Marlow Bottom

In the late 1920s it would have taken someone with a flair for predicting the future to guess that Marlow Bottom, which was then little more than rough fields with a muddy track running down the centre, would 40 years later provide homes for nearly 5,000 people. It was in the mid-1940s that the move towards development started. Families from the poorer parts of London who were experiencing nightly bombing found that they could escape for short weekends just for the down payment of £20 for a 40 ft frontage on the unmade-up road. These settlers, all do-it-yourself fans, had fiercely held views on what their new homes should look like. At weekends the valley hummed with activity, and at that time there were no disapproving planning officers looking over their shoulders to curb their eccentricities.
The first amenity for the new dwellers was milk delivered down the valley in a trap carrying the milk churns. Today what started so simply has become recognised as a highly desirable residential area, with developers hovering to pounce on the smallest plot of vacant land. However, traces of its country past can be found in the naming of 'Badger's Way', 'Oliver's Paddock' — Oliver being a much respected donkey - and 'Patches Field' where Patch the pony surrendered his rights to a much admired sheltered housing development. Also it is still possible to find some of the original downland flowers, including the Pyramid orchid and the Chiltern gentian.
A long established feature has been the Village Hall. This started inauspiciously as the 'Witches' Barn', a cafe that did not prosper. It had as neighbour a Nissen hut which was used as a canteen by Land Army Girls. This later became the Barn Club. Both these buildings have been modernised and are run by the Village Hall Trust. The most important annual event in Marlow Bottom has been the Rose Carnival and it was through the organisers that money was raised and targeted to buy and help maintain the playing fields. These are ideally situated and much used by local children.

The first President of the Village Hall was a Mr Folker, a flamboyant character who strode the valley in a large black sombrero and a black cloak. He had the good fortune to add to his life style by living in Dingley-Dell. A partner to his eccentricity was a slightly demented lady who was to be seen walking in the valley at nightfall, wringing her hands, clothed only in her nightgown.

More recently Marlow Bottom has been able to celebrate having its own local hero. Stephen Redgrave brought back a Gold Medal from the Los Angeles Olympics, 1984 a record 3 Gold Medals at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986 and a gold medal from the 1986 World Championships for rowing. It seemed quite right that he should ride down the Bottom on the top of a double decker bus to universal applause. Another local resident, Margaret Beer, is well known for her hobby of restoring injured birds and animals to health.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission

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