Saturday 28 November 2015

The Parish Boundaries

As there were few accurate maps it became the custom, and was even ordered by Elizabeth I, to beat the bounds of the parish annually. These were often colourful occasions, full of hymn singing and chanting.  Marks were made appropriate trees and buildings and, where necessary, the procession took to the boats to follow the boundary in mid-Thames. Exactly when the parish boundary was first defined is not known, but the route taken in 1605 can still be recognised as basically that of the ecclesiastical boundary before the addition of Boveney in 1911. The parish was much smaller than that of the pre-1974 Eton Urban District and the present Town Council area. The 1605 perambulation is given below and where appropriate the modern place names have been added in brackets. It is difficult, however, to interpret what the surveyor meant by the farms, for the two farmhouses     mentioned did not lie near the parish boundary. Perhaps he only meant to imply the farmland.

The surveyor stated, 'Beginning at the Church (College Chapel) we go to Windsor Bridge and taking the lane (possibly Brocas Street) by the house of Robert Payne, we go along the Thameside up as far as Tyilstone Gate (possibly by Boveney Bridge or across the road opposite the Village Hall) and then to the farm of the King's now in the occupation of Matthew Bell (Mustians) from where we go to another in the Wick occupied by Henry Bell (Saddocks) and so we go into Little Common as far as Dragon Elm, we go along the North Field and Chalvey Ditch until we come to a bridge near College called Stone Bridge. Then encompassing the College land called Shooting Field, Wharf Close, the Playing Fields and the College, we come to the Church where we first began'.

A further account of a perambulation, this time of 1815, describes the procession as consisting of the Rev Mr Roper (as chaplain to the Provost), the Steward of the Manor, the parish officials, the charity children and inhabitants. Their day began with breakfast of roast and boiled beef provided by the Provost and Fellows, and they probably needed it, for although Eton is a comparatively small parish the walk and boat ride must have taken several hours.  At one point the procession 'went through the door of the house of William Lanfear and out through another. Almost certainly this was one of the Bell Farm cottages which stood until 1969 at the junction of Bell Lane and Alma Road. Their gardens straddled the boundary and in the nineteenth century they were sometimes included in the Census of Boveney and sometimes that of Eton.

Monday 16 November 2015

The Blue Bus Service

Until the Blue Bus Service started around 1922, villagers walked to Windsor, and schoolboys to Eton. If they were lucky they got a lift on a horse and trap, or cart. The first bus was quite small with a bench seat each side for the passengers. This, and subsequent buses up to the 1930s, were entered by steps and handrails at the back. The service was very popular as it ran at all times and in all weather. It frequently pulled up at any point between specified bus stops to pick up or drop off passengers and always found room for everybody. Late buses after the cinemas and shops closed were often packed with as many standing passengers squeezed together as were seated. In the mid-1930s, another service known as 'The Marguerite' (cream and brown livery) plied the same routes between Windsor Castle, Eton, Eton Wick, Dorney and, less frequently, to Maidenhead. The Marguerite service only lasted a few years. Ultimately the increase in family car ownership slowly forced the successful Blue Bus Service into decline.

Among the popular drivers with the Blue Bus Service there were, as well as Bert and his son, Ted Jeffries, John North, John Bell, Bill Mitchell and Gerry Austin. Gerry is pictured standing in front of one of the Blue Buses (the man on the left) in the photograph. During WWII, Gerry drove ambulance vehicles for London Transport, often bringing wounded servicemen from the docks. After the war he drove the Blue Buses, and then worked for the council, often sporting a top hat for special occasions.

Blue Bus Service proprietor,
Mr Bert Cole on his retirement in 1966.

Sunday 8 November 2015

End of the village based milk round

Pam Jaycock and Joan Cooley with the electric milk float.

In September 1993 Bill and Joan Cooley decided to retire from business of delivering milk to homes in Eton Wick. As they say in their letter they asked Express Dairy to take over their delivery round. Here are images of the letters announcing this change.

The Delivering Milk article gives more details about the history of the dairy men and women of Eton Wick. Click here to read the article.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Dorney Common anti-aircraft battery 1940-45.

Dorney Common anti-aircraft battery site plan. 

The first territorial anti-aircraft (ack-ack) unit arrived on the Dorney Common site in June 1940. Other local sites included the tower mounted 40mm on the Brocas, Eton. This photograph is of the 564(M) AA. Battery stationed on Dorney Common during 1943/4. The troop manning the 3.7 heavy ack-ack guns shot down a German ME 410 on the night of February 23/24th 1944. The raider crashed in High Wycombe. A number of the service personnel, male and female, married local villagers and set up home in Eton Wick. 

The Nissen huts of the Dorney Common anti-aircraft battery.
When the army left in 1946, the acute shortage of domestic homes caused demobilised local men to 'squat' and set up home in the disused huts. Their new homes and furniture were almost immediately ruined by the 1947 floods, when the residents were evacuated by boat. This picture was taken in March 1947. The huts were still occupied in the 1950s. 

Three of the war-time ATS girls in front of their Nissen hut home on Dorney Common. The camp and the 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns were located along the brook, starting immediately adjacent to the south side of the Eton Wick cattle grid. 

The Armoury 
This was the only building of the wartime Dorney common ack-ack site 1940-45 that was within the boundary of Eton Wick. It stood in what is now the garden of No 22 Tilstone Close. After the army vacated the camp in 1945 this building was taken by Eton Urban Council for accommodation, the residents being Mr and Mrs McGill. 

The vacant huts of Dorney camp became squatter residence before coming under the control of Eton Rural Council. The camp buildings were removed in 1950 having been damaged by the 1947 flood and also having deteriorated beyond use, the land was then restored.