The Wye's waters were rich in chalk, and therefore ideal for bleaching pulp.The paper industry was soon overtaken by the cloth industry.
Wycombe's most famous industry, furniture (particularly Windsor chairs) took hold in the 19th century, with furniture factories setting up all over the town.
Many terraced workers' houses were built to the east and west of town to accommodate those working in the furniture factories.
This formally became Headquarters, 8th Air Force, on 22 February 1944. This involved culverting the River Wye under concrete and demolishing most of the old buildings in Wycombe's town centre.
Two shopping centres were built along with many new multi-storey car parks, office blocks, flyovers and roundabouts.
From 1940 to 1968 High Wycombe was the seat of the RAF Bomber Command.
Moreover, during the Second World War, from May 1942 to July 1945, the U. Army Air Force's 8th Air Force Bomber Command, codenamed "Pinetree", was based at a former girls' school at High Wycombe.Wycombe was completely dominated socially and economically by the furniture industry and, consequently, there was considerable unemployment and social problems when the industry declined in the 1960s.By the 1920s, many of the housing areas of Wycombe had decayed into slums.The name Wycombe appears to come from the river Wye and the old English word for a wooded valley, combe, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary of Place-Names the name, which was first recorded in 799-802 as 'Wichama', is more likely to be Old English 'wic' and the plural of Old English 'ham', and probably means 'dwellings'; the name of the river was a late back-formation.which was excavated three times, most recently in 1954.According to the 2011 census High Wycombe has a population of 120,256 making it the second largest town in the county of Buckinghamshire after Milton Keynes.