Thursday, 15 February 2018

Joseph Springford (Private No. 940171) - 17th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Joseph Springford (Private No. 94017) - 17th Battalion Sherwood Foresters - 117th Brigade - 39th Division. (Formerly No. 8671 The Cambridgeshire Regiment)

Joseph was one of a large local family. He first registered for school at Eton Porny on the 21st October, 1895 and left school in December 1902. In all probability he attended the infants' school in Eton Wick for two years before going to Eton. The family home in 1895 was recorded as 6, Bell Cottages, Alma Road, Boveney Newtown. Later the family moved to No. 4, Hope Cottages, Common Road, and some years later to 3, Victoria Place, a terraced house about eight doors along the same road from Hope Cottages. By the beginning of 1918 there were six Springford brothers serving in the armed forces. Two were destined to die before the November armistice, although Albert and Harry who enlisted early in the war, returned safely.

It is not known when Joseph enlisted in the army at Oxford, or what work he pursued before joining the 17th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, also known as the Welbeck Rangers. It was June 1st, 1915 when the Battalion was raised by the Mayor and recruiting committee of Nottingham. It was not unusual, at this early stage of the Great War, for Battalions to be raised by local dignitaries, towns, cities and even sporting associations. In October 1915 the 17th went to Aldershot as part of 117th Brigade, 39th Division. The following month they moved to Witley, and on December 10th were taken over by the War Office.

On March 6th, 1916 the Battalion arrived in France. The Battle of the Somme started at 7.30 a.m. on July 1st, 1916, but not until the end of August would the 17th Sherwood Foresters become involved. From the 24th August until the 28th they were being moved towards the front, and on September 2nd went into trenches near Beaumont Hamel. At 5.10 a.m. on the 3rd, 650 men and 20 officers of the Battalion advanced through No Man's Land and by 6 a.m. had taken the German front line. In attempting to advance further they met strong machine gun fire. At 1.50 p.m. they withdrew, having suffered many casualties.

That evening they fell back to Mailly Maillet Wood having sustained 454 killed and wounded of the original 670. The Battalion's first day of action was a bitter experience. Further Somme action followed at the Serre sector front line on September 20th, at Bertrancourt on September 30th and at the Thiepval sector of the front line on October 5th. It was here that the enemy attacked using flamethrowers before being driven back. The 17th Battalion were again in on the front line at Thiepval River sector on the 16th October. Subsequent action involved more hard combat near Senlis and Martinsart Wood.

On November 14th, with Somme battles drawing to an inconclusive end, the Battalion was relieved and sent to Warloy, Three days later they entrained at Candas for St Omer. In July 1917 the Battalion, still part of the 117th Brigade, 39th Division, were in the XVIII Corps of the Fifth Army and involved in the battles of Pilkem Ridge (July 31st) and at Langemarck; the Merlin Road Ridge; Polygon Wood and Passchendaele (in the Third Ypres) between August and November of that year. At this time they were with X Corps, Second Army.
St. Sever Cemetery Extention
The atrocious conditions of the Passchendaele offensive effectively ended in November when the German defence of the ridge was overcome. Three months later The Windsor & Eton Express reported:

Springford, Joseph, Private 17th Sherwood Foresters died 15.2.18 at No. 3 Stationary Hospital, Rouen aged 30.

And again on March 9th, 1918 the same paper reported:

Springford, Joseph, Private Sherwood Foresters son of Mr. T Springford of 3, Victoria Place, Eton Wick, died of kidney disease on February 15th, 1918 while in No. 3 Stationary Hospital, Rouen, France.

