Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wartime Spud Ucking.

Potato Harvest 1942.
Better known known to the boys at Cookham Rise Secondary Modern School as "Spud Ucking". Or if you lived in Scotland it was also known as "Tattie Outing". In my previous Blog on Westwood Green being a field of potatoes in 1942. Also the field to the left of White Ladyes Lane going up from the Maidenhead road was all in potatoes. We boys worked in what was known as drifts. A measured space between two sticks. After we had picked up the potatoes that the machine had spun out, a horse draging a small harrow behind would uncover any potatoes that were still covered up. I can remember farmer Jack Gardener saying as he walked up and down the field, "Up behind the harrow boys, up behind the harrow". Jack was the son of the late Sir. Ernest Gardener MP, who served one term as member of parliament for the Windsor Division of Berkshire. They were owners of both "The Mount" and "Lower Mount" farms at that time. The picture was sent to me, but I think it was some place other than Cookham, but it does show what it was like. We did this for two years, then they switched to using Prisoners of War to do the job.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Local Weather Man

Farmer George Hatch (Weather Man)
This photograph is over a 100 years old of my grandfather George Hatch who was farming Oveys Farm in the village until his death in 1915. Many visitors to the village who came down to the village at the weekends from London by train, would stop at the farm for a local weather forecast from Farmer Hatch. Also what they could excpect in what the fishing would be like. Farmers in those days were all keen observers of the tell tale signs in the sky. Also watching swallows and where they were flying. For instance swallows flying low was a sign of pending wet weather, and the swallows flying high was a sign of fine dry weather. Of course it was the insects who were the true weather watchers. There are of course many other signs that they used judge the weather.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Two Wheeled Tipping Farm Cart 1905.

A two wheeled tipping farm cart,
Oveys Farmyard 1905.
This particular style of cart was in regular use on the farm as a general utility form of transport from the farm to the fields and back again. In the 1930's they started to manufacture the same carts but, with pneumatic wheels and it did not rut the fields or farm tracks as bad as the old style of wheel. With the advent of the tractor coming with pneumatic wheels, so did tractor trailers, by the late 1940's this form of cart had all but dissapeared off the farms.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My First Car.

A 1928 Austin Seven in 1948.
Also known as "The Hatch Orange Box on Wheels." This is when one calculated the horse power of an engine as 90cc equaled one horsepower. The engine was a four cylinder side valve with magneto ignition. The fuel was gravity feed to a float chamber carburetor from the fuel tank fixed to the fire wall. It had a three forward and reverse double de-clutch gearbox.

In the picture are three young lads. Jim Hatch at the wheel. On the right, an old school buddy Geoff Emmett, son of Percy and Kit Emmett of White Place farm. Sad to say he was killed in a motor accident at Flackwell Heath. The other lad on the left was a friend of Geoff, whose mother was caretaker at a youth club in Maidenhead. I can't remember his name.

The paddles belongd to a boat that Geoff had on the Thames at that time. Many the time that car took us over to the Royalty cinema at Bourne End on a Saturday. Even drove it to London and around Piccadilly and down The Mall after a dance at the Maidenhead Rowing Club on Saturday night. Ah those heady days of youth!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Private Stanley Spencer

Private Stanley Spencer R.A.M.C.
This photograph was taken sometime in 1915 when he was a new recruit in the Royal Army Medical Corp's Ambulance Unit at the age of 24. After training he with many others were shipped out to Greece and Macedonia. This is the youngest picture that I have of him as a young man.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sexton's Choirboys Club

Where are they now.
Arthur Cracknell:

After leaving school he joined the Royal Navy. Saw him once or twice when he was on leave visiting his Mother and Father at their cottage on Odney Common.

Peter Cracknell:

He did live after he married in Dad Sexton’s old house in school lane. Played Cricket for Cookham Dean at one time. Last heard of was that he was living in Cookham Dean.

John Vale:

His mother ran a small sweet shop with a shoe repair shop next door, which is now called “Charles Cottage” No idea where they moved to after the war.

