Monday, November 29, 2010

An Historical Cookham Christmas Wish.

An Historical Cookham
Christmas Wish.
Well that time of year has come around again where we take off for a little relaxation by the Muri Lagoon on the island of Rarotonga in the famous Cook Islands.

So we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Will are still gathering Cookham History of villagers and they way things use to be. We will restart posting again towards the end of January, 2011.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wilmink's Greengrocer and Taxi Service.

Wilmink Greengrocer
and Taxi Service.
Mr. & Mrs. Wilmink ran this little greengrocers shop right through the 1930's and 40's. Mr Wilmink was of Dutch decent and Mrs. Wilmink had relations who ran a banana plantation in Jamaica. In the summer months they also served ice cream cones I remember.

There were very few cars in the village in those days, so the Taxi business was quite a prosperous business, even during the war they were very much in demand, especially by the American Servicemen stationed at the Odney Club.

I remember right after the war they were one of the first people to take a cruise to Jamaica for a holiday. Shortly after their return they sold the business and I believe they moved back to Jamaica to make their home.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

James Moores Men & Boys Wear.

James Moores
Men and Boys Wear.

Just the other side of The Bear Hotel from Nate Smith's Toy Shop was another shop that a great many boys went into for their school clothes. The store manager was a very kind man, a Mr. Bennett if my memory serves me correctly. Grey flannel shorts, blazer and school cap. Ties, knee socks, black shoes and Dunlop wellington boots. The final item was a dark blue gabardine rain coat.

The same shop also supplied all my fathers clothes, plus they also supplied all his white smocks and aprons for the butchers shop. Always a very busy place I remember, yet the staff always time to make sure that the customer was well looked after.

I am not sure how long the business was in existence, but I think it closed its doors at the end of the 1940's.

Even today the shop front has not changed at all, even though it has changed its custom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nate Smith's Toy Shop.

Nate Smith Toys.
Nate Smith's toy shop was in its day Maidenhead's equivalent of Hamley's Toys of London. There was not a little boy living within 5 miles of Maidenhead that did not know Nate and his toy wonderland.
Mothers had to stop by at least in one direction or the other so their family could feast their eyes on what they wanted to save their pennies up for. For the boys it would be some Dinky Toy or piece of Mecanno that they wanted to add to their set.
He also kept a full range of Hornby Train Sets, both electric and clockwork models. You could also buy miniature model steam engines that you could use to run your Mecanno models. The fuel used was Methylated Spirit that you could buy from any chemist shop.
Another thing that he use to keep was a full line of fishing tackle, including bait like gentils (maggots) or loose uncooked hemp seed! Yes (cannabis) As a boy I often wondered why the old fishermen use to call it dope! We use to buy a half pound and take it home and boil it until the seed split, then it was ready for bait. Roach and Dace use to love it.
As I mentioned in the Guy Fawkes blog, Nate use to keep the best selection of Brocks Fireworks. Even to indoor party fireworks when it came around to Christmas time. The boys favourites were as I mentioned then was the 2d Cannon and the 1/2d Little Demon.
Of course to say those days are now long gone, and so is Nate Smith's.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guy Fawkes Night at Widbrook Cottage.

Guy Fawkes Night at
Widbrook Cottage.
Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
Yes in the 1930's Guy Fawkes Night was a cause for a family tradition and celibration with all the Aunts, Uncles and Cousins at Widbrook Cottage.
Toward the end of October my cousins John & Mary Field and I would start to gather all the dead wood that we could find lying around the common, mostly old willow branches are there were quite a good few trees around in those days.
The next thing was to ask our mothers for old worn out jacket and trousers that we could make our Guy Fawkes with, which we either stuffed wit straw or old newspapers. The mask we could usually buy either from either "Tanner Wooly's or Marks and Sparks."
We then took our Guy up to Sutton Road on a Saturday in an old pram and ask the cyclists of which there were a great many in those days for, "A Penny for the Guy."
We our collection of pennies we would go into Maidenhead to our favourite fireworks shop on the Colonade called "Nate Smith." He carried the best selection of Brocks Fireworks to be had anyware.
Of we boys loved the bangers, such as the 2d Cannon or the 1/2d Little Demon. Of course the girls and ladies loved the Catherine Wheels and Coloured Fountains. Of course the Uncles were the experts in launching the rockets.

After the fire had died down and the fireworks were over it was time then for Hot Chocolate and Baked Potatoes that had been baked in the embers of the fire.

Ah! I guess I can repeat that old saying: "Those were the days." The recipe for the Potatoes you can find in "Cookham get Cooking'.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Snob's Last

The Snob's Last.
Going back a couple of centuries at least in the village that was once part of the boot and shoe industry of England among other things. I think that this cast iron last can still be found in the odd cottage. Most likely to be now relegated to the use of a door stop.

Though back in the 1930's I can remember these items were still in use in a lot of homes, where the family shoes were still repaired. One could buy the half leather soles or heels from Woolworth's in Maidenhead to fit your size of shoe or boot, together with the proper size snob's nails. Then you finish off the job on the edges with a rasp.

Or you could find them being used in a small workshop as a makeshift anvil. The Snob's Last I remember. had many uses. In true village tradition: "Necessity was the Mother of invention."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nicholsons' Brewery.

Nicholsons' Brewery.
I know some will say what has Nicholsons' Brewery in Maidenhead High Street got to do with Cookham?

Well as a matter of fact quite a lot. You would find that both Budgen's and the International Stores carried the whole range of their beers.

