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History - Developments in Wokingham Town
Berkshire County Council Minutes:
Wokingham Times Articles, 1968-9, by subject:
Wokingham Times Articles, 1971-5, by subject:
The following articles from 1968 and
1969 show how Wokingham was rapidly growing from a rural market town to become a
centre of the 'M4 Corridor'.
Note: Before Local Goverment Re-organisation in the mid-1970s, 'Wokingham Borough Council' covered just the town of Wokingham, while 'Wokingham Rural District Council' (WRDC) covered the surrounding parishes including Earley, Woodley, Winnersh and Wokingham Without.
August 29th 1968:
Article on the newspaper ‘moving with the times’:
Photos of the different premised culminating in the shop at Peach Street: "Progress and the first major development in Wokingham. The old pub and the row of cottages along Peach Street were demolished to make way for the gleaming glass and chromium shopping parade. The Times took over the prominent corner position it now occupies in 1960, and put in more new modern plant to go with it."
September 5th 1968:
‘We can make Wokingham into the town we want’:
There are hopeful signs that Wokingham Borough Council and the voters can now go forward and work together, says the recently-formed Wokingham Action for Sane Progress Society (WASPS). Referring to its fight against the Land Commission’s Woosehill Lane proposal, the society says it is particularly pleased with Mr. W. R. Straubenzee’s remarks in which he described the Land Commission as "an octopus putting its tentacles out throughout the country without proper regard to local conditions. […]
September 12th 1968:
Photo of prefabs being demolished in Cross Street, Wokingham.
October 3rd 1968:
‘Delivery Delays to Town’:
With the close-down of Wokingham railway goods depot earlier this year, serious delays in the delivery of goods to the town are reported by traders. […]
November 28th 1968:
‘Wokingham will never be a rural market town again’:
- Talk by Mr. Angus MacMillan, who is on the staff pf the Standing Conference on London and South East England Planning, to the Wokingham Society.
April 3rd 1969:
‘Safety Area on a Bend’:
[Photo caption] A new "ghost island" was painted on the London Road at Wokingham last week to regulate traffic on the dangerous bend by Froghall Drive and Clay Lane. It is the result of campaigning by the Borough Council to the County Council for additional safety measures.
April 24th 1969:
‘Big plans for new development in Wokingham’ - List includes offices, showrooms, car parks, homes and bus station:
[…] The plans include residential and office development in Denmark Street, two multi-storey car parks [off Denmark Street], a high density block of showrooms, offices and houses in Peach Street, offices or a banking hall on the corner of Rose Street and Broad Street, a site for the new day centre, a new police station and a new bus station. […]
Suggestions that the [day] centre be at Howard Palmer Green or on the east side of Elms Road were rejected by the [Wokingham Borough Council Planning] committee. Provisional plans for the centre include a large main hall with stage, a large lounge, tea bar, cloakroom accommodation, chiropody room, modern kitchens and a caretaker’s flat. […]
Much of the central area of Wokingham may be scheduled as a conservation area; this means that instead of individual buildings being defined as of historical or architectural interest, the scheduling will apply to the area as a whole.
July 3rd 1969:
‘The Shape of Market Place to Come’:
A model – made by Mr. Philip Le Sauteur of Twyford – of the shops and office block which, as we reported last week, is to be built by J. Kirby & Co. Ltd., and Queensmere Estates Ltd. It will occupy the site stretching from the old Wokingham Club to Dr. Rose’s house, and, said architect Peter Johnson, is designed to keep in character with the town. Car parking space is provided at the rear of the building, as well as additional access.
July 10th 1969:
‘Traders to consider future of Wokingham as shops centre’.
July 17th 1969:
‘Property boom when M4 links with Wokingham: Rise in values of 5 per cent, says estate agent’:
By Tommy Thomson
Wokingham will be set for a mini-boom when it is linked to motorways and other dual carriage roads by the M4 feeder system. This is the view of one of the town’s leading estate agents, Mr. J. A. East. He says: "As soon as you can get to the M4 easily, property values in the Wokingham area are likely to appreciate by at least 5 per cent – and this could happen overnight."
In his view there was no doubt about this and that it would be accompanied by a speed-up in property sales. "With access to the M4 the town will be within easy and direct reach of London. At present its link with London by the minor roads makes Wokingham a little too far away for the man who would like to live in the country and motor daily to his work in town. "If Wokingham keeps the M4 out, it will also be keeping improved values out", Mr. East added.
But meanwhile sales of property in the town and district have slackened. Business is slow as potential buyers mark time while awaiting clarification of the M4 route and the outcome of a public inquiry expected to be held in September. In some instances sellers have cut offered prices in a bid to attract buyers, without result. Throughout the market there is a "wait and see" attitude which is accentuated by holiday influences, shortages of mortgage money and the clamp down on land holding.
