A striking new public plaza in Woking Town Centre has been named in honour of the founding father of science fiction, Herbert George Wells, author of War of the Worlds.
Local dignitaries joined the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, at the unveiling of the newly named ‘Wells Plaza’, the pedestrian area between Victoria Way and Chobham Road, today (Friday 20 September), the eve of Wells’ 153rd birthday.
The recently renovated pedestrian plaza features conservation paving already used to great effect across the town centre and seating for quiet contemplation. The centrepiece of the plaza is local artist Wesley H. Harland’s inspiring bronze sculpture of Wells, ‘Novelist & Thinker’, which was unveiled in 2016.
Towering seven feet tall, ‘Novelist & Thinker’ took inspiration from many of Wells’ best-selling novels. Resting in the hand of the author is the cavorite sphere spaceship from The First Men in the Moon; on the back of Wells’ chair the date 802,701AD, the year the time traveller meets the Morlocks and Eloi in The Time Machine; and of course, creeping across the base of the statue is alien red weed from The War of the Worlds.
From Wells Plaza, the seated author will forever more observe his finest creation, The Martian, which stands sentinel over Crown Square.
Wells made Woking famous in the late 19th Century by choosing Horsell Common in Woking as the location for his Martian landing in the hugely popular science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds.
He moved to Woking in May 1895. Whilst his stay was brief, lasting less than 18 months, it proved to be an extremely creative period, perhaps the most productive of his whole career. Wells planned and wrote The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man, completed The Island of Dr Moreau, wrote and published both The Wonderful Visit and pioneering cycle novel, The Wheels of Chance – all influenced by his time in Woking.
Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, Mayor of Woking, said: “Wells is arguably one of the nation’s most treasured writers. Whilst his time in Woking was brief, it was one of his most prolific as an author. Not many places can boast such strong literary heritage and we should be proud.
“Wells Plaza is the culmination of many years hard work by Council officers and many dedicated members of the local community. It is a fitting tribute to the founding father of science fiction and perfectly complements Wesley’s stunning bronze sculpture.
“I truly hope that Wells Plaza becomes a focal point for future cultural celebrations and provides a space to inspire authors for generations to come.”
The works to renovate Wells Plaza forms part of the Woking Integrated Transport Project, a multi-million pound highway infrastructure transformation project in Woking Town Centre.
For more information about H.G. Wells and his connection with Woking, please visit www.wellsinwoking.info