Monday, 19 July 2021

Tough Assignment - Services, Revival Meetings and Anniversaries

There were regular mentions of anniversary services at all the chapels; those at Eton Wick being held usually early in October. Camp meetings were held most summers. These were outdoor meetings with plenty of singing to attract more than the faithful. In the early years of this century they were held in a marquee in Wheatbutts Field by permission of Toddy Vaughan, the Eton College master who lived at Wheatbutts. Chairs and forms from the chapel were carried the short distance to the field. Some chapels had their own Mission Bands and here in Eton Wick they broadcast news of the service by walking round the village singing hymns accompanied on the tiny harmonium. At the service itself the Mission Band led the singing and the responses. In 1894 the young people of Eton Wick were urged to 'form themselves into a working band .... to augment the Mission Band'. That year the Camp Meeting was held on 22nd July and Brothers John Lane, Ives, Bulford and Carter conducted the service. Only John Lane came from Eton Wick, the others were lay preachers from elsewhere in the circuit. No doubt they were accompanied by other members of their own chapels, just as the people of Eton Wick would have joined in the camp meetings at Maidenhead, Cookham Dean and Marlow. They were joyous occasions and the long walk on a summer’s day was part of the fun. Most people's horizons were much more restricted than today and a visit to Marlow was a real excursion. There was another aspect to these days, however, remembered with less affection, and that was the teasing given to at least one young boy by his school mates.

The circuit minute books also mention watchnight services, revival meetings and lovefeasts. The watchnight service is first recorded at Eton Wick in 1893 and would have been held on New Year's Eve as they were in the early years of this century. They were well supported, perhaps because of the social which preceded the service! In 1900 the circuit committee decided that revival meetings should be held in each chapel and a public lovefeast (a meal showing brotherly love) at Maidenhead.

The minutes also regularly report of School Anniversary services to be planned at each chapel, but there were other special services and meetings that did not merit inclusion in the minutes. Testimony meetings are well remembered events from the early decades of this century. Held after the Sunday evening service they were an occasion for publicly counting one's blessings, a time for sharing joys and telling others 'what the Lord had done for me since the last meeting'. To a few this may have been a great opportunity for saying their piece, but most of the congregation was not naturally so forthcoming. By encouragement and direct prompting, however, Mrs Tough made very sure that many contributed to the success of the evening, and most of them went home feeling all the better for having done so - in spite of 'their palpitations'. Methodists of those decades believed in public avowal of faith and the simple words, 'My boy' said by Mrs Tough was sufficient to persuade one young man to confess his belief to the rest of the congregation. The Rev William Folley had a different method, his way was to pace up and down the aisle, challenging the congregation in their beliefs with the words 'Either you go out of this door accepting or rejecting the Lord'.

The annual calendar also included a considerable number of other enjoyable activities, but fundamentally a means - of raising money for circuit and chapel funds. Building debts had to be paid and also the many smaller bills that were incurred in the everyday running of societies and maintaining the chapels. Financial help was also given to aged local preachers in need and other Methodist charities. For many years contributing to these funds in money and time was one of the responsibilities one had to accept on becoming a Primitive Methodist.

Circuit minutes January 1894: (Resolved) 'That Mrs Tough and Mrs Lane endeavour to obtain the loan of Dorney schools for a concert and to make all needful arrangements'.

June 1894: (Resolved) 'That the Young Mens class at Maidenhead give an entertainment at Eton Wick when convenient in aid of Circuit Funds'.

September 1895: (Resolved) 'That we sanction a river excursion to be managed by the Society at Eton Wick in aid of Circuit Funds and that we recommend each society in the circuit to do all it can to make the effort a success'.

March 1903: (Resolved) 'That sanction be given to the Eton Wick Society to have a special effort on Good Friday for the reduction of the Chapel debt'.

March 1913: (Resolved) 'That the Eton Wick Society be asked to give a tea and the Maidenhead Choir and Glee Party be asked to give a musical evening at Eton Wick.'.

