Monday, 17 January 2022

Tough Assignment - The Second World War and the 1940's


Scholars Scripture Certificate 
presented to Dorothy Banham in 1938

The war years undoubtedly brought change and strain to the chapel as it did to the rest of the village and the country as a whole. But nothing of this is apparent from the minutes of the trustees' and class leaders' meetings, which merely continues to record with monotonous regularity the election of officials and committee secretaries, the annual payments of contributions to circuit and national funds, and the acceptance of reports. Yet the chapel did play a vital, if minor, part in the war effort. The people of Eton Wick, like those of many another village, accepted numerous evacuee children into their homes during the 1940s. Mr and Mrs Chew were the billetting officers. Many of those sent to Eton Wick were Jewish children from London's East End, yet one of the most enduring memories of those days is of the chapel and school room crowded to bursting point with Sunday School scholars - Jews and Christians. There were still only about ten classes, but over a hundred children, and when they all joined together in hymn singing, the sound could be heard at the far end of Alma Road. When they all poured out at the end of Sunday School it was more reminiscent of the closing time at the cinema. In spite of the large numbers, a Summer Outing was still contemplated though all plans to take the scholars to the seaside had to be abandoned. Instead in 1940 the coach took the children to Burnham Beeches, but there were no more outings until after the end of the war. Scripture exams were still held but new arrangements had to be made for prize giving. Attendance prizes were given only to those who came to Sunday School more then ninety times a year, and the value of the prizes was reduced for 'those whose conduct was not good'. A New Year, rather than Christmas, Party was held - but not until February since there were several parties being given in the village and by that date it was thought 'the days would be longer and the air raid alerts later'.

The chapel account book reveals a little more of life during the war. The insistence by the authorities that no chink of light be allowed to alert the enemy can be seen in the purchase of three lots of blackout material whilst fear of danger from bombs and flying glass and masonry prompted the construction of a 'blast wall' in front of the door in 1941.

A Windsorian coach was hired at the cost of £1 to take chapel members and friends to Slough during 'Wings for Victory Week'. Soldiers were billeted for two nights in the Tough Memorial Hall during November 1943 at a profit of 18s (90p) to the chapel. Inevitably, however, the war brought losses. Christian Endeavour petered out soon after 1939 as members, such as Joyce and Clifford Chew and Harry Cook, joined the forces and other members were caught up in other war time activities. In 1943 Archibald Chew died, not as a result of the war but of an illness, and the chapel lost a very able leader. Two years later, and only a few months before hostilities ceased, Clifford Chew died, shot down by enemy action as he flew on a mission to Germany.

In many ways the war was a watershed separating two very different decades. It had widened the horizons of many village families and the construction of new houses and roads soon after the war in both Eton Wick and Boveney New Town altered the whole balance of the village community. Just before the war in 1934, the parish councils of Boveney and Eton Wick were abolished and both Boveney New Town and Eton Wick were brought within the boundary of the Eton Urban District. There was little space for house building in Eton town, and so the energies of the Council were now directed towards land of the old Boveney Parish. The first houses built were the prefabs on Bells Field, but soon the pink fletton bricks and yellow rendering of council houses transformed the face of the Eton Wick Road and Moores Lane. By the early fifties council houses had spread over much of the Tilston Fields and the name, Boveney New Town, was relegated to that of one of the new roads. The chapel now stood much nearer the centre of the enlarged village, the whole of which was now thought of as Eton Wick.

In 1946, however, the chapel was not in very good shape. Membership had not yet risen appreciably and the Sunday School, with only thirty two scholars, was smaller than it had been for many years. The building itself needed a general overhaul and work started on this in 1947. It wasn't completed until 1950, but by this time electricity had also been installed in memory of Archibald and Clifford Chew. The interior of the chapel was repainted and the old combustion stove replaced by gas heating. These in turn were to be replaced in the 60s by the more even warmth produced by portable electric fires.

The chapel officers also took a straight look at the problems of decreased numbers in the Sunday School. Since the war years (if not before) there had been a Circuit Youth Committee with Sylvia Chew its Eton Wick representative, and now in 1948 Sylvia and Marjorie Morris started a youth club at the chapel. It was a very lively club catering for teenagers. It met weekly and sometimes twice weekly and its varied programme included country dancing, debates, hiking, swimming and dramatics. Even now the success of some of its productions are remembered with pride, but perhaps the most treasured memories of its one-time members are the summer holidays at Llangollen, the Isle of Anglesey and the Lake District.

