The History of Iver
Contributed by Colin Davenport
The Parish of Iver is steeped in history. It is situated in the extreme southeast of Buckinghamshire and includes the separate districts of Iver Village, Iver Heath and Richings Park. The population today is in excess of 10,000. Iver parish has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Implements from prehistory have been found in gravel pits and the Colne Brook. The name Iver is Saxon in origin recorded first in 893 and the parish church of St. Peter has Saxon work in the nave. Iver is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 with it's Saxon name of Evreham. The name means the settlement (“ham”) on the slope (“evre”) above the valley of the Colne Brook and this is represented in the chairman's badge of office with a green slope and blue water, above which is an outline map of the present parish in red together with the swan of Buckinghamshire. In 1351 a grant was made to Lord Neville for a weekly market and two annual fairs at Iver. Good arable land led to the development of a number of manors. The largest was Iver but from the 14th century not only manors but also farms and homesteads grew up and over the centuries increased in size. Their names survive – Delaford Manor, Larbourne, Bangors Park and Huntsmoor, even if not all refer today to a working farm. Industries that were carried on in the parish included corn milling, weaving, basket making and papermaking but the principal industry in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the manufacture of bricks, recorded first in 1657. Today the Parish Council still maintains mud wharves on the banks of the Colne Brook and the Colne, and residents still have a right to take mud from the wharves. As the centuries went by, linear development westward along the present B470, the road connecting Uxbridge to Langley and forming Iver's present High Street, led to Iver village becoming joined to the former hamlets of Love Green, Shreding Green and Swallow Street.
Today Iver Village is the centre of an extended Parish. Apart from residential areas, local shopping facilities and first and junior schools there is still agriculture practised. Sheep and horses graze and chickens are reared. Light industry ranges from motor vehicle maintenance to food production. Warehouses make use of the nearby motorway network for the distribution of a diversity of products.
The villagescape has changed much in the last two centuries but the heart of the village is a conservation area, designated in 1982.
Bus services connect Iver Village to Uxbridge and Slough.
The Park and Recreation Ground owned and maintained by the Parish Council provides pitches for Delaford Colts Football Club who run many successful youth football teams. There is a separate children's play area and an area for older children which includes a BMX track, games court with goal mouth, exercise machine and youth shelter. The 1st Iver Scout Group also has it's H.Q. here. There is also an allotment adjacent to the recreation ground.
To the North of Iver Village and towards the Alder Bourne was open heathland where Iver residents could graze cattle and cut heather and furze. Residents of Uxbridge came to the heathland to bleach their cloth.
In historic times, coaches travelling from Uxbridge to Windsor needed to be alert for the highwaymen who held up travellers, refreshment was taken at the Crooked Billet, whose modern replacement stands on the A412 Uxbridge/Slough road. Tradition records that the ubiquitous Dick Turpin haunted the heath.
This area of the parish became Iver Heath and the heathland's availability to all was ended by the Enclosure Act of 1801. A church dedicated to St Margaret was built in 1862 on the A412 and residential development particularly in this century has made this district of the parish the largest in population. Residents can still enjoy part of the old heathland thanks to the Parish Council's leasing of Iver Heath Fields from South Bucks District Council and running it as a conservation area.
Iver Heath's main industry is filmmaking. This may not be universally known, as films made at Pinewood Studios are often said to have been made at Pinewood Studios, London, England. However it was in Iver Heath on the parish's north-western boundary that there was situated an old Victorian house that had been turned into a mansion by a multi-millionaire called Lt. Col. Grant Morden, a Canadian financier and Member of Parliament for Brentford and Chiswick. Morden died a bankrupt in 1934 enabling an idealistic builder, Charles Boot, a Methodist flour-miller, Joseph Arthur Rank and a big game-hunting widow and millionairess, Lady Yule to “behave as if a millionaire with a beautiful house suddenly decided to make pictures in his garden” and to found Pinewood Studios.
Heatherden Hall the mansion's name, already had a place in history as it was where the ratification of the agreement took place for the formation of the Irish Free State in November 1921. Pinewood Studios has become known and taken its place in universal cinema history. The first complete film made there after the studios had opened on 30th September 1936 was “ Talk of the Devil” directed by Carol Reed. The Studios today are flourishing and expanding, though conscious of their proximity to the London Green Belt. The Parish of Iver and Black Park (just outside the Parish boundary) are often used for location filming.
Iver Heath has first and junior schools, local shopping facilities and is connected by bus to Slough and Uxbridge. Iver Heath has varied residential areas and a large recreation ground, NPFA owned but leased and run by the Parish Council, with facilities for tennis, football (Iver Heath Rovers have their home ground here) bowls and a youth meeting place.
An allotment is maintained by the Parish Council for the residents of Iver Heath, which is adjacent to the nature reserve of Hardings Row.
The coming of the railway, Brunel's Great Western route, had little impact on Iver until a station was opened after World War One that led to the development of Richings Park. Trains go east to Paddington and west to Slough and beyond.
South from Iver village Thorney Lane crosses the Slough arm of the Grand Union canal and the railway line leading to Richings Park, a planned residential development by the Sykes brothers from Yorkshire before World War Two.
Main Drive to the south of North Park led to the mansion that gave Richings Park its name and the tree lined route is still in evidence. The mansion was owned by Earl Bathurst. In 1739 it was under the ownership of the Duke of Somerset, later still the Earl of Northumberland. Many 18th century literary figures, including Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray and Joseph Addison were inspired by the mansion and its well-timbered park. Lord Bathurst was also addressed by Alexander Pope in the “Epistle to Bathurst of the use of Riches”.
“There, Victor of his health of fortune, friends, and fame, this lord of useless thousands ends.”
What a splendid place Richings Park House must have been!
The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1788, its replacement bombed in World War Two. It had become Bomber Command Headquarters for the RAF. Earl Bathurst is remembered in the street name Bathurst Walk.
Richings Park has its own shops and churches, a sports club with well-established hockey and cricket teams. Once there was even a cinema!
A bus service connects Richings Park with Iver, Langley and Uxbridge on Mondays to Fridays during the day. Iver station is served by Thames Trains with a half hour service in each direction except on Sunday.