Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The Development of Boveney Newtown


For the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century the theme for the growth of the village had been one of 'divide and increase'; but in the 1880s the village spilt over into the parish of Boveney. For fifty years the Shepherd's Hut had stood isolated from the main village, the only house of Eton Wick (not counting Bell Farm Cottages) across the boundary.

The story began with the financial difficulties of Arthur Bott, a cowkeeper who had the cottage he already lived in and the adjoining one. These were Hope Cottages, whose gardens at this date stretched as far as the Eton Wick Road. Within a year he had taken of the times and sold part of his garden and added a cottage to the two already standing. He then purchased a field called Little and Great Groves from Bell Farm and added three more to the others. However, he had now over-reached his resources and in 1880 his creditors foreclosed on his mortgages. Here this story of an incident important to few others besides Arthur Bott might have ended, but the sale of the land had far-reaching consequences. Its purchaser was a local man of astute business sense and within a few years the field had been divided and resold, plot by plot as building land. Even before the end of the decade, the bustling community of New Town had been created.


Its roads, Alma, Inkerman, Northfield and Moores Lane were planned, named and laid out as one scheme, though the houses and terrace blocks were named and built for many individuals. The actual builder of a high proportion of them was Henry Burfoot, a villager with considerable ambition. He built for himself a show-house in Alma Road. Its bright red bricks and hanging tiles contrasted sharply with the yellow and purple of the majority of the New Town houses. But on these there were new details such as bay windows and pleasing individual touches in the use of red bricks to make string courses and above the doors and windows, decorated tiles and coloured glass panels. Few of the houses had more than tiny front gardens and several opened their doors onto the street. Wash houses and outside privies were standard and water was obtained from pumps, often shared.

South of the Eton Wick Road another road was laid out about the same period, that of Victoria Road. The row of houses though properly called Castle View was soon to be known as Klondike for no better reason than that they were near a piece of waste ground on which scrap was allowed to accumulate and which proved to be a treasure trove of spare Fields and hedgerows separated these three parts of Eton Wick and would continue to do so for another half-century.

This is an extract from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter


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