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Brenda’s Book Is Full Of Guildford Memories

Published on: 10 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 10 Feb, 2023

Cover of the book The Way It Was For Brenda.

By David Rose

People interested in their local history and those who like a bit of nostalgia, know it’s the sharing of memories and stories that reveal so much of the recent past.

First-hand accounts of what Guildford was once like are a treasure trove of delight, and Brenda Farley has written down her memories of Guildford and her life story and now they’ve been published in a book.

The book is titled The Way It Was For Brenda, and in it she writes that it was her daughter Angela who asked her if she would let her know about the family history and what her life was like as she was growing up.

Brenda had been making notes on all this for some time, and there was plenty of material for a book.

Her parents married in 1924, and her father, a bricklayer, worked for the Friary Brewery as part of its pub maintenance team. The brewery allocated the family a small house in Commercial Road, Guildford.

Commercial Road, Guildford: Brenda’s grandparents, on the left and Brenda (nee Collins), right.

Brenda writes: “We had no garden, just a small backyard that backed onto the cinema in Woodbridge Road, a brick-built toilet was also in the yard.”

In 1936 the family moved to Chilworth, another house that belonged to the brewery, and Brenda recalls that her mum and dad had a busy life bringing up five children (she was the youngest) and they all went to Shalford School.

Brenda writes of her recollections of the Second World War in Chilworth, including: “Chilworth was quite lucky as several bombs dropped nearby in a field by the railway line. One hit Mr Danns’ shop but no one was killed.”

She writes a lot about her childhood, and how the family moved to Merrow after her father had died. Then in adulthood, she writes about working in the cafe at Guildford Lido and how she got engaged on her 21st birthday, and later married Jim.

Brenda Farley.

The book continues with Brenda writing about her children, the good times, but how her marriage eventually failed.

Bringing her story into more recent times, Brenda writes how she found “new old love”:

“A year or so went by then a chance meeting with Wilf, a childhood friend of my brother Dennis, from Chilworth. He came to see me in the evenings and we seemed to get on well.”

They married in 1994 at Guildford Register Office.

Brenda writes about a school reunion she had in 2016, when she was aged 81 and brings her story up to date with words that resonate now and will surely do in years to come.

“It has been a strange few years, in March 2020 a pandemic broke out (Covid-19) and we all had to go into lockdown and stay in our social bubbles. No visitors, so Angela and Jazmin set up Skype and on Sunday afternoons we could see each other and have a chat for a while.”

The book, that features a lot of photos too, is available for a donation of about £5 or more, as Brenda is donating all proceeds to Guildford Action to help homeless people.

To buy a copy and arrange delivery, send an email to Brenda at

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