Joseph was the first of two Springford fatalities. His younger brother Isaac died 4 ½ months later as the result of severe gassing and was buried in Eton Wick. Joseph is buried in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen and his grave is No 73, Row K, Plot 6, Block P. The cemetery extension is two miles south of Rouen Cathedral and records 8,356 burials with a further 3,083 in the main St. Sever Cemetery to which the Extension is part. All these burials are of the 1914-18 war. The Extension contains 6,600 U.K. soldiers, 783 Australian, 311 Canadian, 271 Indian, 134 New Zealand, 88 British West Indian, 84 South African, 11 Newfoundlanders, three from Guernsey, one Bermudan, six unknown, one Egyptian, 44 Chinese labour force, 18 Italian and one Portuguese. The large number of different nationalities is due to the fact that the cemetery was for men dying of wounds or sickness in the No. 3 Stationery Hospital.

Joseph is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial and on the Eton Church Gates.

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Joseph Springford: The For King & Country page.

The Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website. 

Grave registration documents courtesy of the CWGC 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village August 2008

In the first newsletter we looked at the old village of Eton Wick which until 1934 had its west boundary at Bell Lane and the east at the Folly Bridge (the slads).  In the early 1920’s this boundary was moved west, enabling Eton Town to develop Somerville Road and that part of South View.  We will leave the late 19th Century extensions of the village west, into what came to be known as Boveney Newtown, until a further issue and will now take a closer look at the old Eton Wick and its development. 

It is believed that the thorough-fare to Eton and Windsor during the middle ages may well have been the old Kings Highway that passes  from our present day Village Hall, along Haywards Mead, continues past Cuckoo Weir (now the Swan Sanctuary) along Meadow Lane to Brocas Street.  This may, or may not be so, but looking closely and accepting the importance of the early farms, it makes sense that the said highway starts from Bell Lane (south) which itself would have been a muddy cart track from Bell Farm, and is joined by the old Sheepcote track that crosses our present road by the church.  This track, now Sheepcote Road, was almost certainly made by the traffic of Saddocks and Manor Farms several hundred years ago. The rutted highway gives us a fair indication of what roads were like all those years ago.  Many of us can remember Sheepcote Road just that, a muddy, gated track in the 1920 – 1930s.  

Thinly populated, Eton Wick had no school; hall; gentry homes or church until 1840, when a school room 29’ x 21’ was built along the Eton Wick Road, on the end of the Greyhound Pub (established 1833) garden.  Remember at this time dwellings along either Common Road or Eton Wick Road often had a small holding/garden stretching as far as the other parallel road.  The Greyhound’s ground being about 100 metres long.  Dr. Judith Hunters’ excellent book tells us ‘The Walk’ derived its name from ‘Deverill’s Walk’, Deverill being the pub landlord and ‘Walk’ on account of the well trod track from the main road to the public house.  It was 1902 before the track, so named, was developed and built along.   It was thought the houses along ‘The Walk’ were the first Eton Wick newly built homes to have piped water installed. 

In 1866 the Village got its first church in St. John the Baptist C of E.  Queen Victoria gave ½ acre of the Crown land of Sheepcote and a £100 donation.  It would be 26 years later before the churchyard was consecrated and the first village burial took place. 

With the sudden influx of children in the newly developed Boveney Newtown (west of Bell Lane) during the 1880’s, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the small school to accommodate them all.  Strictly speaking the children of Boveney were expected to attend a school in the Burnham area but it was not acceptable for them to all trek to Dorney, so it was decided to build a larger school in Sheepcote.  Again, Queen Victoria gave ½ acre and £100 towards the £1,000 the new school would cost.  It opened in 1888.  The girls were expected to complete their education in the village but the boys only attended until 7 years old and then were obliged to attend the Eton Porny School.  Many walked along the unlit; unpathed road four times a day - there was no such thing as school meals, buses, cars and very few cycles.   At that time there were no buildings between the church and Willow Place, apart from the sanatorium.  The first four pairs of houses in South View were not built until after the 1914 – 1918 war when Eton Wick Council had them built as rented homes for returning ex-servicemen.  Perhaps this bold move prompted the Eton Council to ask the village to agree to the boundary move that gave them the area to complete South View beyond the sanatorium and to develop Somerville Road. The name Somerville is derived from the Eton Council’s Chairman’s name, as he had negotiated the land swap with Eton Wick.   

