Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Story of Oliver James Stannett in his own word - A Job on the Railway and Getting Married

After being at home for several weeks I was seventeen and a half years old. The Railway did not take boys over sixteen but when they read the reference that Mr. Stillwell had given me I was told to start work on Monday morning at eighteen shillings a week.

The shifts were 8 am. to 4 pm. , 6 pm. to 3 am. and 11 pm. to 8 am. There were twenty four of us, working in six gangs of four. I enjoyed the night work because we had time and a quarter from 10 pm. to 6 am. On Saturday nights we were paid time and a half from midnight to 8 am. which gave us an extra 8 shillings a week. The trouble was that we had to do this in turns, the gangs being rostered for six weeks. I had a little extra for myself.

When I was in the stables Mum gave me sixpence pocket money every week. Most of us went to the 'pictures' every Saturday night which was tuppence (2d.). When we came out we had 'one and one' on a plate at the fish and chip shop in Peascod Street in Windsor. A large piece of fish and the plate piled up with chips. None were ever left and we did enjoy them!

We had no money to take girls out. I still did not have a shirt on my back and I was very shy where girls were concerned. There were several in the village who had tried very hard to get me to take them out but how could I with no shirt to wear. I still wore the suit that Bert Horton had given me.

I had to walk across the fields to Slough for three years night and morning because I did not have a bike. I liked autumn the best because I went through the fields of turnips and swedes. I had no supper at home so I had a feed of turnips, swedes and wheat which lasted me until 3 am. when we stopped for an hour to eat.

Should a coalman, tube cleaner, boiler washer or lighter up not turn up then one of us had to go on the job for which we received an extra shilling a week for doing labourers' work. Their rate of pay was eight shillings a day so I was able to save a few shillings.

One day I happened to walk indoors and saw Mabel Brewer who was our neighbour. I never forgot the picture she made sitting in front of the fire in a long pink dress. So we got talking and Mum suggested that I take Mabel to see The Beggar's Opera which was on at a Windsor theatre and we both agreed. I liked Mabel very much, she was a proper tomboy and was the only girl who would play with us when we were younger.

When she left school she was put into service where most of the girls went at that time. She was working at St. Winifred's Girls School in Eastbourne as Head Chambermaid. We wrote to each other and I longed for the school holidays so that we could become engaged.

Then after two years Mabel got a job at a hotel in Staines as Parlour Maid. After eighteen months we were married in 1925. We found two rooms in Church Street, Slough at 22/6d. a week. My income at that time was £2-0-6 a week after stoppages, so we had 8/- to live on.

There was a retired Jew across the road who used to put boxes of fruit and veg. outside. On this occasion, he had put a box of tomatoes at three ha'pence a pound and we could not find the three ha'pence to get any. We had a grill to do the cooking on. Mabel was carrying Ron at the time. We used to get a nice sized piece of meat for the weekend and Mabel usually made soup with the bone. I came home from work at 2 pm. and Mabel asked me if I wanted some soup. I said, "Yes please!" and I had two plates full. Mabel did not have any because of the babe. I asked, "What did you put in it, some rice?" "No“ She said, "Oh! It must have been the bone that was flyblown!" But it must have given it a flavour because I had two plates of it and it hasn't hurt me.

Then came the 1926 General Strike. I was out of work for ten days so the committee decided to give us ten shillings a week as they were now in funds. I went to the Working Men's Club where all the strike meetings were held. I had decided to go along and see how things were shaping. On the way home through Slough High Street I saw a loaf on the path and people were walking round it so I picked it up. It must have dropped from somebody's basket. A little further along I saw a shilling, I could not believe my eyes. Mabel was very pleased with it. Everything seemed to improve after that and I was very glad to get back to work.

This is an extract from the autobiography written by Oliver James Stannett (1903 - 1988) and republished here with the kind permission of his relatives who still live in Eton Wick. The collection of Oliver Stannett's articles can be found by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Enclosure of the Parishes near Eton Wick

Enclosure Map for Upton cum Chalvey
courtesy of the Berkshire Records Office
The Eton Wick we know today surrounded by green fields is the result of the protests made by the residents of the village and Eton that stopped their enclosure in the late 18th century. The Berkshire Records Office website, has images of the maps of the areas that were subject to Enclosure Acts and plenty of information about the change that happened. 

Enclosure map for New Windsor and Dedworth
courtesy of the Berkshire Records Office
The Berkshire Records Office website has the Enclosure records for Upton-cum-Chalvey of 1809. This document includes a mention of John Penn who was unsuccessful in his quest to enclose the Parish of Eton 17 years later.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Village Community in the 1800's

In 1872 the Eton Work Society was also founded under the auspices of the church. It was a bark-back to ideas of earlier centuries whereby materials were bought by the parish and given to the poorer people to work. In Eton, it was to the women that the scheme was aimed. They did needlework during the winter months; they were paid for their labour and the garments were sold at cost price. It was an admirable scheme for the times and reflects the attitude of the clergy and parish workers of 'helping the poor without pauperising them'. Many of the parish poor lived in the 'poor out-district of Eton Wick'.

