Monday, 23 November 2020

Eton Wick History Group Meeting - 'PAST MANUFACTURERS AND TRADERS AND CRAFTSMEN OF ETON given on 14th July 1999

During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. 

History Group Meeting held on 14th July 1999

The History group audience were welcomed by Mr. Frank Bond, who was able to give news of three members who were in hospital : Mrs. Mary Gyngell had had another knee operation and was making good progress; Fred Hunt had unfortunately had a stroke; Bill Welford, too, was in hospital - we wish them well. 

Mr.Bond confirmed that the November walk would celebrate the 1849 arrival of the railways to Windsor; and he dispelled doubts caused by reference elsewhere to the date being 1848. The railway archivists would not loan their picture of the original wooden viaduct, but it is hoped that they will let it be photographed. Subscriptions for that particular evening's meeting will have to increase to £1 or perhaps £1.20. 

Mr. Bond reported the sad loss of James Kinross. Mr. Kinross had been very generous to the History Group, thus enabling the award of Eton Wick History Group Certificates and books to children at Eton Wick School. The children prepare books illustrating their impressions of Eton Wick; winners receive the Kinross Award. 

Next year's programme is under discussion and ideas for subjects would be welcomed. 

Mr. John Denham's topic for that evening's talk was 'PAST MANUFACTURERS AND TRADERS AND CRAFTSMEN OF ETON'; and it spanned the period from the mid 18th Century to the present day. 

He illustrated how, initially, trade in Eton and Eton Wick was mainly in response to the servicing demands for the College and the Castle, enhanced perhaps by Eton's proximity to London and the need to cater for visitors to the area - so, the earlier traders ran boot and shoe shops, they were tailors, butchers, hatters and milliners, watch and clock makers and cricket bat makers; they sold clay pipes and guns and sewing machines - sewing machines having been invented in Britain but developed in America. Eton High Street, from the College to the Windsor Bridge, measures just under 800 yards and in this small area trades and businesses flourished between the 15th and 20th centuries. In 1798 there were twenty-six shoe-makers (or cordwainers as they were then known) and that excluded those who dressed and tanned the leather; the 'clickers' who cut the hide were highly skilled and many went on to become merchants in their own right. Ladies, too, had their own sets of shoe-making tools. (And, did you know that when shoe buckles changed from being a fastening to a decoration, the Birmingham manufacturers had to make 20,000 employees redundant!). Mr. Denham was able to trace, with both dates and addresses, the progress of the various Eton traders and their families. To give some examples towards the end of the last century Gane's shoe shop was run by a Mr. Howard and Mr. Hunt, and their 'clicker' had space in the courtyard at the back (the courtyard also contained a waterbutt - into which a small, cheeky apprentice was dropped as a punishment); all the shop's rooms were connected with old-fashioned speaking tubes blow 3 times for Room 3 and the occupier of Room 3 would answer. Gane's provided shoes and boots for College boys and these boys often became lifelong customers, with Gane's employees attending on them at their London clubs. 

There are records of many clay pipe-makers in Eton from 1706 to 1899. (Pipe-smoking itself is referred to as early as 1573 "taking smoke from an Indian herb called tobacco" - it was very strong then and very expensive). Between 1830 and 1939 there were twenty-six tailoring businesses, seven dressmaking and millinery businesses and, of course, hat makers, hosiers, and stay-makers (ladies' corsets), etc. At 30 High Street (above the chemists) whilst the wife made hats and bonnets, the husband made barometers. 

Dressmakers started to lose trade when in 1873, Butterrick's paper patterns came from America and more ladies began to make their own clothes. The main tailor in Eton has been Tom Brown; the company was founded in 1784 and initially worked from Keate's Lane, subsequently moving to I High Street and then taking over No. 2 from Alfred Holdemess, a baker. 

15 High Street was a hosier and hatters, W V Brown - he had two employees a Mr. New and Miss Lingwood, who in 1865 decided to set up in opposition -hence 'New and Lingwood'. An employee of W V Brown and then New and Lingwood, for 60 years, was Solomon (i.e. John Thomas Harris), a 'lusher' of top hats he ironed silk top hats in a little den in the shop! 19 High Street was a hairdresser's (Henry Jeffries) in 1890 and still operates as a hairdressers today Murrays of Eton). Then, of course, there was Willis and Son at the cycle depot but that, as Mr. Denham said "is another story for another day," 

Eton trades index

The following  talk, on 29th September 1999, was on 'THE FIRES AND RESTORATION OF WINDSOR CASTLE' with Sheila and Patrick Rooney. 

The list of talks arranged by the Eton Wick History Group can be found by clicking on the Programme of Talks tab at the top of this page.

Monday, 16 November 2020

World War 2 Eighty Years On - November 1940


Several well-known public figures came to live in the district during the war, among them film actors Wilfred Hyde White and David Niven took residence in Dorney. David Niven, recently married and serving in the army, lived at Flaxford, Dorney, moving later into the Wheatbutts, Eton Wick with his young family.

Friday November 8th.     

During the night, bombs dropped in Windsor Great Park damaged one of the lodges and killing a young boy.

Friday November 15th. 

A heavy night raid on London brought German aircraft approaching from the west over Windsor. Intense anti-aircraft fire resulted in the enemy dropping 400 incendiary bombs which rained down on Clarence Road, Arthur Road, The Goswells and Riverway area of the town. Thirty two fires were started and some injuries inflicted. Fires were started at Eton College when fire bombs fell on the roofs of Warre School and Drill Hall Schools. The outbreaks were initially dealt with by Etonians and wardens with stirrup pumps until the arrival of the A.F.S.. Enemy bombers commencing their bombing run west of London encountered a hostile reception from the locally sited guns. Residents of Windsor and Eton reported damage to the roofs of houses and the wrecking of several greenhouses due to shrapnel falling from the exploding shells.   

