Tuesday 24 April 2018

Frank Bond 1922 -2018

It is with sadness that we announce the death
of Frank Bond, aged 95. 

He was the founding Chairman of the 
Eton Wick History Group 
and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

George Peter Baldwin - 6th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

George Peter Baldwin - 16671
6th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment — 53rd Brigade — 18th Division

No reference has been found to confirm George as an Eton Wick resident before he was married, at which time he, and Alice May his wife, set up their home at No. 6 Clifton Cottages, Common Road, Eton Wick. These were old terrace houses situated between The Greyhound public house and Sheepcote Road, long since demolished and replaced by Georgian style homes.

The Eton Parish Magazine recorded a son being born in 1904 and christened Peter George. Regrettably, the baby only lived nine months and was buried on May 27th 1905. At this time George was 23 years old. With the outbreak of the Great War he decided to volunteer for the Army, regardless of belng over 30 years old and having two young children. A Parish Magazine booklet lists him as serving by the end of the first year of the war, and his service was with the Battalion Royal Berkshires, a new army (Kitchener) Battalion formed at Reading and trained at Colchester. On July 24th 1915 they embarked for Boulogne.

Unlike many units the 6th Berkshire were perhaps fortunate in having plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the terrain over which they would attack in the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916. They were positioned on the right of the British 18 miles line when they advanced from their trenches near Carnoy. Their early objectives were quickly taken as they pushed toward Montauban, despite suffering approximately 350 casualties, half of the Battalion's initial attacking strength. The following day they were relieved and returned to Carnoy. They saw further Somme action on July 18th and again between the and 21 st at Delville Wood, resulting in more casualties. On July 24th they were moved to ArmentiƩres and two months later returned to the Somme fighting where they manned front line trenches at Thiepval and participated in the capture of Regina Trench. The following year the Berks were engaged in the Third Ypres Battles and were in action between the Sanctuary and Glencourse Woods. On October 22nd, with Third Ypres drawing to a close, there was yet more fierce action in the Poelcappelle sector.

In February 1918 the 6tl Battalion Berkshire was disbanded and it is believed George was then transferred to the 8th Berkshire, who took their place with the 18th Division. The following month the German army launched a massive attack against the British line, causing many miles of hard won territory to be evacuated. By July the Germans had advanced to a varying depth of up to 40 miles on a front stretching from Ypres to Reims, but nowhere had they destroyed the British/French defence that had stubbornly withdrawn under the attacks.

George Baldwin was killed on or about April 24th 1918, during the Anglo/French defence of Amiens. At that time the 18th Division was heavily engaged south of Villers Bretonneux. The local newspaper in July 1918 reported his death and then wrote:

Dearly Loved Husband of Alice May Baldwin — Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends,

We miss him, Oh! no tongue can tell
How much we loved him or how well
God loved him too, but he thought best
To take him home with him to rest

And again on the anniversary in April 1919 the same paper:

In Memoriam Baldwin — George Peter
In loving memory of a dear husband and loving father. Private G. P. Baldwin — Battalion, Royal Berks. Killed in action April 24 h 1918 and buried at Hangard Wood Cemetery in France. From his sorrowing wife and children.

We often think of days gone by, When we were all together
A shadow o'er our life is cast, Our dear one gone forever
Sad thoughts may wander round our hearts, And tears they often flow
But to your sad and lonely grave, Our thoughts do often go

The Hangard Wood Cemetery is a pretty little British war cemetery in the Somme department of France. The cemetery contains 161 graves, of which 58 are British, 61 Canadian, 17 Australian, 5 South African and 20 are French. Situated in a very rural roadside setting, it is surrounded by a low brick wall and planted with Irish Yew Trees and flowering shrubs. The village of Villers Bretonneux is approximately 2 % miles north of the cemetery.

George is commemorated on the Village Memorial as P. G. Baldwin and also on the Memorial Tablets on the Eton Church Gates as Peter Baldwin. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission however list him as G. P. Baldwin and the 'Memoriam' entry in the local paper from Mrs Baldwin names him George Baldwin. He was 36 years of age and left a widow and at least two children. The family lived in the same house for several years after the war.

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

Note. George Baldwin was born in Windsor in 1882 and the 1901 Census records that he was living at 22 Russell Street with his widowed mother Mary and three siblings. He was a house painter. 

