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The inner workings of Wokingham

06 April 2021

Peter Must

At Renaissance, we always like to get to know the wonderful local groups in our communities and how we can support their activities further. We recently caught up with Peter Must from the Wokingham Town Society to find out a bit more about the history of the local area and how the society helps the wider Wokingham community.

Tell us a bit more about your role with the society and how long you have been with them?

I actually became Chairman of the Society back in 2009 and I was a committee member for about 18 months prior to that so I have been doing the job for over 10 years now. My role has been both challenging and interesting to say the least.

The main challenge is the pace of development within the town, which is something that we keep a close watch over, especially the growth of housing and other developments.

We are involved in discussions around all the new housing locations in Wokingham. We do not object to new developments as such but are here to ensure that all the correct infrastructure is in place to support this growth. This includes the shops, roads, hospitals and so on that need to be present when people move to new housing. They need an all-round community to plug into and, not to be met with an area that can’t meet their needs.

We also work closely with the local council on planning permission and plans for conservation areas and ensure that these areas are protected from new development.

Could you tell me a bit about the history of Wokingham and how the Society became established?

First of all, the history of Wokingham has its origins in the Anglo-Saxon period when a local Anglo-Saxon tribe, led by a man named Wocca, originally founded a settlement that then became   Woking. Wokingham was then established as the original community began to grow.

The Society actually came about when a local man, Anthony Cross, was discussing the ‘awful new development’ which was due to be built with the pub landlord and they decided to take it upon themselves to rectify the situation and form the Society in 1964.

Since then, Wokingham has continued to grow and so has the need to be watchful of the development in the area.

Could you tell me about the work you are doing within Wokingham?

Our goal is to watch over and inform the local community where we live and invite those involved in development and conservation to join in and talk to our meetings.

We also invite local authors and those who know a great deal about the history of the    area.

Back in 2000 we were given a significant bequest from the will of local resident Isobel Elliston Cliffton. The money from this bequest is used to spread the word about Wokingham, our achievements as a community and the history of the local area by publishing articles in the newsletters of other nearby societies focusing on conservation.

The other main project which we have been working on is putting up blue plaques around Wokingham to honour significant buildings and residents. We have a trail guide showing and describing the locations of the blue plaque s.

We recently secured a plaque at the Wokingham train station footbridge which was built in the 1880’s to keep people out of harm’s way. We put in an application to have the bridge renovated and have since had confirmation from South Western Railway to say they will be repairing and refurbishing the bridge. Our concern for our heritage and efforts to identify this has produced a brilliant outcome.

You mentioned you have some friends who are owners at Renaissance Wokingham?

They were actually among the first residents to move into the community. They had recently sold their home and were looking to downsize. Because of this, they were happy to wait for all of the renovations to be completed and have been very happy since moving in.

What activities are you looking forwards to running in the future once these lockdowns are behind us?

I think it will be the security of being able to have our open town meetings once again. At these events, everyone from the town can come and hear about our updates. We have not held one since November 2019 but have kept in close contact with our members.

We miss the social element of meeting our members in the local community face to face and having tea and biscuits.

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If you are looking for a home in a lively community packed full of history, then get in touch with the team to find out more about the last few later living homes available at Renaissance Wokingham on 01183 150 808 or email [email protected].