Monday, 9 November 2020

Photographic History - Village Characters - Harry Cook and Bill Sharp

Harry (left) and Bill were both very keen gardeners and accustomed to being on the winner's rostrum. Here they are pictured as Allotment Holders Prize Winners c1970. Harry ran a small general building and decorating business from his premises in Alma Road. He was a very keen cricketer and was the regular wicket keeper for Eton Wick Cricket Club. He was also an untiring worker for the Methodist Chapel. Both men were very popular in the community. 

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

Monday, 2 November 2020

The Eton Wick Newsletter - December 2018 - `Our Village' Magazine - Frank Bond's Last Article

As the year of 2018 draws to a close we are left to reflect on the many reminders we have had of it being the Centenary of the end of the Great War of 1914 - 1918. and the many times we have heard We Shall Remember Them' when of course no living person could possibly remember those who made the supreme sacrifice of that war. In actual tact there are not many alive today who can remember those who came back from that war. Perhaps more correctly we should say We Commemorate their Endeavours'. It was not just the fighting; but the conditions under which they fought and endured that fostered the belief there would never be another world war. What a sad delusion: as of course there was 21 years later. There are now few survivors of the armed forces of that Second World War. In the year 2005 over fifty ex-servicemen and women of Eton Wick attended a very memorable Dinner and Celebration in the Village Hall to mark the 60th Anniversary of the end of WW2. Now at this time of writing. in Spring of 2018. there are only five of that gathering still living among us, and three of those are unable to get about unaided. 

All wars are very different and, by the nature of things commanded by men who gained their position by very creditable service in an earlier conflict. Many senior officers of the Great War (1914 - 1918) had been cavalry officers during the late 19th century African wars and found little opportunity in the present static. entrenched and muddy terrain of Flanders. WW2 had none of this. and largely depended on tanks and great fleets of aircraft. Life in Eton Wick and elsewhere changed considerably after these wars. Before 1914 it is doubtful if many local people had ever seen the sea or had a holiday away from home. Probably the majority had never been in a motor vehicle of any description, given that Eton Wick's first car was in 1907 and the first village bus in 1922. Those who did have a holiday would very likely have stayed with relatives or at a bed and breakfast guest house. It would seem that hotels were not considered for working people, probably beyond their means and above their station. Apart from the Hi Di Hi Butlin's Camps it was not until after WW2 that package holidays and air travel became possible for all. 

Undoubtedly the necessary wartime advances of aviation opened up this mode of travel to places undreamed of just a few years earlier. Until the late 1920's an annual Sunday School outing for children locally meant going to Burnham Beeches by horse and cart. Although it must have required considerable cleaning. coal merchant carts were much preferred: as the platforms were appreciably lower and larger than other trader's vehicles. Not only were the horses and carts generously provided. but the traders themselves were obliged to give their lime driving to and fro. In many ways neighbourly generosity was more readily given at times when all the villagers knew each other. The slowness of the procession of carts determined the destination; and only after the early 1930's, when motor coaches replaced the horses, was it possible to go to sea resorts. 

Pubs also had annual coach outings and usually chose horse race meetings or the seaside; having a half-way roadside stop for a customary drink or Iwo. My father. I think. never did have a holiday or see the sea. He once told me he took time away from his village greengrocery round to go to Sussex to meet his future in-laws. The occasion was too much for him. and he suffered a raging toothache until he returned to Eton Wick. 

This period between the World Wars. 1918 —1939, was probably the time most enjoyed by the proliferation of clubs, associations and general participation. Every village had its pub and often more than it needed. Every pub and hall had its piano and every church its choir and bell ringer. Now TVs have ousted the pianos and general car ownership has contributed to the decline of village sports teams, variety groups etc. Rarely does a church bell ring, and if it did I am sure the hum of traffic and the aircraft overhead would dim the 'ding dong'. Sadly, few churches have choirs and Sunday Schools, and yet I still get asked by villagers "have there been any changes?" 

I was serving on an RAF station as the Second World War was drawing to a close and, probably as a well intentional scheme to prepare us for the return to civilian life, we had compulsory weekly discussion groups related to appropriate topics. At one meeting we were told there would be more cars and that they would not all be black but of almost any practical colour. What rubbish we all thought, cars, like cycles, had to be black. At another meeting we were told about the new material of plastic: how that too would be any colour, and that even doors and window frames may well be made of plastic. Never, never we mused. One talk involved an officer asking us what we planned to do as civilians; When he asked me I said I thought of going to Australia to forge a new life. The officer bawled me out saying we all had a duty to rebuild our own country. To me it was enough that we had all spent our youth in uniform for the past five years: never thinking that I would return to my birthplace and be content to stay there. 

Most of the old ways were about to go, and electricity brought in its wake TV's. music centres. washing machines. refrigerators. tumble driers, central heating and so much more that pre-war women had never dreamed of. Even the simple ball pen. jeans and nylon are all post WW2 products. However, there is usually a price exacted for the gains we enjoy, and surely the biggest price is yet to be felt, as ever more of our younger citizens turn to social media and their mobile phone, in preference to face to face conversing. 

Many wartime service men and women actually appreciated amenities never experienced in their old rural homes; shower baths, bathrooms and flush toilets were all new to me and became 'must haves' after the service years. Of course active service and some overseas postings were at best primitive, but now better forgotten. 

Certainly, after WW2 and despite its many long-lasting shortages the local emphasis was on home building, and the Eton Wick population more than doubled as the years passed by. 

Much of this drive I credit to ex-servicemen who were not necessarily pre-war Wickers' but who came here with a job to do. This must include Jim Ireland who went on to build many of the privately owned houses, as distinct from the Council Estates of Boveney New Road. Colenorton Crescent, Stockdales and Haywards Mead. Council built homes were not entirely a new idea. but on the cease of post WW2 certainly were for Eton and Eton Wick. The first Council houses for Eton Wick (1924) were the eight houses we know as South View immediately west of the relief road bridge. They were allocated to families of ex-servicemen of the 1914 -1918 war. Apart from the Somerville Road houses built for Eton Town in the mid 1920's I cannot think of any more Council homes for the village until 1939 when houses and bungalows were built at Vaughan Gardens and in 1945 the last year of WW2 when twelve prefabricated bungalow dwellings were erected alongside Vaughan Gardens. This now being the site of the shop parade that includes the Pet Shop and Bellsfield Court flats. 

Frank Bond 

A note from Joan Neighbour, the editor of Our Village;

Dear Frank Bond was always one or two articles ahead of me, and this is the last one he had written before he passed away in April 2018.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Neolithic Crop Marking on South Field, Eton Wick.

South Field - Courtesy of Google Map

In 1984 an archaeological dig and field walk led by Steven Ford was undertaken to investigate an area of crop markings that became visible in Eton Wick's South Field on aerial photographs taken in May 1976. These crop markings are currently visible on Google Maps satellite view.

The summary of the report about the excavation that was published in the Berkshire Archeological Journal, Volume 74, 1991-3 states;

Six trial trenches were excavated across various cropmarks in 1984-5. A ditch terminal of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure, Late Bronze Age ditches, and a probable Late Iron Age enclosure were identified, along with another enclosure of prehistoric date. 

 Site map courtesy of the Berkshire Archeological Journal

Artefacts recovered included pottery shards, flints and animal bones including an antler comb.

The discovery of a Neolithic community near the north bank of the River Thames revealed that Eton Wick has a history that dates back over 5,500 years!

The full report can be read on the Archaeology Data Service website. 

Historic England's PastScape website also has information on the causewayed enclosure at Eton Wick.


Thursday, 22 October 2020

World War 2 Eighty Years On - October 1940

Air activity during September increased the frequency of daytime alerts for the district followed by an increased number of high explosive bombs being dropped.

Parents were concerned for the safety of their children and complained bitterly to the Eton UDC about the provision of shelters for the school. The Council made another strong   appeal to the Bucks Education authority, also to the Secretary for Education to remedy the situation. Both authorities replied that it was impossible to provide shelters for Eton Wick schools at this time, but it would be done as soon as possible. With the view to erecting air raid shelters an architect surveyed the school building but months were to elapse before shelters in the Wick were sanctioned and completed.

A canvas of Eton Wick householders resulted in 57 applications for Anderson or Morrison shelters. Eventually the Surveyor reported that sanction had been obtained from the Ministry for the erection of 48 and 24-person communal shelters at the following sites.

Sheepcote Road                                             one for 24 persons

The Walk                                                         one for 48 persons, one for 24 persons

Common Road                                                one for 48 persons

Leeson Gardens                                              one for 24 persons

Alma Road                                                       four for 24 persons

Northfield Road                                                two for 24 persons

Air raid shelters for Eton were located at:-

The College Arms public house                       80 persons

Barnes Pool                                                    100 persons

Eton College Boat House                                 75 persons

Newlands, High Street, Eton.                           25 persons

Arches of the railway viaduct                           50 persons

The railway viaduct, a half mile from Eton Wick, was not thought to be practicable and was never used by the village school. One hundred and seventeen applications were received by the Eton UDC for help with domestic air raid precautions. Materials were supplied in 58 cases and work was carried out in another 23. At Broken Furlong and Vaughan Gardens it was advised to use the archways through the houses as a communal shelter in each block.

A substantial underground shelter was constructed at Bell Farm, Eton Wick.

Sunday October 6th.

About 4.30 p.m. a German twin engine bomber dived out of the clouds near the Slough Trading Estate and machined-gunned the town in several places. Light ack-ack (40mm Bofors) batteries opened fire as the enemy flying through driving rain South of the Bath Road, passed unharmed through the Balloon Barrage to drop several bombs causing damage to property. There had been several small raids during the day to bomb airfields in Southern England and the intended target was possibly the Hawker Aircraft factory at Langley.

Sunday October 13th.   

Five elderly residents lost their lives and several were injured when two high explosive bombsfell on Brook Path, Cippenham, demolishing cottages for Aged People.

A clear moonlight night after the fog and rain of the weekend brought 400 German aircraft to bomb London. Enemy aircraft passing over the village drew fire from the surrounding anti-aircraft batteries lasting into the early hours. At 8.30am the sirens again sounded the alert, the all clear sounding at 9.25 am.

Tuesday October 22nd. 

During the evening several bombs fell on Windsor in the vicinity of Peascod Street and the back of W.H. Smith in Thames Street. Later a single bomb fell outside the Princess Christians Nursing Home, Clarence Road causing some   damage. Others fell in the Castle grounds, damaging the Golf course and Cricket ground but no casualties were reported. Manning the guns in defence of the Castle from low flying attack was 121 Independent light ack - ack (LAA) equipped with 40mm Bofors guns. A few of these were mounted on forty-foot-high concrete towers, one of which was located on the Brocas, at Eton. This site quickly saw night action proceeding to shoot down enemy flares dropping over Windsor Castle.  The noise and vibrations from this quick firing gun sent people scurrying to their air raid shelters or under the stairs. Gunner Witt serving on the Brocas site recalled the plight of an elderly lady living close by in Brocas Street, who being very ill, had taken to her bed. The family was virtually waiting for the sad end of the dear lady's life but gunners of 121 battery   apparently applied a better means for a cure than the doctor. The family was virtually waiting for the sad end of the dear lady's life but gunners of 121 battery apparently applied a better means for a cure than the doctor.  On hearing the rapid fire and the commotion that shook the house, the dear lady jumped from her bed and grabbing a bottle of gin, took herself to shelter under the stairs.  A miraculous recovery followed much to the distress of some of her family who evidently found the aged person a trial.

The last days of the month brought less enemy activity over the area due to cloud, rain and fog. Under the cover of bad weather, a lone raider dropped bombs on Dennis Way, Cippenham killing two people, also on the private polo ground of Dedworth Manor killing a pony. Warnings of enemy activity disrupted the Eton Wick school day on nine occasions during October which made the teachers anxious for the safety of the children. There had been no sign of work commencing on shelters so the children stilled practiced the usual precaution of taking shelter under their desk.

Thursday October 31st.

