Monday, 19 July 2021

Tough Assignment - Services, Revival Meetings and Anniversaries

There were regular mentions of anniversary services at all the chapels; those at Eton Wick being held usually early in October. Camp meetings were held most summers. These were outdoor meetings with plenty of singing to attract more than the faithful. In the early years of this century they were held in a marquee in Wheatbutts Field by permission of Toddy Vaughan, the Eton College master who lived at Wheatbutts. Chairs and forms from the chapel were carried the short distance to the field. Some chapels had their own Mission Bands and here in Eton Wick they broadcast news of the service by walking round the village singing hymns accompanied on the tiny harmonium. At the service itself the Mission Band led the singing and the responses. In 1894 the young people of Eton Wick were urged to 'form themselves into a working band .... to augment the Mission Band'. That year the Camp Meeting was held on 22nd July and Brothers John Lane, Ives, Bulford and Carter conducted the service. Only John Lane came from Eton Wick, the others were lay preachers from elsewhere in the circuit. No doubt they were accompanied by other members of their own chapels, just as the people of Eton Wick would have joined in the camp meetings at Maidenhead, Cookham Dean and Marlow. They were joyous occasions and the long walk on a summer’s day was part of the fun. Most people's horizons were much more restricted than today and a visit to Marlow was a real excursion. There was another aspect to these days, however, remembered with less affection, and that was the teasing given to at least one young boy by his school mates.

The circuit minute books also mention watchnight services, revival meetings and lovefeasts. The watchnight service is first recorded at Eton Wick in 1893 and would have been held on New Year's Eve as they were in the early years of this century. They were well supported, perhaps because of the social which preceded the service! In 1900 the circuit committee decided that revival meetings should be held in each chapel and a public lovefeast (a meal showing brotherly love) at Maidenhead.

The minutes also regularly report of School Anniversary services to be planned at each chapel, but there were other special services and meetings that did not merit inclusion in the minutes. Testimony meetings are well remembered events from the early decades of this century. Held after the Sunday evening service they were an occasion for publicly counting one's blessings, a time for sharing joys and telling others 'what the Lord had done for me since the last meeting'. To a few this may have been a great opportunity for saying their piece, but most of the congregation was not naturally so forthcoming. By encouragement and direct prompting, however, Mrs Tough made very sure that many contributed to the success of the evening, and most of them went home feeling all the better for having done so - in spite of 'their palpitations'. Methodists of those decades believed in public avowal of faith and the simple words, 'My boy' said by Mrs Tough was sufficient to persuade one young man to confess his belief to the rest of the congregation. The Rev William Folley had a different method, his way was to pace up and down the aisle, challenging the congregation in their beliefs with the words 'Either you go out of this door accepting or rejecting the Lord'.

The annual calendar also included a considerable number of other enjoyable activities, but fundamentally a means - of raising money for circuit and chapel funds. Building debts had to be paid and also the many smaller bills that were incurred in the everyday running of societies and maintaining the chapels. Financial help was also given to aged local preachers in need and other Methodist charities. For many years contributing to these funds in money and time was one of the responsibilities one had to accept on becoming a Primitive Methodist.

Circuit minutes January 1894: (Resolved) 'That Mrs Tough and Mrs Lane endeavour to obtain the loan of Dorney schools for a concert and to make all needful arrangements'.

June 1894: (Resolved) 'That the Young Mens class at Maidenhead give an entertainment at Eton Wick when convenient in aid of Circuit Funds'.

September 1895: (Resolved) 'That we sanction a river excursion to be managed by the Society at Eton Wick in aid of Circuit Funds and that we recommend each society in the circuit to do all it can to make the effort a success'.

March 1903: (Resolved) 'That sanction be given to the Eton Wick Society to have a special effort on Good Friday for the reduction of the Chapel debt'.

March 1913: (Resolved) 'That the Eton Wick Society be asked to give a tea and the Maidenhead Choir and Glee Party be asked to give a musical evening at Eton Wick.'.


The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

Monday, 12 July 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - July 1941 - Heat Wave, Jam and Labour Shortage

The hot summer days of June and July became a heat wave, ending with two great thunderstorms in mid-July. Three men were killed at Taplow and a schoolgirl evacuee cycling in the Datchet road also died. Over three inches of rain fell in the three days causing local flooding. 

The maintenance of roads, drains, ditches and other public works which were the responsibility of the council had become difficult as their employees were called up for military service. 

Complaints arose regarding the decline in local public services such as to why there was no longer an afternoon delivery of letters to Eton Wick. Enquiries from the council to the Windsor Postmaster brought the familiar reply that the shortage of labour and war restrictions made it difficult to maintain services.

Food rationing encouraged the adoption of various programmes for the growing and preserving of food. One successful activity, the National Fruit Preserving Scheme, was operated by the National Federation of Womens Institutes. But Eton Wick W.I. voted not to join the scheme. 

Enquiries in Council as to the W.I. rejection, Councillor Mr Chew explained that the only suitable premises had been taken for other purposes, referring to the use of the village hall by the evacuated L.C.C. School. 

It was pointed out to the Council Chairman that there was not a great deal of fruit grown by individual families in the village who were quite capable of dealing with their own fruit. Mr Walley, the Chief Food Officer, thought that if the village was not operating through the W.I. then a Sub Committee should be formed to deal with the matter. A Ladies Committee was therefore formed with Mrs Chantler, Mrs Attlee, Mrs Roe, and Mrs Chew to advise on the possible implementation of the scheme.

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


Note. It must have been useful to have Mrs Chantler on the Ladies Committee as she would have been able to provide a grocer's view of rationing and supply issues. An interesting insight into the life of a wartime grocers can be found in The View From the Corner Shop published by Simon & Schuster

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

STANLEY BOND - Royal Engineers

Stanley Walter Bond (Lance Corporal No. 1910662) - 138 Mechanical Equipment Company - Royal Engineers

Stan was born on June 26th 1917 and had six brothers and four sisters. His father, known as Roll, had moved to Eton Wick as a young single man in the late 1880s, together with an older married brother from their parents' home at the Queen's Head, Hazlemere, High Wycombe. Roll met and married Charlotte (Lottie) Deverill of Chalvey and, like his brother Thomas, raised a sizeable family spread over many years. The family home was at No. 1, Palmer Place and the road along the side of No. 1, leading to Common Road, was always referred to as Bonds' Lane. It came as a local surprise in the mid 1930s when the Eton Urban Council erected a name plate as Browns' Lane. It is now all part of Common Road.

