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Slough

Borough of Slough
Town, borough and unitary authority
Tesco Extra slough, Wellington Street.jpg
Ditton-Park-House.jpg
Upton Court Park, Slough.jpg
Slough - Horlicks factory.jpg
Modern office building (8210028813).jpg
Slough town centre.png
From top clockwise: Tesco Extra, Upton Court Park, Observatory House, Slough town centre, Horlicks Factory and the Ditton Park Manor
Shown within Berkshire
Shown within Berkshire
Coordinates: 51°31′N 0°35′W / 51.51°N 0.59°W / 51.51; -0.59Coordinates: 51°31′N 0°35′W / 51.51°N 0.59°W / 51.51; -0.59
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
Ceremonial county Berkshire
Historic county Buckinghamshire
(including town centre)
Middlesex
(part of east of town)
Status Unitary authority
Incorporated 1 April 1974
Admin HQ Bath Road, Slough
Government
 • Type Unitary authority
 • Body Slough Borough Council
Area
 • Total 12.56 sq mi (32.54 km2)
Area rank 306th (of 326)
Population
 (mid-2015 est.)
 • Total 164,455
 • Rank (of 326)
 • Density 13,089.6/sq mi (5,053.9/km2)
 • Ethnicity
45.7% White
39.7% Asian or British Asian
8.6% Black or Black British
3.4% Mixed Race
2.6% Other
Time zone UTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code 00MD (ONS) E06000039 (GSS)
OS grid reference SU978797

Slough is a large town in Berkshire, England (within the historic county of Buckinghamshire), 20 miles (32 km) west of central London (Charing Cross) and 19 miles (31 km) north-east of Reading. It is in the Thames Valley and within the London metropolitan area at the intersection of the M4, M40 and M25 motorways. Slough had a population of 164,000 in 2018.

The A4 and the Great Western Main Line pass through the town. Crossrail provides connection to central London.

Slough's population is one of the most ethnically diverse in the United Kingdom, attracting people from across the country and the world for labour since the 1920s, which has helped shape it into a major trading centre. In 2017, unemployment stood at 1.4%, one-third the UK average of 4.5%.

Slough has the highest concentration of UK HQs of global companies outside London. Slough Trading Estate is the largest industrial estate in single private ownership in Europe with over 17,000 jobs in 400 businesses. Blackberry, McAfee, Burger King, DHL and Lego have head offices in the town.

History

Former GWR locomotive 6664 photographed near the engine shed at Slough, October 1955.
The Brunel bus station and car park, opened in 1975 has now been completely demolished as work has started on the Heart of Slough project.
The Slough library was opened on 28th November 1974. It was officially called the Robert Taylor Library, named after Alderman Taylor in recognition of his contribution to the library service. The library was officially opened by the Mayor, Councillor DR Peters, on 15th May 1975.
Suters Limited in Slough High Street, 1978

The name, which means "soil", was first recorded in 1195 as Slo. It first seems to have applied to a hamlet between Upton to the east and Chalvey to the west, roughly around the "Crown Crossroads" where the road to Windsor (now the A332) met the Great West Road. The Domesday Survey of 1086 refers to 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 rebuilt and enlarged several times.

From the mid-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 railway station to Windsor and Eton Central railway station, opposite Windsor Castle, for the Queen's convenience.

Slough has 96 listed buildings. There are

  • Four Grade I: St Laurence's Church (Upton), St Mary the Virgin Church (Langley), Baylis House and Godolphin Court
  • Seven Grade II: St Mary's Church (Upton-cum-Chalvey), Upton Court, the Kederminster and Seymour Almshouses in Langley, St Peter's Church (Chalvey), Ostrich Inn (Colnbrook) and King John's Palace (Colnbrook)
  • Grade II listed structures include four milestones: Beech, Oak and Linden Houses at Upton Hospital and Slough railway station

1918 saw a large area of agricultural land to the west of Slough developed as an army motor repair depot, used to store and repair huge numbers of motor vehicles coming back from the battlefields of the First World War in Flanders. 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 (renamed Slough Estates Ltd) to establish an industrial estate. Spectacular growth and employment ensued, with Slough attracting workers from many parts of the UK and abroad.

