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Slough ( , rhymes with 'cow'), situated west of Charing Crossmarker, is a borough and unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Berkshire, England. At the time of the 2001 census, the population of Slough was 119,070 (est. 122,000 in 2006) and the borough area was the most ethnically diverse local authority area outside London in the United Kingdom.

Historically, the larger part of the present-day Slough area was formerly in Buckinghamshire with a small part of the borough originally in Middlesexmarker. Slough is home to the Slough Trading Estatemarker, which, coupled with extensive transport links, makes it an important business centre in South East England. It is also home to a campus of Thames Valley University.


Slough is at and is situated on the outskirts of Greater Londonmarker. Proximate towns include Windsormarker to the south, Maidenheadmarker to the west, Uxbridgemarker to the northeast and Bracknellmarker to the southwest.

Most of the area that now makes up Slough was traditionally part of Buckinghamshire. The town resulted from the expansion and amalgamation of villages along the Great West Roadmarker. Over the years Slough has expanded greatly, incorporating a number of different villages. Original villages which now form suburbs of modern-day Slough include Chalveymarker, Cippenhammarker, Colnbrookmarker, George Green, Langleymarker, Poylemarker, Uptonmarker, and Wexhammarker. Other areas of the town include Brands Hill, Britwellmarker, Huntercombemarker, Manor Park, Salt Hillmarker, Upton Lea, and Windsor Meadowsmarker. The urban area (but not the borough council area) merges into the neighbouring parishes of Burnhammarker, Datchetmarker, Farnham Royalmarker, and Stoke Pogesmarker.


The first recorded uses of the name occur as Slo in 1196, Sloo in 1336, and Le Slowe, Slowe or Slow in 1437. It first seems to have applied to a hamlet between Uptonmarker to the east and Chalveymarker to the west, roughly around the "Crown Crossroads" where the road to Windsor (now the A332) met the Great West Road. The Domesday Survey of 1086, refers to Upton, and a wood for 200 pigs, worth £15. During the 13th century, King Henry III had a palace in Cippenhammarker. Parts of Upton Court were built in 1325, while St Mary's Church in Langley was probably built in the late 11th or early 12th century, though it has been rebuilt and enlarged several times.

From the mid 17th century, stagecoaches began to pass through Slough and Salt Hill which became locations for the second stage to change horses on the journey out from London. By 1838 and the opening of the Great Western Railway, Upton-cum-Chalvey's parish population had reached 1,502. In 1849, a branch line was completed from Slough stationmarker to Windsor and Eton Central railway stationmarker for the Queen's greater convenience.

Slough has 96 listed buildings. There are four Grade I: St Laurence's churchmarker (Upton), St Mary the Virgin's church (Langley), Baylis House and Godolphin Court; seven Grade II*: St Mary's church (Upton-cum-Chalvey), Upton Court, the Kederminster and Seymour Almshouses in Langley, St Peter's church (Chalvey), The Ostrich Inn (Colnbrook), King John's Palace (Colnbrook); and Grade II listed structures include four milestones, Slough station, and Beech, Oak and Linden Houses at Upton Hospital.

Artist's impression of the Heart of Slough Project
1918 saw a large area of agricultural land to the west of Slough developed as an army motor repair depot, used to store and repair huge numbers of motor vehicles coming back from First World War in Flanders. In April 1920 the Government sold the site and its contents to the Slough Trading Co. Ltd. Repair of ex-army vehicles continued until 1925 when the Slough Trading Company Act was passed allowing the company (renamed Slough Estates Ltd) to establish an Industrial Estate. Spectacular growth and employment ensued, with Slough attracting workers from many parts of the UK and abroad.

After the Second World War, several further large housing developments arose to take large numbers of people migrating from war-damaged London.

Current developments

In the 21st century Slough has seen major redevelopment in the town centre. Old buildings are being replaced with brand new offices and shopping complexes. Tescomarker have replaced an existing superstore with a larger Tesco Extra. The Heart of Slough Project is a highly ambitious, multi-million pound plan for the redevelopment of Slough's Town Centre. The aim is to create a leading European and national focus, and cultural quarter for creative media, information and communications industries. It will create a mixed-use complex, multi-functional buildings, visual landmarks and a public space in the Thames Valleymarker. Recommendations for the £400 million project have been approved, and planning approval was given by Slough Borough Council’s planning committee on 9 July 2009. Work is scheduled to begin in 2009 for completion in 2018.


Borough of Slough
Status: Unitary, Borough
Region: South East England
Ceremonial County: Berkshire
- Total
Ranked 334th
32.54 km²
Admin. HQ: Slough
ONS code: 00MD
- Total ( )
- Density


/ km²

Ethnicity: 61.2% White
16.7% S.Asian
7.0% Afro-Carib
0.5% Chinese
3.8% Other.

Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Labour (council Labour)
Mayor of Slough Councillor Joginder Singh Bal


In 1863 Slough became a local government area for the first time, when a Slough Local Board of Health was elected to represent what is now the central part of the modern Borough. This part of Upton-cum-Chalvey Parish became Slough Urban Sanitary District in 1875 which was succeeded by Slough Urban Districtmarker in 1894. In 1930, there was a major extension westward of the Urban District, and the area was divided into wards for the first time (the new areas of Burnham, Farnham and Stoke as well as the divisions of the old district Central, Chalveymarker, Langleymarker and Upton). In 1938 the town received its first Royal Charter and became a Municipal Borough.

Slough was incorporated into Berkshire in the 1974 local government reorganisation. The old Municipal Borough was abolished and replaced by a Non-metropolitan district authority, which was made a Borough by the town's second Royal Charter. Britwellmarker and Wexham Courtmarker became part of Slough at this time, with their own parish councils. On 1 April 1995, the Borough of Slough expanded slightly into Buckinghamshire and Surreymarker, to take in Colnbrookmarker and Poylemarker, which received a joint parish council. Slough became a unitary authority on 1 April 1998, with the abolition of Berkshire County Council and the 1973–1998 Borough. The present unitary authority was created a Borough by the town's third Royal charter.

Town twinning

Slough is twinned with:


During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Slough became a haven for unemployed Welsh people, who walked up the Great West Road looking for employment.

In the post-war years, immigrants from the Commonwealth, notably Anguillamarker, Antigua and Barbudamarker, Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker were attracted to the town, settling predominantly in Chalvey.

In the early 1950s there were a number of Polish refugee camps scattered around the Slough area. As returning to Poland (then in the Soviet Bloc) was not considered an option by many of the war-time refugees, many Polish families decided to settle in Slough, an expanding town seeking committed workers and offering a chance to own homes for those prepared to work hard. In time, a Polish speaking Roman Catholic Parish was established with its own church building. A new wave of Polish migration to Slough has followed since Poland became part of the European Union.

Slough Council made history by electing the country's first black female mayor, Lydia Simmons, in 1984.

Slough has the highest percentage of Sikh residents in the country according to the latest national census figures (2001). Sikh residents make up 9.1% of Slough’s population, more than any other local authority. Slough also has the highest percentage of Muslim (13.4%) and Hindu residents (4.5%) in the South East region.

Slough's transport links make it an ideal location for those working in London, but looking for more affordable accommodation; as such it attracts a large number of young professionals and families.


Slough Trading Estate played a major part in making Slough an important business centre in South East England
Before the 1800s, the main businesses of Slough were brickfields and agriculture. The bricks for the building of Eton Collegemarker were made in Slough. Later, as the Great West Roadmarker traffic increased, inns and pubs sprang up along the road to service the passing trade. Until the town developed as an industrial area, nurseries were prominent in the local economy; Cox's Orange Pippin apple was first raised in Colnbrook (not then within Slough) around 1825, and the dianthus "Mrs Sinkins Pink" was first raised at some point between 1868 and 1883 by John Sinkins, the master of the Etonmarker Union Workhouse, which lay in Slough.

In the mid-1800s the only major employer apart from the brickfields was James Elliman, who started as a draper in Chandos Street. In 1847, he changed careers and manufactured his Elliman's Embrocation and Royal Embrocation horse liniment from factories in Wellington Street and Chandos Street. Elliman became a major benefactor to the town, and is remembered today in the names of local roads and schools.

In September 1851 William Thomas Buckland, an auctioneer and surveyor from nearby Wraysburymarker, began livestock sales in a field near the Great Western Road Railway Stationmarker belonging to the North Star Inn. Originally held on the first Tuesday of every month, the Cattle Market's popularity soon saw this increased to every Tuesday. A move to Wexham Street was necessitated by the post-war redevelopment of the town. The Slough Cattle Market was run by Messrs Buckland and Sons until its final closure in 1988.

In 1906, James Horlick, one of the eponymous founders of the malted milk company, opened a purpose-built red-brick factory near Slough Railway Station to manufacture his malted milk product.

Starting in the 1920s, Slough Estates Ltd, the operator of the original Slough Trading Estatemarker, created and operated many more estates in the UK and abroad. The Slough Trading Estatemarker meant that the town was largely insulated from many of the effects of recession. For many years, Slough's economy was mainly manufacturing-based.

In the last 20 or so years there has been a major shift from a manufacturing to an information-based economy. This has seen the closing down of many factories (some of which have been in Slough for many decades). The factories are rapidly being replaced by office buildings. Hundreds of major companies have sited in Slough Trading Estate over the years, with its proximity to London Heathrow Airportmarker and good motorway connections being attractive. In the 1960s Gerry Anderson's film company was based in Slough, and his Supermarionation series, including Thunderbirds, were filmed there.

The UK headquarters of Masterfoods (originally called Mars, Incorporated) is based in Slough, the main factory having been created in 1932 by Forrest Mars Sr. after a quarrel with his father, Frank C. Mars. He proceeded to produce and develop the world famous Mars Bar in Slough over 70 years ago. One of the Mars factories has been demolished and a lot of production has moved to the Czech Republic. The European head offices of major IT companies such as Research In Motion, Network Associates, Computer Associates, PictureTel and Compusys (amongst others) are all in the town. O2 is headquartered in the town across four buildings. The town is also home to the National Foundation for Educational Research, which is housed in The Mere.

In recent years, Slough's manufacturing industries have been in decline, instead being replaced by modern offices, including those of Nintendo, Black and Decker and Dulux paints are still manufactured in Slough by Imperial Chemical Industries. The town is the headquarters of Furniture Village.

The motor trade has long been represented in Slough. Until 1966 Citroën assembled cars in a Liverpool Road factory (later used by Mars Confectionery), and they retain their UK headquarters in the town. Ford built Transit vans at their factory in Langley (a former Hawker Aircraft site from 1936 to the 1950s) until the site was redeveloped for housing in the 1990s. Ferrarimarker, Mercedes, Fiatmarker and Maseratimarker now have offices in the town.


Road transport

The Brunel Bus station and car park, opened in 1975
Due to Slough's close proximity to London, Heathrow and Surrey, the town serves a major hub for local and intra-city travel. Due to many people from Slough working in nearby towns and cities such as Windsor, Reading, London and Maidenhead there is a huge influx of passengers in the early hours in the morning as well as during the evening. Road transport in Slough includes:

  • Within Slough: Buses (First, Arriva, Hoppa), Taxis, minicabs and private cars on roads are also used.
  • To Heathrow Airportmarker: First Berkshire bus routes 75, 76 and 77 serve Slough town centre, Langley and Heathrow Taxis and minicabs are also available at a higher cost.
  • To London: Buses and Greenline coaches are available, but rail is more generally used.
  • To Birminghammarker: The National Express coaches provide services from London to Birmingham via Slough.

  • M4
    • Junction 5 (Langley & Slough East)
    • Junction 6 (Central Slough)
    • Junction 7 (Slough West)
  • M25marker (Via M4)
  • M40
  • A4marker
  • A40
  • A355

Rail transport

Slough is served by First Great Western stations at Burnhammarker, Central Sloughmarker and Langleymarker. Slough station provides a junction between the Great Western Main Line and the Slough to Windsor & Eton Line for passengers and tourists travelling to see Windsor Castlemarker and the town of Windsor. Tourists usually arrive into Slough before taking the Windsor branch line to Windsor and Eton Central railway stationmarker.

Slough is soon to be part of the Crossrail Project, a new trans-London rail link likely to start construction in the early 2010s.


Slough has a senior non-League football team, Slough Town F.C.marker, who currently play in the Southern Football League Division One South & West, which is the 8th tier of football in England.

Slough has 42 parks and open spaces plus an ice skating arena where Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean once trained. Slough ice skating arena is also the home to the Slough Jets a UK hockey team in the English Premier Ice Hockey League. The town has produced many Olympic class athletes as part of the "Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow Athletics Club".

Negative perceptions

  • Slough has a strong rivalry with local neighbouring town, Stainesmarker. Both are near Heathrow and vie for out-of-town businesses moving from London. Ali G, a fictional resident of Staines, often pokes fun at Slough and its sports teams.

  • Slough has been the subject of much derision. Some references are mentioned above. However, the BBC aired a four-part series called "Making Slough Happy", where a team of experts attempted to bring happiness to the whole town. Despite complaints by some residents who said "the series was not particularly representative of the diversity of Slough", this can be contradicted because the sample "50" did provide a cross section of Slough with different ethnic minorities and age groups represented. However, most of the criticism was seen to come from people within Slough, while the majority of people outside Slough thought it was quite good; overall it did make a big impact and raised people's awareness of Slough as a whole.

  • Slough-raised comedian Jimmy Carr said: "I grew up in Slough in the 1970s, if you want to know what Slough was like in the 1970s, go there now".

  • The Slough Sewage Treatment Works between M4 Junction 6 and 7, sometimes releases malodorous fumes detectable to drivers on the nearby M4 motorway, a phenomenon known colloquially as The Slough Stench.

