Eton Wick and its development post World War II
We have previously covered the development of Eton Wick between the 18th and mid 20th centuries, By 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!