Over the centuries, anyone who was anybody, has hung their hat for a day, a month a year in Maidenhead, a delightful burg, vibrant with history, and a strange changing beauty. Romantics, rightly, call it the Jewel of the Thames. It makes me feel good that I grew up there. In September 2001 I returned with my walking shoes and camera to take some personal photos. Old Maidonians living in various parts of the world often ask what is Maidenhead really like these days? This little Photo Gallery may help answer the question. They may also encourage you to return and make your own Photo Gallery.
Enjoy! Bob Egby
MAIDENHEAD BRIDGE -- In my younger days, the bridge spanning the Thames, always seemed big. Now it seems to have shrunk, but it still retains an historic beauty and aura. In the distance is the Riviera Hotel and the old Maidenhead Rowing Club. The bridge was built in 1777 to replace a wooden bridge which had stood there since 1280. It was a toll bridge until 1903.
RIVIERA HOTEL -- Stands magnificently on the banks of the River Thames.
THE LEWIS-HILL HORSE TROUGH -- The horses have long gone but the horse trough remains. If in your younger days you recall it being outside the Riviera Hotel, you are right. The 1908 trough donated to the town by Mrs. Ada Lewis-Hill was moved across the street to Bridge Gardens in the 1970s during the major roadworks.
RIVER THAMES -- In the 1950s steamers abounded up and down the river. Many had bands on board and day trips were like having picnics on the water. Here, a sternwheeler plies the river.Salters steamers started excursions in 1870.
THE FAMOUS SKINDLES -- The sands of time are blurring memories when Skindles Hotel hosted rotalty and celebrities every day. It was an internationally known hotel. It was built in 1743 and originally called The Orkney Arms until William Skindles bought it in the mid-19th century. Today, it stands boarded up. Its future unkwnown.
SPLENDOR OF OLD MAIDENHEAD -- Stately houses overlooking the Thames echo memories of a colorful past. This one is in the Oldfield area, south of Maidenhead Bridge. Built in 1892, it is now a classic bed and breakfast resort. Named Red Roofs at Oldfield, it has been restored with great care. The building was originally the Reitlinger Museum, housing Egyptian, Persian and Greek artifacts. If you’re looking for a place to stay, you’ll find it on Guards Club Road. In the old days Maidenhead attracted kings, queens, princes, writers, actors, generals to enjoy champagne picnics, pageants, regattas and fetes. If one meditates on the Thames one can still hear those echoes of a distant, fascinating past.
ALL SAINTS -- One of Maidenhead's most impressive churches is All Saints, standing at the east end of All Saints Avenue, a short distance off the Bath Road (A4). It was built in 1857 on land donated by the Grenfell family of Taplow and the architect was the renowned George Edmund Street. Visit All Saints Homepage.
When I was a boy, my mother occasionally used to take me to All Saints because she enjoyed the incense. My grandparents were buried there, but I failed to find their graves. So I continued my walkabout...
THE METHODIST CHURCH NEAR CASTLE HILL -- Once upon a time, Castle Hill was the gateway to Maidenhead. There was a Maternity Home where I was born, shops, a clinic and a church. Today, all that remains is this church which was built in 1858. An addition was made in the 1970s when the by-pass was built. A giant roundabout carries traffic to the main arterials of Saint Cloud Way and Fascatti Way. A statue of a boy, seen in this photo was desecrated about two years ago. See the next two photos.
All that remains of the statue are two feet. The 23 year-old desecrator was never named, and word has it that he is paying “some” of the amount required to restore the statue. Meanwhile, the two feet at the top of High Street, have become the topic of philosophic debate in the Maidenhead Egroup. These photos were taken in March 2004 when I returned to walk about my old home town.
HIGH STREET MALL -- Once traffic flowed through the center of town. It was part of the A4, the Bath Road between London and Bath. Today the old highway is a paved pedestrians-only mall with shops and sidewalk bistros like Forno on the left.
MAIDENHEAD POST OFFICE -- While much has changed in modern Maidhead, the old Post Office, built in 1893, is still there. The main entrance used to be at the far end, now it's at this end.