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

Monday, 12 July 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - July 1941 - Heat Wave, Jam and Labour Shortage

The hot summer days of June and July became a heat wave, ending with two great thunderstorms in mid-July. Three men were killed at Taplow and a schoolgirl evacuee cycling in the Datchet road also died. Over three inches of rain fell in the three days causing local flooding. 

The maintenance of roads, drains, ditches and other public works which were the responsibility of the council had become difficult as their employees were called up for military service. 

Complaints arose regarding the decline in local public services such as to why there was no longer an afternoon delivery of letters to Eton Wick. Enquiries from the council to the Windsor Postmaster brought the familiar reply that the shortage of labour and war restrictions made it difficult to maintain services.

Food rationing encouraged the adoption of various programmes for the growing and preserving of food. One successful activity, the National Fruit Preserving Scheme, was operated by the National Federation of Womens Institutes. But Eton Wick W.I. voted not to join the scheme. 

Enquiries in Council as to the W.I. rejection, Councillor Mr Chew explained that the only suitable premises had been taken for other purposes, referring to the use of the village hall by the evacuated L.C.C. School. 

It was pointed out to the Council Chairman that there was not a great deal of fruit grown by individual families in the village who were quite capable of dealing with their own fruit. Mr Walley, the Chief Food Officer, thought that if the village was not operating through the W.I. then a Sub Committee should be formed to deal with the matter. A Ladies Committee was therefore formed with Mrs Chantler, Mrs Attlee, Mrs Roe, and Mrs Chew to advise on the possible implementation of the scheme.

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

Note. It must have been useful to have Mrs Chantler on the Ladies Committee as she would have been able to provide a grocer's view of rationing and supply issues. An interesting insight into the life of a wartime grocers can be found in The View From the Corner Shop published by Simon & Schuster

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

STANLEY BOND - Royal Engineers

Stanley Walter Bond (Lance Corporal No. 1910662) - 138 Mechanical Equipment Company - Royal Engineers

Stan was born on June 26th 1917 and had six brothers and four sisters. His father, known as Roll, had moved to Eton Wick as a young single man in the late 1880s, together with an older married brother from their parents' home at the Queen's Head, Hazlemere, High Wycombe. Roll met and married Charlotte (Lottie) Deverill of Chalvey and, like his brother Thomas, raised a sizeable family spread over many years. The family home was at No. 1, Palmer Place and the road along the side of No. 1, leading to Common Road, was always referred to as Bonds' Lane. It came as a local surprise in the mid 1930s when the Eton Urban Council erected a name plate as Browns' Lane. It is now all part of Common Road.

The father, Roll, earned his living as a refuse collector, as a cabbie (horse) and a jobbing carter. Stan went to the Eton Wick Infant School until he was nearly seven and then attended Eton Porny between April 1st 1924 and July 29th 1931, when he left school to work in the expanding family business. His brothers were older than himself and, by the early 1930s, were road haulage contracting with horses and tip carts. They secured a large contract connected with the expansion of Cippenham and soon replaced the horses with lorries. The large family had known days when the next meal had to be earned but now the situation was much improved.

Unlike the short Bond stature, the offspring were of Lottie's build, big and robust. Roland (Junior), William, Robert, Cyril and lastly Charlie, had all married in the 1930s and early 1940s and left home. Their parents moved into a new detached home in the Boveney end of the village, and named it “Rollot". Stan courted and married Brenda Elsia Allen of Dorney and made a home at Taplow. His sister Florence had married Norman Lane of Eton Wick. Norman was to play a significant role in the future post war expansion of the family business.