During the Second World War, Slough experienced a series of air raids, mostly in October 1940 (the largest number of people, five, dying as a result of one on the 13th), and an emergency hospital treating casualties from London was set up in Slough. Local air raid deaths and deaths at the hospital account for the 23 civilian lives recorded lost in the borough area.

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

Redevelopment

The redevelopment of the shopping centre in Slough as part of the Heart of Slough redevelopment programme.
The newly built Slough Bus and Coach Station

In the 21st century, Slough has seen major redevelopment of the town centre. Old buildings are being replaced with new offices and shopping complexes. Tesco has replaced an existing superstore with a larger Tesco Extra. The Heart of Slough Project is a plan for the large-scale redevelopment of the town centre as a 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, and planning approval was given by Slough Borough Council's planning committee on 9 July 2009. Work began in 2010 for completion in 2018.

In December 2009, two key components of the project were signed: the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) signed its agreement to provide £11m of funding for infrastructure 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. In parallel to the town centre redevelopment plan, SEGRO (owner of the Slough Trading Estate) plans to spend £600 million over the next 20 years on the trading estate. This is intended to create 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 claimed that the plan will create more than 4,100 new jobs and contribute around £100m a year to Slough's economy. If both plans go ahead in their current forms, nearly £1 billion will be spent on redeveloping Slough over the next 20 years.

Herschel Park (known as Upton Park until 1949), named for astronomer William Herschel, is currently being relandscaped in a multimillion-pound effort to bring it back to its former Victorian era glory. The park was featured in an episode of the documentary programme Who Do You Think You Are? focusing on the TV presenter Davina McCall.

In 2010, £2 million was set aside to improve disabled access to Slough railway station in preparation for an expected increase in use during the 2012 London Olympics. Preparations were under way for the regeneration of the Britwell suburb of Slough, involving tearing down a dilapidated block of flats and the closing of the public house the Jolly Londoner in Wentworth Avenue and replacing them with new homes, as well as relocating the shopping parade in the street to nearby Kennedy Park. As part of the Heart of Slough project, construction work on a new bus station began in 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 was expected to be completed by January 2011 and was opened in May 2011, 5 months behind schedule.

Redevelopment on this scale has been strongly criticised by conservation groups. 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."

During November 2016, the Slough Queensmere and Observatory shopping centres were sold to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) in a deal worth £130million.

Geography

Slough is to the west of Greater London. Nearby towns are Windsor to the south, Maidenhead to the west, Uxbridge to the northeast and Beaconsfield to the north.

Most of the area that now makes up Slough was anciently part of Buckinghamshire. The town developed by the expansion and amalgamation of villages along the Great West Road. Over the years Slough has expanded greatly, incorporating a number of different villages. Original villages that are now suburbs of Slough include Chalvey, Cippenham, Colnbrook, Langley, Poyle, Upton, and Wexham.

Named neighbourhoods include Brands Hill, Britwell, Huntercombe, Manor Park, Salt Hill, Upton Lea and Windsor Meadows. The urban area merges into the neighbouring parishes of Burnham, a small area of Taplow near Cippenham, Farnham Royal and Stoke Poges which remain in the county of Buckinghamshire and Datchet which is also in Berkshire. Eton is narrowly buffered by the Jubilee River and by green space (mainly the college playing fields) from part of Slough, and the two areas formerly formed the Eton birth, marriages and deaths registration district.

Nearest places

Climate

The nearest Met Office weather observing station to Slough is London Heathrow Airport, about 5 miles (8 km) east of Slough town centre. This part of the Thames Valley is notable for generally having the warmest daytime summer temperatures on average in the British Isles.

Rainfall is low compared to most of the British Isles, with under 600 mm (23.62 in) annually, and 105 days reporting over 1 mm of rain.

Climate data for Heathrow Airport, elevation 25 m, 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.1
(46.6)
8.4
(47.1)
11.3
(52.3)
14.2
(57.6)
17.9
(64.2)
21.0
(69.8)
23.5
(74.3)
23.2
(73.8)
19.9
(67.8)
15.5
(59.9)
11.1
(52)
8.3
(46.9)
15.2
(59.36)
Average low °C (°F) 2.3
(36.1)
2.1
(35.8)
3.9
(39)
5.5
(41.9)
8.7
(47.7)
11.7
(53.1)
13.9
(57)
13.7
(56.7)
11.4
(52.5)
8.4
(47.1)
4.9
(40.8)
2.7
(36.9)
7.43
(45.38)
Precipitation mm (inches) 55.2
(2.173)
40.9
(1.61)
41.6
(1.638)
43.7
(1.72)
49.4
(1.945)
45.1
(1.776)
44.5
(1.752)
49.5
(1.949)
49.1
(1.933)
68.5
(2.697)
59.0
(2.323)
55.2
(2.173)
601.7
(23.689)
Avg. rainy days 11.1 8.5 9.3 9.1 8.8 8.2 7.7 7.5 8.1 10.8 10.3 10.2 109.6
Sunshine hours 61.5 77.9 114.6 168.7 198.5 204.3 212.0 204.7 149.3 116.5 72.6 52.0 1,632.6
Source: Met Office

Demography

Built in 1876, St Mary's Church is a red brick gothic style Church of England parish church.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many unemployed Welsh people who walked up the Great West Road looking for employment settled in Slough.

According to the 2011 census, 45.7% of the population was white (34.5% white British, 1.1% white Irish, 0.2% gypsy or Irish Traveller, 9.9% other white), 3.4% of mixed race (1.2% white and black Caribbean, 0.4% white and black African, 1.0% white and Asian, 0.8% other mixed), 39.7% Asian (17.7% Pakistani, 15.6% Indian, 0.4% Bangladeshi, 0.6% Chinese, 5.4% other Asian), 8.6% black (5.4% African, 2.2% Caribbean, 1.0% other black), 0.7% Arab and 1.9% of other ethnic heritage. In the post-war years, immigrants from the Commonwealth, notably Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, India and Pakistan came to the town.

In the early 1950s, there were a number of Polish refugee camps scattered around the Slough area. As returning to Poland (then in the Soviet Bloc) was not considered an option by many of the wartime refugees, many Polish families decided to settle in Slough. In time, a Polish-speaking Roman Catholic parish was established with its own church building. A new wave of Polish migration to Slough has followed since Poland became part of the European Union.

Slough Council elected the country's first black female mayor, Lydia Simmons, in 1984.

Figures from the 2011 census showed that 41.2% of Slough's population identified as Christian, 23.3% as Muslim, 10.6% as Sikh, 6.2% as Hindu, 0.5% as Buddhist, 0.1% as Jewish, 0.3% as having other religions, 12.1% as having no religion and 5.7% did not answer the question. Slough has the highest percentage of Sikh residents in the country according to the census figures. Slough also has the highest percentage of Muslim and Hindu residents in the South East region.

Immigrants in Slough (2011 census)
Country of birth Number resident
 India 11,544
 Pakistan 11,244
 Poland 8,341
 Kenya 2,183
 Ireland 1,364
 Zimbabwe 1,352
 Somalia 1,247
 Sri Lanka 1,219
 Philippines 828
 Afghanistan 759

In July 2007 Slough was the subject of a documentary by the BBC's Panorama series, entitled "Immigration – how we lost count". The programme highlighted Slough and other affordable towns close to London had a much greater rise in the EU immigrant population than had been nationally predicted and for which resources had been allocated. The programme found certain public services failing to deliver to expected standards and with large groups selecting a small area in which to live, an increase in overcrowding.

Transport

The M4 Motorway between Junctions 6 and 7 (facing London).
The relief lines at Slough railway station, used for local passenger trains towards Reading (Platform 4, left) and London Paddington (Platform 5, right)
A First Mercedes-Benz Citaro in the blue "Heathrow 7 Series" livery operates between Maidenhead, Cippenham, Windsor and Slough to Heathrow Airport.
The Cycle To Hire scheme was launched in Slough in late 2013.

