Maidenhead is a large town in Berkshire, England, on the south-western bank of the River Thames. With a population of about 73,000, Maidenhead is the largest town in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
Thames Riviera Hotel (left) and Maidenhead Bridge (built 1777) from across the River Thames
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The antiquary John Leland claimed that the area around Maidenhead's present town centre was a small Roman settlement called Alaunodunum. He stated that it had all but disappeared by the end of the Roman occupation. Although his source is unknown, there is documented and physical evidence of Roman settlement in the town with two well known villa sites in the town, one being in the suburb of Cox Green, and the other just west of the town centre on Castle Hill, which sits alongside the route of the Camlet Way. This was a Roman road that ran between Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) and Colchester (Camulodunum) via St Albans,(Verulamium) and passes through the present town centre. Remnants of the road have been unearthed at various locations nearby, but its exact route is unclear.
Maidenhead's name stems from the riverside area where the first "New wharf" or "Maiden Hythe" was built, as early as Saxon times. In the year 870, an army of Danes invaded the kingdom of Wessex and disembarked from their longboats by the old wharf/ ferry crossing at Maidenhead, and fought their way over land to Reading where they set up camp and made it their regional power base. The area of the present town centre was originally a small Anglo-Saxon town known as "South Ellington" and would have likely developed on the Camlet Way (the only known road through the area at the time and site of Leland's Alaunodunum) as the Bath Road was not re routed until the late 13th century. Maidenhead is recorded in the Domesday Book as the settlement of Ellington in the hundred of Beynhurst.
A wooden bridge was erected across the river in about 1280 to replace the ferry in South Ellington. The Great West Road to Reading, Gloucester and Bristol was diverted over the new bridge. Previously, it had kept to the north bank and crossed the Thames by ford at Cookham, and the medieval town, later to become Maidenhead grew up on the site of Alaunodunum and South Ellington, between the new bridge and the bottom of Castle Hill. Within a few years a new wharf was constructed next to the bridge and the South Ellington name was dropped with the town becoming known as Maidenhythe (literally meaning "new wharf"). The earliest record of this name change is in the Bray Court manorial rolls of 1296.
The bridge led to the growth of medieval Maidenhead as a market town and a major stopping point for coaches on the journeys between London, Gloucester and Bath and the town became populated with numerous inns. By the 18th century, Maidenhead was one of the busiest coaching towns in England with over ninety coaches a day passing through the town. The late 18th century Bear Hotel on the High Street is the best of the town's old coaching inns surviving to this day.
The current Maidenhead Bridge, a local landmark, dates from 1777 and was built at a cost of £19,000.
King Charles I met his children for the last time before his execution in 1649 at the Greyhound Inn on the High Street, the site of which is now a branch of the NatWest Bank. A plaque commemorates their meeting.
When the Great Western Railway came to the town, it began to expand. Muddy roads were replaced and public services were installed. The High Street began to change again, and substantial Victorian red brick architecture began to appear throughout the town. Maidenhead became its own entity in 1894, being split from the civil parishes of both Bray and Cookham.
Maidenhead Citadel Corps of the Salvation Army was first opened in the town in the mid-1880s. Maidenhead Citadel Band was soon founded in 1886 by Bandmaster William Thomas, who later became mayor of the town.
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The town is part of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, with an urban population of around 95,000. It was previously an independent municipal borough. Maidenhead is one of the safest Conservative seats in the country, and the current MP is Theresa May of the Conservative Party, who was first elected in 1997 and has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 13 July 2016. The mayor of Windsor & Maidenhead is Councillor Paul Lion (Conservative).
The Maidenhead urban area includes urban and suburban regions within the bounds of the town, called Maidenhead Court, North Town, Furze Platt (which in 2012 gained a conservation area), Pinkneys Green, Highway, Tittle Row, Boyn Hill, Fishery and Bray Wick; as well as built-up areas in surrounding civil parishes: Cox Green and Altwood in Cox Green parish, Woodlands Park in White Waltham parish, and part of Bray Wick in Bray parish. Bray village is linked to Maidenhead by the exclusive Fishery Estate which lies on the banks of the Thames. To the east, on the opposite side of the river from Maidenhead, is the large village of Taplow in Buckinghamshire which almost adjoins the suburban village of Burnham, Buckinghamshire, which is in itself part of the urban area of the large, industrial town of Slough. To the north are the Cookhams, Cookham Village, Cookham Rise and Cookham Dean. To the west is the area of Pinkneys Green. These lie south of the Berkshire-Buckinghamshire border, which is formed by the River Thames (which then bends southwards to form the Maidenhead-Taplow border). To the south is the village of Holyport. Continuing by road to the South-East leads to the historic, royal twin towns of Windsor and Eton.
Maidenhead was originally the planned western terminus for the Crossrail line (to and through London) until Reading station, situated 13 miles (21 km) southwest of Maidenhead, was chosen.
Maidenhead lies immediately west of the Taplow ridge; a wooded spur of the Chilterns which rises dramatically above one of the most scenic stretches of the Thames. The ridge is crowned by the spectacular Cliveden House which can be seen from various parts of the town.