The war clouds broke in September 1939 and different priorities affected business, and more importantly the work force. Many men voluntarily joined the forces rather than wait uncertainly for conscription into a unit not of their choice. Roland had served in the Royal Navy throughout the Great War at a time when his brothers were not old enough. In a very short while Bill, Cyril and Stan were in army uniforms. All had chosen to serve with the Royal Engineers. It was probably in early 1941, while Stan and Cyril were working in the same unit, when Stan expressed boredom and his decision to volunteer for a posting nearer "the action". This was a fairly common wish among young men throughout the services. It is not known whether he was already in North Africa, but certainly by the summer of 1941 he was serving in the Levant.

Wavell had limited resources under his command which consisted of the 7th Australian Division, the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 1st Cavalry Division, six Battalions of the Free French forces, and a company of tanks, together with 70 aircraft. Opposing them were Vichy French forces (35,000 men), 18 Battalions, 90 tanks and 90 aircraft. The initial advance was held up 10 miles from Damascus, but by June 21st 1941 fresh reinforcements were becoming effective and on this day the Indian troops captured Damascus. On July 12th Vichy forces surrendered in Syria.

Unfortunately Stan was killed five days earlier, on July 7th 1941. His death was not directly caused by enemy action. At the time he was with comrades riding on the rear of a tank transporter. The side of the vehicle left the track, and the men were thrown off with the transporter rolling onto them. Stan is buried in the Damascus Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Syria. His grave is number 44 in Row L. He was 24 years old and left a childless widow. The Damascus War Cemetery contains 1,173 Commonwealth graves. Stanley is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial in the churchyard and on the tablet attached to the Village Hall.

The first cross above marks the grave of Corporals Bond and Smart and the second of Stanley Bond alone. It is believed that the double grave was the roadside grave dug by their comrades. Later they were buried separately in Damascus and the second cross was a temporary measure pending an official post war C.W.G.C. headstone.

Stanley Bond's page on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website

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

Further information: The 1939 Register records that Stanley Bond was a excavator driver (Heavy work) before he joined up. His widow, Brenda married Frederick Usher, a Canadian serviceman in 1943 and moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada after the war had ended.

Frank Bond, author of Their Names Shall Be Carved In Stone was one of Stanley Bond’s second cousins.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - Neighbours at Albert Place c1940.


Dick Hood in uniform, his mother, neighbours Mrs Ethel Cook, her daughter Eileen and husband Harry. The young girl with Eileen is believed to be a London Evacuee living with the Cooks. Harry Cook was a ploughman. Dick Hood was one of twelve Eton Wick/Boveney WWII fatalities

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

Monday, 21 June 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Celebrating the coming of the railway

The History Group met on the 10th, November to celebrate two anniversaries; one, was to recognise the 8th anniversary of the group's first meeting in November 1991. When the newly formed Eton Wick History Group met for that first time it was expected that about eight people might attend, in fact 46 people were at that inaugural meeting. Seven or eight meetings have been held every year since and the topics have rarely ranged further afield than Cliveden.

The other anniversary, the subject of the evening's talk and display of memorabilia, was the 150th anniversary of the railways coming to Windsor. Dr. Judith Hunter had kindly volunteered to tell the tale of the railways' coming, and to her own research had been added material provided by Renee and Tom Thompson of Tilstone Close. The fine display of railway memorabilia was provided by John Coke of the Slough and Windsor RailwaySociety.

Dr. Hunter began by showing a map of the Slough area dated c1830 when Slough was just a little village with two to three hundred people, Windsor had just half-a-dozen streets, and Eton (apart from the College) was barely more than the High Street. The main methods of transport were by horse, stagecoach or private carriage. But in 1830 the railway era had begun and merchants in Bristol and London were interested in having a railway connect the two cities. 

There were lots of proposals put forward from 1830 to 1835 until eventually the route for the line was agreed upon; going through Slough, Maidenhead, Didcot and on to Bristol - not yet, of course, branching to Windsor - but including Isambard Kingdom Brunel's nationally important 'Sounding Arch' at Maidenhead. Later he was to design the single-span (approximately 200 ft.) iron bridge over the Thames at Eton, linking the viaducts on the Slough to Windsor line. 

