The Centre Halls represented the first steps in modernising the town centre. Designed by Gollins, Melvin Ward and Partners, the modernist-style building was a council-run complex which opened in 1975. The trowel was used by the Chairman of Woking Urban District Council, Harry Keat, to lay the foundation stone of the Centre Halls building on 20 January 1973. 

The building housed the Rhoda McGaw Theatre and a hall for events, for everything from concerts to wrestling. The theatre was a focus for amateur and community drama in the town and could seat 250: it closed in 1988, reopening in 1992 within the new Peacocks complex. Nearby and built the same time were the town’s first purpose-built library, Wolsey Place, the first shopping precinct, and a little further east the Centre Pools, with its dance hall below.

The Centre Halls were demolished in 1990 to make way for the Peacocks shopping centre, cinema and theatre complex, and to which a rebuilt library was attached.

Acknowledgements to Surrey History Centre who hold scrapbooks and photograph albums from Harry Keat’s time as a councillor, and from which the photographs of the stone laying are taken. The trowel was donated to The Lightbox by his family.

See this Object in Focus now outside Woking's Story.