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Thursday, 14 July 2016

We now know Wells.

We started on a self guided walk this morning. The start was from Woking Station. This mural on the side of the station depicts an Edwardian street scene of Woking and was painted in 1993 by two local artists. This is only half of it but a great big lorry was parked in front of the other half.

The mural was sponsored by the Council, British Rail Community Projects and local traders.

As we walked down by the side of the rail tracks we could here this heavy noise of a steam engine labouring up the gradient. Unfortunately the up line was the furthest from the road so the photo wasn't the greatest but I got this snap of the 'Scots Guardsman'.  She was built in 1927 in Glasgow for the London Midland and Scottish Railway. She was featured in the film 'Night Mail'. Today it was on the way from London Victoria to Swanage. A full meal package (breakfast, dinner and tea) £199. Just a seat is £95!

We were walking by the rail tracks to see H.G. Wells' house. Wells has become a big thing in Woking as he lived here when we wrote several of his books, including War of the Worlds that was based in Woking at the beginning. It turns out that he lived here for less than 18 months though. Above is is house which he lived in from 1895 to 1896. Nothing much made of it except the plaque.

The walk was supposed to be connected to H.G. Wells but it took in the Muslim Burial Ground on Horsell Common. During WWI over 1 million Indian Troops had fought in the battles around the world. 7700 had been killed and 16400 injured. Those that were brought to local hospitals but died of their wounds were buried here. This site was chosen as it was close to the very first purpose built mosque in the UK, Shah Jehan Mosque. This had been built in 1889 in Woking. This burial Ground was the final resting place for over 40 soldiers from WWI and four from WWII. By the 1960's the place was badly vandalised and it was decided to move the graves to the military graveyard at Brookwood Cemetry. We weren't allowed in as the Horsell Common Preservation Society are restoring it and it looks to be a great job too.

As we walked through the many heathland and forest areas on the walk we saw many of these ant mounds that were heaving with very big ants. Not a place to linger.

On the walk we passed by All Saints Church, Woodham. It wasn't consecrated until 1902 but the church had been used from about 1896. This reredos was carved in Corsham stone in 1915. If you look carefully the saintly figure 5th from the left is holding Winchetser Cathedral in his arms. This is St. Swithun who was Bishop of Winchester and in which dioceses the church is.

A little further on is the old sandpit that the locals call the beach which is talked of as the scene of the Martians first landing place. Wells actually based it on a smaller pit a little further on the looked more like a crater at the time and was actually the sight that started the story off in his mind.

There is a mural in the underpass that also depicts scenes from the War of the Worlds and also canal scenes too.

If you remember the story the martians machines nearly took over the world, starting in Woking. They were finally beaten by the smallest animal in the world viruses. This is a depiction of one just starting to explore the leg of a Martian fighting machine. Other shapes depict other bacteria.

The Martian fighting machine is 7 metres tall and was sculpted by Michael Condron and unveiled in 1998, 100 years after Ware of the Worlds first publication. Carole Vordeman did the honours for some reason.

Nearby this sculpture represents the first landing of the cylindrical pods that brought the Martians to earth. Also in the area in September will be unveiled a more than life size sculpture of H.G. Wells. (Herbert George). When we finished the walks we walked a little further down the road and celebrated our success with a pint in the Weaterspoons, that just had to be called the Herbert Wells. I had a great pint of  'Shere Drop' from Surrey Hills Brewery in Dorking.

We then walked to ASDA to see if we could find the things we didn't in Sainsbury's. On the way back we called at Cristchurch Church in the centre of Woking. The food was good and a good price and the coffee was good too. After a nice sit down after the walk we called in to the 'Lightbox' museum and Gallery to look round the exhibits. After that we needed a cup of tea and a slice of cake before heading over the canal to the World Wildlife Fund Headquarters called the Living Planet Centre. It was only opened in 2013 and apparently they raised funds separately so as not to divert funds from their normal work. It is their offices so there is only a little bit at the front that is open to the public. The building itself is noteworthy though as it cost £20 million. The whole life carbon footprint is 35% of a comparable building and it's green score is 90% making it one of the greenest buildings in the UK. There wasn't even a shop to help with funds though.

You can see the roof of the WWF offices in the background of this carving 'Launching Pegasus'. It was carved from a 250 year old oak that was blown down in a mini tornado in 2007. The Horsell Common Preservation Society commissioned this and it was unveiled in 2009. I wonder how long it will last.

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