Meanwhile the first school building was used by young men and boys as an institute.  In 1902 this came to an end when shopkeeper, Mr. Pratt of Eton & Windsor, purchased the site and Eton Wick’s first purpose built shop was erected and opened in 1904.  With the Institute closed the village benefactor Mr Vaughan (a Classics Master at Eton College) again came to the rescue and made Wheatbutts Cottage temporarily available.  Meanwhile, he set about freeing a plot of his land from restrictive lammas rights and then donated the plot and paid for The Institute of Eton Wick and Boveney, which is now known as The Village Hall. It was opened in 1907 and has been extended and improved over the years to meet the changing requirements.  Originally the entrance to the hall was on the east side, now used as the library entrance.  It had an equipped gymnasium upstairs and in fact the old climbing ropes will still be in that east facing room on the upper floor, but are concealed by the modern ceiling slats.   

Boys continued to attend Eton Porny School until 1940 when Ragstone Road School took the lads from ‘Porny’ at the age of 11 years. 

Apart from the Boveney Newtown and post World War 2 developments it just leaves the Recreation Grounds that first appeared circa 1904.  We can perhaps look at those in a later issue covering sports and clubs. 
Frank Bond 

The Our Village Collection is currently under construction and it will eventually hold the complete series of the Eton Wick News Letter. Click here to go to the Collection page.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

1914 to 1920 : Relevant Facts and Local Newspaper Reports

1914 to 1920: Relevant facts and local newspaper reports, a set of notes compiled by Frank Bond for a History Group Talk.

The small regular army with which Britain entered the 1914 war was backed by a large contingent of reservist recalled to the colours who made up 60% of the Expeditionary Force that went to France. This army was quite inadequate and appeals for volunteers by Lord Kitchener brought in another 2,250,000 volunteers.

This number was reinforced by the introduction of the conscription act in 1916 which by 1918 had brought the Army ration strength in 1914 of 164,000 to 5,363,352.
The Royal Flying Corps which in 1918 became the Royal Air Force (RAF) had a strength at the end of the war of 30,127 Officers and 263,410 other ranks.

The animal ration strength rose from 27,500 in 1914 to 895,770 in 1918.
Army/RFC fuel consumption per month in 1914 was 250,000 gallons rising to 10,500,000 gallons per month in 1918.

The railways, taken over in 1914 were the first limitations put on private companies who had to administer the government orders placed upon them. The demand for munitions forced more governmental control in the management of the economy resulting in an increased number of civil servants and government departments. County Agricultural Committees were formed in 1915 but were not very effective. Daylight Saving Time was introduced in May 1916 and met with protest from Farmers and Industrial workers.

By 1917, due to the sinking’s by German U Boats, there was only about three weeks supply of food in the country. The formation of the Women’s Land Army took place to help overcome the agriculture labour shortage. A limited system of food rationing was also introduced. Two-thirds of the industrial workforce was also subject to government regulation. License hours were introduced to curb drunkenness among munition workers and the government took over some pubs installing managers.

Initially, there was a certain amount of euphoria amongst people for the war with hotels and restaurants thronged for feasting and every girl seemed to have her man in khaki ... Many soldiers had gone to war eagerly in 1914 to the sound of cheering crowds but the reality of trench warfare soon dispelled all hints of romance.

For most of the war, there was stalemate since neither side had the necessary force to break through the opposing defences. This resulted in the eventual construction of approximately 6000 miles of trenches. The trench system enclosed a world of barbed wire and mud of which Passchendaele is best remembered where there were 144,00 casualties in 1917.

It is said that death was a matter of luck, but this was not the only sacrifice as gassed, injured and shell shock men staggered back from the war to a life that would never be the same again. Of the 8,000,000 men said to have been mobilized some 2,000,000 were wounded and by the year of 1922 approximately 900,000 war pensions were being paid.

