Maidenhead is a large affluent town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire, England. It lies south of the River Thames (although at Maidenhead the river runs north-south so the town is in fact on its west bank). The town has a population of 64,831. Its urban area (including the suburban villages of Bray, Holyport, Pinkneys Green, Taplow (Buckinghamshire) Cox Green and Woodlands Park) has a population of approximately 85,000. The mainline railway station was set to be the terminus of the Crossrail line until the announcement was made that Reading was to be the new terminus. Maidenhead was originally the planned western terminus for the Crossrail line (to and through London) until Reading station situated 13 miles to the south west of Maidenhead was chosen. Maidenhead lies immediately west of the Taplow ridge; a wooded spur of the Chilterns which rises dramatically above one of the most scenic stretches of the Thames. The ridge is crowned by the spectacular Cliveden House which can be seen from various parts of the town.
In 1280, a bridge was erected across the river to replace a ferry in what was then the hamlet of South Ellington. The Great West Road to Reading, Gloucester and Bristol was diverted over the new bridge – previously it kept to the north bank and crossed the Thames by ford at Cookham—and medieval Maidenhead grew up around it. Within a few years a wharf was constructed next to the bridge and the South Ellington name was dropped with the area becoming known as Maidenhythe (literally meaning “new wharf”). The earliest record of this name change is in the Bray Court manorial rolls of 1296. The bridge led to the growth of Maidenhead: a stopping point for coaches on the journeys between London and Bath and the High Street became populated with inns. The current Maidenhead Bridge, a local landmark, dates from 1777 and was built at a cost of £19,000.
King Charles I met his children for the last time before his execution in 1649 at the Greyhound Inn on the High Street, the site of which is now a branch of the NatWest Bank. A plaque commemorates their meeting. When the Great Western Railway came to the town, it began to expand. Muddy roads were replaced and public services were installed. The High Street began to change again and substantial Victorian red brick architecture began to appear throughout the town. Maidenhead became its own entity in 1894, being split from the civil parishes of both Bray and Cookham.
Maidenhead Citadel Corps of the Salvation Army was first opened in the Town in the mid-1880s. Maidenhead Citadel Band was soon founded in 1886 by Bandmaster William Thomas who later became Mayor of the Town. By Edwardian times, Boulter’s Lock nearby became a favoured resort especially on Ascot Sunday, and the Skindles hotel developed a reputation for illicit liaisons. All Saints Church, Boyne Hill was completed in 1857 is one of the finest examples of the early work of the architect G. E. Street. The site is also regarded by many as the premier architectural site in the town. The Church, consecrated on 2 December 1857 by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, became the first ecclesiastical parish in the Borough of Maidenhead.
Situated on the River Thames, the town is a rowing centre. The Maidenhead Rowing Club organises the Maidenhead Regatta which, along with the Marlow Regatta and Henley Regatta, is often seen as a testing ground for olympic rowing athletes. Maidenhead has often seen winners go on to represent the United Kingdom at the Olympic games.
The town’s football team, Maidenhead United, play at York Road, which is the oldest football ground in the world continuously used by the same team. The Maidenhead Rugby Club was founded in 1921 and is the largest organised sports team in the town. It consists of fours men’s teams, a women’s team, and a large youth programme. The men’s team attracts international talent from all over the world including American Tobin Thompson and Fijian Antinio Mawara.
The Maidenhead urban area includes urban and suburban regions within the bounds of the town, called Maidenhead Court, North Town, Furze Platt (which in 2012 gained a conservation area), Pinkneys Green, Highway, Tittle Row, Boyn Hill, Fishery and Bray Wick; as well as suburbs in surrounding civil parishes: Cox Green and Altwood in Cox Green parish, Woodlands Park in White Waltham parish, and part of Bray Wick in Bray parish. Bray village itself is still just about detached. To the east, on the opposite side of the river from Maidenhead, is the village of Taplow in Buckinghamshire. A few miles further on is Slough. To the north are the Cookhams, Cookham Village, Cookham Rise and Cookham Dean. Also nearby is the wealthy area of Pinkneys Green. These lie south of the Berkshire-Buckinghamshire border, which is formed by the River Thames (which then bends southwards to form the Maidenhead-Taplow border). To the south is the village of Holyport. Continuing by road to the South-East leads to the town of Windsor.