Godalming, Surrey> Picture Gallery> Godalming Section> This page
The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
High Street, Crown Court, 1950s

Godalming had a parking problem before World War Two, as there was no car park in the town. This was highlighted in a letter to the local paper in 1939:

"Sir, - In going over some recent copies of your paper I notice the question of a car park has again arisen in Godalming.
Up to within two years ago we did all our shopping in Godalming, but by that time it was such a worrying business with the car that we decided we could not put up with it. ... I have always regretted the fact that there was no car park ... Godalming is a good shopping centre ... If people could park their cars near the shops and cut out the hurry and worry, it should prove indeed a blessing

Despite some earlier objections, Godalming Corporation authorised negotiations to purchase 15 and 15a High Street, as well as land at the rear stretching to the Burys footpath, in late 1943. They signed the contracts in January the following year, intending to use the area as a central car park for the town and also to build public conveniences[2]. After World War Two ended, whilst most members of the Council agreed a car park was needed, opinion was divided about it being placed in the town centre[3]. In 1949 there were protests at a Council meeting as a letter had been received from the Ministry of Town and Country Planning urging there should be no hasty action to demolish of part of Crown Court listed as being of special architectural or historic interest. The Council planned to demolish two derelict cottages and remove the two shops they had bought to provide an exit from the car park. They feared more delays[4] but the scheme finally went ahead.

It was not until 1950 that the Crown Court car park was opened on the land behind part of the High Street and it was announced that, for an experimental period, parking was to be free[5]. At Christmas time that year the Rotary Club's Christmas tree was erected in the car park. "It made a picturesque spectacle, seen through the arch of the reconstructed 16th century Crown Court"[6]. Parking here was still free in 1956 as were the public lavatories (on the far side of the archway, above), although the latter were not being treated overly well[7].

The message on the back of this car included the comment: "This is a very nice carpark".
There was no entry to the car park through Crown Court, but the road signs on the walls on
either side would have been ineffective because of the poor visibility.

The only entrance was via the one-way Great George Street, which was extremely narrow. The problem was first highlighted in late 1951 when a lorry unloading beer at Messrs. Tyler's completely blocked Great George Street[8]. The delivery man was prosecuted and fined, but the difficulty remained. The street was not widened until buildings on the eastern side of Great George Street, including the old county branch library, were demolished to make way for a supermarket development[9].

The car park's exit was directly into the High Street, passing under the archway and between the 16th century cloth workers' cottages shown here. On the back cover of the book "Memories ..." are two good photographs, one of the buildings there before Waitrose was built and a second showing a rare photo of a High Street shop with the sign "New Car Park | Building Works | Deekes and Steere" in one of its windows[9]. That shop was demolished, as were parts of the buildings behind it, to create the Crown Court of today. The "Crown" had been the name of an eighteenth century inn that had closed by 1795, according to research by John Janaway[10].

Also 1956.
Looking through Crown Court towards the High Street.
On the far side of the road was a good haberdashery, Trimwells, who sold "dressmaking and
furnishing sundries". W. T. Cullen was next door at No.97.
Neither outlet is on the High Street today. The estate agents, Clarke Gammon, has also gone
although the business remains elsewhere in Surrey.

In 1958 a Mr Herrington, who had a shoe repairing business at Grayswood, wanted to establish a branch in Great George Street. He was turned down because it was considered to be industrial use, so he appealed against the decision. There was an Inquiry against the Borough Council's refusal, but his appeal did not succeed[11].

By 1963 councillors discovered that one in five car owners were not paying the 6d. charge they were entrusted to pay for using Godalming's car parks. The fee was made compulsory and motorists were to be fined for non-payment in future[12].

Less than twenty years after the car park opened the Crown Court exit was closed because of traffic congestion in the High Street. The road through the Burys was built along the route of an existing footpath and a new car park entrance/exit was made at the same time, making access far easier[13].

Godalming was a municipal borough until 1974, after which it became part of the Borough of Waverley.

In 2022 and 2023 Waverley Borough Council sought views about re-development here, including to severely reduce the 300 parking spaces and build 26 homes. A successful campaign by local businesses and many in the community resulted in the plan being abandoned.

The Surrey History Centre has a picture of the former Crown Court building.

1. "Crown Court, Godalming". Salmon Series Pub J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, No.21440. Printed in England. Posted on 28 Jan 1954 at Godalming. Personal message, not relevant.
2. "Old Houses, Godalming". Valentine & Sons, Ltd., Dundee and London, No.L2262. This is a real photograph. Published in 1956. Posted 10 Jul 1959 in Godalming. Message written the previous day.
3. "Old Godalming". Valentine & Sons, Ltd., Dundee and London, No.L2267. This is a real photograph. Published in 1956. Not used.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Surrey Advertiser", 20 May 1939. Letters to the Editor. Godalming Car Parking. The Cinema at Farncombe offered free parking, but there seemed to be nowhere else with a designated car park.

[2] "West Sussex Gazette", 13 January 1944

[3] "ibid.", 10 July 1947. Opinion Divided on Car Park and By-Pass.

[4] "ibid.", 3 March 1949.

[5] "ibid.", 5 October 1950. The car park was to be opened "shortly".

[6] "ibid.", 28 December 1950.

[7] "ibid.", 5 January 1956. It was reported that the hand basins in the public loos were being used for both washing muddy football boots and dogs, and hot water was being run to waste.

[8] "ibid.", 27 December 1951. Road to Car Park Blocked. The case went before the Court, when George T. Crawt was fined £1 for obstruction.

[9] There is a photograph showing the very narrow Great George Street before it was widened in "Memories of Farncombe and Godalming" (1981), The Godalming Trust, ed. David Coombs.

[10] Janaway, John (2003) "Godalming and Farncombe Pubs and Breweries", Ammonite Books, Godalming, Surrey. ISBN 1-869866-14-2..

[11] "West Sussex Gazette", 5 June 1958.

[12] "Daily Herald", 3 April 1963. How honest are you (over the little things I mean)?

[13] The 1967 and 1968 Ordnance Survey maps show The Burys as a wide road and the new car park entrance was also drawn on these maps.

Godalming Pictures Index
Next page
Previous page
Elsewhere on this website
Godalming, Surrey (about)
Godalming, Surrey: Murder, Trial and Execution, 1817-18