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Aerial View of Slough Trading Estate.JPG
Slough Trading Estate
Grid reference: SU978797
Location: 51°30’36"N, 0°35’35"W
Post town: Slough
Postcode: SL1-SL3
Dialling code: 01753
Local Government
Council: Slough

Slough is a town in the south of Buckinghamshire. It is a modern industrial town, ruthlessly developed since the early twentieth century, a development which has never stopped.

Slough is home to the Slough Trading Estate, which, coupled with extensive transport links, makes it an important business centre in south-east England. Slough Trading Estate is the largest trading estate in Britain and Europe.

Outside Slough the Buckinghamshire countryside is amongst the county's best; while Slough has drawn poetic scorn from John Betjeman, nearby Stoke Poges remains in the state of beauty elegised by John Gray in Elegy in a Country Churchyard.

Slough began as a small village in the Parish of Upton-cum-Chalvey and developed by expansion, overwhelming and amalgamating villages along and beside the Great West Road, and now its replacement, the A4. Original villages that are now suburbs of Slough include Chalvey, Cippenham, Colnbrook, Langley, Poyle, Upton and Wexham, and areas including Brands Hill, Britwell, Huntercombe, Manor Park, Salt Hill, Upton Lea, and Windsor Meadows.

Slough has 96 listed buildings.[1] There are

  • 4 Grade I:
  • 7 Grade II:
    • St Mary's Church (Upton-cum-Chalvey)
    • Upton Court
    • the Kederminster and Seymour Almshouses in Langley
    • St Peter's Church (Chalvey)
    • The Ostrich Inn (Colnbrook)
    • King John's Palace (Colnbrook)
  • Grade II listed structures include four milestones; Beech, Oak and Linden Houses at Upton Hospital; and Slough station


Locomotive near the engine shed at Slough, October 1955

The Domesday Book of 1086 does not list Slough itself, though Upton, and a wood for 200 pigs, worth £15. During the 13th century, King Henry III had a palace at Cippenham. Parts of Upton Court were built in 1325, while St Mary the Virgin Church in Langley was probably built in the late 11th or early 12th century, though it has been enlarged several times.

The first recorded uses of the name Slough occur as Slo in 1196, Sloo in 1336, and Le Slowe, Slowe or Slow in 1437. It was a hamlet on the junction of the Great North Road and the road to Windsor, between Upton to the east and Chalvey to the west.[2] It is shown on the local enclosure map of the eighteenth century as a separate hamlet.

From the middle of the 17th century, stagecoaches began to pass through Slough and Salt Hill, which became locations for the second stage to change horses on the journey out from London. By 1838 and the opening of the Great Western Railway, Upton-cum-Chalvey's parish population had reached 1,502. In 1849, a branch line was completed from Slough Station to Windsor and Eton Central Railway Station, opposite Windsor Castle, for the Queen's convenience.

After 1918 a large area of agricultural land to the west of Slough was developed as an army motor repair depot, used to store and repair huge numbers of motor vehicles coming back from the battlefields. In April 1920 the Government sold the site and its contents to the Slough Trading Co Ltd. Repair of ex-army vehicles continued until 1925 when the Slough Trading Company Act was passed allowing the company (now Slough Estates Ltd) to establish an Industrial Estate.[3] Spectacular growth and employment ensued, with Slough attracting workers from many parts of the UK and abroad.

After the Second World War, several further large housing developments arose to take large numbers of people migrating from war-damaged London.

Current developments

In the 21st century Slough has seen major redevelopment in the town centre. Old buildings are being replaced with new offices and shopping complexes. Tesco have replaced an existing superstore with a larger Tesco Extra. The Heart of Slough Project is an ambitious plan for the redevelopment of Slough's town centre. The aim is to create a leading European and national focus and cultural quarter for the creative media, information and communications industries. It will create a mixed-use complex, multi-functional buildings, visual landmarks and a public space in the Thames Valley. Recommendations for the £400 million project have been approved,[4] and planning approval was given by Slough Borough Council's planning committee on 9 July 2009.[5] Work is scheduled to begin in 2009 for completion in 2018.[6]

