War of the Worlds Walk

I was staying in Woking for financial reasons during New Years (London was... ridiculous costs) and I had no idea the HG Wells had lived in the city, and not only that, had patterened much of the War of the Worlds novel on locations in and about the city.

I had a few hours to kill one morning after recovering from festivities so I looked up the local areas website on the trail (It wasn't very good, so I'm making my own).

The Arrival - Woking

The South Western Railway from Waterloo station, or even from Wimbledon tube station, gives you trips to Woking. Some with more stops than others, but eventually, you'll get there, and it's a great spot to start the trail! You head east to start my path, use the map below to get you around this.
Here at spot #1 we have the house that HG Wells lived while writing the book. You see the door is trashed, and it's for rent. Apparently there are way too many visitors and maybe some aggressive ones.
Over to spot #2, the Monument Bridge, but named the Ottershaw Bridge in the book: By eight o'clock a number of boys and unemployed men had already started for the common to see the "dead men from Mars." That was the form the story took. I heard of it first from my newspaper boy about a quarter to nine when I went out to get my Daily Chronicle. I was naturally startled, and lost no time in going out and across the Ottershaw bridge to the sand pits.
Now to #3 the Peace Garden/Muslim Soldier Cemetary. Not really related, but it's a nice place on the way.
Location #4 is the All Saints Church, which was completed while the story bring written, but I can't find anything about it in the book. There is a trail that continues down a stream to #5 though.
#5 is the Sands at Bleak House, where in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dr. Jekyl stays here looking into this Martian menace.
Area #6 is a muddy trail and if you haven't brought boots, I guess doom on you at this stage. My experience is it's always raining at some point here and will probably still be muddy.
Ahhh point #7, the sandpits where the first Martian cylinder was found: The Thing itself lay almost entirely buried in sand, amidst the scattered splinters of a fir tree it had shivered to fragments in its descent. The uncovered part had the appearance of a huge cylinder, caked over and its outline softened by a thick scaly dun-coloured incrustation. It had a diameter of about thirty yards. He approached the mass, surprised at the size and more so at the shape, since most meteorites are rounded more or less completely. It was, however, still so hot from its flight through the air as to forbid his near approach. A stirring noise within its cylinder he ascribed to the unequal cooling of its surface; for at that time it had not occurred to him that it might be hollow.

He remained standing at the edge of the pit that the Thing had made for itself, staring at its strange appearance, astonished chiefly at its unusual shape and colour, and dimly perceiving even then some evidence of design in its arrival. The early morning was wonderfully still, and the sun, just clearing the pine trees towards Weybridge, was already warm. He did not remember hearing any birds that morning, there was certainly no breeze stirring, and the only sounds were the faint movements from within the cindery cylinder. He was all alone on the common.

Then suddenly he noticed with a start that some of the grey clinker, the ashy incrustation that covered the meteorite, was falling off the circular edge of the end. It was dropping off in flakes and raining down upon the sand. A large piece suddenly came off and fell with a sharp noise that brought his heart into his mouth.
#8 the woods, running home: In the sudden thud, hiss, and glare of the igniting trees, the panic-stricken crowd seems to have swayed hesitatingly for some moments. Sparks and burning twigs began to fall into the road, and single leaves like puffs of flame. Hats and dresses caught fire. Then came a crying from the common. There were shrieks and shouts, and suddenly a mounted policeman came galloping through the confusion with his hands clasped over his head, screaming.

"They're coming!" a woman shrieked, and incontinently everyone was turning and pushing at those behind, in order to clear their way to Woking again. They must have bolted as blindly as a flock of sheep. Where the road grows narrow and black between the high banks the crowd jammed, and a desperate struggle occurred. All that crowd did not escape; three persons at least, two women and a little boy, were crushed and trampled there, and left to die amid the terror and the darkness.