The official end of the Battle of Britain, which lasted 114 days, cost the German losses of 1,733 planes and 3,893 men with RAF Losses of 828 planes and 1007 men. The end of the battle did not solve the social difficulties of the evacuated families; sharing a home with strangers whilst one’s children were billeted elsewhere was a problem. To help with the   situation a centre was set up at the Church Hall, Eton, to give evacuated families somewhere to meet and also give householders a chance to have their home to themselves for a short time. Those who were able, helped with knitting comforts for evacuee and service personnel. Wool was purchased with the money earned from the sale of salvage. The salvage of waste, conducted by Mr Chew with the help of young volunteers, around the village had gone well with the sale of scrap iron, paper, rags and any other commodity worth salvaging realizing a handsome profit. A suggestion of Mrs Chew to use this money to buy wool with which to knit garments for men and women from the village serving in the forces was readily adopted.   A display of posters in the village shops asking for volunteer knitters was organized by Mrs Mead.  Forty-five volunteers   including three Eton Boys signed up to whom £15 was initially allocated to purchase wool. Once a week the Methodist Hall jumped from her bed and grabbing a bottle of gin, took herself to shelter under the stairs. A miraculous recovery followed much to the distress of some of her family who evidently found the aged person a trial. was loaned free of charge for the issue of wool and collection of finished articles. Within the first few months many knitted items were produced and about 100 items, such as scarves, mittens and socks sent to over fifty servicemen in the first few months.  

To raise money for war weapons, great publicity was given to National Savings, a campaign vigorously supported by Eton Wick. The school had a flourishing savings group run by the Head Teacher, Miss Plumridge, which was well supported by the mothers. The Women’s Institute also had a group amongst its members but their committee felt more could be done in the village, so every house was canvassed. Two groups were formed, one run by the Methodist Church and the other by the Women’s Institute.  A third group made up of the school and supported by the evacuated L.C.C. School gave total enrolment of over 300 savers.  Volunteer collectors, braving the winter weather and blackout, called on savers each week with saving stamps, their combined collection averaging of £28 each week.  The school, encouraging pupils and parents to save, collected £10 in the first week and £30 during the following six weeks. Many schemes would materialize to raise money before the conflict was over such as "Wings for Victory" and "War Weapons Week". Introduction of a purchase tax on household goods and clothes at the end of October made little difference to the goods sold by village traders. Other shortages however did effect village trade, namely an acute shortage of coal. The increasing demands of factories for power produced a shortage of supplies to the householder which became evident during the winter months of 1940-41. To help overcome the fuel crisis, men conscripted for military service, were selected by ballot, and sent to work in the coal mines. They became known as Bevin Boys. Coal merchants Albert Dear, Brocas Street, Eton, - William Parrot. 1 Clifton Cottages and Albert Hood, Tilstone Avenue, Eton Wick had difficulty in obtaining supplies and rationed their customers accordingly. When Albert, who went into the army his business was acquired by R. Bond and Sons.

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

Monday, 12 October 2020

Photographic History - Eton Wick Youth Club

The photograph is of the Club's 1948 outing to Margate. In the back row left to right is the Windsorian driver (name unknown), then Harry Wakefield (secretary), Frank Bond and Harry Pearce (committee members), Des Russell, Mrs Pearce, 'Chub' Bennett, Mrs Wakefield, Dennis Phillips, Bill Ingram, Mrs Hall, Ann Bright, Ray Haverly, Sheila Robertson and Sheila Spiers, ?, and Cecil Thorn (committee member). In the front are Alan Smith, 'Cooie' Barton, Mike Thorn, Bob Snaichel, Peter Frost, Phil Harding, John Newport, Eileen Bolton, Vic Merkett and Ray Mumford. The two young girls on the left are unidentified, the two on the right are Monica Pearce and Julie Wakefield. 

Eton Wick Youth Club members cutting logs for the aged in 1956. Sawing logs: Geoff Pardoe, Mike Knight, and sitting on the timber is John Alder. The axeman is Bill Critchell. 

From 1955, club boys chopped logs and delivered them to the aged. In 1956 alone over 11,000 logs were delivered. Trees available for logging were notified to the club by the Council and Eton College. Club girls supplied the loggers with refreshments. For its services the club was awarded the Hospital Saturday Fund Cup, received a written commendation from the Buckinghamshire County Council Chief Education Officer and was featured in the National Boys Clubs press (see picture). The Club age range at the time was 14 to 21 years. By the end of the 20th century, the age range had reduced considerably, partly by the introduction of a junior club in the 1960s, and partly as a reflections of nationwide social changes. 

The campers are at the back, left to right: Des Russell, Frank Bond, Mick Phillips, Andy Lewis, Terry Harman, Les Hood, John Jeffries, Don Middleton, Cecil Thorn, and George Lund. In the centre row: Tony Clibbon, Ron Branwhite, `Mo' (Maurice) Nicholls, Jacquie Hodge, Val Bailey, Norah Sumner, Joyce Russell, Margaret Wilson, Tony Johnson and Conway Sutton. In the front: Geoff Pardoe, Richard Jordan, Tony Gallop, Terry O'Flaherty and Ian Lewis. 

Eton Wick Youth Club Camp, St Ives 1958. For many years the Youth Club held an annual two week summer camp in Cornwall. The club worked hard to raise funds to buy camping equipment. In these days the cost to the members varied according to age and was typically (rail and coach fares inclusive) from £8 for 15 year olds, rising to £16 for 18 year olds and adult helpers. 

Eton Wick Youth Club Camp 1962 In the back row from the left: Derek Harrison, Ray Emery, Ted Turner*, John Stacey, John Betterton, Richard Jordan, Les Emery, Arthur Gittens, John Newell, Ian Wilson*. John Lee, unidentified*. Centre row Peter Tarrant, unidentified, Colin Harrison, Barry Alder, John Alder, Fraser Hatch, John Durbin, Jim Alder, Frank Ormond, Willy Welford, unidentified*, unidentified*, John Gittens, Frank Bond, Mick Bell. Seated in the front: Nancy Sharp, Christine Drewett, Susan Miller, Carol Cullum, Caroline Miller, Susan Jordan, Jennifer Paintin, Margaret Wilson, Joyce and Des Russell with their son Ian. 

