Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Coronation Fancy Dress Party, 1953

Coronation Fancy Dress Party, 1953




Vaughan Gardens, June 2nd 1953

It is now 67 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation at Westminster Abbey. The people of UK was still living under rationing, but Street Parties were held across the country. The residence of Eton Wick joined the celebration as this photograph illustrates. Can you help to add the names to these children photographed on the green in Vaughan Gardens on Coronation Day, 1953? 

If you have photos of the events in the village on June 2nd 1953 or personal memories please share them by using the comment box below this article.


Monday, 25 May 2020

The Eton Wick Newsletter - April 2017 - `Our Village' Magazine

Local Charities and a deadly consequence 


Surely many of Eton Wick's senior citizens will agree with me in acknowledging with gratitude the goodwill and generosity of the community and its organisations during the past winter. Some of course depend upon our own participation in happenings or clubs, and even the awareness of our existence. 

For me it started with a bag of harvest goodies donated and delivered by Eton College lads and followed by a Christmas tea and Christmas dinner at Bekynton, Eton, by the College and the Eton Charteris Day Centre respectively; another Christmas dinner at the 'Greyhound' pub by the village Over 60's Club,' and the Rotary Club provided a car driven evening trip to Squires Garden Centre where a band was playing carols, refreshments were free; and each of us given a card with cash to spend. 

Villagers kindly donated 'shoe box' packages of goodies which were delivered by the village scout movement, and then came vouchers from the Pote, Benwell and Simpson Trust and Eton's Baldwin Bridge Trust. The vouchers were to be redeemed at the village grocery, Eton's grocery or pharmacy. (Some details of the afore mentioned trust fund I find so interesting that I will try to impart some of the facts in this article.) The village school invited 'seniors' to their Christmas functions, and undoubtedly there were other welcoming activities by the three churches and organisations. In this era of 'always in a hurry, with no time for involvement' it is right to acknowledge this abundance of seasonal kindness. 

To the best of my village memories of years before WW2 there was very little such generosity apart from the Baldwin Bridge Trust and immediate neighbours. Outpourings of goodwill were perhaps toward the young, and this mostly through Sunday Schools or choir. For a few years from 1955 some boys from the village Youth Club collected wood and chopped up logs for delivery to the older residents. This was still at a time when central heating was not available to all, and with most homes having open fires. One year. over 11,000 logs were chopped and delivered, and letters of 'thank you' received sixty years ago are still around. This received public acclaim, and the club was awarded the Saturday Hospital Fund Cup. Club girls were always on hand with cups of tea for the workers. Eton Urban Council and the College notified the club when tree boughs were available, but this was expecting too much when they said a large elm had fallen at Black Potts (Datchet Road). A few years later the Youth Club was delivering Christmas goodies to some of the village veterans, causing one to reflect that since the mid 1900's there has often been a generous giving. 

Returning to Pote/Benwell/Simpson Trust it is perhaps necessary to reflect on circumstances of long since past, and the early years of the Baldwin Bridge. There is no evidence to my knowledge of why it is known as Baldwin's or Barnes Pool Bridge. History tells us there was a bridge in Eton hundreds of years ago. The  place of Eton had water courses from and to the Thames, and the road from the north (now Slough); although only a muddy track, had to cross those water courses to get to Windsor. Originally bridges were of wood and needed constant maintenance, as of course the muddy tracks did also. Today the unfamiliar may well ask where is the bridge; or perhaps observe that it seems an elaborate bridge doing very little. Not so, as it spans a substantial stream, or 'rivulet', that left the Thames just west of the Eton Brocas, flowing up Meadow Lane, where it is now piped under the road; and on through Eton's Barnes Pool; and back to the river. 

