Although negotiations had been taking place for a considerable time regarding the installation of an electricity supply to the village, no agreement had been reached before the outbreak of hostilities, therefore no air raid siren was installed in the village. Eton Wick relied on the sirens located at Eton, Slough and Datchet to give warning of enemy aircraft in the vicinity. Safeguards put in place to combat dislocation resulting from air raids included the establishment of emergency food supplies. Large and small stores of dry goods were set up by the Ministry of Food during 1940/41 at sites considered safe from bombing. A small quantity of essential foodstuffs was deposited in Eton Wick village hall also an emergency meat supply was lodged with the village butcher, George Mumford. Local memories indicate that a refrigerator was installed, probably gas operated, but hearsay has it that a temporary electric power line was rigged from a near point; if this was so, the nearest supply would have been from Cippenham or Dorney.
|Civilian Gas Mask - image courtesy of Object Lessons website.|
The Eton U.D.C., being responsible for the provision of private and public air raid shelters. asked for tenders from local ironmongers and engineering firms. The Council Surveyor recommended a 'Fortress' type shelter from Metal Agencies of Slough at a quoted price of £4-10 shillings with the suggestion that tenants of council properties erect their own shelters. It was pointed out that many people in Eton living in Brocas Street, Kings Stable and other streets in that area had no space for a shelter, suggesting that permission be sought from Eton College to erect shelters on the Brocas but this scheme for various reasons was thought not to be practicable and did not proceed. Shelters had been completed at the College Arms and the archway to the Eton College boathouses with other sites already selected including the tunnels under Barnes Pool and the railway arches. The provision of air raid shelters became the subject of heated debate in the Eton Council Chamber during the following year (1940). Assurance from the Surveyor and Council Chairman that Eton was deemed a safe area, therefore having no priority for shelters, did nothing to allay the fears of the residents.
The approaching war was not the sole interest in the village. Ten new dwellings, the first council development in Eton Wick, had been erected on Bells field and were ready for letting. The new houses were of one bedroom, three bedroom and four bedroom type with corresponding rents of three shillings and sixpence, eight shillings, and ten shillings and sixpence per week. These dwellings were named after the village benefactor ‘Toddy’ Vaughan, and called ‘Vaughan Gardens’.
This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham.