Image: detail of Footes bakery, September 1979. Surrey Herald Newspapers, courtesy of Gareth Butler 

Before the beginning of the 20th century there were very few places to eat out for the general population, other than hotels and inns. In Woking there was only one refreshment room ‘The Mikado’ at 12 The Broadway listed in the street directory of 1905.

As the century progressed, so the culture of eating out grew, in Woking as well as the rest of Britain. Up to the 1920s these establishments were mainly known as dining rooms, refreshment rooms and tea rooms. During the 1930s and 1940s more cafés and restaurants were opened in and around central Woking, Byfleet, Knaphill and Brookwood.

In the Second World War Woking and Byfleet both had a ‘British Restaurant’. These were communal kitchens created in 1940 to help people who had been bombed out of their homes, had run out of ration coupons or otherwise needed help.

By the mid-1960s there were 32 cafés and restaurants, often three or four within a short distance in the same road, such as in Goldsworth Road, Chertsey Road, Commercial Road and Walton Road. Of these only two were Chinese restaurants, one Steakhouse and one Wimpy Bar.

In the first few years of the 1970s more Asian and Chinese restaurants were opening, as well as a few Italian. Now we have numerous restaurants with cuisines from all over the world, as well as coffee chains in every town.

Learn more in this free heritage display outside Woking's Story, our local history museum.