Downley History 1960 to Today
In the 1960s Downley grew from being the little village on the hill above High Wycombe to becoming, if the villagers allowed, another relatively unremarkable part of the enlarging market town. The building of several housing estates filled the farmland to the east,- the Pastures estate, to the west the ‘Dashwood Village’, Pheasant Drive and associated roads, to the northwest the Heights estate, Gray’s Lane and associated roads, and in the middle of Downley the Narrow Lane estate. These housing developments more than doubled Downley’s population and probably quadrupled the built-up area of the village. To underline these changes the Narrow Lane development, on the then existing traditional allotments, in the centre of the village, resulted in necessary exchange land for allotments and sports facilities at Mannings field, taking land from the still viable Downley farm. The farm ceased operating in 1984, the last farm to go in the village.
The Downley people then decided that Downley must be given a stronger, firmer identity, to emphasise the strength of the community, to feel part of Downley as a living, vibrant and forward-thinking village, separate from the town in the valley. Moves were made to provide the village with its own Parish council, ( up to then Downley was part of West Wycombe Parish Council), this was achieved in 1987. This became the foundation stone of many community projects and associations, and perhaps the beating heart of the community was the establishing for the village the Downley community Centre, in the old Victorian Board School. This now provides accommodation for many local groups, and even a village library, all run by volunteers. The Memorial Hall now greatly improved also provides community accommodation. The use of the Downley name is seen in Downley Albion Football club, Downley Dynamos Junior Football Club, Downley Descants Choir, Downley Diggers, Downley Debaters and many more interest groups. The Downley Common Preservation society works with the Parish council to care for the 22 hectares of Downley Common, a traditional common of medieval origins, itself part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Downley Community Orchard, established in 2005 provides a peaceful resting place for tired Downley Diggers….
The annual Downley Day Fete, coupled with the Downley Festival brings the whole community together to celebrate the summer, and the lighting of the beacon on the common celebrates the turning of the year, and other special days, for example in 2022 the Queen’s Platinum Anniversary, of course a very special day.
This then is Downley in 2022, a vibrant, creative and energetic community for everyone to enjoy.
John Willson – April 2022