Wednesday 30 October 2019

Saddocks Farm House

Saddocks Farm House and Garden circa 1906
At this time, James and Julia Tarrant lived here, followed by one of their sons, Arthur, and his family. This photograph is of the south elevation of the house. Arthur's sons Cyril and Reg (J A) can still recall the rose covered trellis archway along the garden path and the immaculate flower beds on the lawn beyond the hedge. At the height of their farming days, James and his sons ran Saddocks, Manor, Crown and Little Common farms. At the end of the 20th century, Crown Farm is still in the hands of Jamie Tarrant, son of Reg (H). 

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Eton Wick Remembered - The Common Ponds

Gates and stiles across the roads and passage ways leading to the common prevented the cattle straying - unless someone left a gate open. Inevitably this often happened, especially at night and a lot of damage could be done before the animals were captured. No doubt more than one person has bitter memories of a devastated allotment. The main gate across Sheepcote Road was padlocked, for the road was private with a right of access for vehicles only as far as the school. Walkers could use the footpath and side gate.  The Walk was also a private road, but its gate was used by anyone who wished; both gates, however, were closed to all traffic on Good Friday by a rope at the Eton Wick Road ends. There was a gate across the main road at the edge of Dorney Common, and this had a gatekeeper; but other gates in the village usually had to be opened by the users. Mrs Newell and young Ginny, however, would often do duty as gatekeeper for people who wanted to use the gate between their house and Wheatbutts; Ginny was frequently rewarded with a halfpenny or penny for her trouble. Earlier in the century when Mr Vaughan rode into the village he would often shout 'Gate: Gate’ and wait for it to be opened. These gates were still in use as late as the 1950s and one gatepost survived until the Walk was widened in 1969.  The death knell for the gates came with the improvement in agriculture. It was impossible to manoeuvre a combine harvester round the Common Lane corner by Wheatbutts successfully without knocking into the gate. It was equally difficult for the market lorry from Manor Farm to get round the curve in the road by the Greyhound with its jug-and-bottle extension. Several times the lorry took the tiles off the roof, and finally a tractor pulling a harrow and drill did untold damage to the gate which was then removed sometime in the fifties. We take the sight of a combine harvester for granted now, but when Manor Farm first began to use one the police escort provided a fine spectacle as it was taken along the narrow, winding Eton Wick Road.

Thoughts of the common provoke many more memories of a village now lost. Some are fleeting, like that of a spring morning in about 1932 when a much younger Cyril Doe watched a heron feed off twenty-seven fish caught in the brook by Albert Place. Other memories belong to no particular year for the events were repeated many times. Every November two bonfires were built on the common, one opposite Dairy Farm and the other beyond the Greyhound. There was rivalry   between the builders of the two fires, which ensured that each was bigger and better than the other and much larger than any that could be built in a backyard. In the early part of the century the cricket club had its annual dinner on the common; the crockery being provided by the players' families and the trestle tables and food by the Greyhound.  Occasionally a wedding feast was also held here, conjuring up a delightful picture of village finery and stiff Sunday-best suits. A Victory Party was held here in 1945, several sales to raise money for kidney machines were held on the common in the 1960s and this year, 1977, the Jubilee bonfire was lit on the common.

For as long as can be remembered until 1969 there were three ponds along the stretch of brook between the Greyhound and Wheatbutts.  Mr Elkins used to punt across the one opposite the public house in order to reach his smithy when he was the blacksmith, though there were also a line of stepping stones. Before the First World War the ponds were quite deep, and there are   apocryphal stories of horses that were drowned or stuck In the mud and deep water.  The largest of the ponds stretched from Dairy Farm to the roadside, and here lads of the village enjoyed bathing.  As the decades passed, however, silting made them too shallow, and the boys of the 1930s had to make do with 'punting' in old fashioned round tubs. Even so a line of white posts marked the shallow edge. Once a year a motorcycle club from Windsor used this as a water splash. The motor cyclists had to keep between the posts and roadside railings and on the morning of the rally It was usual for a club member to test the depth of the water to ensure it did not come above the exhaust pipes.  One year in the mid-thirties two lads from the village damned the brook just below the pond so that by the time the cyclists arrived the water was too deep for them to ride through; one after another they had to dismount and push their cycles out of the pond.

The farmer of Dairy Farm regularly washed his cows and carts in the brook and the housewives of Common Road used to throw waste water onto the common. Even so the water reminded clean enough for great islands of rich green watercress to grow where the water was not stagnant. In between the wars an old chap from Chalvey came with his four-wheeled pram and a couple of washing baskets to fill with watercress, which he would then tie into small bunches and sell for 6d each in Slough. Village folk could and did collect their own whenever they wished. Fish were abundant In the brook, Including jack pike and trout - big enough to attract men with rod and line as well as children with nets and home-made lines. In a year of drought there were hundreds of fish for the taking to eat or sell, so many in the drying-up pools they could be scooped out.

