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Borough of Woking
Non-metropolitan district, borough
Wey Navigation Canal, Pyrford - - 22119.jpg
Official logo of Borough of Woking
Fide et Diligentia
(Latin: In faith and diligence)
Woking shown within Surrey
Woking shown within Surrey
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
Non-metropolitan county Surrey
Status Non-metropolitan district
Admin HQ Woking
Incorporated 1 April 1974
 • Type Non-metropolitan district council
 • Body Woking Borough Council
 • Total 24.6 sq mi (63.6 km2)
Area rank 259th (of 326)
 (2005 est.)
 • Total 100,793
 • Rank 240th (of 326)
 • Density 4,105/sq mi (1,584.8/km2)
 • Ethnicity
91.3% White
6.3% S.Asian
1.7% Mixed
1.1% Black British
1.4% Chinese or Other
Time zone UTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code 43UM (ONS)
E07000217 (GSS)
OS grid reference TQ0040358550

Woking ( woh-king) is a town and borough in northwest Surrey, England. It is at the southwestern edge of the Greater London Urban Area and is a part of the London commuter belt, with frequent trains and a journey time of approximately 24 minutes to Waterloo station. Woking is 23 miles (37 km) southwest of Charing Cross in central London. The borough of Woking had a population of 100,793 in 2019.


Woking Palace, near Old Woking - - 40278
The ruins of Woking Palace

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

Modern Woking was formed in the area to the south of the Basingstoke Canal (opened in 1794) around the railway station, built in 1838 at the junction between lines to London, the south coast, and the south-west of England, and the private railway to Brookwood Cemetery, which was developed by the London Necropolis Company as an overflow burial ground for London's dead. As a result, the original settlement 1 mile to the south-east, on the River Wey, became known as "Old Woking". Later, Woking Crematorium at St John's became the first crematorium in the United Kingdom.

Shah Jahan Mosque TQ0159 214
Shah Jahan Mosque, the oldest in England

The first purpose-built mosque in the UK, the Shah Jahan Mosque on Oriental Road, was commissioned by Shahjehan, Begum of Bhopal (1868–1901), one of the four female Muslim rulers of Bhopal who reigned between 1819 and 1926.

The Martinsyde aircraft company operated a major aircraft factory in the town during World War I and used nearby Brooklands Aerodrome for test flying and deliveries, but it was closed in the mid-1920s. This site was then the home of the engineering firm James Walker & Company for many years. Known as 'The Lion Works', this area was finally redeveloped in the 1990s into today's Lion Retail Park.

Hoe Valley Scheme

This was a £40 million project to take hundreds of Woking homes away from the flood plain of the Hoe Stream. It has also provided new community facilities and roads. Woking Borough Council had been planning this scheme, which was approved in September 2010, for over 20 years. It was being run in conjunction with the Environment Agency.

The Council has received finance from: the Public Works Loan Board; a number of grants, including £3.7 million from the Environment Agency; proceeds from the sale of new homes and of other assets. The Council expects the scheme to be fully funded by 2014 with no ongoing costs incurred by the Council. The scheme was completed on schedule in 2012.


Woking postal area has several villages, including: Knaphill, Horsell, Hook Heath, Mount Hermon, Barnsbury, Maybury, Sheerwater, Goldsworth Park, St John's, Pyrford, Kingfield, Westfield and Ridgway, some being contiguous which can be described now as suburbs. Further villages are: Old Woking traditionally a separate village with its own large conservation area verging towards the Wey, Mayford; Bisley and Sutton Green to the south nearer the border between Woking and Guildford and West Byfleet to the east is a post town with Byfleet and adjoins to the north-east.


Hook Heath - - 45763
Unable to find an agent for the sale of their surplus land at Hook Heath, the London Necropolis Company themselves developed the area into a prosperous suburb of large detached houses.

The Barnsbury Estate is a housing estate of approximately 400 households. Begun in 1936, it is a self-contained estate of bungalows, housing and flats mostly built in the 1950s along with several small shops. Barnsbury is bordered by the Hoe Valley and is located to the south of Woking on the A320.

As part of Woking's proposed Priority Homes PFI submission, back gardens of a significant number of houses were at risk of development. From January to September 2007 this resulted in an extensive community engagement to see if and how these back gardens could be used for development. The scheme was eventually cancelled.