At Haymaking and Harvest every farmer in the village would have a barrel of beer on hand for the workers to quench their thirst. Even the Astor's provided beer at White Place.

What actually got me thinking about this beer, was in my last post and my mothers Christmas Puddings. Due to the fact that a couple of pints of Nicholsons' Brown Ale went into the mixture!

I still remember their company slogan on their logo.
"Best in the long run."

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Washing Copper.

The Washing Copper.

Seventy odd years ago I can remember that the wood fired washing copper was quite well known in village and most families had one to be able to boil the whites in on a Monday morning, which by tradition was called wash day. Of course some of the big houses sent their wash to Thistle Hand Laundry, which was located next to the Pinder Hall. Or on the other hand it would be sent to the Maidenhead and District Laundry, which located in Furze Platt.

What actually triggered my mind about the Wash Day Copper, was the fact that in October my mother would make her Christmas Puddings, usually 12 to 14 in total. The whole mixture being stirred in a large china wash hand basin. The mixture was made and the white china pudding basins were filled with wax paper over the top and a cloth with butchers string around the rim and then tied back over the top to make a handle.

The copper fire was lit at 5.00 a.m. and would be boiling by six. The puddings were then put into the copper and the water topped of from a boiling kettle from the kitchen. This topping off of water went on all day, and so did the stoking of the fire.

The puddings were deemed to by well cooked by 10.00 P.M. The fire was allowed to burn out and the puddings were removed and set on the bench by the copper to cool. The next morning the puddings were put away in the cupboard to mature ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Widbrook Common Ice Rink.

The Widbrook Common
Ice Rink.
There seems to be a lot of talk about an artificial ice rink at Windsor right now. I remember when the villagers were treated to at least two natural ice rinks each winter.

The one on Widbrook Common the depression of which can be seen from space on Google, was always flooded every winter and with a cold snap it did not take long to freeze solid. As it was easy to reach both villagers and people from Maidenhead Court area would come and enjoy Saturday and Sunday afternoon skating.

The other which was a little harder to reach was on Cockmarsh, and as compensation was somewhat larger for those who adapted field hockey sticks and a tennis ball to play a makeshift game of ice hockey.

On Widbrook I remember seeing young ladies cuting beautiful figure of eights. Also pairs skating as if waltzing their way around the pond.

Just think all of this was free for all to enjoy. Ah! I guess I can say those were the days!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Boys Brigade Drum and Bugle Corps.

Drum and Bugle Corps
of 1937.
When the Plymouth Boys Brigade arrived at Cookham Station, not only did they have to unload their kit bags but, all their drums and bugles as well. After the farm cattle lorry was loaded, the boys lined up on the station approach with their band at the head of the column.

Can you imagine today a column of nearly 90 boys with a band marching with drums beating and bugles blowing all the way through the Pound across the Moor, through School Lane to Sutton Road and all the way to White Place Farm? Luckily in those days cars were very few and did pull over to let the boys pass.

A couple of Sunday's they did march with the band to the 11 o'clock Matins at other times the vicar Rev. B.H. Hayward-Browne would hold a service for them in the camp Mess Tent.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Boys Brigade Camp of 1937.

The Boys Brigade Camp, 1937.
on White Place Farm.
During the month of August 1937, some 90 members of the Plymouth Boys Brigade were camp guests of Lord and Lady Astor, who at that time Lord Mayor Lady Mayoress plus as sitting member of parliament for Plymouth.

Two days before their arrival one could see the preparations being made as Edwards Tent Works of Maidenhead moved on to the field and started erecting the army bell tents, ridge tents and marquees. They also screened and prepared the ground for latrines as well. The estate woodmen brought in a supply of dry wood for cooking and the campfires. R.H. Whites mineral water supplies from Slough brought in a whole load of lemonade and Corona drinks as well.

The map above has been laid out as I remember the field structure at that time:

1.   Was an orchard the my great grandfather had planted with beautiful Cox's Orange Pipens, Blenheim Orange Apples and the good old Bramley Seedling Cooking apples. There were Bartlett Pears, Victoria Plums, Damsons and even a couple of Quince trees.

2.    Was a double fenced cart track so cattle could be moved from pasture to pasture.

3.   Was the farm dairy where the boys could fill their churn with fresh milk every day.

4.   Water trough with tap that was the source of fresh water.

5.   Was the Mess tent that doubled as chapel on Sunday's, also where they use to entertain with shadow plays I remember.

6.   This was the cook marquee kitchen and stores area.

7.   Was where the evening camp fires and sing songs were held

8.   The four ridge tents were for the six leaders and one was reserved for a hospital tent. Which was used by one boy who was suffering from bad sunburn.

9.   Were the Latrines that were moved to a different spot every week.

10.   Were the army bell tents that housed the 90 boys. All general commands were given by the use of a bugle. For wake up, meals, and lights out at night. 

I can still remember the name of their senior leader, he was a Mr. Alfred J. Lamb. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Church Rood Screen.

The Rood Screen.
The second weekend in October in Canada is always known as "Thanksgiving." This got me casting my mind back to when Holy Trinity in Cookham use to have a beautiful hand carved oak Rood Screen, which had been in the church for a good many years.

At Harvest Festival the church was always  well decorated with garden produce and also baked goods, especially loaves of bread. All of which on the Monday was collected and given to the local hospitals in Maidenhead.

