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Childhood Summers in Slough

by Angela Griffiths (nee Owen)

  I have been doing a little research on Slough this last week as I plan a long weekend there in September (a trip down memory lane if you like) - my childhood years from the ages of 3 to 11 were spent there, firstly living in a small cottage on Bath Road close to Salt Hill Park and the pub called the Swan Hotel where my mum worked as the cook andI remember a lady called Betty Andy had her shellfish stall on the forecourt. My best friend lived in the RSPCA office at the end of the little terrace - I spent many hours there as they had a small collection of kittens, puppies and other creatures housed there. Then as the family increased in size my parents moved to number 4 Cranbourne Road opposite Salt Hill Mansions. I attended the then Montem County Primary School and throughout my years there they were raising funds to build a swimming pool in the school grounds which was finally finished when I was in my last year there. I used to skip home through Montem Park, across the brook, under the subway and along Cippenham Lane and then turn into Cranbourne Road. I wonder whether this school still exists? I remember the church in Chalvey where I avidly attended once a week as a Brownie and then as a Girl Guide. After passing my 11 plus in those days I attended Slough High School for Girls which was in Twinches Lane and after my first year there my parents moved back to Wales as my father's health had deteriorated and he was no longer able to work in the factories on the trading estate. My most favourite memories are of the endless summer days I spent in Salt Hill Park, the sun always seemed to be shining, I would cross the busy road at the Three Tuns and skip down the road passing the Windmill pub on the left and calling into the little corner shop just before the public toilets and entrance to Salt Hill Park to buy candy necklaces, fizzers and parma violets. I would stroll up to the cages along the path where they had a fantastic collection of budgies, cockatoos, parrots and lovebirds. I remember winding my way through the weeping willows along the banks of the stream and through the bamboo bushes and playing pooh sticks off the bridge and catching sticklebacks in the stream with my net. The park itself was a real adventure for us kids with its selection of old brightly painted steamrollers, a witches hat roundabout, the big slide, swings and the little slide and of course the pool - I used to spend hours on end in that pool. Then you walked up the slope towards The Barn which was a tuck shop/cafe in those days for a Zoom lolly or a Mivi. On you way to the Barn you passed a massive oak tree on your right hand side - this was where my eldest brother and I took shelter one afternoon during a thunderstorm - my father luckily came to take us home as the following day when we went back there the tree had been split in half by lightening!! I also remember helping myself to some crocuses from the beautiful flower beds and being chased by the park keeper almost all the way home! Many other lovely summer days were also spent at Baylis Lido - in fact you could get there by squeezing through the fence in Salt Hill Park and going through the tunnel and there you were in Baylis Park with its little pond. On the days we were lucky enough to go to the Lido we felt really privileged, you paid your pennies to get in and changed in the bleak changing rooms and then got your rubber bands and set off with your towels and chose your spot. I will always remember the blue fountain there, and the impressive diving boards, the little playground and the little tuck shop and I always chose oxo flavoured crisps - haven't seen that flavour since childhood in fact. Also we were lucky enough to have the Community Centre in Farnham Road where we could use the indoor pool if the weather wasn't too good - the best of both worlds in fact. Of course always happy memories of the Saturday morning flicks as we called them and I was a Slough Granadier myself, I fondly remember the little dancing competitions they would have on the stage during the interval and if you were lucky enough to win you would have your choice from the usherette's tray - within reason of course. I still remember the foot and hand prints and signatures of various famous people in the paving stones outside the cinema but cannot for the life of me remember who the celebrities were. Then there were the Sunday family days out - either spent cycling up to Cippenham and beyond or getting on the bus to Maidenhead or on special days out getting onto the train to Windsor from Slough Station and having our photo taken standing next to one of the guards in his sentry box outside Windsor Castle. Then after a walk around the town,not forgetting to call into Woolworth for the must have pick and mix from its wooden trays on the counter and not missing the chance to see the crooked house again and the ancient glass clock set in the pavement, we would stroll down to the river to feed the swans and if we were very lucky we would go on a boat ride to Teddington Lock and back. I'm sure many of these childhood haunts will have long disappeared but the memories will always remain of a truly happy childhood in Slough from the ages of 3 to 11 during the years 1961-1970.


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