Kenneth Stone:

The eldest boy in the Stone family that lived in Black Butts Cottages. He was in and out of Holy Trinity as he lived in Maidenhead part time according to records. Where he is I have no idea.

Bob Court:

His father also Bob, a local farmer and also a member of the church choir. Was last heard of living in North Devon.

Jim Strachan:

There is no information on his whereabouts.

Brian Hatch:

Son of Arthur Hatch, a local coal merchant. Now retired, and living in Marlow.

Bill Clark:

Nobby Clark, on leaving school became an animator with Gaumont Animations at Moor Hall. Then moved to Canada to work with Crawley Films in Ottawa. Then worked freelance until he retired and is now living in Ottawa.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just Ten years ago.

The Jolly Farmer.

The Jolly Farmer is that little bit of Cookhan Dean history that is deserving a mention in this blog. A favourite watering hole of a very good friend of my family the late Jim Ricketts. It was about 10 years ago when my sons David and Neal and my daughter-in-law Sandra had a wonderful lunch here.

This young lady treated us so well, that when we talk about that family gathering at Cookham, lunch at the Jolly Farmer is always mentioned as a highlight. I hope she is not blushing to see her picture posted here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Westwood Green 1n 1942

Westwood Green in 1942.
In 1942 Westwood Green did not exist, for it was large field of maincrop potatoes. How do I remember this fact you may ask? Well, I was one of the boys from the Cookham Rise Secondry Modern School recruited to pick potatoes to help with the war effort. We were split up into two shifts of four hours each. The morning shift was from 8.00 a.m. till 12 noon. The afternoon shift was from 1.00 p.m. till 5.00 p.m.
If you were working the morning shift you attended class in the afternoon. If you were in class in the afternoon you attended the morning classes the next day. This way we covered a 14 day working period over a 28 day harvesting period. We received one shilling an hour for our labours. Which turned out to be £5.12.0 (five pound and twelve shillings) for our months efforts.
This money was paid out at the school by the Headmaster Mr. G.H. Wood after we had finish working for each farmer. We did a lot of days for Jack Gardener, who at that time owned The Mount and Lower Mount Farms. Some time was also spent working for Bob Court.
The green shaded area was a small fruit orchard, but I did not know who the owner was. Elizabeth House was of course the Police Station. The Parade did not exist. There was only a small wood frame building at the bottom of Station Approach which was a green grocers.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Whippletree

The Long Serving Whippletree.

Whether you were using a team of one, two, three or four horses on the farm for wagons, ploughs, harrows or cultivators “The Whippletree” was an essential piece of a shire horse harness. The reason being that the exerted pull by the horses would be concentrated at one central point of the implement or wagon. Traces whether made of chain or leather would be connected to a hook which was part of the metal hames fitted to the horses collar on either side, then back to the Whippletree.

The old Whippltree’s were made of ash and fashioned in such a manner, that the pull was with the grain of the wood. Later they were fashioned in with a double flat curved piece of steel to gain even more pulling power and slightly lighter in weight. Today, where they are still used, the material is much lighter and stronger still.

Bamfords' New Patent LB Haymaker

The best Back-action Haymaker
on the Market. (in 1930)

The Astor's, White Place Farm had one of these units for tedding the hay in the 1930's. Most likely purchased somewhere in the 1920's, as it was far from new when I remember it being used during the haymaking season by Percy Emmett and his black Clydesdale mare Blossom.

Here are some facts about this machine provided to me by the archives of Bamfords' of Utoxeter and Mr. Phillip Wood.

This machine is very light in draught, does perfect work on ridge or furrow, and will deal with the heaviest crops without clogging. The tine drums are driven at the same speed when turning a corner as when driven on the straight. It will tedd two full swaths.

The diamentions of the machine is as follows: Width over fork heads: 5ft. 10ins. Extreme width: 7ft. 3ins.

Price of the unit: £17.0.0. Drivers seat extra: 15/- Note no mention of any delivery charge or VAT!