The photograph opposite was taken at the popular club camp site on John and Kitty Roger's 'Hellesveor' Farm, St Ives, Cornwall. Although only four years after the 1958 club camp photograph shown elsewhere, there is virtually a new 'generation' of members. Those marked with an asterisk * are members of Denham Youth Club, who joined in several annual camps as for a time, Frank Bond was also the Club Leader at Denham. A few years after this photo, Derek Harrison with his family ran a restaurant and fish and chip bar at the sea front in nearby Perranporth; elder brother Colin emigrated to South Africa. 

Eton Wickers may remember Ian Wilson and Ted Turner (Denham members), Ian worked in the Bond's greengrocery shop in Eton Wick, subsequently becoming manager of one of their other shops; Ted became owner of KBG Engineering in Alma Road. Richard Jordan and sister Susan emigrated to New Zealand, and John Gittens to Canada. 

Christine Drewett and Les Emery, John Betterton and Nancy Sharp, and Colin Harrison and Margaret Wilson (daughter of Councillor Ivy Wilson, no relation to Ian Wilson) subsequently became partners in marriage. 

It is noticeable how many Eton and Eton Wick family names of the 19th century are still represented in this 1962 photograph. (There are seven surnames that appear in the 19th century census records and three in the 1901 and 1911 census or the 1939 Register)

Many of the village's former teenagers from the 1950s onwards will have happy memories of their days as members of the Youth Club. The club also attracted members from surrounding towns and villages. Quite a number of members in fact went on to marry their fellow club members. In this picture, Frank Bond, club leader from 1950 to 1961 and chairman for many years after that, receives a presentation to mark his retirement as chairman from Chris Foreman and Val Chamberlain (to become future married partners). In the centre is Mike Newlands, former leader and new chairman. To the right of Frank is Patron and former chairman Jim Ireland and club member turned leader, Geoff Low. 

From left to right are Frank Bond, Richard and Carol, Mike Newland, John Lovell, Geoff Low and on the right, the then current leader, by this time paid and appointed by the County. 

There are six leaders or former leaders of Eton Wick Youth Club in this photograph, taken c1987 at a reunion when former club members, ex-leader and marriage partners Richard and Carol (née Chamberlain) Jordan returned from New Zealand for a holiday. After being a club member in the 1950s, Richard took on the leadership of the club and later became a full time youth worker at the Hook, Chessington Youth Club before emigrating to New Zealand in the 1970s where he initially continued with his full time youth work. 

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

You can find other articles on Eton Wick History that mention the Youth Club by clicking on this link.

If you were a member of the Eton Wick Youth Club please share your memories in the comment box below.

Monday, 5 October 2020

The Eton Wick Newsletter - August 2018 - `Our Village' Magazine


Village roads, tracks and vehicles

Increasingly it seems our public services are finding it difficult to meet their purpose. Almost daily our so-called news is not in any way news, but a demand for more money to be poured into Health Services, Schools, Police, rail and roads. In many respects I think we are fortunate in Eton Wick: we are still surrounded by countryside; have pleasant walks; and still within a convenient distance of towns, rail stations and airports. At times there is a traffic build-up along the road to Eton, which is probably more of a nuisance to Eton than to the village.

There had been rumoured talk, and maybe suggested plans, to divert some of this traffic away from Eton College, but probably nothing more than wishful thinking at present. If this did become a reality I personally think it could be detrimental to Eton Wick, as more 'through traffic' would consider today's present deterrent of congestion through Eton to be no longer relevant. Be that as it may, the future is not ours to see, and at my age not to get bothered about. A bit like the bungalow in Sheepcote Road named 'Byjia' meaning "B.... you Jack, I'm alright!

Let us then look back on early Eton Wick roads. I know of very little written about them, so using what we know, and a common sense of deductions, we can conclude that roads locally often originated as tracks, were often very muddy, and at best used by pedestrians, horse riders and horse traffic — most frequently farm carts. There were four of these routes East to West and West to East, and three others North to South and vice versa. Additionally, there were probably two others; the present named Moores Lane to Cippenham, and another from the Great Common to Chalvey. The through roads East to West were our present main road variously known as the Eton Wick Road, or the Dorney Road (now B3026).

Secondly, we have the track Dr. Judith Hunter described as the King's Highway. Undoubtedly old, this track is from the village hall, then south past Hayward Mead houses, past the Scout H.Q. and on past Cuckoo Weir; Eton's Meadow Lane; and terminates at Brocas Street for Windsor Bridge. Interestingly about 200 —300 metres from the village hall this track is diagonally met by another track that starts in Boveney Village, passing north of Boveney Lock and crossing the Boveney Ditch at Splash Bridge, then on to join with the aforementioned South Field track. Given the age of Boveney, this route to town may well be our oldest. In the 20th Century this was indeed a 'splash bridge': horses or horse vehicles would be led through the stream, and rider or carter could hold the bridle and keep control while walking across the plank himself. Many villages will remember floods sweeping away the plank crossing, and today's bridge replacing it in 1993. 

Our third west to east road was perhaps only ever much used by farmers, and like the South Field track just mentioned was never given a modern road surface;. destined for ever to be a relic of bygone times, being then seasonally dusty, muddy and very rural. Number three then is 'Inner Wards' and extends from Common Road, north of the Common stream, to Eton College's Common Lane. This route to town would have served Saddock and Manor Farms, and of course give access to the open land between Eton Wick and Chalvey. 

The fourth west to east road is quite different, as it is not a through road, but a village road along which most of the early village was developed for homes. This of course is Common Road, probably only 600 to 800 metres in total length and for much of its length immediately south of the Common stream, which undoubtedly accounted for the early near development. From the west of the Great Common (narrow strip) it extends along the Common for about 200 metres and then turns north, terminating at Little Common. (Little Common is next to the motor museum). Any other east west roads in the village are less than 130 years old and are estate or housing access roads. 

