The River Thames from Henley to Windsor

Richard Poad has been Chairman of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre for the past 15 years and has been the driving force behind the project. The Centre has recently acquired a permanent home in Maidenhead. He was also awarded an MBE for services to the heritage of Maidenhead. He is a retired airline pilot and has owned a narrow boat for 32 years so he knows the waterways intimately.

Richard took us along the river by means of photos and paintings and many interesting snippets of informa- tion relating to all the villages/towns we passed, however he started his talk by telling us of the current exhibition at the heritage centre “Buried Treasure the Archaeology of the Maidenhead Area” which displays many archaeological finds around the Maidenhead area including stone axes and bronze age swords.

The armchair “tour” commenced at Henley for this ride down the river with pictures from 100 years ago, he explained that the banks were straightened out for the Regatta so it was a straight run from Temple Island. Hambledon is next up and we were asked to think about what came first: the weir, the mill or the lock. On to Medmenham Abbey, then Harleyford – the house, which is now offices was designed by Robert Taylor, who also designed Maidenhead Bridge, then to Temple Lock, showing the footbridge and then an aerial shot taken in 2003 of the floods.

Bisham Church was very recognizable as was Marlow Bridge and the plaques fixed below the bridge “sigil de desbro 1860”. This is apparently the date the original wooden beams of the bridge were replaced with steel. Another aerial shot, this time of the Mar- low Mill area which Richard told us ground rape seed in the 18th century. The flash lock was called the Lion’s Mouth with the winch at the end of St Peter’s Street.

On to Quarrywood Hall and further to Bourne End, the photo showing the sailing club. I did not know there was an ‘international airport’ behind the Quarry Hotel, at Cockmarsh. On to Cookham and Swan Upping, with a painting by Stanley Spencer which Richard told us was painted in two halves, part before and part after the war and the styles are noticeably different. Richard then showed us a picture of Spring Cottage, on the river on the Cliveden estate, which was built as a tea house by the Duchess of Sutherland who entertained Queen Victoria. 100 years later Spring Cottage was rented by Stephen Ward, the osteopath at the centre of the Profumo affair.

On to Maidenhead Bridge and the Turner painting featuring Brunel’s railway bridge, also to Bray showing the George before it became the Waterside. The aerial view of Dorney Rowing Lake was particularly interesting as it showed its relation to the Jubilee River. We then went to Monkey Island, Boveney and finished at Windsor. Richard showed us three different paintings of the castle, one fairly accurate one with extra turrets and one pure Disney. This is where we disembarked from our “tour”.

It made me stop and think again how much we have on our doorstep that I take for granted and visitors come from miles to stay and visit.

Thank you Richard for reminding us of our local heritage.

Richard had on sale, for the benefit of the Heritage Centre, maps and books, one of which was a history of the Berkshire Archaeological Research Group by Janet Firth. Richard’s talk fee also goes to support the Centre.

Normal opening is Tuesdays to Saturdays 10am to 4pm, also on the 2nd Sunday of each month, 10am to 12.30pm (Farmers’ Market Day) 01628 780555 email is info@maidenheadheritage.org.uk. Web site is www.maidenheadheritage.org.uk

Richard also gives talks on other subjects.

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