Woking's martian tripod
Woking has a Wellsian Martian Tripod, designed by sculptor Michael Condron and opened by TV presenter Carol Vorderman in April 1998, which is located at one of end of Crown Square in Woking town centre.
The War of the Worlds inspired seven metre high, chrome electropolished stainless steel public sculpture is a striking and innovative piece of public art, which takes Woking forward into the future, acknowledges the town’s Wellsian literary heritage, and highlights its cultural image through the slogan: “Woking: where modern science fiction took off”.
Complementing the imposing tripod sculpture and, further bringing the story to the streets of Woking, is the nearby cylindrical ‘pod’, which resembles the crafts in which the book’s space invaders arrived from Mars. The pod is depicted ploughing into the ground (as it did in the book at Horsell Common) and patterns in the surrounding pedestrian paving represent the shock waves resulting from the pod’s landing.
Furthermore, several embellished paving slabs representing the ‘bacteria’ responsible for, eventually, destroying the Martian invaders can also be seen. One ‘broken’ bacteria slab is situated under one of the tripod’s legs, which portrays the bacteria creeping upwards to destroy the seemingly invincible invader.
The following excerpt from H.G. Wells’ masterpiece, The War of the Worlds, describes the moments when the Martian tripods landed in Horsell Common and the scenes that unfolded:
“And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand... Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as it went striding along, and the brazen hood that surmounted it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head looking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs of green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the monster swept by me."