Years of Shear Neglect.
The top photo shows the Widbrook Stream as I remember it in the 1930’s, clear and free flowing as it was maintained by the then Thames Conservancy. A team of twelve men lead by a Mr. Arthur Savoury used to maintain the streams leading into the Thames from the Berkshire side of the near Winter Hill right through to Bray. Someone is going to say, how do I remember Mr. Savoury in particular? Well, he was and “Old Time Dance,” partner to my Aunt Flo. Once about every five years the Thames Conservancy would bring in a Priestman excavator or dragline in, to remove the silt from the bottom of the stream.
This next photo is how the stream looks today all choked up with aqua-weeds. I know the pollard willow trees look the same. As a matter I would say that they are way over a hundred years old. There have been willow trees along the stream for centuries. That is how the name Widbrook is derived from the old local dialect word “Widdie,” for Willow. There was a time when I could take my canoe from home and follow the stream down through Islet Park to the river, then paddle up to meet my friends from White Place Farm. Or one could paddle in the other direction to the Fleet at Cookham. The last time that I remember it was given a good clean was in the autumn of 1943 by a large group of Italian prisoners of war.