Earlier in the century, however, ordinary villagers, if not the poorest, had managed their own affairs quite successfully. The Eton Wick Friendly Society had been founded in 1811. It met on the first Monday of each month at the Three Horseshoes. Only those who could maintain themselves and their families could join; the entrance fee was five shillings, and there was a monthly payment of 1s 9d.  Meetings were meant to be an enjoyable occasion and there was an annual feast, but the rules of behaviour were strict. The most important function was as an insurance society. In times of sickness or infirmity a member would receive 10s 6d weekly for six months and then half of this for as long as the sickness lasted. Widows too were helped. Members took it in turns to be stewards and visit ailing members. For at least twelve years the Society prospered, but no records later than 1823 have survived and in all probability it became bankrupt in the lean years which followed.

In 1878 a group of villagers began another enterprise - the Eton Wick Horticultural and 
The Eton Wick Horticultural Show circa 1900
Industrial Exhibition, or Horticultural Society as it was later known. Its first meeting was held in  August that year.  Prizes were given for the usual classes of produce and crafts: fruit, vegetables, flowers, needlework and livestock. There was no doubt about its success, and by the following year it had become a parish affair open to all competitors from the town as well as the village and also Boveney and Dorney. Competitions were now arranged according to the class of the competitor- cottager, allotment holder,   professional and amateur. Special prizes were given by the Temperance Society. It was the highlight of the village year, an event to be looked forward to months ahead and talked about for weeks afterwards. There was no shortage of entries. Rabbits sleek in their cages, and bantams, hens and ducks in their coops formed a double line in one corner of Wheatbutts Field. The smell of hot, freshly cooked potatoes and new bread filled the air, complemented in later years by the sound of Eton Wick's own fife and drum band. Among the prize winners were one or two now very familiar names, such as Bond and Borrett, which make their first entry in the records of the village.

Two other events which caused considerable excitement in 1878 were also reported in the parish magazine, and although the information given is meager, each appears to be the first of its kind in the village. Both took place in July on the common; the first was a political meeting and the second a steam circus. As the century drew to its end several other innovations were taking place in the village. A cricket club was started in 1889 and a football club some time previously. The football team won all its matches in 1885. The old schoolroom became the meeting place of the Eton Wick Working Men's Club, and there was also a Young Men's Club. Treats and concerts were becoming quite usual features of village life. Vans and wagons took the children to Langley Park and another year the Sunday School treat took place on Fellows' Eyot. The Temperance Society visited Cliveden; village parties were held to see in the New Year, and public teas were held in the schoolroom in the summer, followed by entertainment in Mr Nottage's orchard. Christmas 1885 was marked by a magic lantern show at the school. There were many concerts, but one of them merits special mention, for it appears to be one of the earliest known occasions when the village organized a collection to help one of its members. The proceeds were given to the widow of young Arthur Benham who died after catching a chill in the floods, leaving a wife and seven children.

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

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Memorial Committee Meetings - February 1919.

There were two Memorial Committee meeting held February 1919 and these are the abbreviated minutes.

The committee met at the Institute on February 5th.

Proposed and agreed Rev. McAnally be Chairman, Mr E. Ashman be secretary and Mr Howell be treasurer. Resolved Mr Percy be co-opted. Proposed Mr Moss that a stone monument 10 or 12 feet high, surmounted with a cross, be erected in the Churchyard between the porch and vestry, with the names of the fallen suitably inscribed on the base, seconded Mr Howell and carried unanimously. 

Mr Percy agreed to obtain specifications from Mr Nutt. Mr Vaughan and Mr Burfoot promised to get particulars in time for the next meeting to be held on Monday, February 24th.

Committee Meeting held 7 p.m. 24th February 1919

All present. Mr Vaughan produced a model of a proposed monument from J. H. Morecambe of Leicester. Approximate cost £90.00, also a model from W. Blair of Eton, approximate cost in Portland stone £120.00, or in Bath stone, with slabs £90.00. Mr Percy produced several designs of memorials from Mr Nutt. Rev. McAnally stated there would be a exhibition of various memorials in London, at some later date. Mr Bunce thought the committee should proceed with the matter at once. Seconded Mr Percy and agreed. Proposed Mr Burfoot, seconded Mr Bunce that the two designs be selected and submitted to a General Meeting on March 5th.

Proposed Mr Ashman, seconded Mr Burfoot that designed number one of Mr Nutt’s surmounted with cross design number three be chosen. Mr Percy to obtain an estimate of the same. Proposed Mr Bunce and seconded Mr Barrett that Mr Blair’s model be submitted.

Mr Vaughan agreed to see Mr Blair regarding the slenderness of the top portion and to obtain an estimate in Hopwood stone. 

Mr Moss expressed a view that a definite location for the monument be submitted to the General Meeting, and he thought the parishioners were expecting it to be placed on “the spare piece of ground between the Church Porch and the vestry”. Rev. McAnally agreed to approach the Vicar regarding permission.