The oldest north/south roads were probably all access roads for the local farms. The Common Road (west), formerly Brown's Lane, gave access for Dairy Farm (formerly Wick Farm) to the B3026. Bell Lane gave access to Bell Farm, which incidentally also connected with the start of the old King's Highway track. Some maps show, at the junction of Bell Lane and the B3026, the road was gated. Presumably as a precaution preventing cattle straying. The third north/south road was Sheepcote Road. This was gated at the north/Common end. I remember Sheepcote Road as a straight and very muddy track with a single row of five or six terraced houses appropriately named Castle View Terrace. There were allotments opposite the houses, and below the school. No flats or bungalows. This was truly a farmer's track from `Saddocks', 'Manor' and 'Little Common.' The 'Walk' road was probably not developed until mid 1800's, from a foot track used to access the Greyhound pub. Other village roads were made when the area was developed for homes, and like so many places never built to cope with motor traffic on today's scale. 

How wrong we are when we say that nothing changes. As technical boffins are busily making workers redundant with their ever-advancing automation and robots, concern is at last being expressed for the countless truck and van drivers who may not be needed when driverless vehicles become the norm. Once invented, nothing takes long before it takes over.

In 1907, just 111 years ago, and 25 years after the first motor engine was developed by Benz, villager Ted Woolhouse bought a De Dion car; the first known motor car for Eton Wick. It was quite a year for Ted, believed one of at least four brothers, as in 1907 he opened the village's first cycle shop, using the front room of what is now 56 Eton Wick Road. This was the age of high upright bikes with straight handlebars and carbide lighting. Battery lamps were to come later. Ted assembled Royal Enfield cycles for sale, and with repairs and hiring at two pence an hour, he earned a living until after WW2, over forty years later. This was of course interrupted by at least two years army wartime service, following the Conscription Act of March1916. The first two years of the 1914 - 1918 war produced sufficient voluntary man power. 

Only twelve years after the first car for Eton Wick, the village was petitioning for motor vehicles going through the village to be restricted to 10 miles per hour, and at this same period a huge dump of ex-army war vehicles was created at Slough, on a site later developed as The Trading Estate, forever referred to as 'the dump'. This should not give the impression of considerable car ownership. Not until well into the second half of the 20th Century, and quite forty years later, was this the situation. As an early 1930's schoolboy walking to Eton Porny School we often whipped Meg or Tee Tops along the main road to the rail viaduct, or played 'flick on' with fag cards along the footpath kerbs, and considered the occasional car a nuisance to our games.

Pre WW2 the local 'big day' of the year was the College's 'Fourth of June'. This was the one day when many luxury limousines; often with liveried chauffeurs, parked along the college area roads. That show of splendour has never been equalled since. 

In 1934 my brothers were ball playing along the road close to the 'Three Horse Shoes' pub (now a residence: 'The Shoes' no. 44 Eton Wick Road), when King George V's car drove through the village. Of course it was obliged to stop, on account of my brothers. Before Windsor Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, in the early 1970's, it was not uncommon for V.I.P's enroute to Windsor to drive through Eton Wick. On this occasion my Mother came in for local tongue wagging, for letting her boys hold up the King. 

It was about this time that families who were lucky enough to own a wireless set (not then known as radios) would tune in to hear Hitler addressing the German nation. None of us understood a word of his speeches, but undeniably there was something riveting about his ravings. At least I thought so, until on one occasion he declared that the day would come when all German families would own a car. At this I thought he must be mad, no working man would ever afford a car. Of course, this prophesy was probably the most accurate thing he did promise. 

A contemporary of Ted Woolhouse was Norman Lane. He too served as a young man in the Great War of 1914-1918. Norman served in the Royal Flying Corp which became the Royal Air Force on April 1st 1918. Wireless sets were not available, or did not exist when that war ended, and in 1923 Norman and Bill Brown (ex-army) assembled a 'cats eye' receiver and claimed it as the first wireless in Eton Wick. Again, in a few years most homes had a wireless; be it second-hand or new, all were big, temperamental, and had a large dry battery and an accumulator battery that was collected weekly for re-charging. If electric radios had been available they would have been useless in Eton Wick until 1949-1954, when the village first had electricity, which slowly became installed in homes.

It would appear that whatever is new soon spreads until everybody attracted to the novelty puts it on the 'must have' list, and in this respect, nothing changes. 

Frank Bond

A portrait of Frank Bond by Ben Gower

First published in Our Village in August 2018

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, 28 September 2020

Slough Trading Estate at 100: 1920 - 2020

The Great War of 1914-18 had unforeseen influence on the future development of Slough. The perk of war was to be lorries or at least the wrecks of lorries. 

1914-1918 war lorries vehicle repair
Image courtesy of SEGRO

There are those that profit by war and those that loose out by war, Slough definitely belonged to the former. Location played a very major role in taking Slough into the industrial world of the 20th century. The use of mechanised transport on the field of battle proved costly, In this case Lorries. 

Damaged lorries
Image courtesy of SEGRO
By 1917 the huge number of damaged military vehicles suitable for repair lying in all corners of the battlefields and the inability of contractors to keep pace with the demand for repairs convince the war department that they should have their own military vehicle repair depot. The search for a suitable site that would meet the requirement of good communications, near to London and the War Office and easy to develop quickly. Looking in a 25 mile radius of London the cornfields of Cippenham Court Farm seemed the ideal site for Military Mechanical repair Depot. Having purchased the 600 acres of excellent agricultural land the work began on the site July 1918. Armistice in November 1918 rather made the depot redundant for military purposes, but it was decided to carry on building the many workshops of the complex. It had been decided that the returned vehicles rather than sell for scrap could be repaired and sold on to the civil market.

The rusting broken vehicles that began to pile up on the depot soon locally earned it the name of 'The Dump'. Like many government ideas, the cost escalated, and no doubt after the usual official excuses to cover the extravagance the whole place was turned over to the Government Surplus Disposal Board for sale. In the April of 1920, the Disposal Board sold the Depot with all its contents including surplus British military transport throughout the world for just over £7,000,000 to 'the Slough Trading Company'. The idea of the trading company had come from Sir Percival Perry, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, with Mr Noel Mobbs, later Knighted in 1948, in charge of the trading company. 

