen on individual bricks in the wall of the Ursula Porch. Statuary was added to the West Front as recently as 2004.

"Its red brick exterior belies the really splendidly proportioned nave and aisles within". Sir John Betjemen (1906 - 1984), poet and architectural critic.

A Guildford-born man managed to recover the silver trowel used to lay the foundation stone in 1936. Ted Goodredge was a 15-year-old labourer working on the site in the 1960s and so the find had a special significance. He was also one of the hundreds of people to 'buy' a brick to help fund the construction.

"I have got my name and address up there, it's built right in there," said Goodredge. "I made a good job of mine. Mine will be there in 1000 years time. I wrapped it up in waterproof paper. You never know, someone may come across my name." Surrey Advertiser 17th September 2010

The engraved solid silver and ivory trowel, wielded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the 1936 ceremony was part of an auction in 1995 to clear items belonging to the architect responsible for designing the Cathedral, Edward Maufe. Goodredge picked up the trowel for £450.

The Goodredge family were closely involved in the building with his step brother and father also working on the site.

Guildford Cathedral Nave

Deemed from the outside an ugly building by many passers-by, the interior constructed in pale Somerset sandstone and white Italian marble floors contrasts quite astoundingly with the red brick of the exterior, and is an exceptionally beautiful building. The architect, Sir Edward Maufe (1883 - 1974), achieved a credible meld of enormous space with elegance enhanced by the light pouring in through his tall lancet windows.

"Its red brick exterior belies the really splendidly proportioned nave and aisles within". John Betjeman (1906 - 1984)

The Main Organ was built in 1961 by Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool and was a gift from the Coulthurst Trust, although reputedly there were considerable difficulties involved in siting the organ as the architect's original plans were for the Cathedral to be a 'temple of the spoken word' for which no permanent organ was intended. The builders of the cathedral were also bizarrely instructed to apply a thick layer of acoustic plaster to reduce what was generally regarded as a near perfect natural acoustic. The overall result was a muffling of the organ's output and the choir's voices. The remote position of the organist makes accompanying a choir difficult, the choir stalls are also the furthest apart of any British cathedral and the organ is divided into two sections 200 ft (61m) away from each other making it difficult for singers to hear clearly. The Main Organ comprises of 4,398 pipes and required 50 miles (80 km) of wiring with 24 (38 km) in the console alone, 12,056 silver contacts and 33,000 soldered connections.

The Positive Organ was added in 1962 and was housed in a specially built gallery above the choir and was built specifically to accompany them. Despite all of the problems over acoustics and siting, visiting organists tend to describe the experience of playing at the cathedral as enjoyable and rewarding. A third organ, The Ardeton Organ is a 'model organ', also built by Rushworth and Dreaper, and is sited in the Lady Chapel's Musicians' Gallery.

The cathedral has a peal of 12 bells, with the largest weighing 30 cwt (1,514 kg), hanging in the 160 foot (49 m) tall tower. In anticipation and before construction work had started on the new building the Cathedral Bells Fund was established in 1933, but despite very little money being raised a sacring bell (1) was cast in memorial to John S Goldsmith and hung in the incomplete building in 1947. It wasn't until 1962 under the encouragement of a new bishop, Dr G Reindorp, that fund-raising took off in earnest. Each of the diocese's districts pledged to raise enough money for one bell with the remaining bells provided by donors.

A ring of 10 bells was finally hung and dedicated in 1965, four years after the consecration of the Cathedral. All 10 bells were cast by Mears & Stainbank of Whitechapel Road, London, a famous bell foundry that can trace its history back to 1570. In 1969 the bishop restarted fund-raising efforts in order to add a further two bells, Whitechapel trebles, which were installed in 1976. In order to save costs the Guildford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers members undertook the construction of the additional frame and the hanging of the bells themselves. The ninth of the original peal of ten bells was dedicated to Alfred Pulling, a principal conductor of the Guild, in 1961.

The tower is open to visitors at certain times of the year and which affords considerable views over Guildford and the surrounding countryside.

(1) The sacring bell, which is also known as the sanctus bell, is commonly used to call attention to the more solemn parts of a service.

Bell ringing at Guildford Cathedral
(July 2007)

Floodlit Guildford Cathedral

Guildford Cathedral Choir was founded in 1961 under Barry Rose, the acclaimed English choir director who has since been awarded the OBE for his services to cathedral music, but who at the time was only 25 years of age. The choir has in the 40 years since won an international reputation and undertakes regular radio and television broadcasts and tours both in the UK and abroad. In 2008 Guildford became the first Church of England cathedral in the country to appoint a woman as organist and master of the choristers. Katherine Dienes-Williams also tutors for the Royal College of Organists.

The Cathedral Library houses over 5,000 books on theological, pastoral and church history topics and is open to the public. The collection is added to every year by donation and purchase of around 400 new volumes, with non-reference books available for loan to members of the library. The Treasury contains an impressive collection of gold and silver objects owned by the diocese.

The Refectory Restaurant, Gift Shop and Book Shop provide good visitor facilities, which include a large free car park and toilets. There is step-free access via the West Door, a hearing loop, and large print hymn books are also available.

The Diocese of Guildford was formed in 1927 and has responsibility for 500 square miles covering 164 parishes with 217 churches and 90 schools. The Diocese includes Surrey, NE Hampshire and a small part of Greater London and West Sussex.

Cathedral Planet by Jamie Durrant
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A six-part Meridian TV documentary Cathedral Cities explores popular places of worship across the country. Guildford is featured in the third programme produced by KMB Productions and is presented by the Bishop of Winchester's daughter, Hannah Scott-Joynt. The programme includes an interview with the Dean, the very Reverend Victor Stock, examining the ups and downs of running a modern-day cathedral, and explores the town of Guildford including a visit to the monthly farmers' market.

"I'm delighted to be doing Cathedral Cities for Meridian having been brought up in and around cathedrals it feels like exactly the programme for me," said Scott-Joynt. "I just love the sense of history, and worship over hundreds of years, that I always feel when I go in, and there are always some real characters who work in them. And the cities they're in are always full of hidden treasures and stories. I think we're all much too quick to look for interesting places to visit, away from where we live, somehow forgetting to look at all our own area has to offer - I hope this series will open our eyes to the wonderful things that are right in front of us, and explore a little!"

The series which includes Portsmouth, Chichester, Salisbury, Rochester and Winchester cathedrals was broadcast in February and March 2007 on ITV Meridian.
Source: kmbproductions.co.uk February 2007

A harrowing scene from The Omen (1976) starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick was filmed at Guildford Cathedral.


Guildford Cathedral by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

The trustees of a new initiative to help young people find solace through bereavement announced in 2007 their plans to construct the Seeds of Hope Children's Garden at Guildford Cathedral. The scheme had already raised £25,000 through donations from local people, schools and businesses with a target of £90,000 to be achieved. The brainchild of Guildford mother Caroline Jay who lost her daughter in childbirth, and who with another mother set up the Guildford Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society (SANDS), the garden will provide a place of beauty where bereaved children can seek comfort with teachers and other professionals. The garden was opened in May 2008 by children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson providing four distinct areas each representing one of the four seasons inspired by the four different stages in the journey of life. The final cost of £100,000 was met by the tireless fund-raising of Caroline Jay and her co-trustee Gillian Rogers with individuals, church groups and schools providing donations. A grant from the SITA Trust (1) also ensured the success of the project.

(1) The SITA Trust was set up in 1997 to distribute funding through the Landfill Communities Fund (formerly the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme) to support community improvement and nature projects on or around landfill sites. The trust administered by the waste management company SITA UK has since allocated in excess of £60m to over 1,600 projects.

Looking up at Guildford Cathedral by Mark Graves
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Look very carefully at the base of the angel adorning the cathedral and you may see an attachment that has thrown the Dean into the spotlight (March 2007) over the ongoing controversary on phone masts. T-Mobile pay an undisclosed annual fee to the cathedral to allow their mobile phone communications equipment to be sited on the golden angel weather vane that was added to the tower in 1993. Guildford Cathedral was one of the first dioceses in England to install a mast. The contract is due to run until 2009 although the Church of England is now facing a test case over whether mobile phone masts on church property are appropriate as they can be used to transmit pornography. The issue is to be heard at an appeal against a ruling that was made by an ecclesiastical judge in 2006 which rejected an application for a church in north-east London to erect a T-Mobile base station in its spire. The hearing at the Archbishop of Canterbury's 800-year-old Court of Arches will be conducted by the end of April 2007.


Community on the Hill
to Save Guildford Cathedral

The fabric of Guildford Cathedral is deteriorating to such a degree that the dean is concerned for the building's future. The facility is running at a financial loss and there is urgent need to source finance to provide funds for the upkeep of the cathedral before the structure deteriorates to a point of no return.

Guildford Cathedral and University by Terry Mansell

The dean has presented (November 2006) a radical plan to Guildford Borough Council to create a 22-acre Cathedral Quarter by leasing land and building around the cathedral. It is hoped that by building a community on the hill, which would include key worker housing, a health centre, education facilities, restaurants and entertainment facilities, the area will become invigorated and vital funds would be generated that would be used to look after the cathedral. The plan includes a monorail link-system to provide ease of access and an underground carpark built into Stag Hill.

The dean has support from the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, English Heritage and The Guildford Society, and has secured funding for the planning application and any appeal processes from an anonymous benefactor. The dean intends to apply to the EU to help fund the project.

"We have been talking about this for three years and although people were initially shocked when we told them about the concept during a public meeting, they have seen how other cathedrals are the centre of the town and everything builds up around it," said the dean, The Very Rev Victor Stock. "I would like us to be like Lincoln. We sold off land to help the university to be built and in 10 years time I see the centre of town shifting towards this direction if the plans are improved.

The Grade II listed cathedral was £100,000 in the red during its last financial year and with spiralling debts and costs there is concern that Guildford Cathedral may not make its 50th anniversary in 2011. The cost of removing the asbestos in the roof of the nave is likely to cost £4m, and there is the urgent need for repairs and re-pointing to the leaking West Wing window which is likely to cost £30,000. During 2006 the cathedral received £750,000 from donations and event hosting but had outgoings of over £850,000

Surrey Advertiser 24th November 2006

English Heritage has assigned (February 2008) funding worth £23,000 to Guildford Cathedral to be used in ongoing restoration work on the building. This latest grant, the third from the government agency in four years under their joint Cathedrals Grant Scheme with the Wolfson Foundation (1), will be used to repair the south transept window. The west, south aisle and south-east sanctaury windows have already been renovated. Previous grants were for £50,000 (2005) and £25,000 (2007).

The cathedral, being sited high and exposed on a hill, tends to be battered continually by the elements and experiences significant water penetration during storms. A source of water seepage has been through the lead glazing on the south and west elevations and during repair work on the glazing problems including poor glazing cement, rusting of steel reinforcement in the lead cames (2), and failed pointing around the glazing and to stonework joints have been discovered.

(1) The English Heritage Cathedral Grants Scheme has been running since 1991 after a survey highlighted that 61 cathedrals in the UK could not keep with repairs and buildings were rapidly deteriorating. The scheme has funded £49.5m nationally to date (by February 2008). The Wolfson Foundation was set up in 1955 by Sir Isaac Wolfson (1897 - 1991) as a charitable foundation providing funds to registered charities, which currently run at £35m annually. Wolfson made his fortune from Great Universal Stores.
(2) Lead cames are H-shaped sections of lead which hold together the individual pieces of glass.


Guildford Church Restoration
Funding Crisis

Churches in Guildford are facing critical shortfalls in funding to enable them to preserve the fabric of their historic buildings. Church managers have had to plunder their cash reserves to cover costs of restoration as they are facing a squeeze in the availability of external funding provision.

St Mary's Church in Quarry Street, Guildford's oldest building, has just had extensive restoration work costing over £120,000 completed (October 2009). However, the church had to use their own cash reserves and fundraising abilities in order to complete the work having been turned down by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Holy Trinity is facing the urgent need for maintenance and restoration work and St Mary's Church in Perry Hill, Worplesdon, is undergoing renovation work likely to cost over £230,000 to prevent the exterior of the building deteriorating further. They were able to secure £50,000 funding from the SITA Trust and £500 from Guildford Borough Council, but the balance had to be raised locally and luckily in their case an anonymous parishioner made up the considerable shortfall. However the building still requires an additional £500,000 over the next two years in order to prevent further deterioration.

St Mary's in Quarry Street resorted to their own creativity to raise some of the funding which included bring and buy and singing events, but this raised just a few hundred pounds.

"Restoration is inevitably going to happen with older buildings. St Mary's has had its problems in the past but now we are getting to grips with it," said Mary Alexander a churchwarden at St Mary's. "We did ask for a grant from the lottery fund that didn't receive it because we had the money to cover the actual cost of the repairs on paper. It was all tied up in reserves so we had to use all of that and now we're raising money to cover that and to build the reserves backup. We used a specialist stonemasons firm [on the external restoration] and they were fantastic. The work was completed in about four months. We are arranging activities in the run-up to Christmas to get more people to use the church in all sorts of different ways. Things like removing the pews." The Surrey Advertiser 16th October 2009

Surrey University

The University of Surrey (UniS) was established in 1966 with the grant of a Royal Charter and in 2007 was ranked in 12th place in a newspaper survey of the country's best universities.

The beginnings of the university go back to the late 19th century with Battersea Polytechnic Institute which focused on teaching science and technology, and which during the early 60s began to relocate its facilities to Guildford to overcome ever worsening space constrictions in its London location.

Surrey University

The 150 hectare greenfield site (GR: SU985503) was acquired from Guildford Cathedral, Guildford Borough Council and the Onslow Village Trust in 1965 and the university, having officially opened in in 1966, was fully operational by 1970. The now iconic rock band Led Zeppelin played their first gig under that name at the new university on 16th October 1968.

The university has become a leading authority in space satellite engineering and communication winning the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher & Further Education in recognition in 1997. The following year the university founded (1985) Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) was awarded the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement which was presented by the Queen during a visit to the university. The university disposed of almost all of its 85% stake in SSTL in April 2008 pledging to invest the estimated £40m-£50m paid by the European space industry giant EADS Astrium in education and facilities. The university has retained a token 1% shareholding. SSTL RACE FOR THE MOON HERE

Unis Sports Field by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

The university has one of the highest number of staff who are academicians of learned societies and by 2005 there were over 90,000 graduates scattered across the globe. The university continues to grow with a £25m construction of new residences for a new campus at Manor Park covering 25 acres which commenced in 2005.

There are around 7,500 undergraduates and 4,400 postgraduates (2005) attending the university spread across schools of Arts, Communication & Humanities; Biomedical & Molecular Sciences, Electronics & Physical Sciences; Engineering; Human Sciences; Management; the Postgraduate Medical School and the European Institute of Health & Medical Sciences. By 2014 the university estimates that it will have 12,650 students in full time education supported by 2,475 members of staff.

The building of a new facility has started (March 2007) at the University which will allow a revolutionary new cancer treatment to be developed. The treatment targets tumours using laser-powered particles which don't harm healthy tissue. The world's only vertical nanobeam is currently being installed which is essential for the research into finding out about levels of dosage to destro tumours. The university are hoping to also use the £14m funding to develop a new smaller type of laser that can be installed into the majority of UK hospitals.

University & Cathedral by David Hogg
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The University's Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences established a Postgraduate Medical School (PGMS) in 2000 to form a link between the university's academics and its healthcare partners. The school has since achieved a Research Assessment Exercise rating of five stars in recognition of its research into the cause and prevention of conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. THE PGMS took up residency in its state-of-the-art purpose-built new building in Daphne Jackson Road close to the Royal Surrey County Hospital in 2005. The facility, which cost £10m, was in part funded by the Wolfson Foundation and was opened by Lord Wolfson whose foundation supports medical research and science projects.

Sculpture at University of Surrey campus by Mark Graves
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) was set up by the university in 1985 to develop small low-cost satellites for the international market and have grown to be a leading developer for Earth observation, communication and navigation satellites. The company employs 270 staff across three sites in the south-east of England including their facility on campus and achieved a turnover of £26m in 2007. Currently (2008) SSTl has 14 spacecraft in manufacture in Guildford. The university announced that it was to dispose of almost all of its 85% stake in SSTL in April 2008 pledging to invest the estimated £40m-£50m paid by the European space industry giant EADS Astrium in education and facilities.

SSTL update 2009: The university has retained a token 1% shareholding. Confirmation of completion of the deal was announced in January 2009. The company retains its independence despite the acquisition.

"They perceive us as a fairly lean and efficient organisation," said Dr Stuart Eves from SSTL. "In the time since they took over, there's been no interference or changes. We've had a great deal of success over the last 10 years and every satellite during that time has been successful. We're still expanding and we expect to relocate [within Guildford] this year. Depending upon how the business goes we will probably go into bigger facilities, maybe into a new building on the Reasearch Park. Most of our staff live in Guildford or nearby and as we grow we will be looking to recruit. We still have very good links with the university and that's where quite a few of our engineers come from."

SSTL was visited by Lord Paul Drayson, minister for science and innovation, in March 2009.

"This is an example of real UK excellence in an area that's going to be increasingly important in the future," the minister said. "I'm keen that the UK recognises what's happening here and also develops it."
Source: Surrey Advertiser Business News Spring 2009


The Surrey Ion Beam Centre based at the university has revealed (January 2008) a new system it has pioneered for forensically testing crime scenes in the UK. The technique uses an accelerator to charge particles like helium and hydrogen to up to two million volts and the x-rays emitted from the subject being bombarded are charted for analysis. The ion beam technique is much more sensitive than traditional x-ray methods allowing more revealing evidence can be gleaned from samples which include soil, bank notes and gun shot residue.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded (January 2008) scientists at Surrey University a £292,000 grant to further their research into the development of a ground-breaking alternative to conventional batteries. Dr James Varcoe of the university has been working alongside his colleagues to replace conventional batteries with alkaline polymer cells which are able to hold their charge for considerably longer. Dr Varcoe conceived the polymer combination three years ago and now believes that with the grant the concept could become a commercial reality and will help impact on the reduction of fossil fuel use.

A team of scientists at the University of Surrey have started (January 2009) a project to develop affordable solar power for domestic use. The university’s Advance Technology Institute will employ the efforts of a 160-strong group having received funding including €1m to finance the three-year project from an energy company. The key will be to replace the existing technology of expensive silicon solar cells in glass panels with cells that pick up electro-magnetic cells in the atmosphere. This has the added benefit of generating energy even if the cells are not in direct sunlight.

Surrey University Campus by Paul Farmer
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A new school of acting and performing arts centre will be built on the Stag Hill campus. The Higher Education Funding Council awarded (July 2007) £3m to the University of Surrey and the Guildford School of Acting (GSA) to merge the two institutions and through the provision of new £12m purpose-built facilities introduce new courses and for students and exciting performing arts opportunities for the local community. A new GSA headquarters will be built and an existing campus facility will be converted into a performing arts centre with a 250 seat theatre, studios and workshops. The GSA has a long and distinguished list of former students including Brenda Blethyn, Gaby Roslin, Michael Ball, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie and more recently Emma Barton and Rob Kazinsky in Eastenders and Diane Pilkington.

The topping out ceremony for the GSA Conservatoire building took place in July 2009 attended by actresses Brenda Blethyn and Helena Blackman. The building, which will include 15 dance and drama studios, 10 tutorial rooms and a cafe, is to replace the drama schools existing seven buildings scattered around Guildford. The contractors working on the building confidence that the facility will be fully open within six months and will be completed on budget.

"The University pioneered the innovative music and sound recording Tonmeister degree course in 1970 and was also the first in the country to introduce specialist academic degrees in dance at all levels," said Prof John Turner of the University of Surrey. "This strategic merger with the GSA will complement our academic strengths in the area of performing arts and we look forward to working closely with our new colleagues." Surrey Advertiser 24th July 2009

The university is also intending to convert the existing sports centre that sits opposite the new GSA building into a specialist performing arts college to be opened in 2011.