The father, Roll, earned his living as a refuse collector, as a cabbie (horse) and a jobbing carter. Stan went to the Eton Wick Infant School until he was nearly seven and then attended Eton Porny between April 1st 1924 and July 29th 1931, when he left school to work in the expanding family business. His brothers were older than himself and, by the early 1930s, were road haulage contracting with horses and tip carts. They secured a large contract connected with the expansion of Cippenham and soon replaced the horses with lorries. The large family had known days when the next meal had to be earned but now the situation was much improved.

Unlike the short Bond stature, the offspring were of Lottie's build, big and robust. Roland (Junior), William, Robert, Cyril and lastly Charlie, had all married in the 1930s and early 1940s and left home. Their parents moved into a new detached home in the Boveney end of the village, and named it “Rollot". Stan courted and married Brenda Elsia Allen of Dorney and made a home at Taplow. His sister Florence had married Norman Lane of Eton Wick. Norman was to play a significant role in the future post war expansion of the family business.

The war clouds broke in September 1939 and different priorities affected business, and more importantly the work force. Many men voluntarily joined the forces rather than wait uncertainly for conscription into a unit not of their choice. Roland had served in the Royal Navy throughout the Great War at a time when his brothers were not old enough. In a very short while Bill, Cyril and Stan were in army uniforms. All had chosen to serve with the Royal Engineers. It was probably in early 1941, while Stan and Cyril were working in the same unit, when Stan expressed boredom and his decision to volunteer for a posting nearer "the action". This was a fairly common wish among young men throughout the services. It is not known whether he was already in North Africa, but certainly by the summer of 1941 he was serving in the Levant.

Wavell had limited resources under his command which consisted of the 7th Australian Division, the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 1st Cavalry Division, six Battalions of the Free French forces, and a company of tanks, together with 70 aircraft. Opposing them were Vichy French forces (35,000 men), 18 Battalions, 90 tanks and 90 aircraft. The initial advance was held up 10 miles from Damascus, but by June 21st 1941 fresh reinforcements were becoming effective and on this day the Indian troops captured Damascus. On July 12th Vichy forces surrendered in Syria.

Unfortunately Stan was killed five days earlier, on July 7th 1941. His death was not directly caused by enemy action. At the time he was with comrades riding on the rear of a tank transporter. The side of the vehicle left the track, and the men were thrown off with the transporter rolling onto them. Stan is buried in the Damascus Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Syria. His grave is number 44 in Row L. He was 24 years old and left a childless widow. The Damascus War Cemetery contains 1,173 Commonwealth graves. Stanley is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial in the churchyard and on the tablet attached to the Village Hall.


The first cross above marks the grave of Corporals Bond and Smart and the second of Stanley Bond alone. It is believed that the double grave was the roadside grave dug by their comrades. Later they were buried separately in Damascus and the second cross was a temporary measure pending an official post war C.W.G.C. headstone.

Stanley Bond's page on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website

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

Further information: The 1939 Register records that Stanley Bond was a excavator driver (Heavy work) before he joined up. His widow, Brenda married Frederick Usher, a Canadian serviceman in 1943 and moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada after the war had ended.

Frank Bond, author of Their Names Shall Be Carved In Stone was one of Stanley Bond’s second cousins.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - Neighbours at Albert Place c1940.

 

Dick Hood in uniform, his mother, neighbours Mrs Ethel Cook, her daughter Eileen and husband Harry. The young girl with Eileen is believed to be a London Evacuee living with the Cooks. Harry Cook was a ploughman. Dick Hood was one of twelve Eton Wick/Boveney WWII fatalities

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

Monday, 21 June 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Celebrating the coming of the railway

The History Group met on the 10th, November to celebrate two anniversaries; one, was to recognise the 8th anniversary of the group's first meeting in November 1991. When the newly formed Eton Wick History Group met for that first time it was expected that about eight people might attend, in fact 46 people were at that inaugural meeting. Seven or eight meetings have been held every year since and the topics have rarely ranged further afield than Cliveden.

The other anniversary, the subject of the evening's talk and display of memorabilia, was the 150th anniversary of the railways coming to Windsor. Dr. Judith Hunter had kindly volunteered to tell the tale of the railways' coming, and to her own research had been added material provided by Renee and Tom Thompson of Tilstone Close. The fine display of railway memorabilia was provided by John Coke of the Slough and Windsor RailwaySociety.

Dr. Hunter began by showing a map of the Slough area dated c1830 when Slough was just a little village with two to three hundred people, Windsor had just half-a-dozen streets, and Eton (apart from the College) was barely more than the High Street. The main methods of transport were by horse, stagecoach or private carriage. But in 1830 the railway era had begun and merchants in Bristol and London were interested in having a railway connect the two cities. 

There were lots of proposals put forward from 1830 to 1835 until eventually the route for the line was agreed upon; going through Slough, Maidenhead, Didcot and on to Bristol - not yet, of course, branching to Windsor - but including Isambard Kingdom Brunel's nationally important 'Sounding Arch' at Maidenhead. Later he was to design the single-span (approximately 200 ft.) iron bridge over the Thames at Eton, linking the viaducts on the Slough to Windsor line. 

Work on construction of the main line began in 1835 and by 1838 it had got as far as Slough, but there was no station at Slough. The reason for this was that Eton College had objected most strongly to proposed routing of a railway close to the College; the Headmaster, Dr. Hawtrey, had talked about the difficulties for masters in preventing the boys taking the train to London (for vice!); it was also suggested the lively Eton boys might drop stones and bricks from the bridges onto the railway carriages. There was long and vociferous opposition and in 1835 the Lords' Committee added clauses to the Great Western Railway Act to prevent any station being opened within 3 miles of Eton College. (There was also some opposition from The Crown, but it was impossible to get a railway into Windsor without going over Crown land somewhere). 

A station was constructed at Langley, where there was a church, an inn and alms-houses, but it remained closed (for 8 years)' and trains stopped at Slough: where there were no platforms, where there was nowhere to buy tickets (so they were sold in The Crown Inn on Crown Corner; later the 'North Star' was built - nearer to the railway halt - and tickets were sold there). 