Perhaps one of my favourite memories of the common as seen through the eyes of others tells of a time very different from today. It concerns a series of tiny actions which happened countless times in the twenties and thirties. Early each morning a shed door was opened, and fifty chickens and a dozen ducks were let out on to the common. The ducks quickly joined their wild cousins on the ponds, but the chickens scattered all over the common and the fields to the north, roaming even as far as Chalvey? Each evening they returned home, none was ever lost, and they provided enough eggs for a basket to be sold each day to a baker in Eton.

Apart from the farmers not many people in the village owned horses and those that did mostly had some kind of business. Messrs Parrot and Hood, both coal merchants, delivered by horse and cart, as did Thomas Lovell, baker, Bert Bond, greengrocer, George Howell, decorator and   undertaker, Mrs. Lanfier, Jack Prior, Rolly Bond and others. Bill Langridge operated a cab service before the First World War when he lived at Thatch Cottage. Few of the houses had their own stables, though Ye Olde Cottage, Thatch Cottage and Eton Cottage did, and the stables of Albert Hood in Sheepcote Road have already been mentioned. There were stables too at the Three Horseshoes and the Greyhound and these were used by some of the tradesmen. Rolly Bond's horses were kept at the Three Horseshoes and Thomas Lovell kept his at the large brick stables in Victoria Road belonging to Heathcote House.  A few families had a horse and trap, the equivalent of the family car. The Smiths who lived at Albert Place had one before the First World War; the black lean to shed did duty as stable and 'garage', but during the floods the horse had to be brought Into the scullery.  As in any English village the horse was an integral part of the scene; the sight of a horse and cart was as commonplace as the car is today, and a horse drawing a plough or harrow was seen far more often than the tractor simply because jobs took so much longer before they were mechanized.  Long before this, however, the sight of a carriage and four-in-hand using the old road which linked Boveney and Brocas Street in Eton had become only a memory.

Many people in the village kept other livestock: bantams, chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits and pigs.  These were for the family to eat and to sell, and, even if memory exaggerates, thirty or more rabbits was not an unusually large number for one family to keep. No wonder the collecting of green stuff from the verges and field edges looms large in childhood memories.  Enjoyable on warm sunny evenings, or before school when the air was crisp and bright, it was less pleasant when the vegetation was cold and wet. Household waste was collected for pigswill by many housewives to feed their own pig or to give to a neighbour. It was a good arrangement, - it helped to solve the problem of what to do with waste, as there were no dustbins. When the pig was killed a lump of pork would be given in return to the neighbour. Most families sold the pig to the butcher taking only part of it for themselves, So that it truly was a 'piggy bank.'

All sorts of other foods were prepared in the home as a matter of course jams and chutneys, although they could be bought by the tuppence worth form the grocer if you took your own jar.  Fruit and tomatoes were bottled, eggs pickled in isinglass, and peas and even runner beans were dried to ensure a supply of pulse vegetables during the winter months.  Mushrooms could be gathered from the meadows such as Meux's Field, and blackberries from the hedges of the same field, along the slipes (the path running from Moores Lane to Wood Lane) and around Little Common.  Fruit and vegetables were grown in gardens and allotments, and it should be remembered that between the wars Eton Wick had many acres of allotments. But not all   families were self-sufficient; other memories paint intriguing glimpses of life in the old village, such as housewives buying twopence worth of 'pot herbs' from Bert Bond's cart.  These were not herbs at all, but a selection of root vegetables suitable for a stew, and they were often carried home in the housewives' apron. The same housewives might buy a rabbit for a few pence and insist on watching it skinned then and there for fear of being palmed off with a cat: Tinned and packaged goods were rarely bought, partly   because of economy and partly because of prejudice against their supposedly inferior quality. Items such as butter, sugar, dried fruit, bacon and cheese were bought loose; but tinned fruit was considered a great treat for Sunday tea or at Christmas. All this made the lack of a dustbin less of a handicap.  Much too of what we think of as rubbish today had a further use forty years ago. String and paper could be used again, ash was needed to keep the well-trodden path from the house to the outside privy dry and the compost heap made good use of tea-leaves and much food waste. Any ash that was surplus to needs could be taken away for a very small charge each week by Peaky Barratt in the 1920s and '30s.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Eton Wick Newsletter - December 2014 - `Our Village' Magazine


There are so many changes in a lifetime and it would not be easy to say which change has been the biggest influence of our life. It is so easy to think of advances in technology, travel and medicine, but socially perhaps education is the strong contender. Like most of my village contempories I left school when fourteen years old, and having been given the basics; proceeded to teach ourselves with experience and pursuit of personal interests. Today the extended years of schooling; often followed by university, has resulted in so much of the communities' youth leaving the village to establish their own way of life. Does that matter? It does in as much that no local young folk take over, or help to build on our established organisations.