With today's lower water table, and much silting, the flow is not what it once was. Even in my time as a pupil of Eton Porny School in the 1930's, the Headmaster often gave a seasonal warning of not being tempted onto the ice covered pool to retrieve coins that the College Boys tossed on to the ice In the hope of seeing a few soakings. Upkeep and repairs to the bridge have depended on a trust fund that, through much generosity and legacies, established properties that produced a regular income. Bridge maintenance is the prime concern of the Trust, and in times of a surplus income, other deserving Eton causes have been generously financed by that Trust through its twelve local trustees, chaired by their elected Bridgemaster. In the 17th century a brick structure replaced the oft repaired wood, and in 1883 this was duly replaced by an iron bridge. 

Now the Pote, Benwell and Simpson Trust. Just as those early bridges needed constant attention, so did the highways. Without national financial support the responsibility for maintenance was always a local one. Again this needed generous support, and invariably more than was given, until slowly a series of what came to be known as 'Turnpikes' were established along stretches of major roads. All highways had become in a terrible state and in the mid-16th century an Act was introduced requiring all parishes to maintain their section of the roads with obligatory labour of four to six days for all male residents, using their own tools, carts and horses as necessary. This was not a satisfactory scheme, and about a hundred years later the first 'Turnpikes' were sanctioned. In practice this required a number of wealthier persons forming a trust and having the authority to improve and maintain a particular stretch of road and to charge for the use of that stretch. It perhaps took decades for an entire highway to become covered by the Turnpiked lengths. The Bath Road from London had its first turnpike in 1707 but it was 1756 before it was completely extended. 

Our story concerns the Colnbrook Turnpike Trust that was the fifth of twelve Bath Road Turnpikes. It was first sanctioned in 1727 and was responsible for the road between Cranford and Maidenhead Bridge, passing through Slough. After becoming established they were persuaded to undertake extending their responsibility, to cover the Slough to Eton road. Among the Colnbrook trustees were Joseph Pote, a local antiquarian bookseller and Joseph Benwell a draper. Both men were of some standing as Baldwin Bridge trustees and either had or would be Bridgemaster (1783 and 1762 respectively). 


The Colnbrook Turnpike held regular meetings at one of a small number of inns and customarily concluded with a dinner, which some may think was a feast. In March 1773 the meeting was held at an inn by Slough's Salt Hill. The meal starting with soup, then fresh water fish of pike, perch and eel, fowl, bacon and vegetable, cutlet of veal, pig's ear ragout, mutton and salad, lamb and cucumber, crawfish, sweet, Madeira wine and port. Apart from Joseph Pote all the diners were taken ill and within a few days at least six had died. At the start of the meal Pote had absented himself because he disliked turtle soup. Some unsavoury characters had been present and it was concluded they had somehow transmitted the cause of the illness and death. Joseph Benwell was among the deceased, and in his will was the bequest of £150 to the poor of Eton. Joseph Pote survived another thirteen years and his will added £50 to that of Mr Benwell, expressing that bread be given to Eton's poor on two specific days of the year. The first being March 29th; the date of that fateful dinner; expressing his wish that praise to the Almighty be chanted in gratitude for his good fortune in 1773. Years later a woman on her deathbed confessed that she had been the wife of the inn keeper at that fateful time, and that a chef from London had been hired to make the turtle soup which he duly did overnight, intending to let it slowly simmer for those hours. Unfortunately he fell asleep and on waking found the fire out and the soup cold. He re-kindled and restored the temperature, but alas the pot was copper and acids had formed a verdigris. The tragedy was not the fault of unsavoury dropouts and even Kings can get it all wrong at cooking, or so we are told of King Arthur and the cakes. The Pote, Benwell and Simpson fund includes a recent donor, Bernard Simpson, again an antiquarian book seller of Eton High Street. 

Today's generous shop vouchers bearing the names of the Pote, Benwell & Simpson Trust together with that of the Baldwin Bridge Trust is obviously much supported by the latter trust.

Submitted by Frank Bond 



This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village and is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Photographic History - Village Characters - Bill Cooley

Bill Cooley, Farmer


The photograph shows Bill driving his tractor and trailer on North Field with the Windsor Relief Road (Royal Windsor Way: A332) in the background. Bill took over Little Common Farm after the death of his father. Many will remember him and his wife Joan delivering their milk.


