(c’83-’86) The Hopwood brothers (Barry and Shawn) took occupancy of the Woking Grammar School for Boys – which had subsequently been used as an annexe to Woking College until 1981 and what has been the Woking police station since 1990 – and launched The Old Schoolhouse in mid ’83. Sometime it’s short lifetime Dr. Feelgood, Manfred Mann, Hawkwind, Edwin Starr, Cardiacs and many local bands all played here. It closed in December ’86.
Guildford based, Pied Piper and the Rats are known to have played in August ’83, sharing the stage with Plan A, La Maison Du Chants, and Freedom Dance. Black Easter dropped by on 9 February ’84. The Screaming Lullabies appearances included a support slot on 26 April ’84; with No Joy, COW, and The Spin Dolls, for goth rock band In Excelsis, formed by former UK Decay guitarist Steve Spon. Three months earlier, on 14 January ’84, Screaming Lullibies had headlined there, with Dark Paradise, COW and The Spin Dolls in support. LongPig (often listed as Long Pig) gigged extensively in the Woking area and notably on the 19 April ’84, they performed at the opening of the Jailhouse Club, held at The Old Schoolhouse. Almost two years after !Action Pact!’s “Suicide Bag” EP, was released in July ’82 and rocketed to the top of the British punk chart they graced the Schoolhouse stage on 7 June ’84. FRA were at the venue supporting Glib Thicket, which saw the band labelled “socially concerned peroxide inheritors of the Rush vision” by Andy Marstrand previously of Woking bands Exodus and Interface. 1984 was also the year that Actifed returned ‘home’ for a gigs at the The Royal, Guildford on 6 June and The Old Schoolhouse, Woking on 14 June.
Lifespan were regular inhabitants of Woking’s Electric Circus at The Old Schoolhouse. In early ’85 Bagshot based What The Curtains committed their four best tracks to video (which Soundscene would love to find) at the venue, including “Acacia Child”. A Jazz Club started on 1 May ’85, featuring Humphrey Lytleton and the Mike Peters Famous Jazz Band as the opening night entertainment. Held every Wednesday; Kenny Baker, Acker Bilk and Terry Lightfoot were all lined-up for headline slots with support thanks to the initial programming of local agent John Boddy. Sang Froid, supported by KURRU and 20 Flight Rockers, took over on 2 May ’85 at the opening night of Tarquin’s (aka Simon George) Karvern Club night, to be held every first Thursday – after the club night had failed twice in ’84 at The Royal, Guildford. This was about the same time that 20 Flight Rockers were invited to play the BBC’s Janice Long show. The Knives were booked for the Kavern Club on 6 June, but we have no record of them showing up. Punk group Brigandage, supported by Joy of Living, and Lost Cherrees rocked in on 16 May ’85. This was Joy of Living’s fifth gig and according to bassist Dave Fanning, he’d had another argument with some of the band who just weren’t pulling their weight and it all fell apart. Towards the end of the year on 5 October seeing Edwin Starr cost you five quid.
On their Criminal Tango Tour, Manfred Mann’s Earthband swung by on 24 Mar ’86 with several tracks preserved on VHS for posterity. Face to Face walked up the street from The Red House in ’86 to performed at the Miss Woking event, report by Soundscene to be “the gig of the year”. Steel Bill and The Buffalos were at the Station Approach location, with The Lost Prophets (not Pontypridd’s pride and joy – they arrived 11years too late), at half the price of a ticket to see Edwin Starr the previous year.
With at least six appearances at Woking’s Old Schoolhouse, Cardiacs were possibly the venues most regular headliner. They definitely graced the stage on 22 Dec ’86, the night after Mega City Four appeared, and the venues last gig with Steel Bill and the Buffalos, The Body Politic and Five O’Clock High in support. And so the curtain fell on The Old Schoolhouse.