Tin towns

A friend in my family history writing group strayed away from writing about his family’s history in Yorkshire, and wrote a most interesting place where he had lived with his wife and own famiy for many years in Buckinghamshire. They had moved to live near the Thames-side town of Marlow which was originally Great Marlow or Chipping Marlow, I’m not sure if the Great and the Chipping Marlows were separate places which merged, or different names for the same place or part of the place, Anyway… my friend’s story is not about Marlow, Chipping, Greater or otherwise, but about another Marlow, Marlow Bottom. (it also seems that Chipping Marlow might have been called Chipping Wycomb… ) Marlow Bottom was so called because it was a part of Marlow which ran along the bottom of a valley, Marlow coming from the word mere meaning pool or lake, so i guess the valley was originally a little on the soggy side.

The interesting thing about Marlow Bottom, as my friend recounted, was that it was also called Tin Town… not because tin was mined there but because before it was a town, people had built little temporary shacks in the valley – I thought they might be for some workers on a project who needed accommodation but it seems these cheaply built places were more for weekend homes for Londoners. They were there right up until the 60’s when they modified, rebuilt or replaced as proper dwellings. They were called Tin Town, and even though now it’s properly called Marlow Bottom, the nick name still gets bandied about.

I was looking this up, and discovered that there are other Tin Towns. Ther was one in Luton, but this was from accommodation built after the war when a lot of housing was needed. Birchinlee in Derbyshire was also Tin Town, and its little shacks were built for workers and their families who were building local dams for the the Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. I have a muddled memory of seeing a tin town somewhere, little shacks built among trees… but I cannot remember where or whether it was even in England.

When my friend was telling me about the Tin Town he knew, it struck me it was a great idea for a setting for another novel… I don;t think a Radwinter story, but maybe a 1950’s Mike Scott story!! I shall have to ponder!

I have no images of Marlow or Luton, so here is Derbyshire!



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