Historian and writer Jaye Isherwood has always taken a keen interest in Industrial History, and is often found exploring old works, canals or railway tracks. She was born in Slough to the smells and sounds of the historic Trading Estate nearby. Jaye is an accomplished author and produced a book detailing the history of the Railway that served the Slough Trading Estate. More recently, Jaye was engaged as a historian and researcher in the preparations for the 2020 Centenary of the Slough Trading Estate. As a result of this activity, Jaye is now a volunteer archivist for a historic collection of documents, films and images detailing the history of the Slough Trading Estate and its founding owners, now known as SEGRO Plc. She continues to advise the Slough Museum and is helping plan for a new exhibition space in the near future.
In her documentary-style talk, Making Modern Britain: Slough Industrial Estate, Jaye presents a wealth of knowledge on the industrialisation of Slough at the end of the First World War, as she narrates over a series of atmospheric archival photographs of the people, buildings, and industries that have passed through the estate over the last 100 years. Created primarily to keep up with the need for machinery during the war, the Slough Motor Transport Depot, as it was then known, was still unfinished come armistice day, an embarrassing “white elephant” for the government. However, the fortunes of the project were soon to turn around, as major international companies looking for a base in the UK – partly to avoid the wartime import duties still in place – found what they were looking for in Slough, with its ideal position on the GWR line and only 20 miles from London. Throughout the course of the 20th century, household names such as Gillette, Citroen, Johnson & Johnson, and Mars, all settled into what was once a farmer’s field in south Buckinghamshire.