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

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Our Village April 2012 - Village Clubs and Groups

The Way Things Were

During a recent tidy-up of files and folders on Eton Wick I came upon a listing of organisations; groups and clubs dating back to the early 1800's. Part of this list was the work of the old Eton Urban Council — pre 1974, and part of it we produced in the 'Pictorial History of Eton Wick' book published in the year 2000. There are now quite sixty groups etc; on the list, and I do not pretend the list to be complete. Many may pose the question of how they originated and what caused their demise. Others may need to reinvent their title to be acceptable in today's world. This of course includes a 'Minstrel' and a 'Black and White' Minstrel group which were Eton Wick concert parties before and after the Great War of 1914 -18. Perhaps there was a social need for concert groups after the family disruptions of wars, because after the Second World War 1939 — 45, the village again had concert groups such as "The Unity Players" and "The Shoestrings". The need to raise funds also prompted some of these groups, as it did with the annual Scout fetes and gymkhanas; the Village Hall fetes, and 'The Wicko Carnivals'.

Looking at sports groups, the first mention I have of a local club is the Eton Excelsior Rowing Club dating back to at least 1826. Sports in the village did not really feature before the 1880s - around 1882 the first mention of a village football club and 1889 when the cricket club originated. Both clubs played their home fixtures on the common, there being no recreation ground until 1904. Undoubtedly there would have been some local opposition to the common being used on the grounds of Lammas misuse.

Both the Eton Wick and the Eton Recreation Grounds were purchased with accumulated funds accrued principally with the Great Western Railway compensation for the loss of Lammas rights when the viaduct was built around 1846. Eton Wick's ground, opening in 1904. Not until the village had a recreation area could it really be feasible to have regular organised sports, although it is doubtful if the small population could have fielded team sports much sooner.

The first organised group mentioned is dated 1811. Not sport and not recreation but a 'Friendly Society' at the Three Horse Shoes, which lasted for at least 12 years. This was believed to be the first of various support motivated groups, although with the low wages of that time, probably not affordable to all. It cost five shillings (25p) to enroll and a monthly payment of one shilling and nine pence (9p). In return there was a weekly payout of ten shillings and sixpence (52p) in times of sickness, for up to six months, reducing thereafter. The other pubs later introduced similar schemes which in one form or another existed until the mid-20' century; after which time the state ensured social security, and the said 'Slate Clubs' or 'Didtem Clubs' as they were known, went into decline. Other groups of a 'support' nature included 'The Temperance Guild' c. 1884; 'The Mother's Union' (1902) and the Infant Welfare 1915. Sped groups were Football c.1882; Cricket 1889; Rifle Club 1899; Harriers 1907; Tennis Club 1930; Badminton P.T.A. c.1960; Indoor Bowls 1991 and The Nomads 1949.

The Nomads were a cycle camper group of youths within the Youth Club, and the name was that used for registered membership within the Camping Club of Great Britain. They existed for about four years and cycle camped to the coast; the Isle of Wight; and twice toured the Cornish Coast — the West Coast, Land's End, Lizard, Plymouth and the coast home. In 1952 they toured an area in North France. Youth Club ages were appreciably different at that time, with all members being aged 15 — 21. Before we look at more village youth groups it is appropriate in this Olympic year to mention the Harriers Club of 1907. The following year of 1908 the Olympics came to Britain, and a villager competed in the marathon race. The 26 mile course was Windsor to London and the runner was Edwin Stacey, the second youngest son of the 'Shepherd's Hut' landlord. Incidentally our bird man, Bill Stacey, is a relative.

Of the Rifle Club it is claimed they had some very good competitors and in fact qualified to
compete at Wisley. Unfortunately they were not a good match for the other teams who were using Vernia sights on their rifles, which the 'Wicks' team had no experience of. Both the Harriers and Rifle Club had the support of the village benefactor, Edward Littleton Vaughan, who gave his time and generosity to Eton Wick and in particular to its youth. He promoted a young men's club in the redundant old school building and when in 1903 the site and building were purchased for a shop he made Wheatbutts Cottage and orchard available to the Harriers and Rifle clubs, meanwhile giving the site and building for the Village Hall (then The Institute) that we still take pride in today. It is believed Mr Vaughan was Eton Wick and Boveney's first Scout Master. He certainly had the village group at summer camp near Weymouth at the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 — 18. In 1935 at the age of 86 he started a boys club in the village. His club leaders were a local guards' sergeant and Mr Les Moreby. Unfortunately the club closed after two years when Les left the 'Wick' to take up an appointment as Boys' Leader in the newly opened and nationally prestigious Slough Community Centre.

In 1939 came the war. Our village hall was taken over for evacuees and classrooms; the recreation ground was ploughed and used for cereal growing; there were complete blackouts and many men went into the war. Others not enlisted for health or essential war work reasons all had to take on other duties such as Home Guard; Fire Service Wardens; Air Wardens; or Messengers.

Consequently, many clubs and organisations fell into decline; some never to recover. One such being the Tilston Tennis Club. Their courts were behind the village hall on the exact site of todays' large youth club games hall. After the war the youth club attempted to repair or replace the rusted and dilapidated court fencing; all to no avail. There had been allotments between the courts and the Boveney Ditch (south side of the Rec') and these were vacated in the 1950s. I presume the vacation was influenced by the building of Princes Close on the Brewers' Field c.1953-4.