A Cradle Roll Rose

As yet there was nothing special offered to the junior age children, but in 1949 a Cradle Roll was begun with the names of sixteen babies and toddlers recorded the first year. It was an encouraging beginning and ten more names were added the year after. These were not only the names of the young children of chapel members, but included those of any young child in the village whose parents would allow their names to be entered. The parents were visited and welcomed to the chapel services. A rose bud (blue for a boy and pink for a girl) was placed on the cradle roll tree for each child and contact was maintained until the child could be encouraged to enter the Sunday School, and receive its flower. This simple, but effective, idea was the brainwave of Lily Bye.

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

The Methodist Chapel held it final meeting on 9th January 2022 more than 135 years after its first service in October 1886. 

Thursday, 13 January 2022

12th January 2022 Meeting Poster - A History of Herschel Park , Slough - Elias Kupfermann


On Facebook Sue Evans wrote “Thank you Elias for an interesting talk on Herschel Park. I will definitely be visiting very soon.”

Monday, 10 January 2022

Eton Wick 1921 Census - A First Look

Poster courtesy of The National Archive

On 6th January 2022 the UK census taken on 19 June 1921. A first glimpse of the available data online reveals that there were 524 people living in the area between the Railway viaduct and Parish boundary along Bell Lane. The area of the Eton Wick Parish Council. Further investigation will be undertaken when more information becomes available. 

6" OS Map revised in 1910
courtesy of National Library for Scotland

The Eton Wick Census Project pages can be found here.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Old Days of Eton Parish - The Eton Bridges


FROM matters connected with the Church we turn for the present to other points of local interest. 

Eton seems to have been always subject to floods, and even at ordinary times the crossing of so many intersecting streams must have made the bridges not merely a con­venience, but in some cases an absolute necessity. The first mention of any of the Eton bridges occurs in a docu­ment called the Hundred Rolls, dated 1274, i.e., 167 years before the College was founded. In this it is stated: "The whole township of Eton from Baldwin Bridge to Windsor Bridge was accustomed to give toll of fuel in vessels and all the royalties appertaining thereto.1" This toll was probably in the form of blocks of wood or faggots cut from the copses in the parish. It was given in aid of the royal revenues, which were much impoverished in the time of the Crusades. Baldwin Bridge, for it was originally called, is again mentioned in the Founder's plans for the College.

1.         This was probably the earliest of the bridges and was naturally required to connect the town with its farms and woods in other parts of the parish.

At an early period several houses seem to have sprung up along Baldwin Shore,some of them of a substantial size, and from thence they extended along the right side or the long walk' to what is now Savile House in Weston's Yard.

Who Baldwin was is unknown, but it may be presumed that he was founder of the bridge and its endowment.

It is not called Barns Pool Bridge till the latter part of the sixteenth century. Barns Pool may have been a landing wharf. It has been suggested that it was so named from the barns in which goods were stored.

In Queen Elizabeth's reign steps were taken to secure, for the maintenance of the bridge, the title to certain property, consisting of a house adjoining the bridge, and other land. This, in 1592, was conveyed to thirteen Feoffees or Trustees, being inhabitants of Eton, "for erecting or repairing and from time to time amending and maintaining for ever the said bridge."

By the terms of the trust, the Feoffees are empowered, after spending what is necessary on this purpose, to bestow the remainder "in such ways as seem to be the best, and to the most advantage of the inhabitants and parishioners of Eton."

They are instructed to meet yearly at Pentecost at the Bridge House and appoint two of their number, called the Bridge Master and the Bridge Man, to carry out the objects decided by the majority.

In accordance with these instructions, we are told that in the year 1658 "the bridge called Barnspool Bridge, alias Baldwin Bridge, was pluckt upp and new built." In 1676-9 the house adjoining the bridge is described as the Town House, and the land all round, Town land. A commodious room was built in 1793 for the meeting of the Feoffees, also for the meeting of the inhabitants on the common business of the parish.

In 1687 the last mentioned bridge, which was made of wood, was superseded by one of brick, and in 1884 the present iron bridge was constructed.

