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The Guildford Dragon Story

Published on: 4 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 5 Mar, 2013

TGDN Dragonby Martin Giles

We are often asked why did you start The Guildford Dragon NEWS and, even more frequently, why ‘Dragon’?

A forerunner of the Guildford Dragon NEWS was the St Catherine’s Village Website. Within St Catherine’s Village, which lies on the south west edge of Guildford, St Catherine’s Hill is a notable pre-historic site on which sits the remains of a 14th century chapel.

Before it was called St Catherine’s Hill is was known as Drake or Draco Hill, Drake and Draco being old English for Dragon. In English mythology it was often believed that Dragons guarded sacred sites and the hill, right by the river, with its freshwater springs, was one such place. So the Dragon was a guardian and from St Catherine’s, and when someone suggested it would be a good name for our planned online newspaper for Guildford we agreed. Another advantage is that it is, we hope, memorable.

So why did we create The Guildford Dragon NEWS? I was bitten by the journalism bug in the 1980s in Canada when I worked as a reporter. Although unable to pursue it as a career on my return to England it remained a latent ambition which was behind my decision to create the St Catherine’s Village website.

David Rose, with his 20 years plus experience in local journalism and as an author of local history books, was involved from the outset, particularly with the local history content. When in 2011 we both became free of other work commitments we decided to create an news website exclusively for Guildford.

we wanted to encourage participation in local politics so that decision making becomes more democratic

We wanted to produce a news service dedicated to Guildford town and as much of the borough as possible. Without affiliation to, or even sympathy with, any political party we wanted to encourage participation in local politics so that decision making becomes more democratic. We also wanted to increase civic pride, partly by encouraging an interest in the town’s past but also by an interest in it’s current maintenance and, perhaps most importantly, it’s future.

With that in mind, and with use of a modern medium, we hoped that we could attract more younger readers and those who, up until now, might have felt that local news was not important to them. We strongly believe it is, it is important to all of us. Local events, plans and conditions often affect us much more, in our day to day lives, than national and global events, very important though they undoubtedly are.

Local events… often affect us much more… than national and global events

We took time to build up our already extensive network particularly in the council but in other areas too and we selected a design for the website that purposely reflected a newspaper, as we wanted readers to feel that it was an online newspaper with the best of newspaper standards.

We did not have large sums of money to invest in publicity and we knew that would restrict the rate readership growth but we have deliberately concentrated our resources on producing news stories for the residents of Guildford using our local knowledge and contacts as much as possible.

We remain a lean machine and we cannot, yet, give as comprehensive a service as we hope to eventually. Nonetheless we are frequently first with Guildford stories which are produced with extensive local knowledge. This allows them to be put it into a historical and local political/economic context.

Eventually, we hope to develop further our business coverage, commerce being of major importance to the success of our town, not just retail but the professional services and burgeoning technology sectors that have found homes here.

This is your online newspaper too

We are particularly proud of our local history ‘Through Time’ section, our Stage Dragon (published within hours of press night performances, so you can read them whilst the show is still running) and our coffee shop reviews. Being an online publication all articles remain available for reference to all readers: a considerable archive resource.

We hope that we can make a small commercial success of The Guildford Dragon NEWS too and we will soon be properly constructing our advertising space which can include video and advertorial articles as well as traditional banner adds, one major advantage of which is the ability to click straight through to the advertiser’s website.

help us to bring Guildford’s news to you

Thank you for reading The Guildford Dragon NEWS. We hope that you find it interesting and that you will become a regular reader. Perhaps you would like to makes us a favourite, bookmark the site or, better still, we think, follow us on Twitter (just use the follow button on the front page) or Facebook and allow us to inform you of new articles as they are published?

If you like what you see why not spread the word to your friends and neighbours? And please don’t forget to let us know of news items in your neighbourhood of Guildford Borough, with photos wherever possible. This is your online newspaper too and your input can really help us to bring Guildford’s news to you.

