Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sixties Childhood in Eton Wick

A Sixties Childhood in Eton Wick

by Steven Denham

My parents, Betty and John Denham, along with my two brothers, Michael and Andrew and sister, Amanda moved to Eton Wick from Tiverton in September 1960. I was seven and a half at the time. My first view of the village was from the Blue Bus that our Aunt and we boys used to get from Windsor station. I sure that at the time it seemed both quite an adventure as well as being anxious about coming to a new place and having to make new friends.

We moved into a new house in Queens Road, I remember that the road was concrete and not completed. There were very few motorcars unlike today. I do remember that like Tiverton, Eton Wick has its fields and is near a river so it did not feel completely alien. Soon after moving in the fire brigade had to be called as the chimney had become blocked by building rubble and smoke was getting in to the house next door.

In the week after moving in I started at Eton Wick School in Mrs Miles’ class, 1st year juniors. It seemed a very strange experience, the infant school I went to was new and Mrs Miles taught her class in the old part of the School as only the top three years had classrooms in the new part of the school. I tried my best, but found school very difficult and I have been told since that Mrs Miles did not find me easy to teach.

In 1961, when I was eight I joined the Wolf Cubs. The pack was lead by Margaret and John Fennel who helped me achieve success in things and ways that I just could not do at school.

A significant memory was the Gang Shows which Tommy Neighbour had a great deal to do with the direction of. I don’t recall who helped them. Cubs was a special experience that ended when I went up to the scout troop after gaining my Leaping Wolf.

In April 1962 the Queen was driven through the village and all the school children were lined up along the Eton Wick Road outside of the Church and waved as she passed by. She did not stop as this was before she started her 'walk-abouts’.

Another event that I recall that year was that winter arrived with a vengeance on Boxing Day. I remember measuring over 6 inches of lying snow in our back garden. For a nine year old it was a real treat and quite unlike any winter I had seen before or after. There were snowball fights to be had
and snow dens to be made before school returned. The Thames froze at Windsor, but it must have been cold at home as there was only a limited amount of central heating in our house. The snow was piled up along the sides of the Eton Wick Road and some of these piles stayed around for many weeks, brrrr.

1963 gave me an opportunity to sit the 10 plus which with hindsight it is no surprise that I failed. Mr Moss must have seen some hope in me as he selected me for his top group of 11 plus hopefuls. Of Eton Wick School I have many memories. Sport must have been high on the agenda as there was the new swimming pool, football and the annual sports day. The school/PTA also ran the annual Village shinty and rounders competitions which were always hard fought contests.

Being a Church of England school had an impact on the school year. Ascension Day was celebrated with the whole school community attending a service in the Church followed by having the rest of the day as a Holiday. The Christmas Nativity Play was performed in the church. The school Christmas parties were always held in the village hall.

1964 was a year of change, I had the disappointment of not following my brothers to Slough Grammar having failed the 11 plus. My mum and dad got me into The Orchard Secondary Modern, which was in Stoke Road, Slough. The Orchard was the only Secondary Modern that provided an opportunity to take ‘O’ levels. The day I started I missed the school bus I should have caught, but managed to get on to the bus taking children St Ethelbert’s and St Joseph’s. I was the only child from Eton Wick starting in that year so I made friends with children from Slough, Langley and Maidenhead. As it is nowadays secondary schools work in a completely different way to junior schools so there was a great deal to find out.

 
 
Scout Fete: Tent Pitching Competition
left to right: Steven Denham, Graham Stallard, Mark Dobson,
John Garnham, David Longmore.

1965. One of the major events in the village each year was the Scout Fete held on the Wheatbutts.

There were lots of sideshows such as roll a penny, hoopla and darts. The main arena was the venue for many different events, which included an annual tent pitching competition held between the village scouts and scouts from other troops in the district. I seem to remember that the village Guides also competed some years. I do recall that one-year the team that I was leading managed a very quick time only to discover that we had mixed up the tent poles and the canvass of the walls was several inches off the ground!

1966 was the year that England won the World Cup. I went to see one match at Wembley with my brothers and a friend; I think it was Mexico v Uruguay. On the day of the final I travelled to South Wales with the Scout Troop for a weeks camp. I remember that it rained almost everyday.

1967. Soon after I was thirteen I started my first job as a newspaper delivery boy for Gowers. My round covered Colnorton Crescent, Moores Lane and Stockdales Road. I got paid 12s 6d (62p) for Monday to Saturday. How things stay the same, I still do paper rounds, but now for my own business when the boys don’t turn up. The papers have changed gone are the Daily Herald and Sketch, the Sun and Independent have arrived and they are all much heavier.

1968. There was a major outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease that hit the country and the dairy farms in the village took necessary precautions. I remember going with a friend on his round to deliver papers and going no further than the gate. On August Bank Holiday Monday the second ‘Wicko’ was held on the old recreation ground. This was very different from the Scout Fete it had a lot more side shows as well as some spectacular arena events and a tug of war competition that attracted team from a wide area.

1969 was the last year I went to school. In May and June I took 5 ‘O’ levels and attained a good enough mark in 4 of them to gain passes. After finishing school I started a temporary job with Frank Bond in his greengrocers shop along with David Fearn. In July, Frank invited us to watch the launch of Apollo 11 that lead to the first moon landing. I remember it quite vividly as it was the first time I have seen colour TV. I went with the Scouts to the Wye Valley for the summer camp that as in the previous 3 years was great fun with the addition of canoeing. But when the summer was over it was off to work at WH Smith and Son in Slough.

No comments:

Post a Comment