Grave Registration Documents courtesy of CWGC

Headstone Inscription Documents courtesy CWGC

Cemetery Plan courtesy CWGC

Sunday 15 April 2018


George Frederick Percy (Private No. 34891) - 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment - 10th Brigade - 4th Division

The Percy Family - George 2nd from left standing.
George was a village lad and the second son in a family of six sons and six daughters. He was born on October 21st 1898, and attended the Eton Wick Infant School until he was 6½ years old; he then went to Eton Porny School, starting there on May 1st 1905. The family home was at No. 1, Castle View Villas in Sheepcote Road, not to be confused with Castle View Terrace in Boveney's, Victoria Road. Castle View Villas was a terraced row of eight houses on the west side of Sheepcote Road and having an uninterrupted view, over allotments and fields, of Windsor Castle, approximately 2½ miles away. All of this area was redeveloped after the Second World War.

George was very young to leave the village infants school, and showed something of the same haste to leave the Porny School. It was in fact midterm, and three days before his 14th birthday, when he left school and gave as his reason for leaving "To Be A Houseboy". Presumably this was work in an Eton College boys' house. We do not know if it was a "live in" occupation, but with at least seven younger brothers and sisters at home it would have had advantages if he had been accommodated at his place of work.

His older brother Alfred was in the pre-war Royal Navy. Certainly he was listed as serving on the Royal New Zealand Navy ship Philomel by September 1914, and by the time the war ended four years later he was a Petty Officer, Gunnery Instructor. In 1914 George was barely 16 years old, and at this time the Percy family were living at "Bangor Place" in Boveney Newtown. No date has been found when George enlisted in Slough, but in view of his age it was probably not before 1916. By this time the 1st Warwickshires had seen plenty of fighting, suffered many casualties and frequently had drafts of young replacements.

In 1915 they had been used to seal a breach in the defence caused by an enemy gas attack. Well over half the Battalion became casualties. By 1916, when George may have joined the Battalion, they were fiercely involved in the opening assaults of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st. The 4th Division suffered a total of 4,692 casualties. The Battalion was in and out of the front line until July 24th when they moved to the Ypres sector. In September 1916 they were again back on the Somme, taking up positions east of Lesboeufs, before moving on to Guillemont and Bernafay Wood. The Somme offensive died down in November.

In 1917 the Battalion, as a unit of the 4th Division, were actively involved in the Battle of Third Ypres, culminating at Passchendaele and all the appalling conditions associated with it. The following year brought ever increasing numbers of American troops onto the continent. Conscious of the effect these fresh troops would have, the Germans launched a massive assault along the allied line on March 21st 1918. Their attack was preceded by a shattering bombardment by over 6,000 guns. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and the allied line was forced to fall back alarmingly. As enemy pressure was renewed, still more ground had to be vacated.

Ploegsteert Memorial
n April a determined thrust was made in the Lys River region, and it was here that the 1st Warwickshires were defending the line. General Plumer decided to shorten the line by straightening it during the night of 15/16th April. This meant giving up all the ground so bitterly won during the Passchendaele fighting of only a few months earlier. It was here, at La Bassee, on April 15th that George Percy was killed. His body was not identified, and having no known grave he is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the missing, on Panels 2 and 3. The memorial is on the same site as the Berkshire Cemetery Extension, 9 miles south of Ypres and 4½ miles north of Armentieres, in Belgium. The memorial records the names of 11,447 missing men who fell in the battles of Armentieres and Aubers Ridge 1914; Loos 1915; Fromelles 1916 Estaires, Hazebrouck and Outtersteene Ridge 1918.

One year after George's death the local paper reported:

Percy - George F. 1st Warwickshire Regiment, the second son of Mr & Mrs A Percy of Bangor Place, Boveney, Eton Wick. Reported as wounded and missing on April 15th 1918 now officially confirmed as killed on April 15th 1918 "Sadly missed by family and friends".

George was one of Eton Wick's youngest fatality at 19½years old. John Carfrae Clark was also 19 years, but his exact age has not been established. George is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial and on the Eton Church Memorial Gates. The village family grave also bears his name.

Eighty two years later there was still a Mrs Percy living in Bangor Place. She was the widow of a younger brother to George, and her own son, David, together with his family, lives in Victoria Road, Eton Wick.

