Set during the time in which HG Wells wrote the book “The War of the Worlds” two giant articulated Martian tripods stride past Founder’s Building at the Royal Holloway University of London in Surrey. The story describes these formidable alien war machines (that were far in advance of anything humanity had devised at the time) swiftly putting down any armed resistance against them whilst razing entire towns and villages to the ground and massacring the local population as they went. Fortunately in this scene however, Founders Building and the leafy campus within it is set has been spared the ruthless attention of the invaders as they march past in the direction towards Windsor under a dark and ominous sky.
The Founders Building is located only a few miles away from where the Martians originally landed on Horsell Common near Woking and would have been recently built at the time of publication but it was never included in the original narrative. It is purely an indulgence on my part since it is here that I studied and graduated in Geology. However, the places and towns described in the book are real and anyone familiar with the story would recognise the locations in their late 1890s setting as the book reads like a historic witness’s account of the catastrophe rather than a work of science fiction.
Furthermore, the two tripods that appear here are instantly recognisable from Jeff Wayne’s musical version of the War of the Worlds and are derived from the accompanying album art. The imagery immediately captured my imagination when I first saw it as a child and I have always associated the Martian fighting-machines with Michael Trim’s design.