Other estate agents share the view of Mr. East. Partner in a big estate firm. Mr. Michael Tagg, said: "Wokingham is the only segment in a circle with a 25-mile radius of London that is not fully developed. Like Windsor, it is an old market town with a lot of history. When the motorway came within very easy reach of Windsor, prices there shot up.
"It has happened in many other towns and could happen here. This is a very attractive residential town in lovely country and people will come to live here. He concluded: "Now is the time to buy Wokingham. Price trends will be upwards in the foreseeable future and an M4 access could be the making of the town".
August 7th 1969:
‘Restaurant fire makes it a ‘near thing’ for Ye Old Rose’:
Firemen at Wokingham logged one of their shortest trips on Saturday - to Ye Olde Rose Inne, in the Market Place - immediately across the road from their station at the Town Hall. [...]
‘How well do you know Wokingham?’:
We know, of course, that Wokingham has been a market town for more than 700 years, and that even in those days it was more than just a simple village. You also know that during the 12th and 13th Centuries it was essentially a town of the forest; many of its inhabitants earning their livelihood as foresters and keepers.
But do you know the first market charter was granted in 1219 to the Bishop of Salisbury, to whom the town belonged? Did you know that until the end of the 18th Century the town had three annual fairs – at the festivals of St. Barnabas and All Saints and on the Thursday before Lent?
And did you know that a curfew dating from 1644 is still rung from All Saints’ Church during the winter months?
Did you know that the Old Town Hall stands on the site of the former Guildhall which was pulled down in 1858? And that the Old Town Hall is just 109 years old with the present fire station originally a covered market?
Are you aware that Wokingham was well known for its industry many centuries ago? A bell foundry was started in the town during the fourteenth century and several churches in the south of Oxfordshire have bells with the name of the Wokingham foundry on them.
The manufacture of silk stockings was Wokingham’s staple industry in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and in 1625 an order existed that all persons in Wokingham having no other trade should work in knitting. The silk stocking industry survived until a spinning mill on Peach Street was destroyed by fire.
So much for the Wokingham of the past. But how much do you remember of the present?
The aerial view of Wokingham was taken just over a year ago and shows quite prominently Peach Street, Rose Street, Denmark Street, Market Place and Broad Street. But Wokingham has changed considerably in the past 12 months and many features in the photograph have been altered. Do you know Wokingham enough to spot them?
October 2nd 1969:
Users of the London Road may have noticed the work being done to provide a footpath to the borough boundary opposite the Plough Inn. It earns a second feather for the nuns of St.. Anne’s Nursing Home who have been campaigning for a walkable all-weather path from the home towards town. A hard standing from the gates of the home to the newly-positioned bus stop was recently provided and it now remains to Berkshire County Council to fill the gap.
If the county gets cracking in the same manner and with the same spirit as has the Borough Council, then the belief of the nuns that prayer can move mountains will indeed be based on fact.
October 16th 1969:
‘No detailed plan for Wokingham development’:
Although a major development scheme is envisaged by Wokingham Borough Council for the Denmark Street area of the town it could be three years before it matured. This was revealed at the council’s open meeting last week, attended by 40 members of the public.
Ald. A. G. Skedgel, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said further discussions were going on and no scheme for a multi story car park had been prepared. There was an overall plan but no detailed plan, merely "a ring around a particular piece of soil" on a map."
He was replying to a question by the Chamber of Trade asking for specific details of a plan which the Chamber said provided facilities for approximately 2,500 vehicles. Mr. Skedgel said that 2,500 was a sweeping statement. "We do not have the exact area of the land in question". Additional parking was being considered on three sites – Denmark Street, Peach Street and Rose Street.
‘Three good car parks’
It was the intention to bring these sites into use over a period of years, firstly as surface parks and ultimately as multi-story car parks. Plans were prepared for Denmark Street and work could go ahead almost immediately to construct a barrier-controlled surface park. "With further discussions going on at present the use of this land for surface parking may be short-lived and the multi-storey car park incorporating a bus station could mature in, say, three years. We have in mind three good car parks in due course. […]
December 4th 1969:
‘Wokingham could be ‘Suburbia without a soul’:
[Report written by the Wokingham Society.]
December 18th 1969:
‘Wokingham’s traffic flow to be reviewed again’.
Thanks are due to Surrey and Berkshire Media, owners of the 'Wokingham Times', for permission to reproduce these articles. Note that microfilm copies of these newspapers can be viewed at both Wokingham and Bracknell Libraries.
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