The distances between Maidenhead and surrounding towns are as follows:
- Marlow 5 miles (8 km)
- Windsor 7 miles (11 km)
- Slough 7 miles (11 km)
- Henley on Thames 7 miles (11 km)
- High Wycombe 9 miles (14 km)
- Reading 13 miles (21 km)
- London 31 miles (50 km)
- Oxford 32 miles (51 km)
Maidenhead has a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the northern outskirts of the town called Cannoncourt Farm Pit, where the largest hand axe of the paleolithic era in Britain was discovered. The town also has a local nature reserve called The Gullet.
Maidenhead clock tower was built for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee and is located outside the railway station.
Maidenhead Bridge was built in 1777. It takes the A4 over the Thames to join Maidenhead to Taplow.
All Saints' Church, Boyne Hill was completed in 1857 is one of the finest examples of the early work of the architect G. E. Street. The site is also regarded by many as the premier architectural site in the town. The church, consecrated on 2 December 1857 by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, became the first ecclesiastical parish in the Borough of Maidenhead.
Maidenhead has a long history, going back to the Anglo-Saxon and Roman periods. Despite this, there are no visible architectural remains in the present day town to show this. Although there are attractive residential and green areas in and around Maidenhead, the town centre has been redeveloped in piecemeal fashion since the 1960s and subsequently has lost most of its traditional English market town character. The High Street/ Bridge Street areas only possess one heavily restored Medieval building and a handful of Georgian buildings in the Chapel Arches area. Research by the New Economics Foundation rated Maidenhead as an example of a clone town and the town centre is regarded as in need of improvement. In December 2007, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead set up the Partnership for the Regeneration of Maidenhead (PRoM), which in October 2008 launched a comprehensive 20 Year Vision and Action Plan for rejuvenating the town centre. Launch of the plan coincided with confirmation by central government that Maidenhead will be part of the new Crossrail project. PRoM's plans highlight five key developments which will help shape the town for the future. A large new high rise retail and residential development called 'The Landing' is due for construction shortly, along with an upgraded train station and transport interchange, movement of the football and bowls clubs and linking Kidwells Park into the High Street. The Chapel Arches retail development is under construction, restoring the old Thames tributaries which run through a historic section of the town centre as an attractive feature and amenity in the town. New apartments, boutique stores and restaurants, bars, and cafes are to be a feature of this new waterfront quarter of the town centre. The adjoining historic section of the High Street around the 18th Century Chapel Arches Bridge has been restored as part of the development. Existing Georgian and Victorian buildings have been rejuvenated and the adjoining new builds have been sensitively constructed in the same historic style to bring back a sense of history and lost heritage to this part of the town centre.
The average house price in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in 2011 was £461,421.
Maidenhead offers High Street shopping facilities including Nicholson's Centre, a shopping centre on the site of Nicholson's brewery. The town also offers an eight-screen Odeon multiplex cinema, a leisure centre (with swimming pool), called the Magnet, and a bowling alley. Help with shopping in the town centre can be provided by the Shopmobility service on the ground floor of Nicholson's car park.
The Reitlinger Open Space on Guards Club Road is named after Henry Reitlinger, a leading collector of fine art. On his death in 1950, the collection was vested in a trust, the Henry Reitlinger Bequest. The trustees were his adopted daughter, Mrs. M. Cocke, and a Maidenhead solicitor, who chose to house the collection at Oldfield House, now a private residence; the building dates back to 1892.
The (Brunel-built) Great Western Main Line passes through the town, calling at Maidenhead railway station and offering frequent, direct services to London, Reading, Newbury, Didcot and Oxford. Additionally, there are less frequent direct services to Banbury, Hereford, Worcester and Great Malvern. It passes over Brunel's Maidenhead Railway Bridge (known locally as the Sounding Arch), famous for its flat brick arches. Maidenhead Station is the beginning of the Marlow Branch Line from Maidenhead to Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Furze Platt railway station on this branch also serves the northern area of Maidenhead. Rail services have been provided by Great Western since 2003-04. From December 2019 the station will form part of the western section of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail).
The A4 runs through the town and crosses the Thames over Maidenhead Bridge. The town lies adjacent to junction 8/9 on the M4 motorway and is accessed via the A404(M) and A308(M). The A308(M), A404(M) and A404 form the Marlow and Maidenhead bypass which also acts as an important link between the M4, to the south of the town, and M40 at High Wycombe.
The River Thames runs 1⁄2 mile (800 m) to the east of the town centre, and York Stream, which runs through the town centre, connects to the Thames via a system of disused waterways. A renewal scheme is in progress to reopen these waterways. The Jubilee River, part of the flood defence scheme, begins above Boulter's Lock nearby.
Maidenhead's industries include: software, plastics, pharmaceuticals, printing and telecommunications.
