Saturday, August 22, 2009

Widbrook Gate Keepers Bungalow.

The Widbrook Bungalow.
The photo above has been altered to reflect the way the building looked while it was part of the Parish Council buildings that was sold into private hands in 1937. Under the white exterior is red red brick.
The commoner's rights to graze cattle on Widbrook Common has been a long-standing tradition dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Grazing periods were from 14th of May until 14 th of October every year. Those wishing to enter their cattle for grazing are asked to attended the opening day, known as 'Widbrook Fair', at which is held under the watchful eye of the village constable, the Parish Council Secretary and the Commons Hayward. The duties were as follows: The constable was to keep law and order, the Parish Council Secretary was to collect the fee for each beast, and the Hayward was to brand with a tar brand in the form of a stylised 'W'.

A hundred years ago A4094, known today as Sutton Road, was a gravel track and poorly surfaced, and the bridge that you know today over Widbrook Stream did not exist. It was a water splash and,of course the road or track was not fenced off. The Parish Council built a small bungalow at the Cookham end of Widbrook Common and installed two gates to prevent the cattle from straying off the common. They employed a husband and wife to open the gates to traffic between sunrise and sunset during the season while stock was on the common. During the closed season the gates were left open and, the husband did other work for the council, most likely to repair pot holes in the village roads.

According to my paternal grandmother, while the gates were in use, passengers in the coaches that passed through use to throw out the odd copper, which in today's terms would be classed as a tip.

This all came to an end with the advent of the motor car, which is another story. The bungalow continued to house council workers until 1937. That is another story.

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