Members of the Royal Family would board the train at Slough for Paddington; and despite their own objections, Eton College hired a whole train to take boys to Queen Victoria's Coronation. By 1840, College objections had been withdrawn and Slough Station was built (with both the 'Up' and 'Down' platforms on the Slough side). The 'Royal Hotel' was built close by and had its own Royal Waiting Room. 

Cooke-Wheatstone Telegraph 
image courtesy of the Science Museum

Within 18 years of the railway coming to Slough it had grown into a market town - but still only half the size of today's Eton Wick. In 1842, the first terminus for the electric magnetic telegraph service from Slough to London was in-stalled, in a cottage on a small hill by Slough Station. In 1845 the telegraph was used in the capture of a murderer, JohnTawell, who had poisoned his former mistress in Slough, then boarded a tram for London. His description was telegraphed ahead; he was followed from Paddington to his lodgings and was arrested tried and hanged. 

Meanwhile members of Windsor Council were pressing for trains into Windsor, Henry Darville for GWR and James Bedborough for the Southern Railway. Apart from assuming that a railway terminus in Windsor would boost trade, it should also resolve the problem of full carts having to be half-emptied before horses could draw them up Thames Street hill - goods could come in by train instead. The Crown withdrew its opposition to railways crossing its land, after negotiating compensation; and two Railway Acts were passed, both in 1848 - first the Great Western Railway (opened 8 October 1849) and then the South Western Railway (which initially, from December 1849, had to stop at Black Potts and only came on into Windsor in 1851, to the Riverside Station with its 14 sets of doors which gave the Cavalry easy access and ensured the Queen's carriage was always stopped close to an exit. 

The GWR's original viaduct was constructed of timber and was replaced by the present brick-built structure between 1861 and 1863, and its Windsor Station was very modest; the present excessively large and 'Royal' station was built in 1897. In 1929 another station was opened, in Chalvey, but it only operated for 13 months before closure. The branch line into Windsor had crossed Lammas Land and the parish were compensated, but no-one knew what to do with the compensation until, in 1894, Eton Urban District Council and Eton Wick Parish Council agreed that it should be used for the Recreation Grounds we enjoy today.

During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton Wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. This article was published in the December 1999 edition.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Tough Assignment - The New Chapel Described

The new chapel was a very modest building, though as large as it could be, given the narrowness of the plot of land on which it was built. The chapel is quite a plain building, dignified rather than imposing, blending in with the terrace houses in the rest of the road, though in 1886 many of the houses were not yet built. It was a rather smaller building than the present one, for beyond the chapel itself there was no hall, only the tiny schoolroom and inside there was, of course, no partition, nor were there proper pews, only forms, and a central pulpit. On the wall behind was emblazoned the message, 'We preach Christ crucified'. A slow combustion stove warmed the congregation in winter and oil lamps shed their warm glow in pools of light.  


A chapel, however, is more than a building, it is also the society of its members. In the early years membership was small and if the seat rents are any indication of numbers, it was well under twenty. Between nine and twenty people paid the shilling (5p) seat rent each quarter during the last decade of the 19th century, and although the numbers rose and fell the century ended with only 9 people paying. These were Mrs Tough, five members of the Moore family, Mr and Mrs Lane and Mr Cook (Harry Cook's father). 

Printer's bills were frequent items of expenditure and on one or two occasions these were specified for 'tickets'. These were class tickets, issued quarterly, then as today, to each professed member of the Methodist church after they had rededicated themselves to God. They were quite strict about such things as one elderly member remembers for Mrs Tough 'bred it into us'.  

A modern Class Ticket  

From 1893 the circuit minutes supplement the chapel records, revealing the close relationship of the Eton Wick Chapel - the youngest at that time in the circuit -with the other member chapels at Queens Street, Maidenhead, Marlow, Cox Green and Cookham Dean. Eton Wick took its turn as venue for the Quarterly Circuit Meetings and there are the occasional mentions of Mrs Tough and other ladies providing teas. On at least one occasion John Lane acted as secretary to the Quarterly Meeting and for many years he was the circuit delegate to the District Meetings. This says much for his standing in the circuit, but the brief mentions in the minutes reveal that he paid his own expenses, and thanks for his generosity is recorded on each occasion: 

1896 'That the best thanks of the meeting be given to Brother John Lane for his services as delegate to the District Meeting, also for a donation to the Circuit Fund, being his travelling expenses'

The observation of Mr Lodge (who chaired the first meeting in the chapel) that 'Methodism in those days meant devotion and sacrifice of both time and money' seems very apt for the 7s (35p) incurred on this occasion represented a considerable portion of his weekly wage, and in other years the journey cost him as much as a £1. 

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.


Monday, 7 June 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - June 1941 - Clothes Rationing Starts

Sunday June 1st. 1941

Rationing introduced for clothes and household linens with a yearly allowance of 66 coupons for each person. Garments carried different coupon values, such as, sixteen coupons for an adult raincoat, four coupons for a woman’s petticoat, seven for a dress and two for a pair of stockings. In subsequent years the coupon allowance was decreased by 1945 to 36 coupons. Following the defeat of Germany, the allowed allocation was increased to 48 but for a longer period than one year. 

The need to conserve clothing coupons prompted the Eton Wick and Boveney Womens Institute to hold a competition for a renovated hat. Miss Pettle, having judged the results, then gave a talk on how clothes could be altered to a new look or fashion for oneself or a member of the family. Two debates, relevant to the time, were held at this meeting, one was on the communal feeding arrangements and the other on the use of cosmetics; both were lively with Mrs Jacobs and Mrs McMillan speaking for communal feeding whilst Miss Badder and Mrs Borret spoke against - the voting was against by a large majority. The debate on the use of cosmetics was light-hearted with Mrs Ball and Mrs Friend speaking for and against but this vote was not clear as some members voted for, and yet never used cosmetics themselves.

(Eton Wick W.I.)

Rationing of materials for civilian use affected many traditional customs, such as the supply of cloth for school uniforms and to overcome the shortage of the distinctive Eton College attire, a clothing pool was formed by Eton Tailors to supply second-hand school uniform including top hats still worn by the college boys in 1941.

Sunday June 22nd

German forces invaded Russia which lessened the possibility of major air attacks on Britain. Losses in men and equipment in Crete and North Africa brought an urgent need for more combat troops and equipment. To release men from civilian occupations Government Ministries undertook a recruitment campaign to get more women into factories, the railways and other public services. Later conscription would be introduced for unmarried women.