Civilian voluntary organizations contributed to the war effort by supplying 1,742,947 mufflers, 1,574,155 pairs of mittens, 6,145,673 hospital bags, 12,258,536 bandages, 16,000,000 books, 232,599,191 cigarettes.

1917 to 1919.
The combatants were now suffering from war weariness and the revolution in Russia ended in victory for the Bolsheviks. Britain was also thinking in terms of reconstruction of a changed society. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, said at the time "The Nation was in a molten state."


March 21st. Ludendorff opened German offensive that they called Michael to split the allied front with 192 Divisions against the Allied 173. Haig had 180,000 fewer men than in 1917 and nearly half a million men would be required to fill the wastage. The British government started on a call-up of recruits by age groups, cancelled exceptions and combed out the munition workers.
The German first attacks shattered the 5th army and in April they attacked in the Ypres area. The two great battles by 120 German divisions cost the British 300,000 casualties. These German offences broke the deadlock of trench warfare that had existed since the end of 1914.
In spite of these victories, the Germans were convinced by mid-August that to fight on was impossible. On September 29th the 4th army broke through the Hindenburg line and on the 5th October the German government asked President Wilson to arrange an armistice.

9th November
The Kaiser abdicated.

November 11th. The Armistice was signed and came in to force at 11 am on the day.

When the war ceased 8,000,000 men and 1,500,000 women were serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Munitions. The government had spent £6 billion, sold all overseas securities and lent £1,500 million to our allies.

Shipping losses were over six million tons and the food situation had been saved by increasing pre-war harvest by a third.

From 1914 until 1918 cost of living had risen by 125%.

February 1915 to November 1918 there were 115,000 British Officer casualties and the Empire had lost about 1,000,000 men.



February 2nd.
G. Banham (husband of Mrs Banham) of 4 Shakespeare Place, Eton Wick, Private in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, dangerously ill in No. 70 General Hospital, Cairo. Suffering from gunshot wounds to the right foot. 
February 15th. 1918
Joseph Springford, son of Mrs J Springford, 3 Victoria Place, Eton Wick. Private in Sherwood Foresters. Died of Kidney Disease in Rouen, France.
Thomas Wall, 17 Tangier Place Eton.Torpedoed on H.M.S. Aragon. December 30th, 1917. He was aged 35.

The Eton Central Kitchen opened in February of that year. Pea Soup  2d, Meat Stew 2d., Rice pudding and Jam ld., There was a great demand for the service run by volunteer ladies.
New ration cards were issued early in November.
The weather turned extremely cold at the end of the month. Early morning school at Eton College was discontinued for the week.
The influenza pandemic was taking a big toll of human life and there were many deaths in the district.

March 8th, 1919
Meeting at Eton Wick to discuss war memorial.
Volunteers collecting subscriptions ... Mr A. Percy, Miss Nottage, Miss Ashby, Mrs Miles, Mrs Howells and others.
Mr Ashman appointed Hon. Secretary,
Mr E. W. Howell appointed Hon. Treasurer.
Some 400 men from Eton and Eton Wick had served in the forces.
Heavy rains at this time brought the river level up and the Brocas and Eton Playing fields were flooded for a short time.

Sunday April 7th, 1919

A commemoration service was held at Eton Parish church. A request to the Bishop of Buckingham by the local territorial association to remember their fallen comrades. The sermon was given by the Dean of Windsor.
The council discussed and started on plans for a housing scheme at what is now Sommerville road area. Sommerville was the chairman of the council at that time. There was much discussion about the allotment area that was there/that had been created during the war years on the proposed site. It was not Lammas land and the lord of the manor at the time was prepared to sell The problem was identical to that of Tilston Field after World War Two, the allotments at the site had been beautifully cultivated and there was a little opposition from the allotment holders.  ( I think that is correct).