Local farmers would supply the traditional sheaves of wheat, oats and barley, which would be placed along the Rood Screen, the Font and either side of the Church Porch.

Again it was one of the reasons that included the recipe at this time for The English Cottage Loaf is included. There was always a very large one that sat pride of place on the Alter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Village Funeral Hatchments.

Village Funeral Hatchments.
There was a time in village history when a member of a noteworthy family died a Funeral Hatchment was hung outside their home. It usually comprised of the Coats of Arms of both the husband and the wife. If it was the husband his arms were displayed on the right side and embolden. If it was the wife it was on the left side embolden.

After the funeral these hatchments were hung in the church. There was a time in the last century when the PCC wanted to remove these hatchments, so that the walls would become less cluttered. So on the removal Mr. T.J. Fowler the then Ringing Master ask if he could have them, so that they may be hung for safe keeping in the ringing chamber.

As a young ringer I often wondered which family they represented, together with their Latin inscriptions of "Resurgam". I shall rise again, and also "In Celo Quies". There is rest in heaven.

Except for those members of the bell ringing fraternity who ring the bells every Sunday, those Hatchments still hang within the church walls unseen.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cookham Dean in 1849.

Cookham Dean in 1849.
This Blog is going to take you back 160 years or so and the language may seem a little odd, but this is the way it was written or reported in those days.

COOKHAM DEAN,  a village in the parish of Cookham, is 2½ miles from Cookham, 10 miles from Henley, 5½ miles from the Great Western Station near Maidenhead, and 31 miles from Hyde Park corner. Part of this singularly romantic village is situated on an emuelence of at least 600 feet, nearly perpendicular; the other portion is a dell, imperceptible to the tourist, until he nearly decenderfals to the bottom. The living is a perpetual curacy in the Archdeaconry of Berks and the diocese of Oxford, is the gift of the Rev. John Peter Grantham, vicar of Cookham; the Rev. George Hewitt Hodson (incumbent); the Rev. Thomas Edward Powell (curate). The church which has been lately erected, is in the early decorated style of the 13th century; in 1845 it was consecrated and dedicated to St. John the Baptist and is now distinct from the mother church for all ecclesiastical purposes. Since the hamlet of Pinkneys Green has been assigned to it. There a primitive chapel for Methodists, also a National School for both sexes, capable of containing from 90 to 100.

Residents of Note:

Rev. George Hewitt Hodson (incumbent).
Miss Mary Ann Brougham. Mistress of the National School.


William Copas. "Chequers."
Thomas Frost. Grocer.
Mrs. Elizabeth Gosington. Beer Retailer.
William Hatch. "Hare & Hounds."
Benjamin Parsons. Beer Retailer.

Letters are received at Cookham and forwarded to Maidenhead Post Office.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beating of the Bounds.

The Beating of the Bounds.
I have mentioned the Maidenhead Boundary Markers two years ago when BM#1 was recovered from Widbrook stream. I have also read recently that there is to be a charity walk of these boundary markers, which I think is an excellent way to illustrate to the residents the extent of the Maidenhead boundary.
At one time the parish of Cookham extended from the now old Roman A4 London to Bath road and to the east and north by the river Thames. At one time Cookham was known as a market town. With the coming of Brunnel and the Great Western Railway, Maidenhead began to expand and grow. Then in 1934 it expropriated the land north from the Bath Road to Widbrook and the Widbrook stream. Water courses have long been boundaries, which of course the Thames between Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire use to be.
Beating of the bounds a double purpose. One to remind the parishoners of the parish boarders and also that the parish priest could bless the land and pray for a fruitful harvest. This exercise still is observed in various parts of Britain today. Two I know of quite well is held in the Scottish Boarders. In the west it is The Riding of the Marches in Annan, a short distance from Gretna Green, where the event is carried out on horseback, lead by the Cornet and his Lass. The other noteable one is held in Kelso, and here the princepals are The Kelso Laddie and his Lass.
If you compare with the map I have plotted at the top, with the one produced by the organisers of the event, you will see that they have missed out BM#3. Why I do not know. I realise that in some areas that boundaries will have been swallowed up in devlopement so that an alternate route has to be found, but in this case the boundary is still on farm land.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sgt. Ronald Fowler (RAF).

Sgt. Ronald Fowler (RAF).
I never actually met Ron Fowler as my interest in bell ringing did not start until the near the end of World War Two. Ron joined the RAF at the beginning of the war as a Air Gunner in a bomber squadron, and like so many young men was killed in action.
Ron was married and use to live next door to his mother and father at # 2. Black Butts Cottages. He had one son that I know of, Robert who followed a few years after me at Holy Trinity School.
It was Ron's skill as a ringer in the technical workings of Campanology, but his skill in ringing a variety of methods as well not only on Cookham's six bells as it was then but, on other towers with eight and ten bells. His skill as a ringer in peals were well known, but also as a conductor as well.
After the war an appeal was made to increase the towers six bells to a ring of eight. The the amount required was six thousand pounds to upgrade the six existing bells from plain bearings to roller-race bearings, plus the casting of two new treble bells. One of which was inscribed and dedicated to Sgt. Ronald Fowler.
As a matter of interest the appeal reached it's target within just one month, and was so disappointed that she had missed the appeal, she asked John Fowler if there was anything else he would like for the tower. He said that the ringing chamber could use a new carpet and ringing mats. Shortly after the the work on the bells had been completed a new carpet complete with underlay was professionally fitted.
Some of you will wonder what ringing mats are use for? While the bells are being rung a certain amount of the bell rope will hit the carpeted floor. This in time will wear that portion of the carpet out. So it is much easier to replace a set of mats than a complete carpet.
Oh yes! One other thing that was completed to cut the noise down in the ringing chamber was a false ceiling with new rope guides. How do I know. Well John Fowler did the work and I was his helper. Plus we painted the whole of the ringing chamber walls with a white limewash as prescribes by church architects. Very similar to the limewash used in cowsheds and milking parlours on the farm.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Two Choirister Ringers.