The situation made an increasing demand for munitions from the factories. To meet the demand many people worked sixty or more hours a week. Those workers living in Eton Wick, who had volunteered for Civil Defence, found it inconvenient to travel to Slough for training where it was claimed there was better facilities and equipment. A request to Eton U.D.C. by the village defence volunteers and those at Eton asked if training could be arranged locally. 

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

Friday, 4 June 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - The Prior Family

The Priors were a well known Eton Wick family. Those in the photo, c1915/16, are, back row, left to right: Harry (Junior), Kate, Nellie; seated: Hannah (mother), Avis, Mary, and father Charlie. Charlie and Harry were life-long choirmen and served as sextons for St Johns. Harry Junior operated a greengrocery business from his horse and cart. 

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

 

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Village Shopkeepers - Past and Present

"As we live day by day we don't notice changes which are happening around us " 

So said Frank Bond as he introduced his talk on "Village Shopkeepers - Past and Present" on the 27th May 1998. He referred first to the hamlet which was Eton Wick in the year 1800, with just 100 residents; and the to the early 20th Century shops which sold hardware„ groceries etc., and his talk progressed through to illustrate not only the various changes which had occurred. in Eton Wick' s shops and services up to the present day, but also the considerable changes in the community itself There had been seven farms, now some had been adapted for riding schools and others given over to engineering. The countryside itself has undergone changes with areas previously used for crops now given over to leisure and recreation facilities. 165 years ago there were 300 people living in Eton Wick. There was no evidence of any shops here then, or any easy means of getting to shops elsewhere; for there was no transport, other than horse-drawn vehicle or 'Shank' s pony' . People grew their own vegetables, they would purchase milk, flour etc. from the farmers, and they would make home-make jams, pickles and other preserves for their larders; some would have kept poultry for their eggs and meat. There would have been work for the village' s blacksmith, a chimney-sweep, and also for cobblers and  boot makers. 

MUFFIN-MAN

By the 1920' s Eton Wick was being visited by the muffin-man, and a winkle-man and a man who sold fly-papers; did the fly-paper become a muffin-man or a cobbler in the Winter months? Gypsies came selling clothesline props and pegs - most people were a little afraid of Gypsies because of their apparent ability to successfully lay a curse on you if you upset them. Visits from the 'rag and bone man' with his horse and cart were more welcome, particularly by the children who might be given a balloon in ex-change for old rags. As the years progressed there were the annual visits from a `gentleman-of-a-darker-hue' who went from door to door selling ties, collar-studs, etc. from a suitcase. A Mr. Henry came out from Windsor every Thursday with a cart loaded with galvanised goods, ironmongery, soda, soap-flakes and the famous 'Reckitts Blue'. Another welcome visitor, perhaps in later years, was Tom Cox on his Walls Ice Cream Stop Me and Buy One' tricycle - the fact that he only had one leg gave him few problems. There were two other ice-cream vendors - Vettise's and Sacco's - they just came round on Sundays. Out of season these ice-cream sellers would use their carts to transport the rabbit skins and other goods they bought locally. Tom Cox also sold cakes and bread for Denney's bakery (14 cakes for 1s. 0d.). He was also pretty handy with his bicycle pump in that when some poor soul stepped out of hedge in front of him he hit him over the head with it. 

STABLE FIRE 

The Greyhound Pub with Mr & Mrs Newell

Eton Wick had its own coal merchants, delivering by horse and cart. Bill Parrot' s horse was stabled in what is now 'The Greyhound' skittle alley. Early in the 1930's Scottie Hood' s horse' s stable caught fire and Scottie had to be physically restrained from entering the inferno to rescue his horse. The horse perished but the village had a whip-round and raised enough for him to buy another horse. The coal carts, and others, would be cleaned up and would carry the children of the village on Sunday School outings. 

Chantler then took the shop over and added gas masks to the provisions on offer. Harry Chanter was a very helpful and kind man. He was a trustee of the Eton Poor's Estate for 60 years, he was held in great an affection. There were other tenants of the shop after Mr. Chantler, until it was converted into flats in 1987. 

ICE CREAM 

A Mr. Slade set up shops in St  Leonard' s Place (possibly named so because of its view across the Thames to St Leonard' Hill?), this was the first shop in Eton Wick to sell ice-cream. Mr Slade moved on to The Grapes'. In the mid 30' s Joan Taylor set up as a newsagents, early in the 50's it was taken over by the Cowells, then Paxton, Lock and in the 1960' s by Mr. Lunn. In recent years the shop has been converted into fiats and is now called Taylor Court. Yet another shop which no longer exists is the old aquarium shop in Wellmans Cottages. This shop was run from 1908 until 1923 by Bill Hearn - he stocked umbrellas, saddlery, etc. He sold the shop when his wife died and took premises in Victoria Road (From `General' Hill who made nuts in the War?) where he set up a workshop - he ran two taxis. Later this business was to become Ellis Motors, and engineering works was still in operation at the time of the talk. Mr Wiggins followed Mr. Hearn into the 'aquarium' shop (yet another place where Tom Cox used to work); it became Graham's grocers and Provision Merchant, then John Barron. Later it became The Aquarium Shop, and has now reverted to being a private dwelling. We mustn't forget the cycle shop run by Ted Woolhouse from Bonaccorde Cottages "Royal Enfield Made Like a Gun", now a private residence. 

There was a doctor' s surgery in Alma Road, and can you believe we once had a Co-op in Alma Road! There was also a small shop in Shakespere Place (1880). Charlie Ayres started selling groceries in there in 1898. Bill Bolton failed as a butcher there; he was followed by Lucie Binfield, then Mr. Wilshire and then the Chinneries who dealt with rationing. Harry Cook then used it as a workshop. This too, has since been convened into flats. Prior' s, the newsagents in Moore's Lane, was built by Annie Tough's father, James Moore. This shop was occupied by Mr Sibley and then by Mr Prior. 

31 & 31a Eton Wick Road

Another butcher's shop was George Mumford's at 31 Eton Wick Road (Bracken Flowers and a Betting Shop were there in 1998). Mr Mumford tended to get into trouble for letting people have meat in excess of the ration (it  even had a 'Flanagan and Allen' mention at the Victoria Palace). Mr Mumford altered the premises to accommodate his elder daughter and converted part (later to become the betting shop) into a Laundrette. The butcher's shop was later to become a Greengrocers, then a baker' s and is now Bracken the Florist. 