May 1919

Much discussion by Eton Wick churchwardens and Reverend McNally (E. W. Vicar) about burial fees. Reverend McNally drew attention to the discrepancy in burial rates between Eton Wick and Eton. The fees fixed in 1870 were Eton 4/= and Eton Wick 15/- Eton Wick charges were as follows:
Burials ...
            Child under 14 years with bearers    2/-
            Adults with Bearers and Bier           3/-
            Adult with Hearse                             3/-
            Adult with lead coffin                       5/-
            Buried in Vault.                            £1/1/-
            Brick grave                                        5/-
            Double brick grave                            5/-
            Re-opening brick grave                     5/-      

July 19th 1919

Peace Day Celebrations (Windsor & Eton)

Demobilized Sailors, Soldiers, RAP and members on leave, Hospital Nurses, VAD Members, WRNS, WRAP, WAAC, OTC Volunteers, Cadet Corps, Special Constables, Munition workers, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were requested to take part in the parade that would start from Batchelors Acre at 11 am. The Band of the Coldstream Guards led the parade with and Ex-serviceman band also taking part. The route was from the Acre via Sheet Street, High Street, Peascod Street, Eton College (Burning Bush). Eton College OTC lined the street of Eton from Barnes Pool Bridge to Queens School with the Eton Cadet band playing over this section. Everyone taking part in the parade received a souvenir badge.

Mr Sommerville, Council chairman, said that Eton and Eton Wick would make their own arrangements for their local children entertainments.


The committee of the Institute gave a supper on July 31st. to men of Eton Wick and Boveney who served overseas in the Great War. Eighty invitations were issued, owing to the limited accommodation available the committee have been unable to extend the invitation to men who joined up, but did not go overseas.

August 30th, 1919

Extract from the Windsor and Eton Express.

An old lady living in Windsor, Mrs Hannah Deadman, had passed away aged 92, having never heard of the Great War.

The fact was religiously kept from her through tout the campaign, though her relatives often found it extremely difficult. Although blind and partially deaf she had a keen sense of reasoning and followed up any casual remark passed with awkward questions.

She had twelve or more grandsons and granddaughters serving in the forces, the latter as nurses. When one grandson went away from home she was very persistent as to his whereabouts. She was told that he had gone to fresh employment at Reading, where in fact he was with the army in France. Week succeeded week and still the grandson did not come home. At the end of two years the old lady became exasperated and remarked, "Two years and no holiday, why I would not work for such a master". She also expressed great surprise at the increasing cost of food and remarked that it never used to be so.

During the campaign grandsons returned home on leave at intervals and in them the old lady displayed great affection. She never knew they were in uniform because of her failing eyesight and often when shaking hands with the lads they turned up their sleeves in order she should not discover the military buttons.

Sometimes they took their coats off when visiting in this way she was kept in total ignorance of the conflict. Curiously enough the house in which she resided with her relatives at Helena Road faces Victoria Barracks where thousands of fine troops passed through the gates on route for France, but she still never knew.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Boveney New Town Census 1901

The United Kingdom Census of 1901 was taken on Sunday 31st March, that year and was the seventh of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total number of persons returned as living in England and Wales at midnight on Sunday, March 31st, 1901, was 32,526,075. This shows an increase of 3,523,550 upon the number enumerated on April 5th, 1891, and gives a decennial rate of increase of 12.17 percent.

Details collected include:

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building and the number of rooms.

Names of each person who was resident in the house on the night preceding the census.

Age and sex of each person: The actual age in years or months for babies under one year are recorded in the 1901 census.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birthplace, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Burnham. Enumeration District No. 1. The enumerator was Edward Groves.

The area for the 1901 census included was the entire parishes of Dorney and Boveney.

The 1901 Census reveals that there were 125 households, eight houses that were unoccupied and 481 people in residence in the parish of Boveney at midnight on the 2nd April. The oldest person, Ann Grames (or Grimes) at the age of 81, she was born in 1820. There were two residents in their 80’s. There were three children recorded at age 1 month Arthur Lea was the third child of Thomas and Martha, Nellie Newport, the fourth daughter of Albert and Selina and Eva May Oxlade, first child of John and Louisa. Three other children born in the first three months of 1901.

