Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Widbrook Nurseries.

Widbrook Nurseries.

To great many in the village Sutton Close has been there for years. Well at one time it was run as a thriving nursery to serve the village with cut flowers in season, also plants and even a tree nursery for those wanting to plant their own trees. It was run by William Turner Gray Hatch, who was my fathers cousin. Also he was well remembered for heading up the village volunteer fire brigade.

Both he and his wife Rosena live at the nursery in a wood frame bungalow built on Staddle stones so that they would be clear of any high flood water, as they were well aware of the height of the flood in the 1890's.

Here is the location of the plots.


"A" was cut flowers.

"B" was the bungalow.

"C" was for bedding plants.

"D" was the tree nursery.

"E" A Monkey Puzzle Tree.

"F" A large greenhouse.

Because of the war and his wartime activities with fire brigade Uncle Bill gave up the nursery and a man called Mr. Hale took it over and ran it as "Hale's Nursery." until it was sold to build Sutton Close

15 Sutton Close.

The only item left from the Widbrook Nursery days is the 80 year old Monkey Puzzle tree that was planted by Uncle Bill to commemorate as he said my arrival in Cookham. I think it was due to the fact in the January of 1930 my parents lost what would have been my elder brother George to melanges, he was 4½ years of age, and he wanted to mark the arrival of another son.
So now the present owner of the house knows the story of the Monkey Puzzle tree, it now being the oldest thing in the Close.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Land West of Sutton Farm.

Land West of Sutton Farm.
White Place Farm at one time extended from Sutton Road as far west as the Maidenhead Road and Lightlands. From a line just south of Danes Manor across to the now demolished Strand Castle, which I supposed could described as a one-time livable folly. The long treed drive was a handy route for farm equipment and labour to reach the land, rather than going around by the village and across the moor. A flat special purpose bridge was built across The Widbrook Stream at the point "X" just north of what is known as Strand Water.
Stud mares and foals were brought across from the Cliveden chain ferry and walked via White Place Farm, down the Avenue and through the Walled-in Garden, across Sutton Road to the summer paddocks of Moor Hall West and East.

This photo above is shown as "A" on the previous photo map, there was a side access opening just down on the left that led into Sutton Farm. This was the route the stable
lads took as to cut down the time when crossing the road with these high spirited animals and their young.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Walled-in Garden

The Walled-in Garden.
When Waldorf William and his wife Lady Nancy arrived at Cliveden and took over White Place Farm, there was a requirement for a much larger kitchen garden than the one that was in exsistance at Cliveden at that time, plus they wanted fresh produce for their London home as well. Fresh fruit was required so an orchard was required.
So the walled in garden was built. The size of this project covered some 12-14 acres in size. So sometime between 1906 and 1910 this garden was created with what must be the longest brick wall in Cookham. It is somewhere between 9 to 10 feet tall and had two main gate entrances. One was off the Avenue to the farm, the other was oposite the entrance to Sutton Farm off Sutton Road. There was a small doorway added so that staff could gain access to the two cottages that were built in the 1930's in the top left of the map as a yellow block next to the Sutton Allotments.
The vast amount was planted as an Orchard. "A" was a large fruit storage barn, which was purpose designed with fruit racks for apples and pears in the main. Surplus fruit was sold off to local greengrocers. "B" was the toolshed and lunchroom for those who worked in the garden. "C" was the cultivated area for large crops of vegetables. "D" Was again a purpose built brick wall so that peach trees could be trained, plus about a 10 foot strip in front was cultivated for growing salad vegetables and fresh herbs. 1 & 2 were the only two main gates.

This is a recent Google Street View of this wall which I estimate has stood for a full 100 years, which only goes to prove the great skill of the bricklayers in those days.

Take a closer look at the top of the wall where the Red Arrow is pointing. To finish the top of the wall off the workmen embedded broken bottles in the cement to deter people from climbing over after fruit when ripe. Mind you someone already pointed out that now that would not be allowed as the person breaking in might hurt themselves!

This is what is left of the green main gate off Sutton Road, as you can see that it is now all overgrown. To think this was a very well used entrance during the 1920's, 30's and 40's When Ted Ruffell from Maidenhead was in charge. Ted's favourite pastime was Greyhound Racing at the Slough track, and he always said he bet 3&7 and 7&3 each way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"The Lodges." White Place Farm.

