This year (2009) the Stanwell Scouts at Pioneer Lodge will be celebrating their 100th Anniversary, just 2 years after the founding anniversary of the Scout Movement. Signal artists helped the scouts with their centenary mural in 2007 and this year the cubs and beavers helped Signal artists take the Animals from the Town Farm Mural on a Wide game around Stanwell.



During our Intergenerational Project many older residents showed the young Town Farm School students their favourite games when they were young, including the whipping top that some could whip for miles and are still have the wrist action!


The local Stanwell Women’s Institute, who recently celebrated their 90th Anniversary with over 60 members, lead the way on a recently campaign to save the rapidly declining UK honey bee population – honey bees play a vital role in the pollination of food crops and in our environment. The "SOS for Honey Bees" resolution was passed on the 3rd June at the WI Annual General Meeting at Royal Albert Hall, with over 5,000 members voting in favour.


Some of the fish experts down at Charlie’s Cafe showed Luke some pictures of huge carp they had caught in lakes all around Stanwell. He asked them what they used for bait, they told him "bread". Simple yet effective.



Long-time Stanwell resident Maggie tells the tale of taking her children to a nearby lake for fishing when she was a young mother. She would tuck jam sandwiches and a fishing rod in the pram with her kids and spend the day by the water. The story goes that whilst enjoying the tranquility of a summers day she saw a huge pike come up from the deep and swallow a swan! - Pike are known by local anglers to be dangerous fish having rows of razor sharp gnashers and growing up to 8 feet long in some rivers. Local fishermen from the Charlie’s Cafe area claimed that the story could be true, they had also seen coots and ducks swallowed by pike, they said for a pike to take a swan down it would have been a monster...


We had a fantastic time with the service users of Fairways decorating remote controlled cars then racing them round St Mary’s Church. We made a very short film of the fun we all had.



Working elephants swim in between islands for kilometres in India they are also known for having long memories. The elephant buried in Stanwell must have had a long journey from its homeland via Whipsnade, to this unexpected resting place. It is dreaming of happier times on its travels, but fear not, this elephant is not alone as it is not the only traveller buried in Stanwell...


The Elephant of Stanwell is unfortunately not as romantic a story as one would hope, if truth be told. Local factory Smithfield Animal Products Ltd (see The Stink Factory below) was often host to many a foreign carcass from the London Zoos, but it’s biggest arrival was in the 50’s when an elephant that had passed away at Whipsnade Zoo with nowhere to go arrived to be processed (ie sawn up into pieces and boiled down into glue). But after many attempts at Elephant Soup, this proved too big a job for the workers who eventually buried the carcass remains in a nearby field. Some say it was done at night so as the bosses didn’t find out. Some say that elephants are not the only big animals buried in Stanwell... The site is now occupied by the Northumberland Close Trading Estate.


One anonymous resident reminisces about Smithfield Animal Products Ltd: "This fine, well established company had its premises on a large plot of rough ground situated between Long Lane and Clare Road. The tall brown brick chimney being something of a local landmark. It was a common sight to see a convoy of dark green wagons bearing their cargo of putrefying animal carcases into the factory grounds, eagerly pursued by a gigantic swarm of bluebottles buzzing merrily behind them. These loads of offal would be boiled, steamed, and rendered to their component parts of a) bone, for fertiliser, b) fat, for the tallow industry, and c) the most appalingly stomach turning stench known to man. The "Boney" or "Stink Factory" as it was affectionately known, had been operating since time out of mind, until that glorious Sunday afternoon in the mid Seventies when one of the huge pressure cookers exploded, blowing the entire roof off the factory and unfortunately taking the lives of three workers in the process. One rumour put about later was that the I.R.A. could smell the place as far away as the Falls Road, and had decided to eradicate the problem once and for all with a huge fertiliser bomb. Of course the Priest at St David’s, the local Catholic enclave, tried to claim it was an Act of God. Who knows though, how far up the stink travelled? He may have had a point."


Pig Alley was remembered by local resident Sharron as the last march of the pigs going to slaughter at the Stink Factory. Beggars Alley was a known place where the bones from the factory were given/sold to the poor beggars who could not afford anything more decent to eat.


The present parish church of St Mary is the most prominent landmark in Stanwell today. 13th and 14th century in date, it has a well-known leaning spire, attributed to the sun weathering the wooden tiles on one side over time. St Mary’s Church is home to the Stanwell Scouts, celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2009.


There are plenty of scrumping stories in Stanwell as it used to be full of orchards. Scrumping memories have come from from elderly women in their 90’s to surprisingly young grandmothers with sparkly eyes and bewitching smiles… it seems like scrumping was a right of passage for most Stanwell residents.


We had a fantastic time with the service users of Fairways decorating remote controlled cars then racing them round St Mary’s Church. We made a very short film of the fun we all had.


Stanwell has its very own apple - the Cox’s Orange Pippin.


Local residents Sharron, Jimmy and Kevin told us how they used to hand paint the Bendy toys as children in Stanwell. The factory van would drop off a box of 1000 and they would line them up in the kitchen and spend all day painting the boots ,eyes,hats on these well loved toys. When the paint was dry the van would drive round to the houses and pick up Noddy, Popeye, Donald or whoever else was in Stanwell that day. Then they were boxed and then it was off to the shops to be sold. These spongey characters are now collectable.


These prefabricated tin houses were another invention of Sir John Gibson that were built by Prisoners of War in the 40’s and 50’s. His son Hugh Gibson lived in one of the houses. They were only meant to be temporary accommodation lasting 10-12 years, but 60 years on they are still standing with up to 3 generations of families having lived in some. Today the houses are being redeveloped by A2Dominion as part of the Stanwell New Start regeneration scheme.