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

Grave Registration courtesy CWGC

Panel List courtesy CWGC

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village April 2009

Eton Wick and its development post World War II 

We have previously covered the development of Eton Wick between the 18th and mid 20th centuriesBy the mid 1800's those cottage long gardens were being used for housing along the village main road. raising the population to around four hundred. Between 1880 and 1900 Boveney Newtown was developed as a separate community, with a population of about five hundred. In total now around thousand in 1900.
and the resulting population growth. In 1800 there were about one hundred people living mainly along Common Road. 

For forty years between 1894 and 1934 both Eton Wick and Boveney Newtown each had their own five member Parish Councils, independent of each other, and of Eton. This would have added to the separateness of the two communities who although benefiting from excellent representation were very disadvantaged by a low rate Income. Eton Wick was without adequate street lighting; refuse collections; main drainage and only bucket or cesspit sanitation. Some homes shared water pumps and outside toilets. In 1934 we lost the individual Parish Councils and became part of the Eton Urban District Council. In time services improved. Pre 1934 associations; clubs; the War Memorial and Institute (now Village Hall) all had the prefix of “Eton Wick and Boveney". Now no longer necessary It is an Indicator of our older organisations/structures. Eton Urban Council did much for Eton Wick but alas after another forty years (1974) we became part of The Royal Borough where certainly, with just two representatives in fifty nine. we were to believe we had a diminished voice.

Apart from the eight South View houses built in early 1920's by Eton Rural Council we had no more Council homes until the late 1930's, when twenty dwellings comprising Vaughan Gardens were built opposite The Shepherd's Hut. As World War II came to a close twelve prefabricated homes were built alongside Vaughan Gardens. They were given an estimated ten years of useful life but in fact lasted over twice that long. As millions of service personnel returned from the war the national need of more houses became an overriding concern. Eton was no exception. There was no land in Eton and Lammas or common rights restricted village land available. All building materials were difficult to obtain but despite all, the Council quickly completed the development of the Vaughan Gardens and prefab field with ten more houses, six facing across the main road and four along Moores Lane.

They next bought from the College a large area west of Moores Lane that reached to Roundmoor Ditch, formerly part of Tilstone Fields and for fifty years used for allotments of Boveney and Newtown. This next move ambitiously planned one hundred and sixty two houses and flats, a new Recreation Ground and space for five police houses to be built by Eton Rural Council. This was along the north side of the main road, plus Boveney New Road, Colenorton Crescent and Stockdales Road. Meanwhile squatters. including ex-service families, had occupied the numerous empty Nissen huts on Dorney Common that had been vacated by the WWII anti-aircraft battery. Sadly, the big flood of 1947 inundated and trashed much of the family possessions. By 1952 the new estate was nearing completion and a young Duke of Edinburgh formally opened the Stockdale's Rec.

Already the Council had moved on by purchasing the Brewers' field, adjoining The Shepherd's Hut and building a parade of seven shops. Opened in 1951 they were Barnes (Game and Wet Fish); Arnold (Butchers); O'Flaherty (Chemist), Clinch (Bakers); Darville (Grocer); Anderson (Newsagent) and Bond (Greengrocer). After the shops, the field was developed with Princes Close houses and fiats (1953). Until this time Victoria Road was a cul-de-sac but now had access through Princes Close to the main road. In late 1950's the Council built Haywards Mead and provided a site for the village's first R.C. Church (built 1964). Again this was a development that was made on a large allotment area and later yet another allotment site was used to build flats, along the east side of Sheepcote Road. Probably the allotment areas were used because by public consent the land had been freed of the Crown, Lammas or Common rights when the need for allotments came about in the late 1800's. Other allotments opposite St. Leonard's Place and 'Old Parsonage' were closed when the lease expired in c.1994 but being designated as Green Belt could not be built on. There was another long strip of allotments behind the Village Hall but around mid 1960's the plot was incorporated into the Haywards Mead Recreation Ground. The Council then built Clifton Lodge on a site previously covered by six Harding Cottages, then using the land of Common Road; Thatch Cottage and Victoria Terrace they built Albert Place flats.

In the 1960's the prefabs, along with two farm cottages in Bell Lane and a terraced row along the east end of Alma Road were demolished, making room for Bellsfield Court flats and a second parade of shops (1973). The Council wanted to develop Wheatbutt Orchard but in the event it was sold by Eton Collage to private developer's c.1981. Perhaps had the Council purchased the Wheatbutts site it may not now be the village's one fenced-in estate. Some Councillors later expressed regret they had not built a through road connecting Queen's Road, Cornwall Close and Tilstone Close, but hindsight is a luxury. However, they had done a good job, built needed homes; straightened and widened the road In places and by 1974 had a village estimated population of around 3,000.

