The Woking control room was built during 1936. One of five control rooms built to control the electricity on the Southern Rail network. A Swedish firm Asean was contracted to construct the flat roof building which was designed by architect James Robb Scott.
Externally a fairly non descript concrete block with some windows houses one of the finest control rooms I have seen. A large oval room with white domed ceiling houses a small central switchboard desk and four decorative cast iron poles each holding up a large copper dish, these light up the room with huge bulbs which resemble a small rugby ball. Other than these five items the room is pretty much empty, however the walls are adorned with black control panels.
As you can see each separate panel is related to a certain location. These panels control the substation at each location, I believe mercury arc rectifiers were spread out evenly along the line also. If faults were reported they could perform rapid reconfiguration of the electricity flow with the panels so there was no actual downtime on the railways.
It only took two on site engineers to control this section of the railway and organise repair work when faults occurred. Ironically with controlling all this electricity they still had to wind up the switchboard to use the telephone.
The control room remained in use up until 1997 when a new substation further down the line took over most of the tasks. Only one other of the five control rooms survive, sadly this has been stripped out and is used for storage.
The offices here are still in constant use and the building is grade ii listed. It does open for one or two days a year as part of the Open London heritage weekend which is how I got the pleasure to visit this awesome delight.
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