Bill was the only Eton Wick resident to achieve the distinction of becoming Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (in 1987) after serving many years as Councillor and a Justice of the Peace.

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

Sunday, 10 May 2020

World War 2 Eighty Years On - May 1940



A fateful day, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg invaded by superior German forces capitulated.  The war situation was grave. Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister resigned in favour of Winston Churchill who formed a Coalition Government. His broadcast message to the people of Britain emphasized the seriousness of the situation with his words, "I have nothing to offer, only Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat".


Defence of the British empire against possible attack from enemy forces necessitated sending troops to the middle east, India and the colonies leaving the home defence force weak.   The threat of landings from German parachutists to engage in sabotage was real.  

To supplement the Home forces, War Secretary Anthony Eden, broadcast an appeal for men aged 17 to 65 to volunteer as local defence volunteers.   This force, first known as the L.D.V., was renamed in August 1940 as the 'Home Guard'. Volunteers from Eton Wick joined the Eton - Windsor platoons.  No equipment or uniforms were available, but one volunteer recalled being given a white arm band with the instruction to put a finger into a tin of boot blacking and to mark the letters L.D.V.  Everything was lacking except the blind enthusiasm of the volunteers. Within two weeks of this call to arms Belgium and Holland had been occupied and the allied armies were starting the evacuation from Dunkirk.

LDV volunteers were quickly formed into organized units by the county territorial army units. Patrols of the local commons, guarding public installations and manning local defensive positions against the expected invasion were undertaken with early enthusiasm. Available firearms were mainly privately owned shotguns and one or two sporting rifles. 

12TH Berks Battalion  D1 Platoon Upper Thames Patrol

Memories of training sessions, taken on Sunday mornings, are still kindled by the television show Dads Army.  Old soldiers became the NCO’s and took charge of training the volunteers. Retired army officers took command as they were recalled to duty. Reviewing the locally formed units on the Aspro Sports Ground, Bath Road, Slough, one oldish Col Blimp is remembered by one volunteer as thus: 

"He made a speech urging that when the Germans came, as surely they would, the LDV would use their bamboo poles to shove up the invaders jacksies.  All good stuff to us untrained but eager second line of defence volunteers. Later when trained in military discipline we looked back on Colonel Blimp, or whoever he was and wondered why he had not told us the Germans may have objected to this ungentlemanly like form of combat.  We took our turn at guarding Slough by night, our depot being at Tunes Engineering. Our key role was to defend the Dover Road bridge that crosses the main railway line to Reading and Bristol on the Trading Estate. For this guard duty the platoon had three or four rifles issued and perhaps a little ammunition but none was available for practice in those early days of the L.D.V. Weeks later I often stood on that bridge and watched the fires and searchlights in the 1940 London Blitz" - (Frank Bond) 

Special units such as the Upper Thames Patrol with their own distinctive U.P.T. cap badge were formed to guard strategic areas along the river Thames. Formed into three sections the local U.P.T patrolled Old Windsor to Romney lock (D1), Romney lock to Boveney lock (D2) and Boveney to Bray lock (D3). The defence of the North bank became the responsibility of Lt. Colonel W.R. Colquhoun, Commanding Officer of the Eton College O.T.C. (Officers Training Corps).  The College O.T.C. Cadets took an active role in training the newly raised local Home Guard units. With the use of rifles from their armoury the cadets, with great patience, trained enthusiastic older men in marksmanship and fieldcraft. As there was a real possibility of enemy agents being dropped by parachute river patrols were instituted. The patrols of twelve hours, commencing at 8pm, were undertaken by a NCO and four men, one of whom was a professional boatman, using the motor boat named Topsy.  Many a night was spent inspecting the moored boats and their crews identities, as well as the locks. Patrolling the riverbank on summer evenings could be hazardous, no Germans but swarms of midges that rose in clouds to dance around, irritate and bite. Across the towpath approach to the locks the LDV patrol occasionally laid a trip wire arrangement to give warning of approaching friend or foe.  This method of defence was also a source of amusement whenever an entrapped late-night courting couple found themselves challenged by an unseen sentry.  To test the capability of the UTP defence, exercises were held with the Guards regiment from Windsor Victoria barracks acting as the enemy.  On many occasions the Upper Thames Patrol were the victors due to their local knowledge of the river and its environments.