Barnsbury also has a primary school. Many of Barnsbury's students attend Woking High for their secondary education.

In the 1800s the London Necropolis Company acquired land here on a prospective basis but built Brookwood Cemetery instead; no suitable agent of could be found to oversee the sale of the third portion of excess land at Hook Heath and as a consequence Cyril Tubbs ensured its retention and oversaw its development himself. The London Necropolis society decided to take action. Over the 1890s the site was subdivided into plots for large detached houses, and a golf course was built to attract residents and visitors. The LNC redeveloped its lands at Hook Heath into housing and a golf course, creating a new suburb of Woking and providing a steady income from rentals.


Woking, along with the majority of the British Isles experiences a maritime climate, characterised by cool summers and mild winters. The nearest weather station for which data is readily available is Wisley, located approximately 6 km east of Woking. Temperature extremes recorded in the area range from 37.8 °C (100.0 °F) during August 2003 down to −15.1 °C (4.8 °F) during January 1982. The weather station also holds the UK July record high of 36.5 °C (97.7 °F)(2006).


2001 United Kingdom census
Country of birth Population
United Kingdom 77,577
Pakistan 1,748
Republic of Ireland 925
Italy 737
South Africa 709
India 686
Netherlands 601
Germany 590
United States 576
Australia 326

Ethnic groups

Woking is a multicultural town, according to the Office for National Statistics, based on 2004 estimates, 89.5 per cent of the 62,796 inhabitants of Woking were white, with 84.15 per cent White British, 1.37 per cent White Irish and 5.76 per cent classified as Other White. Some 6.5 per cent are of South Asian descent, with Pakistanis making up 5.3 per cent of Woking's population (compared to 0.73 and 1.44 for the South East and the UK respectively), followed by Indians at 1.2 per cent. 0.50 per cent of Woking's population are Black which compares with 2.3 per cent nationally. 1.37 per cent of Woking residents are of mixed race, leaving 2.0 per cent belonging to other ethnic groups.

There has long been a large tightly knit Italian community in Woking, most of whom originated from the Sicilian town of Mussomeli. The majority of the original arrivals worked in the Britax factory in Byfleet. Others worked on the mushroom farms in Chobham or for the James Walker company. Many started their own landscaping or ice cream businesses. St Dunstan's Catholic Church in Woking holds masses in Italian. The Italian population in Woking, including second and third generation members, number between two and three thousand. There is a large Pakistani population in Woking, centred on the suburbs of Maybury and Sheerwater, near the Shah Jahan Mosque. This partly originates from workers at the then nearby Sorbo Rubber factory. Recently there has been an influx of eastern European immigrants, mostly from Poland.


Religion in Woking
Religion Percent
No religion
Religion not stated
Horsell church - - 45606
St Mary's Church, Horsell

The town has many churches including St Mary's Church in Horsell. St. Peter's, in Old Woking has the oldest door in Surrey. It is likely that it is the third oldest door in the British Isles after being dated by dendrochronology. Woking has an Islamic presence, with the Shah Jahan Mosque east of the town centre. Constructed in 1889 by Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, it is the first purpose-built mosque in the UK, and the first mosque built in Northern Europe. It is built in Bath and Bargate stone in indo-saracenic style commissioned by Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal (1868–1901), it has been maintained since then as a Waqf.

Culture and community

Woking tripod
The Woking Martian
Pond and sandpit, Horsell Common - site for "The War of the Worlds" - - 168459
Horsell Common sandpit, site of the landing of the Martians in H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds.
Plane Overhead, Woking - - 601375
Hawker Hunter as public art


Public art

Martian Tripod

Woking has a Wellsian Martian Tripod, designed by Michael Condron, which was unveiled in April 1998. The tripod celebrates H. G. Wells's book, The War of the Worlds, which was written in Woking. The Tripod is 7 m (23 ft) tall. The legs are 17 cm (7″) in diameter. There are three parts of the sculpture: The Tripod, Bacteria, and the cylinder the tripods came to Earth in. The Martian is also shown advancing from Horsell Common.