Click on this link to see our transcription of the 1901 census records for Boveney.. We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about the growing village and publish our findings in future articles.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village April 2008

The Eton Wick Village Hall committee published a newsletter for a short time in the 1950's. In 2008 the Committee revived the idea and have been publishing a magazine three times a year since April that year delivering it free of charge to every house in the village. The Eton Wick History Group are delighted to have their kind permission to share these insights into village life on this website. We will be showing the front cover and the regular Village history feature articles many of which were written by Frank Bond on the front page. There will be a link to images of each complete Our Village that we republish at the end of each post.

Eton Wick and Boveney

We are very fortunate in Eton Wick to have open country all around and the river so close by. This should not be taken for granted. A village, albeit very much smaller, has stood here for hundreds of years and very probably people were living here, close to the river, before the village had its Anglo Saxon name.

Although the village boundary reached east to beyond the rail viaduct until the 1920's and the west boundary to Bell Lane until 1934, most of the homes before the 19th Century were concentrated along Common Road between the Wheatbutts and Sheepcote. At the beginning of that century there were approximately 100 villagers and by 1860 about 300 (probably one tenth of today's population). Of course this included the six or seven farms which were a little north of the residential Common Road and marginally on higher, less likely to flood, ground. 200 years ago Sheepcote was not an inhabited road, but a muddy farm track alongside the Sheepcote fields which belonged to the crown. The Walk was non existent.

The early dwellings mostly had very long gardens which stretched from Common Road to the main road; and the few 18th and 19th century homes along the main road had extended gardens to Common Road. The Three Horse Shoes' pub's garden was likewise, as was the tiny ten terraced cottages east of that pub. Unable to build on the lammas, common or crown lands, and west of Bell Lane being in the different parish of Burnham, the long gardens were sold off as building plots. The green spaces of today were yesteryears jealously guarded grazing rights. These rights never did extend beyond Bell Land and of course still do not.

With old Eton Wick filling up it looked like a stalemate until in 1870 the Eton Council purchased Bell Farm, to be used as the town's sewage farm. The farm was bigger than needed and in 1875 they sold 75 acres of mainly pasture that was west of Bell Lane.

Although Bell Farm was just inside the Eton Wick boundary, much of its actual farm land was the other side of Bell Lane and consequently came under Burnham. In fact the farm had already built farm cottages for its employees along Bell Lane and on adjacent land.

Soon after the initial sale of the 75 acres it passed into the hands of local man, Mr Ayres. Roads were laid out in Alma, Inkerman and Northfield and he sold plots of the land parcel by parcel. At last room to expand, but being in the parish of Burnham — not Eton Wick. Being close to old Boveney it was called Boveney Newtown. It had its own council, a chapel and two shops. This was during the last two decades of the 19th century. Although not part of the scheme it triggered off building along the main road and establishing Victoria Road, a cul-de-sac with its long terraced row.

Village organisations predating the 1934 unifications under Eton Urban are generally known as Eton Wick and Boveney i.e. Women's Institute, Scout Movement, War Memorial etc. Development west of Moores Lane all came after World War 2 — another story.

The crown lands are now Eton College owned and will surely be protected in their own interests. I like to believe their interests are mostly the same as ours, preservation of Lammas and common lands as far as it is reasonably possible. Without small holdings, livestock on the farms, the need to glean and graze, a general apathy believes all will take care of itself and we will keep the centuries-long pastures. Perhaps it is later than we think.

Submitted by Frank Bond

Click here to read Our Village April 2008 - the first edition of the Eton Wick Newsletter that this year celebrates its 10th anniversary.

The Our Village Collection is currently under construction and it will eventually hold the complete series of the Eton Wick News Letter. Click here to go to the Collection page.