Against this it must be admitted that many of the village's keenest workers were not local by birth or youth. This is not just a recent phenomenon. In an earlier issue I wrote of that great village benefactor, Edward Littleton Vaughan. In the early 20" Century years before WW2 he gave so generously of himself, and his money to Eton Wick. He bought two houses here, but probably never lived in either. The only dwellings built by the Council in the 1930s were the bungalows and houses we know as Vaughan Gardens; almost certainly an acknowledgement of all this Eton College classics master had meant to our village. Yet 'Toddy' as he was generally referred to, had never been a local boy. Apart from Bunce's Close, that was accorded its name; having been built on Harry Bunce's farm land of earlier years; and Bell Lane and farm that probably took its name from the Bell family who farmed the area during the 1681 and 17" Century, I can think of only two other places in Eton Wick, one a road and the other a hall, that were named after people who served the community well, yet neither had been villagers before they were adults, and almost certainly neither knew Eton Wick even existed before they were married. One was Annie Tough (nee Moore) and the other was her father John Moore; and it is from these that we get the Tough Memorial Hall and the name of Moores Lane. Who were these two people, who came to mean so much to our village and to that part of the village not even developed at that time?

We have previously read about the needs of Eton Town and College; by the mid-19" century, to improve their sewage disposal which had resulted in their purchase of the vacant Bell Farm in Eton Wick, to which they could pump the sewage. By 1870 this was in place, leaving the Authority with much farming land surplus to the sanitary requirement. The farmland had been part in old Eton Wick village and part in the Parish of Old Boveney. For the service of Eton, the sower plant was established in part of the Eton farmland boundary at Eton Wick. Previously Bell Farm had enjoyed the grazing of lammas designated ground, but now having used lammas land they owned, for the sewage plant, they were obliged to forfeit the lammas right to graze a like acreage elsewhere in the Eton Parish. 

There was still a substantial farm area, and Charles Tough of Rotherhithe, Kent was appointed manager. At about that time; 1870; several acres of the farmland across the boundary and in the Boveney Parish, was sold. Within a year or two this agricultural holding was acquired by Mr James Ayres, who seeing the shortage of building sites in Eton Wick village, parcelled-up the land, plot by plot, with provision for new roads of Alma, lnkerman and Northfield.

It was 1877 when Charles Tough arrived at Bell Farm and with him his young bride age 24 years, Annie (nee Moore). In their wake came Annie's father. John Moore, with four of his twelve offspring. Presumably all from Rotherhithe. Mrs Tough was an ardent follower of the Methodist Church, but found no such building in Eton Wick. In fact the village had only had its C of E Church, St. John the Baptist, for about 10 years (1866/7). Non-conformist services were held in a farm building by the Wesleyan Society, and later by Congregationalists c.1840s; and the C of E had held non sacramental services in the old school before their church was built. Anne probably saw this as more a challenge than a help. She became accustomed to walking to Windsor town's Methodist services on Sundays and of course walking home. A long walk in many weathers, but it was forty years before a bus service, and what we consider a shorter walk along the river banks would not perhaps have been so inviting when the towpath was just that; a muddy or dusty well-trod path for teams of large barge horses. We may think Mrs Tough would have accepted the status quo of one Sunday service in Windsor, and if more were needed, to use the C of E church. She was young, a newly wed, with a lovely old farm house to establish home for herself and Charles, but it would appear not all that Annie wanted. By the mid-1880s plots along Alma Road were being built on; some single houses; some semi-detached and others terraced.

Annie really wanted her chapel here, and without the necessary purchase money apparently appealed to Mr Ayres' generosity. Eventually Ayres reputedly said 'I'm hoping to sell two plots, and if this goes ahead he would give her a plot's. Could he have been negotiating with Annie's father. John Moore? About this time John did buy at least two substantial plots on which he had the terraced row of six dwellings known as Primrose Villas, and opposite, a shorter row of houses - Snowdrop Villas built. When the promised plot was given to Mrs Tough it was with the alleged remark For your perseverance. There was a four bedroom house built several plots east along Alma Road for a Mr Howell. He named the house 'Perseverance Place. Perhaps only coincidental, but I may be missing something here, and the obvious has escaped me.