Hawker Hunter

Another piece of public art is a Hawker Hunter jet fighter mounted on a pole roughly ten metres tall situated outside the Big Apple family entertainment complex. This is the last Hunter built and was used to promote the previous Planets family entertainment complex. Originally black, the plane is now finished in all-over silver.

Lightbox Art and Heritage Centre

Woking is home to an arts and heritage centre called 'The Lightbox'. The modern structure, located between the Basingstoke Canal and Victoria Way, was designed by architects Marks Barfield, the architects of the London Eye. The Lightbox contains many hands hanging from the ceiling, a brief history of Woking and many other exhibitions. Notable past exhibitions include a Wallace and Gromit exhibition and a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition.

Twin towns

Woking is twinned with:

In December 2014 the council announced that it would establish a task group to explore potential twinning opportunities with the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Community facilities

Woking has a modern shopping centre called The Peacocks and an older shopping area, Wolsey Place. The Peacocks Centre underwent development work in 2010 to add a new façade in the town square. An extension was added that consisted of adding glass with coloured lights that change in sequence. The Peacocks and Wolsey Place have, at present, been joined by means of a covered walkway to complement the town centre's redevelopment. In commemoration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the town square has been renamed "Jubilee Square".

The main area for evening entertainment is around Chertsey Road which contains restaurants serving a number of cuisines such as Indian and Chinese. There are also numerous bars and pubs along Chertsey Road as well as several nightclubs around the area. The Ambassadors cinemas and New Victoria Theatre can be accessed via the top floor of The Peacocks.

Woking has an indoor swimming pool, "Pool in the Park", and a separate leisure centre which is located at Pool in the Park, opposite Woking Leisure Centre. Outdoor facilities include a skatepark (which is popular with local children), tennis courts, five-a-side football pitches, a cricket pitch (during the summer), bowling greens, a crazy golf course, and a children's adventure playground. These leisure facilities are all located within Woking Park. Woking also has the largest public library in Surrey.

Woking is also to home to the Surrey History Centre, which holds archives and records about the county.


Woking Skyline
Woking skyline from St Mary's Church

The tallest building in Woking is Export House, known locally as 'The BAT Building' (Pronounced 'B-A-T' or 'Bat'), from the initials of its first tenant, British American Tobacco. It is 73 metres (240 ft) tall, and has peregrine falcons nesting on top.

Historical monument

Monument Road runs from the far end of Maybury Road to the Addlestone Road, and lies just inside the Woking side of the Woking-Sheerwater boundary. It is commonly thought to be so named because of an unadvertised cemetery for Muslim Indian soldiers who died in the service of the British Empire in the Great War of 1914–1918. The cemetery no longer contains graves, the corpses having been interred in the Pakistani cemetery close to the mosque, however the walls, entrance and corner towers of the cemetery still remain intact, and they bear a clearly oriental Indian style. The cemetery is located several hundred metres from Monument Road itself and remained hidden until the woodland in which it was situated was pruned and thinned.

Monument Way is probably a reference to a much earlier structure in the area that was destroyed by natural causes in the mid-1800s:

"Early in the 17th century Sir Edward Zouch obtained the Manor of Woking and gained permission to demolish the old palace site. He used some of the material to build a new house – Hoe Place (now a private school) – with some of the Tudor bricks apparently being used in buildings such as The Old House in OLD WOKING and 'The Monument' – a tower that once stood on the hill where the Hoe Bridge Golf Course is today. It was Sir Edward's grandson, Sir James Zouch, who obtained the Market Charter for Woking in 1661, with the Market House (opposite the entrance to Church Street) being built in 1665."



Woking railway station, (south, platform 5, side)

Woking railway station is on the Alton, Portsmouth, South West and West of England Main Line. There are frequent trains to and from London Waterloo, a journey taking approximately 25–30 minutes. There is also a twice hourly Waterloo to Woking all stations service.

Gatwick Airport can be accessed via Guildford or Clapham Junction. Heathrow Airport has no direct train services from the south west of England, so a RailAir coach service operates between Woking and Heathrow.

A canopy costing £2.8 million was built between the station and the main shopping area of the town. It was approximately 34 metres (112 ft) in length and 22.5 metres (74 ft) in width, stretching from the railway station entrance (town, platform 1, side) to Albion House. The project included landscaping and the provision of a new way to the town from the railway station. This canopy has since been removed.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch formerly had one of its two operational centres in Woking.