Looking at the private sector, one of the first post WWII developments was the building of homes along the east side of Tilstone Avenue by Jim Ireland and later, homes of Tilstone Close. Pre-war village builder Alf Miles bought the large site south and west of Victoria Road from George Nuth which, as with Tilstone Avenue, had been used for pigsties. He then proceeded to build houses along Queen's Road (1960's) before he developed Cornwall Close. Meanwhile, Jim Ireland purchased a site south and east of Victoria Road from Mr Hearn and built along that end of Queens Road. It is often said they had not planned to connect their respective site roads, but eventually they did. It is easy today to see the midway point where they met. A terraced row of quite good houses along the west side of Sheepcote Road was demolished making way for private bungalows and houses that now face onto the Council flats.

Bunces Close was a considerable private estate that was perhaps only possible because the large area would have been freed of restrictive use; i.e. Lammas or Commons. when the eight South View houses were built there in early 1920's. Common Road being the oldest part of the village may have been redeveloped first but in the early post WWII years the old houses were still homes in a time of dire needs. Today the only semblance of the old Common Road is Wheatbutts Cottage and The Greyhound. Hope Cottages are still there but bear no likeness to earlier years. At the east end, the thirteen terraced Clifton cottages there were replaced by Georgian style houses, six west facing houses of Albert Place were replaced by Albert Place bungalows; and Ye Olde Cottage was replaced by four modem houses (1952/3).

West of 'The Greyhound' pub had stood two old dwellings; ready to be demolished in 1939 but pressed back into use for wartime evacuee families. After the 1939/45 war they were replaced privately by two bungalows, but these have been replaced with about eleven homes. The long garden of the 'Three Horse Shoes' was the only undeveloped plot along Common Road until around the 1960's, when it was developed along with the site of semidetached Rose Cottages. The new homes built there were adjacent to the village's larger pond that was sadly filled in about that time.

Builder Alf Miles purchased from Harry Prior 'The Homestead' and its orchard, making way for several bungalows and houses at the north end of Bell Lane. This was yet another private sector development, again in the mid 1950's. Since that time four larger houses were built just north of the orchard site and adjacent to the only allotment area we have today. Inevitably the eight shops - seven of them cottage adaptations of the pre-war era were much affected by the Council parades and in the fullness of time all closed and became residential, four of them turning into flats (see photographs on page 6). Today we have one non Council shop 'Bracken Flowers and Julies Florist'.

Just as the Council-built shops hastened the demise of the old shops, they in turn are now suffering the ascent of the Superstores. In my lifetime the village had been serviced by the home and cart; the front room shops; the Council shops and now largely by the out of village Superstores.

Many other non-Council homes were built on various sites, including plots In Alma, Inkerman, Northfield and Victoria roads and several along The Walk.

Sadly the common's stream is now less attractive. Its shoddy rustic fencing and of course loss of the dairy cattle has resulted in reduced grazing with the consequent result the stream Is barely visible on account of brambles, something we did not have in earlier years.

This concludes my village growth musings but perhaps in a later Issue we can look at the early characters who shaped our village before any of us were born!

Frank Bond

This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village as is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Boveney Census 1881

The United Kingdom Census of 1881 recorded the people residing in every household on the night of 3rd April 1881, and was the fifth of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total population of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland (all the 32 counties of Northern Ireland and what is now the Irish Republic) was recorded as 34,884,848 persons.

Details collected include: address, name, relationship to the head of the family, marital status, age at last birthday, gender, occupation, and place of birth.

The registration District was Eton, Bucks and the sub-district Burnham. Enumeration District No. 1 and the enumerator was Edward Groves.

It should be noted that in 1881 only houses included in What was to become Boveney Newtown were the two cottages opposite the Beerhouse at Eton Wick. The Enumerator's district included part of Dorney Parish and the whole of the Liberty of Boveney.

The 1881 Census reveals that there were 3 households and 14 people resident in Boveney Newtown on the 3rd April. The oldest person, Sarah Bradbrook was 60 and was born in 1821. The youngest at 4 years old was Albert Trotman. The cottages opposite The Beerhouse were in Bell Lane and there was one further cottage being built.

We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about the development of Boveney Newtown and Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles.

Click on this link to view the 1881 census transcription for Boveney Newtown. Or copy and paste this URL into your internet browser search bar.