Youth groupings very much included Boy Scouts; Cubs; Guides and Brownies - the uniformed groups. These were quick to establish after the war and of course much aided by having their own hutted quarters in the N.W. comer of Wheatbutts orchard (now Wheatbutts estate). Sadly arson destroyed most of the Scouting records/photos etc., in later years.

Socialist Britain in the post WW2 years established Advisory Committees to oversee youth services. Locally the committee found little to do in the Eton Wick scouting set up, so concentrated on the youth club, as a mixed sex organisation. In the first five years the club had full time paid leaders that could be barely justified in a time of post war austerity. By 1951 this had changed, and I was appointed the unprofessional club leader, receiving nine shillings (45p) an evening as recompense.

There have been other youth groups in the village run by the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Methodists. Later the Catholic Church formed a group of 'Charlie's Angels' but as is the modern trend, for a younger age range. In my youth the Sunday Schools were a big issue in the village, but I think perhaps the main reasons were twofold. Firstly, families were large and it was convenient to know where the children were on Sundays, and secondly the 'Sunday School annual outings'. There were no family cars, so without an outing we rarely left the immediate neighbourhood. Before charabancs and coaches the annual outing was to Burnham Beeches and transport was by coal cart. The horse drawn coal carts were used because they had low platforms, suitable for the coal merchants easy lifting on his back.

The Methodist Chapel were the first to use motor coaches to the seaside. This was around 1932-3. Oh! how we envied them, as most of us had never seen the sea. Within two years St. John's had matched the chapels' coast trips, so we were then able to argue the merits of which was best.

Text Box: Page 2Many villagers of eighty plus years ago would never have gone far beyond where their legs would take them, and undoubtedly the initial attraction of young men volunteering for war in 1914 had more to do with the thought of seeing France and Belgium than the mortal conflict. Social groupings in Eton Wick included The Working Mens' Club, 1890's; The Sisterhood early 1900's; The Womens' Recreation Club c.1925; The Over 60s Club c.1950; Young Wives Group c.1940's; The Mens' Club c.1930's and The Ladies Club c.1960.

There are two entries under music. The Fife & Drum Band c.1890 and The Crusader Skiffle Group c. late 1950's. There are several others, some still exist today. Perhaps the latest is The knit and natter' group held at the library. Not all the groups have had a mention as I have to keep an eye on the magazine space I can reasonably use. Perhaps as a last thought I should say that football had just one mention but there have been at least five different football clubs and probably more. 

By Frank Bond

Click here to read Our Village April 2012.

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

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Eton Wick In 1939

Map of the Village in 1935 Courtesy of the National Library for Scotland
The village of Eton Wick situated on the North bank of the river Thames to the west of Eton College and Windsor, was before boundary changes, within the Eton Urban district of the County of Buckinghamshire. .Including the area of Boveney New Town, the village population was approximately 1000. 

Farming, domestic service at Eton College, the retail trade of Eton and Windsor and the manufacturing companies on the Slough trading estate provided employment for many village families.  During 1938 work commenced on the installation of a mains sewerage system for the village. This was completed in 1941 but the much spoken of electric supply was not installed until 1946 due to the declaration of war.

The School, Institute, Church, and Chapel were the centers for many of the village activities. Clubs and Societies, Guides and Brownies and other organizations met in the Institute, now known as the Village Hall, for gymnastics, billiards, and other social activities.

The Scout Troop and Wolf Cubs paraded at their headquarters hut situated in the Wheatbutts.  During 1939 a change to parade drill introduced for the armed forces of marching in column of three instead of column of four was adopted by Scouts and Guides.  

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

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The First Memorial Committee Meeting - January 1919

We are fortunate in Eton Wick because most of the minutes of the Memorial Committee meetings have survived the passing years. It is apparent from these that the governing criterion was the actual place of residence at the time of service.

The cost of the memorial was met entirely by donations from within the community. It cost just under £200, which in relative terms today would probably be around £15,000. The village population in 1919 was very much smaller than it is today.

The abbreviated minutes of the Memorial Committee meetings report:

Committee Meeting held January 1919

Two months after the Great War Armistice, in January 1919, a public meeting was held at the Eton Wick and Boveney Institute to consider a form of memorial to those who had sacrificed their lives. Vicar L.H. Evans of Eton occupied the chair. Those present: Rev. J.M. McAnally, Mr E.L. Vaughan, Mr H. Bunce, (Chairman of Eton Wick Parish Council) together with council members; Mr W. Howell (Chairman of Boveney Parish Council) with council members, together with many ladies, and men still wearing khaki uniforms. The Vicar, after paying tribute to victory and thanksgiving to God, proceeded to read minutes of a joint meeting between both councils held on January 18th.

Suggestions for a memorial included: a clock in the church spire; a stained-glass window with a tablet inside bearing the names of the fallen beneath the window; a lych gate; a wall around the churchyard; a monument outside the church and a tablet inside. The meeting decided unanimously to recommend the stained-glass window and tablet. Mr Hammerton thought it should not be confined to the church and proposed a marble slab be erected in the Institute grounds; seconded in a soldier. Mr Vaughan proposed an amendment referring the matter to a committee; Mr H. Burfoot seconded. Mr H. Bunce further amended that the stained-glass decision be carried forward.