Woking is accessible from the M25 motorway (junction 11), the M3 motorway (junction 3) and the A3.

The main access road is the A320 between Guildford and Staines, which passes through the town centre and connects to the M25 to the north near St Peter's Hospital, close to its M3 junction, and to the A3 to the south at Guildford; further roads connect the west and east parts of the borough respectively to the M3 and A3.

Bus and coach

A RailAir coach service is run by National Express, connecting Woking railway station and Heathrow Airport, in the absence of a direct train link to Heathrow. The bus services in Woking are mainly operated by Arriva Southern Counties, Falcon Coaches, Stagecoach South and White Bus Services.


The Basingstoke Canal, completed in 1794, passes through the north of the town and is crossed by several footbridges and road bridges. The canal underwent restoration in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with the restoration completed on 10 May 1991.

River and navigation

The River Wey and Wey Navigation run through the Borough of Woking.


Woking has a modern and successful economy. The local working population is characterised by educational attainment levels well above the UK average. The number of jobs in the borough in the managerial, professional and technical sectors is around 50%, 7% above the UK average. Local Employment is largely in the private sector - Woking is one of the districts in the UK least reliant on Public Sector employment.

The largest employer in Woking is the McLaren Group. The group is responsible for both McLaren Racing, which fields the McLaren Formula One racing cars (currently driven by Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris); and McLaren Automotive, builder of the classic McLaren F1 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren supercars, and now manufacturing many different high-performance sports cars. During 2010 and 2011, the McLaren technology centre received a £50million extension, which was opened by David Cameron.

Companies with global headquarters in Woking include chemical and assembly materials company Alent plc, the UK and Ireland subsidiary of Asahi Breweries, and Ambassador Theatre Group, a major international theatre organisation. Until it was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev with its corporate HQ in Leuven, Belgium, the corporate HQ of multi-national SABMiller was in Woking. Asahi's presence in Woking is attributed to its taking over of some of SABMiller's former brands.

Woking railway station is one of the busiest commuter stations in the London commuter belt, and Woking's position along the M25 motorway facilitates commuting both into London and throughout the Home Counties.

There is a large concentration of office accommodation in Woking town centre. Employers from the IT, FMCG, Engineering Services and Charities sectors are particularly well represented and provide a large number of highly skilled jobs. Significant local employers include Fidessa, Capgemini, Petrofac, John Wood, and WWF UK.



Kingfield Stadium - geograph-1779642
Kingfield Stadium, the home ground of Woking FC

Woking F.C. competes in the National League (tier 5) for the 2021/22 season. The Borough also supports three clubs playing in the lower echelons of the non-league football system, including Westfield FC, Sheerwater FC and Knaphill FC.


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


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

It is also home to Pyrford Cricket Club. Founded in 1858, Pyrford is one of the oldest cricket clubs in Surrey.


Woking also has a successful competitive swimming club based at Pool in the Park, in Woking Park.


Woking is home to Chobham Rugby Club.


Primary schools

Infant and junior schools in the area include Barnsbury Primary School, Beaufort Primary School, Bisley C of E (Aided) Primary School, Broadmere Primary School, Goldsworth Primary School, Greenfield School, Hoe Bridge School, Horsell C of E (Aided) Junior School, Horsell Village School, ISL Surrey, Kingfield School, Knaphill Junior School, Knaphill Lower School, Maybury Primary School, New Monument Primary, Pyrford C of E (Aided) Primary School, St Dunstan's Catholic Primary School, St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Primary School, St John's Primary School, St. Andrew's School, Sythwood Primary School, The Hermitage Junior School, The Oaktree School and Westfield Primary School.

Secondary schools

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

Other schools

Woking College is in Old Woking and provides post-16 education. There are also Private (Independent) Schools.

The Surrey campus of the International School of London is in Woking. This is an independent school for local and international boys and girls aged 2–11. There are several private preparatory schools in Woking: Hoe Bridge, St Andrew's, Greenfield, Oakfield School and Ripley Court are all mixed, while Halstead School is girls only.

Woking used to be home to the Oriental Institute until 1899.

