Fringe Box



Down By The Riverside

Published on: 28 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2012

by David Rose

Guildford’s river frontage, between the Town Bridge and the Onslow Street bridge, has certainly changed over the years, as these photos show.

It’s an area that was once dominated by the town wharf on the east side and Crooke’s brewery on the west. The site of the brewery later became the Farnham Road Bus Station.

A bird’s eye view of Guildford and the River Wey dating from the 1970s, before the Friary centre was built. Note the area of ‘white space’ towards the top of the picture. That’s where the Friary is today.
I guess this photo is from about the 1870s. It shows the town wharf on the right (east side) and part of Crooke’s brewery opposite. Note the sailing barge moored beside the wharf.

It is an area that today provokes heated comment. Views differ, but most centre around the fact that some sort of development is needed to enhance this part of the town. Suggestions include transforming the car park that is next to the George Abbot pub with perhaps shops and restaurants and a walkway beside the river – all to improve the town’s appearance, while appealing to locals and visitors alike.

It is a part of the town that has, unfortunately, been ‘cut off’ from the High Street and its adjoining streets by the one-way system. To remedy that would take a great deal of planning. Perhaps you have some suggestions?

To find this location today, walk along the towpath (west side of the river) downstream and stop before the Bridge Street bridge. Then turn around (you will be alongside the YMCA building). This view is from about the 1880s and features F. Wheeler’s Weyside Mineral Water Works and the wall of the militia barracks. The old Town Bridge can be seen in the distance.

These photos were shown as part of the picture presentation that followed the guided history walk that Martin Giles and I led on Tuesday morning this week, as part of the Guildford Book Festival.

The Electric Theatre was the start and finishing point of our walk. The picture presentation was given at the theatre and about 30 people enjoyed our walk and talk.

This photo is from about the same position as the previous one. It now shows the Electricity Works building, erected in 1913, and now the Electric Theatre.

We included these images in the presentation as they fitted in quite nicely with the Electric Theatre venue. Some I have used previously in one or two of my books, while others, to my knowledge, have not been shown for years, or at all!

The Farnham Road Bus Station in about the 1950s.
View from the Town Bridge looking downstream in about the late 1960s. Who remembers the footbridge over the river seen here?
A photo taken during the floods of September 1968. Water covers the Farnham Road Bus Station. Debenhams store was then called Plummers.
Work has begun on the town’s one-way system and a new bridge over the river. Circa early 1970s.
View from the Farnham Road Bus Station of the new bridge and the one-way system, or gyratory, road system.
A view taken on the then new bridge. Beyond, you can see the remains of the buildings that were part of the Friary Brewery.
Onslow Street Bus Station not long after the work on the gyratory system was completed. This is now an open space beside the Electric Theatre.
Another view from the Town Bridge looking downstream in about the 1980s. This was before the Electric Theatre came into being. At the time the Bridge Street bridge was undergoing some repairs. I think it was closed to traffic for a few weeks.

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