It’s no joke. The University of Surrey have announced (April 2009) that it is to open a centre for the study of humour which is expected to attract academics and students from across the world. A humour studies degree is currently being formulated based on research conducted at the university which includes detailed analysis of what makes people laugh. The centre is to open in 2010.

“It is something that is very embedded in academic studies, but will include community projects,” said professor Marion Wynne-Davies, head of the Department of English. “There will be more community events linking in with Guildford where people can come and share their experiences of humour.” Surrey Advertiser 3rd April 2009

The renowned mathematician Alan Turing (1912 - 1954), who lived nearby at 22 (originally numbered as 8) Ennismore Gardens in Stoke Park during his school days, had a bronze sculpture erected in his honour outside the computer science department on the university campus. Turing led the team that succeeded in breaking top secret German codes during World War II. His work formed the basis of modern computing.

Alan Turing sculpture University of Surrey by Mark Graves
click on image to go to photographer's website

The statue, which was unveiled in 2004 by The Earl of Wessex, took over 18 months for sculptor John W. Mills to create. In 1987 a plaque was erected on the house he was brought up in. A play by Hugh Whitmore about Turing and the Enigma Code was first performed in Guildford before transferring to the West End in 1986 with Derek Jacobi playing the part of Turing. It was later adapted for television and broadcast by the BBC in 1997. A road on the university-owned research park is also named after the mathematician.

Surrey University is planning to open a Multi-Faith Centre which will be the first in Britain providing dedicated space for practising Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities on the campus. Open space facilities are also to be provided for Buddhist and Hindu worshippers in the Centre which is budgeted to cost £6.5m to build and is targeted to be completed in 2010. The Bishop of Guildford presented a cheque (February 2008) to the University donating £250,000 towards the cost of the facility which will also create a base for the University Chaplaincy. The donation to this 'mission project' does not come directly from Guildford diocese funds but from a bequest left by the wealthy Onslow family. The university campus is located right next to the cathedral.

"We think it is the first of its kind. It breaks with the tradition of having a shared space for each faith," said Lesley Scordellis, chief fundraiser for the centre. "It is all in the same building but each has a completely separate space. The Jewish space has an exclusive kosher kitchen and the Muslim space has an ablutions facility. The design of the building is to facilitate the feeling that they are in one building about faith.” Source: timesonline.co.uk 22nd February 2008

Students at the university don't have to venture far for evening entertainment. The University of Surrey Student's Union has a nightclub on campus with a capacity of 1,500 students. Rubix, which sits directly on top of the Student's Union building, attracts top DJs and bands and has seen the likes of Travis, The Darkness, Tim Westwood, Rachel Stevens and The Twang grace its stage. The venue, which also doubles as a market during the day selling everything from vegetables and jewellery, has recently (2008) installed a new £80,000 sound system.

The Varsity Bar has won a special award after being mentioned for 10 years in a row in the Good Beer Guide. The Surrey and Hampshire Borders Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) presented the award (October 2009) at the launch of the Good Beer Guide 2010. The uni bar will be relocating from the Varsity Centre to new premises at the Surrey Sports Park when it opens in 2010.

The University of Surrey has announced (May 2008) a formal association with the annual Guilfest three-day music festival held in Stoke Park. Stating that students from the university regularly help Guilfest organisers with light and sound engineering, Surrey Uni will be using part of its budget of £35,000 community engagement project in the marketing move which will see their logo replace the previous sponsor Unison.

The Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university (June 2008) for his services to the music industry. If you're wondering why Guildford, it was because the newly formed British band played their very first gig at the university in October 1968.

Figures released by the university (July 2008) showed that in 2007 9.5% of their 13,500 students failed to complete their course, a reduction of 1% from the previous year and well below the national average of 14.1%.

ITV 1's long-running (2007 - 08) sci-fi series Primeval starring Douglas Henshaw used the university's boat-shaped Duke of Kent building (pictured this page SEE HERE) for shooting some of its scenes. The production company also used forest at Alice Holt near Farnham for outside locations.

Award-winning sculptor William Pye, who lives at Cutmill near Elstead, has loaned (March 2009) his sculpture Narcissus which he created in 1969 to the university. The artist has had a life-long fascination with water and especially its reflective qualities.

"Narcissus is all about reflection," he said. "Stainless steel is a very intractable material, but I have tried to make something sensual and sensuous. Polishing helps that because it reflects all the wonderful general movement and the lake here provides a beautiful backdrop." Source: Surrey Advertiser 20th March 2009

Jonny Wilkinson from Wey Valley Farnham
Jonny Wilkinson
icture by Hanham Bath.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

The university awarded (April 2009) an honorary doctorate to rugby world cup winning fly-half  Jonny Wilkinson.  Wilkinson, who scored the winning drop goal in the last minute of injury time in the final against Australia in 2003, attended Weybourne Infant School in Farnham and Pierrepont in Frensham.

The University of Surrey commissioned Allan Sly to create a sculpture to stand by the main road entrance to the campus. The 16ft (5m) tall stainless steel stag with a foreleg resting on an upturned key was unveiled by HRH The Duke of Kent in February 2009. The stag represents the association the university has with Stag Hill, the medieval royal park on which the campus is built, and the key is both a relic of the former crest of Battersea Polytechnic from where the institution originated and part of Surrey’s coat of arms. The sculpture rests on a granite base. It was also reported that the foundry workers tested the stag rigourously to make sure it was strong enough to carry any ‘over-enthusiastic students keen to ride it’.

“After 45 years we felt that it was time to freshen up the entrance to the University,” said Professor Christopher Snowden, vice-chancellor. “Our heritage is linked closely to the stag which now appears as our visual identity. The Surrey Stag is both a testament to our support of the arts and public art, plus a proud link to the heritage of the University and its location on Stag Hill.”

“I developed the design to be easily recognisable as the crest of the University of Surrey on a scale that suited the entrance,” said the sculptor. “ I wanted it to be free to move and light it from the inside, so stainless steel sheet dictated the final design. The end result is very successful and will be even more impressive at night.”

The sculptor also created the Surrey Scholar that stands at the bottom of Guildford High Street.

University of Surrey 25th February 2009

Surrey University graduate Sam Okell delighted in accepting (February 2012) his second Grammy in two years at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. Okell was recognised for his part in mastering the deluxe edition of the Band on the Run album by Paul McCartney & Wings.

The University of Surrey has been selected (May 2009) to host the 2009 British Science Festival. The prestigious event was founded 178 years ago and today attempts to ‘connect science with society’ by running talks, plays, debates and hands-on events to give the public a chance to interact with the science community. MORE HERE

The University of Surrey has signed a joint agreement (July 2009) with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) worth £10 million to develop communications and signal processing. As well as researching and developing new areas for mobile phone technology, the joint team will be working on nanotechnology and photonics covering the latest in high speed optical communications.

"This award affirms Surrey's track record as a leading university for innovation and commercialisation," said Vice Chancellor Professor Christopher Snowden. "Surrey developed the laser diode that is used in CD and DVD players worldwide and NPL has also had a fantastic track record of transferring technology to industry." Surrey Advertiser July 31st 2009

The Guildford Environmental Forum announced (January 2010) that a team of University of Surrey scientists is working on a project to adapt lasers to capture energy directly from the sun. The idea is to install lasers on satellites and for these to redirect the sun's energy through infrared beams down to energy storage units on the surface of the Earth. A group of satellites managed by space pioneers EADS Astrium would be placed into orbit around the sun in a bid to tap solar energy efficiently and effectively in the long-term. The system would also enable the sun's energy to be tapped at night and being delivered by infrared would mean that it would be invisible to people on earth.

"A lot of people will hear the word of laser beams and think of Star Wars or something similar but this is essentially a environmental project," said project leader Dr. Stephen Sweeney, of the Advanced Technology Institute." We wouldn't have had a big company like EADS Astrium involved if they didn't think there was something in it. The laser light is infrared so you wouldn't physically see it. In a sense, this means that we could illuminate the solar panels on rooftops at night so they are constantly generating electricity. We could also direct the energy to promote locations like ships, or even to extremely northern or southern regions of the earth during their dark seasons." Surrey Advertiser 29th January 2010

The Surrey Baby Lab at the University has over the last decade been conducting research into how babies see colour. Hundreds of babies from across the county have helped in the research, which is hoped will provide a better understanding as to how young brains develop. The research centre, set up by Dr Anna Franklin in 2000, is currently conducting an experiment which involves tracking babies' responses to different colours and seeing whether they are the same as the responses of adults.

"We all have personal preferences for different colours, but research has shown that there are some colours, such as blues that are commonly liked and that there are other colours, for example yellow, that are commonly disliked," said Dr Franklin. "These patterns of preference appear to be common to many different cultures. We would like to find out whether young babies are also drawn to the same colour. This will tell us something about how babies see colour, and will also help us understand the origins of colour preference." Surrey Advertiser 13th August 2010

The Higher Education Funding Council for England reduced (March 2010) the University of Surrey's central funding by 2%. The university's government grants for 2010-2011 was reduced to £42m, representing about a quarter of the total £168m budget. The timing of the cut was awkward for the university as it had seen a 10% jump in applications through the UCAS clearing system than the previous year, with 15,500 people applying in 2010 against 13,900 in 2009.

Surrey Research Park
& Technology Centre

The University of Surrey developed The Surrey Research Park (GR: SU967498) to provide a centre for companies engaged in a broad spectrum of research, development and design. Covering 70 acres (28 ha) of landscaped grounds complete with lakes and manicured lawns 110 companies employing around 2,700 people including the BOC Group, Canon and Mitsubishi are based here in a low density development.

"We believe that The Surrey Research Park is a very special place, supporting a varied selection of market sectors, including hi-tech communications, mobile technology, leading edge software, as well as a strong cluster of companies which are involved in biomedicine and biotechnology. Our commitment to supporting innovative companies, high quality research, and creative design is what makes The Surrey Research Park such an important place for building companies for the future and maintain economic prosperity in Surrey." Dr Malcolm Parry OBE, Director. The Surrey Research Park News. Winter 2008/2009

Surrey Research Park

The Research Park was established as part of a condition of the government's original £3m investment in 1966 in the new university. The agreement was to acquire a site of at least 300 acres which as well as land for the university campus on Stag Hill included that of Manor Farm less than a mile away.

The public enquiry in 1965 revealed that it would be 30 years before the whole Manor Farm land holding would be required. In the event some of this land was brought forward for the Surrey Research Park in the County Structure Plan of 1981 in a strategy to extend the university's links with industry. This allowed for the development of the current 70 acre (28 ha) site, with planning permission restricting the use to "carrying out research, development and design activities, in any science, including the social sciences that is complimentary to the activities of the University of Surrey".

In order to fund the development in the early 1980s the university sold some of its land holding as a long leasehold interest for £1.23m to the Associated Examining Board (AEB) - now the AQA which today is still based on the campus site. Funds were also raised by the sale of a site on the Research Park to BOC UK Ltd on which the company built its headquarters and technical centre (the Priestley Centre).

These funds allowed the university to build its first phase known as Chancellor Court with the rental income stream from tenants in these buildings supporting further borrowings so that the park could be developed further. This included the Surrey Technology Centre which itself was developed in three phases.

The Research Park was identified as being able to provide a source of independent income for the university at a time when the climate (as indeed it is today) was one of declining government support for higher education and research. Also at the time the strategy was to raise the university's profile as a major British Technological University and to assist in the process of technology transfer (1).

The principal was to facilitate transferring technology to companies on the Park from sources such as the university, regional government laboratories and from other commercial organisations. For that reason the university would also support the whole process of commercialisation. It was believed that the objective would also assist in the region's economic development and at its heart was the principal to support Europe-centric initiatives.

It was planned to divide the development into three zones, small, medium and large for companies of different sizes, with different origins and likely to be working in widely varying technologies.

The Research Park was opened by the Duke of Kent in 1985
By 2001 82% of the Park had been developed, with the two remaining sites - George Stephenson Place and Faraday Court - lying fallow. By that date the University had invested £30m in the project, was producing an income of over £6m and in 2000 was valued at more than 75m.

In 2006 the university stated that over 2,750 people were employed on the Park with 54% of these recruited from within Surrey. Of these 1,150 were new jobs created by companies moving on to the park, with 280 positions filled by people living in Guildford. Once the site is completely developed the university says that direct employment will exceed 4,500 jobs.

They also estimate that in developing the Park £27.5m was invested into the local business community through professional fees, labour and contractors' profits and that currently (2009) businesses based there contribute around £500m annually to the regional economy. The university's research shows that of 80 companies that have moved away from the Park since 1992, 50% have remained within Surrey.

The Surrey Research Park secured second place in the Self Sustainability category at the international Best Science Based Incubator Awards 2009.

The Research Park its own football league which was created in 1995 the teams fielded by companies based there. By 1999 the Surrey Research Park Football League was supported by enough teams to introduce a cup and shield competitions and a second division. Today following a Champions League format the league has over 1,100 registered players and is run on a non-profit basis with all funds raised used to cover the cost of pictures, medals, trophies and the league website.

(1) 'Technology transfer' was defined by the university as "the means by which intellectual capital and know-how pass between organisations with a view to creating and developing commercially viable products or services".

Sources include: surrey-research-park.com 2nd April 2010; Business News. Surrey Advertiser. July 2009

At the Park's core is the Surrey Technology Centre which specifically provides facilities for small start-up and spin-off companies. Over the years vital research into cancer treatment and crucial data driving the world's markets have all originated from firms based here. The centre serves as a small community with units leased by individual companies, and is designed to provide early-stage mentoring and support to people who want to turn their ideas into reality. Teams of scientists, researchers and business people have turned the centre, which is owned by the University of Surrey, into a hive of activity.

"The university supports this [commitment to innovation] through its Surrey Technology Centre and the wider Research Park," said Dr. Mark Parry, director of the Surrey Research Park. "Where needed it helps them to raise funding and assist in networking into the business environment to help these young companies to gather momentum in the marketplace. Today, a new crop of companies are growing strongly in the Surrey Technology Centre and we hope includes stars of the future."

Three companies were spotlighted by the Surrey Advertiser in a feature (July 2009) on the Research Park and Technology Centre. Stingray Geophysical Limited established at the centre in 2006 has grown from a team of two into a unit of a 12-strong team providing a high-tech monitoring service for reservoirs on behalf of oil and gas companies. It provides a multi-million pound system, Fosar, using fibre optics to measure the changes in reservoirs as oil and gas is being produced.

"Being around Guildford was good for us because we want to be in an area where we could get access to people with experience," said CEO Martin Bett.

The Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Research Trust was set up by a prostate cancer sufferer in 2007 to develop an alternative plant-derived treatment called PC-SPES.

"We are close to physicians at the Royal Surrey County Hospital and we are in a position to have a regular dialogue with professors at the University of Surrey," said Chris Williams the founder. "Around 50% of our medicines are derived from plants. Botanically derived chemicals will have been used in treatments for hundreds of years."

Gold-i was launched at the Centre in May 2009 to design and develop software used by trading brokers at the world's financial markets.

"The one thing that is a real benefit is the fact that you can move around into different units," said Tom Higgins, IT systems manager. "When we first set up we had a small number of staff. This then increased to 5 people so we moved to another unit. It's really simple to do that. They provide photocopiers and fax machines, you are made to feel welcome, it's just quite a unique place."

Business News. Surrey Advertiser. July 2009

A world leader in the creation of computer games, Lionhead Studio, is based in Occam Court in the Research Park. MORE HERE

Headquartered at the Surrey Research Park, TMO Renewables, working in conjunction with Surrey University, has announced (May 2007) that it is to build a testing pipeline at Dunsfold Park to further advance its cutting-edge green technology that it claims can produce eco-friendly fuel from any organic material.

TMO Renewables announced (September 2010) that it is to design and build waste-to-bio-ethanol plants over a 20 year contract period, in partnership with a clean technology company in the US. The project is likely to divert millions of tonnes of waste away from landfill every year.

An eye hospital in the Surrey Research Park is taking part (August 2009) in a pioneering technique to restore sight to people aged over 55. The surgery enhances the central vision by inserting an implant behind the iris which magnifies images entering the eye by two and a half times. The Lipshitz Macular Implant utilised by Optegra Eye Care is likely to help millions of people.

Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) have started to build (September 2010) a specialised technical facility where the company will be building 14 satellites to service the European GPS System. The new £10m building is located opposite SSTL's HQ and will provide 3,700 sqm for a team of 40 to build the satellites. MORE ON SSTL HERE

Surrey Sports Park

A new University of Surrey Sports Centre has been planned (April 2007) to provide world-class sporting facilities when it is completed in 2009. The £36m Surrey Sports Park will provide facilities not just for the university but also the local community, and will benefit sports participants regionally and nationally too. The new facility will replace the existing sports facility built in 1971 at a time when the university only had 2,000 students but over the last 30 years has provided considerable community involvement. The university cites 500,000 annual sporting visits and 80% of usage of their outdoor facilities is by the community with over 150 local and regional teams using pitches.

The plans for the new facility include:

  • Olympic-sized 50m indoor swimming pool with eight 2.5m wide lanes and an adjustable floor
  • 3 indoor multi-purpose sports halls each with space for 4 badminton courts
  • 8 glass-backed squash courts with show courts for 180 spectators
  • 8 outdoor floodlit tennis courts
  • 4 Real Tennis courts
  • 2 floodlit artificial grass pitches
  • 8 grass football / rugby pitches
  • 2 multi-activity 15m x 12m halls for activities including dance, martial arts and yoga
  • 100 station health and fitness centre
  • 350 seat social and catering area

The centre has integral to its designs complete disability access and has consulted the English Institute of Sport, the English Federation of Disability Sports, and the Limbless Association at Roehampton.

The university said (September 2007) that the contractor due to undertake the work, the biggest of its kind in the South East, will be announced in October and the work to start building the complex would commence in April 2008 for completion 18 months later.

The university announced (February 2008) that due to a 'funding gap' there may be a delay to the start of the project. A shortfall of £15m has triggered a major fund-raising campaign which will include events and sponsored sports competitions, but hopes to attract a major sponsor. The university hopes to be successful in a joint bid to offer facilities for athletes at the centre to train for the 2012 Olympics and that the facility will become a major centre for paralympic athletes. Other centres locally hoping to attract Olympics sportsmen and women include Guildford Spectrum, the newly re-opened Lido, and Guildford College's Merrist Wood campus.

A further update (May 2008) indicated that the project will be completed at the end of 2009 with the Manor Park centre, earmarked for the 2012 British paralympic team, opening in January 2010. However a funding shortfall still remained which the university is energetically seeking to resolve helped in part by fund-raising events locally. Sport England has also been approached for help.

A topping-out ceremony was held (March 2009) at the construction site of the sports centre to mark the completion of the roof of one of the buildings. An ancient Indian ritual bestowing good luck on a new building was undertaken by portions of red wine, olive oil, salt and corn being poured into a hole in the floor.

A dedicated management team, recruited to oversee the development and budgets of the sports park, is focusing on commercial opportunities to ensure the project has a long-term success. The international coffee chain Starbucks has signed up for a concession with more deals expected. The Starbucks agreement is expected to create an extra 20 jobs and provide operational support to the facility.

"What has moved forward is the fact that we are becoming more and more well known in the marketplace," Jason Harborow, MD Surrey Sports Park said. "We are doing some brand awareness work to ensure more people in the area know about us. What we really need to link to that is high-class sports teams and the main commercial brands will want to become involved with that. I think we're going to do really well, both in terms of sports and commercial success. Revenue will come in a number of other ways such as club membership and tickets, which staff are working on at the moment. I think the Sports Park will be massive for Guildford as both an attractive leisure facility and massive for the local economy. The Sports Park will be a very positive thing for the town." Business News. Surrey Advertiser. July 2009

The centre is being run (July 2009) by a team of 30 full-time staff members. When the centre opens it is expected that the staffing levels will be around 90 people.

