For many people the local inn is an essential part of village life, a centre not only for a drink but also for games and conversation, as well as in earlier days an escape from energy sapping hard work and cold and uncomfortable homes.
Throughout the 19th century, Woking and the surrounding villages had just a handful of pubs, some dating from Tudor times. But by the end of the century the number was rapidly increasing – population growth and the demands of thirst-making jobs such as working on the land or in nurseries, building canals, railways and the big institutions at Knaphill, all led to a burgeoning of new premises.
The tale of the lost pubs - roughly 24 out of 50 in the borough – is that of shifting populations and shopping centres as in Old Woking, the decline of heavy manual work in the Knaphill and Brookwood area. Even as early as 1914 complaints were made of the loss of clientele to cinemas, and faced with there being other ways of spending leisure time, pubs have closed or have had to re-invent themselves by being family friendly or providing new entertainment such as quiz nights, televised sport, or live music.
See the display outside our permanent local history museum Woking's Story until 6 August 2017.
Acknowledgements to Brewery History Society, Neil Burnett, Byfleet Heritage Society, Hog’s Back Brewery, Rosemary and Richard Christophers, Hazel Gilmore, Richard Langtree, Jenny Mukerji and Kevin Smith.
Image: The King’s Head, Byfleet (c. 1960s), courtesy of Byfleet Heritage Society