Situated on the River Thames, the town is a rowing centre. Maidenhead Rowing Club organises the Maidenhead Regatta which, along with Marlow Regatta and Henley Regatta, is often seen as a testing ground for olympic rowing athletes. Maidenhead has often seen winners go on to represent the United Kingdom at the Olympic games.
The town's football team, Maidenhead United, play at York Road, which is the oldest football ground in the world continuously used by the same team. Maidenhead United were crowned champions of National League South at the end of the 2016/17 season. Due to this, the team were automatically promoted to the National League (fifth tier of English Football) for the 2017/18 season.
The Maidenhead Rugby Club was founded in 1921 and is the largest organised sports team in the town. It consists of four men's teams, a women's team and a large youth programme. The men's team attracts international talent from all over the world including American Tobin Thompson and Fijian Antinio Mawara.
In September 2011 the town hosted the first ever Maidenhead Half Marathon.
The town is also home to Maidenhead Sailing Club at Summerleaze Lake which is home to one of the largest Albacore fleets in the area. Maidenhead Golf Club was founded in 1896 and is situated close by the town centre and station in Shoppenhangers Road. The course was designed by the eminent golf architect Harry S. Colt.
FPD- A Senior social football team has played teams from the twin towns starting with a home and away leg with Bad Godesberg. Future fixtures against St-Cloud and Frascati to follow.
The local newspaper is The Maidenhead Advertiser.
The head office of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is based in Maidenhead on Marlow Road.
Further educational institutionsEdit
- Berkshire College of Agriculture is based in Maidenhead.
- Altwood Church of England School
- Cox Green School
- Desborough College (previously Maidenhead Grammar School)
- Furze Platt Senior School
- Newlands Girls' School (previously County High School for Girls, Maidenhead)
- All Saints CofE Junior School
- Courthouse Junior School
- Furze Platt Infant School (caters for Reception - Year 2)
- Furze Platt Junior School (caters for Year 3-6)
- Holyport Primary School
- Lowbrook Academy
- Oldfield Primary School
- Riverside Primary School
- St Edmund Campion Primary School (RC)
- St. Lukes CofE School
- St. Mary's Primary School (RC)
- Wessex Primary School
- White Waltham C of E Primary School
- Woodlands Park Primary School
- Beech Lodge School (co-ed 7-17)
- Claires Court (all-through 3-18:- co-ed Nursery [3-5]; girls [4-16] & boys [4-16] in a diamond shape; co-ed Sixth Form)
- Herries School (co-ed 3-11)
- Highfield School (boys 2-4; girls 2–11)
- St Piran's School (co-ed 3–11)
The closest higher education institution is Buckinghamshire New University in High Wycombe 14.5 km (9 mi) to the north. The University of Reading and University of West London (Berkshire Institute of Health-Reading) are both approximately 21 km (13 mi) to the south-west.
Maidenhead is twinned with:
- Saint-Cloud, Hauts-de-Seine, France (since 1957)
- Bad Godesberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (since 1960)
- Frascati, Lazio, Italy (since 1972)
- Kortrijk (Courtrai) West Flanders, Belgium (since 1981)
Each year youths from the four towns and Berlin-Steglitz (twinned with Bad Godesberg) compete against one another in sports such as volleyball, football, athletics and swimming in the Twin Towns Sports Competition, hosted in turn by each of the five towns. In Maidenhead town centre there are roads named after three of the twin towns (Bad Godesberg Way, Frascati Way and St Cloud Way). Local schools often participate in student exchanges with pupils being exchanged between schools within the twinned towns.
Notable people and businessesEdit
A number of notable figures can be counted amongst Maidenhead's current and former residents. The actress Diana Dors (1931-1984) resided for much of her life in the town, in several properties, while the broadcaster Richard Dimbleby (1913-1965) lived for sometime on Boulter's Island. Author Hugh Lofting (1886-1947), creator of Doctor Dolittle, was born in Maidenhead.
Essayist and novelist Nick Hornby (b. 1957) was educated at Maidenhead Grammar School (now Desborough School), as were children's television presenter and radio show host Toby Anstis (b. 1968), author and broadcaster John O'Farrell (b. 1962), athlete Mark Richardson (b. 1972) and well known "Dragon" Peter Jones (b. 1966).
Maidenhead's riverside location has drawn many celebrities, including former broadcaster Michael Parkinson (b. 1935). The Spice Girls shared a house in Maidenhead for a year preceding their rise to stardom.
The film director brothers Roy (1913-2001) and John Boulting(1913-1985) were born in Bray village on the outskirts of Maidenhead in November 1913.
Pinkneys Green in the town was home to Sir Nicholas Winton (1909-2015), whose heroic efforts rescued 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia just before the outbreak of World War II. There is a statue of him at Maidenhead Railway Station.
Former disabled London Marathon competitor Patrick Sheehy lived in the town for just over 3 years.
Edd China (1971-), an English TV presenter, mechanic, motor specialist and inventor lives and works here.
Petre Nikiloski (b. 1959), Macedonian born British based visual artist who lives and works in Maidenhead.
Mary Ann Browne (1812–1845) was a British poet and writer of musical scores.
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