Work on construction of the main line began in 1835 and by 1838 it had got as far as Slough, but there was no station at Slough. The reason for this was that Eton College had objected most strongly to proposed routing of a railway close to the College; the Headmaster, Dr. Hawtrey, had talked about the difficulties for masters in preventing the boys taking the train to London (for vice!); it was also suggested the lively Eton boys might drop stones and bricks from the bridges onto the railway carriages. There was long and vociferous opposition and in 1835 the Lords' Committee added clauses to the Great Western Railway Act to prevent any station being opened within 3 miles of Eton College. (There was also some opposition from The Crown, but it was impossible to get a railway into Windsor without going over Crown land somewhere). 

A station was constructed at Langley, where there was a church, an inn and alms-houses, but it remained closed (for 8 years)' and trains stopped at Slough: where there were no platforms, where there was nowhere to buy tickets (so they were sold in The Crown Inn on Crown Corner; later the 'North Star' was built - nearer to the railway halt - and tickets were sold there). 

Members of the Royal Family would board the train at Slough for Paddington; and despite their own objections, Eton College hired a whole train to take boys to Queen Victoria's Coronation. By 1840, College objections had been withdrawn and Slough Station was built (with both the 'Up' and 'Down' platforms on the Slough side). The 'Royal Hotel' was built close by and had its own Royal Waiting Room. 

Cooke-Wheatstone Telegraph 
image courtesy of the Science Museum

Within 18 years of the railway coming to Slough it had grown into a market town - but still only half the size of today's Eton Wick. In 1842, the first terminus for the electric magnetic telegraph service from Slough to London was in-stalled, in a cottage on a small hill by Slough Station. In 1845 the telegraph was used in the capture of a murderer, JohnTawell, who had poisoned his former mistress in Slough, then boarded a tram for London. His description was telegraphed ahead; he was followed from Paddington to his lodgings and was arrested tried and hanged. 

Meanwhile members of Windsor Council were pressing for trains into Windsor, Henry Darville for GWR and James Bedborough for the Southern Railway. Apart from assuming that a railway terminus in Windsor would boost trade, it should also resolve the problem of full carts having to be half-emptied before horses could draw them up Thames Street hill - goods could come in by train instead. The Crown withdrew its opposition to railways crossing its land, after negotiating compensation; and two Railway Acts were passed, both in 1848 - first the Great Western Railway (opened 8 October 1849) and then the South Western Railway (which initially, from December 1849, had to stop at Black Potts and only came on into Windsor in 1851, to the Riverside Station with its 14 sets of doors which gave the Cavalry easy access and ensured the Queen's carriage was always stopped close to an exit. 

The GWR's original viaduct was constructed of timber and was replaced by the present brick-built structure between 1861 and 1863, and its Windsor Station was very modest; the present excessively large and 'Royal' station was built in 1897. In 1929 another station was opened, in Chalvey, but it only operated for 13 months before closure. The branch line into Windsor had crossed Lammas Land and the parish were compensated, but no-one knew what to do with the compensation until, in 1894, Eton Urban District Council and Eton Wick Parish Council agreed that it should be used for the Recreation Grounds we enjoy today.

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. This article was published in the December 1999 edition.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Tough Assignment - The New Chapel Described

The new chapel was a very modest building, though as large as it could be, given the narrowness of the plot of land on which it was built. The chapel is quite a plain building, dignified rather than imposing, blending in with the terrace houses in the rest of the road, though in 1886 many of the houses were not yet built. It was a rather smaller building than the present one, for beyond the chapel itself there was no hall, only the tiny schoolroom and inside there was, of course, no partition, nor were there proper pews, only forms, and a central pulpit. On the wall behind was emblazoned the message, 'We preach Christ crucified'. A slow combustion stove warmed the congregation in winter and oil lamps shed their warm glow in pools of light.  