For my own part, I remember nothing of my flight except the stress of blundering against trees and stumbling through the heather. All about me gathered the invisible terrors of the Martians; that pitiless sword of heat seemed whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead before it descended and smote me out of life. I came into the road between the crossroads and Horsell, and ran along this to the crossroads.
#9 Martians are coming about and shit is getting real: The undulating common seemed now dark almost to blackness, except where its roadways lay grey and pale under the deep blue sky of the early night. It was dark, and suddenly void of men. Overhead the stars were mustering, and in the west the sky was still a pale, bright, almost greenish blue. The tops of the pine trees and the roofs of Horsell came out sharp and black against the western afterglow. The Martians and their appliances were altogether invisible, save for that thin mast upon which their restless mirror wobbled. Patches of bush and isolated trees here and there smoked and glowed still, and the houses towards Woking station were sending up spires of flame into the stillness of the evening air.
#10 paths to Horsell, the main way people were coming and going in the book: About eleven a company of soldiers came through Horsell, and deployed along the edge of the common to form a cordon. Later a second company marched through Chobham to deploy on the north side of the common. Several officers from the Inkerman barracks had been on the common earlier in the day, and one, Major Eden, was reported to be missing. The colonel of the regiment came to the Chobham bridge and was busy questioning the crowd at midnight. The military authorities were certainly alive to the seriousness of the business. About eleven, the next morning's papers were able to say, a squadron of hussars, two Maxims, and about four hundred men of the Cardigan regiment started from Aldershot.
#11 Wheatsheaf commons, miserable conditions around here
Public house at point #12 now known as The Wheatsheaf, people start to talk about things to come here: The thought of the confined creature was so dreadful to him that he forgot the heat and went forward to the cylinder to help turn. But luckily the dull radiation arrested him before he could burn his hands on the still-glowing metal. At that he stood irresolute for a moment, then turned, scrambled out of the pit, and set off running wildly into Woking. The time then must have been somewhere about six o'clock. He met a waggoner and tried to make him understand, but the tale he told and his appearance were so wild-his hat had fallen off in the pit-that the man simply drove on. He was equally unsuccessful with the potman who was just unlocking the doors of the public-house by Horsell Bridge. The fellow thought he was a lunatic at large and made an unsuccessful attempt to shut him into the taproom. That sobered him a little; and when he saw Henderson, the London journalist, in his garden, he called over the palings and made himself understood.

"Henderson," he called, "you saw that shooting star last night?"

"Well?" said Henderson.

"It's out on Horsell Common now."

"Good Lord!" said Henderson. "Fallen meteorite! That's good."

"But it's something more than a meteorite. It's a cylinder-an artificial cylinder, man! And there's something inside."

Horsell bridge is location #13, where most of the people from Woking go through to see the commotion, before it comes to them: That night nearly forty people lay under the starlight about the pit, charred and distorted beyond recognition, and all night long the common from Horsell to Maybury was deserted and brightly ablaze.

The news of the massacre probably reached Chobham, Woking, and Ottershaw about the same time. In Woking the shops had closed when the tragedy happened, and a number of people, shop people and so forth, attracted by the stories they had heard, were walking over the Horsell Bridge and along the road between the hedges that runs out at last upon the common. You may imagine the young people brushed up after the labours of the day, and making this novelty, as they would make any novelty, the excuse for walking together and enjoying a trivial flirtation. You may figure to yourself the hum of voices along the road in the gloaming...

And even after that, people still kept going into the teeth of the lion: A curious crowd lingered restlessly, people coming and going but the crowd remaining, both on the Chobham and Horsell bridges. One or two adventurous souls, it was afterwards found, went into the darkness and crawled quite near the Martians; but they never returned, for now and again a light-ray, like the beam of a warship's searchlight swept the common, and the Heat-Ray was ready to follow. Save for such, that big area of common was silent and desolate, and the charred bodies lay about on it all night under the stars, and all the next day. A noise of hammering from the pit was heard by many people.
#14 the end of this little jaunt, in the city of Woking itself, where much mayhem and destruction occurred, but also the salvation.
A Martian walker in Woking, wreaking destruction One of the cylinders that brought them to us The impossibly small, but native prokaryotes that did in the invaders with no immune systems
Now, time to head off for some food and a drink into Woking!


Read the book before you do this, and you can at many points fall back into the story, imagining what was going on at various points. It's a little disturbing too. Rarely does one get to be in the middle of a story like this.

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