Title ID 7948Collection ID920
TitleThe Making of Woking
CollectionWoking Film Makers
Genre/TypeAmateurCine/Video clubNon-fictionCommunity
ThemeCine Club Film-making Urban Life
KeywordsBuilding Construction Buildings Canals Clubs Communities Companies Houses Local History Monuments Memorials Railways Trains Villages
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionWoking Film Makers Mayford & Woking District History Society
CameraJohn Boice
DirectorJohn Myall
Funding bodyArts Council for Woking
WriterIain Wakeford (Mayford & Woking District History Society)
NarratorRalph Harrison (Mayford & Woking District History Society)
SoundJohn Myall
Music(Composer) Pat Page; (Performed by) Rosalind Marns; Kate Howard; Claire Morley; Andrew Chenery
ParticipantsMr Bates from Trollope and Colls; Mr Allen from The National Trust; The staff at British Rail, Woking; Pat Chapman from Guildford Institute; Woking Homes Railcare Cenre; Brookwood Hospital
FormatColour Sound
Duration15 min. 20 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A history of Woking, charting the arrival of the London to Southampton Railway and the Necropolis Company, where the London dead were to be laid to rest. The film was produced by Woking Film Makers in collaboration with Mayford & Woking District History Society in 1986 and received a Bronze Seal award at the International Film and Video Competition at London International Film Festival in 1987.


The film opens at Woking train station, where a train arrives and leaves the platform. A narrator explains the premise of the film: Woking, with the population of 85,000, making it the largest town in Surrey, was a large open field 150 years ago, "so what caused Woking's heath to change from empty common land to commuter town?" Original music written by Pat Page and performed by Rosalind Marns, Kate Howard, Claire Morley, Andrew Chenery, plays over the film's titles and archive photographs of Woking.

Contemporary views of Woking follow, the village of Old Woking and Horsel Church are seen. The heath, scrub and bracken, was owned by Lord Onslow and freeholders in the village had common rights, such as cattle grazing. The sandy soil is shown, described as useless for agriculture but important to Woking's future. The Basingstoke canal had been built in the 1770s and the London to Southampton Railway in the 1830s, following the same route across this cheap common land. The station is seen, in the context of the town. The railway hotel was built nearby in 1840. The Victoria Arch is seen. The station served Godalming, Guildford and the rest of West Surrey, before the Guildford line was built. An animated map demonstrates the building of the railways. The Sovereigns and White Hart pubs are seen. Village life carried on. Old houses and churches, predating the railways, are seen.

London's graveyards were becoming full by the late 1870s. The Church of Saint Alban the Martyr is seen, its name arching over iron gates. The Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company was formed in 1841. A Victorian building is seen, the company's terminus at 121 Westminster Bridge Road [?], named John McTaggart House at the time. They were to build a cemetery on the 2,300 acres of Woking Common. The Houses of Parliament are seen, at which West Surrey MP, Henry Drummond, opposed the bill, claiming that 400 acres would be necessary, later changing his mind and supporting the scheme. The act was passed in 1852 and the land acquired by the company, who set about building the cemetery. Graves stones are seen, worn by the weather. The Necropolis Company received permission to sell some of the land around the station and 83 acres were bought by the Invalid Convict Prison at Naphill in 1859. Brick-built buildings are seen on a street, converted into the Inkerman Barracks in 1892. Land was bought for the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum and ten acres were sold for the Royal Dramatic College, later converted to the Oriental Institute, which soon brought the mosque. The Shah Jahan Mosque is seen through the trees from the road. The construction of these buildings brought about the first population boom in the area. The Necropolis Company were given permission to sell land, with little success by 1869. Small cheap plots were sold, allowing Woking to develop. A series of estate agencies are seen. Wider views of the high street, train line and countryside beyond follows. The railway and cheap common land, sold in small plots, brought the developers. Christ Church, built in red brick, is seen. The film closes with credits, music and views from the streets of Woking.


A still from 'The Making of Woking' (1986)

Contextual information

The film won a Bronze Seal award at the International Film and Video Competition in 1987 at London International Film Festival. Surrey History Centre holds the personal diary of John Myall, original and editing scripts, storyboard and correspondence, relating to The Making of Woking.

The London Necropolis Company built a railway station on the London and South Western Railway at Woking Common to serve two private stations in the grounds of Brookwood Cemetery in 1854, constructing private stations at either end of the line. The service took coffins and mourners from a private station just outside Waterloo Station. The trains were divided into two sections to carry passengers of different faiths and standings, Anglican (South Station) and non-conformist (North Station) funeral parties. The building at 121 Westminster Bridge Road was built in 1902 to replace the original station, built in 1854 and located between York Street (now Leake Street) and the Westminster Bridge Road. The station on Westminster Bridge Road was used until 1942, when it was bombed and never replaced. The entrance survives, seen in The Making of Woking as John McTaggart House. The service was not reinstated after the Second World War, and the track running through the cemetery was removed.

The Shah Jahan Mosque, built by Dr. Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, after establishing an Oriental Institute in what had been the Royal Dramatic College, built as a retirement home for actors. The Mosque was the first building of its kind built in England with donations by Shah Jahan Begum, a female Muslin ruler of Bhopal. Brookwood Asylum, built between the Basingstoke Canal and Kaphill village, was Surrey's second County Asylum, built after the Springfield Asylum in Tooting had reached full capacity. The Asylum was renamed Brookwood Hospital in 1919, and closed in 1994. Its records have been kept and catalogued by Surrey History Centre, and include registers, medical records, case books and files, inventories, and photographs.

Woking Cine Club, established in 1959, later Woking Film Makers in 1984, was established to encourage film production as a hobby and further the knowledge and skill of its members. Besides documentary films and instructional films, the group produced fiction films, often with darkly comic themes. The Surrey History Centre holds the records of the club and Screen Archive South East holds copies of many of its productions.

Related resources


John Clarke, The Brookwood Necropolis Railway, pub. Oakwood Press, 1995


Woking Film Makers 1959-2006 (reference number 8070)

Location: Surrey History Centre Records include minute books, correspondence, newsletters, programmes, photographs of club members using equipment, press cuttings, certificates, diaries, scripts and storyboards


Woking History Society, founded in 1968 as Mayford History Society

Exploring Surrey's Past: Woking Film Makers: Records 1959-2006, presented by Mr. AG Pellatt on behalf of the committee members of Woking Film makers in November 2006

Introduction to the cine club and details of records held by the Surrey History Centre