REMEMBER NICHOLSONS BREWERY? -- Today it is a large, glittery shopping center. This is one of the main entrances on High Street. Nicholson's Brewery was founded in 1840. Underneath the brewery was a 400 foot deep artesian well, the water from which gave Nicholson's beer its distinct flavour.
HIGH STREET INTERSECTION -- This is looking up the High Street. The Queen Street intersection is up on the left. The office complex has replaced the old Town Hall, known as the Guidhall, which stood there for many years. Lloyd's Bank (now Lloyd's TSB) is still on the corner of Queen Street. In 1950 the teenage movie makers of Maidenhead, of which I was one, used it one Sunday morning for the backdrop to a bank robbery. Then, nobody paid any attention to gangster actors carrying realistic luger props, running around the street. Today? Well, times have changed.
THE TOWN HALL -- If you're looking for the Maidenhead Town Hall, this is it. It bears no resemblance to the old Guild Hall, but it serves its purpose. This is the administrative center of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. There is a movement to replace the building. It was built on the site of St. Ives Manor, which Henry VIII gave to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves when he divorced her. In the 1900s and on it was run as an hotel. The Borough did a compulsory purchase of the site in 1939, but the new town hall was not built until 1962.
MAIDENHEAD PUBLIC LIBRARY -- This is a busy place most days of the week. The controversial design by Paul Korelak, was built in the 1970s to replace the original library which was donated to the town by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.
THE OLD BEAR HOTEL -- When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that if I was not a good boy, the big black bear atop the entrance to the hotel, would come down and devour me. Today, the people who wine and dine on the sidewalk pay little attention to the bear who is still there, but not so threatening. The terra-cotta bear, atop the entrance, was made at Cooper's Brickworks in Pinkneys Green. Wish I had known when I was a kid, the bear wasn't real.
ST. MARY'S CHURCH -- Close to the Bear Hotel you'll find St. Mary's Church, the church of Maidenhead. The site has a history. The Borough church, originally called the chapel of SS Andrew and Mary Magdalene, has stood on Chapel Arches, at the bottom of High Street, since the 15th century. The present church was built in the 1960s. It's a beautiful, warm church inside. On the Friday after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, I found myself at the Memorial Service here. It felt warm and safe, and the coffeeshop people gave me a nice English cup of tea. Beautiful! Visit St. Mary's Homepage.
THE COLONNADE -- At the east end of the High Street, you'll find this collection of stores. It was along here that British film star Diana Dors had her coffeeshop many years ago. It overlooked the Rialto Cinema which has long bitten the dust
HOLMES PLACE -- Behind the Colonnade there used to be an indoor roller-skating rink. It was part of The Hippodrome, built by George Gude and opened in 1910. Later it became a picture house, then WW2 government offices, then a squash club, and now Holmes Place health club. Early in the 20th century the Maidenhead Skating Rink was the place to be in the 1920s and 1930s with lots of energy. My father met my mother there. The energy is stillthere, only the place has changed.
BRIDGE STREET LOOKING TOWARDS THE RIVER -- In March 1947 this entire area including the Moor and many homes was under water. Boats transported people back and forth. The building on the left hand corner, now the Newt and Cucumber--you may remember it as The Crown--started life as a Victorian common lodging house, last stop before the workhouse.
THE COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE -- At Maidenhead Bridge, you will find this plaque which commemorates the assistance so many people around the world gave to Maidenhead flood victims in March 1947. The mayor was Osmund Frank.
THE ANCIENT ALMSHOUSES -- Although much has changed in Maidenhead, one institution that still maintains its ancient facade is Salters Almshouses where Bridge Street ends and Bridge Road begins. The plaque on almshouses reads: "THEIS ALMESHOWSES WERE ERECTED & BVILTAT Y SOLE & PROPER COST & CHARGES OF JAMES SMYTH ESQVIOR CITIZEN AND SALTER OF LONDON in ye year of our lord 1659." .
