I’ve just discovered the Open Domesday site, “The first free online copy of Domesday Book”. Crowthorne wasn’t even a speck on the map at that time, but I thought the results for the nearest places might be of interest: (more…)
An article from the 23 October 1901 issue of The Sketch, an illustrated weekly newspaper/magazine. The full text reads:
“During His Majesty’s Pleasure”
Life At Broadmoor Asylum
An extensive red-brick building, fashioned somewhat like a squat letter “H”, standing on a lofty eminence, amidst beautiful scenic surroundings, and wearing a generally bright and attractive appearance. That is the Asylum, at Crowthorne, in Berkshire, which received as patients the insane among criminals.
The only feature about it which bears any resemblance to a prison are the large, nail-studded entrance-gates. The grounds in the rear are arranged in terraces, leading down by stages to the cricket-field, a wide stretch on bright-green turf, level as a billiard-table, and flanked by the high outer wall. Viewed from the rear, the Asylum might pass well for the princely country abode of a distinguished nobleman. Standing immediately outside the building on the top terrace, one obtains a perfectly free and uninterrupted view of the surrounding country, the outer wall being hidden below the terraces. The building is designed to accommodate 486 male patients and 185 females. Upon the occasion of my visit, they had one male beyond their number, but twelve short of their full complement of females. Another wing is being added, which is to accommodate an additional eighty patients and will be ready next year.
An advert for Ravenswood School “for girls and little boys”. Ravenswood Village is now run by Norwood: http://www.norwood.org.uk/Page/Ravenswood
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.