So with not much to do and a free day to do it in, we decided on a visit to Windsor (Berkshire, England that is not Ontario).
Peascod St with Windsor Castle
Yes, yes I know its where the Queen lives (some of the time) but it’s also where my wife was born and raised and where we got married, but more of that later. We go there a couple of times a year, it’s not far and it’s magical at Christmas. This was a sunny early day, on the cusp of changing the clocks to urgh time. I say that because I HATE when the clocks go back, so depressing when it gets dark at 4.00pm. Any way I digress, generally we go to Windsor for the shops and the ambience despite the presence of tourists from well, everywhere really. I heard and saw many Japanese, German, Mexican, Chinese et al. The Americans are the funniest though; everyone must have heard at least one Yank saying: why did they build the castle so near the airport? Anyway on this occasion we just wanted to walk along the river, but first job is to find somewhere to park. It’s always been a problem in the town, especially on Saturdays, but we found someone waiting to get out in the station car park, and as an added bonus the driver offered me his ticket, valid until 23:59 that day (that’s one minute to midnight in non-24 clock speak), so that was free then. We strolled down past Eton Bridge and down to French Brothers boat trips. A trip down the river was suggested so we bought senior tickets (75pence reduction) for the 40 minute trip down to Boveney lock and back. Which brings me to the crux of this diatribe: The Hawker Hurricane, world war 2 fighter aircraft, of which the boat commentary mentions that a full sized replica of said aircraft is on the side of the river and is a tribute to Sir Sydney Camm, famous aircraft designer who was born and went to school in Windsor:
The long awaited full-size replica of a Battle of Britain Fighter aircraft has been erected in Windsor near the town’s popular Alexandra Gardens. Designed by Windsorian Sir Sydney Camm, the Hawker Hurricane was unveiled on the Thames promenade on Friday 20th July 2012. The cost of the memorial, which has been in planning since 2006 is being funded by developer contributions through the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. The council is in full support of the project as a fascinating, historical attraction for residents and visitors alike. (Thanks to the Sir Sydney Camm web page for the quote above).
Now the important thing about Camm is that he left school at 14, and with no formal scientific or technical training, went on the design iconic aircraft like the 20s Hart, the Hurricane, Hunter in 1951 and finally the Harrier jump jet in 1960. A master designer who was recognised with a CBE and a knighthood but never went to university or got a degree. Along with many modern entrepreneurs like Brandon or Sugar who never went beyond secondary school yet achieved greatness (arguably). My point is that educationalists and politicians have continually spouted that for anyone to get on, a degree is essential. I think Camm belies this entrenched view. There are many young people with natural ability who would fail in the normal course of education. Others like Brunel, Whittle, Cockerell were thought to be mad or dismissed, but were actually visionary. Fair Play to the councillors of Windsor though for getting the Hurricane replica erected.
The river trip commentary pointed out many aspects up river from Windsor bridge that Fran and I were unaware, for example the fact Eton College is the 2nd biggest landowner in the country because the well-off families of pupils donated land to the college in lieu of school fees. Also that Windsor race course is on an ‘island’, surrounded on three sides by the Thames.
The Congregational Church in William St (when it was being demolished in 1973):
This was our wedding venue now since long gone, but still interesting in that the site is now a tax office. So a whistle stop tour around The Royal Borough of Windsor and Eton, its not all about the castle.