Tuesday 24 March 2015

Getting to Eton Wick in 1929

In 1993 retired village Sub-postmaster, Dick Harding wrote an account of gas distribution in Eton Wick from 1929. It mainly concerns my Father, my family and the people that worked in it. This is the first extract from the account.

My Father was born in 1897 in Winkfield, the youngest of eight. He was christened Alfred Noel, his parents and all the family called him Jo. My Mother called him Jim because she didn't like the name Jo. Jim he remained, all the time he lived in Eton Wick.

He started Work in 1910 as an apprentice gas fitter and lamp lighter with the UXBRIDGE MAIDENHEAD WYCOMBE & DISTRICT GAS CO LTD. where he remained until nationalization in 1947. In the 1920's after World War 1, he married, lived and worked in Beaconsfield as a gas fitter. They had a two bedroomed flat with all the modern conveniences that 1929 could offer.

I first came to Eton Wick with my parents. I was three years old. They had come to look at a house, because my Father was to take charge of gas distribution in Eton and Eton Wick. They were in fact to live on the job. The house was Perseverance Place in Alma Rd. It was built in 1884 by Mr Howells who was a builder. It contained some sheds and outbuildings which housed all the superfluous gas equipment of years gone by. On the first floor was a large workshop with a pair of double doors leading out to Alma Road at high level. At some stage it was used to make Stage scenery. The house itself was spacious with four bedrooms, sitting room, dining room, kitchen and scullery.

My parents were not impressed. There was no electricity, no mains water, no main drainage. The kitchen and scullery floor was stone and the plumbing consisted of a pump over a stone sink. A far cry from Beaconsfield. Something made them take the job, it certainly wasn't money. They gave it five years to move on. In fact they stayed for over thirty years, and retired in the village, my Father lived for a further ten years, he died in 1972. My Mother lived for another ten years.

On this visit I met Dougal Martin for the first time. He was a lad of fourteen and this was his first job. Apart from war service in the Navy he remained in the gas industry all his working life. He retired from Windsor about 1980. It is not known if he is still alive, he must be nearly eighty at the time of writing.

For better or worse, we moved in in September 1929.

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