Wednesday 29 August 2018

Clifton House

Clifton House
Like many houses on this section of the Eton Wick Road, Clifton House was built on land formerly belonging to houses and smallholdings that faced on to the common (now Common Road). The Greyhound public house is at the Common Road end of the original plot, with houses (along The Walk) built in between.

In 1840 the first village school stood on the site. When the present school was opened in Sheepcote Road in 1888, the building was used as the Village Institute. In 1902 Pratts of Eton and Windsor built the present building, selling paints and hardware (as advertised on their large hoarding on the wall outside, which was still legible nearly one hundred years later). From 1908 to 1913, the period when this photograph was taken, Ernie Harman ran the stores. The Post Office transferred here from Lovell's Stores about this time also. The Harmans came to Eton Wick in 1908. By then Lovell was a well-established village family name, and descendants of both families are still in the village.

The shop is probably most remembered as Chantler's Grocery shop. Mr. Chantler (senior) came to the Wick in 1929. His son Harry ran the shop from the time of his father's death in 1932 until he retired in 1973. It finally closed as a shop in 1986 and became entirely residential.

Harry was a popular and helpful community man, serving on several village committees and always happy to make deliveries, particularly important in the days of few cars. During WWII the back of the shop was reinforced and used as the Air Raid Precaution Office for the eastern end of the village, probably because the shop had one of the four telephones in the village in the 1930s. Harry was an air raid warden and supplied and fitted gas masks for most of the villagers. An air raid shelter was just across The Walk road, in front of Joan Taylor's shop.

The last shopkeepers in Clifton House were Mr. and Mrs. Winters, who eventually closed the shop around 1986, and converted the building into flats. The name 'Clifton' has passed to the Senior Citizens residence, Clifton Lodge, constructed adjacent to the shop in the 1970s.
Faded sign on Clifton House

Durable advert 

This sign, on the side of Clifton House, almost certainly dates back to c1904 when Pratts ran the shop. It is just readable, nearly 100 years later. 

It reads: General Stores, Oils, Colors, Varnish, Putty, Whitening, Size. Turps, Methylated Spirits, Ready Mixed Paints, Paper Hangings. 

It was used for many years as a shop hoarding with posters pasted over it. The confused lettering at the top may be due to Pratts name being changed to the next proprietors, the Harmans in 1913. Below the board, there used to be for some 60 years a ladder, for use in the event of a village fire emergency. For some of this period, there was also a fire hose here. 

This is an extract from A Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton published by the Eton Wick History Group in 2000.

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