Postcards from Slough
Postcards from Slough

Note: Pages about areas of Slough such as this one are based on historic or accepted common usage rather than the artificial boundaries of the wards as set up by the Local Government Boundary Commission.

Chalvey and Salt Hill

Salt Hill was a distinct village until the establishment of the Trading Estate to the west in the 1920s when Slough expanded to take in the settlement. It is now part of Chalvey Ward.

As with other villages along the Bath Road, Salt Hill was a centre for staging inns. The most famous was the Windmill which attracted several famous visitors such as Pitt the Younger and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In 1814, the Prince Regent hosted a breakfast at the Windmill for the King of Prussia and his sons, the Emperor of Russia, and the Prince of Orange.

A grey heron in Salt Hill Park

Salt Hill Park

Salt Hill Park was funded by local businessman and benefactor James Elliman. He had the land landscaped and donated it to Slough Council in trust for its citizens. It was opened in 1907 and was the first public open space in Slough.

Kashmiri Karahi restaurant in Salt Hill Park

During the Second World War, the iron railings were removed to be melted down ostensibly to provide raw material for the war effort. The true fate of the railings is not known but a similar fate befell the railing of London parks and there is strong speculation that the metal was not suitable for recycling so it was dumped in the Thames Estuary; the whole exercise merely being a propaganda exercise.

 

Adjacent to the car park accessed from the A4, is the Absolutely Ten Pin bowling alley. There are also sports changing facilities next to the car park. From the centre of the park to the east side are eight tenniscourts, along with a skate/skateboarding park and courts for other ball games. On the other side of the restaurant is the Salt Hill Café. 

 

In the north-west corner is woodland and from here Chalvey Brook emerges from a siphon tunnel to run down the west side of the park, weeping willow prevalent on the west bank.

A flowerbed near the front of the park

 

The Eton Montem

The Montem Mound, which adjacent to the Slough Ice Arena, is thought to be a Saxon or a Bronze Age burial mound and figured in an old Eton College boy’s ritual known as the Eton Montem. The name Montem comes from mount.

Montem Mound

 

The event evolved from the 16th century into a march by the boys to the mound every Whit Tuesday and they would collect ‘salt’ or money from passers-by to support the senior scholar of the school. Remember that salt was highly valued in ancient times and used as currency by many civilisations so was probably slang for money. The ceremony changed at some point from annually to once every three years until it was discontinued sometime after 1844.

Maidenhair Tree Ginkgo Biloba

The Maidenhair is the sole survivor of an ancient family and fossils of it have been in coal seams formed 250 million years ago. It was introduced to Europe in the 18th century. Its wood is light, weak and of no commercial value. It’s a deciduous tree; its heart or fan-shaped leaves are green in the summer turning bright yellow before falling in autumn.

John Tawell (1784–1845)

John Tawell committed a murder in Slough and became the first person to be arrested by the police using telecommunications technology. In 1822 he forged a £10 note from Smith’s Bank. The bank being owned by Quakers appealed for his sentence commuted from the death penalty to transportation to Australia. He later became a successful chemist in Sydney.

 

By 1831, Tawell and his family returned to London and he employed a nurse, Sarah Lawrence, to look after his wife who had fallen ill. His wife died in 1838. The nurse changed her name to Sarah Hart and Tawell began an affair with her. The couple had two children and Tawell arranged for the three of them to live in a cottage in Salt Hill, Slough.

 

By 1843 Tawell was having financial problems and decided to get rid of Sarah. On New Year’s Day, 1845, he visited her at the cottage and poisoned her with a treatment for varicose veins that contained hydrogen cyanide. Sometime later Sarah was found dead in her home and a man resembling Tawell had been seen leaving the house.

The police found that a man answering Tawell’s description had booked a ticket on a train to London. They telegraphed Paddington Station requesting his arrest. The Cooke-Wheatstone telegraph of the day had limitations and six letters of the alphabet; C, J, Q, U, X and Z, could not be represented. In the message the letter J was substituted by G and the letter Q by K. The message read:

 

A murder has gust been committed at Salt Hill and the suspected murderer was seen to take a first class ticket to London by the train which left Slough at 742 pm

 

He is in the garb of a Kwaker with a great coat on which reaches nearly down to his feet he is in the last compartment of the second class compartment

Image from Grace's Guide

Tawell was followed to his home by a sergeant of the railway police dressed in a long civilian coat. The murderer was arrested the next day, tried for the murder of Sarah Hart and was hanged in public on 28th March 1845 in Aylesbury.

 

The two telegraph instruments used in the incident were presented to the Science Museum in London in 1876 by their maker, Reid Brothers, where they have been preserved.

St Peter’s Church

Built in 1860-61, St Peter’s Church is a Grade II* listed building designed by noted Victorian architect GE Street. Details about the church can be accessed by clicking on the button below the photograph.

St Peter’s Church

St Peter’s Church has a war memorial dedicated to the fallen service personnel of the First World War. One of the names is Youens who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. His story is told on the Slough at War page which can be accessed by clicking on the button below.

Chalvey Community Forum

The Chalvey Community Forum is a group of local residents who meet on a regular basis to discuss issues that concern the community of Chalvey and Salt Hill. The meetings are attended by a member of Slough Borough Council and a member of the Community Police.

 

The forum, working with the council, local volunteers and other organisations, help to organise the restoration of local features. Recent and near future examples include the clean up of Templewood and Salt Hill Stream and Chalvey Brook.

 

To learn more about the Chalvey Community Forum, visit their website by clicking on the button below.

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Postcards from Slough gratefully uses images from Grace's Guide.

www.gracesguide.co.uk

 

 

Postcards from Slough contributes material to British Listed Buildings and uses the site for cross referencing purposes.

www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk

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