“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Woking's Alien Invasion

In January I visited a friend whose house backs on to Horsell Common in Woking. During my time there we decided to take a walk on the common and to visit the sand pits for which the common is famous. For those readers who are not up on their science fiction, the sand pit on Horsell Common is the location where the first Martian tripod lands in H G Wells' “The War of The Worlds”.

The main sand pit on Horsell Common. The sand pits are not normally filled with water, but two months of near constant rain has converted the sand pits into small lakes.
H G Wells lived in Woking at 143 Maybury Road (between 1895 and 1896), and it was during his time living in Woking that he wrote his early drafts of both “The War of The Worlds” and “The Invisible Man”. Because H G Wells was a resident of Woking, it is no surprise that he would decide to use Woking as the first place that a Martian Tripod would attack and destroy. Perhaps H G Wells had a vision of what Woking would be like in the 21st Century, and knew it would benefit from a good blast from a Tripod's heat ray.

143 Maybury Road and its commemorative plaque. 
It seems that the town of Woking has decided to make the most of its link to H G Wells and “The War of The Worlds”; references to the man and his science fiction masterpiece can be found throughout the town.

The most striking tribute to "The War of The Worlds” in Woking town centre is a 7m tall sculpture of a Martian Tripod. This sculpture was installed in April 1998 and seems to be making its way from the direction of Horsell Common into Woking to lay waste to the town.  A few metres from the Tripod a metallic cylinder can be found partially buried in the pavement. This cylinder has impacted into the pavement as a result of its journey from Mars. It was no-doubt bringing another Tripod to aid in the battle against mankind.

The pedestrian way that surrounds the Tripod and the cylinder is scattered with representations of Earth-bound bacteria. It was Earthly bacteria (not man-kinds weaponry) that eventually halted the alien invasion in “The War of The Worlds”.

The Woking Tripod.

The underside of the Tripod. The sculpture is wonderfully detailed.
A dedication underneath the Tripod sculpture. 
A few meters from the Tripod, a crashed cylinder which has brought a Tripod to Earth.

Depictions of Earthly bacteria surround the Tripod and the Cylinder.

Another visually striking tribute, is the mural in the underpass which takes pedestrians under Victoria Way. The mural depicts the Martian Tripod which landed on Horsell Common and the ensuing carnage as Tripods destroy the town of Woking.

The mural in the Victoria Way underpass.

A cylinder lands in the sand pit on Horsell Common. 

Woking gets a touch of heat ray. 

More cylinders fall to Earth whilst a ship is attacked.
Even the local Wetherspoons (The Herbert George Wells) has tried to cash in on Woking's link to H G Wells. The pub has a selection of H G Wells memorabilia on display inside, and has a small window display on the outside for passersby to peruse.

The local chain boozer - The Herbert George Wells.
The Herbert George Wells' window display.
So if you want to visit the site of an alien crash landing and cannot get to Roswell or Rendlesham, then perhaps Woking is the next best thing.

Pictures, Surrey (January 2014).

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