Maidenhead 'entrepreneurial spirit' passes away aged 93

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

A Maidenhead ‘pioneer’ of female estate agents and ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ has passed away aged 93.

Iris Egginton (Kirkwood) was born in 1928, one of nine children. In her childhood, the family settled in Powney Road in Maidenhead and Iris attended Gordon Road School.

During her young adulthood, she and her sister Eve frequented many London and local balls with then up-and-coming racing driving Sir Stirling Moss. The sisters are mentioned in Sir Stirling's memoirs.

Iris met her first husband Tom Kirkwood, an ordinance survey pilot, at White Waltham Airfield, where she worked. He became father to her three children, Suzy, Patsy and Ian Kirkwood.

Iris had ambitions to sell homes early on but was turned down for the post of trainee negotiator in the 1960s by an estate agents which said it 'did not take women.'

In the 1970s, Iris began a career as a hotelier and became a licensee of Monkey Island Hotel.

She then switched careers in her middle age, becoming the original Sterling Homes sales negotiator in the ‘80s, selling homes at Cliveden View, Furze Platt and Cranbrook Drive estate.

Relying on word of mouth and looking to foster a sense of community, Iris wanted to ‘take the trauma’ out of searching for a house.

She often worked seven days a week – she had a lot of passion for her work and an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’, said her daughter Suzy.

“She was a pioneer of lady estate agents – an original Purple Bricks, selling houses not from an estate agent’s but from a private home,” said Suzy.

“She was hugely successful as she offered a truly personal service, which then was lacking with most town centre estate agents.”

Iris was also ‘instrumental’ in introducing the concept of opening show homes, personally furnishing the one on the Cranbrook Drive estate.

Iris would encourage prospective purchases to make themselves a cup of tea, sit, relax and chat; she felt prospective buyers should 'never to be in a hurry' when looking around a show-home.

In the 1990's she remarried to Ken Egginton, former life president of the Maidenhead Lawn Tennis Club and began enjoying the company of friends – including British banker and humanitarian Sir Nicky Winton.

Daughter Suzy took up the reins of the business in 2007 and relaunched Iris Kirkwood Home Consultants, selling to clients Iris sold to 30-40 years ago.

Iris passed away peacefully at her home with her family on the Cranbrook Drive following a fall a few months ago.

She will be missed by her many friends, local residents and family.

“Her memory is engraved on many hearts – a true lady, she was always kind, positive and never had a critical word to say about anyone,” said Suzy.

A private family cremation is being arranged through F G Pymm & Son Funeral Directors in Maidenhead.

To honour her memory, donations can be made to Thames Hospice, which helped Iris a great deal in the last few months of her life.

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