Surrey Sports Park bosses have applied (January 2010) for permission to hold plays, dances and show films at the new venue. The university also intends to hold sporting events such as boxing and wrestling matches together with tournaments, shows and corporate sports days. The centre has been registered as a training ground for 2012 Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Management at the Surrey Sports Park announced (April 2010) that it is likely the centre will recoup the full costs of its construction a lot earlier than first anticipated.

"We have got a very good and detailed set of indicators that need to be delivered before depreciation and building costs," said managing director Jason Harborow. "We are completely committed to doing that. The university was fantastic in coming up with the funding that it is hoping that it doesn't have to continue subsidising the centre. It will be needed and required at the beginning."

The park has also worked hard to forge links with sports and leisure clubs from Guildford and throughout Surrey as well as elite sports teams and athletes. The Harlequins rugby team and the England women's Rugby Union team are using the centre for training programmes as are teams training for the 2012 Olympic Games.

"There are three major stakeholder groups, there are our members, the elite teams, and people from the local community," said Harborow. "The elite teams will be here when most people are at work so there will be no conflict between these teams and members of the general public. What they have done a show people that if harlequins are prepared to train here, then it must be good enough for them. You just don't get that in every sports centre."

The university's former director of sport who helped devise the project 16 years ago said that it was very important that clubs and non-professional teams would have a place at the centre.

"The idea of it always was to make sure that it caters very well for the community," said Barry Hitchcock. "Obviously there are things at the Spectrum that won't be at the centre like bowling and ice skating, so they are designed to complement each other in some way. Guildford will be the best served town in Britain I would think."

Surrey Advertiser 16th April 2010

Guildford Joins Race for the Moon

Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) announced (January 2007) that it is to lead an attempt by Britain to join the race for the moon. SSTL plans to carry out two un-manned missions to the moon, with the first to be achieved by 2010. Their plans, which will start with an extensive survey of the lunar surface to find the best possible sites for human habitation, has been submitted to Particle Physics and Astronomy, the body that funds British space exploration.

Apollo 17 Moon Mission
Astronaut Schmitt of Apollo 17 on moon surface
Photo created by NASA : released into public domain

SSTL believes that the cost of space exploration has dropped sufficiently to allow Britain to go it alone on the missions. Until now all of Britain's space ventures have been carried out in partnership with Nasa and the European Space Agency (Esa).

The first mission dubbed Moonlight would involve the firing of four suitcase-sized darts on to the moon's surface from an orbiting probe. The darts, which would be fired into craters, will penetrate the surface to a depth of two metres and allow data to be gathered to analyse the composition of the moon's core and determine whether 'moonquakes' are an issue.

The next mission, Moonraker, would then land a spacecraft on to the surface to make a more thorough investigation for a possible manned spacestation.

"Current small missions to the moon cost around €500m [£335m]," Sir Martin Sweeting, founder and CEO of SSTL told BBC News. "With advances in small satellites we could probably cut the cost by at least a fifth. In the UK we have tremendous expertise in this area. A UK moon programme would enable us to get a foothold in what could turn out to be an economically important area for a relatively low cost."

SSTL has a staff of around 200 people and has been involved in 23 small satellite missions. Other countries are actively planning to start building lunar colonies with agencies from the US and the European, Indian and Chinese space agencies involved in the first 21st-century space race.

guardian.co.uk 10th January 2007

SSTL has secured (August 2007) a contract with NASA to undertake a joint US-UK mission to develop a low cost lunar orbiter which will explore the south pole of the moon. The Magnolia mission has at its focus the investigation of water ice at the pole which could be used for any lunar bases in the future. SSTL will be involved in developing the primary mission design for NASA and will train American engineers in the fundamentals of small satellite technology. The next phase is planned to start in 2008 with mission launch scheduled for 2010.

The Register; Military & Aerospace Electronics - 14th August 2007

SSTL are involved (2007) in the development of satellites for an international disaster monitoring project. A constellation of satellites is due to be launched into orbit above the earth next year to monitor global catastrophes, with SSTL's two satellites providing high resolution images of disaster zones which will contribute to coordinated disaster response strategies. The satellites will be lifted into orbit by a Russian Dnepr rocket blasting off from Kazakhstan, and will bring to 29 the number of SSTL satellites in space. The company has built an enviable reputation for being able to develop highly advanced satellites, all built in Guildford, at a fraction of the cost of many competing companies. In response to growing demand the business has recently recruited 81 new members of staff with another 30 likely early in 2008.

Surrey Advertiser 12th October 2007

SSTL successfully transmitted (August 2009) detailed satellite images of the Californian wildfires ravaging the Los Padres National Forest to help with the efforts in controlling them. The disaster monitoring satellite UK-DMC 2 built and operated by SSTL is carrying satellite imagery sensors that get twice the number of pixels per square mile than earlier microsatellites. Images are further enhanced by advances in satellite imaging optics which provide for a sharper and more detailed picture. The incoming images are received and processed at DMCii in Guildford.

Military & Aerospace Electronics 16th August 2009

SSTL announced (February 2008) the news that it is to be contracted by the Canadian Department of National Defence funded Sapphire space object surveillance programme to build a spacecraft. The satellite technology unit, which employs 270 staff, has two years within which to deliver the craft which will track and provide data on orbiting objects between 3,700 miles (6,000 km) and 25,000 miles (40,000 km) above the Earth. In the same month the company also announced that it it is hoping to secure the backing of space giant NASA for their MoonLITE project which will analyse the internal structure of the moon by examining data transmitted from four missiles fired into the moon's surface from a Guildford-built satellite. The intention is to determine whether the moon has any water deposits, with the same technology being further developed for use on moons in orbit around Saturn and Jupiter. The project will also test telecommunications potential should moon bases be established in the future.

The Chairman of SSTL, Sir Martin Sweeting, won the 2008 Sir Arthur Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award in a presentation at the UK Space Conference held at Charterhouse School in Godalming in April. The award was in recognition of Sweeting's pioneering development of small satellites using low-cost engineering techniques. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Electra Electronics Industry Awards 2009.

The company successfully keeps manufacturing costs low by using off-the-shelf components developed for ordinary consumer computer technology.

SSTL's global success can perhaps be founded on it's get-up-and-go attitude - which is encompassed in this statement made at the firm's exhibition stand at the 2008 Farnborough International Airshow:

"People come to work at SSTL because it’s very hands-on and you can experience a huge variety from day one," said project manager Alexander O'Neil. "This is due in no small part to SSTL’s trailblazing approach. Our satellites move from early-stage design through to launch within an average window of 2-3 years, compared to the 5-10 years that satellites typically take to build!”

The European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed (April 2008) the successful launch of the first stage of the Galileo project which is intended to provide an alternative to the American sat-nav mapping system. The £30m satellite project represents the initial part of a contract with ESA worth almost £200m which will deliver a network of 30 satellites operating across three orbits and will release Europe from dependence upon American systems. SSTL fought off worldwide competition to win the project co-ordinated by the EU and European Space Agency.

Satellites built by SSTL became actively involved in the relief efforts for three natural disasters in May 2008. The satellites delivered images of the cyclone damage to Burma (2nd May), the eruption of Chaiten volcano in southern Chile (2nd May) and the earthquake in Sichuan province in China (12th May) to be used for response assessment by employees of Disaster Monitoring Constellation International Imaging in the university-owned Surrey Research Park in Guildford. The images were processed and passed without charge to the UN for conversion into maps to be used for rescue co-ordination. The satellites, which can image an area of 600km square, were also used in the Asian tsunami of 2004 an`d hurricane Katrina after it hit New Orleans in 2005.

A constellation of five satellites built by SSTL were successfully launched (August 2008) from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to provide a privately funded Earth observation system. The five identical satellites built for Germany-based RapidEye, who expect to be earning 20 million euros (appx £16m) annually from the constellation, each weigh 330 pounds (150kg) and stationed 19 minutes apart will image almost 2.5m square miles (4m sqkm) per day from their orbit 403 miles (650km) above the earth.

In 2009 SSTL has consolidated its position as the world’s premier producer and manufacturer of small satellites. Since the early 1980s the company has launched 32 satellites mostly from sites in Russia and Kazakhstan. These have to date (March 2009) completed over 200 mission years between them at orbits of over 370 miles (600km) above the earth. Another eight satellites are planned for launch over the next two years.

“By the time we had [built satellite monitoring equipment and two satellites under Sir Martin Sweeting in the early 1980s as part of Surrey University] we realised that we had something that had commercial value,” said SSTL’s business development manager Phil Davies. “We launched the company 24  years ago and it’s been very successful. We’re predicted to turnover well above £50m [for current financial year]. We specialise in sending small satellites into space with cameras on board. They cost much less than some other satellites because they’re smaller.

“Our satellites vary from about 220lbs (100kg) to 660lbs (300kg) at time of launch. In terms of size, they’re about as big as your average washing machine. They can last in space for five to seven years, which is often a lot longer than the mission. Galileo was meant to be a 27-month mission but the satellite’s been up there for more than three years."

The satellites are tracked from the company’s HQ in the research park whilst the satellites  themselves are still built at the university. Almost 90% of SSTL’s satellite technology is exported with clients including Spain and Russia as well as the European Space Agency. The company has also worked with the British National Space Centre (BNSC).

“The main reason for monitoring the earth is for scientific purposes,” added Davies.” “In August last year we launched five small satellites called RapidEye. They are arranged in a certain way that means we can image anywhere in the world within a day. A lot of the satellites are used by the agricultural industry. The images can be used to predict the crop yield and farmers can see what areas they need to fertilise. This means they don’t use fertiliser where they don’t need it, which saves them money and is good for the environment.”

SSTL satellites were part of the co-ordinated relief effort for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 and the Asian tsunami in 2004.

Two new satellites were launched by SSTL (July 2009) to expand the capability of the space-based disaster monitoring system. Both satellites were designed and built at the company's HQ in Guildford and has brought the total number of satellites on the disaster monitoring constellation to six.

"The launch is also timely as the UK government has just launched the space innovation and growth team, tasked with creating a 20 year strategy for the space industry," said Sir Martin Sweeting, chairman. "SSTL welcomes the initiative and is represented on the team."

SSTL finalised its sale to Europe’s largest space company EADS Astrium in early 2009.
Surrey Advertiser Business News Spring 2009

SSTL was ranked (March 2009) 89th out of 997 best UK firms to work for in a survey run by a national Sunday newspaper.

SSTL have been awarded (January 2010) a share in a £500 million contract to build a new global satellite navigation system. The project, to build 14 satellites that will orbit the Earth, will in effect guarantee that one third of the company's 300 strong workforce will be working well into 2014 when the system becomes operational. The Galileo network will supplement current GPS satellite systems to provide even greater accuracy. SSTL technicians are contracted to build the internal workings including amplifiers, signal generators and antennas.

“Our satellites are already providing operational services for many government and commercial customers and we are pleased to have a major role within Europe’s flagship Galileo programme,” said group CEO Dr Matt Perkins. “This programme will also help to establish SSTL as a provider of communications and navigation satellites into other markets."

Surrey Advertiser 12th January 2010

The European system will be significantly more accurate than that operated by the US with location errors not exceeding one metre (3.30ft) compared to the American three metre (9.84ft) accuracy. The system will also utilise more advanced technology providing significantly faster more reliable positioning fixes.

SSTL have started to build (September 2010) the specialised technical facility where the company will be building the European GPS System satellites. The new £10m building is located opposite SSTL's HQ in the University's Surrey Research Park and will provide 3,700 sqm for a team of 40 to build the satellites.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited is a founder member of the newly created Space Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), an organisation set up to encourage the government to invest in space technology with an investment of between £5 to £10 billion. Part of the plan SSTL has put forward (March 2010) is to ensure that the UK has its own Earth observation service to help meet national needs security. The company is also nearing completion on the construction of a new building directly opposite its current site on the Surrey Research Park.

A commercial venture between SSTL and one of its subsidiaries that specialises in data processing will see the company undertaking a £100m project to launch three British satellites. SSTL and DMCii have an existing contract operating a fleet of imaging satellites for a group of countries including Nigeria, Spain, China and the UK. The venture, announced in October 2010, will generate revenue from providing satellite time for commercial organisations and research bodies.

The 2011 Tycho Brahe prize was awarded to SSTL's Dr Martin Unwin at the International Meeting of the Institute of Navigation for his pioneering work in the development of low cost Global Navigation Satellite System receiver technology. Dr Unwin, who studied his PhD at Surrey University's Space Centre said after the award ceremony: "Many of our pioneering achievements and commercial successes have only been possible as a result of the active research relationship between SSTL and the Surrey Space Centre."

The University of Surrey and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have reached agreement (March 2012) on a joint partnership which is set to provide real impetus in advancing low-cost space and terrestrial technology.

"Low-cost earth observation will revolutionise many areas of industry and commerce. We aim to be poineers in establishing what is possible," said Professor Jonathan Seville, dean of Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. "Surrey is the leading UK university in the engineering of satellites and a raidly growing presence in the application of satellite observation techniques." Surrey Advertiser 16th March 2012.

Surrey Satellite Technology shipped the first of 14 Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) navigation payloads in April 2012. The payloads, which are being fitted to the satellites by the European Space Agency in Germany, provides Galileo's precision positioning measurements and services to users. The first two Galileo satellites entered orbit in October 2011.


The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Standing high on the bank by the waterway just below the Millmead Lock gates, which mark the end of the Godalming Navigation, is the modern striking structure of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre (GR: SU996493) built on the site of Filmer’s 1794 iron foundry.

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

The Yvonne Arnaud is the largest and only remaining producing theatre in Surrey. The 18th century building to the right in the picture above is the Old Town Mill which was opened as the 80 seat Mill Studio in 1993. The Mill allows smale-scale works to be presented by both amateur and professional companies.

In 2006 a new hydro turbine was installed in the mill building to deliver electricity for the town.


Guildford has a long theatrical tradition with records relating to public performances going back to 1619. The first purpose built theatre opened in 1789 in Market Street. It was however the burning down of the repertory theatre in the old Borough Hall in 1963 that triggered the creation of the Yvonne Arnaud by the Guildford Theatre Company.

Opening in 1965 the theatre was named in honour of the popular French actress (1892 – 1958) who had settled in nearby Effingham Common and had trodden the boards of English theatres for 46 years. Her ashes were reportedly scattered on St Martha’s Hill near Chilworth just to the south of Guildford. A stage-full of stars graced the new theatre on opening night with Ingrid Bergman and Sir Michael Redgrave topping the bill in Turgenev’s A Month in the Country.

Adopting a strong West End bias, the theatre over the ensuing decades has attracted many other famous actors, which as well as Redgrave and Bergman has included Dame Sybil Thorndike, Dirk Bogarde, Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth, Felicity Kendal, Paul Eddington, Derek Jacobi, Edward Fox, Peter Egan, Alistair McGowan and Zoe Wanamaker.

Since 1991 the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre has created 106 productions (to 2006) which have toured 78 UK cities. The theatre company is proud of its successful productions, with no fewer than 47 transferring to the West End. The theatre's craftsmen are also in great demand with the scenery workshops building sets for Glyndebourne, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Chichester Festival Theatre and most of the country's leading commercial companies.

The theatre gave 619 performances to nearly 155,000 people during 2007, and touring plays from Guildford had 533 performances to over 107,000 people.


The theatre buildings are used by Surrey Police for annual counter-terrorism search courses run by the Police National Search Centre using a combined team of police and army instructors. The theatre provides the location for building search elements of the course, with outdoor search training conducted at Witley Farm at Brook near Godalming.

The Yvonne Arnaud learned (December 2007) that it may lose all of its £447,799 Arts Council England grant from April 2009 which has put some doubt as to how the theatre will make up the shortfall in order to remain viable as a regional producing theatre. The theatre is shocked at the severity of the cut in funding.

"This has come as an absolute shock to everyone. Over the past few years, partly with the advice and guidance of our drama officer from ACE, we have, as an organisation, worked incredibly hard to develop all aspects of the theatre’s work following the guidelines and in accordance with the priorities of the arts council," said theatre director James Barber. "In the first five months of this year alone, 20% of our audiences were new attendees and the programme, both on the main stage and in the Mill Studio, is busier and more diverse than ever - something the arts council has readily acknowledged. Despite all our efforts, the future of the Yvonne Arnaud is now severely threatened.”

The Arts Council however are standing by their decision which they feel to be reasonable.

"We recognise that the Yvonne Arnaud is a popular theatre, but we have had concerns for some time that it was not developing sufficient new work, or broadening its audiences," said an ACE spokesperson. "We have made those concerns clear to the theatre over a number of years and while some progress has been made, unfortunately we do not consider it enough to justify renewing our regular funding beyond March 2009. Arts council regular funding represents a small percentage of the Yvonne Arnaud’s overall income and we hope the theatre will use our further year’s funding to explore alternatives and plan for its future."

www.thestage.co.uk 18th December 2007

"I feel particularly angry about (the cuts affecting) the Yvonne Arnaud because it is the theatre where I cut my critical teeth as a cub reporter and it is exceptionally well run by its director, James Barber, who manages to offer a varied and enticing programme despite an auditorium that is too small to make financial sense of large-scale touring productions.

"It is a theatre that is much loved by both performers and audiences, and though I am sure it will survive and indeed flourish without its £445,000 a year from the Arts Council (its annual turnover is £2.4 million), the cut will make life tougher and artistic risks harder to take." Charles Spencer telegraph.co.uk 31st December 2007

The theatre submitted (January 2008) an 'extensive and rigorous appeal' to ACE by the official response deadline to challenge the suggestion that the theatre has not developed enough new work or broadened its audiences, the basis of the recommendation to withdraw funding. The director of the theatre however has stated that it is unlikely the theatre will have to close without the ACE grant as unlike most provincial theatres the Yvonne Arnaud generates around 75% of its own income, compared to 50% for other theatres. However the board will have to decide on what activities to curtail in order to ensure the theatre remains financially viable.

At the end of January 2008 the theatre received official confirmation from the Arts Council that their decision remains and no further funding will be received from 2009.

“It was a tough decision that was not taken lightly and one that we would stress is not necessarily based on a value judgement of the Yvonne Arnaud’s work,” said an Arts Council spokeswoman. Source: surreyad.co.uk 1st February 2008

The Maltings in neighbouring Farnham has been awarded an increase of £11,000 in its annual grant over the next three years.

Adding her voice to the anger being expressed locally, Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench as a patron to the theatre expressed her disbelief in the Art Council's decision.

"The removal of the Arts Council grant from next year is devastating news, not just for the theatre and the people of Guildford but for the hundreds of performers and artists who work there every year," she said. "The Yvonne Arnaud is a wonderful theatre in a beautiful place. the programme of work in both auditoria is rich and varied and I understand that last year they gave an amazing 619 performances in Guildford alone." Source: Surrey Advertiser 8th February 2008

A Guildford Borough councillor has put his weight behind an online campaign to protest against the Arts Council's decision. Nearly 1,600 people (February 2008) have registered in protest on Facebook, the social networking site.

"People are getting involved in the debate, particularly a lot of young people," said councillor Chris Ward. "There are a lot of people very upset by the decision the Art Council's made - not just in Guildford - there are theatres all over the place that are closing. We've got people that generally care about this, and I think we can win." Source: bbc.co.uk 16th February 2008

Guildford Borough Council has granted £335,000 (March 2008) to the Yvonne Arnaud to help support its programme of theatrical and educational events. The funding is part of over £600,000 in grants the council is awarding to local projects.