The sale by auction in 1920 of repaired surplus army vehicles brought in much needed returns to the 'Slough Trading Company', one of the first sales day realising over £30,000. Future sales saw Daimler charabancs sold for £805 and Peerless lorries for £350 every vehicle having a six month guarantee, in fact the vehicle sales from Slough exceeded the total output of UK commercial motor manufacturers for 1921. The vehicle repair business became the Four Wheel Drive Company' and American company which had grown out of the depot vehicle repair business. Later known as Modern Wheel Drive

Who were these early companies that gave Slough its growth in population and international fame?

Gillette Razor courtesy of Modern Mechanix
Early tenants on the estate in the 1920's included Crossley Motors, repairing ex-army motor cycles, the Perfection enamelling painting Co. , Gillette razor company, the Mentholatum Co. maker of healing cream, John & Johnson the American surgical dressing manufacturer, and the Hygienic Ice Co. suppliers of ice to hospitals and hotels etc. O'cedar Mop Company Also remembered, St. Helens Cable and Rubber Company. Makers of insulating tapes, hot water bottles and inner tubes for tyres. To make the employees feel at home many of whom had moved South with the firm from Warrington, Slough Estates named one of its housing estate streets `Warrington Avenue'. 

Having repaired the saleable vehicles by 1925, on which a workforce of up to 8000 persons had been employed, it was decided to continue to develop buildings and services on the site and rent out sheds and workshops to expanding and aspiring new companies. From this beginning sprang the Slough Trading Estate we know today. The Slough Trading Company received the Royal Assent 7th August 1925. Changing their name to Slough Estates Limited in June 1926. The management of Slough Estates set a new pattern in Landlord and Tenant agreements, making the estate a more industrial community than a collection of factory sheds. 

Sir Noel Mobbs
courtesy of Stories of London

From 1925 to 1929 Slough Estates expanded the premises and facilities available to new and established tenants. During this period the government opened a training centre for a number of trades on the Estate, this trained 18 to 32 aged men (up to 35 years for ex-service men) for a six months course to acquire basic skills to fill the vacancies in building, engineering, woodworking and other operating skills required by the growing number of companies moving onto the Estate. At this period the national unemployment had reached seven figures and rising, but Slough figure was claimed to be the lowest proportion in the country at 1%. The publication of this claim caused at the time such a large influx of job seekers that the available housing and factories could not absorb. Slough Estates had built and were in the process of building 2000 houses on their land and in other parts of the growing town. Slough gained the reputation of the 'Hardest working town in Britain'. The Estate brought rapid growth to Slough from a population of 16,000 in 1920 to 50,000 on becoming a Borough in 1938

An overseas firm that gave a boost to the town and to employment on the Estate by setting up of an assembly unit was Citroën Cars. Andre Citroen was a descendant of a family originating in Holland. As a young engineer he had set up a small factory before 1914 to make double v gears whose patent he had bought in Poland. From the tooth design of the gears his Citroen sign is taken—an inverted double V. Citroën cars had been imported and distributed from London prior to 1925 but the imposition of import duties on cars led Andre Citroën to consider producing cars in England. Car bodies had on a small scale, already been stored at Slough since 1923 which gave the English buyer the choice of a French or English car body. To assemble cars in Slough Citroën took over Unit 1 Dundee Road, the largest shed on the estate which called for a large investment. It was good news for Slough as it was announcing that 1000 men were to be taken on immediately with the prospect of up to 5000 more being employed when the plant was in full production. The plant which opened officially in February 1926 closed in 1966 as the factory was considered inefficient for modern production methods. The development of the trading estate since 1925 has brought other internationally known companies to set up manufacturing bases in Slough. Their range of products has covered a very wide spectrum and has created wealth for an ever-increasing town population. 
Andre Citroën at the opening of the factory in Slough
courtesy of Britain by Car.

An overseas firm that gave a boost to the town and to employment on the Estate by setting up of an assembly unit was Citroën Cars. Andre Citroen was a descendant of a family originating in Holland. As a young engineer he had set up a small factory before 1914 to make double v gears whose patent he had bought in Poland. From the tooth design of the gears his Citroen sign is taken—an inverted double V. Citroën cars had been imported and distributed from London prior to 1925 but the imposition of import duties on cars led Andre Citroën to consider producing cars in England. Car bodies had on a small scale, already been stored at Slough since 1923 which gave the English buyer the choice of a French or English car body. To assemble cars in Slough Citroën took over Unit 1 Dundee Road, the largest shed on the estate which called for a large investment. It was good news for Slough as it was announcing that 1000 men were to be taken on immediately with the prospect of up to 5000 more being employed when the plant was in full production. The plant which opened officially in February 1926 closed in 1966 as the factory was considered inefficient for modern production methods. The development of the trading estate since 1925 has brought other internationally known companies to set up manufacturing bases in Slough. Their range of products has covered a very wide spectrum and has created wealth for an ever-increasing town population. 

Ford GT40 courtesy of Postcards from Slough
Ford Advanced Vehicles brought fame to the town when under the directorship of John Wyler they produced the GT 40 which raced and won at Le Mans in 1966, 67 and 68. Seven mark three with seven litre engines were built and today, if you can find one, expect to pay £375,000 to £400,000 (2001 valuation). 

Aspro Ltd, Old original Buildings 
Aspro was developed in Australia during the years 1915 to 1917 by George Nicholas when the name Aspro was registered. This wonder aspirin was eventually to be made in Slough through the foresight and the influence of Aspro financial advisor George Garcia, a Spanish Australian Jew, who was visiting England for the 1924 Empire exhibition. He thought there was a market for the product in the UK and picked Lancashire and Yorkshire for the launch territories with Manchester the headquarters. Initially sales were a disaster because the packs of 25 tablets where too expensive for unemployed England but after some misgivings the Aspro board decided to struggle on and eventually things improved which led to the important policy decision to manufacture in England. Garcia chose a factory in Buckingham Avenue on the Slough Trading Estate and George Nicholson was sent from Australia to install the machines. The first tablets came off the line on August 11th, 1927. By 22nd of November the same year sales in Britain overtook sales in Australia but all was not well, At the time there was a certain distrust of patent medicines and certain newspapers wary of the claims made by pharmaceutical companies, refused advertising copy. Aspro management reacted quickly inviting the newspaper to send its own experts to the Slough Factory and make whatever test they liked. Three analytical chemists arrived to inspect the factory and take away samples. Their test and favourable report gave the Aspro a boost and advertising of the product met no further opposition. 