THE OLD CLOCKTOWER -- Another landmark still standing in Maidenhead is the clocktower in the Station approaches. Built by public subscription as Maidenhead's tribute to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897; the clock was provided by Edmund Bloomfield of Queen St and is still working.
THE GRENFELL COMPLEX -- A symbol of modern Maidenhead is found at the intersection of Grenfell Road and King Street.
KING STREET -- As one progresses along King Street, there are modern buildings, including sidewalk cafes...and...
PIZZA HUT -- They are now all over the world, including King Street. Many are not so modern as the one in Maidenhead...
WHEN I FIRST LEFT SCHOOL -- I worked for a few weeks at an electrical shop on King Street. My job was to maintain and charge accumulators--strange battery devices full of sulphuric acid. Accumulators provided the energy for radios, sometimes referred to as Super-Hetrodyne radios.
THE ROSE -- People often ask where is a good, inexpensive place to eat. The answer is in the pubs. I enjoyed meals at a number of Maidenhead pubs including this one, The Rose which has stood on King Street longer than I can remember.
This is where I end my 24-hour tour of Maidenhead -- September 2001. If you have any questions, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the Maidenhead egroup which is the best and most well-informed egroup I have ever experienced.You can subscribe by dropping a line to email@example.com. There is also more information on Maidenhead today at the website: http://www.maidenhead.net
In the spring of 2000, a group called the Maidenhead Millennium Photography Project organised a collection of images of the town in the millennium. Rod Bird writes: “We asked all residents (and visitors) to take photos of anything they thought might be interesting to future generations, on 6th, 7th, and 8th May 2000. We received over 1000 images and they have all been put onto a CD-ROM, along with a browser which lets you search by text, area, etc.* An independent panel chose 200 of them to go into a book called "Three Days in May" of which we've sold just under 2000 to date. We received Lottery funding, and a lot of support from local businesses. All proceeds from the scheme go to local charities.” The CD-ROM costs £10 including airmail. Further details are available from Rod Bird at +44 1628 770450 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNIQUE PROJECT FEATURES MAIDENHEAD
FURTHER INFORMATION ON HISTORIC MAIDENHEAD
We would like to thank Bridget Hole for assisting with historical facts in this Photo Gallery. Her two books on Maidenhead: "Are You Married or Do You Live In Maidenhead?" a who-was-who of many old Maidonians, and "Two Thousand Years at Middle Wharf," a light-hearted history of Maidenhead, told in verse, are available in Maidenhead, at the Heritage Centre and Hammicks Books in Nicholsons Centre, Maidenhead or through the internet at amazon.co.uk.
Modern interest in historic Maidenhead began in 1909 with J.W. Walker’s book “A History of Maidenhead,” and since then the mantle has taken up by many authors and researchers whose works can be found in local bookshops, the Heritage Centre and the Maidenhead Public Library: these include - Michael Bayley, Nan Birney, Robin and Val Bootle, Brian Boulter, Eric Brookes, Judith Hunter, Elias Kupfterman, Luke Over, Leslie Ritson-Smith, Walter Rose, Richard Russell, Chris Tyrell and others.
If you live in Maidenhead or are planning to visit, drop by a growing museum that reflects the community's colorful lifestyles through the ages.
THE HERITAGE CENTRE
The Centre is designed to feature Maidenhead's heritage providing informative portals on the past. Staffed and run by volunteers, it was housed in the former Green Dragon Pub (built 1784) at 90 Moorbridge Road. Today you will find it at #3 Kingsway, King Street, near the new market and close to the Methodist Church.
The current exhibition which started June 14th 2005 is "Maidenhead Past and Present." Another Historical Centre Event coming up on Tuesday, September 6th is the "River Thames Historical Cruise," a five hour event on the river with a commentary.
The King Street quarters are temporary -- again! It's a pity the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead cannot find a permanent home for this educational window on Maidenhead's ancient and colorful heritage. Check the Heritage Centre's website for current information. You find it by clicking on The Heritage Centre.
Meanwhile we leave you with a thought from Sir John Buchan, British author and former Governor General of Canada: ".. The hasty reformer who does not remember the past will find himself condemned to repeat it."
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