As part of the Yvonne Arnaud’s continued attempt to fill the funding gap following the loss of Arts Council funding the theatre has launched a number of initiatives including their Guardian Angel campaign (2009) in which they are asking supporters to sign up to the scheme and donate at least £2 a month.  By their calculation they hope to raise £360,000 a year if just 10% of the 150,000 people who visit the theatre each year sign up.

The theatre has also cited (October 2009) that they have cut production costs and pruned overheads. Costs have also been reduced by seeking help from charitable trusts to help on essential maintenance work. The theatre has also re-launched their Friends membership scheme and the Vanbrugh Club which has seen an increase of 28% in membership numbers since 2008.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre's campaign to raise funds to make up the shortfall created by the withdrawal of funding by the Arts Council has resulted in great success (March 2010) with the theatre recruiting over 850 new donors, 11 new corporate sponsors, and 127 new members of the Vanbrugh Club. Monies raised have compensated for almost 24% of the lost grant.

Surrey has lost two long established theatres in recent years including the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham and The Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead.

Guildford's Bellerby Theatre, which was housed in a 'traditional two-storey red-brick Victorian school', provided a facility for amateur dramatic and independent theatre groups to stage their performances. The theatre was named after mayor Bill Bellerby who was instrumental in bringing about the creation of the venue, and who was passionate about arts in the town. However the lease for the theatre was taken up by the Guildford School of Acting in 1983 with the result that performances were restricted to college holidays. A lobbying group, the Guildford Amateur Theatre Association, was formed to represent the interests of over 20 amateur arts companies, and the Electric Theatre was born. <qv>

The site of the two-storey theatre building off York Road in Guildford Town Centre has been earmarked by Waitrose for a new multimillion pound supermarket. The grocery chain was selected as preferred bidder for the site (September 2011) by Guildford Borough Council. Plans for the complex include a 21,000 sq ft supermarket with 170 car spaces and new homes and community facilities.

The 2.5 acre (1 ha) site is immediately adjacent to the west of the Town Centre Conservation Area, with a small part of the site, Beverley Hall at 71 Haydon Place, within the conservation area boundary. Beverley Hall is to be extended and refurbished to act as a community facility. It is currently a single-storey double-height red-brick building.

A formal planning application is to be made in spring 2012 with an opening date of 2014.

"We believe this is an exciting opportunity to deliver our first store in Guildford which will add to the impressive collection of retailers already here and can bring substantial benefits, including new jobs for local people," said Nigel Keen, Waitrose director of development. "Furthermore, it will help the council achieve its ambition to use the site to provide better facilities for the town and the wider community." getsurrey.co.uk 16th April 2012

The Guildford School of Acting (GSA)

The Guildford School of Acting (GSA), which has no direct association with the Yvonne Arnaud theatre, evolved from the 1935 London-founded Grant-Bellairs School of Dance and Drama. At the end of the Second World War the school relocated in 1945 to Guildford in a small building opposite the Yvonne Arnaud theatre on Millbrook, and was renamed the Guildford School of Acting in 1964.

Today the GSA, which is a subsidiary company of the University of Surrey, offers highly respected courses in the performing arts including acting, musical theatre and stage management.

The courses offered by GSA are rigorous, demanding and, at times, exhausting. The outcome, however, is a student body which regularly achieves one of the highest percentages of employment amongst drama school graduates. GSA is a friendly and supportive school that offers qualifications that will set you up for life.

We are training actors for stage, film and TV, musical theatre performers, stage managers and technicians for the profession. The school's courses have been declared 'outstanding' by Ofsted and we have expanded our programmes to include postgraduate courses at Master's level. GSA prospectus 2010/2012

The school was based in Bellairs Playhouse in Millmead Terrace and had six other sites in central Guildford including their own television and radio station. The scattered facilities provide an 80-seat theatre, three dance studios, a 10,000 book library with IT facilities and theatre workshops, as well as general teaching facilities.

In a deal originally signed with Surrey University in 2007, the school relocated its main educational and performance facilities to the university campus utilising a single purpose-built state-of-the-art facility.

The topping out ceremony for the new GSA Conservatoire building took place in July 2009 attended by actresses Brenda Blethyn and Helena Blackman. The building, which will include 15 dance and drama studios, 10 tutorial rooms and a cafe, is to replace the drama schools existing seven buildings scattered around Guildford. The contractors working on the building confidence that the facility will be fully open within six months and will be completed on budget.

"The University pioneered the innovative music and sound recording Tonmeister degree course in 1970 and was also the first in the country to introduce specialist academic degrees in dance at all levels," said Prof John Turner of the University of Surrey. "This strategic merger with the GSA will complement our academic strengths in the area of performing arts and we look forward to working closely with our new colleagues." Surrey Advertiser 24th July 2009

The £12m cost of the move, which was completed in January 2010, was shared by the GSA and the university, but also received funding by the Higher Education Funding Council (£3m). The new facility consists of a performing arts centre with rehearsal studios, a 200-seat theatre for GSA public performances, and a training venue for stage management and technical courses plus new arts administration and venue management courses.

The GSA administrative headquarters moved to Stag Hill in Guildford in January 2010.

The GSA has among its alumni Brenda Blethyn, Michael Ball, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Gaby Roslin, Emma Barton, Rob Kazinsky and Diane Pilkington.

A new production company has set up in Guildford (2008) with the specific focus of utilising the talents of GSA graduates and helping them find their feet in a notoriously competitive industry. Sean McNamara Productions, set up by McNamara and his partner Anna Margilewska - both GSA-trained - launches with its first show the Broadway hit ART (Yasmina Reza) at the Electric Theatre in June 2008.

View GSA YouTube video HERE (February 2011)

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM)

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford was founded in 1995 on the back of a small grant from the Prince’s Trust quickly establishing a reputation for producing well-prepared and talented songwriters and musicians principally in pop and rock music. Beginning with courses run as evening classes the ACM now has 1,200 full-time and 400 part-time students who study not just music but also the intricacies of the industry utilising close links with specialist sectors such as publishing, promotion, management, A&R, legal, CD manufacturers and radio stations.

The on-site facilities include state-of-the-art recording studios, a business centre and a performance venue. The ACM also runs two record labels.

“My vision for the school was to bridge the gap between the industry and education,”  explained Phil Brookes, musician turned teacher who founded the academy.  “We don’t just teach kids to be technically proficient, we fully prepare them to go out and get a job, whether that be as a singer, songwriter, session musician or studio producer.”  

In April 2008 the ACM finally achieved parity with its higher profile contemporaries, including the British Record Industry Trust School in London and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in Liverpool, when it won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of its teaching achievements.

“We put all of our students through the same process a record company would,” explains Mark Bounds, ACM’s A&R consultant. “But, whereas it could cost them upwards of £100,000 to develop one act, we do that development for free. Once labels have made a financial commitment, they are under tremendous pressure to recoup their costs, which means they need an album out as soon as possible. A lot of potentially great careers end up over before they’ve started because the act needed more time to develop. Here, we can get songs to top-quality demo in eight weeks, but if they aren’t right, we just do them again. The students perform 40 or 50 live shows a year, either at the school or in local venues. The point is to f*** up here before they go to London for an A&R fest.”

Such is the reputation now for ACM, names such as Brian May (Queen), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) regularly run masterclasses and Genesis freely provide access to their studio located near Guildford.

“Step inside ACM’s multistorey main building and you could be in a nightclub. The floors are metal, the walls are exposed brick and the dim lighting comes from blue fluorescent tubes. There are bench seats in zebra-print fabric and the heavy doors along long hallways are coated in sparkly pink or orange plastic. Whenever one opens, the sound of music is deafening – except when it leads to the drum room, supported by the Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith, in which 18 students sit side by side, pounding kits heard only in their headphones like demented Duracell bunnies.” Lisa Verrico. Times Online.

Sunday Times 13th July 2008

Following the success of the Academy in the BBC's Last Choir Standing talent competition when the ACM gospel choir reached the 2009 semi-finals, the college has launched (July 2009) a new gospel choir course. The course will teach skills including group harmonies and vocal techniques. The gospel choir, which started out as an extra curricular activity for their full time students, has since released an album and has also been undertaking tours around the country.

The ACM opened (August 2009) its first branch in America with a first-year enrolment at the University of Central Oklahoma of 160 students. The initiative ACM@UCO operating from a 120,000 sq ft facility under headship of Scott Brooker the veteran manager of band Flaming lips is a test bed for the academy’s plan to roll out franchises across the country.

Lewis Carroll

The home of Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898), the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass was The Chestnuts (GR: SU997493) to be found up Castle Hill through the castle gate. Lewis Carroll was buried in the cemetery in The Mount (GR: SU989489) on the original coaching route that runs up to the Hogs Back and on to Farnham. If you visit the cemetery you will need to locate the inscription made in his real name Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Detailed information on Lewis Carroll can be found in the museum, and there is a delightful commemorative bronze sculpture (GR: SU995494) on the west bank of the Wey in Millmead featuring Alice reading with her sister and a hare in full flight. Another sculpture has been erected in his honour in the gardens of Guildford Castle. MORE ON LEWIS CARROLL

Lewis Carroll Sculpture

The Dancers

Drivers travelling along the old Guildford bypass (now the A25 Parkway) cannot fail to see a striking sculpture on a plinth by the Boxgrove roundabout (GR: TQ001509). Created by sculptor Jane Jones, 'The Dancers' grace the front of the Clock House offices of the accountants Baker Tilly and are testimony to the firm's support for the Arts. BUT SEE NOTE BELOW

The Dancers

Guildford Arts launched a scheme, Art@Work, to provide greater exposure for local artists and sculptors and Baker Tilly have enthusiastically given their support by providing exhibition space in The Clock House. It was at one of the Art@Work events that The Dancers was displayed and the firm decided to acquire the piece for permanent display outside their offices. The firm received the Guildford Society Design Award in October 2006 in recognition of their contribution.

After wonton vandalisation in 2007 which rendered the original sculpture beyond repair Baker Tilly elected to commission a new piece in bronze which now sits in its place.

Guildford House Gallery

At 155 High Street is housed a collection of paintings by the Guildford born artist John Russell (1745 - 1806) alongside other artists work. The gallery also mounts regular static and touring exhibitions of local artists.

Guildford House celebrated its 350th anniversary in July 2009. The property was built as the High Street home of John Childe, a London lawyer and also three times Mayor of Guildford during the 17th century. A high profile family by the name of Martyr also lived here until the 19th century when booming trade in the town gave rise to converting the building into a shop. Prior to being acquired by Guildford Borough Council in 1956 it had been operating as a restaurant and cafe, with other uses including a long period of use by Alfred Bull's the saddlers and tent maker's shop during the 19th and early 20th century.

Russell, a member of the Royal Academy, is renowned for his oil and pastel portraits of 18th century royalty and international figures of repute. He was painter to George III which gave him access and influence enabling him to quickly become the talk of London in his day. He also was an accomplished astronomer successfully making accurate records of the surface of the moon. His lunar sketches and engravings are held in high regard with many held by the Museum of the History of Science.

"The Moon requires much attention to be well understood, being composed of so many parts, of different characters, so much similitude in each Class of forms, and of such a variety in the minutiae composing these Forms and this difficulty also most considerably increasd by the various effects caused by the different situations of the Sun; that I am perswaded many considerable improvements may be made, in correctness of Form in the spots, their situation and distinctness of parts." John Russell c1785

The Guildford House Gallery collection has been featured in a directory of paintings by the Public Catalogue Foundation. The Foundation, which has set out to make available a complete record of all oil paintings in public ownership, has included John Russell paintings in Discover The Paintings You Own - The Hidden Heritage of Surrey Revealed which is to be published in September 2006. Go to www.thepcf.org.uk for more information.

The Friends of Guildford House, which was formed in the 1970s, has been instrumental in building the council's collection of works by local artists to over 750 pieces.

The news that Guildford Borough Council is considering closing the Guildford House Gallery (February 2010) has fuelled an energetic campaign to oppose the move. The campaign revolves around the council's plan of combining the tourist information office and the activities currently undertaking in Guildford house and housing these at 170 High Street (Constitution Hall and formerly Thorpe's Bookshop). The council are intending to spend £160,000 to repair and refurbish this building.

Here are some excerpts from letters written to the Surrey Advertiser in Guildford.

"For me, and my husband, Guildford House is a lively, open to all place. It is a place where we go for very interesting free lunchtime talks which connect with the current exhibitions or deal with other topics. It shouldn't turn into a restaurant or cafe or a designer label exclusive shop. It should stay just as it is with a few cash increasing modifications. We are only custodians of this building for future generations, we must ensure its beauty survives." Pauline Surrey. 5th March 2010

"If the council is intent on selling off the family silver why not auction the town clock? We are sure it would find a ready buyer in Australia or America!" Rae and Harold Barber. 5th March 2010

"Staff of the TIC (Tourist Information Centre) do a fantastic job and look after some 100,000 walk-in visitors a year. The move into the High Street will give far more prominence and will sit comfortably between the High Street and the New Civic Centre. There is a superb opportunity for a modern accessible TIC to develop its role in Guildford. It needs to be noted that the tourism economy in Guildford is valued at £200 million. If Constitution Hall can also accommodate Guildford Gallery then that can only enhance its usefulness, value and success." Kevin Lorimer, chairman, Guildford Town Centre Management Group. 5th March 2010

Providing an official view is the following letter:

"Guildford house is a splendid period property that, since the late 1950s, has provided a home for the borough's art collection, a venue for visiting exhibitions and a retail outlet for crafts. At its meeting last week the executive carefully considered a report, the second in three months, exploring the potential to bring together the gallery and another of our services, the Tourist Information Centre, in one building in a prime location. I am pleased to be able to say that an opportunity has arisen where we can seriously investigate the options which bring together these two highly valued services in a new tourism and cultural centre at 170 High Street.

"I must also point out the officers have already dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to consult with the local arts and heritage organisations, the express aim being to obtain their opinions and ideas. At no time is anything being done to rush this project ahead without first considering the views of interested parties and this approach will continue. As was made very clear at the meeting, the only decision taken was to prove the concept of bringing the two services together at 170 High Street and to examine potential alternative uses for Guildford House but not to sell the freehold of the property." Cllr Jen Powell, Lead Member for Cultural Activities Heritage and Tourism, Guildford Borough Council. 5th March 2010

After a local campaign to keep the Guildford House Gallery in its current home it would appear that following a flurry of energetic activity from local objectors the town council has backed down and returned the building (August 2010) at 170 High Street, which used to house a cinema and later a bookshop, to be offered again on the property market.

The Army in Guildford

As part of the army's plan to link regiments with districts Edward Cardwell, Secretary of State for War, ordered in 1873 that barracks for the 2nd Regimental District infantry be built in Stoughton in north Guildford. Stoughton Barracks (GR: SU985517), which opened in 1876, were then sited in a sparsely populated area and were designed to house 300 soldiers from The Queen's (Second) Royal Regiment.

Cardwell Keep, Stoughton Barracks

A married quarters block was added in 1879 and became home to 500 men, women and children. The barracks expanded with additional buildings being erected until 1936. During both World Wars Stoughton became a major recruitment and training centre for infantry recruits. The base was further expanded with additional buildings and extensions between 1905 and 1936.

The regiment's 2nd Royal Surrey Militia originally had a depot in Friary Street in the centre of Guildford which was primarily used during short periods of training but this was relocated to Stoughton Barracks when it was built and the Militia building became a business premises until it was demolished in 1969.

Queen Elizabeth I was stationed at the barracks for a short period in 1945 whilst she undertook training on military vehicles. The Queen in common with all able-bodied women during the war actively contributed to the war effort, and in her case she was trained to drive and repair HGVs.

Immediately to the north of Stoughton Barracks a hutted militia camp was built during World War II for the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment

The Auxiliary Transport Service (ATS), which was renamed the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) in 1949, took over the camp. The camp which was reopened as a depot and training centre in 1951, and renamed the Queen Elizabeth Camp in 1953. WRACs did not undertake weapon training but undertook support roles including the manning of searchlights and rangefinders for anti-aircraft batteries.

The original camp was constructed of wooden huts referred to as ‘spiders’ and in each up to 28 women were accommodated with a single coke-fired stove providing warmth. By 1960 the camp had become run-down so a major rebuilding exercise provided the Corps with a new depot consisting of modern residential blocks with accommodation provided in four-bed rooms, and positioned in a landscaped setting. The new centre was opened by the Queen in 1964 and renamed as the Queen Elizabeth Barracks to reflect its new status.

Two WRACs from the barracks were killed in the Guildford IRA bombings in 1974, with privates Ann Hamilton (19) and Caroline Slater (18) dying in the blast at the Horse and Groom in North Street. Both women are commemorated in the corps’ memorial window, which had been a feature of Guildford Cathedral since it was first installed there in 1961,  There is also a memorial in Quakers Acre in North Street  opposite the former pub which today is a shop.  THE WRAC received the freedom of the borough of Guildford in 1988.

When the WRAC was finally disbanded at Guildford in 1992 the parade at Queen Elizabeth Park was recorded as the largest all-female parade ever held in the country. The corps was amalgamated with the Adjutant General’s Corps.


Old boarding house, Barrack Road

The Queen's was one of the founding regiments of the British Army having been established in 1661. It became a royal regiment in 1703 and was named the Queen's Royal in 1881.

The Queen's vacated the barracks in 1959 although it continued as a pay administration and records office until 1983. In 1993 Countryside Properties plc bought the 18 acre estate and developed it for residential use. The developers were required to preserve many of the original buildings including Cardwell Keep, the Officers' Mess, some of the barrack blocks and the wall and arch fronting on to Stoughton Road. The design of the Keep is typical of those built in many 19th century barracks and provided for wartime security including steel shutters fitted to the inside of windows. 75 soldiers could be comfortably billeted in the building.

Street names around the modern Queen Elizabeth Park residential development include those commemorating prominent members of the WRAC.

Queen Elizabeth Park (QEP) has 525 homes and is serviced by a supermarket and member-only leisure centre complete with swimming pool on site. There is also a business centre with offices and a private purpose-built residential and nursing home. The developers agreed to provide a building to house a community centre as part of the approval process for planning permission. Although planning permission for the centre was granted in 2006 construction of the building was not started for another two years. However the developers and council have been approached (April 2008) by the QEP Residents Association complaining that the facility is not needed amid fears of increased traffic and the costs of maintaining the grounds around the centre which they believe will have to be carried by QEP residents. If the dispute is not resolved the use of the whole building will revert to offices - the ground floor is already reserved for commercial use.

In 2005 a first floor two bedroom apartment in the Keep had a market value of around £200,000. A two bedroom flat in the Keep fetched £1,200 monthly rental in 2007, with that year's property prices in the Queen Elizabeth Park development continuing to climb to new heights. Five-bedroomed homes with purpose built studies are on the market for around £650,000. In early 2008 a one-bedroomed first floor apartment in King George's Lodge at the old barracks with 'cathedral views and a vaulted ceiling' was on the market for £225,000.

The first of the popular Carry On films was made at Stoughton Barracks. Carry on Sergeant (1958) starring William Hartnell, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Connor was filmed here and told the story of Sergeant Grimshaw who hoped to retire in a blaze of glory by winning the Star Squad prize with his final platoon. His platoon had other ideas . . . The film was more a parody of the latter days of National Service with the Carry On stable not having yet taken on its more bawdy approach.

The two museum collections for the regiment at Stoughton and Kingston-upon-Thames were amalgamated and are now housed at the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment Museum at Clandon Park, near Guildford. The regimental collection of historic documents, books and photographs has been put into the care of the Surrey History Centre in Woking.

Perhaps quite appropriately, given the site's history with the Women's Royal Army Corps, the Surrey Federation of Women's Institutes (SFWI) moved their headquarters to Railton Road in Stoughton's Queen Elizabeth Park in 2006. Their new building was officially opened by the Countess of Wessex.