Notable people

Image Name Residence Period Notes
Michael Axworthy - Academic, historian and commentator with special interest in Iran
Beaufort M Lady Margaret Beaufort
Lady Margaret Beaufort Mother of King Henry VII, lived in Woking Palace for 5 years
Sir Alec Bedser Surrey County and England Cricketer
Eric Bedser Surrey County Cricketer
Richard Benson Singer and guitarist born at Woking
Martin Birch Rock music producer/engineer for Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden (1948)
Rick Buckler drummer with The Jam, (1955)
Cracknell J James Cracknell
James Cracknell Olympic rower, from Pyrford
Darke C Claire Darke
Claire Darke The 161st Mayor of Wolverhampton, grew up in Woking
Davidson P Peter Davison
Peter Davison actor, former lead in Doctor Who attended The Winston Churchill School (Woking)
Dennis R Ron Dennis
Ron Dennis CEO/Chairman of the McLaren Group
Dent S Susie Dent
Susie Dent a lexicographer and the dictionary expert on Countdown
Edwards B Ben Charles Edwards
Ben Charles Edwards photographer/filmmaker
Foxton B Bruce Foxton
Bruce Foxton bass player with The Jam, (1955)
Getty J John Paul Getty
John Paul Getty Lived in Sutton Green
Gould RF Robert Freke Gould
Robert Freke Gould Soldier, barrister and historian of Freemasonry
Derek Griffiths children's entertainer, born in Woking
Hamilton E Lady Emma Hamilton
Lady Emma Hamilton lover of Horatio Nelson. Hamilton lived in Pyrford
Hill H Harry Hill
Harry Hill comedian, was born in Woking (1964)
Bob Hiller former England international rugby union player, was born in Woking (1942)
Brian Hooper Olympic pole vaulter
Ingram Chris Ingram
Chris Ingram Businessman, Entrepreneur and Former Chairman of Woking F.C.
Jack A Albert Jack
Albert Jack Bestselling author from Winston Churchill School
Ishiguro K Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro novelist
Lara A Adelina de Lara
Adelina de Lara concert pianist, lived and worked in Woking.
Rowland Lee composer, pianist, conductor and music arranger born in Woking (1960), attended Sheerwater Secondary School, Woking Boys Grammar School and Woking VI Form College.
Lock S Sean Lock
Sean Lock comedian, was born in Woking (1963)
Lynne Liz Liz Lynne
Liz Lynne Liberal Democrat politician
Ogilvy I Ian Ogilvy
Ian Ogilvy actor, 1943
Parfitt R Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt guitarist for Status Quo went to school in Sheerwater and has family in the area,
Smith D Delia Smith
Delia Smith best-selling cook was born in Woking
Smith E Ethel Smyth
Ethel Smyth composer and the first woman suffragette
Spice Girls The Spice Girls
The Spice Girls pop group, started their careers at a Knaphill studio
Sproxton D David Sproxton
David Sproxton co-founder of Aardman Animations, attended Woking Grammar school
Laurretta Summerscales Ballerina, principal dancer with Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich and formerly with the English National Ballet, grew up in Woking
Alan Turing mathematician, Cremated & ashes were scattered in Woking
Tony Wakeford neo-folk musician, co-founder of Death in June, founder and vocalist of Sol Invictus, & L'Orchestre Noir
Weller P Paul Weller
Paul Weller guitarist and singer-songwriter, The Style Council, The Jam. "Town Called Malice", which was written by Paul Weller and recorded by his band, The Jam, is about Woking. The song reached No. 1 in the UK Charts.
Wells HG H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells author who used the town as a setting for his novel The War of the Worlds and was staying in the town when he wrote it. A large sculpture of a (Wellsian) Martian Fighting Machine (above) was installed in the town centre to commemorate Woking's links with the story.
Willis M Matt Willis
Matt Willis musician, singer-songwriter, television presenter and actor, who was a founding member of pop rock band Busted and was the winner of I'm A Celebrity... in 2006, lived in Woking and attended Woking High School
Iain Morris Co-Writer of The Inbetweeners, born in Woking
Ken Wood founded the Kenwood company in Woking
Tom Mison actor
Sam Underwood actor
Jentina rapper

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Woking para niños

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