Thomas John Fowler and
Walter "Simmy" Ing.
This photograph was taken while I was in the ringing chamber of Holy Trinity Church in March, 2000. I am afraid that it is not a good reproduction from my old digital movie camera. I was very pleased to see this photo among others still in a place of honour.
Thomas John Fowler was the Tower Captain for a great many years, and also held the position of Branch Ringing Master for the South Bucks Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers. It was towards the end of the second world war when the ban was lifted on the ringing of church bells, that he started to recruit boys from the choir whose voice had broken to learn the art of campanology. We started out I remember with the bells being fitted with a wooden clamp across the clapper of the bell. This was so that the village would not complain about the odd clanging from the tower. Also what made it more interesting that he also persuaded a number of young ladies from the village to learn as well. Mind you bell ringing has for the longest time been a science and art that both sexes can enjoy with equal skill.
Walter "Simmy" Ing was the Vicar's gardener as well as a chorister and bell ringer, and always rang the tenor bell and as he use to say: "Beat the drum and keep time." When my voice broke along with others I was recruited not only as a bell ringer, but the Vicar created us as crucifers and servers. As crucifer my seat was next to Walter, and I can remember I still tried to sing quite lustily! Walters remarks to me was: " For gawd's sake Jimmy, shut up, you are putting me off my music!"
Both men are long gone now, but it is nice to know that they are still remembered in the tower.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bell Ringers Outing 1946.

Bell Ringers Outing 1946.
1946 was the first time after the war that the Cookham Bell Ringers were able to arrange a ringers outing to the seaside at Bognor Regis on the August Bank Holiday Monday. That is when the August Bank Holiday was at the beginning of the month and not at the end.
The coach would pick us up at various points in the village and then make its way to All Saints, Boyne Hill in Maidenhead to pick up members of that tower as well, in order that we had a good band able to ring several methods. This was due to the fact that bmost towers were still teaching new members such as myself, and others to ring.
We would stop at a couple of pre-arranged towers on the way there, where we would ring for about 30 minutes. We arrived at Bognor Regis just in time for lunch at a large restaurant for a fish and chip lunch I remember. After lunch we split up and most of the younger members went for a dip in the sea. Then we all met back at the Coach Park around 4.00 p.m. to start our journey home with another couple of towers on the way. The last stop was always a Pub, that was able to take a coach load, for a light refreshment as well as beer for the older members. Then we would all pile back into the coach and arrive back in the village around 10.00 p.m.
The photo above is of yours truly and Peter Cracknell, who started ringing about the same time as I did. The last time I heard of Peter that he was living in Cookham Dean and was a regular playing member of the Cookham Dean Cricket Club.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Pinder Hall Dance 1946.

Pinder Hall Dance 1946.
This photo was taken with a pocket sized Bakelite Baby Brownie 127 camera, no flash in those days. It was taken at the left side of the stage next to the stairs going up to back stage.
In those days you could ride a bicycle and leave it in a piece of waste ground that is now where the Medical Centre is located. Dances ran from 8:00 p.m. till midnight. Doors closed at 10:00 p.m. so that one could not get in after the pubs closed at 10:30 p.m. The cost was 2/6 for four hours of dancing. One could hire a live six piece band with vocalist for 7 pounds. Dances use to be at least once a month. Mind you had a lot to choose from each week in The Advertiser, both for Friday and Saturday nights.
In the photo from the left is one James Hatch, sitting next to Anne Garwood, who was sitting next to Roy East. Roy was the eldest son of Jim and Kath East who lived in The Pound. Ann and her brother Philip lived with Tom and Mrs. Smythe, who kept a small green grocery shop close to the International Stores, which is now Cookham Arcade.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Cookham Rag Regatta 1928 - 1978

The Cookham Rag Regatta.
1928 - 1978.
The John Lewis Partnership has been a great part of village life for a good many years. Where at week-ends and during holiday periods, partners would come and enjoy the village and its life and sports of Cricket, Hockey, Swimming and Boating on the Thames.
For the villagers it was the Partnership annual Rag Regatta. Where the various departments would make up teams to make up fun competitive races. I remember one particular race which was a favourite with the spectators, where a maiden was tied to the railing on top of the bridge and the men would paddle their canoes from the start line to the bridge, climb up the structure and untie the maiden and help her down and into the canoe and paddle back to the start/finish line. Mind you there was a lot of tipped canoes and falling in the water. Never the less it was all great fun.
After 50 years, the company and partners had grown so large that the event was moved to Knebworth. Where I am told that the event attracts some 10,000 partners.
Many thanks to Judy Faraday for supplying me with the photograph from the Partnership archives.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cookham Bridge Repair March, 2000

Cookham Bridge Repair

4th March, 2000.


It is always nice to be on the spot and record history as it is happening and it just happened that I was in the village that Saturday morning with my old JVC digital movie camera to record the work being carried out on the old Toll Bridge. The last time if my memory serves me correctly was in 1948. Fifty two years of use was not bad going. One has to remember that bridges as with any construction requires from time to time was is known as "Preventative Maintenance."