Fifty army homes in Pirbright near Guildford which were vacated by service families in 2005 have remained empty and are now (2007) reported to be either vandalised or occupied by squatters. The houses in Manor Crescent, Billesden Road alongside Pirbright Army Barracks are still owned by the army and have not been released for private occupation. Criticism has been levelled at the MOD given the acute shortage of affordable housing in the area. Surrey Police have been using the estate for police dog training exercises.


Round & About Stoughton

By the southern perimeter of the old Stoughton Barracks is an outstanding wall mural created by artist NB Scott in 2008 and which graces the front entrance to a Stoughton school. It features the school’s allotments and pond, and paints a picture of almost rural serenity providing a hint perhaps as to the inspired way the school is run.

Wall mural by Stoughton Infant School, Guildford

Stoughton Infant and Nursery School was opened in 1886 initially just as an infant school. The school today is fully modernised having been refurbished in 2002 and high-tech with internet links and interactive whiteboards in all classrooms. The children also have access to computers and a reference library in an information centre. As the wall mural, which has the slogan ‘loving to learn – learning to love’ prominently featured on it, suggests the school does provide a very rounded approach to the education of its young pupils. Outdoors the children are encouraged to grow-their-own in the school allotments, and enjoy a wildlife area, a quiet area, pond and sensory garden. They also have access to a large field and a playground. There are 229 places for three to seven-year-olds at the school.

On the Aldershot Road not far from Stoughton Barracks is the fascinating Georgian building that now accommodates Rydes Hill Preparatory School. Also known locally as The Clock House it houses the billiards room, now the school library, which has an 18-panel frieze recounting the story of Joan of Arc. The frieze was painted by the 19th-century artists Talbot Hughes and Sir Herbert Hughes-Stanton. The building was originally a private dwelling.

The distinctive 'Y' shape of the Shepherd's Hill (GR: SU982514) estate off the Worplesdon Road in Stoughton was one of the earliest developments in the borough of Guildford under a national building campaign started in 1918 to provide council-owned homes. A renowned house builder at the time, one W. G. Tarrant, won the contract to erect 83 houses on the eight-acre site. Tarrant, who made his name building the exclusive St George's Hill in Weybridge MORE HERE, committed to build 'homes fit for heroes' promised by the government of Lloyd George for troops returning from WWI.

The subsequent 1919 Housing Act was passed to fulfil this pledge and provided government grants with strict conditions for builders in order to subsidise their construction. Tarrant had submitted the lowest bid of £66,646 18s 3d from 16 builders and the following year Dr. Addison, the President of the Local Government Board responsible for implementing the new housing policy, cut the first sod at the site using a spade presented by Tarrant. The spade has been preserved at the Guildhall in Guildford. Tarrant was to go on to build other council houses in the area including 50 at a cost of £705 on Guildford Park Estate, as well as other developments in Byfleet, Pyrford and Lightwater.

In 1920 a local bus company, Yellow Bus Services, started operating from a depot on the corner of Worplesdon Road and New Cross Road to provide transport for the rapidly growing local population. Yellow Bus serviced local routes until 1958.

Stoke Cemetery in Stoughton, Guildford

Straddling the Stoughton Road adjacent to the railway line is Stoke Cemetery (GR: SU99514) which is located on eight acres of land purchased and laid out from 1880 – 82. A Victorian chapel forms the centrepiece of the old cemetery to the south of the road. Famous people buried at Stoke cemetery include William Babtie (1859 – 1920) a professional soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the Boer War. On the other side of the road is the expansive Stoke New Cemetery. There is a consecrated Jewish section in the new cemetery.

Stoughton Methodist Church started in 1891 as a corrugated iron building referred to locally as 'The Tin Tabernacle' and was built for the Wesleyan Methodists. The church that today stands prominently on the corner of Stoughton Road and Grange Road supplemented the iron structure in 1895, with local records pointing to the fact that the original 'Tin Tabernacle' continued to be used for activities including a Sunday School until at least 1953. The new church, which initially lacked an organ with singing accompanied by a harmonium, became a centre of activity for the local community including bizarres, concerts and numerous club activities. Slots can still be seen in the floor of the building which helped keep equipment in place for separate boy's and girl's gymnastic clubs that operated there until the 1930s. Today a 1985 Norwich Electronic Organ provides accompaniment.

The old tin hall was replaced in 1953/4 by a new hall at a cost of £3,200 - and remains today immediately behind the church fronting on to Grange Road. One of the three stones laid at the time include that of one Mrs Welch who was the oldest member of the church. The church gifted a piece of land from its frontage to the council in 1991 to enable the road to be widened and traffic lights to be positioned to ease congestion problems - although contemporary records express dismay at the stop line for one of the lights being placed right in front of the car park entrance.

The oldest surviving building within the village boundaries is an 18th century timber barn that formed part of Grange Farm in Grange Road. Grange Farm fell into disuse in 1924.

The old Royal Hotel in Worplesdon Road, which once hosted gigs in the early days of both Eric Clapton and The Stranglers, may be returned to use as a hotel. Over the years the business gradually declined eventually falling back to become just a pub and food takeaway. Various owners had tried to bring some of the 11 bedrooms back into use but through a lack of funding only managed to have six available for bed and breakfast accommodation.

The Royal Hotel, Stoughton, Guildford

The Royal as a pub closed in May 2009 and has remained boarded up. However it will be up to the development company to persuade the council planning department that the premises hasn’t lost the right to be deemed as a hotel rather than a pub or restaurant due to a long lapse in providing a hotel service.

“We had a lunchtime residency at the Royal Hotel,” JJ Burnel, the Strangler’s songwriter and vocalist said. “It’s a shame to hear it’s closed down. I think the first time we ever played Peaches was there.” Extracted from an interview with the Surrey Advertiser 2nd July 2009

The pub, which was a favourite haunt for soldiers from the nearby barracks and attracted a reputation for being ‘a little rowdy’, was owned in the early 1980s by the wrestler Mick McManus, and who tried to improve its reputation by banning large groups of off-duty soldiers. McManus was one of the first Guildford landlords to be granted a licence to have music and dancing until 1am on Saturdays, although by 1983 this had been withdrawn.

The hotel was designed by Guildford architect Henry Peak in the 1870s and built and owned by local builder William Wells. Wells leased the pub to a Farnham brewery until 1883 when the brewery bought the freehold for £2,500. In 1927 the business was sold to Courage & Co.

The Two Tangleys

Tangley Place (GR: SU978527) is an Edwardian manor house on Worplesdon Road close to the junction with Salt Box Road that has fallen to dereliction and the effects of vandalism over recent years. A planning application has been submitted (17th July 2009) to Guildford Borough Council to convert the building into a 92 bed care home.

click on image to visit photographer's website

A local bat conservation group and other wildlife enthusiasts have expressed previous concerns over the refurbishment of the building due to the presence of bats, badgers and rare great-crested newts on the site, all of which are legally protected. However, it appears that these groups may be satisfied with the plans that the developer has for the building which includes the installation of a wildlife pond. Other planning issues that have been cited include the fact that the property lies within the green belt and is close to the Whitmoor Common SSSI which is part of the Thames Basin Heath special protection area.

Tangley Place, worplesdon. Picture by Alex Cheasley 2006
click on image to visit photographer's website

After the war between 1947 and 1955 Tangley Place was used as a post war convalescent home. After this the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) based a research station at the property, which included a large two-storey laboratory building in the grounds. A paper presented by MAFF in 1978 to the Eight Vertebrate Pest Conference illustrates the type of work being undertaken at Tangley. The paper presented by one Harry V Thompson from the Ministry was entitled Wildlife as Vectors in Diseases: Approaches to Solving These Problems in the United Kingdo. The paper covered concerns over rabies prevention and the spread of the disease in wildlife populations. Another paper issued in 1987 focused on tackling the threat to agriculture in Britain of a rapidly expanding population of the European rabbit.

Tangley Place, worplesdon. Picture by Alex Cheasley 2006
click on image to visit photographer's website

In 1997 the building was offered for sale in a government surplus land sell-off. A developer had purchased the building in 1999 with the plan of transforming it into upmarket apartments, however a fire gutted the building and it has remained derelict ever since. Other plans for redevelopment have come and gone, one of which included (2007) developing part of the site as a park and ride car park in return for planning permission. Whatever development plan is successful it is unlikely that any of the existing structure is to be retained due to the acute level of damage.

Located nearby at Wonersh Common is Great Tangley Manor (GR: SU981539) set in an expansive Victorian garden. The Grade 1 listed moated manor house, part of which operates today as a five bedroomed residential business venue, dates back to the 11th century. The first mention of the manor is in the Domesday book of 1086 in which it was described as a royal hunting lodge. Much of the character of the main part of the house that survive today results from major alterations undertaken in 1582.

It is believed that the some of the timbers salvaged from the Armada fleet were used in the dining room and also in parts of the panelling throughout the house. In 1880 one Wycham Flower owned the property and commissioned Victorian architect Phillip Webb to further extend the property and renovate the moatand gardens. King George V and Queen Mary with other members of the Royal family visited the property shortly afterwards, their signatures still discernible scratched into the window of the dining room with a diamond ring.

The current owners also say that signatures of King George VI and Edward VIII can be seen on the dressing room windows of the master suite. Other notable visitors are said to have included John Evelyn, William Morris, Lord Grantley, Gertrude Jekyll, and Alice Keppel who was 'royal mistress' to Edward VII. George Macdonald, 19th century writer and 'thinker' is documented as having rented Great Tangley manor in the spring of 1875. The manor house was divided into two separate dwellings in 1959. The courtyard seen today dates back to as recently as 1976.

The Guildford Guy Fawkes Riots

In the mid-19th century, in response to the decline in popularity for the annual Guy Fawkes celebrations (1) on the 5th November, Guy Societies were established as an initiative to keep Bonfire Night alive. Money was collected by the societies during the year to purchase gunpowder from the works in nearby Chilworth and to pay for the festivities surrounding the event. The central event was a procession through the town, with revellers dressed in period costume and with many wearing antlers, to the site of the town bonfire.

(1) Bonfire Night held annualy on the 5th November is an exclusively British event which celebrates the foiled attempt by religious conspirators to assassinate King James I of England and displace Protestant rule in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Fawkes, who had been trained in the use of explosives when in the military, had filled the cellar of the House of Lords with gunpowder with the plan of creating a massive explosion during the Opening of Parliament, which the king was due to attend. Parliament was then housed in the Palace of Westminster and not the building currently used, which was not built until Victorian times. After a tip-off Fawkes was arrested in the cellar on the 5th November prior to the event.

Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes (unknown artist)
image in public domain

In 1844 the bonfire was lit outside Holy Trinity Church in the High Street, and it would appear that the event in that year would set the scene for rioting that would accompany the celebrations for a considerable number of years. Much of the wood used in the 1844 bonfire appears to be have stolen from properties in and around the town which lead to widespread incriminations.

In 1852 Reverend Shrubb of St Catherine's Hill made an official complaint to the town authorities that large stretches of his fencing, and those of neighbouring properties, had been stripped and used on the bonfire without permission. The riotous behaviour that ensued, which reportedly involved large numbers of people from the town and outlying villages, went unchecked. Having not had his complaint taken seriously by the local Borough Bench, Reverend Shrubb took the matter directly to the Home Office who committed support from the army, special constables and police from the County Force to future events.

The extra support succeeded in quelling the rioting the following year, but in 1854 large groups of thugs roamed the town smashing windows and damaging public property resulting in the Riot Act being read and force being used to quel the riots. Against a backdrop of general social unrest throughout the country at the time, the riots reached their zenith during the years 1858 - 1862 with stone throwing and running battles with the police. Large quantities of fencing had again been stolen and a considerable number of windows in the town were broken with bricks and through the missuse of fireworks.

At the time the town council was small and ineffective by modern standards and they had access to only three policemen. Public opinion however grew and led to the Home Office insisting that the riots be stopped. This culminated in 1857 with fierce battles being fought between the rioters and the local police who had been reinforced by officers from the country force. Injuries were widespread which included serious injuries to a policeman and the death of a man who had fallen from a ladder.

The Royal Wedding year of 1863, when the Prince of Wales (later to be crowned King Edward VII) wed Princess Alexandria, was to be a strictly policed event. The army had been called in to patrol the streets for several weeks and this year was to remain peaceful. However the official banning of bonfire celebrations that was then imposed resulted in an attempt on Boxing Day 1865 to challenge the authorities. A large mob of thugs intent on rioting entered the town. They confronted Guildford's police force who after a running battle, in which an officer was badly beaten, defeated the rioters in Quarry Street. The police had armed themselves with cutlasses. Four rioters were arrested which resulted in prison sentences for three of them.

This victory was to prove to be the turning point as the rioting was never repeated and the local populace were able to enjoy trouble-free formally arranged bonfire parties every year thereafter. It also saw the emergence of a properly funded and organised town council which took over greater responsibilities including running the local gas and water utilities.

The proposal (2012) to erect a 16ft (5m) tall sculpture of a bonfire on the roundabout by Guildford Police Station has generated heated debate. The steel sculpture features a chair on the top of the pyre engulfed in flames.

"The riots were just that. There was nothing romantic or gentile about them. The fact is people got seriously injured. One poor fellow died from his injuries. It was a time to settle old scores one of which was the damage to a magistrate's house which was almost destroyed. These fellows would group on the outskirts of town in fiendish dress and when dusk came a harrowing howl would strike fear into law-abiding citizens, barrels of blazing tar would be rolled down High Street." Bernard Parke, Hon Alderman Borough of Guildford. Abridged from letter to Surrey Advertiser 2nd March 2012.

The Alderman followed his letter (above) with another a few weeks later.

"It is true there was extreme hardship, but there was a great problem with alcohol, the only opium of the people at that time. The Victorian-born school master John Gardiner counted as many as 97 pubs and drinking establishments in the town at the turn of the 20th century. The newly-formed Salvation Army's main enemy was the demon drink. Thus they incurred the wrath of the publicans in the south of England. In answer to this challenge they formed a rabble who called themselves the Skeleton Army (2). Salvationists were regularly attacked here within the borough." Bernard Parke, Hon Alderman Borough of Guildford. Abridged from letter to Surrey Advertiser 16th March 2012.

(2) The 'Skeletons' originated in Weston-super-Mare in 1881 and their activities were designed to disrupt and intimidate the Salvation Army. They used banners and insignia decorated with the skull and crossbones and coffins. A newspaper report at the time (Bethnal Green Eastern Post November 1882) included this description:

"A genuine rabble of "roughs" pure and unadulterated has been infesting the district for several weeks past. These vagabonds style themselves the 'Skeleton Army'. The 'skeletons' have their collectors and their collecting sheets and one of them was thrust into my hands... it contained a number shopkeepers' names... I found that publicans, beer sellers and butchers are subscribing to this imposture... the collector told me that the object of the Skeleton Army was to put down the Salvationists by following them about everywhere, by beating a drum and burlesquing their songs, to render the conduct of their processions and services impossible."

A Piece of Punk Rock History

Did you know that The Star public house in Guildford was integral to the explosion of the punk rock phenomenon worldwide? The veteran band The Stranglers made their 1974 debut here, then under the name of The Guildford Stranglers. The Star was then owned by the drummer Jet Black. They took the pub rock scene by storm and were instrumental in attracting attention to a new and often controvertial genre of music. The Stranglers had a hit single every year between 1977 and 1982. Do you remember No More Heroes, Peaches (banned by the BBC), Something Better Change and of course Golden Brown?

"They began as The Guildford Stranglers in '74, playing at drummer Jet Black's off-license (sic) establishment in Guildford, Surrey. They were a pub rock band and took on a Doors influence when keyboardist Dave Greenfield joined the group in '75. Their run from '77 to '84 was great, and if they'd stopped then, there legacy would've been grander. Cornwell recognized the group was spent and left the group in 1990, but the band continued to limp on, unfortunately, under the same name." Blogger Thus Spake Drake 17th January 2007

The Ugliest Building in Guildford?

A poll (March 2006) of 250 Guildford residents sought local opinion on various property related issues. The more serious opinions reflected a fear (78%) that property prices in the town don't reflect good value for money and a concern that potential price hikes over the coming year will make upgrading virtually impossible for most people.

When polled for opinion as to the ugliest and prettiest properties in the town Friary Court, the 1960s structure that straddles the A281 Horsham Road between the bottom of the High Street and Town Bridge was voted as the ugliest. The Guildhall polled 37% of the vote for the prettiest, with Guildford Castle following with 19%.

Friary Court below as seen from the river straddling the A281.

Friary Court by Town Wharf

Close to here is The Friary Shopping Centre, a modern enclosed development on three levels. It is so-named having been built on the site of a Dominican Friary said to have been established here around 1275 by Eleanor of Provence the widow of Henry III. The friary never truly established itself and was dissolved in 1538 with only seven Blackfriars in residence. The site was eventually built upon by the Earl of Annandale in the 17th century. The Earl's grand house is thought to have been demolished in 1818. Military barracks and the Friary Meux brewery were later to be located here. An archaelogical dig carried out in the four years from 1974 unearthed a number of artifacts which are on display at the museum in Quarry Street.

A multi-million pound redevelopment of the Friary Shopping Centre has been announced (November 2010) by the joint owners, Westfield and Hermes Real Estate. The improvements are to include new entrances, new and modern shop frontages and contemporary mall features. There will be space for five new large stores and a revamped foodcourt modelled on the Westfield brand successfully launched elsewhere in the UK.

"These plans outline our vision for the Friary. Household incomes in Guildford are a third higher than the UK average, and the centre attracts shoppers from within the affluent Surrey catchment," said Peter Miller, CEO Westfield UK. "By carrying out these works we are opening up the opportunity for the leading UK retailers to take modern space within Guildford where they are currently not represented due to the space restrictions of the town centre."

The developers say that Guildford has a catchment of 723,000 households with a weighted spend of £1.2 million.

"Clearly the Friary has had some significant plans for redevelopment which were put on hold, and that was understandable as it was at the time of the economic downfall," said Keith Churchouse, Guildford Chamber of Commerce."But this has left the Friary in the position of possibly falling behind its competitors and therefore some improvements would be most welcome. We have to keep Guildford at the top of the tree, and so a spruce up of the Friary would be excellent. We need any form of stimulus in the current economy. I'm very pleased about this, it's great news." Surrey Advertiser 5th November 2010

A planning application is due to be decided upon on 17th December 2010.


Guildford is the Safest Town in Britain - it's Official!

Guildford was again pronounced as the safest town in Britain in 2008 in Endsleigh Insurance's annual survey. Dundee ranked second with Nottingham and London at the bottom of the league. Rankings are rated on the incidence of household theft based on an analysis of claims records over a four year period. Measured on incidences of claims for home accidents Guildford was ranked fourth in the UK after Leeds, York and Newcastle-uon-Tyne.

In its research in an earlier survey (April 2006) into the frequency of theft claims nationally, Guildford had the lowest rate of household theft in the country. The highest were Nottingham, Hull and Leeds. Householders in Guildford were 41.8% less likely to make a claim compared to the national average. Nottingham waded in at 109% more likely. Guildford also boasts a crime rate per head of population 40% below the national average and nationally ranks as the safest in all the major crime categories of burglary, vehicle crime and violence. And Surrey generally has the least crime of any police force area in the country. Perhaps there is a correlation in the fact that salaries in the county are above the national average and there is little unemployment.

Coincidentally another survey highlighted Guildford as being in the Top Ten of towns where drinkers can find a quality pint of cask conditioned beer. Now if you're tempted by the good life and fancy living there, the town also ranks as amongst the most expensive for property. Probably not so surprising.

Guildford Waterfront

The Waterfront Consortium, which includes the Guildford Arts and Enigma Dance Company, are proposing that a new multi-purpose cultural centre is built in the town. The consortium's aim is to provide access to the arts and knowledge "that will energise all ages and that will provide a focal point for the Borough’s multi-ethnic community".