Road transport

Slough is near London, Heathrow Airport, Uxbridge, Maidenhead and Staines and the town is a travel hub. Many people from Slough work in nearby towns and cities such as Windsor, Reading, London and Bracknell, and there are large passenger movements in the morning and evening rush hours. Road transport in Slough includes:

  • Within Slough: Buses (First Berkshire, Arriva, Redline & Carousel (only Sundays)), taxis, minicabs and private cars on roads are also used.
  • To Heathrow Airport: First Berkshire & The Thames Valley bus routes 75, 76, 77 and 78 serve Slough town centre, Langley and Heathrow Airport. First also run bus routes 71 (via Windsor, Egham & Staines-upon-Thames) and 60/61 (via Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury) to Heathrow Terminal 5. Taxis and minicabs are also available at a higher cost.
  • To London: Buses and Greenline coaches are available, but rail is more generally used as express trains connect Slough to London Paddington in 20 minutes.
  • To Birmingham: Bharat Coaches provide services from Southall to Birmingham/Wolverhampton/Coventry/Leeds via Slough.
  • M4
    • Junction 5 (Langley & Slough East)
    • Junction 6 (Central Slough)
    • Junction 7 (Slough West)
  • M25 (via M4)
  • M40 (via A412 or A355)
  • A4 (to Maidenhead or Hounslow)
  • A40 (via A412)
  • A355 (to Beaconsfield)
  • A412 (to Uxbridge, Denham, Rickmansworth & Watford)

Rail transport

Slough is served by First Great Western stations at Burnham, Slough and Langley. Slough station is a junction between the Great Western Main Line and the Slough to Windsor & Eton Line to allow passengers to connect for Windsor & Eton Central.

Reading: First Great Western operate services to Reading every half an hour which take 20 minutes.

London Paddington: First Great Western operate express services to London every half an hour which take 17 minutes.

Slough will have Crossrail services, a new railway line across central London, under construction. The Windsor Link Railway is another proposed railway line that would link Slough to Heathrow Terminal 5 via Wraysbury, Datchet, Windsor and Chalvey. The Western Rail Access to Heathrow, WRAtH, is a £500m rail project announced by the DfT. The proposed rail link would directly serve Slough with four trains every hour - reducing travel times from 45 to six minutes. It is expected to be operational by 2021. In February 2014, Network Rail announced the route for the project. The WRAtH project is expected to generate more than £2billion in economic benefits to the UK as well as 40,000 new jobs.

Cycling

National Cycle Network route 61 runs through central Slough. A Smoove bike sharing system was launched in October 2013, mainly focused on meeting the need of enabling workers at businesses operating from the town’s trading estate to easily get to and from their places of employment from local railway stations.

Negative perceptions

  • According to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), in 2006 Slough was England's least tranquil district. However the document no longer is relied on as having major findings by the organisation and has been placed in its archives.
  • Slough has been the subject of much derision. Some references are mentioned above. However, the BBC aired a four-part series called Making Slough Happy, where a team of experts sought to increase happiness of the town.
  • Slough-raised comedian Jimmy Carr said: "I grew up in Slough in the 1970s; if you want to know what Slough was like in the 1970s, go there now".
  • Sometimes gases emitted from Slough Sewage Treatment Works between M4 Junction 6 and 7, which also serves nearby parts of Buckinghamshire and protects the water quality of the nearby River Thames, can be smelt from the nearby M4 motorway, a phenomenon known colloquially as the "Slough Stench".
  • In July 2007 Slough was the subject of a documentary by the BBC's Panorama series, entitled "Immigration – how we lost count". The programme highlighted Slough and other affordable towns close to London had a much greater rise in the EU immigrant population than had been nationally predicted and for which resources had been allocated. The programme found certain public services failing to deliver to expected standards and with large groups selecting a small area in which to live, an increase in overcrowding.
  • The Sky TV programme Road Wars regularly featured Slough and highlighted its narcotics problem.
  • Slough has a relatively high crime rate as figures for all crime categories are annually above the English average and figures for a few categories are at more than double the frequency. According to British Crime Survey statistics, as of September 2013, Slough had the second worst rate of crime among local authority areas in the Thames Valley Police counties (87 recorded crimes per 1,000 population vs Oxford's 104). However the borough's crime rate reduced by 29% in the ten years to 2013.