Bistro

In 1951 the Eton Urban District Council built the `Darvilles' parade of shops. In the shop 

nearest to the Village Hall was Mr Barnes (wet and fried fish), next came 'Arnolds' the Butcher's, (when Roy Arnold retired it became a hairdressers).The third shop was O'Flaherty (chemist); fourth was Clinch's Bakery and Darvilles the grocer next to them. Anderson (newsagent and gents' hairdresser) occupied the sixth unit and A. Bond & Son (greengrocer) the final shop opposite the Shepherds Hut. 

Terry Anderson (who acquired the land for the Catholic Church) sold to Gowers; Clinch sold to Darville - who doubled the size of the shop; O'Flaherty sold out to a Mrs. Baker, but there have been several tenants since. When Frank Bond sold his Greengrocers shop it had been in business for 90 years. 

In I973 the Bell Lane parade of shops was built; Joyce Howard (ladies clothing); another was for hi-fi and electrical goods and then homemade brewing equipment and vehicle sundries. Country Fair, the equestrian shop, is to close and be replaced by a bistro. The hairdresser' s has become `Pipedreams' for cake-baking accessories. 

The final photograph shown on this fascinating evening was of Mrs. Cooley and Pam with their milk-float - the last of our milk delivery people. A suggestion for a Millennium Memorial - commemorate site of the 1st school, the 1st official building for church services and the 1st Institute for Eton Wick. All in one building at the bottom of the garden of 'The Greyhound'

The following meeting was held on the 8th July 1998 when the topic was LOCAL FETES, FAIRS, CARNIVALS AND CONCERTS. 

During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton Wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. This article was published in the June 1998 edition.


Monday, 17 May 2021

Tough Assignment - The Fund Raising Continued

Money matters dominate the early records of the chapel. The account book shows that there
was an income of almost £160 in the first year. The money came from special collections taken at the stone laying and opening ceremonies, donations, profits from teas and collections made outside the meetings and services by chapel members such as Mrs Tough, Mr Goodman and Mrs Lane. Of the 69 people who gave to the chapel this way, 62 made their contributions through Mrs Tough. By this simple statement in the account book we catch a glimpse of the energy and dedication of Annie Tough which was to characterise her contribution to chapel life for the next fifty years. 

Hers, however, was not the only effort and there were many helpers at the bazaar held over three days in December. The event merited a whole paragraph of description in the Windsor and Eton Express: 

Page from the Seat rent Book
'On Tuesday week and the following three days a bazaar was held to reduce the debt of the new chapel, opened in October last. The chapel was suitably decorated with mottoes. The stalls were prettily set off in a Swiss style by pink sateen and white muslin, evergreens and pink with white ruche. The rostrum was decorated with an archway of evergreen and roses, filled with artificial grasses and flowers kindly lent by Mrs Riley of Upton. The stallholders were Mesdames Cutler, Crabbe, Lane and Pierce, the Misses Moore and Davey. The amusements were 'Room of Art', galvanic battery, bran tub, cabinetto* kindly lent by Mr Moore) and piano. Miss Curie, of Dorney, (after the usual devotional service conducted by the Rev J Lee) in a few appropriate words expressed the pleasure it gave her to help a good work, and in a very pleasing and gracious manner declared the bazaar open. Both in decoration and throughout the sales the very efficient service was rendered by Messrs J Moore and family, J Lane, T Green, J Crook and A Cutler. Through the kind help of many friends in the neighbourhood the profits amounted to £16 1s 2d.' 

Few people in Eton Wick had more than a very modest income, and although by the standards of the time, as well as today, this sum was quite a small reward for such a lot of effort, it was the equivalent of half a year’s wages for many a village man. 

After this great effort, the subsequent years brought in much less money - an average of only £30 per annum for the remaining years of the 1880s and less than £17 per year in the 1890s. 

Donations now were few in number and the income came mainly from seat rents, collections at anniversary services, special collections for such items as 'lighting', profits on teas, the occasional entertainment, sale of 'bazaar articles' and the various small contributions made through chapel members' books. In the last few years of the 19th century only Miss Ada Moore continued collecting, and for a few years the income did not cover the expenditure and the treasurer had to lend the difference. 

A page from the earliest
Chapel Account Book.
In spite of this, however, each year £5 or £10 was 'paid off the principal', the £100 borrowed
from Miss (?) Lane to pay the remainder of the builder's bill in 1887. Tables, trestles and such homely items as brooms, teapots and spoons feature in the accounts of these early years and there are fairly frequent mentions of repairs. The clock was mended in 1893 and two years later the harmonium, which had been a gift from John Moore. Oil, wood, lamp glasses and candles were regular items of expenditure, as was the £3 paid each year to the chapel keeper. It was his or her responsibility each Sunday to light the upright stove in the chapel and the school room fire, to look after the oil lamps and to keep the chapel clean, a more onerous task than today for the untarred road was muddy or dusty according to the season. The winter of 1894 brought extra work clearing up after the floods which inundated the village.

Neither the seat rent book nor the account book, the only surviving chapel records from this period, give much indication of the richness of the spiritual life, but a little can be deduced. There were occasional mentions of the Sunday School and its scholars, so dear to the heart and the aspirations of Mrs Tough. A roll book was bought in 1893, and though we can only guess at the numbers on the roll, it was certainly no more than a dozen, for even seated close together on forms, no more than this could squeeze into the tiny back schoolroom. Sticky on hot summer days, it was wonderfully cozy in the winter heated by an open fire. Mottoes and testament cards were purchased and also school prizes, described as 'story books' one year. Oranges - a real treat for most village children - were bought at Christmas, and excursions (Sunday School treats) began as early as 1890. 

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

Monday, 10 May 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - May 1941 - A 500 Bomber Raid on London

Saturday May 10th

The 500 German bombers raiding London met with a tremendous anti-aircraft barrage during which eight were destroyed. Fire from the gun batteries sited at Dorney, Slough, Datchet and Windsor was intense. The bombing started huge fires in Hammersmith which could be seen from Slough as the night sky took on a red glow.

Eton U.D.C. Civil Defence and other voluntary services received thanks from the Council chairman for the way they had carried out their duties during the preceding months. The vote of thanks also embraced the Eton Fire Brigade who had given gallant service in air raids away from the town.

