Maidenhead & District Chamber of Commerce
Brief History of the Chamber
The inaugural meeting of Maidenhead Chamber of Commerce was held in the Council Chamber on 4 May 1905 under the chairmanship of the Mayor. No records of these early days exist but it appears that the Chamber ceased to function at some time because it is from the revival in 1926 that continuous records of the Chamber are available.
From that year it was clear that any matter which could be of interest to, or the concern of, the members was appropriate for consideration by the Chamber's Executive Committee. In 1928, "traffic" was considered to be a vital question of the day and the police were asked to allow customers to leave their cars outside shops for "a reasonable time". "Traffic" has remained a problem for the Chamber throughout its life. A one-way system through the High Street was adopted in the 1930's pending construction of a by-pass.
From 1928 into the early 30's, the Chamber organised an annual "Shopping Week" with special window displays, street decoration and a carnival procession.
1939 was overshadowed by the possibility of war. On 2 May a luncheon and talk on Air Raid Precautions was held but a function planned for 3 October had to be cancelled because of the strained international situation. The Chamber was actively involved in a scheme to rationalise local deliveries to save petrol.
In 1945, Town Planning came to the fore with the discussions and debates leading to the passing of the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947. Since that date the Chamber has been closely concerned with local planning matters.
In 1946 the main targets of the Chamber were traffic congestion, street lighting and the railway service.
1947 was a busy time with discussions on local flooding, traffic congestion and town redevelopment, in addition to open meetings on five day weeks for shops and railway developments, as well as lectures to pupils at Gordon Road School.
In 1949 a large number of Marlow traders joined the Chamber. The following year the Bourne End Traders Association was wound up so this area also came under the Maidenhead Chamber's umbrella.
In 1951 the Chamber made representations for the speedy completion of the by-pass as well as the easing of parking restrictions in Market Street and Broadway. The Executive Committee was also concerned with purchase tax rebate, postal and telephone delays.
In 1954 the Chamber successfully persuaded the Council to alter its timetable for the reconstruction of Maidenhead High Street. The press attended meetings of the Executive Committee for the first time, a link which has been maintained ever since.
In 1956 the Chamber pressed for synchronised traffic lights and improved parking facilities as the congestion and lack of parking were held to be detrimental to trade. Marlow formed its own Chamber in this year.
In 1957 the Chamber took part in the twinning ceremonies with St Cloud. The Chamber continued its work by considering stamp trading, retail price maintenance and free off-street parking places and was instrumental in the formation of the Maidenhead and District Civic Society.
In 1961 the Chamber was represented at the Town Hall to hear the Council's proposals for the redevelopment of the central area. After meeting with the Civic Society the Chamber submitted plans for redevelopment of the central area, the Town Hall site and Market Street this matter engaged the Chamber's attention for the next three years. In the same year the by-pass was opened.
In 1974, in order to deal effectively with the enlarged Civic Authority, close liaison was established with Windsor District Chamber of Trade and this has continued until the present.
In 1978 the Chamber organised a strong and successful multi-Chamber representation at the public enquiry into an application for a major hypermarket development at Braywick. At Christmas, the Chamber carried out its first decoration of the streets of the town, which has become an annual and continually improving event.
Following legislation under the Rates Act 1984, the Chamber was designated the representative of local business to consult with local government on proposed rate levels.
In 1985 two projects for which the Chamber had constantly campaigned were completed - the refurbishment of Nicholson's Shopping Centre and the construction of a new railway bridge to accommodate a dual carriageway joining the Western Relief Road.
Pedestrianisation of the High Street, Market Street and Park Street was completed in 1988 to the great satisfaction of the Chamber.
1990 witnessed a fundamental change in the way local services were funded following the introduction of the new Community Charge and Uniform Business Rate. The nationally prescribed business rate effectively removed the element of direct accountability between local government and business but the Chamber has continued to work closely with the local council.
In 1995 the Chamber initiated partnerships with the Councils in Maidenhead and High Wycombe, Thames Valley Enterprise and Thames Valley Police, leading to joint participation in the Maidenhead carnival and river pageant, initiation of town centre management, the provision of new Christmas lights, setting up of a Business Watch scheme in Maidenhead and a Business Partnership in Bourne End.
In 1998 planning permission was granted by the Council for the derelict Grenfell Island site, together with a road improvement scheme. This development was an important part of the Chamber’s plans for the improvement of the town centre, submitted to the Council in 1996.
2000 saw the completion of the Grenfell Island development, with the opening of the UCI multi-screen cinema complex and the letting of the entire office complex to Hutchison Telecom. Norden Farm Centre for the Arts also opened. These developments increased the attractiveness of the district for business and entertainment.
In 2002 the main focus was the development and promotion of Maidenhead and the surrounding district. This was actioned through representations made to the Council, including lobbying for a new Town Manager and major planning projects like the new Sainsbury’s store. The Chamber was pleased to see the start of the Sainsbury’s redevelopment project in 2004.
The Christmas Lights Committee successfully raised funds to extend and improve the lights with the clock tower being lit for the first time.
The Chamber continues to campaign for the redevelopment of Maidenhead town centre whilst keeping a watchful eye on the changes to the licensing laws and the many building projects planned for the area.