Slo (xiii cent.); le Slowe, Slowe (xv, xvi cent.).
Slough, which in 1831 is described as a township in Upton-cum-Chalvey and Stoke Poges, (fn. 1) has
developed rapidly during the 19th century, and in
1894 was formed into a civil parish, which now
includes the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Upton
and also parts of Langley Marish and Stoke Poges.
The area of Slough is 1,538 acres, of which 550 are
arable land and 481 permanent grass. (fn. 2) The entire
parish is very low, and the land, even in the north
or highest part, is not much over 100 ft. above the
ordnance datum, while in the south it is less than
70 ft. London clay is found in the neighbourhood,
and supplies material for the large brickworks in the
east of the parish. (fn. 3)
The inhabitants beyond the radius of the town
are chiefly engaged in agriculture and horticulture;
nurseries and market gardens are numerous. The
royal nurseries border on the High Street at the east
end of Slough. A weekly cattle market is held in
the town every Tuesday.
The town itself lies in the northern part of the
parish, and is one of the largest in Buckinghamshire.
Its growth has been rapid, so that most of the houses
are modern. It is an important station on the Great
Western railway, being the junction of the Windsor
branch of this line. It is, indeed, mainly to the
railway that Slough owes its modern development.
Lipscomb, writing about 1847, speaks of Slough as a
small hamlet which had 'recently become more
distinguished owing to the erection of a station on
the Great Western railway.' (fn. 4) The station was not
built, however, without encountering a good deal of
opposition both from the authorities at Windsor and
at Eton College. The first section of the railway was
opened in 1838, but the college secured the insertion
of a clause in the company's Act forbidding the
building of a station at Slough. It did not, however,
actually prohibit the stopping of trains at Slough, and
trains stopped there from the very first, two rooms
being hired as ticket offices at a public-house known
as the 'North Star,' near the present station. (fn. 5) Once
these difficulties were overcome Slough quickly progressed. In 1831 the population of Upton parish,
in which Slough was included, was 1,502; it had
increased by 1861 to 4,688, and in 1901 the population of Slough was returned as 11,453. (fn. 6)
The railway, with its various dépôts, now employs
a large number of the inhabitants in Slough itself.
The High Street, running in a westerly direction
across the north of the town, is part of the old Bath
Road, and, much as the modern town has grown up
to meet the railway traffic, so the earliest beginnings
of the hamlet of Slough are probably to be found in
the old posting inns and houses of supply built on
the borders of the high road for the needs of travellers.
Among the property held by the Windsor family
in these parts in the 17th century was the 'messuage
or inn called the White Hart, and previously called
the Harteshorn, in Slough.' (fn. 7)
The present town has grown up in orderly formation round the High Street, from which the other
principal streets branch off at right angles.
The Grand Junction Canal (Slough branch) also
passes through the north of Slough, and has wharfage
there. This part of the town is non-residential in
character and includes such buildings as the waterworks of Slough urban district, gasworks, police and
fire stations, and the railway dépôts. The Eton
workhouse union buildings stand in about the centre
of the town, which towards the south becomes less
thickly populated and more residential.
In the Windsor Road is Observatory House, famous
as the residence of the Herschels, father and son,
and the scene of many of their labours. Sir William
Herschel settled at Slough in 1786. (fn. 8) In 1789 he
made his largest telescope, and with its help continued to make astronomical observations until his
death in 1822. He was buried in the church of
St. Lawrence at Upton. In 1792 his still more
celebrated son, afterwards Sir John Herschel, was
born here. He carried out much of his important
work at Slough, which he finally left in 1840. In
the grounds at the back of the house is to be seen
the circular ridge on which the great 40 ft. reflecting
telescope was worked, the brick foundation of which
still exists. It was taken down in 1840, and at the
end of the lawn is preserved a portion of the tube.