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Responses to The Guildford Dragon Story

  1. Rosemary Chapman Reply

    March 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Guildburys Theatre Company would be very keen to promote our next production at The Electric Theatre, and also to submit a piece about GTC which celebrates it’s 50th year as one of the leading local theatre groups this year.

    Can you tell me how we need to go about this, please?

    Many thanks.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      March 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you Rosemary. We will be in touch.

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    March 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Congratulations Martin and David for the Guildford Dragon News, in the short time you have had this online newspaper it has become very popular.
    People like my brother, who lives eighty miles away in Eastbourne, can now be updated on Guildford News
    He checks the website daily and has even telephoned me about Guildford news before I have even found out myself.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      March 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      Many thanks Brian. We really appreciate your regular readership and the responses to the ‘Where is this?’ quiz. Good to hear that it helps your brother keep in touch too.
      Martin Giles

  3. Peter Bullen Reply

    March 5, 2013 at 10:56 am

    As a retired journalist, I would like to say how much I enjoy reading the Guildford Dragon which puts local news at the heart of the publication.

    I was interested to read the history of the name which, although memorable, does not put over its function succinctly or clearly. It could be a publication about Wales or even the name of a company house journal. It would be hard to change now but surely something like The Guildford News or The Guildford Gazette would convey what it does immediately? Am I alone in thinking this?

    • Martin Giles Reply

      March 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks Peter. Praise indeed from a retired journo.

      We discussed the name internally at length, when we started. I do appreciate your point of view and, by the way, all publishable views are welcome here but hopefully its memorability will be more important than any lack of intuitiveness. We nearly always use ‘The Guildford Dragon NEWS’ the uppercase NEWS there to hopefully make it clear.



      • Saskia Steinhorst Reply

        November 4, 2019 at 9:47 pm

        If you know that the etymology of the word ‘dragon’ can be traced back to both Greek and Sanskrit meaning “(bring) light” and “see clearly” or “have seen”, then choosing a dragon for a news site is not so farfetched.

        By the way, I ended up on this site due to the article on Guildford Castle. I happen to descend from both John Daborne Senior and Junior.

  4. Ray Springer Reply

    March 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I would just like to add my congratulations on the success of the Guildford Dragon.
    The latest local news is always welcome and so easily available on line.
    Keep up the good work

  5. David Rose Reply

    March 6, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Cheers Ray, and keep on adding your replies to the Where Is This? page.
    And, as we both know, there’s lots of good things going on in Westborough and Park Barn!

  6. John Howell Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Dragons are associated in a number of cultures with the protection of assets including, in English folklore, beautiful princesses. A good name then, for a voice that seeks to defend the beauty of its borough.

    Researching the symbol for our own company logo (, we found that the dragon is one of the most internationally recognised symbols there is. The Welsh version may be the one with which the English are currently most acquainted, but there are and have been some very English Dragons e.g. City of London emblem and the dragon on the flag carried by the English into the Battle of Crecy.

    JH&Co Ltd wishes its fellow dragon happy returns to scale.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Many thanks John and good luck to you and your dragon too.

  7. George Trask Reply

    February 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

    There are so many things that I remember about Guildford, but do others?

    I use to play at Foxenden Quarry in York Road and I remember the raised areas which were air-raid shelters.

    On a recent visit to the area I found that the area had been levelled.

    When I tried to find any info I could not find any photos or anything to do with them, but there were deep shelters that ran under Allen House ground.

    As a youngster I went through the shelter and climbed a long ladder and came out in the Allen House grounds where we were chased by the groundsmen!

    My father was a well known character known as “Trucker” and for many years sold newspapers outside Lyons in the High Street and the Bulls Head pub.

    Maybe someone else has some memmories of these things.

    [David Rose: The deep air-raid shelters under Foxenden Quarry are still there. There are several films of them on You Tube taken a few years ago when they were, on a few occasions during Heritage Open Days, opened to the public courtesy of Guildford Museum staff.

    One of the clips is:

    Pictures of them, taken at one of these open days can be seen in Stanley Newman’s book Guildford The Changing Face (published by Breedon Books in 2002), but now out of print.]

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