Eton had been a haven for London A.R.P. personnel, who after enduring several harrowing nights of duty, came to get a night’s sleep at the Baldwin Institute. An early morning call from Eton ARP night duty shift ensured that the sleepers returned to duty by the first train from Riverside Southern Railway station.

One or two small high explosive bombs fell on Dorney camp including an oil bomb into the Roundmoor ditch, with no significant damage being done. Other bombs fell in the sewage farm, Eton Wick one of which was an unexploded device (UXB). Later when the bomb exploded, it was frightening for those nearby but was also an amusing episode for two village lads as related by John Pardoe.

“With Malcolm Chamberlain I had been looking for moorhen nest but having had no success we made our way from Dorney back to the village via the sewage farm. On approaching the farm, several policemen were noticed accompanied by Billy Hutton, the farm foreman who immediately told us to clear off. However not receiving a quick response to his request Billy gave chase and got within maybe 20 yards of us when the bomb exploded. We escaped but poor Billy received some of the contents of the sewage beds”.

Dorney Camp Armoury - post war

The London blitz had rendered many families homeless and scattered and it was suggested to the Eton U.D.C. that some unused local properties should be requisitioned, and efforts made to house some of these people. The surveyor quickly pointed out that many of these properties in Eton and Eton Wick were in a very bad state of repair and would need money and time spent on them, also materials were not always obtainable. Air raid damage and military requirements had priority for building works, such as Dorney camp, which had now been completed with Nissen and wooden huts. Only the brick-built armoury was within the boundary of Eton Wick located across the Roundmoor ditch and accessed by a wooden bridge; today its location is the garden of 22 Tilstone Close.

Plan of Dorney HAA Camp.

Improvements in equipment brought the installation of Radar and more powerful 3.7- and 4.5-inch guns but camp accommodation did not improve as will be shown later.

The satellite image taken from Google Earth dated 23rd June 2018 reveals the outline of most of the WW2 Dorney Camp buildings as "Crop Markings". 

The wartime measure of permanent summertime with clocks set one hour advance of Greenwich mean time and two hours advanced in the summer months allowed long light evenings. On many such evenings the Whitley, Wellington, and Hampden bombers of the R.A.F. were seen flying over the village on their way to attack targets in occupied Europe or Germany. 

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley & Vickers Armstrong Wellington

To boost the sale of National Savings Certificate and War Bonds, city, town, and village National Savings Groups held special savings week to buy war weapons. The first of these special weeks, held during the last week of April, by Windsor, Eton, Eton Wick, and villages in the Eton Rural District was designated ‘War Weapons Week’. Various events took place including a display of modern weapons by the Grenadier Guards in Eton as well as the exhibition of a German Messerschmitt 109. At Eton Wick a great effort was made to ensure success and a programme of events for the week was arranged, starting with a Saturday evening whist drive held in the village hall. Members of the Methodist Chapel held a popular social evening which was well attended. The village school children gave their support with a fancy-dress parade around the village. Albert Bond, with his horse and cart suitably decorated for the occasion, headed the procession which ended at the mobile cinema van then visiting the village in support of the National Savings campaign. Another attraction was the display by the Grenadier Guards of weapons and armoured fighting vehicles. The value of Saving Certificates and Bonds sold at the village post office during the week were shown on an indicator board that had been made for the occasion by boys at Eton College and erected outside the village hall for this special week production machine tools were installed in the large display window of a Windsor store by the Slough engineering firm G.D. Peters. Machinist Connie Thorogood’s memory of the week is of Guards from the barracks showing more interest in the operators than the products, being a greater attraction than the firm’s efforts to recruit women for war work. During the following war years other special saving weeks would be held.

Restaurants and cafes supplying of meals were subject to war restrictions as to the number of courses served, cost and quantity. To help supplement the diet imposed by rationing the Ministry of food suggested community feeding centres, later called British Restaurants. Seeking an opinion, the Eton U.D.C. canvassed Eton and Eton Wick. Results showed sixty-four in favour with eleven against for Eton whilst Eton Wick returned fifty-four in favour and thirty three against. Having decided that community feeding should go ahead the restaurant was set up at the Eton Church Hall with Mrs Bowater as manageress. Seating 120 persons, the restaurant opened in December offering a plain menu of a meat meal 8d., Bowl of soup 2d., a Sweet 3d. and a cup of tea for 1d.


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

A extract from The Daily Telegraph : Story of the War: Volume 1

A RAID ON LONDON 

Saturday, May 10th. 

A very heavy raid on London caused many casualties, and great destruction. Several of London's most famous buildings were damaged, for the German 'planes unloaded their bombs indiscriminately in the heaviest attack since the " reprisal raid " of April 16th, which was the worst the capital had experienced. 

The attack in the brilliant moonlight cost the Germans at least thirty-three 'planes and about 160 trained personnel, the highest penalty they had paid in night raids. Our night fighters destroyed twenty-nine, and four others were shot down by A.A. fire. 

The German High Command communiqué said that hundreds of high explosives and more than 100,000 incendiaries were dropped in the raid, which was described as a reprisal for the "methodical bombing of the residential quarters of German towns, including Berlin ". 

London's famous Parliament clock, whose Big Ben chimes are nightly broadcast all over the world, was battered, but was still keeping perfect time and striking normally next day. 

A small bomb hit the top of the Clock Tower just above the face of the clock. The face Was dented and blackened, and some of the stonework and ornamental ironwork damaged.

Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliaments, was hit. Damage was done to the roof, and a fire started among the timber. 

Firemen were able to save most of the historic timbered roof, which dates back to the twelfth century. 

Only scorched and blackened walls remained of the House of Commons chamber, where M.P.s had debated for ninety years. It was hit by a high explosive and a fire-bomb, and was reduced to a heap of rubble. The chamber of the House of Lords and other rooms in Parliament also suffered damage. 

Captain Elliott, the House of Lords resident superintendent, was killed, and two policemen on fire duty also lost their lives. No members and few officials were there at the time.

Westminster Abbey was left open to the sky. The main fabric was unharmed, but damage had been done by the water used by firemen and the roof over the Lantern, the central point of the Abbey, was destroyed and the pulpit partly destroyed. 

Part of the debris of the Dean's House, which was destroyed, fell on Cloister Garth, the historic square of turf in the middle of the cloisters, which themselves were severely damaged.