This bridge is what as know as classic wrought iron construction and is a listed structure. So weight limits have to be imposed as to the amount of traffic on the bridge at any one time. Cllr. Fry has the right idea to preserve the bridge. There are many ways to apply tolls, a lot of them are electronic. So his idea of local users can be controlled electronically with a free pass fixed in the windshield, providing you pay an initial cost for its production. Others will pay a fee that will tabulated each time you cross and you will be able to add to it by e-mail to the council office. I have seen this system in use and it works well.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A visit to Mrs. Evans old classroom.

Mrs. Evans classroom revisited.



This is the classroom where my formal education first saw the light of day as Roll # 1189 on the 30th of April 1935, together with Muriel Stone, Joan Marshall and Jean Margaret Hursey.

In those far off days we sat in regimented rows of desks, two to a desk. By the time we left that classroom at the end of July, 1937. we had learnt to print and to write in script lettering, we could read from the whole range of Beacon Readers and had completed a whole range of handicraft skills.

Mrs. Evans, also had a young assistant teacher, a Miss Collins, who drove over from Windsor every day in her little Austin Seven. Between the five and six year old's there was a cream coloured curtain for certain subjects. Then it was drawn back for other joint subjects.

Gone of course is the old pot bellied stove that use to heat the whole class and also heat our daily bottle of milk from White Place Farm in the winter time.

Today as you see in the video learning has taken on a casual approach from our days of learning by rote. I still thank and praise my teachers in my formal education for the drilling and care they gave. Even my youngest son remembers my drilling him with his times table and mental math, and he agrees that it paid off. No calculators in school in those days, the closest thing I ever came to use was a slide rule.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

HTS Friday morning assembly 3rd March 2000.

Holy Trinity School

Friday Assembly

3rd March, 2000.


It is now over ten years since I took a series of videos while I was visiting in Cookham in March 2000. Just thinking some of those students who appear in this and other clips are all in their late teens now and even in their early 20's.

The main reason for my visit was to capture the changes to the three original classrooms and the school buildings and yards. It was the head teacher who invited me in to video the Friday morning Assembly. It was quite strange to be sitting in what use to be Mrs. Cheeseman's orchard once more but not eating the fruit!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Second Birthday.

Second Birthday.


You may have heard of the old saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Well here is one old dog that proves that saying wrong. As a matter of fact my aim in retired life is to learn something new every day. Anyway enjoy my birthday message as I have more up my sleeve to come.

The roar at the end of the video is a DH Otter taking off from the Outer Harbour which we overlook here in Victoria.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

HTS School Toilets pre-war.

HTS Toilets pre-war.


This short video clip was part of my visit to the school early in 2000. It shows what remains of the old toilet system that existed from when the school was first built in the 1850's, until they were upgraded to a mains sewer system by Colin Hatch builders early in 1940 due to the student expansion of evacuees from London.

When in use before that time it was the caretakers job to clean out the buckets on a daily basis.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Infants 1920's Close up's.

Infants 1920's close up's.
Tried hard to de-pixelate the photo above and to reach a happy contrast level but, still the pixelation persists.

It is also quite noticable how serious all the children are, except for the little boy in the bottom right who is trying hard not to smile but it is starting at the corner of his mouth. For some looking at the pictures those in them if they are still alive will be in their 90's right now and great grandparents as well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

HTS Infants class (circa) early 1920's.

Infants Class (circa) early 1920.
This photograph is of a much younger Mrs. Evans. That is why I have put the date at around 1920, though it could have been much earlier. Just think if any of these children that are still living, it would put them in their ninety's and most likely great grand parents now, and what stories they can tell I am sure.
One or two of those features are quite fuzzy. This is due to the slowness of the quicksilver on the glass plates and the length of the exposure required. It quite remarkable at the progress of photography in a 90 year period, from glass plates to digital photography.
I will attempt to bring you close ups of some of the students next time, those who are not too pixelated in the enlarging process.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mrs. Evans, HTS 1935-36

Mrs. Evans (Infants) 1935-37.

This is the only photograph that I have been able to obtain of any of my school teachers, and this with grateful thanks to Mrs. Evans grandaughter who sent me this. Going back in memory I now know that this very kind and gentle lady taught me a great deal in my first two years at school. In my first year, how to print and write figures. Also I was introduced to the famous series of Beacon Readers. In the second year the consentration was to write in script, so by the time we left her classes for Mrs Snapes classes in 1937 as a seven year old we all wrote in script.
Another field we were taught was "Handicraft." I remember the first thing I made was a red and yellow raffia change purse for my mother as a Christmas present. Then of course as I have mentioned in an earlier blog that we had singing lessons and taught poetry, which of course came in use for the school concert in 1936 at the Pinder Hall.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Top School.

The Top School.
The Cookham Rise Secondary Modern School, better known to the locals in the village as "The Top School." Was when it was first built one of the first of its kind in the country. There use to be an Honour Roll board over the inside hall door of students who had won places in Oxford University before the second world war.

The school was made up of three main classrooms and a seperate building at the end of the school grounds and was called "The Centre." The girls took their Domestic Science classes and the boys did a woodworking class. I attended the school during the wartime, and some classes had to be refined due to some of the staff being called up, so we went with a good grounding in basics from the staff that remained.