Once again my thanks to Mr. Phillip Wood and the Bamford Archives.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Traveling Harness Maker

The Harness Makers Clamp.

Farms and Estates were never large enough to warrant a full time skilled harness repair man. So this skill became a job where the harness maker would travel from farm to farm and would stay long enough to repair any leather work or harness that needed attention.

The tool above is a foot operated clamp or vise for holding the leather together while it was being stitched. First the leather to be sewn was punched with an awl. Then using two needles going in oposite directions the leather would be sewn with a waxed linen thread.

This service carried on until the horse on the farm lost favour to the tractor. This clamp is still used today in the workrooms of the Harness Shops or where leather work is repaired.

The 1800's Horse Hayrake

An early farm Hayrake.
Here is an artist drawing of a very early one horse drawn hayrake. Most likely to be one of the first pieces of mechanical farm haymaking machinery together with the two horse mower of that period. Most farms still cut their hay with a scythe, as they did with their cereal crops, using some stalks to bind the sheaves together.
Note also the horse is a carridge horse, which appears to be at the trot. Later the shire draft horse became more popular, and the lighter horses were retired to smaller carts and traps.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A toy that went Bang

The exploding Conker.
There has been an annual game played by the boys in Cookham for years every Autum, and did we ever realize that our toy was an ingredient for making the explosive "Cordite."
A message like this one, was received by Mr. G.H. Wood in September of 1942 at the Cookham Rise Secondary Modern School:

Collecting groups are being organized in your district. Groups of scholars are being organized to collect Horse Chestnuts. Receiving depots are being opened in most districts. Your school is a depot where 22/6 per cwt is being paid for immediate delivery of the chestnuts (without the outer green husks). This collection is invaluable war work and is very urgent.

We were told that it was to make toothpaste that would prevent tooth decay and the need to go to the dentist. That of course was not the truth, as during the First World War a Professor Weizmann had discovered a process in 1915 of how he could distill the Horse Chestnut into acetone to make the explosive cordite. Though no reference is made to this fact in World War Two records, the fact is that it did happen just for that year only.

There were a great many Horse Chestnut trees in the Maidenhead Court area and both Gerald Effamy and I collected quite a lot in a very short time, for which we thought, we made a handsome return for our efforts.

Horse Chestnuts were not the only wartime source of income for us, as we were encouraged to collect wild Rose Hips for the making of “Rosehip Syrup” for babies and toddlers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Country Corn Dolly

The Yorkshire Corn Dolly.
During the hay time and harvest farm labourer working in the fields would fashion for themselves small corn decorations for themselves that they would wear in their caps all year. In various parts of the country these “Corn Dollies” would take on various shapes and forms. The one shown above is the Yorkshire Corn Dolly, yet I was shown how to make it, by a farm tractor driver from Whitley Bay, in Northumbria.

One requires five straws of the same length down to the first knot joint. The knot joint is removed so that another straw can be inserted as you work to the end. The ears are left on the first straws and they tied tight with either a ribbon or a piece of thread. You then open up four of the straws in a cross and the fifth you lay along side and bend and wrap the next straw. Working your way round forming a opening beehive shape. After four or five circuits you then turn the straw inwards reducing the beehive size until it becomes a close plait.

The straw should have some moisture in it so that it will bend without splitting. Wheat straw is best, though it can be done using oat or barley straw.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Trusty Billhook

The Billhook, a very useful farm impliment.
You could find a Billhook or two on every farm in the Cookham's at one time. A hand tool that had a multitude of uses, from Hedging and Hedge Laying, Hurdle making in the Hazel Coppices of Cookham Dean, and the sharpening of fence posts. Also used by the farm thatcher to cut hazel pegs to hold the thatch on hay & corn ricks. Even gardeners used this tool to cut hazel twigs for staking their garden peas and scarlet runners. You could buy a Billhook in the village at Bill Church's Ironmongers on Station Approach for about 15/- in the 1940's.