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Ward Royal and Oxford Road

The Opening of Ward Royal by HM Queen Elizabeth II

23rd June 1969

The Queen arrives at Ward Royal

The Queen arrives at Ward Royal

Ward Royal is not one of Windsor's most impressive housing developments. Indeed, ever since it was built, the edifice has come in for much criticism.
  Ward Royal was opened by the Queen on 23rd June 1969. It was a thoroughly wet day, in keeping with the dismal appearance of the blocks of flats themselves!
  Hopes were high that these new flats would become 'dream homes' for many Windsorians, and followed the demolition of a large area of terraced housing bounded by Arthur Road to the north, Alma Road to the west and Charles Street to the east. The terraced houses were often featured in films such as the 'Carry On...' series and also, famously, in a Norman Wisdom film 'On The Beat' from 1962 where Norman is pursued by a vast army of policemen.

Oxford Road  lost to Ward Royal

The major street lost during the development of Ward Royal was a large portion of Oxford Road, historically one of the main roads out of Windsor to the west. The road was sliced in two by Ward Royal, such that now there is a very short stretch of only 50 metres to the east. To the west Oxford Road remains. Where Oxford Road was demolished a large number of small shops and several pubs were lost.
We are lucky to be able to make available the following photographs of Oxford Road taken by Phil Wells of Bexley Street in the summer of 1966, shortly before the street's demolition. It is, of course, rare for photographs to be taken of everyday scenes such as these, especially when, to be honest, they are similar to thousands of street scenes around the country and are of little architectural interest. But now, so many years later, they are of considerable value and interest. Our thanks therefore to Phil for making them available along with his recollections of the streets nearby that were also demolished to make way for Ward Royal.

Oxford Road, South Side

Oxford Road, south side, looking east. July 1966. Photo Phill Wells.

On this side of the road were Warwick Cleaners, a carpet shop with Cyril Lord logo and Lewis Bricabrac. The half-timbered building by the cars is the Prince of Wales public house. Between the car and the bicycle is Wally Cooks, the butchers. Can anyone remember any others?

Oxford Road, North Side

Oxford Road, north side, looking east, July 1966. Photo Phill Wells

Along this side of the road was, from left, Horders, pet foods with painted Spratts logos, Rances Cooked Meats, P Turner, Barber, Arnold's Sweet Shop, Daph's Diner (A 'greasy spoon' café), Windsor Builders, The Coach and Horses Pub, 2nd Windsor Builders. The white building at the far end is Wally Lawrence, Newsagent, Confectionery and tobacco. The last building in Oxford Road was Boots the Chemist, at the junction with Peascod Street and other pubs were the 'Why Not', The Clarence Hotel and The Globe.
  About 3/4 of the way up Oxford Road from where this picture was taken, was a turning that lead to several other streets which were demolished to make way for Ward Royal. On the corner was Windsor Fruiterers and on the other was Wally Lawrence's Tobacconist and Bookmaker. Down this road, Grosvenor Place, was the rear of several Peascod St shops, including Darvilles.

The Clarence Hotel before Ward Royal

The Clarence Hotel before Ward Royal was built.
Alma Road crosses from left to right with Oxford Road on the left of the picture

Other streets demolished were Edward Square, Denmark Street, part of Goswell Road, Goswell Place, and Sydney Place. This was known to locals as "Creaks Cut" or "Creaks Passage" as it lead to William Creak's shops in Peascod Street. There was also a pub - The Duke of Cambridge.

Goswell Road Gas Works

Above, a view from the railway arches, looking down on a narrow Goswell Road with the gas works to the right and Trinity Church on the horizon. The area in the centre of the photograph was demolished to make way for Ward Royal. The area to the left was also originally used by the gas company although later, by the 1960s the area had been cleared and was used for car parking. It is now the site of the hotel in King Edward Court.
  Goswell Road to the south of the roundabout was elevated by about 4/5 steps as it was in the 1870s flood area. It was a long terrace with a raised footpath along the frontages which could only be reached using the steps at either end or in the centre of the terrace.
  Whilst many of these properties may well have been in urgent need of repair, especially as the spectre of Ward Royal was a long time in the planning, there is a school of thought that communities fare better when they are kept together while properties are restored and modernised around them.
  It is also true that some modern developments of the 60s have already been demolished because the community feeling was totally absent and, to put it simply, the housing just didn't work.
  It must be said that many of the residents of Ward Royal are perfectly happy with their homes and much investment has been made in recent years to maintain them, although it must also be said that the white bricks are a great mistake, always looking dirty. Rumour has it that the white bricks were selected to match the Castle, though that seems unlikely! What is true is that man-made materials always seem to get grubby, whereas natural stone, especially with the advent of smokeless zones, seems to look much cleaner.

For more views of this area as it was before Ward Royal was built, please see our article about Norman Wisdom's film 'On The Beat'.

Some views of Ward Royal in February 2004

Ward Royal Ward Royal
Ward Royal  Ward Royal
Ward Royal South Place  Ward Royal Alma Road

See also

The Royal Windsor Website Forum about Oxford Road is here

See also Oxford Road businesses

Your views about Ward Royal are welcome on the Windsor Forum pages

Our article about Norman Wisdom's film 'On The Beat' features pictures of the area before Ward Royal was built

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Royal Windsor Home Page

See also Oxford Road businesses 1950-1965

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