In the original photo that I used there were rows of cars parked outside, so I removed them and replaced the the original steel fence and gate. No cars for the staff in those days. The Headmaster Mr. G.H. Wood either walked to school or rode his bicycle. Miss Graham, lived just a short distance away on High Road. Miss Drew travelled every day from her home in Wargrave by train. Mrs. Isherwood came from Maidenhead every day by bus and her assistant domestic science teacher was a Mrs. Deacon, who also lived just off High Road.

Thought the girls still had their domestic science classes, these were also used to cook the school mid-day meal as well. Vegetables were produced on 40 poles of allotment which had been been started on the Alfred Major ground as part of the village Dig for Victory campaign. This is where the boys did their part with the school meals. As the "Gaffer." As Mr. Wood was know to everyone use to say. "If we can't get we will invent it."

Now looking back over those years and wartime as well I always thank now for resourceful ways our teachers made sure of a good basic education. Not only did students come from the nether regions of Cookham Dean, but from Maidenhead Court, but from as far as Coxgreen by bus. Then there were all the evacuees out of London. At one time we were a student body of around 150. So when they talk today of class size being too big! I have to smile as I survived it all, and so did many others.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Hole in the Road

1943 "The Hole in the Road".

It was during "The Wings for Victory." Savings Campaign, that the Cookham Secondary Modern School on the Top Road put on a school concert in the Pinder Hall to boost the savings drive. The school choir put on a recital of stirring songs including a new one that had been written for that occasion called "Lords of the Air." in dedication to the air and ground crews of the RAF.

There was however in the middle of this recital a very funny one act play called "The Hole in the Road." Starring: Bill Fisher as the Nightwatchman, and Derek Buckingham as the Sloan Square Toff.

There then ensued a discussion on holes, with Bill relating that all his family were nightwatchmen, so was his father and grandfather before him. This puzzled The Toff and probed a little deeper about holidays. Never take any guvnor! Take my cousin Harry he got married and went off on his Honeymoon, when he came back his hole was gone, that really upset Harry as he look high and low for that hole, but never found it.

The story goes on with other amusing tales, finally the Toff asks what is in the hole. Bill looks at Derek and shrugs his shoulders as says: "Pipes I think Guvnor." "What sort of pipes?" "Dunno!" "Got a match Guvnor and I will take a look." Then there is some banging off stage followed with a big bang and Bill came back on stage with a black face and the famous last line "It were a gas pipe."

Since that time the Pinder Hall stage has seen very many great plays and performances. The brazier onstage was a real watchman's brazier with orange tissue paper and a light bulb to give the right effects.

I do know that Bill Fisher passed away sometime ago. Where Derek Buckingham went I have no idea. Peter Fisher, Bills brother I believe still lives just off the High Road in the Rise.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

1936 version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs even in 1936 was a well known nursery story by the German Brothers Grimm of the middle 1800's. Most people think today it was invented by Walt Disney. Well Walt Disney's first full length colour cartoon version was not released until 1937.
Once again I had to scout around to find characters to make up a photo of what the Holy Trinity School version looked like. When you come to think of it the four teachers put a lot of time and effort into the whole production, which not only included teaching the children their lines and songs but costumes as well. There was Mrs. Adams the Head Teacher, teaching the 9 & 10 year old's. Mrs. Snapes, who taught the 7 & 8 year old's, Mrs. Evans the 5 & 6 year old's assisted by Miss Collins. Mind you there were some of the village worthies who were there to help defrey the cost of the productions. As they did when we held our annual school tea party, before breaking up for the summer.
I remember two of the children that played in Snow White. The young lady who played the part of Snow White was Elsie Hales who lived at #5 Hamfield Cottages on Lower Road. One of the Dwarfs was John Webb, who at that time lived down at Formosa Fishery. John made his home in Cookham after leaving school and also became a very active member of the Village Fire Brigade.
If any of that cast are still around they would be in their middle eighties now, so now is the chance for the grand children to find out. I know that some of my school chums have shed their mortal coil, but I am sure there are quite a few left to tell the tale.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hey Diddle Diddle the Cat and the Fiddle.

Hey Diddle Diddle
the Cat and the Fiddle.

This was the title of the little playlet that the five and six year olds put on in first school concert to be staged in the new Pinder Hall in November 1936. As there are no photographs available of the event I have had to construct a photo using unknown substitute models, though the stage and backdrop curtain is current Pinder Hall.
The picture depicts myself as the dish that ran away with the spoon, though how I ended up singing a duet with Joan May Westcott from 4 Pound Farm Cottages, who played the Princess instead of a spoon, I will never know. Our duet was the well known nursery song: "Lavenders Blue Dilly Dilly."
There was a rooster in the play I remember that was played by another Hatch, this time it was Brian Hatch. Our teachers were Mrs. Evans from Furze Platt and a very young Miss Collins, who drove an Austin 7 every day over from Windsor.
Just think that all of the cast in this production are or could be Octogenarians now!
I have yet to finish the play that the seven to ten year old's put on, which will come in the next blog.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Pinder Hall.

The Pinder Hall.
A great deal has already been written about this magnificient hall and it various uses during its 74 years since it was built and opened for village use.
There is one thing that I know has not been recorded and that is the first time that the stage was used for a concert or play, was when the Holy Trinity School put on a concert in November 1936. That is when I first trod the boards in a musical play of "Hey Diddle Diddle."
I will be telling you more about it and the main play of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." I my next posting, when I have finished off my research from records.
I can tell you this that the seating for the audience was made up of folding wood and canvas chairs with arm rests. Each row was numbered with an alphabet and stuck to the back was a large draw ticket number.
We gave three performances to a packed house on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I have no record of the date except it was in November 1936.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Black Butts Cottages.

