Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Kings Arms Garage

The Kings Arms Hotel has had quite a varied life since my Great Grandfather James Hatch was landlord in the late 1800’s. With the coming of the motorcar a purpose built garage was built to the back of the hotel, where the chauffeurs could work on their vehicles as the grooms worked on their horses before them. A trip from London to Cookham could be very hard on the early motorcar and a lot of TLC was required. There was a garage shop where you could purchase, oil, grease, and other mechanical items that were needed, including the repair of punctures, which were all to frequent. The letter “A” by the High Street indicates this shop. The letter “B” locates the position of the petrol pump. The pump had two glass one-gallon cylinders that were filled by a manual wobble pump. You first filled one cylinder with petrol, when full you put the nozzle into the car petrol tank and switched a lever so that the cylinder could drain by gravity, meantime the second cylinder could be filled by the wobble pump. Besides the cars main tank, every car carried a spare two gallon can of petrol on the running board, due to the fact that petrol gauges in those days were not very accurate.
This garage ran quite well up until about 1935 when the operator of the garage business in those days, one “Ben Buttery”, committed suicide, which of course was at that time the talk of the village. I can remember my aunts and other family members talking about it for days.
The garage then went into a quiet era, though still open for Petrol, Oil, and other supplies, which included charging accumulator batteries for your wireless set. There will be more about these in a later story.
In 1939 the military moved into Odney and St. Georges Lodge and took over the petrol pump for their use. The garage itself took on a new lease of life when it became a factory; yes, Cookham had its own War-work factory, where quite a few local ladies learnt how to assemble electric motors and inverters for use in aircraft. So you see Cookham and the village did a great deal for the war effort.
The garage has since long gone, together with a lot of other changes, so now all we can do is to record it in village history.

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