A chapel, however, is more than a building, it is also the society of its members. In the early years membership was small and if the seat rents are any indication of numbers, it was well under twenty. Between nine and twenty people paid the shilling (5p) seat rent each quarter during the last decade of the 19th century, and although the numbers rose and fell the century ended with only 9 people paying. These were Mrs Tough, five members of the Moore family, Mr and Mrs Lane and Mr Cook (Harry Cook's father). 

Printer's bills were frequent items of expenditure and on one or two occasions these were specified for 'tickets'. These were class tickets, issued quarterly, then as today, to each professed member of the Methodist church after they had rededicated themselves to God. They were quite strict about such things as one elderly member remembers for Mrs Tough 'bred it into us'.  

A modern Class Ticket  

From 1893 the circuit minutes supplement the chapel records, revealing the close relationship of the Eton Wick Chapel - the youngest at that time in the circuit -with the other member chapels at Queens Street, Maidenhead, Marlow, Cox Green and Cookham Dean. Eton Wick took its turn as venue for the Quarterly Circuit Meetings and there are the occasional mentions of Mrs Tough and other ladies providing teas. On at least one occasion John Lane acted as secretary to the Quarterly Meeting and for many years he was the circuit delegate to the District Meetings. This says much for his standing in the circuit, but the brief mentions in the minutes reveal that he paid his own expenses, and thanks for his generosity is recorded on each occasion: 

1896 'That the best thanks of the meeting be given to Brother John Lane for his services as delegate to the District Meeting, also for a donation to the Circuit Fund, being his travelling expenses'

The observation of Mr Lodge (who chaired the first meeting in the chapel) that 'Methodism in those days meant devotion and sacrifice of both time and money' seems very apt for the 7s (35p) incurred on this occasion represented a considerable portion of his weekly wage, and in other years the journey cost him as much as a £1. 

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

Monday, 7 June 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - June 1941 - Clothes Rationing Starts

Sunday June 1st. 1941

Rationing introduced for clothes and household linens with a yearly allowance of 66 coupons for each person. Garments carried different coupon values, such as, sixteen coupons for an adult raincoat, four coupons for a woman’s petticoat, seven for a dress and two for a pair of stockings. In subsequent years the coupon allowance was decreased by 1945 to 36 coupons. Following the defeat of Germany, the allowed allocation was increased to 48 but for a longer period than one year. 

The need to conserve clothing coupons prompted the Eton Wick and Boveney Womens Institute to hold a competition for a renovated hat. Miss Pettle, having judged the results, then gave a talk on how clothes could be altered to a new look or fashion for oneself or a member of the family. Two debates, relevant to the time, were held at this meeting, one was on the communal feeding arrangements and the other on the use of cosmetics; both were lively with Mrs Jacobs and Mrs McMillan speaking for communal feeding whilst Miss Badder and Mrs Borret spoke against - the voting was against by a large majority. The debate on the use of cosmetics was light-hearted with Mrs Ball and Mrs Friend speaking for and against but this vote was not clear as some members voted for, and yet never used cosmetics themselves.

(Eton Wick W.I.)

Rationing of materials for civilian use affected many traditional customs, such as the supply of cloth for school uniforms and to overcome the shortage of the distinctive Eton College attire, a clothing pool was formed by Eton Tailors to supply second-hand school uniform including top hats still worn by the college boys in 1941.

Sunday June 22nd

German forces invaded Russia which lessened the possibility of major air attacks on Britain. Losses in men and equipment in Crete and North Africa brought an urgent need for more combat troops and equipment. To release men from civilian occupations Government Ministries undertook a recruitment campaign to get more women into factories, the railways and other public services. Later conscription would be introduced for unmarried women.

The situation made an increasing demand for munitions from the factories. To meet the demand many people worked sixty or more hours a week. Those workers living in Eton Wick, who had volunteered for Civil Defence, found it inconvenient to travel to Slough for training where it was claimed there was better facilities and equipment. A request to Eton U.D.C. by the village defence volunteers and those at Eton asked if training could be arranged locally. 

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