By a careful improvement of the Bridge Estate property, its annual value has been considerably increased. In 1676 it was £4 10s; in 1876 it had become £311 10s. 6d., and in 1901 produced a rental of £554 11s., and many persons and institutions have received considerable benefit thereby.

II. In (303 a flood demolished Spitelbrigge, now known as Beggars' Bridge, close to Willowbrook.

In consequence of this an injunction was issued to the Sheriff of Buckingham reciting that the

A History of the
Baldwin's Bridge Trust
by F.I. Wilson
Published 1977

bridge was broken down and destroyed "to the injury of the adjacent country and manifest danger of travellers," and an enquiry was held at Eton, before two commissioners and a jury of twelve persons, to ascertain to whom the duty of repair belonged.

The bridge would seem to have been built about fifty years before by one Walter de Teb, with voluntary gifts collected in the town and neighbourhood, and the commissioners made return upon oath that the said bridge being one half in Eton and the other half in Upton, no obligation lay on the people of Eton to sustain it. It must be rebuilt by begging for contributions. Hence the name it now bears.

III. Long Bridge or Fifteen Arch Bridge is said to have had once fourteen narrow arches of brick, and one central arch of stone. Six of the centre arches were destroyed by flood in 1809 and replaced by three only. The present bridge dates from 1843.

IV. Windsor Bridge perhaps should not properly come into a history of Eton, as it has been always the exclusive property of the Windsor Borough, but for three reasons a short summary of its history can hardly be omitted altogether.

1. The opening of this means of communication with the Castle must have contributed very considerably to the trade and convenience of Eton.

2. Eton must always have helped largely, by the tolls taken from its inhabitants, towards the maintenance of the bridge.

3. The final freeing of this bridge was due to the determined and self-sacrificing efforts of an Eton townsman.

As far as can be ascertained, no bridge existed before the reign of Edward I. Previously to this, communication was by means of ferry. The river was most likely crossed ►se days from what is now River Street on the Clewer side to Meadow Lane in Eton, whence a road ran towards Cippenham, once an important place, and Burnham. On September 18, 1281, King Edward I. granted a charter for a bridge to the Burgesses of 'New Wyndesore,' as the town which had been rising for fifty years under the Castle walls was now called.

This charter carried with it the control and profits of certain waters and fisheries on the Thames, which in later days became the property of Eton College. It also gave the Burgesses the right to take pontage or toll for the upkeep of the bridge.

This latter right was renewed from time to time, and certain other grants were made by Henry VI. in the twenty-third year of his reign, when a new bridge was built.

In the time of the Great Rebellion (1642), which was largely supported by the County of Bucks, the then existing bridge was broken down to hinder the march of the Parliamentary Army.

In 1707 the Burgesses leased the bridge to John Herring, requiring him to repair and renew it whenever needed, but owing to complaints as to the heaviness of the tolls, and the dangerous state of the bridge, an Act was obtained in 1734 for a fixed schedule of tolls, with the power to enforce them and to use them for the purposes of keeping up the bridge. This was renewed in an Act, July 1819, George III., when power was given to build a new bridge of stone and iron, in place of the timber bridges built hitherto, and to continue and levy certain tolls for twenty-one years. This permission was subsequently extended and did not finally come to an end till 1872. Under this Act, tolls were only to be paid by the same vehicle once in the day and were to be diverted to no other purpose or use whatsoever than the necessary expenses of the bridge.

When the right expired in 1872, the Corporation was advised by Counsel, either to go back on the prescriptive right of the first charter, or to apply for a fresh Act of Parliament. They chose to take a course of their own, and adopted a modified scale of charges without applying for an Act, and meanwhile farmed the bridge and made about £500 a year, which was used to the relief of the rates. A few people disputed their claims, but no one was bold enough to oppose them till 1895, when Mr. Joseph Taylor took up the matter, and obtained Counsel's opinion to the effect that the Act of George III. finally destroyed the old prescriptive right.

In September that same year Mr. Taylor drove up to the bridge, and, refusing to pay the toll, it was barred against him.

On January 30, 1896, he renewed his attempt, and paid the demanded toll under protest. This led to a trial at Queen's Bench in May 1897, when the Lord Chief Justice gave judgment in favour of the Corporation.

Just when Windsor was congratulating itself on its victory, it was announced that Mr. Taylor had decided to appeal.

