Thames Riviera Hotel, Bandstand Gardens and Maidenhead Bridge from across the Thames in Taplow
Maidenhead shown within Berkshire
|OS grid reference||SU889811|
|– London||30 mi (48 km)|
|Unitary authority||Windsor and Maidenhead|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Maidenhead is a large town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire, England. It lies south of the River Thames (although at Maidenhead the river runs north-south so the town is in fact on its west bank). The town has a population in 2011 of 67,404. Its urban area (including the adjoining suburban villages of Bray, Holyport, Pinkneys Green, Taplow (Buckinghamshire) Cox Green, White Waltham and Woodlands Park) has a population of just under 90,000. The mainline railway station was set to be the terminus of the Crossrail line until the announcement was made that Reading was to be the new terminus.
Maidenhead's name stems from the riverside area where the "New wharf" or "Maiden Hythe" was built, perhaps as early as Saxon times. It has been suggested that the nearby Great Hill of Taplow was called the "Mai Dun" by the Iron Age Brythons. The area of the town centre was originally known as "South Ellington" and is recorded in the Domesday Book as Ellington in the hundred of Beynhurst.
In 1280, a bridge was erected across the river to replace a ferry in what was then the hamlet of South Ellington. The Great West Road to Reading, Gloucester and Bristol was diverted over the new bridge – previously it kept to the north bank and crossed the Thames by ford at Cookham—and medieval Maidenhead grew up around it. Within a few years a wharf was constructed next to the bridge and the South Ellington name was dropped with the area 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 Maidenhead: a stopping point for coaches on the journeys between London and Bath and the High Street became populated with inns. 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.
The town is part of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, with an urban population of around 80,000. It was previously an independent municipal borough. The town is one of the safest Conservative seats in the country, with the current MP for the Maidenhead Constituency being Theresa May (Conservative), the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The mayor is Councillor Sayonara Luxton (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 itself is still separate. To the east, on the opposite side of the river from Maidenhead, is the village of Taplow in Buckinghamshire. A few miles further on is 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 town of Windsor.
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 is as follows:
- Marlow 5 miles (8 km)
- Windsor 7 miles (11 km)
- Henley on Thames 7 miles (11 km)
- High Wycombe 9 miles (14 km)
- Reading 13 miles (21 km)
On 12 July 1901, Maidenhead entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 60-min total rainfall at 92 mm (3.6 in). As of July 2015, this record remains.
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 is in England's Silicon Corridor along the M4 motorway west of London. Many residents commute to work in London, or to the towns of Slough and Reading. Due to its similar character, Maidenhead is sometimes called the Bruges of middle England, though it is not as nice.
Maidenhead's industries include: software, plastics, pharmaceuticals, printing and telecommunications.
Although there are attractive residential and green areas in and around Maidenhead, the town centre is widely 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 the western terminus of the new Crossrail project. PRoM's plans highlight five key developments which will help shape the town for the future — a large new retail triangle at Queen Street/King Street, an upgraded transport interchange, movement of the football and bowls clubs, linking Kidwells Park into the High Street and restoring the old waterway as an attractive feature and amenity in the town centre.
Research by the New Economics Foundation rated Maidenhead as an example of a clone town. It offers reasonable High Street shopping facilities including Nicholson's Centre, a shopping centre on the site of Nicholson's brewery. The town also offers an 8-screen Odeon multiplex cinema, a leisure centre (with swimming pool), called the Magnet, and a bowling alley. There is also Norden Farm Centre for the Arts (an arts centre including a theatre). Help with shopping in the town centre can be provided by the Shopmobility service on the ground floor of Nicholson's car park.
Maidenhead Heritage Centre and Museum was established in 1993 and moved to permanent premises in a former pub in Park Street in 2006.
Maidenhead Citadel Band of the Salvation Army still takes an active role in the life of the town.
Waltham Place Estate on Church Hill includes an ornamental garden integrated within a 200-acre (81 ha) organic and biodynamic farm estate. It is promoted by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The Reitlinger Open Space on Guards Club Road is named after Henry Reitlinger. Henry Reitlinger was 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 links to London, Reading and Oxford. 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 and was one of the proposed termini for the London Crossrail scheme. Furze Platt railway station also serves the northern area of Maidenhead.
CrossRail will take a part of the station after its completion in 2018.
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 (accessed via the A404(M) and A308(M)). The M4 and M40 are linked by the A404(M)/ A404 which skirts the western side of Maidenhead.
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 (October 2007) to reopen these waterways. The Jubilee River, part of the flood defence scheme, begins above Boulter's Lock nearby.
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 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 Godesburg. 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 institutions
- Berkshire College of Agriculture is based in Maidenhead.
- Altwood Church of England School
- Cox Green School
- Desborough College (formerly Desborough School and Maidenhead Grammar School)
- Furze Platt Senior School
- Newlands Girls' School (previously Maidenhead High School)
- 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
- Claires Court School (boys 11–16)
- Highfield School (girls 4–11)
- Ridgeway (boys 4–11)
- St Piran's School (co-ed 3–11)
- The College (girls 4–16)
The closest higher education institution is the Thames Valley University (TVU) campus at Slough (9.5 km (5.9 miles) to the east). Reading College (formerly TVU Reading) and the University of Reading are both approximately 21 km (13 mi) to the 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 businesses
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.
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