Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Work of the Eton Wick Council after WW1

A few items in the Minute Books make amusing reading today such as that of August 1919 when it was proposed that an application should be made to the County Council for a speed limit of 10 mph through the Wick. Motor traffic was travelling at an estimated speed of 20 to 25 mph and causing a considerable dust nuisance, but this would continue for many years until the road was tarred. 

In view of national opinion and later events one entry in 1918 is very unexpected. It was proposed that the reply to a letter from the Eton Rural District Council (RDC) should state that no need existed for working-class housing in the parish. The RDC were planning to build the first council houses in Eton Wick - 'the homes for heroes' of World War I. Perhaps there really was no need for such houses in the village, though it is likely the difficulty of finding suitable building land was uppermost in their minds. Whatever the reason the opinion of the Parish Council was disregarded and plans went ahead with no further consultations. A public meeting was held in Eton and the lammas rights were extinguished on part of Broken Furlong near the relief road. Once again the Parish Council tried to make their voice heard , but in vain. By 1921 a Housing Advisory Committee had been formed, and very soon a list of applicants for the eight houses was being drawn up. Five of them were ex-servicemen and within a very short time the first tenants were in residence. The new houses were named South View and with their red tiles sloping low over the front of each pair of houses they stand apart from the other houses in the village both in style and by distance. Accepted housing standards had changed and these houses were built with three bedrooms and a bathroom: there were few others in the village with such luxurious accommodation. 

These were not the only houses built in Eton Wick in these years. The dreadful floods at the end of the nineteenth century hastened the emigration of many families from Eton and the lower parts of Windsor, and some of them came to Eton Wick. Many moved into New Town, but others, especially the more prosperous of the families, had new homes built along the Eton Wick Road towards Dorney Common. Mr Vaughan lived for a few years in Boveney Cottage, Mr Kemp, fishmonger of Eton, at White Cottage (no 69) and the residents of Tilston Villa, The Ferns, Dayrell Villa and others were included in the 'private residents' section of the local directory, a subtle distinction we would find hard to draw today. Many of these houses were built by the expanding firm of Burfoot & Son; Henry Burfoot himself moved premises to a more prominent position on the main road. His home and business premises still stand out with its hard red bricks contrasting sharply with the yellow bricks and pebble-dash of most of his neighbours. 

Gradually much of the land south of the Eton Wick Road, or Tilston Lane as it was then known, was transformed as it was sold plot by plot by the Palmer family of Dorney. At the turn of the century it was still mostly farmland, but by 1930 Victoria Road had reached its present length ; houses, gardens, allotments and orchards and the yards of Mr Nuth's pig and rabbit farm covered much of the area. Only behind the Shepherd's Hut did there remain one last piece of meadow - Meux's Field, still cut for hay and grazed in summer. Few people can now remember this southern part of the old Tilston Field, for the last plot was sold in the 1920s, but other memories linger on, such as the long lines of drying rabbit skins and milk being sold over the bar at the Shepherd's Hut . Meux's Field was also the scene of a fun fair which brought excitement of the usual kind to the village for a week each summer. 

This is an extract from The Story of a Village: Eton Wick 1217 to 1977 by Judith Hunter.

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