Black Butts Cottages.
Black Butts Cottages were the first privately built housing estate in Cookham for the working class at what was at the time a reasonable weekly rent.
The complex was designed and built by a local resident architect Mr. Vernon Kislingbury in a property at that time was adjacent to Black Butts and very close to Moor Hall. He was also the architect that designed the Pinder Hall on Lower Road for Mr. H. Pinder-Brown.
On completion of the estate. Mr. T.John Fowler moved into house #1. He had helped in the construction of the estate and was a small builder decorator as well. He also became the estate manager and rent collector of the weekly rent every Friday night.
I think I am safe in saying that the estate was begun in 1934 and was finished in 1935. I have no idea who the main building contractor was.
Sometime after the completion of the Pinder Hall and the war in 1939 Mr. Kislingbury died and left Black Butts to his widow. John Fowler was very much relied on to keep the houses in good shape, and he continued to deliver the rent to her every Friday night.
This idea of affordable rented housing by private owners was not new at that time as I had a friend up in Ruislip who's Grandfather had done something like this though on a much larger scale.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Fred's Club."

Fred's Club.
During the 1920's and 30's there were at one time over 30 Night Clubs along the Thames or close to from Maidenhead Bridge to Cookham. The Thames and Maidenhead were at that time was the place to be seen at weekend's by the London Social Set. During those lazy hazy summers any boat that was afloat and could be hired could be found anywhere between Bray and Cookham Locks. There are many photographs of a very crowded Boulters Lock on a summers afternoon, with the men in their whites and blazers and straw boater hats. The ladies in dresses that looked as if they were going Ascot with large brimmed hats and always a parasol.
"Fred's Club." was not the resplendent building that you now see in the photo above, it looked like a very quiet suburban house, but it was the last to exist till the end of the war. It was run by a Mrs. Betts, a very quiet person, who when the war came and the other Night Clubs were forced to close due to the fact that the majority of the staff were considered to be aliens because of their German or Austrian background. Mrs. Betts then kept it running and opened it up as a club for locals in the Maidenhead Court area. To keep it as a club and under the licencing laws, she charged them a small membership fee. This allowed her to have flexible opening hours.
I remember when during the war one evening the air raid warning had sounded and the drone of enemy aircraft could be heard. So she suggested that her patrons stay and have another drink till the all clear. All of a sudden there were three explosions as bombs fell in the orchard at Sheephouse Farm. One of her patrons was a farm worker by the name of Stanmore. He and his wife were both there, when after the all clear he got home to find that all his windows were blown out by the blast and when he went to bed he found a large piece of shrapnel in his bed right where he would have been lying.
With the return of peace and the change in peoples habits, Mrs. Betts retired and closed the club, and so ended an era.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What the youth did in Cookham 60 odd years ago.

The Maidenhead Rowing Club.
Beyond the parapet of the Maidenhead Bridge and next to the Rivera Hotel was the old home of the Maidenhead Rowing Club Boathouse, on top of which was the Rowing Clubs Clubhouse. Where on a Friday night as a rule one could dance to a six piece live band. It was not only the Rowing Club Members, that attended but, it was the meeting place for all the young people of the area to attend.
A frequent attendee at these dances was a young teenager with an MG. Later in life he became well known world wide, together with his young sister Pat. Today of course he is well remembered in Motor Racing circles. Yes, of course I am referring to Sir Stirling Moss, when they lived in Bray at "Long White Cloud." This was before the family moved to Tring. Pat was a regular contender at all the local Horse Shows and later in life became a well known lady Rally Driver.
Of course the club grew in size of membership and now is located just across the river to its new home which you are just able to see in the photo above. Two other locations for dancing at the weekends on a Saturday was the old Town Hall in Maidenhead High Street, across the junction of Market Street. The other was The Drill Hall in Marlow Road, which tended to favour the lovers of Old Time Dancing.
All of these dances had live bands which could be booked for 4 hours of music for six pounds! The usual price to attend was 2/6, yes, two shillings and sixpence. There was no such thing as canned music. Music was either on 78rpm, 331/3rpm or 45rpm records, the later two were just coming on the market.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

William Henry Grenfell.

William Henry Grenfell.
1st Baron Desborough
of Taplow.
Wiliiam Henry Grenfell. 1st Baron Desborough of Taplow, KG, GCVO. Born on the 30th of October 1855. Although he did not live in Cookham, certainly had a great influence on what happened in and around the village.
Educated and Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford. Was quite an athlete in various sports. He was a member of the Oxford Varsity Crew when they tied with Cambridge in the Boat Race of 1877. A member of the winning crew the following year, He swam the rapids twice below Niagara Falls. Also he climbed The Matterhorn three times, among other sporting activities.
In the 1880 General Election he was elected Liberal member of parliament for Salisbury and held the seat until 1886. He was elected as member for Hereford in 1892, but resigned over the Irish Home Rule Bill in 1893. Then he returned to the House of Commons as a Conservative in 1900.
He made his home at Taplow Court, where he entertained the elite of the day and had a Stické court built in 1892. In 1905 he was raised to the peerage an took the title 1st Baron Desborough of Taplow.
He did so many things that it is very hard to keep track of all his accomplishments. One long service to the public was when he took on the Chairmanship of the Thames Conservancy Board in 1904, a position he held for thirty two years.
He was High Steward of Maidenhead and Grenfell Park is named after him. Some of the trees in the park are from seeds that he collected during his trips around the world.
In 1928 he was admitted as a Knight of the Garter. He was also a very active Freemason as well.
He was three time Punt champion of the River Thames, and steward of the Henley Regatta. Punt racing was in his day was quite a regatta event, which was run over a 880 yard course on a straight stretch of the river.
He died at the age of 89 on the 9th of January 1945. He had three sons, two of which were killed in the first world war. The third was killed in a motor accident in 1926. So the title became extinct

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cookham's Wartime Factory.

