Godalming is an historic market town, civil parish and the administrative centre of the Borough of Waverley in Surrey, England. It is located south southwest of Guildford, traversing the banks of the River Wey in a hilly, heavily wooded part of western Surrey.
In 2011, the UK census population figure for Godalming was 21,804.
In the year 1300, the town was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. Its major industry at the time was the production of woollen cloth. This enterprise contributed to Godalming’s prosperity over the next few centuries, until a sudden decline in the 17th century. At that point, the people applied their skills to the latest knitting and weaving technologies and began producing stockings in a variety of materials, and later applying themselves to leatherwork.
A willingness to adapt from one industry to another meant that Godalming continued to thrive. For example, papermaking was adopted in the 17th century, and paper was still manufactured there in the 20th century. The quarrying of Bargate stone also provided an important source of income, as did passing trade - Godalming was a popular stopping point for stagecoaches and the Mail coach between Portsmouth and London. In 1764, trade received an additional boost when early canalisation of the river took place, linking the town to Guildford, and from there to the River Thames and London on the Wey and Godalming Navigations.
So successful was Godalming that in the early 19th century it was considerably larger than Guildford, and by 1851 the population had passed 6,500. It was connected to London by railway in 1849, and to Portsmouth in 1859. It was made a municipal borough in 1835, the year the term was introduced.
Godalming came to world attention in September 1881, when it became the first town in the world to have installed a public electricity supply, which made electricity available to consumers. It was powered by a waterwheel, located at Westbrook Mill, on the river Wey.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Godalming.
Surrey Research Tips
Administrative boundaries of the county of Surrey (Surrey History Centre. The centre has a website with a number of useful indexes--titheholders in various parishes, deaths at the county gaol, etc.)
The website GENUKI provides a very comprehensive list of reference sources for the County of Surrey. It includes: