Egham Museum is delighted to be collaborating with new volunteer, Chiara Artale, who is contributing to the “Our Changing High Streets” project. Chiara not just helped with the setting up and invigilating of the exhibition, but also, interviewed many local businesses and residents, and is bringing this part of Egham’s High Street history to the local community, involving them in the collection of memories from the past and present.
Chiara has always been very passionate about every form of culture, in particular history, heritage and arts, but also social topics such as human rights and education. With a degree in International Relations, she has developed project coordination experience in the charity sector, which she is now transferring to the museum to help with social and cultural projects with us.
With the “Our Changing High Streets” project (which was part funded with a grant from Cllr Marisa Heath), we want to tell the history of Egham High Street throughout various eras, from the medieval period up to the 20th century, and share this knowledge with the local community to make them aware of their rich heritage. But, in addition to this, what is important to us is to discover, memorize and record the current Egham High Street, how it was over the past few years, how it is now and how it is evolving, as this will become the future history of our fascinating town.
For this reason, we have created a digital space to tell a share interviews from our local High Street’s current history through the support of our local business owners and residents, who shared with us their stories, feelings and points of view. Every single member of the community brought an interesting contribution while telling us their experiences of living and working here, from those who have been here for decades, to those who have just arrived. All of them have, in fact, a different opinion, based on their experience, needs and tastes. Their thoughts about how the street is changing, reflect the real every-day life on Egham High Street.
This is how “Stories from Egham High Street” has been conceived: Stories from those who didn’t choose to make changes, but whose daily lives impact the history of the high street. Very normal people and their ordinary lives…. Egham High Street lives.
Below, you can read some of the memories that members of public shared with us during our exhibition in June. If you have your own memories to share, please visit the museum and view the exhibition which is currently on display:
“Having the choice of 5 butchers and 2 green grocers. The small coffee in Cullens and the weedy floor in Phillip Heads. Going to school in the Manor school and getting sweets after school from Mary in the chocolate box High street.”
“We moved in Egham in May 1966 when I was 3. Old Egham was gentile and quiet. I can remember the Precinct being built. Before that I can remember going into “Grooms” with my dad to buy slippers for my mum. There were a couple of steps down into the shop, probably about where McKays is now.”
“We have spent 31 years of happiness in Egham. On the 1881 census the occupants of our house lived Francis Powell and his extended family plus other workers were shown as lapidary workers (polishers of precious stones). Francis Powell invested heavily in Egham. One of his ventures was the opening of this first cinema “The Gem”.
“Marge’s, Station Road. After my father got off the train from London every day, he crossed the road and went into Marge’s, the sweets shop. He always had the same drink, a tuppeny red. This was in the 1970’s. He then cycled home to Thorpe, having enjoyed his after work drink.”
“Kings Electrical started in Egham as Pope’s opening in Dormans shop, 199 High Street. Dormans sold fireworks before so Pope’s took on selling fireworks. Then Kings at 16 High street each November.”
“Remembering the hardware shop in the High Street with the little zoo at the back. Always a favourite with the children when we came in 1971.
“As a boy living in Egham, I went to school at Staines Prep. The train fare was 4d in the morning and would take the train back at 3d giving me a penny change to call in to Margs to have a penny black.”
“I came to Egham in 1976. I’ve seen a lot of rubbish old buildings disappear. Not everything was better in old days. I remember watching a dead rat decompose on the floor of the old Catherine Wheel. Happy days!”
“Having arrived in Egham/Englefield Green in 1975 from Cornwall, I fell in love with the place. So many independent shops with real characters. I especially liked “the smell” of Theakers and the various butchers (the one in Egham had a special and separate room for payment!)!