Most of the land now occupied by the Slough Trading Estate originally lay in the village of Cippenham, about two miles west of Slough.

Prior to the 20th Century, Cippenham was a quiet country village consisting of terraced cottages surrounded by large farms.

To the east of the village centre was Cippenham Court Farm. This is now the only one of those farms from which buildings survive to the present day.

The attractive 18th Century farmhouse has been converted to offices. Next to the farmhouse, are three barns, also in commercial use.

One of the barns is the oldest building in Cippenham and is believed to date back to the early 16th Century. Another is now the well-known Long Barn public house.

The Cippenham Court Farm Estate was owned by the du Pre family. In 1917 it was requisitioned by the War Office, which paid the du Pres £60 an acre.

What was about to happen would change the face of Cippenham forever and set it on the path to effectively becoming a suburb of Slough, as it is today.

The Government then decided that the war department was not the most suitable entity to operate such a large undertaking.

Therefore, in April 1920 the depot and all its contents, vehicles still laying in the overseas battlefields, and new equipment surplus to requirements (known as war surplus) were put up for sale.

Interest came from motoring manufacturers including British Leyland, but a consortium led by Sir Percival Perry, Sir Noel Mobbs and Commander Redmond McGrath won the bidding process.

They paid £7m, the equivalent of £315m in today’s prices, but still a bargain, especially when the price was later reduced to £6m.

The £7m was made up of £3,350,000 for the site, and £3,650,000 for the vehicles and spare parts. A trade publication of the time, ‘Motor News’, commented: “It will be something of a miracle if they succeed in converting Slough into a money earning concern.”

The Slough Observer struck a more positive note. Its article on the new operation and its vision for the future, published on May 15, bore the headline “The New Slough”.

In May 1920 the consortium formed the Slough Trading Company (STC) to manage the depot and the commercial operations of repairing and reselling surplus stock.

National newspapers reported that the Government’s ‘white elephant’ had become a ‘golden goose’!

The workforce at had now more than doubled to around 8,000.The site contained 30 buildings, each with specific tasks in the repair process, and a dedicated power station and gas-producing plant.

From the initial purchase, it had been Sir Percival Perry’s vision that the depot would have a finite life but that the well-equipped buildings would have future use to the UK manufacturing industry.

So as buildings became surplus to the original requirements, the Slough Trading Company started letting out space. The Slough Trading Estate was born.

This piece first appeared in a centenary feature for SEGRO in May 2020. With special thanks to the Slough Trading Estate.