Mr Percy amended that the memorial be erected outside the church and in the churchyard, where all could see it; Mr Nason seconded. The last amendment was carried 33 votes for, with eight against. Proposed Mr Ayres, seconded Mr Howell, that a committee of nine be elected.

Those elected were Rev. McNally, Messrs: E. Ashman, H. Bunce, W Howell, E.L. Vaughan, H. Burfoot, G. Barrett, W Moss and C. Tough. 

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

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Story of Oliver James Stannett in his own word - Working With Horses

Dad came home one day and told Mum that they wanted a boy for 10/- a week to work between 7.30 and 7 - 8 pm. to clean shoes, cutlery, outside windows, scrub out two bars twice a week, take people's luggage to either Western or Southern stations and chop a certain amount of firewood. I did this and more for about six months until I got a whitlow on my finger so I got the sack.

Then Dad heard that there was a job going at Mr. Stillwell's stable at Clewer near Windsor race course. I got the job because I liked the horses. I was looking after a hunter, polo ponies, hacks, one stallion and one two-year-old racehorse which was being trained for racing. I must say a few words about Captain Vivien the two-year-old. The 'Guy' and I used to go on Windsor racecourse knocking a white polo ball about which I enjoyed. I asked the reason for it. He said, " To get the horses to learn to change legs as polo ponies have to do. " So I watched and they did, so there was no need for them to cross their forelegs in a race which would bring them down. I think being in the stables, the smell got into my blood and fetched me out in boils. At this time I had two on my neck and one on each cheek of my behind. I could not sit down but I did not tell the 'Guv' about it because I was managing very well until he said, "Saddle up the 'Cap. ' and we will have a knockabout." We saddled up and went to the course. The horse was a lot taller than the polo ponies so I had to reach down further and as I did both boils on my behind burst and it all ran down my legs, but what wonderful relief Funny thing is that I have not had a single boil since.

Windsor Greys courtesy of Daily Mail
I was receiving 18/- a week for working from 7.30 am. to 7.30, or to 9.00 pm. when the 'Guv' went to the sales in London just in case he brought one or two home with him. They were mostly army horses. Another chap came to work with me. His name was Bert Horton. His father was head coachman at the Queen's stables at Frogmoor in the Great Park which is where the Windsor Greys were born, bred and trained for the Royal Coaches.

For three years I didn't have a shirt to my back. Mostly I wore an old jacket. Then Bert Horton asked me if I would like an old chauffeur's suit including leather gaiters. It lasted me for two years until I left the stables.

We exercised our horses in the Great Park and always went along The Long Walk. On this particular day, a coach and horses came along the Walk to the Castle gates. My mate's horse bolted down the Old Windsor Road and when Bert came back he said it was my Dad. I said that I didn't notice because I had to keep my horse from following you. The horse was four years old and had never been broken to harness of any sort. The following morning Mr. Stillwell wanted to know what happened in the Park. I told him that it was the two-year-old which B. Horton was riding which bolted. So I was the only one to ride the two-year-old after that.

One day my mate's father came to see Mr. Stillwell and they both came to see me in the yard. Mr. Horton asked me if I would like to work at Frogmore. I had to refuse because I was the only one in our house bringing in money added to which I would have a six mile ride morning and evening which I did not relish. He told me that he liked the way I rode horses and there was a job waiting for me if I wanted one. The horses trained at Frogmore were the ones used to pull the Royal coaches.

Just after this happened the 'Guv' went to London for more horses. He told us to exercise the same two horses. When going through the park we came to a hedge about two feet high so we decided to jump it but my horse blundered and fell over it. Of course, he had to fall on me, across my right leg. Instead of waiting for him to get up I tried to pull my leg from under him and I twisted my knee which swelled up like a balloon. I managed to ride to the stable and the Boss had to take me home in the buckboard.

After I had been home a few days there was a knock at the door. It was Mr. Stillwell, my boss. He wanted me to go to the stable and catch a horse for him as they had been trying for hours. He was loose in the paddock at the back of the stables and nobody could catch him. The horse was a famous trotter. He had won five firsts, seven seconds and three thirds at the Olympia Horse Show in London. He had a small thick body and short fat legs. His feet were as big as small plates and his head was very nearly as big as his body. When he was trotting his feet came up to his ears and he was a picture to watch.

As we went out of the door I noticed a crust of bread on the table which I picked up and put in my pocket. The horse's name was Lonsdale. I always called him 'Lonny'. So when we got to the paddock the boss sent one of the chaps for some oats and bran in a sieve. I told him that I did not want it. Lonny was on the far side of the paddock. I called him, "Come on Lonny." He pricked up his ears and came trotting towards us. He stopped by the gate so I offered him a piece of bread crust and while he was chewing it I slipped the halter on him. I think that the Guy was a bit surprised. They had been trying to catch him all morning. The Guv didn't say a word until I got home. He said to Mum, "I think your boy is a marvel and I shall not turn him out again." I said, "Why not? You only need a piece of stale bread. "

There were some army chaps there helping the Guy while I was away. There were three tin trunks in the loft and I had to go and show them what was inside. They were full of silver sand in which was buried bridle bits of all descriptions, snaffle, double snaffle, straight bar and double bar with a cog in the middle (this was to stop the horses putting their tongues out ) and many more.

