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The recorded history of Weybridge is dominated by transport - from oxcarts to commuting through cyberspace....

Roads & Bridges

Weybridge was founded and named by a crossing of the River Wey, a tributary of the River Thames back in the 13th century. Weybridge was of little significance merely being on the passage to Chertsey in the Manor of Byfleet.

And today Weybridge is bordered by the fast dual carriageway A3 from London to Portsmouth to the East and to the south the 8 lane (soon to be 12?) notorious M25 London orbital motorway.

Weybridge is at the centre of a close collection of bustling towns and its High Street is a heavily used and connection between Walton and the Runneymede towns of Chertsey, and Addlestone.

Canals

Weybridge's royal connection was the building of Oatlands Palace in 1537 by Henry VIII when, we are told, the inhabitants of Weybridge asked to be excused from conveyance of the royal baggage because they had only one cart!

The Palace's main contribution to the future was, on its demolition in 1650, to provide its bricks to line the lock walls of the new Wey Navigation. This one of the first canalised rivers in England to provide Guilford, the county town of Surrey, with access for its goods to the world via the Thames and London. The project's founder Richard Weston of Sutton Place faced much local opposition to this new method of transport - as echoed today by the opposition to the further widening of the M25 motorway.

Railways

Weybridge was still a sleepy village when Victoria ascended to the throne in 1836. But that was rudely shattered two years later with the opening of the London & Southampton Railway. Weybridge was now within easy, convenient and inexpensive access of London.

The Surrey countryside was a great attraction to the upwardly mobile London office managers and workers. Grand villas appeared in St George's Hill - still one of the most sought after areas around London. The breakup of the Oatlands Estate opened up further opportunities for development and Weybridge became a bustling town. The medieval church was swept aside to be replaced with St Jame's and the town took the shape we see today.

Weybridge Station on a workday morning is crowded with commuters to London courtesy(?) of South West Trains - the inheritors from British Rail of ritual abuse for the difficulties of operating one of the busiest commuter railway in the world.

Check the train Weybridge timetable at the
Railtrack Website

Motor Cars

No sooner had the reliable motor car been developed then people started racing them!

Hugh Locke-King brought professional racing to England with the first race track at Brooklands. This famous circuit with its high banked curves is remembered both for those dashing green Bentleys racing between the wars and a world speed record was made on the track in 1909. Malcolm Campbell set up shop to build his famous Bluebirds. Campbell's success and increasing speed outstretched the capability of even such a fast track and future attempts had to use a flat straight course - at Pendine Sands in Wales and then across to America.

 

 

Bluebird at Daytona Beach, 935
Bluebird at Daytona beach, Florida in 1935

The race track closed in 1939 with the outbreak of the second world war. It still lives on with significant parts restored as part of the Brooklands Museum. This is contained within a Business Park that is vital to the prosperity of Weybridge today and the UK home of Toshiba (see below).

Visit the Brooklands Website

Aircraft

The Brooklands motor racing circuit soon had an airfield for visiting fliers. The workshops that built cars and their engines expanded into building aircraft. Weybridge became the home of Vickers who designed and built many of the Britain's world beating aeroplanes. These include:

  • Vickers Vimy the World War I bomber and first aeroplane to cross the Atlantic
  • Spitfire and Hurricane fighters that won the Battle of Britain in 1941
  • Wellington - designed by Barnes-Wallis and mainstay of RAF Bomber Command for first years of the World War II.
  • Vickers Viscount - the worlds first successful turbo-prop airliner
  • Vickers VC-10 - the world's first rear 4 engined intercontinental jetliner

Vickers Viscount
Vickers Viscount

As modern civil aircraft traffic developed the siting of the West Byfleet airfield became impractical - both in the length of its runway and disruption to other traffic because of its proximity to Heathrow and Farnborough. The decline of the British civil aircraft industry sealed its fate. In 1982 the airfield was closed. It is now been reborn as the successful Weybridge Business Park.

Mobile Computing

Weybridge is heavily involved in the transport of the future with the UK home of Toshiba Information Systems. Toshiba dominate the market for computing on the move. Their range of portable notebook computers allow people to work anywhere in the world and simultaneously keep in touch with with their office and home systems by fixed or mobile telecommunication links.

Toshiba and mobile phone

Visit the Toshiba Website

Interested in history? Click one of these links for historical information in that area.
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