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.