The two Army chaps broke the lock on the other one. It was full of bottles of wine which they took. Of course, I had to have the blame even when I told Mr. Stillwell that it was the other two I had shown it to. So I gave in my notice. I worked the following week, then asked him for a reference. He asked me where I thought I was going to work and I told him, "On the railway." He gave me one. 

This is an extract from the autobiography written by Oliver James Stannett (1903 - 1988) and republished here with the kind permission of his relatives who still live in Eton Wick. The collection of Oliver Stannett's articles can be found by clicking on this link.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Mystery of the rise of the Lillywhites

Sometime between 1802 and 1807 John and Martha Lillywhite arrived in the Windsor/Eton Wick area.  On John’s marriage in Norwich in 1802 to Martha West (age about 30), John was a Gamekeeper in Linford, Norfolk.  On arrival in Windsor and Eton they quickly appear to have established themselves in both Windsor and Eton Wick. John appears in the 1811 Holdens’s Directories at the Swan Inn in Thames Street, Windsor and had also taken a tenancy of a farm in Eton Wick between the Tax assessments of 1813 and 1814.  By the 1841 Census (John having died in 1828) the Lillywhite’s were tenants of both Saddock’s (Martha) and Manor (her son George Snowden) Farms.  How was it that a “mere” gamekeeper had so quickly gained so much?  Is the middle name of their eldest son, George Snowden Lillywhite, baptised at St Andrew’s Clewer in 1809, a clue as the Snowden family feature in Windsor as councillors, with John Snowden elected as Mayor in 1812?

Fields farmed by Martha and George Lillywhite 
John Lillywhite was a Gamekeeper near Norwich when he married Martha West 1802.  Where John Lillywhite came from is unknown, there being no other Lillywhites at the time in Norfolk and how when and why he came to Eton is also unknown.  However, over the next 3 decades they became a prominent part of the local establishment. 

After 1814 John appears to have concentrated on farming  whilst Martha appears to have been the driving force at the Inn as Angus Macnaughton in "Windsor and Eton in Georgian Times" reports that "Across the road from Old Bank House stood one of Windsor's most famous inn, the Swan, of which only a small part survives today.  For thirty years, from 1810, Mrs Lillywhite presided, making it a notable RV for the many organizations which held their meetings and banquets there".  John had died in 1828, with his son taking over his father’s role, with Martha retiring from the Swan in 1840, but with her son George Snowden Lillywhite she seems to have continued farming, being shown in the 1841 Census as the farmer at Saddock’s Farm with her son the Farmer at Manor Farms.

George Snowden Lillywhite
The Lillywhite appear to have been fully integrated into the local society.  For example Windsor and Eton Express, on Sat 16 Nov 1833 reports that a number of "owners and occupiers of lands  through which it is proposed to make a railway or railways from  Bristol to London and Windsor to London do hereby convene a meeting to  be held at the Windmill Inn, Salt Hill in the county of  Buckinghamshire on Tuesday 19th November ...."  There were 19 signatories including G.S. Lillywhite.  The next year on Sat 29 Mar 1834 (Page 1, Column 2) it is further reported in the same paper that the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Salt Hill Society for Protection against Felons and Thieves there were listed as subscribers Martha Lillywhite of Eton and George S Lillywhite of Eton Wick.  This society was formed in 1783 to protect the property and persons of local farmers and gentry from "Robbers, Felons, Highwaymen and Footpads".  Entrance was One Guinea and there was an annual subscription of 5/-.

George Snowden Lillywhite was a member of the Chalvey Chapel and it is reported in the history by Dr Judith Hunter that "The Sunday School was closed (at Boveney) though services continued to be held in a barn, probably one belonging to Manor Farm; for at this dated the tenant farmer, George Lillywhite, was a member of the Chalvey Chapel.   There is also a tradition that the cottage next to the farmhouse was once used for worship, with 25 people attending the services on “Census Sunday" in 1851". 

By 1871 George had been elected Baliff of the Manor of Eton cum Stockdales and Colenorton.  In the same year, Dr Judith Hunters' history reports George Lillywhite being a member of a committee which purchased Bell Farm from William Goddard for a sewage farm.  George was married to a Goddard, and George's daughter married a William Goddard so this seems to have been a family affair!

George died age 68 in 1877 and is buried in Eton Church. No 536. His parents are buried in St John the Baptist, New Windsor.  But how and why John and Martha came to Eton remains a mystery as does the reason for their rapid acquisition of the tenancy of a pub and two farms.

This article has been written by Louis Lillywhite.

Further notes on the Lillywhite family in reply to the comment from Helen Burlinham.

A reply to Helen Burlingham's questions on the Lillywhite family 

1. George Snowden born 1890 (I have 1889) is as you say your grandfather; George Snowden born 1808 died in 1877 is your great (x3) grandfather.