The case came on in the High Court of Appeal in October, and a unanimous judgment was given in favour of Mr. Taylor's contention. Whereupon the Corporation appealed to the House of Lords, and in November 1898 another unanimous judgment was given, and the case was finally won, and the bridge freed from toll for ever.

The bridges not on the high road are as follows: In the Playing Fields Sheep's Bridge, built 1563 to replace one of wood. On the river towing path Bargeman's Bridge and Cuckoo Weir Bridge, both over streams from Cuckoo Weir. Higher up the river at Upper Hope is Long Bray Bridge—and higher still, opposite Eton Wick, Boveney Bridge, which crosses the stream separating Eton from Boveney.

Note 1 Hence, in Lysons' Magna Britannia, 1813, the town is designated ‘Eton Gildables,' or more correctly ‘Geldable,' or liable to tribute, as distinct from some land which was free from taxation.

OLD DAYS OF ETON PARISH by The Rev. John Shephard, M.A. was published in 1908 by Spottiswoode and Co Ltd. The text is has been copied from the original book that is now out of copyright.


Tuesday, 28 December 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - History of the Churches of Eton Wick.

The Eton Wick Village History Group was treated to a trio of presenters at their last meeting on 26th June 1996, each of the trio representing one of Eton Wick's places of worship.

1930's Chapel Plan

Neville Thorman spoke first, about the newly extended and refurbished Methodist Chapel, which was built in 1886 entirely as the result of the vision of Frances Annie Tough, a young woman who had come to Eton Wick in 1877 from Rotherhithe, on her marriage to Charles Tough who had been appointed manager of Bell Farm. Annie Tough, with her sister, had become very much involved with the Methodist Church in Rotherhithe and when she came here she soon saw the need to encourage a religious approach locally, and she spent part of her first Sunday in the village delivering tracts. She found travelling to the Primitive Methodist Church in Windsor inconvenient and was rebuffed when she asked them for money to help build a chapel here; she tried Maidenhead and they decided to support her by sending a Mission Band to Eton Wick; she went to the Windsor Congregationalists' services in 'The iron Room' on the Common but, initially at least, found them uninspiring. Annie Tough's mission was to build a chapel and eventually the present site was obtained, through a certain amount of bargaining with a developer, James Ayres, who gave her the land as a reward for her perseverance. The small, congregation of Primitive Methodists set to and found the £300 that it cost to construct the Chapel, some by paying one shilling per week as a pew rent, and it opened. in October 1886. Frances Annie Tough died in 1930 aged 76. The first extension to the Chapel cost £519; and this most recent refurbishment (the 2904 Project) has cost £130,000. Many of the people who have done a lot for the Chapel are commemorated with plaques on the walls of the Chapel Mr. Thorman concluded his most interesting talk with slides showing the refurbishment in progress and also how the Chapel serves the community.

St Gilbert's 

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Gilbert was built in 1964 and Chris Stevens was able to tell the Group where the clergy for this Church came from and how it is only in the last five years that St. Gilbert's has had a secular clergy_ There is no recorded Catholic Church between Windsor and Boveney until 'Our Lady of Sorrows' was built in Eton in 1915 (Lord Bray - an Old Etonian thought that the Catholic boys at the College were lacking in instruction and so had the church built), although there may have been a 'Chapel of Ease' or Chantry for the groups who would go on pilgrimage, tracking along the river. For some years prior to the building of St. Gilbert's, Mass was celebrated on Sunday mornings in the Village Hall - hired for the princely sum of four shillings per week. Chris Stevens told the Group how an original and attractive design for the church was rejected by the Diocese but was later used for the church at Wargrave. St Gilbert's was built, at a cost of £16,000, to a different design on land which was purchased for £1,500. The church was blessed but not consecrated - perhaps it could be consecrated on a appropriate anniversary? St Gilbert, the son of a rich man, wanted to be a priest but initially was turned down because he was a cripple, but. he persisted and became one of the great teachers of religion_ St. Gilbert's is in the Parish of Burnham.