"The Lodges." White Place Farm.

Thanks to the arrival of "Google View." I am now able to take a much closer look at the village and pick out buildings of historical interest.
"The Lodges." as it was known in the days of the Astor's, was built by them as a grand entrance to their model farm. The building actually consists of four cottages. The two on the left use to house two of the cowmen, and on the right hand side was used by two carters. The one closest to the road was the home of the farms champion ploughman Ted Barrett and his wife, who was known as the village telephone! They also had a daughter named Daisy.
The road leading to the farm was known as "The Avenue." This was given by Lady Astor as she loved the large elm trees that lined either side from the little bridge down. Before they took over the farm it was just a gravel track, until they had it paved with asphalt.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Points #22, #23 & #24 on your farm map.

The Slurry Pits #23 & #22.
The Slurry Pits marked #23 the covered one and #22 the open were the primary filter tanks for all the cowshed effulent. #23 or A was the primary and held the most liquid and was not only covered but had a chestnut pailing fence around it to prevent accidents of people or animals falling in and drowning. #22 or B was an open pit, where the more solid wast was raked off of A and put into B to drain further. After a time the solid was removed and stacked in a pile denoted as C to be removed and spread on the field prior to ploughing.

The Horse and Slurry Cart.
Once again the horse is real but the slurry cart is from memory. It was a purpose built round tank holding around 300 gallons of liquid slurry when full. It had a top filling lid, and the 4'' drain tap at the rear had a fan deflector to spread the liquid evenly over the ground.

The Slurry Pump.
To fill the Slurry Cart above the manual Slurry Pump was used. This pump worked on a diaphram principle with flapper valves to direct the flow of the near solid liquid from the pit and into the tank. The pump was actuated by two men working the handle marked H in a up and down motion. P marks the two pivot points on the pump. The second is connected to the diaphram shaft. A very simple but very efficient tool at the time.

The Clinker Filter Bed.

There was a drain pipe closer to the top of the covered primary pit which allowed the free flow liquid to enter a purpose built clinker filter bed, very similar to filter beds at Chalvey near Slough. Known in the old days as: "The Chalvey Treacle Mines."

As you can see once again the Astor's were very forward thinking and did not want to polute the river about a third of a mile away, with this their model farm.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Covered Cattle Yard.

Covered Cattle Yard.
Building #17. on your farm map is very unique in its design. Waldorf William Astor brought the idea from America, but the cupola in the center is much larger than I have ever seen. I was told by Edward Chaplin, one time farm manager, that this building was the first and only building ever built in Britain of this design, and the Astor's spared no expense in having it built, together with a farm drainage system that was was ahead of its time.
As boys, we use to climb up onto the roof and were able to get at sparrows nests for the eggs as they were classed as farm pests, and we were given a few pennies for each nest that we brought down from the ledges just inside the windows of the cupola.

Plot Layout.
This plot plan is to give the reader some idea of how the building was laid out without confusing the drawing without beam and joist structure.
The straw bedding area was sloped towards the center and was a gravel base to aid natural drainage and was cleaned out after harvest each year so that the manure build up could be applied to the arable land prior to autumn ploughing.
This was the winter home for most of the Ayrshire herd as most of the fields that were used for grazing were water meadows and were water logged.
There were ample manger space so that hay and marrow stem kale, plus chopped mangolds. There were also ample drinking bowl outlets, so the cattle had pleanty of water.
Equine Riding Ring.

As I have no side view photo of the covered cattle yard. I am using a photo of an American covered riding ring with a cupola dome. The side of the structure was open at the top half with a brick wall. This allows free movement of air through the structure and the hot air to escape throgh the cupola.

Structures A & B will be explained in my next blog. Again these were unique and ahead of their time in the UK.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Two Cedar Silos.

The Two Cedar Silos #37.
In the building of their model modern farm, Lord Astor had two cedar plank silos imported from North America, so that maize silage could be made. Again he was one of the first to start silage making in England and these units were used up until 1939, when other methods of silage making were introduced.
The silos were finally taken down at the end of the war, the cedar wood was still sound and was reused for other projects around the farm as the farming methods were changing.
As boys, we use to climb up inside on a wooden ladder and look out of the top and see what we thought was for miles over the farm.
The stairway in the middle was the way up to the upper granary floor.