The most historic parts of the Abbey were uninjured. The eastern part of the Abbey, where the Royal tombs are situated, was left intact, as were the Sanctuary and the eastern chapels, containing other Royal tombs. 

Wearing his surplice and sitting in a pew in the darkened Abbey in the early hours of yesterday morning, Dr. Perkins, the sacrist, said " But for the A.F.S. men and our own fire-fighters, who put everything they had into the fight to save it, the Abbey must have been destroyed. 

" When the Deanery went, Dr. de Labilliere and his wife inspired us all by the calmness and fortitude they displayed in the face of the loss of their lovely home and of every article of their personal belongings. 

They stood on the lawn with the fires burning all around them, concerned only with the safety of others and the efforts of the firemen to save the Abbey from being completely destroyed." 

The British Museum was set alight by a shower of fire-bombs which burnt through the roof and set fire to the back of the building. Fire-watchers on the roof dealt with many of the fire-bombs, but others burnt through before they could be tackled.

Fortunately most of the treasures had been removed to safety, and the damage was comparatively light. 

The first raiders arrived late in the evening. Others followed in heavy waves, hurling high-explosive bombs and incendiaries at London. Guns and fighters harried them, but for most of the night the waves came on. 

Soon after the din of battle and of bursting bombs had died away, daylight showed a fading fog of smoke, turning the spring day to a weird November. Cinders had wafted down like black snow—the air had been acrid until the early hours. 

Fragments of charred paper and smuts were carried nearly 20 miles into country areas.

In many areas little heaps of sand and the remains of burned-out incendiaries on the pavements and roadways, testified to the large number of fire-bombs dropped. 

Five hospitals hit, three churches fired, buildings turned to reeking ruins and casualties at a hotel and a street market—these were some of the results that the enemy could show for his losses. But London's spirit was still sound. 

The following day, Sunday 11th May 1941 the Daily Telegraph reported: 

Last night Rudolf Hess, Deputy Fuhrer of Germany and one of Hitler's closest friends, landed in Scotland by parachute after flying from Germany—one of the most astonishing and puzzling incidents of the war. There were many conflicting explanations. Berlin announced that he was mentally deranged. 

Monday, 3 May 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - The Tough family

The Tough family at Bell Farm.

Charles Tough was manager of Council-owned Bell Farm. This photograph, taken around 1908, shows Charles and his wife Annie (both seated, facing camera). The other adults are believed to be Annie's sister (seated right), and Archibald Chew with Charles and Annie's niece Annie F Moore standing on the left. Archie Chew and Annie Moore married in 1910, and like the Toughs, were pillars of the Methodist Church in Eton Wick.

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

Monday, 26 April 2021

From the Parish Magazine - Eton Wick History Group Meeting - Press Gang

The History Group meeting on the 3rd March 1998

Press Gangs and the Kings shilling!

A talk about Press Gangs presented by Dr. Judith Hunter

I believe the general picture of a Press Gang is that of a gang of seafarers storming around seaside towns, knocking chaps on the head and bundling them on board ship to act as crew; or for the 'luckier' ones, tricking them by slipping coins into the poor innocents' tankards of ale and then claiming that they had entered into a contract by accepting pay in advance - and off to sea they went. But no, it is far more complicated than that, as the Eton Wick History Group found out from Dr. Judith Hunter at their meeting on 4th March. 

Armed with information gleaned from the Admiralty Minute Books, the Public Records Office at Kew and various other sources, and prompted to investigate simply as a result of curiosity triggered by coming across a reference to a Press Gang in Reading, Dr. Hunter covered the history of the Press Gang in as far as the Seven Year War against Austria, France and Russia (1756-1763). Apparently in 1754, lust before the War began the number of men in the navy was just under 10,000 but by the end of the War they numbered approximately 82,000 - the majority of whom came from Merchant Navy ships. The Royal Navy ships would be stationed in the Channel and would send a gang, under a Lieutenant, to board inward-bound merchant ships and gather up the seaman, returning with them to the Royal Navy ships; sometimes fire would be exchanged but nevertheless the majority of sailors were impressed from the merchant ships and so could end up spending many years at sea unable to return home to far, and friends. The Royal Navy didn't train its sailors, it preferred that they came already experienced from being in the Merchant Service. Some of the coastal traders were issued with a certificate which protected them from being pressed into service; unless, of course, there was a 'hot press' which would be at a time of emergency when anyone could be taken - even from theft own homes - and a record shows that on a least one occasion the groom, best man and half the male guests from a Wedding Reception were taken; but once these impressed people had been checked over perhaps only a third of them would be retained as being sufficiently able-bodied to be of use. 

Almost every coastal village and town had its fishermen and so these areas were a natural source of manpower. A press gang, under the command of a Captain (on half-pay + £5 per week) would 'open a rendezvous' at a village and stay overnight, perhaps publicising the fact by hanging a flag outside, or employing a fife drummer. The Captain (who would probably lodge at a rather better class of Inn than that used for the rendezvous) would have two or three Lieutenants (each earning 5s.0d. per day plus 10s.0d. for acquiring each able seaman or 5s.0d. for an able-bodied landman) and these Lieutenants would be supervised and regulated by the Captain - hence he would be called a Regulating Captain. They would take seamen for preference, but they could also take land workers as well - if they looked suitably young and strong; and they would try encouraging people to join voluntarily, initially, tempting them with exciting stories of life at sea. and exotic ports of call, and the weekly ration of I lb. bread, I lb. port, 1/2 pint, peas and 1 gallon beer. 

The gangs operating under the Lieutenants were usually composed of local residents generally hired specifically for the purpose and who would be aware that they were less likely to be impressed themselves if they were part of the official press gang. The King and Government would offer a 'Royal Bounty' of £3 per able-bodied seaman, £2 for an ordinary seaman and f1 for a landman; some Mayors offered their own bounties and there is a record in Bristol of a wife receiving additional corporation bounty; so perhaps these bounties were passed on to the families of the seaman. It is hoped so because wives and families lost their breadwinner when their man was impressed and would have had to have applied to the Parish Officers for some small amount of money; soldiers' wives and children were on a starvation list. When things were warming up for the Seven Year War the Admiralty ordered that press warrants be issued to cover many towns, both coastal and inland, including Reading. There are records of the Mayor of Oxford asking that the Regulating Captain at Reading assist him by guarding five men who he had 'secured' at Oxford. Those taken were often gathered together in a gaol, or Bridewell. It is assumed that they were then made to walk to a port (London?) and if a tender was not available to take them to a ship, they would be gaoled again at the port until one was available. 