St John the Baptist

Finally, Peter Kreamer told the Group how the Church of St John the Baptist was built in 1866 and so is the oldest church- in Eton Wick. Peter regards himself as the Church's odd-job man. The Church of England became interested in Eton Wick in the 1830's when one of Eton College's chaplains, Henry Harper, encouraged the building of a school room on the corner of Eton Wick Road and The Walk, which doubled as a church. However, by the 1806's the local worshippers needed a larger building, this was recognised by the Provost of Eton College who still then had responsibility for Eton Wick, and by 1867 St John the Baptist, had been built and consecrated, with a lot of the financing contributed not only by Eton College, but by the people of Eton and Eton Wick - the site itself was given by Queen Victoria and she also gave £100 towards the construction costs. The architect was Sir Arthur Blomfield, whose son went on to do many designs for the War Graves Commission. The cost of the construction of the church was E1,573, and the church remained under the auspices of Eton College until 1875 when the Church of St. John the Evangelist was built in Eton. In 1891 the 'Children's Window' was installed - paid for by offerings collected at the children's services In 1892 the first licensed burial took place in the new ecumenical churchyard -that of a six week old child of the Langridge family, who were at Manor Farm at that time. In 1897 the church was licensed to conduct marriages. Mr. Kreamer then went on to speak of when the church was flooded in both 1894 and 1947, of the installation of gas lighting (1935) and subsequently electricity (1951); and of the many local activities prompted by the Church, often in competition with other local organisations.

But it is good to note that there are times when all three Churches work together; just to give two examples: all are represented at the Remembrance Day Service at St. John the Baptist; and the ladies all get together in one of the churches for the Women's World Day of Prayer.

Mr. Frank Bond thanked the speakers. He mentioned that The Pound was to be officially locked with ceremony on 12th July. The next meeting of the group will be on Wednesday, 4th September, when Mr. R.J. Clibbon will speak on 'The History of the Local Council'.

During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton Wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. This article was published in the September edition of 1996.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - J.T. Ireland

 J T Ireland

 At one time the village firm of J T Ireland employed around 60 men and apprentices. James (Jimmy) Ireland started his business on leaving the army after the Second World War, and built extensively in Eton Wick and Dorney. Eton Wick developments include east side of Tilstone Avenue and the eastern end of Queens Road. In this photograph Jimmy is presenting a gold watch to Charlie Simpson to mark his 25 years service with the company. Mrs Ireland is on the right. 

Jimmy was a great supporter and benefactor of the village Scouts and the Youth Club. He became an Eton Urban District Councillor in 1947 and served as Chairman of the Housing Committee, and then as Chairman of the Council up to 1954. 

Between 1952 and 1981 he served on Buckinghamshire County Council as Chairman of Works, Planning, Staff and Finance and also as Vice Chairman of the County Council for 10 years, besides various other appointments. In 1957 he became a Magistrate and served as Chairman for 15 years. In 1975 he became Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire and in 1982 was appointed Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.). 

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.

Monday, 13 December 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - December 1941 - War in the Far East and The National Service Act No. 2

Before the end of 1941, the war spread to the Far East with the attack on December 7th by Japan on the United States of America. Countries of the British Empire were also invaded (Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and to these new theatres of war Eton Wick servicemen went; some were to die in action, others of malnourishment and disease after being taken prisoners of war. 

The National Service Act No.2 received its Royal Assent on 18th December and it enabled the Government to conscript Women aged 20 to 30 years for munition work or for the Armed Services; later it was to cover age groups 19 to 51 years. This Act altered many women's lives as they were directed to aircraft factories, munitions, shipyards, public services, or the Armed Forces. The demand from the factories for labour to replace the men called up for military service soon found women from the village drafted to munitions. Two such people were Mrs Edie Miles who was drafted to work on the production of shell caps in Slough and Edie Stacey who went to work at Hawkers Aircraft. 

This was a far different life from that to which she was accustomed having been in domestic service at Eton College. Her brother Frank recalled the trials of walking the three miles to work at that time. The winter weather of 1941/42 was first wet followed by frost which made the muddy track from Eton Wick known as the Slypes, (Wood Lane Fields) to Slough very treacherous. The track being very narrow the only way to keep one’s balance and to get along was to resort to hessian bound over our shoes. On one occasion Edie had to wait sometime after getting to work for the added hessian sacking to thaw to enable her to remove her feet from her footwear.

Clothes rationing had put a coupon value of seven on a pair of shoes or boots. To lessen the interruption from air raids to munitions production, machinery was installed in suitable premises of any size and one such workshop was at Ernest Martins, Undertakers of 92 Eton High Street, to manufacture
DZUS Fasteners that were used to retain inspection panels on aircraft and other equipment.

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham.