Bier Lane

Published in Windlesora 09 (1990)

©1990, WLHG

The illustration on the front cover shows an artist’s impression of Bier Lane as it must have looked in the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the next century, it is clear that little improvement had been made with the exception of a change of name to ‘River Street‘. In June 1900 Dr. Timbrell Bullstrode reported to the Local Government Board on the sanitary conditions of the Borough of Windsor. He had this to say about the street formerly known as ‘Bier Lane’:

“This street has figured prominently in the insanitary history of Windsor.. It is situated between Thames Street and the River Thames and a capital view of it can be obtained from the Castle walls near to the Curfew Tower. On the east sid of the street as it opens out from Thames Street is a butcher’s shop, to which a slaughterhouse is attached. The side of the house which abuts upon River Street, and which is prominently noticeable from Thames Street, is much dilapidated, the plaster being detached in several places… A little beyond the slaughterhouse, which, although situated in very undesirable proximity to the dwelling-house, has been greatly improved through the instrumentality of the present Sanitary Inspector, and which was in a cleanly condition on the day of my visit, is a courtyard known as Providence Place. This courtyard is asphalted but the asphalt is in a very dilapidated condition and badly required mending. The asphalt in the yard is broken down and has evidently been in this condition for a considerable time. On the opposite side of the road, and at the end farthest from Thames Street, are several houses which are let out in tenements. These houses are, for the most part, in a most dilapidated condition. The staircases are in places unsafe, the walls broken and dirty, while similar conditions obtain in certain of the rooms where the floors and ceilings are dilapidated. Complaints have, we are told, been made, but no assistance has been rendered… In the yard belonging to one of these houses is a gully in an eminently unwholesome condition; it should have served for the drainage of the yard, but the brick paving surrounding it in a broken way, and the water, instead of entering the gully, has permeated and excavated the ground around. The resulting stench is highly offensive, and it is clear that the condition is not an affair of yesterday. In the yard adjoining this there is no means of surface drainage but to provide for the deficiency the tenant has a long time previously dug a hole in the ground of the yard, which is supposed to act as a sort of ‘soak away’. This, however, has become choked up, and in times of heavy rain much of the water, we were told, finds it way through the house, by means of the passage, to the street outside…”.

Dr. Timbrell Bullstrode, 1900