Buildings and locations were put to uses other than their original purpose, some for the needs of war, some for personal pleasure as follows ……….           

Mr. King, the Boveney lock keeper, being a Naval Reservist was recalled for service at the outbreak of war.  His replacement was Ron Sparman. Ron, a Windsor man, did not live at the lock cottage but returned home each evening. With no one to deter them, village lads and evacuees were able to utilized the lock as a swimming bath on the hot summer evenings. Whereas the Scout hut, then situated at the Wheatbutts, had another part time function other than Eton Wick scout headquarters by also becoming the headquarters and meeting point for Eton Wick Home Guard Platoon. 



Sunday May 26th. 


The Royal Navy with the help of many privately owned small boats began the evacuation of the B.E.F. from the Dunkirk beaches. Taking part in this naval epic was the ‘New Windsor Castle’, a well-known Thames steam launch built in 1923 and owned by Messrs. Jacobs of Thames Hotel Windsor. She was called up as part of the Emergency River Transport Service when the heavy raids commenced on London and she was one of the twenty similar passenger boats among the 665 small craft assisting in the evacuation.  Having been taken to Sheerness by her Captain Mr. Arthur Pickin, she crossed the North Sea with a Royal navy crew.

During the following days until June 2nd., 338,226 allied servicemen were evacuated to England. The situation was serious as the B.E.F. had lost or destroyed most of their equipment. British forces sent to Norway were also evacuated during the month again suffering severe losses of men and equipment. Replacing this equipment placed extra demands on the armament factories. A seven-day working week, with a twelve hour or more working day became the norm for many factory employees. Servicemen with engineering skill were sent to the hard-pressed factories to help. Forgoing their games 150 boys from Eton College made themselves available for work at factory or farm. The manpower loss suffered by the armed forces was met by raising the conscription age to include men of 36 years. 

Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, on giving the House of Commons his report of the perilous situation declared with stirring Churchillian words,  


Because of the grave war situation, the school Whitsun holiday was shortened for both L.C.C. and Eton Wick schools. Upon returning the children received emergency drill instructions upon which to act in the event of an air raid or invasion. A designated classroom with sandbag blast protection was the assembly point and shelter. Children and teachers wearing their gas mask practiced their ARP drill several times during these days of uncertainty. Later, following an inspection by county A.R.P. officers, the head teacher was informed that the roof of the building was vulnerable and not a safe place for ninety children. An appeal to the Eton U.D.C. for school shelters was referred to the Bucks County Education Committee with no immediate result.

Parents who had taken their children back to London during the phoney war period were again urged to evacuate them to safety. Posters issued by the Ministry of Health aimed to persuade mothers to leave the children in safe areas also available for parents were special ‘visit to evacuee’ cheap day rail tickets. Arrangements were made by Windsor and Eton authorities to receive another one thousand evacuees, Eton and Eton Wick being asked to make available two hundred billets. Billeting Officer, The Hon. Mrs. Butterwick and her staff now experienced difficulty with many householders in finding voluntary billets. It became necessary for the council to remind householders that they had the legal power under the War Emergency Acts for compulsory billeting where homes had the room. Being away from their family in a very different environment made it difficult for some evacuees to settle causing upset in the foster home. To help this situation a proposal was put to the council that a house should be purchased and staffed for these difficult cases. This was decided against due to the cost and administration of the project.