Once at sea, the impressed seamen could do quite well:. Their pay (paid out by the ship's captain) would come from the Admiralty and 'prize money' was paid out when an enemy ship was Captured 3/8 of the prize went to the Captain, 1/4 went to the Captain of the Marines, 1/8 went to the Lieutenants, and the crew and Marine 'other ranks' received 1/4 between them; and there is a record in 1762 of the capture of a Spanish frigate resulting in seamen receiving prize money of £485 each - although a more normal amount would be £10-20. Dr. Hunter read from copies of letters from Admirals and Captains dated around the mid-18th century and they made fascinating listening. Mr. Frank Bond thanked Dr. Hunter and her husband, Rip, for this very enlightening talk. 

The the following meeting held on 15th April 1998 and the topic was the "History of Local Bridges over Streams and River" - presented by John Denham. 

During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton Wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. This article was published in the April 1998 edition.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Tough Assignment - A Chapel of Their Own 1886

At first Mrs. Annie Tough met with considerable opposition from the owner of the land; she was after all in no position to offer a fair price for a plot, however small. There were no rich patrons offering a hundred guineas or more as there had been when St John the Baptist's Church was built, and however dedicated the band of Methodists, they were few in numbers. We know the names of only a handful of them - John Moore, Ada Moore, John and Emma Lane Mr & Mrs Thomas Green and Henry Goodman. Annie's father had left Rotherhithe and bought land in Boveney New Town on which were built Snowdrop, Primrose and Shakspear Cottages. He and his family lived at Primrose Cottage. Annie's younger sister, Ada, already an adult woman, also came to live in the village. John Lane was a master builder who, after being widowed, had met and married a member of the Maidenhead Church and was thus brought to Primitive Methodism. Henry Goodman came from Dorney where his family had been prominent Primitive Methodists since the 1850s. No doubt these and other loyal workers supported Mrs Tough to find a site for the chapel, but it was she who finally wore down the resistance of James Ayres, the developer. As a businessman he was far less impressed by her ardent Christianity than her sheer persistence! At long last she 'obtained from him a conditional promise that if a certain gentleman effected a purchase of land that day she should have a site for a chapel.' The sale went through and he kept his word. 'I give it to you', he said, 'as a reward for your perseverance'. 

The stage was now set for the next great effort - raising the money to build the chapel. The land was a gift, though as Mr Ayres had refused to give it to anyone except Mrs Tough, it had first posed a problem, solved in the end by the property being invested in her as Trustee. The cost of the building was only to be about £300, not a great deal even in those days for a church, but a considerable amount for the Primitive Methodists of such a small community to find. But find it they did, and in a very short time there was sufficient money guaranteed for the work to begin. 


It was a proud moment that first Sunday in October 1886 when the chapel was at last officially opened. We can still see the building with its yellow bricks, porch, and arched windows, and its inscription 'Primitive Methodist Chapel 1886.' From Alma Road it looks very much as it did a hundred years ago. No doubt it was viewed with immense pride that day, but no records survive to tell us the details of the occasion. Imagination must paint the picture of the congregation crowded into the tiny chapel - Mrs Tough supported by members of the Moore family, John Lane, skilled tradesman and foreman with Henry Burfoot (who built the chapel), village and circuit members of the Methodist Church, as well as many other well wishers from the neighbourhood. 

 In spite of the rain the meeting held the next day attracted a good congregation. It was a circuit as well as chapel affair and Mr Lodge of Maidenhead acted as chairman. Addresses were given by church members from Maidenhead, Dorney and Slough as well as by John Lane of Eton Wick, who was the chapel treasurer and one of the eight trustees. This was a time for congratulations, a time for appraisal of successes achieved - and the work yet to be done. No doubt the speakers talked of the spiritual life of the chapel, but it was the more practical considerations that the local newspaper reported. over £130 had already been raised towards the building fund, but a further £145 was still required to clear the debt. 

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

World War 2 Eighty Years On - April 1941 - Incendiary Bombs Fell On Eton Wick School.

German aircraft continued to fly over the district most nights throughout the months of April and May to raid the cities of Birmingham, Coventry, Leeds, Sheffield, and London.

Len Downs, now residing in Dorney, was serving with 273 Bty. H.A.C. A.A. equipped with 3.7" mobile guns, machine guns and searchlight and he recalled that the troop were frequently called to action whilst stationed on Dorney Common during this time. 

Whenever the guns were in action there was always a danger of injury and damage from falling shrapnel but sometimes no air raid alert sounded and with no warning the guns would commence firing. My experience of falling shrapnel was whilst using the public phone situated near the village hall, when the firing began and odd pieces that fell onto the road ricocheted hitting the phone box with a loud frightening bang. The intense gunfire rattled doors and windows, greenhouses and garden sheds also suffered from the explosions. At night, even if the guns did not fire, those living close by the camp were awakened from their sleep as commands of range, height and bearing were shouted to those manning the guns.”

(Joan Ballhatchet)

April 14th

Fortunately, the local schools were on holiday as bombs and incendiaries fell in the district. Two incendiary bombs fell on Eton Wick school, one falling on the roof whilst the other fell through into the infants’ room where a cupboard was set on fire doing slight damage.

“A number of incendiaries had dropped across the allotments below the school in Sheepcote Road. Searchlights were sweeping the sky in search of the enemy planes whose dull drone seemed to be continual. I rushed about the allotments piling soil on the burning bombs. Within minutes the flames would burn through the soil and the operation was repeated. It was on this night my father became Eton Wick's only air raid casualty. The school like most public buildings had a wall of sandbags about six feet high along the old buildings main wall. 

My father, an Air Raid Warden, was on duty near the school and could see the incendiaries burning inside the building. Realizing that the blaze had to be tackled immediately he climbed onto the protective wall of sandbags and using one of the bags broke the window to gain entry. He then climbed through to extinguish the fires. On getting through the broken glass, he cut his hand. After the fire was extinguished it was pointed out to him that all his effort to affect the entry was unnecessary as the school door was always left unlocked for just such an emergency."
(Frank Bond).

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