The Aspro-Nicholas was acquired by Sara Lee in 1984
In 1957 on a site bought before the outbreak of WWII the new Aspro factory was built on the Bath Road. There were construction delays due to the public footpath that crossed the site and much legal argument followed before agreement was reached that the path could be moved to one side. The path runs from the Bath Road alongside Sara Lee to emerge beside Westgate school onto the Cippenham Road. The new factory only came into being due to the perseverance of the then UK manager director Jamison who brought his new factory into production in 1958 Aspro became famous locally for their entertainment, Dances, Pantomimes and other showtime entertainments.

Shortly after the establishment of Aspro in Buckingham Avenue, High Duty Alloys which had been started by Colonel Devereux took the premises next to Aspro. H.D.A. also became large employers on the estate attracting labour locally and from other parts of the country especially during the war years where castings for aero engines and other requirements of war were manufactured. The thump of the heavy duty forging hammer operating day and night during the war years that was heard over a wide area is still remembered.

New building of 75 to 79 Buckingham Avenue              High Duty Alloys New Building Development 

High Duty Alloys closed in the late 1970's. The new buildings some of which are vacant in 2002 have housed the headquarters of various small 'IT ' Companies. Little engineering or consumer goods manufacture now remains on the Slough Estate. Warehousing and retail fill many of the new buildings. 

This McDonald's fast food hut now stands where buildings that housed the security police and the canteen of High Duty Alloys. 

The site is now occupied (2002) by computer software companies, DIY warehouse, freight company and a postal delivery company. 

The HDA sand foundry buildings were taken by Vitatex in the mid 1970's and became their textile dying and finishing departments 

OS Map revised 1938
courtesy of the Nation Library of Scotland
At the close of 1927 there were 65 firms operating within the confines of the estate and the name of Slough Estates was well known through articles appearing in the national press. These reports attracted the attention of men from the depressed areas of South Wales. The year was 1933 and unemployment in the country was approaching three million. On a bitter night in February 1934, two hundred and eighty-five Welsh Hunger marchers arrived in the town and were cared for by a specially formed Slough Reception Committee. They stopped overnight in the town before going on their way to demand action from the Government.

The downturn in trade had not escape Slough firms and Slough Estate management arranged deals in rent and loans for Hygienic Ice and St. Martins Preserving Company who were in serious trouble. One firm sacked workers and offered reemployment at a penny an hour less. Unemployed Welsh girls and men offered to work for less than local labour which obviously did no go down well with local towns people. 

At the same time other new firms were opening premises on the trading estate and bringing in their skilled employees who would train the newly recruited staff skills to manufacture new products such as Metal Colours that was mainly staffed by Germans, Flexello wheels and castors started by Marcel Menko, a Frenchman of Dutch parentage. 


Here we have a difference in the historical facts, myths, and memories and folklore of the best-known company in Slough. There is not a great deal written of the company from the English point of view, the book 'The Chocolate Wars ' give a very American slant to the story. 

Like many a son, at some time in our early life we think we know better than our parents, History says likewise about Forrest Mars but in this case, son did have more go and vision than Dad. 

Mars senior commenced making candy bar in America in 1923 with Forrest joining when he graduated in 1928. The business expanded but Mars senior having gone bankrupt twice was cautious, whilst son Forrest wished to conquer the world. Disagreement followed and Forrest took off for Europe with a wife and baby son and $50,000. Having studied various chocolate methods on the continent he headed for England in 1932 where at least he could speak the language. At 28 years old he arrived and with a burning desire to prove himself by making candy. Having spoken to Philip Wrigley of chewing gum fame and James Horlick who told him to see Nigel Mobbs, Forrest Mars found himself with a large leaky shed in Dorset Avenue. Within four months of arriving he had had his factory ready for production and the first Mars Bars were ready to launch onto the marketplace. From these small beginnings Mars rose to become in fifty years the estate largest production unit and employer. 

Gresham Road 1934

Other firms followed such as 4711 Cologne, Coopers Mechanical Joints makers of gaskets for the motor trade and Mr Steven Wessely who started VitaTex, to make lingerie and textiles. Mr Wessely had come from Czechoslovakia in 1933 to work as a cutter in the north of England. His ambition was to have his own plant.

Charmaine work room, Gresham Road
He came to Slough in 1934 to visit the trading estate site and was met by Nigel Mobbs at the station with a Rolls Royce. What with being taken to lunch and riding in the Rolls Steven was hooked and took a small factory in Gresham Road calling it Charmaine, there to produce ladies underwear. 

Warp Knitting machines at Gresham Road in 1950's.
The annual rent was 1/- a square foot. The company expanded over the next fifty years producing all manner of textiles for the fashion, furniture and automotive industries. The Wessely family sold out to British Vita and the plant closed in 1995.

Sewing room staff with Mr Wessely in the centre.
Mr Wesseley
after 50 years as owner and chairman of VitaTex

Note — Fun Knickers. 

A young lad on joining Charmaine the task of putting printing ink on his hands and then printing his hand prints on the back panels of ladies knickers. A fun project.

This article is an extract from at talk that was given by John Denham on Industry’s Influence on Slough given on October 16, 2001. 

He worked at Mars on the maintenance team for a few months in the early 1960's and from 1965 to his retirement nearly 30 years later worked for VitaTex. His children remember their summer holiday in 1965 as their Dad was called back to work early as there had been a disastrous fire at 108 Buckingham Avenue. He told his children that dust from the Flock printing was the cause.