Histories of Windsor
The Civic Trust Project,
Looking east, the removal of the high wall around the Castle opened up the entire area to great effect and, coupled with sympathetic redecoration of the facing shop fronts, was the most impressive feature of the Civic Trust Project.
In the following, we include additional photographs, plus contemporary notes about the project made at the time.
The following is a summary of the scheme which transformed the area around Windsor Castle in May 1961. Many of the residents of Windsor will have forgotten the dramatic effect that the co-ordinated scheme achieved. From Park Street in the east, past the Guildhall, along the High Street and Thames Street down the hill towards Windsor Bridge, the overall effect was quite superb.
Although time has marred the original concept of a homogeneous concept, where each building is painted in sympathy with its neighbours, there is much that remains as a permanent feature, in particular the removal of a high wall around the castle itself, opening up the grassy slope between the High Street and the Castle walls themselves.
buildings throughout the length of Windsor High Street.
and stylish litter bin on left! Note that in 1961, 'Ye Olde Harte and Garter' hotel was
simply 'The White Hart Hotel'
decorated in complimenting colour schemes.
The Rt. Hon. Duncan Sandys is to her right with local officials following.
This is the report that was prepared at the time following completion of the scheme.
The previous improvement schemes initiated
by the Civic Trust, in Magdalen Street, Norwich, and Burslem,
Stoke-on-Trent, were, in a sense, exercises in rejuvenation.
The former, a Cathedral City shopping street in decline, contained
a number of fine buildings and it sprang to life afresh after
a radical spring clean. The latter, a typical legacy of the nineteenth
century industrial revolution, had quite disintegrated and required
the creation of a new heart.
Origins and Sponsorship
Officers of the Windsor Corporation attended the opening of the Magdalen Street Scheme in 1959 and the Corporation subsequently approached the Trust with a view to initiating a similar project. Joint meetings were held with the Chamber of Trade and, after it became clear that there was support for the idea, the Trust agreed to undertake the co-ordination of a scheme. Mr. Noel Tweddell, FRIBA, DistTP, formerly Chief Architect and Planner of Basildon New Town, was nominated as Co-ordinating Architect. It was decided that the scheme should embrace the whole of Lower Thames Street, Thames Street and the High Street; also the cluster of old properties between the Guildhall and the Castle in Church Street, Church Lane, Market Street and Castle Hill. In the area as a whole are some 120 properties, most of them shops, but including hotels, banks and public houses; among the organisations to be involved in the operation, in addition to the Windsor Corporation, were the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Works, the G.P.O., British Railways and London Transport.
What was done
The whole of this area is dominated by
the great bulk of the Castle, round the Western wall of which
High Street and Thames Street wrap themselves. The object of
the scheme was to enhance the character and dignity of this unique
The biggest single change in the appearance of the High Street has been the removal, by gracious permission of H.M. The Queen, of the boundary wall dividing the Castle from the street. The wall was built a little over a century ago, after the demolition of the small cottages and houses that had previously clustered under the Castle Wall itself. Almost 500 ft. long and 6 - 12 ft. high, it blocked the view from many points but served no useful purpose. Its removal, and the clearance of all extraneous street furniture from the pavement it abutted, has brought the Castle right into the town and opened up a most imposing vista. In the autumn two forest trees will be planted near the Salisbury Tower.
The work was carried out by the Ministry of Works, who removed the coping and reset it at pavement level, and by a team of volunteers, organised by the Civic Trust with equipment and other assistance kindly loaned by Messrs. Wimpey. The Trust has for some years organised work camps for the demolition of large-scale eyesores in National Parks and rural areas. It has recently applied the principle to a pilot urban scheme in Stepney and Windsor provided another example of the contribution that can be made to the appearance of our towns by public spirited volunteers. Mr. Duncan Sandys himself knocked out the first stone just before Easter. The team which the took over consisted of twelve students from different parts of the country who camped in a local school, worked for a fortnight in rain and sun and finished their task a day ahead of schedule.
It must be remembered that in schemes of
this kind, streets and buildings are not redesigned ab initio;
that neither the Local Authority, nor the Chamber of Trade, nor
the Civic Trust have any powers other than the power of persuasion.
The extent to which any particular proposals may actually be
implemented depends upon individual taste, individual readiness
to meet the cost involved, individual trading problems and competition,
individual house-styles and redecoration programmes, together
with a multiplicity of factors, often conflicting, created by
public utilities and public accounting.
All photographs are © The Royal Windsor Website.
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