Their intention is to try and stimulate a fund-raising campaign and establish an architectural competition for designs of the centre. There is general concensus in the town that the library and Guildford House Gallery need to be resited and the former Farnham Road Bus Station (GR: SU992495) is proposed by the consortium as a possible site. Covering 0.32 hecteres adjacent to the George Abbot public house this has been used as a temporary car park for many years.

The site falls within the Southern Wey Corridor Riverfront Character Area and is currently (2008) earmarked initially as a temporary bus station when the Friary shopping centre is extended in a project that has been tabled for completion in 2010. However currently upon completion of that project the council's planning application to use the site for housing and a new day centre to replace the existing North Place facility is being considered although no decision has yet been made.

In addition to rehousing the Surrey County Council library and the Guildford House Gallery, a long list of possible uses for the cultural centre include relocating the Tourist Information Centre from Tunsgate, a drop-in IT centre, an art cinema, dance and music studios, shared workspaces for artists, a permanent home for the Surrey Sculpture Society and public catering facilities.

It is hoped that a consortium involving Arts Council England, Foundation for Sport & the Arts, Culture South East, the South East England Development Agency and the University of Surrey would be involved.

The Farnham Road site is designated as an Area of High Archaeological Importance and will be subject to an intensive archaeological survey prior to redevelopment.

Attempts to create an arts centre in Guildford stretch over decades with the most recent including an unsuccessful proposal in 1994 to use the then newly available Rodboro building on Onslow Street (now the Academy of Contemporary Music), and in 2002 when Guildford Borough Council examined eleven different sites in the town as possible sites for the gallery.

Waterfront Consortium April 2008; Guildford Borough Council

Martyr Road - Art Deco & Print

In 1997 Guildford Borough Council granted planning permission for the redevelopment of the Surrey Advertiser's old premises on Martyr Road close to North Street in the centre of Guildford. The Art Deco building, which was built in the 1930s, was a town centre landmark and planning consent centred on the retention of the Art Deco frontage.

The redevelopment was triggered by the decision of the Surrey Advertiser newspaper group to consolidate their various office locations into one site, and the paper chose to move to Stoke Mill in Woking Road, which it did in 1999. The paper had stopped printing on its own presses in 1992 when colour was introduced and production moved initially to the Daily Mirror's presses in Watford before being printed by Surrey and Berkshire newspapers in Reading. Today, outside the Stoke Mill building is preserved part of the Goss printing press control unit from which the Surrey advertiser ran its presses from 1961 and could produce up to 45,000 newspapers per hour and usually produced half a million newspapers per week.

The redevelopment deal provided for a payment of £27,500 towards ' transport initiatives' and a £40,000 contribution for 'some form of art on the building within the courtyard' from the developers. The 0.67 acre site was cleared and an office block replaced the old Surrey Advertiser building.

As part of the overall development of Martyr Road the Biddles & Sons factory adjacent to the Surrey Advertiser building was demolished and replaced with up-market apartments, Printing House Square, which include "a pre-installed entertainment network, allowing integration of TV, Video, Telephone, data and internet connections. In addition to this there are two speakers and an iPod enabled dock so your music and video goes where you go". One bedroom flats were being advertised in October 2009 ‘from £215,000’ and two bedroomed at £375,000.

“The imaginative and stylish development of Printing House Square heralds a revival in town centre living. The design of the building maximises light in all apartments, partly due to the unprecedented scale of the project . . .. The building itself is configured over five floors linked by the latest lift technology from the basement parking all the way up through each level to the penthouse apartments. There is no basic specification. All apartments come fitted with the latest designed equipment, installed and fitted as standard.” propertyfinder.com October 2009

Biddle & Sons had opened a stationery shop in Martyr Road in 1885 and by the First World War employed 30 staff in a purpose-built print factory erected on the site. In the mid-20s the company became one of the first printers in the UK to utilise modern typesetting machinery when they installed a Heidelberg, and they were able to produce a wide range of commercial products and magazines. In 1935 the printing works was extended to five floors, which for the Second World War provided the Air Ministry with factory premises commandeered to make air filters for British aircraft.

Conservation Area
Riverside Site Development

Guildford Borough Council's planning officers having rejected (May 2006) plans submitted by local entrepreneur Michael Harper to construct a 124-bedroom hotel and casino on the site behind where his Players Lounge and Casino Nightclub currently stand, are now looking at an alternative development. Harper had put in a bid to buy the land for £5.2m.

The Bedford Road riverside site (GR: SU993497) lying between the Odeon Cinema and Bridge Street is currently occupied by a 70-space public car park and a building fronting the Wey. Terraced housing once stood on the site.

A public consultation has started (July 2008) to allow an assessment of the impact of what would become the largest residential complex in the town. The new development would provide 139 apartments, one third of which would be affordable housing, and space on the ground floor for commercial use. The existing riverside building, which once housed an auctioneer, would be preserved and refurbished to provide shops and a restaurant.

In the absence of any planning application to be submitted for the residential complex, Michael Harper submitted another application with a cash offer of £5m to buy the land, which is owned by the council, but again had his application rejected (November 2008).

“The council should not be trying to second guess some positive upturn in the [housing] market when everyone around is telling us otherwise,” he said. “The development I proposed for a hotel, retail and conferencing complex would have been on high profile land, next to the river, next to the new [railway] station, with all the parking provision you can imagine. With Guildford being the new designated [transport] hub for Surrey and the South East, this has got to be seen as a major employer of people, of capital investment in excess of £50m and knock-on benefits [that go with it]. Those funds would have materially contributed to the Civic Hall debacle, of which little or no news has been heard of for quite some time. This was going to be a positive contribution, and development against the trend where others are selling landbanks and housing is in freefall.” Source: Surrey Advertiser 12th November 2008

Forever the optimist, Michael Harper has appealed (February 2009) against the council's decision not to allow his plans for a seven-storey casino complex to go ahead. The application was rejected on the grounds that 'insufficient information has been submitted with regard to the location of these uses [casino, cinema, bingo hall, amusement arcade, restaurants, cafes and existing nightclubs] within the buildings'. Only one objection has been made public, this being from the Guildford Society which said that the development would be detrimental to the surrounding area.

Harper says that he already has permission for a new building but wants to revert this back to the original site.

"I've already received these permissions for the new building three years ago and this was just a due diligence exercise to make sure there was some continuance when we come out of the credit crunch," said Harper. "All we are doing is reverting these permissions back to the existing site. They've already been granted, so what difference does it make? It should be automatic." Source: Surrey Times 28th February 2009

Harper was reported (getsurrey.co.uk 1st October 2010) as having given up his long-running battle with the authorities to secure planning permission for a casino on the site. The club is on the market for an annual lease of £125,000 per year. Harper had also been ordered by the council to remove two of the four large neon signs bedecking the building's front facade. He previously also had permission to have higher value jackpot machines in the Players Lounge bar increased from a maximum win of £70 to £500 turned down.

Harper has consistently defended his developments on Bridge Street.

"They have no idea of what was there beforehand. When I first went down to the lower end of town it was derelict, it was completely rundown, there was nothing there. It was the gateway to town from the station and commercially it was a slum area of Guildford," said Harper. "By my existence it has become commercially successful, it may not be everybody's taste, but it is not dull. People have a preconception about what I should be like. They don't realise that I'm a nice guy, a good, hard-working, honest family man with an interest in making Guildford the county town, which it deserves to be." Surrey Advertiser 5th November 2010

Michael Harper has been interviewed by Channel 4 Television to investigate his run-in with Waverley District Council, who took enforcement action to dismantle a £1 million granny annexe at the entrepreneur's home in Woodhill Lane, Shamley Green. Harper secured planning permission for the extension, but the council claimed that when built it was longer and wider than approved. The enforcement action (April 2010) saw Mr Harper and his 76-year-old mother, with 13-year-old daughter together and his employees trying to stop the demolition.

"There is a debate about local government and the ever increasing powers they wield, and whether they are making local people aware in the decision-making process. They read [Channel 4] about the action in the national papers, and just asked me to contribute," said Mr Harper. "It is due to be shown in January [2011]. It explores the effect the enforcement action had on my family, the impact it has had on my mother - she has had cancer three times and it ended up with the cancer coming back. The point is not a commercial or planning issue, this is really about human rights and the right for your home and private life. I would be interested to know how many houses they've knocked down in the past 10 years. How often do they actually enforce this kind of action?" Surrey Advertiser 5th November 2010

Battle for Guildford Civic

Guildford has been without its Civic Hall since January 2004 when it was closed by the local council after a star-studded farewell concert which included the likes of Eric Clapton and Gary Brooker. Closure was due to the high cost (£4m) cited by the council for repairs and modernisation.

The site itself has served as a significant centre for art and entertainment since the late 19th century, and provided space for exhibitions and community activity.

Guildford Civic Hall

The current Grade II listed building in London Road (GR: TQ003497) has had hundreds of international acts as varied as Eric Clapton, The Clash , 10cc, The Rolling Stones, Marc Bolan and T-Rex, David Bowie, The Jam, AC/DC, Lindisfarne, Elton John, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Prodigy, George Harrison, Hawkwind and the Buzzcocks grace its stage since it opened in 1962.

A popular story is that the rock group Free wrote their all-time classic hit All Right Now in their dressing room at the Civic. The Clash started their White Riot tour supported by the Jam and the Buzzcocks at the Civic in 1977, a tour that was to establish all three bands as Top Ten performers. Orchestras, choral societies and other community performers regularly used the venue.

The rock band Genesis, which had been formed by three pupils from nearby Godalming's Charterhouse public school, performed there in their formative years, with their first gig at the venue in 1970. The outsider Phil Collins from Chiswick in London had joined the band and they often used the Civic for warm-up gigs before setting off on their international tours.

The punk band the Stranglers all came from Guildford and caused a stir at The Civic in 1977 when a riot broke out in the audience. Such was their reputation with the authorities, when the band reappeared at the venue in 1980 the police stripped the audience of anything likely to be used violently including belts and steel-capped boots.

A lot of activity has been generated locally to have plans become reality to redevelop the site as a cultural centre.

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) had hoped to secure a £1m grant from the Arts Council which would have provided a springboard for the development, but has twice been snubbed.

The only firm proposal that was still on the table mid-2006 was for GBC to spend £50,000 of tax payers' money on investigating a plan to have the University of Surrey build a joint-venture facility on their Guildford campus, and for the costs of the empty Civic Hall to be given a facelift to be investigated.

The local radio station, Eagle FM, have been campaigning not just for the Civic Hall but also to have more venues provide live music entertainment in the town. A forum hosted by the station in April 2006 raised public awareness on the issue but there was still huge frustration at the lack of progress.

"While it seems that there are many more people talking to each other about the issue now, it is disappointing that needless rhetoric and recrimination still bubble to the surface," said Peter Gordon of Eagle FM.

However it would appear that at last plans for a new civic hall are in the offing. The Guildford Borough Council (GBC) executive have agreed (July 2006) a blueprint for erecting a new building on the site. The £20m rebuild will allow for a venue that will seat 1,000 people and allow standing space for 1,500. The building will also have state-of-the-art acoustics, the poor acoustics of the existing building always having been an issue, and will incorporate advanced energy saving technology. GBC intend the fund the project largely through the sale of council-owned assets.

"If there is a rebuild then it needs to be done quickly. If it takes another five years to get the project off the ground then that really isn't any good for anyone," said Tony Scott, the organiser of the local annual music festival Guilfest.

Surrey Advertiser 7th July 2006; Surrey Advertiser 21st July 2006

Plans have also been submitted (2006) for a separate development to the rear of the Civic Hall site for a 185 bedroom hotel with two restaurants together with conference and banqueting facilities for up to 350 people. A decision as to whether these plans will be endorsed will be made by Guildford Borough Council in January 2007.

The council are working to a timetable (April 2007) which would see the new venue opening in the autumn of 2009. A decision on the look and facilities of the building are to be finalised by July with building work commencing at the start of 2008 with an 18 month build time.

A planning blueprint submitted (May 2007) to Guildford Borough Council has revealed more detail about the proposed Civic Hall development and thrown into the public spotlight doubt by the architects that the venue would be able to open by the autumn of 2009. The front of the building will incorporate panes of green glass reflecting the intention to kit the venue out with the latest green technology which is projected to reduce the carbon dioxide contribution from the building by an additional 50% from a building designed to only meet the minimum regulations. As well as the 1,000 seater main hall a 100 seat studio theatre is also planned. The proposed hotel would be built above a 220 space car park and the council revealed (September 2007) that a deal had been struck whereby half a hectare of the carpark will be released for the building of the hotel on a 999 lease in return for a one-off payment of £2.2m. The council will also receive £150,000 from the developers to fund the relocation of the existing carpark toilets and to provide CCTV cameras.

Calls to consider introducing underground parking at the new Civic Hall have been proposed (February 2008) in order to minimise losses of existing parking on the site. Lib Dem councillors, who are campaigning for the alternative plan, have highlighted that 464 short term spaces will be lost when the new Civic Hall, hotel and Friary Centre are built with proposals only to replace 326 spaces within the new schemes.

A report issued by Guildford Borough Council (April 2008) has revealed that the council expects to lose an estimated £1.4m annually in interest on the Civic Hall project. The capital costs had been raised from £19.5 m to £24m. In the latest plan the capacity of the venue has been increased by an extra 100 to 1,700.

A scandal involving alleged price-fixing by 112 UK construction companies when bidding for contracts in the public sector broke in April 2008. One of the companies listed by the media as under investigation is the preferred bidder for the Civic Hall, Willmott Dixon, although there is no evidence that there has been any wrong-doing in the Civic project. Three other construction companies Guildford Borough Council uses are also under investigation.

Initial work started at the site in June 2009.

Local residents have raised an objection to the felling of some 50 trees in and around the Civic Hall site. Contractors, who had received approval as long ago as June 2007 to fell 54 trees, started work in August 2009.

"No trees shall be felled within the application red line site until a contract for redevelopment of the site has been let, and has been submitted to and agreed by the local planning authority," said a council spokesman quoting one of the conditions of the approval. "This condition has now been met and the work has now started." Source: Surrey Advertiser 19th August 2009

Guildford Borough Council announced (September 2010) that HQ Theatres has been selected to operate the Civic Hall on its behalf. The company, which manages nine venues in London and the South East, will be responsible for putting on shows, conferences and local events.

"HQ Theatres is set to provide a programme of high quality entertainment, showcasing emerging talent and established names," said Councillor Jen Powell, lead member for culture and heritage. "Visitors will be able to enjoy comedy performances, all types of music and family shows. There will also be facilities for trade fairs and a wide range of community activities." Source: getsurrey.co.uk 4th October 2010

After having had an application for a government grant turned down the council is having to fund the £26m (up from £24m estimated in 2008) inititiative from its own coffers.

Surrey Police are utilising (2012) Guildford's G Live building as a location for training their dogs. The dogs are put through an eight week training course which includes sessions teaching both young dogs and refresher training for veteran police dogs in detecting drugs and explosives. The Surrey Dog Training School attracts canine students and their handlers from all across the country and internationally..

The Guildford Spectrum
& Guildford Lido

At a cost of £28m Guildford's decaying 1970s Leisure Centre was replaced twenty years later by The Spectrum (GR: TQ005510) on Parkway, a multiple facility complex offering modern facilities for serious sports and leisure use. The local council sold off two plots of land to fund the scheme. The Tesco store in Park Barn was built on the old Banisters Athletics track, and the site of the old leisure centre in Bedford Road by the River Wey was sold to Odeon Cinemas.

Guildford Spectrum

The Spectrum, which opened in 1993, is set in 26 acres of landscaped parkland, houses four pools including a competition pool and a leisure pool, a 32-lane tenpin bowling centre, an Olympic sized ice rink, a 1,500 seat indoor arena, squash courts and aerobics studios in a modernistic building set in 26 acres of landscaped parkland, complete with an all-weather athetics track. The centre, which attracts 1.8 million visitors each year runs at a profit and is self-funding.

Catering facilities at the Spectrum are due to get a facelift as the world's largest caterer Compass Group announce a major refurbishment having been awarded (February 2007) a 10-year £34m contract to cater for the centre's visitors each year. The company also intend to introduce 'hawkers' who will serve refreshments during events at the 2,000 capacity ice arena and 1,500 seater sports arena. Hospitality services are also planned for private boxes overlooking the ice rink.

Guildford Spectrum by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

The Spectrum was awarded (April 2007) the 2006/07 Surrey Business Award for Leisure & Tourism. The centre is currently (2007) ranked in top position as the UK's leading leisure complex having scored the highest mark in Quest, the national leisure quality assessment scheme.

The British Basketball League winners (2007) Guildford Heat (MORE HERE) and ice hockey team Guildford Flames are based at The Spectrum.

The Spectrum was awarded (August 2009) the accolade of being the best of its kind in the country. The complex was rated at 94% by Quest which is the scheme rating sports and leisure facilities in the UK, and is the highest ever given to any of the 965 assessed centres in the country. A reassessment includes mystery visits and an intensive three-day examination into every aspect of the centre's operation. The spectrum was awarded 100% scores in business management, marketing, management style, ICT, continuous improvement and performance management. The national average overall score was 73%.

Foreign Olympic committees have been visiting Guildford to assess the suitability of facilities for setting up training camps for their athletes for the London 2012 Games. Olympic visitors from Zambia and Papua New Guinea have toured the facilities at the Spectrum and also the Surrey Sports Park being built by the University. Especially encouraging was a visit by two members of the national Olympic committee of Zambia (September 2009) who also want to build coaching links to benefit their athletes.

"We were delighted to welcome the Zambian Olympic delegates and find out more about their team's requirements for a particular training camp," said Spectrum general manager Claire Davenport. "They expressed an interest in coaching links and this could involve coaches going to Zambia to assist their exports. They are also considering the possibility of their athletes training alongside club level athletes here in Guildford, which would be an exciting prospect for sporting members of our community." Surrey Advertiser 2nd October 2009

A youth worker and coach working for Surrey County Council so impressed the visiting delegation from Zambia that he has been invited to run a ten-day training session for Olympic hopefuls in the country. Ollie Wilson, who has worked as film stunt doubles in Star Wars, Batman Begins and a Harry Potter film, a bodyguard for Led Zeppelin and The Who and who coaches young boxers at Woking Boxing Club, is looking forward to his role.

"They told me their kids do not have many black role models and they said they found me quite inspirational," he said. "I'll be mentoring and motivating them to be the very best they can be. It will be an incredible experience and I can't wait to get out there and make a difference. The officials were really impressed with my work and we struck up a great relationship from the start. I said to them I don't just train people to win, I train them to be successful and happy and they liked that sentiment."

surreycc.gov.uk 16th April 2010

The Spectrum is at the centre of a campaign launched (July 2009) by UNISON, the public sector trade union, who fear that the council may consider selling the facility to raise funds. Guildford Borough Council has commissioned a team of consultants to look at ways of cutting costs at many of its key services, and both the Spectrum and the nearby Lido are reported as being unsustainable in the long-term. The Lido made a loss of £200,000 in the last financial year with its revenues directly affected by adverse weather. The Spectrum generated revenues of £6.8m in the same year but the council had to outlay £7m.

“As a result of the economic downturn we are aware that a number of options are being considered by Guildford Borough Council,” said Sarah Hayes of UNISON. “We understand that these may include privatisation of many key services. We believe that any move to privatise services in Guildford would lead to long-term financial instability.” getsurrey.co.uk 8th July 2009

Guildford Borough Council, following receipt of the consultants report, stated (July 2009) that there is no intention to sell either the Guildford Spectrum or Lido and has invited applications from charitable trusts to take over the running of the leisure centre. The council is concerned that without expensive renovation the facility will not be able to compete against the new Surrey Sports Park being built by the University and which is due to open next year.