With the declaration of war, Eton Urban council encouraged residents to purchase their own air raid shelters. Six Anderson type shelters had been acquired for display, but residents showed little interest. The now changed military situation and the possibility of heavy air raids brought an urgent demand. Having recently sold the six display shelters every endeavour was made to acquire more which was unsuccessful as the more pressing demand for weapons had made supplies difficult. Mr. Chew emphasized to the council the need for public shelters in Eton Wick reminding them also that the financial position of many people in the village was such, that they could not afford the eight pounds for an air raid shelter.

Friday, 8 May 2020

V.E. Day, a poem by Jean Amor


V.E. DAY 

I'm glad I lived through all those years of great and bitter war, 
I saw a nation strive and pray like it never had before 
Its youth shone forth with valor, every boy a man, 
A unity between us, we fought as no other can. 
We worked the fields together while they fought high in the sky.
We saw the hand of death, but with spirits ever high -
Watched destruction to our land until nothing looked the same. 
Gallant heroes dearly loved within the halls of fame -
Gave their lives so freely, They only knew the Spring 
Side by side we toiled, only labour could soon bring -
An end to the fighting, an end to all the strife. 
How the years dragged on taking precious days of life 
But how we loved and shared our every hope and dream, 
Devoted to our cause. all together as a team, 
The ever tightening bond that joined each one of us 
How we faced all dangers without fuss 
Oh! yes I'm proud that I once saw the rising of this Nation 

Jean Amor, 
Eton Wick. 

V.E. Day in Eton Wick


A day long programme of events to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day had been organised by the Eton Wick Village Association. Their Facebook page has details.

Tuesday MAY 8th, 1945.  V.E. DAY.

With the declaration of a two day holiday the nation commenced its celebration with church services which many attended to give thanks for victory and deliverance from tyranny. Flags and bunting appeared on the Tuesday morning in Windsor and Slough giving the streets a look of carnival. Celebrations had started quietly in the early part of the day, the crowds gathering during the early afternoon after the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, had broadcast to the nation that all hostilities in Europe were at an end. Nightfall brought more people onto the streets to cheer and dance. Bonfires were lit at many places, with the Mayor of Windsor lighting a huge bonfire on Batchelors Acre, Windsor, the signal for the start of celebrations that went on into the early hours on Wednesday. Other hastily gathered bonfires appeared onto which went effigies of Hitler and his cronies. Eton College boys had commenced their celebration of victory on Monday evening when the first news of the surrender was heard.

Alma Road VE Day Party held at the Village Hall
The use of buckets of water and stirrup pumps by the Boys did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of revellers who had to run the gauntlet along the long wall and Keate’s Lane. The next day they were given a holiday and immediately set about building a huge bonfire on Fellows Eyot which was lit in the evening. The scene was one of merriment with people dancing around the fire enthused with the excitement of the occasion. As the fire died away many boys linked arms to make a triumphant march up Eton High Street to Windsor where they met another joyous crowd coming from Windsor making their way to Slough. Many of the boys carried on their celebrations with a triumphant march over Windsor Bridge to Castle Hill.                           

VE Day Party at Somerfield Road, Eton Wick
The local Windsor and Slough papers reporting on the Victory Revels said that a two day holiday was declared and the joyous population danced, sung, cheered and wept celebrating the news. Church Bells rang out from Saint Georges Chapel and from all the parish churches around. It was a beautiful warm day with the temperature much higher than the average for the time of year. At nightfall the celebrations took off with a bang as rockets exploded in the sky. Men, women and children thronged the streets of Windsor, Eton and Slough in a night of sheer happiness that the war in Europe had ended. No more would there be anxious days when bomb or rocket would bring death and destruction. By late evening many of the pubs had run dry but the festivities continued to the early hours of Wednesday morning. No-one wanted to go home. The only floodlit building in Eton was the College Chapel but elsewhere floodlighting and fairy lights appeared. Among buildings lit were High Duty Alloys on the Trading Estate, Slough Town Hall and the Windsor riverside with colourful fairy lights. Army searchlights added to the illuminations. Villages around the district were also celebrating with bonfires and parties and impromptu dancing on the village greens and in the streets. The sky reflected the glow from the multitude of fires which in some villages were huge. The very large bonfire on the village green at Datchet commenced a night of celebration which continued through until Wednesday night when there was the added attraction of dancing to the music of the Royal Artillery band from the local Ack - Ack batteries.  For many children this was the first time to see lights in shop windows and such an outburst of gaiety.  Informal street parties and celebration teas for the children took place with tables and chairs and often a piano being brought from the houses. Street parties at Brocas street and Tangier Lane were arranged for the children who in addition to the tea were given an orange and one shilling.   