Sonny Loveridge grew up with his family living in wagons on the nearby farm he says: "It’s the best life living outdoors, I loved the horses. People were much friendlier, everyone was your uncle or auntie in those days".


Churchill and Eisenhower were rumoured to have secret meetings over a drink in the 5 Bells Pub. It is said there is a secret tunnel that joined the pub to Manor House where Sir John Gibson lived.



In 1920 the manor house at Stanwell was purchased by Sir John Gibson, who became famous and knighted for his role as the designer of the Mulberry Harbours, those floating constructions supported by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and used so successfully during the D-Day landings in France in 1944. Each Mulberry harbour consisted of roughly 6 miles (10 km) of flexible steel roadways (code-named Whales) that floated on steel or concrete pontoons (Beetles). The roadways terminated at great pierheads, (Spuds), that were jacked up and down on legs which rested on the seafloor. Each harbour, when fully operational, had the capacity to move 7,000 tons of vehicles and supplies per day from ship to shore, which quite literally allowed the allies to bring their own port with them. The Harbours were built and tested locally to Stanwell so many people including Churchill used to visit Gibson in secret at Manor House.


During world war II the reservoirs next to Stanwell were used as a decoy for London. The water was lit up at night with paraffin lanterns to confuse enemy bombers into thinking they were above central London. The officers kept the practice top secret right up until the end of the war. When the reservoirs were eventually cleaned out, huge rusty unexploded bombs destined for London were found at the bottom.


There are many rabbit hunting stories in Stanwell residents. In the old days people used trained ferrets to chase them out of burrows. There were several ferret keepers in Stanwell. Apparently, you have to beware around ferrets, not only do they really stink, but loose trouser bottoms are as inviting to a ferret as a rabbit hole… must have been murder when flares were in. Nowadays slingshots sets are sometimes used by expert young marksmen, on this project we have witnessed some amazing accuracy.


True Romanie travellers settled and live in Stanwell dating back before the war. The horse and wagon is their trademark and hangs on the wall of many homes. The days of living in a wagon are remembered fondly by those families who lived in the fields and worked on the farms in Stanwell over many generations.


King Henry VIII visited Lord Winsor at his home around Christmas time. It was just for a few days. Henry, not known for his flexibility, found Stanwell manor such a pleasant place his majesty demanded it be handed over to the throne. Lord Windsor’s family protested, they had held the manor for generations and he begged the King to reconsider. The King would hear none of it. He helped himself to the manor of Stanwell, and sent Lord Windsor to a new manor far, far away.


Our recent Stanwell Animal Mural project with the children at Town Farm School saw over 150 creatures that live in Stanwell being painted by the students. Amongst the ferrets, spiders and ring-necked parakeets, the most popular choice was the butterfly.


There has been a settlement in Stanwell from long before Anglo-Saxon times. Discoveries of flint tools in the area show this to be true. No one knows exactly how old the settlement is, but experts believe that the Anglo-Saxons may have given it the name: ‘Stanwell’ meaning ‘Stoney stream’.


Over the years it has been known by many abbrieviations: ‘Stannel’ in the 1920s and today to some locals its ‘Stanweazy’ or ‘Stanwizzle’ Tales of mythical beasts such as dragons and phoenix were popular in the Anglo-Saxon times as there was no 3D cinemas and you went to war with an axe at an early age. How peaceful it would have been in those times to find a quiet spot by a stoney stream in springtime with the bluebells all around...


In Victorian times at Lord Knyvett School, the strict School Master, Mr Murray, would send boys to fetch him a pint of ale at 11am every day. The story goes that on the walk back from the pub the boys would get thirsty and would end up drinking half the ale, which they would top up with water from the local stream. One day Mr Murray was drinking his pint only to find a tiddler at the bottom – half drunk no doubt!


Stanwell Manor, home to Sir John Gibson, inventor of the Mulberry Harbour, was used as a war council meeting venue during the Second World War. Winston Churchill held top secret meetings there. Some say there was also a secret tunnel that led from the basement of the mansion all the way to Windsor. Others say it only went as far as the 5 Bells Public House. The grand old Manor house of Stanwell sadly no longer exists but the gates still remain and behind them lies a wild woodland area known by locals as "Racky Woods," after its one time owner, The King or Iraq. Many locals remember scrumping for apples and playing in the "Racky".


The school originally founded through the will of Lord Knyvett’s in 1624. It was one of the earliest free schools in England. It remained a school until 1954 when Town Farm was built and it closed. Today The Lord Knyvett Centre serves the older members of Stanwell as a friendly drop-in Centre with activities. We held an intergenerational day where students from Town Farm came to visit the ladies at Lord Knyvett and find out what growing up in Stanwell was like. Some members of the centre then visited the children at Town Farm School to talk to them about their experiences living through World War II which helped their studies come to life.


Lord Knyvett is historically the most famous Stanwell resident. He was the Justice of the Peace for Westminster and a gentleman of the Privy Chamber. The Manor of Stanwell was given to Lord Knyvett in 1603 as a reward for his services to Queen Elizabeth I. He was also the man who discovered Guy Fawkes with the gunpowder in the Houses of Parliament on November 4th, 1605. He was duly rewarded for this arrest. A respected and trusted man he died in 1622 leaving in his will money to build a school for the boys of Stanwell. The school was one of the first free schools and dramatically raised education levels in the village area over the years. He and his wife are remembered in St Mary’s Church with a large tomb.