A glimpse of Woking between the wars is the focus of a current photographic exhibition by Sidney Francis at the Lightbox Gallery
Photographs around Woking: Sidney Francis in the 1920s and 1930s gives us a glimpse of life in Woking and the surrounding towns and villages nearly a century ago.
This fascinating, uplifting collection is testament to the area’s vibrant and diverse community spirit.
Visitors can gaze at locals dressing up celebrating Woking Carnival in 1927; family-owned businesses such as dairies, butchers, printers and confectioners proudly displaying their wares; crowds gathering for Remembrance Day memorials; religious holidays at the Shah Jahan Mosque (Britain’s first purpose-built mosque) and families uniting for modest yet joyful wedding parties, sports teams, Eid celebrations, parades, dancers and musicians.
Sidney Francis was born Sidney Francis Patient in Southwark. By the time of the 1911 census, he was working as a photographer’s assistant in Crawley. By 1916 he was working as a photographer in Godalming. During the First World War, he served in the Royal Air Force.
From 1923 Francis lived at 88 Maybury Road in Woking, where he also ran his photography business. Often describing himself as a “photographic chemist”, Francis’ work included wedding photography, commissions for local businesses, event photography for local newspapers the Woking News & Mail and Surrey Advertiser, and commissions for The Islamic Review.