Mr Addaway, driver of the Blue Bus, had a very excited passenger on V.E. Day. Streaming two strong wartime toilet rolls, Mrs Downs, showing the joyfulness of the day, rode on the bonnet of the bus. Celebration parties at Eton Wick were quickly organized at Northfield Road, the Village Hall and on the common adjacent to the Greyhound public house. Precious tin food that had been purchased on points and stored for this day came from the cupboard. The Victory street party in Northfield Road, organized by Mrs Harman and friends, entertained about twenty children and the same number of adults to a celebration tea with fruit salad from the Azores and a special iced cake in the shape of a victory "V". Private Mills, who was home on leave after three years overseas service, was guest of honour. After tea the children had dancing, races and games ending the day with three cheers for the boys still overseas and wishing them a speedy return.

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




In 2005 the History Group produced Recall 60 Years On, a book about the lives of the Ex-Service men and women who had made the Eton Wick their home. 52 of the 60 plus veterans provided their biographies and it was published with the support The National Lottery Community Fund.



This photo shows where the veterans of WW2 who were residents of Eton Wick in 2005 saw service. It was taken at the exhibition held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day.

Monday, 4 May 2020

The Eton Wick Newsletter - December 2016 - `Our Village' Magazine



Village shops before the superstores (Part 2) 


In the last article we reflected on the village's first shop; its various vendors, and subsequent shape of the pre WW2 era. By 1924 there were eight shops, most of which had originated as converted homes, and most had been established by villagers who after a few years had sold their businesses to non-locals. Almost certainly vendors had plied their wares long before the first recorded shop of John Kirby in the early 1840's. We can only by to imagine the long weary walk into town for goods that could neither be grown, nor reared or made, before Mr Kirby's arrival. 


Eton Wick's first bus service was started by Mr Bert Cole c.1922. (Photo shows the bus outside the Rising Sun in Datchet). At first it was with a very small vehicle, but this was the beginning of a long line of improved buses. By the 1950's there were three buses to and from Windsor's Castle Hill every hour. The Windsor Bridge was not closed to vehicular traffic until 1970; and four years after Bert Cole's Blue Bus Service had ceased. Most of these years preceded general car ownership and television, and the big cinemas of that time were packed. 

Consequently, so were the buses; as 'villagers flocked into town for the picture show. Frequently there were almost as many standing passengers as were seated. Throughout WW2 and for the early years after, Eton Wick was well served by most of its shopkeepers and vendors. In fact the only exceptions were due to military service, or material shortages. Tom Lovell's old shop at Ada Cottage was by now a millinery shop owned by two village ladies who were also the local Girl Guide officers. It was very probably wartime shortages of fabric that caused the closure of their business 'UNEEDUS'. For the remainder of the war the premises became home and shop to a London tailor, who was without doubt very well pleased to be away from the city air raids. Much of his village work would have been alterations and repairs, as few people could spare so many of their clothing coupons needed for a new suit or costume, which at best appeared skimpily made in order to comply with the 'Utility' regulations of that time. The fashionable three button double breast jackets and trouser turn-ups were not permitted, as it was considered an undue waste of material. Those old fashions never fully returned. 