Refurbishment plans at the Spectrum are likely to be delayed for another year because of a cash shortage and management at the complex proposed (December 2009) changes to the Spectrum's 15 year renewals program because of the economic downturn. Improvements are funded through the council's reserves. It is now deemed the replacements for the ice skating rink coolers, part of the hot water supply and the centre's public address system will be affected.

Guildford Borough Council announced (September 2010) that the Spectrum is to receive a share of £349,000 in funding in order to replace outmoded gym equipment. The money, which is to be shared with Ash Manor Sports Centre, is hoped to enable both facilities to compete with new rivals including the sports centre opened by the University.

The Guildford Lido (GR: SU999508) on Stoke Road, an open-air Olympic-sized pool, was opened in 1933 by the town mayor William Harvey, and it was Harvey who was instrumental in setting up the first workers' fund allowing people to gain employment during the Great Depression. The cost of building was £13,700 and provided employment in desperate times. The Lido celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2008.

The popular facility is set in over four acres of landscaped gardens and the 164 ft (50m) pool is heated to a comfortable 24 degrees celcius. The facility is one of the country's few remaining 1930s pools and was commissioned and built within six months at a cost of £14,500. The entry price in 1933 was sixpence (around two and a half pence in today's money). In 2008 this now stands at &4.70 for an adult day ticket.

The attraction, which is one of 98 open-air pools in Britain, sees over 70,000 people through its turnstiles every year. Community galas, competitions and parties are frequently hosted at the Lido, and a heavy-weight gym operates from a building on-site. Guildford Borough Council has spent £2.25m on a five-phase development plan which has included building refurbishment, replacement of the plant and filtration system, as well as renewing the pool's tiling.

The Guildford Lido received the National Pool Safety Award (2008) from the Institute of Sport and Recreation in recognition of its high safety standards, the first pool of its kind in the country to receive the award.

Engineers servicing the boilers that provide heated water for the pool discovered (April 2009) that they have struggled to provide enough hot water for the job because the piping installed has a diameter of two inches (5cm) instead of the required four inches (10cm). The blunder almost prevented the pool from opening on time for the new season, however at a cost of £6,000 a temporary oil-fired boiler was installed with additional costs of £1,000 accruing weekly for hire fees until the problem is corrected. Local taxpayers are having to foot the bill.

Swimmers concerned about the future of Guildford Lido launched Friends of Guildford Lido (July 2009) in a bid to provide a better understanding between users of the facility and council bosses. The group were formed initially over concerns that the Lido might face closure after Guildford Borough Council announced that it was re-examining its options for both the pool and the spectrum leisure Centre, although the council have since said that the facility is not under threat.

"Obviously when you see the words 'review', 'consultants' and 'finances' you feel almost obliged to hit the panic button,” said Jim Boucher, co-founder of Friends of Guildford Lido. “We started it [the group] once we heard about the review going on and noticed half the pool was closed. We have been totally reassured by what the council have said about the Lido not being closed." Surrey Advertiser 22nd July 2009

The Borough Council announced (April 2010) that extended opening times are being reinstated much to the relief of the Friends group who believe that this may be a climbdown on behalf of the council.

"They have put back the extended time we were looking for last year," said Jim Boucher of Friends. "It is a refreshing situation to see a council-run facility responding and doing more for its customers. We just help them realise that the demand was there. It just shows you can either stand up and wine we can speak to the people making decisions. Last year was the problem year but this year will go down as a good year for everybody who uses the Lido." Surrey Advertiser 16th April 2010

Engineers have also fixed a problem that had prevented the pool from being heated and therefore unable to open fully.

A 'temporary artwork' crafted from a 100-year-old beech tree has had to be felled (December 2011) almost 10 years after it was created. The sculpture The Divers depicts intertwined figures leaping from water and was located by the road at Stoke Crossroads near the Lido. Godalming artist Ruth Wheeler created the piece in 2002 at the beginning of her career as a wood sculptor.

"The sculpture means an awful lot to me," she said. "I am very sad to hear that it has to be felled, but it had to happen one day." bbc.co.uk 9th December 2011

Guildford Borough Council, who had to remove the sculpture after the tree's roots rotted away, are hoping to resite it at a new location.

The Guildford Flames

Guildford Flames had their inaugural season in 1992 having had intially to run training sessions at Slough and play their home matches at Alexandra Palace in North London as the Spectrum wasn't to open until early the next year having suffered from construction delays. The team was owned by an American, Barry Dow, who as owner of the Guildford Heat basketball team had no experience of ice hockey. However he hired two seasoned Canadian player-coaches who established the team with some key signings from within the sport in the UK and abroad.

Guildford Flames jersey
Guildford Flames jersey
Image in public domain

When the Spectrum finally opened The Flames were there to officially open the venue. The opening night had a real carnival atmosphere with cheerleaders and the mayor provided the formality - and the team also convincingly won this their first ever game in their new home. Unfortunately the late opening of the Spectrum forced the team to have to play all 16 of their remaining home games in 11 weeks which over-stretched the team and they lost their first league championship.

The team was to play to capacity crowds (2,200) at the Spectrum as Guildford residents sought out the new experience of watching ice hockey. They were soon to secure the backing of influential local companies including Cornhill Insurance. Such backing did occasionally come at a compromise for their 1993 season saw the team having to temporarily change their name to Pepsi Guildford Flames in order to secure backing from their sponsor.

Flames made history in the same year when the team fielded the first female player to feature in a British National League match, although the player Gillian Barton did not get to ice. 1993 to 1994 also saw a financial crisis hit the team which almost resulted in the Flames having to disband. Pepsi Cola withdrew sponsorship in October and plunged the team into turmoil as players threatened to strike over unpaid wages. The Flames only just survived with worried fans rallying together to help promote the team's games and even in providing financial help in paying bills.

A Canadian businessman stepped in and his consortium SportFact Ltd took the team over. This saw the team's spirits restored with new signings and Flames clawed their way back from near relegation from the Division One table. The 2005 to 2006 season saw Flames join the English Premier League (EPL) after the dissolution of the British National League and soon came to dominate the tournament picking up the EPL title in this their inaugural season. The Flames today regularly averages 1,500 spectators for their home matches and they have 500 season ticket holders supporting them. This, and weekly coverage of their matches by local radio station The Eagle, has ensured that the team is now financially stable and continues to secure sponsorship from major corporates.

The team, which throughout it's history has had a reputation of being willing to pay the top rates allowed under league rules to attract talented players, has an impressive trophy cabinet. Flames were British National League (BNL) Champions (1997-1998); BNL Playoff Champions (1997-1998); BNL Southern Conference Winners (1997-1998); Benson & Hedges Plate Winners (1998-1999); NTL Christmas Cup Winners (2000-2001); BNL League Champion (2000-2001); Findus BNL Playoff Champions (2000-2001 and (2003-2004); English Premier League Champions (2005-2006) and Premier Cup Winners (2006-2007).

Guildford Flames are also closely involved with Surrey Police in their Drug Freeze campaign which targets schools throughout Surrey to increase drug awareness for Year 6 pupils who are about to make their transition to Secondary School. The programme sees one of the team's hockey players give a talk about ice hockey and the equipment they use to safeguard against injury which is followed by a presentation by a police officer providing information about the dangers of drug use.

The team was selected to mark the Queen's first state visit to Slovakia (October 2008) by competing in an exhibition match against HK Aquacity SKP Poprad in the Slovakian city. The link was established through Flames' player Milos Melicherik formerly of the Poprad team. In total Flames have 'iced' a total of nine Slovakian nationals in the last five years. The team made a previous trip to the country when they held a pre-season training camp there in September. In the event the English champions lost the match (3-2), which was started by the Queen dropping the puck for a ceremonial 'face-off'.

Guildford Heat

The history of Guildford basketball started with the opening of the Spectrum which had at last provided the town with a world-class sports facility, although initially providing a succession of false starts. A successful team based in Kingston uprooted themselves and briefly reformed here as the Guildford Kings basing themselves at the Spectrum in 1992. They were followed after their demise (1994) by the Pumas, who in their turn left the town in 1999. It took the return of the ghost of the Guildford Pirates, who had played successfully in the town from 1975 until relocating to Bracknell in 1982, to bring stability back to the game locally.

When the Pirates had left for Bracknell they saw considerable success in the league Championship under the guise of the Thames Valley Tigers, but their demise lay in the loss of their owner who pulled out for financial reasons in 2005. Attempts at attracting a major sponsor failed but a determined group of fans persuaded the British Basketball League to allow them to form a new team and base this at the Spectrum with the centre management’s full support. And so the Guildford Heat was born in the same year, finishing the 2005-06 season 5th in the league.

By 2006 the team had secured a significant sponsor which was to provide the team with financial stability and further league success in the following year. The Heat picked up their first trophy in January 2007 winning the BBL Cup final against the Scottish Rocks and won the 2006-2007 BBL League title. The team also became the first BBL club to secure a Sport England Clubmark Level 4 accreditation of quality in recognition of its community development work.

In the 2007-08 season the Heat became the country’s only team to be admitted to the Eurocup (ULEB) although the team failed to win any matches. The team were the BBL Cup Winners’ Cup winners for the 2007/08 season.

In 2007 the team lost a key player when point guard Brian Dux was critically injured in a car accident in Chobham and retired to his family home in the USA for rehabilitation.

The company that owned the basketball club, Guildford heat Ltd, went into administration in February 2009. However, the managing director of John Dennis Coachbuilders who are based in the town stepped in to secure the club's future. Alan McClafferty, who is a keen basketball fan and coach, acted after the main sponsor Bobby Banks had to withdraw from the financial commitment. In the same month Heat had reached the final of the BBL Trophy. McClafferty confirmed that the club would operate as a not-for-profit organisation with any surplus money being ploughed back into basketball.

Guildford Heat joined (May 2009) with a London mentoring charity, CIA Basketball, to help expand the team’s outreach programme to the local community.

“The Heat was founded on unity, a group of volunteers who did it for the love of the game, and the team has created an incredible success story so far,” said CIA promotions manager Luke Bowler. “The new campaign will be focused around that short but rich history and aims to inspire the whole community to back the Heat. More importantly, the Heat will focus on developing the relationships they have started with their fans, ensuring there is always a return on their investment of time, money and dedication.”

“In re-evaluating our position and mission as a club, we wanted to put an emphasis on community,” said Ruth Fettes, director of development for Guildford Heat. “We have recognised CIA’s unique focus on mentoring as well as their work with young people who have learning, behavioural and physical disabilities. Their community programmes are among the best in the country.” Surrey Advertiser Business News May 2009

The basketball team’s sponsors have set up the Heat Business Club (October 2009) to attract more sponsors by providing them with additional benefits including business generated directly from their sponsorship. The initiative has already resulted in over £50,000 of new business for the inaugural members of the club.

"We could not survive as a team in the British Basketball League or continue with our local community programs without the support of corporate sponsors," said Alan McClafferty of sponsors John Dennis Coachbuilders. "We are fortunate to have the support of a wide range of local businesses but wanted to add value to sponsors who provide more than £3000 of goods or services to the club."

Founding companies include a hotel, courier company, solicitors, management consultancy, and a design company.

"In addition to promoting and supporting the heat, members have pledged to know about each other's businesses to act as mutual advocates," said Kate Lester, MD of Diamond Logistics one of the founding sponsors. "This month alone I have won a contract from John Dennis Coachbuilders, swapped my web hosting and SEO to ECC, placed three print jobs with Zap Digital and instructed Down’s Solicitors on a conveyancing matter. We are already reaping business benefits from our decision to sponsor the Heat and the season has barely started."

Surrey Advertiser Business News October 2009

The Heat Business Club was taken over (September 2010) by a husband and wife team after Kate Lester was promoted to run the sales and marketing arm for the team. Nigel and Jaz Blake announced additional opportunities for sponsors.

"We intend to add more value to our members this year, particularly with enhanced branding opportunities," said Mr Blake. "For example, Sky will be filming a number of the Heat games at Surrey Sports Park and this presents a great opportunity for national TV coverage for Guildford Heat sponsors".

Surrey Advertiser 24th September 2010

The Heat Allstars, who are the team’s official cheerleaders, won the Future Cheer Championships in Brighton (July 2009). There are several more levels to come in the national competition but the mixed-sex team of 13 women and two men are confident of further successes, although the team will be depleted by members leaving to go to university.

“We are still completely buzzing from it and eager to get back into training again next week after having a week off,” said head-cheerleader Fawne Sandberg.  “To say we’re completely over-the-moon would be an understatement. We have worked so hard and really pulled together as a team.” Source: getsurrey.co.uk 10th July 2009

Stoke Park

“Stoke Park is brilliant – with a big playground which includes a helter skelter type slide. There is also the lake for remote controlled boats and in summertime the paddling pool. The café is a popular stop for ice-creams. There is also the sensory garden and loads of ‘run around’ space.” Jenny Lee - Families Surrey West 19th June 2007

Stoke Park (GR: TQ005507), popularly known for annually hosting the Surrey County Agricultural Show and the outdoor music festival Guilfest, is a 52-hectare (128 acres) of open parkland laid out in a traditional style and designed to provide a range of functions. The main park provides space for rugby, football, cricket and lacrosse pitches, a putting green, tennis courts, skate park and a children’s play area.

A three hectare (seven acre) Victorian style garden incorporates an award-winning sensory garden, an ornamental watercourse with stepping stones (which has only flowed intermittently over the years hampered by filtering problems and the fact that the feed system requires regular topping up from the mains water supply), boating pond and a paddling pool, which was built in the early 1930s. Alongside is a Japanese-style shelter, which forms part of the oriental-style gardens.

The Sensory Garden located alongside Nightingale Road was added in 1996 and focused on providing scented plants. The garden was winner of an environment award in 1998.

Stoke Park was awarded a Green Flag by the Civic Trust in 2007/08.

The Walled Garden dates back to the 18th century when the estate was first laid out and probably formed part of the formal gardens adjacent to Stoke Park Mansion. The Rose Garden which lies just outside of the walled garden was opened in 1935 and has each bed planted with a different variety. One of the roses planted in 1935 was a bright orange floribunda named Dig for Britain. Having all been removed and replaced with bedding plants in 1990, a decision was made in 2005 to restore the Rose Garden to better conference the early 20th century plan the garden.

Jubilee Wood, which was planted in 1798 when the park was part of a private estate of 87-hectares (216 acres), has seen new trees planted to increase the size of the wood and its diversity. The trees lining the London Road are oak, sycamore and lime. Records show that the land here has been continuously wooded since 1600. Anti-tank concrete blocks, known as dragon's teeth, were installed here in 1940 as part of the network of defences established in anticipation of a German invasion. The blocks were designed to hinder the progress of tanks and when they tried to cross them expose the underside of the vehicle to anti-tank fire. Allotments between the bowling club and the A25 were established here during the Second World War.

A post marked walk has been established through Stoke Park providing an interesting walk through the park and gardens, with an optional excursion into woodland on the north side of the park. The walk covers two miles (3.2 km) of mainly tarmac pathway with an additional 0.8 mile (1.3 km) for the wetland section. The full tour which is classified as easy grade walking will take about 45 minutes to one hour to complete.

The Council established a new community hall in the park in 2002. Greenark is being developed as a centre to educate the public about recycling, composting and the use of renewable energy. The building is heated by wood fuel and a solar and wind power demonstration has been established. The hall seats 64 people and has full catering facilities.

The road alongside Greenark was originally one of two lime avenues that approached the 18th-century mansion, with this possibly providing the front approach to the house. Close to here is a ha ha, a ditch designed to keep animals such as deer confined. The ha ha marks the edge of the site where Stoke Park Mansion once stood, demolished in 1977 after falling into extreme disrepair.

The 18th century Burchatts Farm Barn (GR: TQ008507) provides a timber-framed venue for private and public functions, and seats up to 70 people.

In the late 1970s 80-hectare (197 acres) of land next to the River Wey was assigned as a nature reserve following the construction of the Guildford bypass when the area was used for gravel extraction. Riverside Local Nature Reserve hosts a number of rare species including the reed bunting. Footpaths, including a section of boardwalk, and a cycle path provided access to some of the wetland.

Stoke Park – a Site for a New County Hall?

“The primary purpose of this Bill is to give the Guildford Borough Council power to lease some 35 acres of Stoke Park for the location of a new county hall for the Surrey County Council. The technical need for the Bill arises because the Private Act of 1926 under which the Guildford Borough Council acquired Stoke Park restricts the uses to which the area of the Park may be put. This Bill would give specific powers for this purpose.” Lord Nugent of Guildford

Stoke Park was cited as a possible location for a new county hall for Surrey County Council. The council’s headquarters was opened in 1893 in Kingston-upon-Thames, but despite having extended and refurbished the building over the ensuing 70 years, by the early 1970s it had become woefully inadequate to house the growing army of bureaucrats charged with running the county. In 2009 the building houses 1,500 staff.

Kingston at the time of being chosen for the site of County Hall was then in the county of Surrey. In 1965 Kingston became a London borough resulting in the people of Surrey being governed by an authority located outside of the county, and giving rise to the following exchange between two members of the House during the 1975 debate.

“My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, as he is a very distinguished Welshman, may I ask him whether he can imagine any Welsh authority allowing itself to be governed from outside the Principality, and why that geographical consideration should not be extended to Surrey, which wants to govern itself within its own boundaries?” Baroness Hornsby-Smith

“My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Baroness for that interesting geographical observation. I would merely observe in passing that, of course, there is some difference between Surrey and Wales, in that Wales is a nation and I do not think Surrey has so far achieved that distinction.” Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran

The Stoke Park Guildford Bill was put before the House of Lords in 1975 in order to provide the power for the council to override strict controls on the usage of 35 acres of the park for the building. The idea was to relocate the council from its overcrowded site in Kingston-upon-Thames and pull back in those departments that due to lack of space had been scattered around other locations across the county.

The land identified was isolated from the main park falling to the north of the Guildford bypass, and the council proposed to trade off the loss of this open space by acquiring 200 acres of riverside meadows adjoining the north side of Stoke Park.

An opponent to the plan was Lord Onslow who spoke out against the private bill, which had been proposed by Lord Nugent of Guildford,  at its reading. The park had been sold by the Onslow family in 1874 when Onslow’s great grandfather was seeking to raise funds to finance the Guildford via Cobham railway line. The land was sold on to Guildford Borough Council who paid £42,500 for it in 1925. One year later an Act of parliament safeguarded 186 acres of this land ‘for the benefit of the burgesses of Guildford’. 20 acres were later lost when the bypass and technical college were built, both of which Lord Onslow claimed went ahead despite neither the council nor the government of the day having the power to allow the constructions to proceed on the land. The 35 acres were to be leased by the borough council to the county council for 999 years at a peppercorn rent.

Hansard Lords Sitting 6.20 pm 24th February 1975
Full Hansard Report HERE

Needless to say over thirty years later Surrey County Council's HQ is still located in Kingston, that foreign borough. . .




St Luke’s Church was built in 1858 as a chapel of ease when Burpham was in the parish of Worplesdon and by geographic circumstance was separated from the parish church by Whitmoor Common and the marshy meadows by the river. The new church, which was designed by one Mr Woodyer of Graffham and cost £1,000 to construct, was to at last provide a community focus for its parishioners in Burpham.

St Luke's Church, Burpham, Guildford

The churchyard features a number of tombstones marking the passing of important local residents. Sir William Stuart (d1896). The inscription on his stone reads: ‘Knight Commander of The Order of St Michael & St George. Envoy Extraordinary of Her Majesty The Queen in Athens and at the Hague’. Also interred here are Henry Graham Lintott (d1878); Jane and John Christmas (d1871) (d1890); and Joseph Choat (d1873).

A memorial to honour the 18 Burpham men who lost their lives in the 1914-18 war, and the 11 for sacrificing theirs in the 1939-45 war, stands in the churchyard. A booklet is available for sale from the Parish Office detailing the men’s stories.

St Luke's Church, Burpham

The parish has a second church The Church of The Holy Spirit in New Inn Lane which is larger than St Luke’s and provides community focused facilities including drop-in coffee mornings and Caterpiller Cafe for pre-schoolers.

The cricket club in Burpham was founded in 1890 and merged with that of neighbouring Worplesdon in 1999 to become the Worplesdon & Burpham Cricket Club. In 2007 the club along with other sports clubs locally received a pledge of £25,000 from Guildford Borough Council’s community project fund toward a campaign to build a new sports pavilion in Worplesdon. This, and other fund-raising activities, added to the Football Foundation’s initial grant of £288,500 and enabled the new £400,000 facility to be built. The Memorial Ground’s new pavilion was opened in April 2008 by former Spurs midfielder David Howells, a Worplesdon resident, to provide a new home for the local football, cricket, tennis and badminton clubs. Sutherland Memorial Park was recognised as one of the best in England and Wales and was awarded its fourth green Flag in 2007/08.

Burpham Court Farm Park in Clay Lane is a Rare Breeds Conservation Centre and provides visitors with access to the River Wey and its natural habitats on a 76 acre site. The owner of the farm had been in dispute with the National Trust after new weir gates had been installed on the river which he claimed had resulted in his fields being regularly flooded. Bob Dearnley was declared bankrupt in 2006 after losing a court battle but vowed to continue his fight. MORE HERE

Burpham primary school was ranked in the top 50 schools in England (2007) and has foundation status (1).

(1) A foundation school is maintained by the local education authority but has more autonomy on how it is run including directly employing staff, taking direct control of its admissions policy and owning the school’s land and assets.

Plight of the Green Man

The now derelict pub and restaurant The Green Man on the London Road in Burpham is at the centre of a battle by local residents to prevent the site being developed as a supermarket and high-density housing.

The building, which had all of its tiles lifted from the roof (April 2008) in a bid to deter squatters, marks a site that has had a public house serving the local community for over 400 years. The oldest records so far found show that in 1593 a 1,000-year lease was granted for establishing an inn. In 1890 Guildford brewer Richard Elkins was registered as running a public house on the site.

In previous centuries the inn enjoyed high levels of passing trade from travellers moving between London and Portsmouth as the road, today by-passed by the A3, was the main thoroughfare into Guildford.

During the Second World War the local Home Guard were based in the building and were joined by the Women's Royal Volunteer Service who used the second floor for storage.

In 2006 Aldi, the German-owned supermarket chain, bought the Green Man from the pub-restaurant chain Mitchells and Butler for £3m and the pub ceased to operate in August of that year. The building has remained empty and boarded up ever since.

Local residents are campaigning to have the usage of the site remain for a public house and since 2006 the local council has received over 1,700 letters protesting against demolition. The residents had already survived an application in 2005 to build 70 flats on the site, which was refused by the council, but now face the prospect of a 1,000 sq m store with 14 one and two-bedroom flats on the site. Aldi have issued a statement that if planning permission for the supermarket is turned down they will develop the whole site for high density housing.

"The site needs to be kept as a pub and restaurant as the community of 4,000 has nowhere to go," said a spokesman for Burpham Community Association. "The other pub, 800 metres from the park changing rooms, is too small so cannot cope with cricket and football teams and is too far for young families to walk to from the park."

Surrey Advertiser 13th June 2008

Aldi undertook a presentation to concerned residents (September 2008) in an attempt to overcome objections, although it would seem that this has done little to win them over. Burpham Conservatives published online a statement that the meeting was little more than 'window dressing'. and the original concerns over traffic congestion and the loss of community facilities werre not addrerssed.

"Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that the 'consultation' was little more than window dressing. More questions were raised than answered and Aldi admitted to placing a clause in the land title preventing the return of the land to use as a pub should they prove unsuccessful at obtaining planning permission." guildfordconservatives.com 30th September 2008

This view seems to reiterate that made by the Burpham Community Association in a letter addressed to Aldi in February.

"It is my feeling that the community has no problem with Aldi opening one of its stores in the Guildford area but this location is quite simply inappropriate. Apart from the planning issues which we will go into when you submit your application, the community feels aggrieved that it has lost it's only pub, on a site where a pub has existed for hundreds of years. Until the Harvester was mismanaged by Mitchells & Butlers it was a thriving business providing an essential meeting point for the community." burpham-surrey.co.uk 13th February 2008

The German supermarket chain faced a furious reaction from local residents when the old Green Man building was completely demolished in December 2008. It was reported that the company had given a commitment in 2006 when it secured the site not to demolish the existing building without first securing planning permission. The council subsequently released the following statement:

“We looked at this carefully at the time and planning permission was not required to demolish buildings on the site.”

Aldi has announced (September 2010) that it will be submitting plans to build a superstore on the site. Local residents have promised robust opposition to the plan.

"We are aiming to submit a planning application by the end of the year," said a company spokesman. "We are looking to develop an Aldi food store on London Road in Burpham. The proposed scheme will include residential apartments above the store."getsurrey.co.uk 27th September 2010

Kane FM

A 28-day trial broadcast in the summer of 2004 provided the directors of a new community radio station with the approval of residents in the borough that they needed a new local radio station.

The station's Restricted Service Licence allowed them to broadcast independent music ranging from techno to hip-hop and in the process attracted thousands of votes of support through their website, text messages and emails. Kane FM has the backing of Guildford Borough Council in its bid to win a full community radio licence which the station's management are hoping will be awarded by mid-2008.

"We use our DJs to try and interact with people in the borough who are less fortunate and might be distracted, but the one thing they do love is music," said Kane FM's Simon Foster.

"There's no service in the country that plays the mix and quality of music that we have - not Radio One, not 1xtra, not anyone," added the station's operations director Ian Handy. "We represent the absolute best of what's happening at the forefront of music for young people across the UK. It's made by young people who struggle hard and probably give up a lot of other things in life to dedicate themselves to making music."

Kane FM, which has so far received grants totalling £7,782 from the council, is currently based at the Lockwood Centre in Slyfield but hopes to relocate to a more central position in Guildford in the coming months. The not-for-profit community station has seven producers all with their own responsibility for specific genres of music and who will provide a point of contact for any artists trying to have their music played on-air.

Surrey Advertiser 18th April 2008

The station received (June 2008) a £9,518 grant from the National Lottery which will be used to install wireless transmitters on the Hog's Back masts, conditional on the Office of Communications (Ofcom) approving issue of a broadcasting licence.

Kane FM launched a fundraising event (November 2008) at Guildford's Boileroom music venue.

Baseball's Guildford Origins

News that the American national game of baseball was played in Guildford over 20 years before American independence has undoubtedly rocked a nation who live and breathe the game.

Photo by Tage Olsin
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

The Surrey History Centre has confirmed that a diary entry by one William Bray in 1755 recounts a game being played in Guildford. Bray, who was a lawyer and historian and lived in Shere, reveals that he played baseball with a group of young ladies and enjoyed tea and cakes afterwards. Bray who was 19-years-old at the time of the diary entry also described a game of cricket he played the same day.

Surrey History Centre Manager and William Bray specialist, Julian Pooley, said that the diary proved the game was becoming established in the 18th century and was played by men and women.

The first recorded competitive game of baseball in America took place in New Jersey in 1846.

Kevin Sullivan, the Washington Post's London correspondent and an avid Boston Red Sox fan, said: "It's a great American tradition to take things from other places and improve them. We've always known that baseball evolved - it wasn't invented like basketball".

The diary entry reads:

"Easter Monday 31 March 1755. Went to Stoke Ch. This morning. After Dinner Went to Miss Jeale's to play at Base Ball with her, the 3 Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Ford & H. Parsons & Jelly. Drank Tea and stayed till 8."

Bray, who died in 1832, kept a diary for much of his life. He also published a history of Surrey and transcribed and published the writings of English writer John Evelyn.

The Surrey History Centre have also pointed to an earlier reference to baseball although it was made in a fictional piece by John Newbery - A Little Pretty Pocket-Book published in 1744. Jane Austen also refers to baseball when she wrote Northanger Abbey in 1798 (published 1817).

foxnews.com 12th September 2008

Proving perhaps that there is substance to the popular British claim that America’s national sport is just a game of rounders, which incidentally we also invented . . .


The British Science Festival
comes to Guildford

Surrey University has been selected by the British Science Association to host its 2009 festival. The event, which is hosted in different counties each year, was established to ‘connect science with society’.

The week long British Science Festival is the largest and longest running event of its kind in Europe and starts on the 5th September tocelebrate British and European science, engineering and technology through talks, plays, debates and hands-on activities. The festival will also focus on the fact that 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the International Year of Astronomy.

Starting its life 178 years ago as the BA Festival of Science (1), the event was first established to provide a forum for scientists to discuss the latest scientific research and ideas away from London. The festival can lay claim to being instrumental in the phrase ‘dinosaur’ being coined (1842) and the legendary clash between two powerful and opposing opinions on evolution in the Huxley-Wilberforce debate in Oxford (1860). (2)

Five professional scientists and engineers will be honoured in the Award Lectures to be held at the university and enable discussion on important scientific topics specifically for non-specialist audiences.

The 2009 festival is being partnered by the South East development Agency (SEEDA), Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council.

"The world of science and technology has changed beyond recognition since the university last hosted the festival in 1975 but Surrey has remained at the forefront of innovation, continuing to produce some of the world's most cutting-edge developments. In fact since its earliest days as Battersea Polytechnic in the 1890s, Surrey has been driven by the sense of discovery which lies at the heart of our approach to teaching, learning and research. From music to medicine, nanotechnology to dance, communications technologies to the environment and space science to social science, Surrey continues to make a real difference across the world." Except from Ignite - the official magazine of the British Science Festival 2009

During the event different faculties at the University opened their doors to provide the public with a broad introduction to the science hidden within. The faculty of Arts and Human Sciences said that they would be challenging visitors with controversial questions including: Is it too much money spent on sport? Can TV drama teach us about science and politics? Will the credit crunch lead to higher crime rates? The faculty also tempted visitors with the following:

"We'll be investigating how a petri-dish can form a stage for dance, theatre and film, discussing how sci-fi literature can shape the future of science and ethics and exploring how sleep patterns can affect your health. We've come up with the questions; now we need you to help us find the answers!

"Staff will be on hand to give you a nutritional MOT, discuss the safety of going to work on an egg and encourage you to bring a bit of sunshine into your life with vitamin D. With loads of hands on experiments, we'll help you get to grips with your body fat, analyse the cleanliness of your hair, and see how medical research is making inroads into beating long-term illness."

(1) The British Science Association was originally known as the British Association for the Advancement of the Science (BA)
(2) Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, attempted to pour scorn on Darwin’s Origin of Species in a debate in 1860 but had the tables turned on him by T. H. Huxley. The bishop at one point scoffed at Huxley’s grandparents being monkeys at which the scientist said he was not ashamed to have descended from moneys but “would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth.”

The Ghost Tour of Guildford

Philip Hutchinson, a professional actor and tour guide, has run a ghost tour of the town since 2001 since when many thousands of people have joined him to visit Guildford's haunted buildings. The tour, which lasts just under two hours and covers 20 'haunted and mysterious sites' is the only independent tourist attraction in the town.

"Discover why Holy Trinity Church is cursed, the identity of the mysterious lady in grey seen around Tunsgate, where Guildford's criminals were executed, why cats should avoid 122 High Street and just how many ghosts there are inside Guildford's most haunted building, The King's Head pub. Since the foundation The Ghost Tour Of Guildford, many hitherto unknown stories have been added through extensive archival research and scary tales told first-hand to the proprietor by those who have experienced those 'beyond the veil' for themselves."

The tour has been featured widely on television and in the press. To join the tour simply meet with Philip on the steps of the Holy Trinity Church at the top end of the High Street opposite the Three Pigeons pub at 8.00 pm on a Friday from March until November. There is a small charge (£5 in 2010). We recommend you visit his website to check availability prior to travelling: www.ghosttourofguildford.co.uk/

Hutchinson is a paranormal investigator who sits on the Council of the Ghost Club, the oldest paranormal society in the world which was founded by Charles Dickens in 1862.


Pond Meadow School
and Christ’s College

The award-winning new building for Pond Meadow School in Larch Avenue was officially opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in June 2009. On the same day Prince Philip also opened Christ’s College’s new building on the other side of the campus. Both projects were part of a £24.6m contract awarded to innovative London architects DSDHA. The Pond Meadow project was awarded a Royal Institute of British Architects Award in May 2009.

Pond Meadow School, which as a special needs school aims for an average class size of seven children staffed by a teacher, a welfare assistant, and up to three full-time classroom assistants. It occupied the building in November 2008 and its pupils have since benefitted from its light and airy spaces which have been augmented by its many windows and glass panels that have coloured abstracts on film designed by artist Martin Richman applied providing a constantly changing kaleidoscope of colour throughout the school. Unusually long and thin bricks have been used in the structure which in shadow have the colour of beetroot and in direct sunlight have a silver appearance.

“The campus lies at the heart of what at first glance seems to be a generic pocket of suburbia, framed to the west by a railway line, to the east by a motorway and to the north by greenbelt. However, in the mature trees that line the neighbourhood’s main approach road, we encounter a clue to its history. Eighty years ago, all this was the estate of a large private house. The building was demolished in the 1930s, when the land was developed, but its tree-lined driveway was adopted as the spine of the new road network.” DSDHA 13th February 2009

The school provides separate primary (2-11 year-olds) and secondary (11-19 year-olds) education within the same building, with each educational phase provided in different scales to suit the children’s ages. This includes the placing of windows at different levels, changes of external viewpoints and the use of changes in the angle of external structures. The large cantilevered roof covers a 3,600sq m internal area and also provides the children with sheltered play areas outside the classrooms. The school will accommodate 92 pupils by September 2010. Their last two Ofsted reports (2009; 2006) rated the school as ‘outstanding’.

“The reality is that Pond Meadow is as much a healthcare facility as an educational one. Its 92 pupils are challenged by conditions ranging from mental disabilities such as autism and Down’s syndrome to serious physical disabilities including sensory impairment and those that demand the use of a wheelchair. Their ages range from two to 19, so for many this building will form the setting for the larger part of their childhoods. Indeed, given the severity of some of their health issues, the likelihood is that not all the children will survive to graduation.” DSDHA 13th February 2009

The building is on a single level with the design eliminating the need for stairs and extra-wide corridors and large classroom spaces enable ease of access for all pupils regardless of their disability. Every two classrooms share two toilets and a hygiene / shower room complete with a hoist., and the school halls are fitted with Soundfield Systems (1). The school has a central dining courtyard and a specialist hydro-therapy centre, together with rooms for sensory light and sound, soft play, music and drama, science, food technology and art. The school also provides extensive health services including a speech and language therapy, paediatrician, nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, music therapist and access to a clinical psychologist.

At the nursery level vulnerable children are assessed for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Springboard Nursery, and those diagnosed are provided with specialised education. The architects took the needs of autistic children into account and concealed light switches in cupboards and concealed lights within painted MDF units mounted on the walls to avoid stimulating the condition’s typical obsession with fixtures and fittings.

Pupils in the 14-19 year-old group follow a personalised community based independence curriculum to prepare them for adult life. This includes external work experience supported by an EmployAbility transition worker.

“I am a local resident and took great interest in the plans for the site (and there were numerous) and the building project. It is a great design and obviously very functional for the needs of the children attending. Not one local resident I have spoken to has had a bad word to say about it.” Victoria bdonline.co.uk 11th May 2009

“I visited the school for my daughter's admission. I was stunned at the architecture and ideas. Being an engineer myself, hats off to the thoughts that are put in to designing the school, it is an unique school design! Kids will defintley be benefitted...” (sic) Dayanand Patil bdonline.co.uk 13th May 2009

"I'm writing to say how pleased I am that the new Pond Meadow School, Guildford, opened last week by the Duke of Edinburgh, has won an architectural prize from RIBA. The architect himself spoke to me at the ceremony, thanking me for my support at the planning application stage. For reasons only comprehensible to themselves the planning officers had recommended refusal - stuff about 'out of keeping with the area' and misleading advice over the parking arrangements.

"As councillor of Stoke at the time, I argued strongly against the recommendation. It was very satisfying to have the planning committee agree and vote for approval. And how right the members were! The children at Pond Meadow are very fortunate to now have such an excellent purpose-designed and built school. The building is a great asset to Bellfields, and the field behind the school is currently a lovely meadow of grass and flowers and butterflies." Dr. Angela Gunning. Letters. Surrey Advertiser 3rd July 2009

Pond Meadow School was previously located off the road of the same name in Park Barn.

The new £15.5m Christ’s College facility replaced a 1960s building and has provided a new learning environment for its 700 pupils. Now sharing the large site with Pond Meadows the 7,250 sq m structure includes a heat recovery and ventilation system on the facade and was designed to represent a ‘contemporary dovecote’.

The school is a Church of England comprehensive school catering for 517 (2007) 11 to 18-year-olds, one third of whom have special education needs, with its primary intake from Bellfields and north Guildford. The school when first opened was called Larch Avenue School but has since been renamed twice, firstly as Bishop Reindorp and in 2003 to its current name. Having suffered a poor reputation in recent years with a declining roll the relaunched school is now showing significant improvement in Ofsted reports.

"This is such an exciting day, bringing to fruition years of hard work and sometimes real agony for staff, governors and learners alike," said Rev Masrk Rudall, Guildford diocese's director of communication at the official opening. "To see the school now flourishing and visited by the Duke of Edinburgh is to see Christ's College almost literally risen from the dead. It's terrific." Surrey Advertiser 26th June 2009

(1) Soundfield System is a proprietary audio system built around a high-tech decoding processor providing particularly clear results.

The Jigsaw Trust

A specialist day school for children with autistic spectrum disorders has been able to develop and equip a new life skills centre (August 2009) for its pupils in Guildford. The development was made possible by a grant of £57,539 from Hilton in the Community Foundation, run by the hotel chain. The new facility, which is located in Sydney Road in a building originally donated by St Faith's, has rooms that simulate a typical home environment and which are equipped to help the pupils learn skills such as cleaning, cooking and personal hygiene. The Jigsaw Trust first opened in 1999 with just six pupils.

"This dream has become a reality and we can ensure that our students continue to get the best opportunities for fulfilling their potential not just at school but in their own homes as they grow towards young adulthood," said Kate Grant, Jigsaw executive head teacher.

The money has also enabled a garden at the centre to be designed specifically to encourage social interaction among children with autism. The garden, which is equipped with seats facing each other and polytunnels to encourage the planting of seedlings, was constructed by volunteers.

"It is one of the first gardens for autistic children in the country. The theme for the garden is interaction," said Caspian Robertson, owner of contractor Surrey Gardens. "The children tend to walk to the corners on their own, they won't interact, they won't communicate. This garden directs them together. It is designed so that each aspect of it encourages interaction with the pupil's carer and other children for example. The polytunnel allows children to grow young plants which they can plant out into an enclosed area of raised beds. Fragrant plants are scattered throughout the garden, so that there is a distinct scent for each area. We've tried to get in as many groups of different plants as possible, and not just soft plants. There are some that will give you a nip if you touch them, because that's the real world.

"One of the significant challenges was to incorporate some of the more practical requirements of a special needs garden, whilst not drawing attention to its identity. For instance, exits are kept clearly visible to the pupils through the design layout and are distinguished by soft orange paint, whilst the main entrance is kept white, and again, visible from each point in the garden. The entire garden was constructed from scratch in just one month. We relied almost entirely on a volunteer workforce, for which we owe many thanks."

Surrey Advertiser 7th August 2009












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