An ash tree in the grounds marks the spot where
stood a smaller 20 ft. telescope, and near it is a small
building containing copies of Sir William's works,
with pictures and drawings in illustration of his discoveries. (fn. 9) Relations of Sir John Herschel still occupy
the house, and a street in Slough is called after the
There is no manorial history of Slough. Its early
history is wholly comprised in that of Upton, of
which manor Slough forms part.
What appears to be the earliest record relating to
Slough is found in a lay subsidy of the reign of
Henry III, when the names of Osbert de Slo and
William de Slo appear in the list of the men of
Upton whose goods were assessed for the collection
of the fifteenth. (fn. 10) In 1437 a document relating to
Upton records the grant to John Eyston, 'groom of
the king's picherhous,' of the keeping of the way
between 'le Slowe' and Eton for a certain wage, (fn. 11)
and in 1535 Eton College was paying a rent to the
Earl of Huntingdon and to the Prior of St. John's,
Oxford, for lands in Slough. (fn. 12)
Slough is mentioned in the account of the boundaries of Upton Manor given in 1605. (fn. 13) In the
16th and 17th centuries lands and tenements at
Slough, usually the property of tenants of Upton, (fn. 14)
are frequently referred to, (fn. 15) showing that the district
was gradually assuming greater importance; but, as
has been shown, it was not until the latter half of
the 19th century that the place made much real
The modern church of ST. MARY
in Church Street was built in 1837
and in 1876 a new chancel, transepts
and vestry were added from designs by J. Oldrid
Scott. A new nave was then begun, but not completed till 1912, and the tower was rebuilt in the
following year, largely at the expense of Mr. James
Elliman. As the old parish church of St. Lawrence
of Upton (q.v.) had been allowed to fall into decay,
the parochial rights and privileges of the latter were
granted to St. Mary's. (fn. 16) The bells were transferred
from Upton, but were recast in 1913 and made up
to a full ring of eight bells.
The ecclesiastical parish of ST. PAUL was formed
in 1904 from Stoke Poges. The church in Stoke
Road was built in 1906 in 13th-century style mainly
at the expense of Mr. Algernon Gilliat. It consists of
a chancel, nave, aisles, chapel, and western baptistery.
The living is a vicarage in the gift of trustees.
The Roman Catholic chapel in Herschel Street,
dedicated to our Lady and St. Ethelbert, was built
There are also a Congregational chapel, dating from
1835, a Wesleyan chapel erected in 1847, a Primitive
Methodist chapel, and a Baptist chapel in Windsor
Road, erected in 1894.
The Royal British Orphan Schools,
Mackenzie Park, originally founded
as the British Orphan Asylum in
1827, were augmented in 1863 by the purchase
of the Royal Hotel and grounds, and are supported
mainly by voluntary effort.
In 1876 Algernon Gilliat by deed founded an
exhibition in connexion with this institution which is
regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners
of 26 January 1897, for facilitating the further education of boys leaving the same. The endowment
consists of £1,200 ordinary stock and 925 deferred
ordinary shares of the Improved Industrial Dwellings
Co., Ltd., and £301 16s. 8d. local loans 3 per cent.
stock, producing together about £110 a year. The
exhibition is of the value of £30 a year, tenable for
The several securities are held by the official trustees,
who also hold a sum of £2,000 consols, producing £50
a year, in respect of William Thorngate's educational
foundation in connexion with the same institution.
The Slough and Chalvey British school, comprised
in deed of 5 February 1873, was sold in 1908, and
the balance of the purchase money, amounting to
£50, was invested in £51 1s. 6d. India 3½ per cent.
stock, with the official trustees, producing £1 15s. 8d.
yearly, which, with the sanction of the Board of
Education, is at present applied for the purposes of the
library of the Tonman Mosley council school, Slough.
In 1908 James Albert Harding, by his will proved
at London 11 January, devised a messuage known as
Adeline Villa, being No. 9 Church Street, Slough,
as a residence for the Congregational minister.