Monday 30 March 2020

The Eton Wick Newsletter - August 2016 - `Our Village' Magazine

Village shops before the superstores (Part 1) 

At a recent local History Group talk we discussed trading before the coming of superstores in the late 1970's. Our knowledge depends on memory, recording and what we are told. At best sometimes questionable. 

Recorded history of Eton Wick is limited, and frequently incorporated with that of Eton. The Anglo Saxon name of 'Wyk' is suggestive of a supply area to a habitation; in this instance Eton. 'Wyk' we are told, meant the provider of necessities to that place - again Eton. This is itself a suggestion of early trading; albeit perhaps wood for fuel, barricades, buildings, and willow-withies for the fish traps, hurdles and fencing. Perhaps also fish, livestock and rye. This is my conjecture and not necessarily factual. Dr Judith Hunter's book 'The Story of a Village 1217 -1977' is the only work I know of that covers our general history. (Copies are still available from the History Group). Judith would have used some of the history written by the Rev Vicar John Shepherd eighty years earlier, titled 'Old Days of Eton Parish', although it essentially covered the College; its Chapel; the town and village churches and schools, with some thoughts on Common and Lammas. 

There is the more recent 'Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton' (2000) and the 100th Anniversary publications of the Eton Wick School (1988), and of the Methodist Chapel (1986), both by Judith Hunter; also the book recording Eton Wick war fatalities (2000) and John Denham's collection of 'Eton Wick 1939 - 1945'. These are single subject records however, but to my knowledge are the extent of our recorded history. There are a number of personal stories, never meant for publication but an invaluable source of knowledge. I have-several of these, including the memories of a local farmer; a London evacuee's time at Eton College, and her being bombed out from her Eton home in December 1940: an eye witness account of the Dorney Common anti-aircraft guns in action; the rescuing of post war squatter families from flooded huts on Dorney Common in 1947; the arrival of a gas depot in Alma Road 1929 and the story of Harry Chantler, our popular grocer and postmaster (1929 -1973). 

The group talk on pre Superstores Eton Wick, commenced by saying that the village's first known shop was during the 1840's in one of the Harding Cottages, and owned by John Kirby. The original Harding Cottage was along Common Road, and it was probably during the early 19th Century that a terrace row of four or five more were built at the end of the long plot, and along the main road now the site of Clifton Lodge. It would not have been a shop by later standards, but almost certainly a front room adaptation, and probably sold some groceries, candles, paraffin, matches, soaps, pot menders etc. Canned foods were not an item in 1840. 

Eton Wick's population at this time was barely 400, and most of the few cottages had very large plots providing room for chickens, perhaps a pig, goat, and even a cow. Residents along Common Road with its stream and ponds even kept ducks, and still they had substantial vegetable gardens and currant bushes. This self-sufficiency was no help to Mr Kirby's venture, and in due course he packed up. There were no allotments and would not be for another fifty years well after most of those large cottage plots had been sold and built on. That first known shop was very close to 'The Grapes' public house, and its demise gave the landlord, William Simmonds, the opportunity to sell groceries from his licensed premises. In fact I was once told that the pub sold milk well into the twentieth century. 'The Grapes' was renamed 'The Pickwick' in 1984 and became a restaurant in 2003. 

Around 1870* John Kirby reappeared and again set up a shop and home, now at Ada Cottage (now 46 Eton Wick Road). This was only 50 — 60 metres west of Harding Cottages and 'The Grapes' and next to another public house 'The Three Horseshoes'. Both pubs have recently closed. John Kirby's new outlet at Ada Cottage in the early 1870's was destined to trade for over 100 years, with many owners and many uses, from grocery, post office, ironmongery, bakery, fishing tackle, fish and chips, millinery, war time tailoring, cycle parts, shoe repairs, interior decorating materials, and a printers. It retained a shop front appearance until the end of the 20th century, long after becoming solely residential again. 

By 1876 John Kirby had died and Mr Thomas Lovell had taken over. With no opposition he expanded the business with the first Eton Wick bakery, first Post Office and an extensive range of galvanised buckets, baths and tubs added to the grocery. Tom's brother Fred meanwhile traded in drapery and footwear. Opportunely this coincided with extensive house building beyond Bell Lane in the new area of Boveney Newtown (in the Burnham Parish until 1934). Lovell's stores may well have been the only shop throughout the remaining 1800's. There were of course various vendors with their horse drawn carts. This included farmers with milk and eggs, bakery carts from Eton and coal merchants. Newtown development throughout the 1880 — 1890's produced two shops but I have no year of their opening. The first I believe was at Shakespeare Place and the other at Garrod Place and both were purely grocery stores. Some years later the Co-op opened a larger store replacing the Garrod Place beginning. 

In 1902 Pratts of Eton obtained the Eton Wick old school site at 'The Walk' junction, where
they had the village's first purpose built shop known as Clifton Stores, erected for the purpose of retailing groceries and household necessities. Perhaps not at first a great success, it was transferred to Mr Harman in 1908, who after five years sold the business to Mr Anderson. It was 1913 and a year of changes. The Post Office moved from Ada Cottage to Clifton Stores. The council attached a fire ladder and reel of hose to the outside wall of Clifton Stores; presumably for general use in case of fire, while somebody cycled or ran to Eton, mustered the voluntary brigade, who with horse drawn pumps galloped to Eton Wick. The ladder was a feature until 1987, but the hose went earlier. Also in 1913 a brick mortuary was built off Common Road: at this time river bathing and consequent drownings were not uncommon. In 1907 a third retail shop was opened and this time for Royal Enfield Cycles, repairs and hire. Villager Ted Woolhouse opened the shop in the front room of a terrace house close to Lovell's Stores (now 56 Eton Wick Road. He did not live in the house, but it was rented out separately — minus a sitting room. Ted was reputedly Eton Wick's first car owner, having a De Dion purchased in 1907. Around 1910 Bill Hearn moved into a 'semi' at Wellman Cottages, just three houses from the cycle shop (now 62 Eton Wick Road) and much later known as Thames View Stores. Bill used the sitting room to sell and repair or manufacture leather harnesses, saddlery, bags etc. Ambitiously he had printed Eton Wick view postcards. Sadly Mrs Hearn died around 1913 and with his young family he moved to Victoria Road to pursue small engineering and eventually a taxi business. 

The Wellman retail outlet became the third grocery shop along this stretch of road, being owned by Wiggins. Grahams and Barons: ending its days in the 1990's as an aquatic store. There was another shop along this road, at the end of St. Leonard's Place, by The Walk (now Taylors Court). This apparently came about at the end of the Great War, when farmer Harry Bunce helped set up the shop for a young Mrs Godwin, a recent widow of Charles Godwin, a Life Guard who was killed in France during a 1918 German air raid. Nellie Godwin married again, and as Mrs Slade left the shop and was at 'The Grapes' as publican for a while. The shop was extended, changed hands frequently, but the long serving Joan Taylor had a newsagent, tobacco and sweet shop throughout the 1930's — 1950's: There were now five shops along that road; two more in Alma Road; and, lastly another west of the Shepherds Hut, owned by George Mumford the village's first long serving butcher. It opened in the early 1920s. There were regular road vendors by the 1930s; including Mr Hendry from Windsor. who sold soaps, tubs, ironmongery etc., and my father who was Eton Wick's longest serving trades person. He started greengrocery in 1900 at age fifteen years and one way or another continued until he died in 1957. In the next issue we will see how all these businesses declined into oblivion with the post-war Council shop parade and finally the superstores. 

Submitted by Frank Bond 

The photo above shows Ada Cottage, Eton Wick Road - Lovell's shop late 1890s 

Note * The Census for 1871 John Kirby at Ada Cottages with his occupation recorded as Grocer, ages 80.

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

Monday 23 March 2020

Photographic History - Village Characters - Alf Spayne

During the Second World War, Alf ran camps from spring to autumn at Boveney Lock. The boys mostly came from the Slough area. Alf was a keen rowing instructor and a strict disciplinarian, and by the time he had finished with them, the boys were extremely fit. He taught many hundreds to swim. In the top photograph, Alf is at the back on the right. 

The picture lower was taken in 1999 on the footpath to the river. Behind Alf is the Scout Hut (left) and the houses along Eton Wick Road, including Clifton House (centre). 

Monday 16 March 2020

The Story of a Village - A Changing Community

In past centuries the village expanded several times, but never quite so overwhelmingly as in the post war period. In 1931 the population was just over a thousand, it had risen to 1,640 by 1951, to 2,505 ten years later and now must be nearly three thousand.

With the influx of so many people into the village its inhabitants could no longer feel that each family was related to most others in the Wick. Probably this had never been strictly true; but by marriage and by recognising second cousins and the like, most families had indeed been related. The character of the village was changing in other ways. No longer was the College the most important source of income and employment for the majority of families, and less and less did College people take an interest and control of village affairs. The old gulf between gentry, epitomised in the Wick by College masters, and villagers gradually disappeared. Today new residents may be unaware of the old ties between Eton and Eton Wick. When Mr Vaughan died in 1940 his place as unofficial squire was taken by Bob Bond. Their backgrounds were very different, but both men were intensely interested in the village. It was Bob Bond who was reappointed bailiff at the 1948 Manor Court; he was instrumental in restarting the Boy Scouts after the war, he helped organise gymkhanas, dances and the annual Scout Fete ( which took the place of the old Horticultural Show). He also became the first president of the PTA.

The horse had virtually disappeared from the agricultural scene; though not entirely for George Pagett set up as a smallholder soon after the war and continued to use horses until the 1970s. The car and the lorry replaced the horse and cart, and garages became a necessity. Mr Sibley opened his filling station in 1958 and Ellis Motors were established in Victoria Road. People travelled more and taking holidays became the normal and not the exceptional way of life. Whereas in pre-war days people walked, cycled or used the bus to go to school, work or shopping, the use of the car became more and more the accepted practice. This transport revolution has brought in its wake other changes, such as the loss of the old road which ran from Haywards Mead to Meadow Lane in Eton and which is now only a bridle path. The Windsor Bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic and bus services have been cut, accentuating the hardship of those without a car. The roads are all macadamized and edged with pavements, and there is a profusion of street furniture road signs, electric streetlamps, bus shelters, pillar boxes, telephone kiosks and seats. Most of these have been provided by the statutory authorities, but the seat by Albert Place was the gift of the Women's Institute and the one in the churchyard in memory of Bob Bond.

Soon after the war, in line with national educational changes, Eton Wick School became a primary school, catering for both boys and girls from the ages of five to eleven; while older children were expected to attend secondary schools outside the village. However, it was still a church school, though the diocese was now responsible only for the fabric of the building and not the salaries of the teaching staff or the education of the children. To cater for the needs of the growing population the school was enlarged in 1953 and again in the sixties, but on that occasion the cost was such that a change of management became inevitable and the school was taken over by the County Council. In 1973 national policy brought about another change and the school became the combined infants and middle school with children being required to stay an extra year. But, though its title, appearance and teaching methods have changed over the years, because now almost all 'the children from Eton Wick are taught there, it has become even more the village school than in the years before the war when the older boys attended Porny School.

In spite of the addition of twelve new shops since the war there are now proportionately fewer shops per head than before the war. Several of the older shops have indeed closed and there is only one, Sibley's, in the area of New Town. The village has lost its priest-in-charge and Rev Christopher Johnson is now the only Church of England clergyman serving the parish of Eton, a sharp contrast to the situation a hundred years ago, when the parish was desperately trying to afford to employ two curates to assist the Vicar. Instead the village now has three churches, the Roman Catholic St Gilbert's having been built at the same time as Haywards Mead. The Village Hall stands close by and is still used for a baby clinic and library, but the role of the Hall has substantially diminished.  No longer is there a Village Hall Club; the Management Committee is concerned only with the maintenance of the building and the hiring of Its rooms. It has been overshadowed by its offshoot, the Football and Social Club, whose club rooms stand just behind the Hall. Some organizations still meet in the Hall, but others now use the rival establishment, and the whole of the ground floor is let to the County Council. Even the Village Fete, first organized by the Management Committee in 1962 and then the Youth Club, has now been taken over by the Football and Social Club, and since the mid-sixties it has been known as the Wicko Carnival.  The loss to the village of Wheatbutts Field when it was sold by the College brought about the end of the Scout Fete.

The list of changes seems inexhaustible, but it must suffice to mention only a few more and perhaps it is fitting that these should concentrate on the part of the parish first known as 'le Wyk'. The streams are now much shallower, the ponds filled in and the westernmost part of the common has recently been landscaped. Trees have  always been part of the village landscape, but unfortunately several beautiful elms had to be cut down in the 1950s. Hedges and trees have been grubbed up and in the last few years more elms have been lost through disease so that the area around Little Common has a rather open, desolated look.  It has been one more step in the succession of changes that has taken place since the first cluster of buildings established a wick in a clearing in the woods of Eton. Thankfully Eton Wick is still a village which will continue to evolve and, it is hoped, will remain surrounded and protected by commons and lammas lands.

This is the final part of the serialisation of The Story of a Village - Eton Wick - 1217 - 1977. The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission of Judith Hunter's husband to publish her book on its website.

The village and community has continued to change and evolve since Judith completed her history more than 40 years ago and some of this change is reflected in The Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village and the Photographic History of Eton Wick and Eton.

Friday 13 March 2020

The Unveiling of the War Memorial - 100 Years On.

At 3.45 p.m. a procession of ex-sailors and soldiers marched from the Eton Wick and Boveney Institute to the cemetery. The members of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers being under the charge of Mr S. Binfield, a late sergeant of the R.A.F….. on arrival at the cemetery the men took up positions facing the Memorial that was draped with a Union Jack. At the four corners stood a special guard comprised of Stoker R. Bond R.N., Petty Officer A. C.Percy R.N., Company Quartermaster Sergeant G. Attride, Rifle Brigade, and Sergeant H. Balm R.A.F. There followed a service and hymn singing opened by the Band of the 2nd Life Guards. the Eton College Provost, Dr. James, gave a long address and the Vicar read out the names of 33 who had given their lives and whose names were on the Memorial.

Driving rain and a strong wind did little to detract from the occasion. During the address the Provost of Eton said:

The memory of all mankind short: pass by 80 years from now - one human lifetime - and every man who fought in the Great War will have rejoined their comrades whom lie and we honour today Pass yet one other lifetime and how many living who ever set eyes on one who fought. That may be so and will be so, but what does it matter. Nothing can make undone the brave deeds that were done, nothing can wipe out the sacrifice that were offered by these men. This stone shall be a memorial to our generations outlasting, we hope many successions of human lives. Yet in is itself subject to accident, violence and decay. Again, I say what does it matter if human memory is brief and human records, even graven in stone are perishable, there is a memory that is eternal. There is one who says, “Yet they may forget, yet will I not forget”.

East Face

Henry Ashman  1993  21/08/1915  Gallipoli
Cyril Ashman  746  26/10/1917  Passchendaele
George Baldwin  16671  24/04/1918  Amiens 
George Bolton  7993  24/09/1915  Loos
Alfred Brown  11811  31/07/1917  Ypres
Ernest Brown  T/202287  24/10/1917  Passchendaele
Angus Bruce  19160   27/03/1918  Arras
Thomas Bryant  9813  11/11/1914  Ypres
Fredrick Buckland  G/3615  17/12/1914  illness
Arthur Bunce  39794  17/07/1917  Ypres
Albert Caesar  12472  01/09/1914  Villers

North Face

Frank Church  3760  19/07/1916  Somme
John Clark  630936  23/04/1917  Roeux
Fred Colbourn  185017  31/10/1918  illness
Horace Dobson  32908  15/07/1918  illness
Charles Godwin  2556  08/06/1918  Arras
Charles Hammerton  5335  09/10/1916  Somme
Henry Hill  K/18991  03/09/1917  Chatham air raid
Robert Hobrough  40782  30/09/1917  Passchendaele
Arthur Iremonger  7937  25/12/1915  Loos
Ernest Jordan  33180  20/08/1916  Iraq
Charles Miles  K/25314  09/07/1917  HMS Vanguard
Harry Quarterman  7570  30/10/1918  Asfold POW camp

West Face

Henry Moss  M2/097873  21/10/1918  Roisel
James Newell  1232  11/04/1917  Arras
Joseph Newell  9534  24/05/1917  Turkey POW Camp
Walter Payne  12050  12/03/1916  Ploegsteert Woods
George Percy  34891  15/04/1918  Outtersteene Ridge
Herbert Pithers  24307  28/02/1917  Ancre
Arthur Richardson  10060  02/05/1915  Gallipoli
Joseph Springford  94017  15/02/1918  Passchendaele
Isaac Springford  197731  02/07/1918  Orpington
Albert Stallwood  4176  24/10/1918  Wassigny
Peter Knight  30958  26/10/1915  Aegean Sea

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

Wednesday 11 March 2020

World War 2 Eighty Years On - March 1940

March 1940

The construction of a new sewer system by Lemon and Blizzard started in 1938 had made good progress with Bell Lane complete and Tilstone Lane almost finished. The contractors confidently informed the Eton U.D.C. that after the testing of the system homes could be connected. Unfortunately for the contractors the arrival of summer thunder storms found serious leaks in the pipe work and the council had to apply pressure to the contractors to rectify the faults. Complaints were also received from village residents about the state of repair in which Bell Lane had been left. Replying to the criticism the contractor claimed difficulties with the weather and the shortage of supplies due to war priorities had delayed the re-instatement of the road.

Re-arrangement of the A.R.P. within the village made the wardens post at the Post Office redundant enabling the protection works to be removed much to the relief of Mr and Mrs Chantler. The wardens post at Burfoots remained until other arrangements were made. To test the efficiency of various ARP organizations based around Slough a large scale practice was held. As the ambulances, fire pumps, rescue units, police, St. Johns and the Red Cross personnel with other essential services gathered on Agars Plough, Eton four hundred Eton College boys prepared to act as casualties. Emergency incidents were staged with the college boys giving a realistic touch to a most successful exercise.

Thursday March 11th

Meat rationing began. The ration was assessed not by weight but price, with a weekly ration for adults of 1/10d per week and for children 11d. Later into the war the adult ration was reduced to six ounces per week for any cut of meat. Rationing encouraged a black market which gave rise to a little wheeling and dealing for various commodities.  Favouring customers with a little extra than the official ration allowed could lead to prosecution of the shop keeper. Through village gossip it became known to the Ministry of Food Inspectors that George Mumford, the village butcher, had occasionally let customers purchase more meat than their entitlement. With indications of prosecution and thoughts of imprisonment, George made arrangements for a manager to run his business. No prosecution followed, but George was not let off the butchers hook as the following relates. At the end of the war a coach party from the village, including George, went to the Victoria Palace, London, to see the show starring the Crazy Gang.  Before the opening of the show one wag from the village party went back stage and tipped off the two comedians, Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen, about the affair.  Later during the performance Bud Flanagan said to Chesney Allen "Ches, Do you know where I can get a little extra meat under the counter?" "Yes Bud, a little village near Windsor called Eton Wick. "The Butcher there will see you alright". Poor George had to take the ribbing as the story got round. 

(Meat rationing together with some other food commodities continued until July 1954.)

Easter Sunday 24th March

Apprehension of what may lie ahead and the desire to pray for peace brought increased attendance at Sunday church services during the war years. To mark certain wartime events special church services were held attended by the military and council dignitaries. A large congregation at the traditional Easter service taken by the Reverent David Wingate in St. John's church, Eton Wick, heard the Eton church choir, conducted by the organist Kenneth Weller, give a recital of ‘Passion music for Easter’.  He was assisted by ladies from Eton Wick and Boveney in a reverent rendering of the Messiah and exerts from John Stanier's "Crucifixion". Duets were also sung by the brothers, Albert and Harry Prior.

The Easter Monday five - a - side annual football competition open to boys under fifteen years, is for the Juvenile Challenge Cup presented by Boveney, Eton Wick and Dorney Discharged Soldiers and Sailors in 1921. Two competitions only (1940 & 41) took place during the war years which were played on the recreation ground. The entry for 1940 being fifty five boys. Eight eliminating games were played in the morning followed by the semi-final and final in the afternoon. The final, between the team of R. Wilson (Capt);    J. Butt; G. Budd; P. Mitchener and H.A. Prior who pitted their skills against R. Lunnun (Capt); E. Steptoe; K. Sibley; F. Wells and H. Lawrence brought a win to R. Wilsons team with a final result of 3- 2 goals. All the games were refereed by Mr W. F. Pardoe. Mrs Pardoe had the honour of presenting the cups and medals to the Winners and Runners Up. The competitors ended the exciting day on a high note as 432 cakes, 45 lb. of toffee and a box of oranges was shared out amongst them'.  

With no blackout arrangements available and used by the L.C.C. School during the day the village hall was not available for recreational purposes. Obtaining material from Bruce and Lumb of Slough the village hall working party made the requisite curtains, but these when finished were inadequate for the purpose due to the poor quality of the material, therefore no dances or other evening activities took place during the winter months. This curtailment on the use of the hall, also the decline in club registers as members volunteered or were conscripted to the forces or other war work reduced the hall finances. The flower show committee had every confidence and they continued making arrangements for the 58th Horticultural Show on August Bank Holiday held at the Wheatbutts. The possibility of air activity over the area was to be no deterrent to Major Dabson, committee chairman with committee members Mr Kemp and Mr Laverty,    
The first six months of hostilities, labelled the "Phoney War", had brought no air attacks on London thus encouraging a number of evacuees to return home. Great efforts were made by the civil authorities to deter their return to London but many parents thought it safe to have their children home. A small number returned home from Eton and Eton Wick.

This is an extract from Round and About Eton Wick: 1939 - 1945. The book was researched, written and published in 2001 by John Denham. 

Monday 2 March 2020

War Memorial Committee Meetings March 1920

Committee Meeting held March 2nd 1920 

Mr Vaughan reported that the Provost of Eton would unveil the Memorial at 4 p.m. March 13th. Mr Nutt agreed to accept a reduced fee. Colonel Sheepshanks and Captain Houton (College Officers) hoped to attend the ceremony. A letter was read from the 2nd Life Guards regarding, their band attending. Mr Percy to consult with the Vicar regarding the programme, and Major Hall re the band. Agreed that Servicemen and discharged sailors and soldiers should assemble at the Institute at 3.30.  Secretary to have bills printer and sent out.

Committee Meeting held March 5th 1920

Proof of programme submitted. Due to shortage of funds the Committee agreed the expense of programmes could not be justified. All agreed to pay two shillings each. Mr Vaughan agreed to arrange for transport of the Life Guards Band. Hymn 166 to be substituted for Hymn 608.

Committee Meeting held March 10th 1920

Mr Vaughan confirmed having arranged for the College motor to transport the Life Guards. Decided to print 250 programmes at a cost of £2.4s.0d. The Committee paid 2/- each and the Vicar the balance. Mr Vaughan to ask the Provost to wear his Official Robes. Both Councils to be sent invites to the ceremony. Mr Ashman and Mr Barrett offered to attend at the gate. Mr Barrett kindly donated a wreath. The Vicar to arrange for teas in the the school room for the Band. 

Committee Meeting held March 23rd 1920

Discussion for the need of more money. An expected short fall of £16 or more when accounts are in hand. The names of Peter Knight and Harry Quarterman should perhaps have been on the memorial. The matter was deferred pending enquiries regarding H.Q. Secretary to write letter of thanks the Life Guards.

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  

and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.