The newly refurnished entrance to the Queensmere Shopping Mall

In December 2009, 2 key components of the project were signed, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) signed its agreement to provide £11m of funding for the infrastructure of the scheme and Thames Valley University (TVU) courses which are due to remain in the town have found a new home at The Centre in Farnham Road, Slough[7] In parallel to the town centre redevelopment plan, SEGRO (owners of the Slough Trading Estate) are planning on spending £600 million over the next 20 years on the trading estate. Creating environmentally sustainable buildings, open green spaces, two hotels, a conference centre, cafés, restaurants, and better transport facilities to improve links to Slough town centre and the surrounding residential areas. It is estimated that the plan will create more than 4,100 new jobs and contribute around £100m a year to Slough's economy.[8] If both plans go ahead in their current forms, it will mean nearly £1 billion will be spent on redeveloping Slough over the next 20 years.

Herschel Park (known as Upton Park until 1949), is currently being relandscaped in a multimillion-pound effort to bring it back to its former Victorian era glory.[9]

£2 million has been set aside to improve disabled access to Slough railway station in preparation for an expected increase in use during the 2012 London Olympics[10] Final preparations are underway for the regeneration of the Britwell suburb of Slough, the multimillion-pound upgrade will involve tearing down the dilapidated block of flats in Wentworth Avenue and replacing them with new homes, as well as relocating the shopping parade in the street to nearby Kennedy Park.[11] As part of the Heart of Slough project construction work on the modern bus station will start on Monday, 29 March 2010 following weeks of demolition work to half of the existing bus station and the removal of Compair House near the railway station; it is expected to be completed by January 2011.[12][13]

For many years, Slough's economy was mainly manufacturing-based. In the last 20 or so years there has been a major shift from a manufacturing to an information-based economy, with the closure of many factories (some of which have been in Slough for many decades). The factories are rapidly being replaced by office buildings. Hundreds of major companies have sited in Slough Trading Estate over the years, close to London Heathrow Airport and motorway connections.

Concerns for the architectural heritage in Slough - The Twentieth Century Society has stated that "[A] tragically high quantity of good buildings have been demolished in Slough in recent years, including grand Art Deco-styled factories by the likes of Wallis Gilbert and high-quality post-war offices. More are to come down as the town tries to erase its past and reinvent itself from scratch. Despite famously heckling Slough, John Betjeman's praise for the Town Hall's architecture as 'a striving for unity out of chaos' in 1948 has never been so relevant as today. C20 believes that the redevelopment of the Town Hall would be an act of vandalism to the civic centre and is supporting the Campaign to Save Slough's Heritage in their request for a review of the decision."

Cultural references

Observatory House, on the site where William Herschel lived
New apartments for young professionals and families
  • 1597: Arguably at least - In Act IV, Scene 5[14] of William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Bardolph reports he was waylaid by thieves: "so soon as I came beyond Eton, (cozenors) threw me off, from behind one of them, in a slough of mire". This could be a reference to Slough. In the same scene Cole-brooke (Colnbrook) is referenced along with Reading and Maidenhead.
  • 1932: (but set in the 26th century) In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World the chimneys of Slough Crematorium, around which Bernard Marx flies, are used to demonstrate the physio-chemical equality of all people.[15]
  • 1937: The poet John Betjeman wrote his poem Slough as a protest against the new town and 850 factories that had arisen in what had been formerly a rural area, which he considered an onslaught on the rural lifestyle:

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, death!

However, on the centenary of the poet's birth, the daughter of the poet apologised for the poem. Candida Lycett-Green said her father "regretted having ever written it". During her visit, Mrs Lycett-Green presented Mayor of Slough David MacIsaac with a book of her father's poems. In it was written: "We love Slough".[16]

Crossbow House features in the opening sequences and some of the filming for popular BBC comedy "The Office".
  • 2001, 2002, 2003: The BBC comedy series The Office is set in the sales office of a paper company in Slough, presenting it as a depressing post-industrial wasteland. The character David Brent comments on Betjeman's poem in the series, which also appears on the inside sleeve of the video and DVD of Series 1. In the US version, the office is located on "Slough Avenue" in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania.



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