Clothes rationing really began to take effect by the mid war when the coupon allowance for adults was gradually reduced from sixty-six to forty-one per year. Jackets required thirteen coupons, and shirts or trousers eight, while overcoats were sixteen. Even hankies required a coupon and this was the only item, apart from soap, for which servicemen received an allowance. The war ended, but shortages of most things did not, and it was against this background that the Eton Urban Council somehow excelled by almost doubling Eton Wick's population within a decade. with the building of Colenorton Crescent, Boveney New Road and Stockdales Road on land previously known as Tilston Fields and Allotments, before obtaining Brewers Field, situated between the Shepherds Hut pub and the Institute (which we now call the Village Hall) and there building a parade of seven shops that opened in 1951. The rest of Brewers Field was developed as Princes Close. 

Unwittingly this post war parade would slowly contribute to the demise of those scattered and converted shops that had served the village so well in peace, war and rationing. Six of the seven shops were allocated to traders new to Eton Wick although the grocer was from Windsor and the Baker from Eton. The shops were: 

(1) Wet Fish and Game - Mr Barnes (now fish and chip shop) 
(2) Butcher - E. W. Arnold (now hair stylist) 
(3) Pharmacy R.J. O'Flaherty 
(4) Bakers - A. E. Clinch (now part of grocers) 
(5) Grocery - Darvilles (now Nisa Store) 
(6) Newsagent and Barbers - A. E. Anderson (now Gowers) 
(7) Greengrocers - A. Bond (now Age Concern) 

For the first time it became possible to obtain daily needs from one part of the village. Almost as a last act before becoming a part of the Royal Borough authority the Eton Urban Council built a second parade of shops off Bell Lane in 1973. Cautious of the village becoming a ribbon roaded built up area, the new parade was built at a right angle to the main road - not perhaps the ideal from a shopkeeper's view. The need was not the same as in 1951 and for much of the past forty three years the shops have had many varied uses. Previously this had been the site of twelve post WW2 pre-fabricated homes. The final blow to many of those pre-war shops came around 1980 with the growth of Superstores in Slough, Windsor and later, out of town. The early grocery shops to close included the two in Alma Road, followed by the Thames View Stores in 1977, which for a while became an Aquatic Shop; then in 1986/1987 that early shop of 'Pratts' at Clifton House finally closed and was converted into flats, and the St. Leonard Place shop site was redeveloped as Taylor Court flats. The first shall be last, and this was so with Tom Lovell's Ada Cottage shop. It had many different uses from hardware, post office, fish and chips, bakery, shoe repairs, home decorating materials, fishing tackle, tailors, milliners, cycle spares, printers and surely some I have forgotten. 

For many years after its business uses, Ada Cottages, although becoming residential, still retained a shop front appearance: a just testimony to its long chequered place in the past village life. Long serving George Mumford the butcher was undoubtedly much affected by the competition after the Council Parade opened in 1951, but it was probably age and failing health that brought about his later retirement. Certainly the presence of another butcher would have diminished the value of his business when he retired and sold-up. This article is about the early shops and has no reference to the post-war businesses of 'Priors' and 'Mikes' in Moores Lane. This originated in c. 1957 when Mr Bill Sibley brought his long established news agency from the family home in The Walk to Primrose Cottages, at the Alma Road junction with Moores Lane. He then installed petrol pumps along the side in Moores Lane. Twenty Years later the house and pumps were transferred to John and Pat Prior who considerably enlarged the retail outlet and were highly regarded in the community. After retirement the shop became purely residential in 2005, and the pumps had closed. Nothing is for ever, and the dominant Superstores found the need to diversify by opening smaller shops to compete with the surviving small shopkeepers. Now they in turn have changes to accept in the rise of 'on line' shopping, and the smaller selection with lower prices offered by Continental chains of Lidl, Aldi and others. It seems the only thing not to change is the need to keep on changing. 

Submitted by Frank Bond.




This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village and is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.