2. Police Sgt Henry Lillywhite (1865 – 1927) Collar Number 132 was your Great Grandfather.  As a Policeman, he moved around (1887 in Upton cum Chalvey; 1888 Salt Hill; 1889 Eton; 1891 53 Berkhamstead Rd Police Station)

3. I cannot find any link to the cricketing Lillywhites, even though the obituary in the Parish Magazine of the daughter Lydia  of George Snowden Lillywhite born 1808 reported after her death in 1927 at 14 Clifton Cottages, Eton Wick:

“Miss Lydia Lillywhite passed away at the age of 91, and with her has gone the last representative of the Eton Wick of ancient days.  She was the daughter of George Snowden Lillywhite of Manor Farm, whose father kept the Swan Inn of Windsor, from which the Eton Coach started, of which Miss Lillywhite had a picture, with her grandfather's name on it.  Her mother was Lydia Goddard.  The Lillywhites were a branch of the Sussex family, so well known in cricket history.

Miss Lillywhite had suffered for some time from the infirmities of old age, and lived in great retirement. In earlier years she had been an excellent pianist and devotedly fond of music.  She was a staunch member of the Church. She was the last surviving subscriber to the building of the Eton Wick Church, just sixty years ago."

4. In spite of the reference to the Sussex family, I have not been able to find any evidence that there is in fact a link in spite of extensive searching.  It was, however, an “accepted truth” in the family and indeed started me off on the hobby of Genealogy!

Ancestor Tree

You (Helen)  – Joan Lillywhite – George Snowden Lillywhite (Born 1889 in Eton) – Police Sgt Henry Lillywhite (born 1865 in Eton Wick) – George Lillywhite (born 1837 in Eton Wick)  - George Snowden Lillywhite (born 1808 in Windsor) – John Lillywhite (born circa 1776, died 1828 in Eton Wick).

The additional information has been supplied by Louis Lillywhite.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Our Village December 2011 - The Way Things Were

At a time when we are expected to tighten our belts, it may help if we reflect on what things were like in living memory, albeit 70 to 80 years ago. 

It was in 1922 that Eton Wick got its first bus. Until then a shopping trip to Windsor involved a tiring and often a wet or cold walk both ways. A few may have had a pony and trap, but there were not many of them in Eton Wick. Some would have cycled, and one well-known man of the '30s told me he walked to and from his work in Uxbridge. Hard to imagine now. 'The blue bus", as it was known, went on to provide a truly wonderful service of three return runs to Windsor's Castle Hill every hour; one of which went to Dorsey and Maidenhead. 

During the 1930s to 1960s the bus was often packed with sitting and standing passengers. Particularly later in the day for the cinema runs. Windsor had four cinemas - 'The Playhouse'; 'The Regal'; 'The Empire' and for many years the theatre became 'The Royalty' cinema. Many may remember the cinema in Eton. 

Nothing lasts forever and by the 1960s the television had killed off the big cinemas. The bus service fell into decline with the public's ownership of cars, and in the fullness of time the Blue Bus proprietor, Bert Cole, who for over forty years had served the village so reliably in all weathers, retired. His popular drivers included Johnny North, John Bell, Des Sutton, Gerry Austin, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Lovegrove and of course Bert himself and his son. They often stopped in irregular places for passengers to alight. 

Before the T.V. we had the 'wind up' gramophones with their tinny sound-boxes, but it was the 1930s before most homes possessed a wireless set - large, with battery and chargeable accumulator. The very first wireless in Eton Wick was a Cat Whisker's kit assembled by Norman Lane and Bill Brown in the early 1920s. Both men had recently returned from service in the 1914 - 1918 Great War

Most pubs and halls had a piano, and a customer who could play one probably got free beer and was generally popular. Years later, when the television took pride of place in the bars, the piano became unwanted. This, of course, enabled the Wicko! Carnivals to get pianos at no cost for their piano smashing contests.

In the late 1920s to 30s, there were few cars, and this was evident by the fact that as schoolboys we could and occasionally did, whip tops along the Eton Wick Road on the way to 'Pomy' school. In 1934 a neighbour berated my Mother because King George V's car had been obliged to stop by The Three Horseshoes pub on account of my young brother playing 'golf in the road. Mother's comment was "of course the car stopped, it could hardly drive over them". There was an exception; every Fourth of June we did see many more cars. In fact, not just cars, these were large limousines with their attendant livened chauffeurs. Nothing today is ever quite like that, and of course the 'Fourth' itself is often not on the fourth, and there are none of the sumptuous dinner parties for parents in the evenings.

A little under forty years after the King was 'held up' Windsor Bridge was closed to motor vehicles (1970) and Eton Wick was no longer a possible route into Windsor; sadly neither could buses take villagers into town for their shopping. Castle Hill may not be an obstacle to the fit, but I can confirm it is to the aged and the less than fit. 

A little over forty years before that 'Royal holdup' a much smaller Eton Wick got its first retail shop and Post Office. Ada Cottages (48 Eton Wick Road) had been used for retailing for a year or two before Thomas Lovell opened a shop there; with the Post Office; around 1887. He had his own bakery and sold household and garden wares. A photograph shows stacked galvanised baths, wash tubs, toilet buckets etc. These were all items too bulky for carrying from Windsor, Probably one or more of the village's public houses sold some grocery items, and I was told that in the period around the Great War (perhaps 1910 - 1912) 'The Grapes' public house, now a restaurant, sold milk from the churn. 