A word here about Perseverance Place. Forty plus years later it was the home of Mr Harding and his family (1929) and the Uxbridge Gas Company Depot of which he was branch manager. In 1936 Mr Harding was asked if he could accommodate the village's district nurse whose home at the thatched bungalow in Wheatbutts orchard was no longer suitable, being without a bathroom or 'phone line. Perseverance Place was one of very few in the village which had both.

Twenty years on, and after WW2, Dr Harcourt of the Windsor surgery held three clinics a week in that house. It was demolished c1970 for part of the Bellsfield Estate. 

Annie had got her plot, but then of course needed to raise the three hundred pounds to build the chapel. The chapel site that was given to Mrs Tough had a narrow frontage and would forever give the appearance of having been squeezed between Primrose Villas and houses east.

Thanks to Annie's determination and drive, Alma Road got its Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1886. This same purpose saw her cajoling a congregation, and leading a determined drive with the village Temperance Guild. Many may well have said she epitomised all that was the chapel. She died in 1930, and within a few years an extension was added to the building and named 'The Tough Memorial Hall'. In 1932 the prefix 'Primitive' was removed, when the various Chapels became nationally united. We have seen that her father John Moore was responsible for the building of the two terraced rows in Alma Road, and for the end house of Primrose Villas abutting to the lane. (to later take his name) he had a slightly more distinctive front. This was to be his home. He had obviously been a determined and successful man in Kent, and was not hesitant to proclaim it. He wrote to the Rotherhithe press proclaiming his achievements in his new home at Boveney New Town. He was the first Highway Surveyor, School Governor and Chairman of the Boveney Council (as with Eton Wick, both had their own six person councils 1894 - 1934) the first Councillor; Guardian of the Poor and promoter of local allotments, and so it went on. He even claimed to be the first person to use a Post Office Collection Box in Boveney New Town.

By today's' thinking perhaps a little 'over the top', but it all happened over one hundred years ago - four generations - and attitudes and standards are very different. Certainly John Moore did achieve all he wanted recognition for. He was very generous within the New Boveney community and very supportive of Annie's endeavours for the chapel. At one time even purchasing a harmonium for the services. This was a very now area, and his organisational ability was undoubtedly a great asset and Inspiration to others. John Moore died in 1911; about fourteen years before his son-in-law, Charles Tough. There is no evidence of Charles ever becoming involved with his wife's abiding interest in the Methodist cause or services, but he was very supportive of all Annie did.

Most things in life have a downside if you look for it, and as a lad in the 1920s and 30s I did think the Chapel polarised the two communities to a great extent. Most of my 'contempories' living beyond Bell Lane were Chapel goers and those in Eton Wick were C of E. Each had a strong Sunday school and in consequent, Sunday school outings. I must say though that the Chapel youngsters saw the seaside for at least two summers while we at St. Johns' still had to be content with Burnham Beeches. Alright in the 20s when horse and cart was the transport, but come the coach era we yearned the longer ride. With daily bus rides to and from school, I guess today's youngsters would be attracted to nothing less than a flight or cruise. Thankfully Annie's endeavours for a Chapel are still much in evidence in today's' much changed village.

Submitted by 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.

The Thames Highway volume 1 by Fred Thacker
The Thames Highway - Locks and Weirs by Fred Thacker website

Wednesday 2 October 2019

The Duke of Edinburgh visit to Eton Wick - 1952

Pathe News film of Prince Philip in Eton Wick

The Duke of Edinburgh opens the Stockdales Road Recreation Ground, October 14th 1952. The Duke, escorted by Jim Ireland, local builder and Chairman of the Eton Urban District Council, unveils the Plaque commemorating the opening. The much older existing recreation ground (by Eton Wick Village Hall) and the Eton Town Recreation Ground were established using money paid by the Great Western Railway in the 1890s as compensation for the railway viaduct constructed on Lammas ground in 1849. 

The newly built Stockdales Road flats overlook the dais as Council Chairman Jim Ireland makes his speech welcoming the Duke of Edinburgh. On the left-hand end of the dais is Councillor Bert Wolfe, Mrs Ireland, Clerk to the Eton Council George Lewis (white shirt and tie) and Mayor Jennings of Slough. Mr McKinnon, Bursar of Eton College stands behind the Duke, and the Deputy Chief Constable is on the Duke's left.

Jim Ireland and Prince Phillip

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.

The children's play ground was modernised in 2008 with funds raised by the Eton & Eton Wick Partnership. The first edition of Our Village has an article about this.