Economy

Red White Blue Slough
Slough Trading Estate played a major part in making Slough an important business centre in South East England.
The Tesco Extra store, one of the largest in Europe
The private power station for Slough Trading Estate. This has been supplying heat and power to the estate since 1920. In 2007 it was taken over by energy supplier Scottish and Southern Energy.
Slough Retail Park, one of many large outlets in the town.

Before the 19th century, the main businesses of Slough were brickfields and agriculture. The bricks for the building of Eton College were made in Slough. Later, as the Great West Road traffic increased, inns and pubs sprang up along the road to service the passing trade. Until the town developed as an industrial area, nurseries were prominent in the local economy; the Cox's Orange Pippin apple was first raised in Colnbrook (not then within Slough) around 1825, and the dianthus "Mrs Sinkins Pink" was first raised at some point between 1868 and 1883 by John Sinkins, the master of the Eton Union Workhouse, which lay in Slough.

In the mid-19th century, the only major employer apart from the brickfields was James Elliman, who started as a draper in Chandos Street. In 1847, he changed business and manufactured his Elliman's Embrocation and Royal Embrocation horse liniment at factories in Wellington Street and Chandos Street. Elliman became a major benefactor to the town, and is remembered today in the names of local roads and schools.

In September 1851, William Thomas Buckland, an auctioneer and surveyor from nearby Wraysbury, began livestock sales in a field near the Great Western Road Railway Station belonging to the North Star Inn. Originally held on the first Tuesday of every month, the Cattle Market's popularity soon saw this increased to every Tuesday. A move to Wexham Street was necessitated by the postwar redevelopment of the town. The Slough Cattle Market was run by Messrs Buckland and Sons until its final closure in 1988.

In 1906, James Horlick, one of the founders of the eponymous malted milk company, opened a purpose-built red-brick factory near Slough Railway Station to manufacture his malted milk product. In 2015, the business was sold by Glaxo Smith Kline and in 2017, manufacturing at the site ceased altogether. The site is currently proposed to become residential making use of the original buildings as much as possible.

Starting in the 1920s, Slough Estates Ltd, the operator of the original Slough Trading Estate, created and operated many more estates in the UK and abroad. The Slough Trading Estate meant that the town was largely insulated from many of the effects of recession. 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 had 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, with its proximity to London Heathrow Airport and good motorway connections being attractive. In the 1960s, Gerry Anderson's film company was based in Slough, and his Supermarionation series, including Thunderbirds, were filmed there.

The UK headquarters of Mars, Incorporated is in Slough, the main factory having been established in 1932 by Forrest Mars Sr. and Frank C. Mars. It produced the Mars Bar in Slough over 70 years ago. One of the Mars factories has been demolished and some production has moved to the Czech Republic. The European head offices of major IT companies such as BlackBerry, McAfee, Computer Associates, PictureTel and Compusys (among others) are all in the town. O2 is headquartered in the town across four buildings. The town is also home to the business support organisation Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group and National Foundation for Educational Research, which is housed in the Mere.

Recent new offices include those of Nintendo, Black and Decker and Abbey business centres. The registered office of Furniture Village lies in the town.

The motor trade has long been represented in Slough. Until 1966, Citroën assembled cars in a Liverpool Road factory (later used by Mars Confectionery), and it retains its UK headquarters in the town. Ford built D Series and Cargo lorries at its factory in Langley (a former Hawker Aircraft site) from 1936 to the 1950s until the site was redeveloped for housing in the 1990s. Ferrari, Mercedes, Fiat and Maserati now have offices in the town.

Education

There are numerous primary and secondary schools serving Slough. In addition, East Berkshire College has a campus in the area. Slough schools are in the top 10 best performers in the country at GCSE level. In 2011, 68.1% of pupils left school with a minimum of 5 A*-C grades (with English and maths). The national average is 58.9%.

Thames Valley University (Slough Campus) is currently closed due to the Heart of Slough project. The new campus was scheduled to be opened in 2013 as part of the University of West London. However, as of December 2019 there has been no progress. In fact the former site of the university has been sold for housing.

Sports

Slough has a senior non-League football team, Slough Town F.C., who currently play in the National League South. Slough also host the ice hockey team, the Slough Jets. They play in NIHL south 1 division.

Reading F.C. Womens and Republic of Ireland Womens goalkeeper Grace Moloney was born and lives in the town.

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