Following the Tom Lovell enterprise five shops were opened using converted dwellings. Additionally, in the early 1900s, Eton Wick got its first purpose-built shop on the original school site at the top of 'The Walk' road. Two of the five were in Alma Road (then in Boveney Newtown). These were both general grocers. Two in Eton Wick old village were not for groceries. One was Welman Cottage (now 62 Eton Wick Road) which had a front extension c. 1910 - 12 and was owned by Bill Hearn for the sale of harness, leather goods etc. In 1923¹, following the death of Mrs. Hearn, Bill became the motor taxi driver, operating from Victoria Road, and the shop became a grocery retailer's and known as Thames View Stores. The name was apt, as it looked out over a low hedge, allotments, and the Recreation Ground to the river. Three doors away; now 56 Eton Wick Road the sitting room was converted to a cycle shop, mainly dealing in 'Royal Enfield' and cycle accessories. This was a few years before the Great War 1914 - 18 and like other village traders the shopkeeper, Ted Woolhouse², tried without success to avoid conscription on account of his business. They did get three or six months deferment but usually denied further appeal. After the Second World War 1939 - 45 the cycle shop reverted to the sitting room. 'Thames View' was a grocer's for 54 years until 1977 when it became an Aquatic shop, until c. 1994 when it reverted back to a dwelling.

Primrose Villas
One other post-war shop was owned by John and Pat Prior in Moores Lane. This business development at the end of Alma Road's terraced row of Primrose Villas was originally built for, and occupied by, John Moore. He came to the village from Kent where he was a businessman, who followed his daughter, Annie Tough, to Eton Wick. Annie was the wife of the manager of Bell Farm and was the prime person responsible for the building of the Primitive Methodist Chapel. Moores Lane got its name from John Moore. The shop in question was at first petrol pumps and newsagent, opened by Bill Sibley, formerly of the 'Walk'. In 1979 It was sold to John and Pat who established a local grocery shop with newsagents. They closed the shop in 2005 and converted it to a private dwelling for their retirement. 

There was another house conversion, in the terraced row of St. Leonard's Place for grocery, newsagents' etc., before selling wool and items of clothing. This shop, I was once told, was the first retailer of ice cream in the village, probably early 1920s. Before the Eton Urban Council built the parade of seven shops in Brewers Field, 1951, the purpose built shop and Post Office on the old school site was almost certainly the main shop of Eton Wick. Inevitably the 'parade' gradually made the other shops increasingly difficult to survive. They changed their usage, launderette, florists, builders' store and workplace, betting shop, motor spares; but alas the days of scattered shops had gone. In 1973 the Council opened the second parade of shops in Bell Lane and one year later the last of the small shops, at 'Thames View' closed. 

Probably before any of these shops came to the village there were door to door traders. Certainly until the post-WW2 years such traders still served the community and in the 1930s there were at least five farmers selling their milk from churns on pony and trap. Also daily deliveries included bread, greengrocery, fish and rabbits, with weekly deliveries of coal and bottled minerals. There were less frequent callers such as gypsies selling clothes pegs and props for clothes lines, along with white heather (for luck) and paper artificial flowers — usually carnations. Most of these were made by the gypsy families in winter time. Less reliable vendors included sellers of winkles; muffins and even sticky fly catchers. About once a year a salesman came, encouraging householders to change their daily paper. If an agreement was reached it was necessary to cut out sixty consecutive serial numbers from the front pages and a book came as an award. I still have a gold hardback book of King George VI Coronation and once had a book 'Britain's Wonderland of Nature'. Many of these offers and callers did not resume after the war of 1939-45 and in time, with labour saving facilities, householders were all away from the home in full employment, and it became a waste of time calling. 

The last thirty years has seen the supermarkets taking the trade from the estate shops and now with the decline of so many the big stores are themselves opening smaller outlets on the estates. There is always a downside, and I cannot see these superstore outlets ever playing the local supportive role that had become a feature of many local traders.

Eton Wick was perhaps late with some advances but not having electricity until around 1949 — 50 was a setback. That was many years after Dorney. The population had stuck at around 1000 — 1200 for the first half of the 20th Century and rapidly increased with the post-WW2 housing. No longer can we say we know all the residents, and neither do they know us. All very different to the period up to sixty years ago when we had ponds; a blacksmiths' shop; the mayday stampede of the many horses let free to graze the common after having been stabled for much of the winter, and so many other happenings to differentiate village life from the town. We can look back but cannot go back. It would be difficult to think of any improvements that had no downside.

By Frank Bond

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


1 - In Oliver Stannett's memoirs he recalled that Bill Hearne sold his shop and started to run a taxi business soon after Oliver had been birched, aged 12. That would have been in 1915 or 1916 as Oliver was born in 1903.

This image is from the Newtrade archive
and is published here with their kind permission

2 The impact of The Military Service Act of 1916 was a concern to small businesses across the country. This guidance published in The Newsagent, Booksellers Review and Stationers' Gazette from March 1917 gave guidance on how to build a case to present to the National Service Department. Just because people like Ted Woolhouse were running a business that depended on them was not an adequate reason to avoid conscription.