  • The Russian KGB secret service made detailed 1:10,000 maps of most urban areas of the UK, but did not bother to make a map of Slough.

  • Slough was recently the subject of a scathing documentary by the BBC's Panorama series, entitled: "Immigration - how we lost count". It highlighted the massive recent growth in the immigrant population.

  • The Sky TV programme Road Wars regularly featured Slough and highlighted its narcotics problem.

  • Slough has a relatively high crime rate, with figures for all crime statistic categories above the English average and figures for several categories more than double the English average. According to British Crime Survey statistics, Slough has the worst rate of crime amongst the 15 most comparable other areas, and Slough is the least safe Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership area in the whole of the Thames Valleymarker and South East England. Slough has the highest level of reported anti-social behaviour in the Thames Valley Police area.

Cultural references

With London just round the corner, Slough is being considered to be an ideal place of accommodation for young professionals and families.
This has resulted in new apartments being developed

  • 1937: The poet John Betjeman wrote his poem Slough as a protest against the new town and 850 factories that had arisen in what had been formerly a rural area, which he considered an onslaught on the rural lifestyle:
Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, death!

However, on the centenary of the poet's birth, the daughter of the poet apologised for the poem. Candida Lycett-Green said her father "regretted having ever written it". During her visit, Ms Lycett-Green presented Mayor of Slough David MacIsaac with a book of her father's poems. In it was written: "We love Slough".

  • 1979: Slough is mentioned by name in the hit single Eton Rifles by The Jam from the album Setting Sons , in the line "There's a row going on down near Slough"

  • 1991: Film Buddy's Song with externals filmed mainly on the Britwellmarker Estate and the Farnham Road (A355) released.

  • 1996: The Tiger Lillies' album The Brothel to the Cemetery includes a track called Slough, probably inspired by Betjeman's poem. The lyrics to the chorus are:

Drop a bomb on Slough, Drop a bomb on Slough
Drop a bomb on Slough, Drop a bomb on Slough

Crossbow House is famous for featuring in the opening sequences and some of the filming for popular BBC comedy "The Office".

  • 1998: The song "Costa del Slough" by the rock band Marillion posits the town as a post-global warming coastal resort, possibly in a reference to the comedian Spike Milligan having presented Slough on TV as a holiday resort.

  • 2001, 2002, 2003: The BBC comedy series The Office is set in Slough, reiterating Betjeman's view of the place as a depressing industrial wasteland. In fact the character David Brent comments on Betjeman's poem in the series, and it also appears on the inside sleeve of the video and DVD of Series 1. The US version, set in Scranton, Pennsylvaniamarker, has the company's address as being "Slough Avenue" in reference to the original.

  • 2004: Slough is mentioned on the ABC series Lost in the episode "Homecoming" of Season 1. In a flashback of Charlie's life, a woman he knows says her father is away purchasing a certain paper company in Slough, which is a reference to another TV series, The Office.

See also


  1. National Statistics - Focus on Ethnicity and Diversity (referenced 16 February 2008)
  2. Google Maps
  3. p 46, The History of Slough, Maxwell Fraser, Slough Corporation, 1973
  4. Listed buildings in Slough (referenced 27 November 2006)
  5. p 109, The History of Slough, Maxwell Fraser, Slough Corporation, 1973
  6. BBC NEWS | England | Berkshire | Backing for town's £400m makeover
  7. Heart of Slough planning approval
  8. BBC - Berkshire - Features - Heart of Slough
  9. Attracting Young Professionals and their Families
  10. p20, The Changing Face of Slough, Slough Museum, Breedon Books, Derby, 2003
  11. p100, The History of Slough, Maxwell Fraser, Slough Corporation, Slough 1973
  12. BBC Gardening Plant profiles - Pinks, dianthus (referenced 24 February 2007)
  13. The History of Buckland & Sons by Edward Barry Bowyer FRICS (1973)
  14. Location of registered office of Ltd accessed 27 December 2008
  15. "Furniture Village Limited",, accessed 14 February 2009
  16. p120, The Changing Face of Slough, Slough Museum, Breedon Books, Derby, 2003
  17. p11, The Changing Face of Slough, Slough Museum, Breedon Books, Derby, 2003
  28. CPRE: Local tranquillity scores
  29. Making Slough Happy (BBC News)
  31. Panorama - Immigration - How we lost count
  34. Audit Commission. Community safety inspection Slough Borough Council. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  35. William Shakespeare - The Merry Wiues of Windsor Page 32
  36. Brave New World Chapter 5
  37. Poetic justice at last for Slough

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