Cookham's Wartime Factory.

Most of you are aware of a famous vacuum cleaner company called Hoover. During the war this company like so many other appliance manufacturers had to turn to making parts for the war effort.
The Cookham sub assembly work was carried out in the very large garage that was part of the King's Arms Hotel. I did illustrate its position on my blog dated 25th of October 2008. Of course all of this has been altered and built over now.
The work in this local factory was to assemble 24 volt DC motors and generators for use in fighters and bombers for the Royal Air Force. Depending on what was being produced at the time those ladies of the village use to fit maybe one or two parts and then pass it down the line to the next lady, each one knowing what they had to do. Finally when it was complete it went to a test bench where it was checked that the output was according to specifications. It was found that to train an unskilled labour force how to one or two simple tasks was easier and more efficient than trying to get someone to assemble the whole unit. It also had been long recognised that ladies do not mind doing repetative production line work, while having a chance to chat to their neighbouring co-workers on the line. All this information I was able to glean from my one time mother-in-law who worked in that factory.
In the photograph above you can see the production line benches and bar stools that the ladies use to sit on. On the bench in the foreground you can see some of the electric motors and generators ready to be packed for shipment.
Even in production lines today the same methods of assembly are caried out by ladies, though robots are gradually taking over as speed and accuracy now seem to be the norm. The soldering iron has been replaced by the wave soldering unit.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The lost Spencer Landscape.

The lost Spencer painting.
The year was 1934 and summertime I remember when Uncle Stanley as I knew him arrived on the bridge at Widbrook and set up his easel to paint one of his landscape pot boilers. From my cottage garden I could see him at work and being my nosey self, I went up to watch him at work. Of course he knew who I was as he had seen me many times when he use to visit my Aunt Amy Field for a Sunday afternoon tea.
I remember he explained from his preliminary sketch how he worked from the distance and gradually moved into the foreground with his painting. It is strange how I remember this, and even applied it to my water colour art.
The composition of the photo above is my recollection of the finished painting, though there were leaves on his willow trees, plus a few bulrushes in the foreground, though the stream was always fairly clear as it was well maintained by the Thames Conservancy. They cleaned the weeds out manually every two years, and then they would bring in a drag line bucket every four years to remove any excess silt build up.
It was natural playground with a home built raft and my friends from the farm use to play our version of "Swallows and Amazons."
The guilt frame is my addition to this lost work. It is strange how Dudley Tooth lost track of this landscape. My only hope is that someone sees this Blog and can inform the Spencer Gallery in Cookham of its whereabouts.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coal Gas Transport of the 1940's.

Coal Gas Transport 1940's.
Necessity being the mother of invention during the war, public transport had to keep going even though petroleum products such as diesel and petrol were in short supply. Many bus companies such as the Thames Valley Traction Company turned to converting their buses to run on coal gas. Some companies converted their Single Decker buses to use a system as shown in the picture above. It resembled that of having a barrage balloon tied on the roof.

On the other hand the more affluent members of society converted their cars to using coal gas, as I have demonstrated to what looks like having three or four ¾ sized bed spring mattresses on the roof of your car. This particular system did not last long as people found that they ran out of gas when they least expected it. Then it was a pain to get it refilled at the closest gas works.

The Thames Valley Traction Company how ever went for the trailer gas generator which was towed behind the bus, where a small fire heated the coal to generate the gas. It was obvious every so often the conductor on the bus would get off and stoke the fire. This system use used for the majority of the war, until such time that diesel fuel became easier to obtain. Of course the last bus home to Cookham Village left the Rialto cinema at 8:30 pm and would go through to High Wycombe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Village Lighting by Gas & Oil.

Village Lighting by Gas & Oil.
Yes, seventy years ago this was a common sight in Cookham, as by the 1930's only certain parts of the village had been hooked up to the electric grid, and the outlying properties were still very much reliant on gas and oil for Cooking and lighting. There was a business located in Cordwallis Road in Maidenhead that use to come around on a weekly basis with what was what I would call a Mobile Hardware Store. He had two large saddle tanks under the floor in which he carried bulk Parafin, better known as Kerosene to my North American readers. He also carried Gas and Oil Lamp mantles, spares, such as wicks for various makes of lamps and heaters like the Valor Oil Stove.
There was also a good selection of household cleaning materials for floors and furniture plus all your washday needs in soaps and items like Robin Starch and Reckitts Blue.

The oil and gas mantles were quite stiff with a wax coating which had to be burnt off once installed then they would become very fragile as they would break very easily if touched.

The Aladdin table lamp was the most common of the oil lamps in use, as a matter of fact they were in use in the workers houses around the farm until the middle of the war when the farm became electrified.

Quite a few homes in the village used the Valor Oil Stove the heat their homes, especially in their upstairs bedrooms. All of this was in use seventy years ago.