The BBC news website has posted a slideshow about the history, and future, of Broadmoor Hospital. It’s now 150 years since the Hospital (or Asylum as it was originally) opened to both male and female patients.
Here’s something a little different: a video on YouTube showing a drive around the village way back in 1987! It’s surprising how similar a lot of the place looks – in many places it could almost be from the present day if there weren’t all the old Escorts and Astras and things about.
Something slightly different for this post: Back in early May this year, Crowthorne was enveloped in smoke from one of the biggest forest fires in the area for many years. Some people were evacuated from their homes on Brookers Row, businesses had to close, and roads were shut.
The village featured on local and national news reports covering a spate of forest fires around the UK. The Crowthorne fire was notable in that it was much closer to homes and businesses than usual fires in the area, and spread rapidly to cover a wide area. At its peak, there were more fire engines and personnel tackling the blaze than were deployed when Windsor Castle caught fire in the early 1990s, with crews coming in from surrounding counties to try to beat the blaze. To access enough water to tackle the fire, they pumped water from lakes at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, leading to huge hoses running through the woods. The bypass was closed for several days, with the top of Foresters Way becoming a makeshift fire-engine park.
The trees weren’t the only fuel for the fire: a lot of the ground in the area is peat, which can smoulder underground for some time and helped the fire continue for so long. The breeze also whipped up flames and spread the blaze. At one point, the fire got to within a couple of hundred yards of my office.
During the fire and immediate aftermath, I took some photos and a couple of video clips. There’s plenty of other photos and videos on Flickr and YouTube – it was quite an exciting thing to happen round here, so lots of people seemed to go out with their cameras.
Six months on, they’ve bulldozed a lot of the scorched trees and cleared the ground so that they can plant new trees, including more fire-resistant varieties to help prevent something on this scale happening in future.
Franked Crowthorne, Berks, unreadable date. The Frith website lists the photo as “Lower Broadmoor 1925, Crowthorne“
This road is now known as Chaplain’s Hill. The houses are still there, and there are some garages as well now. The trees in the centre aren’t there any more, having at some point been removed to provide a small parking area.
The postcard is undated.
The Frith website lists the photo as “Church And Cross 1914, Crowthorne″.
The postcard is undated.
This is the main entrance into Wellington College. I think I once read that the gates get their name not from their location, but because they were given to the College by the West family. (more…)
The Pinewood Leisure Centre, as it’s now known, is in Wokingham Without rather than in Crowthorne. I believe Pinewood Sanatorium was set up as a TB hospital for patients from London. In World War II it was a US Air Force hospital. In the 1970s the site began being used to house various locals sports clubs and groups. It now houses gym, judo, boxing, shooting, tug-of-war and model railways clubs (amongst others). It also has a mini railway and allotments.
Though still very recognisable as Crowthorne High Street, the road today is much changed – there’s speed bumps, more traffic, a bench & planter near the lamp post, and the shops have all changed. The delicatessen on the left is now Crowthorne Cycles (and has been for many years), the H.F. Money building has been replaced by a 1970s(?) building housing a charity shop, a pharmacy, and This ‘n’ That, and Sworder’s greengrocers shop became Monica’s clothes shop in (I think) the early-mid 1980s.
The large building with the awning has long been C.T. Bell’s electrical shop, though whether it was when this picture was taken, I don’t know.