Today was the start of my Adventures in WW1 Research in Woking.
Before going any further I’d just like to say how quickly things change. Last week when I met with Kirsty, the big monstrous construction just outside the station was in place, as it had been for just over ten years – I remember them building it in 2007. I took this in 2011 after it had been up for a few years.
This week, it had gone. Just like that. It was a big surprise. Apparently it’s part of the overall pedestrianisation of Woking. When the thing originally went up it was met with derision and condemnation (plus a little bit of approval).
It cost £4,000,000 and was praised by Prince Charles. This praise came because of the extensive array of solar panels on the top. Unfortunately, while a good idea in principle, the structure cost more to maintain than it generated in energy.
Anyway, it’s suddenly gone and the space immediately looks more open and friendly.
Another change is a pub where, I think, I first tasted tapas. It was a run down kind of pub which was given a face-lift and a new name; Barcelona. Stevie and I went there a few times and the whole crew went for pre-Christmas drinks over the years and before heading for Archees. Anyway, it’s a pub no longer. It’s now a sort of drop-in centre for the homeless of Woking.
But, enough of the changes in Woking as I’m sure I’ll record more as I find them while I research happily away in the Surrey History Centre.
And, can I say, I thoroughly enjoyed today. The space is delightfully bright and airy, the people lovely and the research beautifully diverse. Today, for instance, I researched a chap whose father worked at a gunpowder works in Chilworth and another who played left wing for Guildford Football Club. When the subject is quite sobering (lives lost during the Great War) their lives prior to war are fascinating.
And I feel I’m helping to give their lives meaning rather than just carvings on stone.
Which is what I’m doing. I’m transcribing the information from Surrey war memorials, starting with Shalford – Kirsty told me I can do Farnham when I’m finished with Shalford.
All in all, I had a marvellous day. I’ve missed being at work albeit once a week, volunteer work.