Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Thames Sailing Barge

The Thames Sailing Barge.

There has been quite a discussion of late on the barge traffic on the Thames. There was up until 1939 quite a few Thames sailing barges in use from the Port of London and other ports on the east coast, some even went across the channel to Holland, where they were able to navigate the Dutch canal system.

The last Thames sailing barge that I saw on the Thames was moored to the island just across river from the Thames Hotel in Maidenhead and just down stream from “The Iron Duke,” which was the Maidenhead Navy Cadets training vessel. It was minus its mast, though it still had its leeboards. Most of these barges have been converted to private pleasure use.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Grove and the fire of 1919.

The Grove before the fire.
On the night of the 24th of March 1919 The Grove was completely destroyed by fire.

The chimney has caught alight during the evening but it was thought the blaze had been extinguished. At about 11.00 p.m. the owner, Mr. E.R. Goolden and his son, Lieutenant Commander Massey Goolden, were reading in the library when they smelled smoke and discovered that the roof was on fire. The other occupants of the house, Mrs. Goolden and Miss Goolden and two elderly servants had already gone to bed. The Lieutenant Commander rescued the two ladies before summoning the fire brigade and the police.

Neighbours, including Colonel Ricardo from Lullebrook, helped rescue some of the family possessions but a great deal including was lost including books, pictures and silver, along with much antique furniture.

The fire got such a hold, and burned out of control, because (ironically) the river was in flood. The Cookham firemen – and there were only five of them – could not get their manual pumping engine from the fire station in Terry’s Lane and over the flooded Moor. They abandoned it and carried their hoses through the floodwater; only to find that the pressure in the hydrants near Cookham Bridge was too low.

Both Maidenhead Brigade and the High Wycombe Brigade were summoned to give assistance, but in both cases the water was too deep for their appliances to get through. The Goolden’s Bailiff – William Price (who had a nursery garden at Grove Farm) made valiant efforts to release the High Wycombe engine from the mud on Ferry Lane, but to no avail. Again the men waded to the scene but had not sufficient equipment to make any impression on the blaze.

By morning the house was completely destroyed and visitors flocked to see the ruins. A local journalist who had the war years fresh in his mind likened the scene to a piece ’outraged Ypres’, and pointed out how pathetic the Cookham Fire Brigade’s little hand-cart and a single length of hose looked as it stood on what had been the lawn of The Grove.

‘It was not a business, by far, for the hand-cart brigade.’ The writer went on to suggest making contingency plans for the co-operation with some larger brigades in the area in hope that ‘a few powerful motor engines would defy a flooded lane, and be down in time to be of use’. He also pointed out that if there were a proper bridge over Cookham Moor this problem would never have arisen.

In due course the house was rebuilt. The new Grove was not on exactly the same site as the previous one, being aligned differently towards the river.

David Ricardo, great nephew of the late Colonel Ricardo of Lullebrook Manor, gave these verbatim facts to me.

Of course a causeway and bridge was built across Cookham Moor thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Balfour-Allen in 1928. Now it is feared that bridge will not take the weight of present day traffic. One solution is to turn the present roadway into a second causeway and bridge able to withstand today’s weight of traffic.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The DUKW a Flood Saviour.

The 1947 Flood Saviour.
There are very few residents of Cookham living today that would remember the 1947 flood, as the floodwater had entered half the premises in the high street. For instance picking out businesses such as the Arcade and Malik’s and the Cookham Tandoori would suffer.

It was very fortunate that, at that time there were war surplus Army DUKW’s (Ducks) available to rescue people and also was used as supply vehicles to those who were dry but isolated by the flood water.

These vehicles are still available and are being manufactured. One of these would certainly be a very good insurance policy. It also could be fitted with a fire pump so that another Grove fire of 1919 would not be repeated.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Eel Traps at Hedsor.

Eel Traps at Hedsor.
Eel trapping on the Thames was quite an industry in years gone by when mature eels felt the urge to breed and would make their way from the ponds and streams where they lived for a few years to mature, ready for the long trip back to the place of their birth in the Sargasso Sea. The small silver eels on their trip have a much easier trip as they followed the Gulf Stream to the rivers of England and Europe. One is always reminded of that old cockney delicacy of Jellied Eels.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The one time home of Sir Algernon Guinness.

The one time home of
Sir Algernon Guinness.
Sir Algernon Guinness a very well known resident of Cookham a member of the famous Guinness family, but also well known as a British racing car driver on the Brooklands race track.

Another thing of note was that he was first Cookham resident to have a television set. When the new church organ was installed in 1937, it was found that during the television hours from 6.00 to 9.00 pm that the new organ blower motor caused television interference during the evening service. So to cure the matter Sir Algernon had a suppressor fitted to the organ motor at his own expense.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A quiet Sunday Morning.

A quiet Sunday morning.
There was a time in Cookham when a Sunday morning scene like this was a weekly occurrence, seen her from Dudley Sims the butcher on the left to my grandmothers home at Wisteria Cottage after she sold up Ovey's Farm.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drifting barges on Cliveden Reach.

Drifting Barges.

There was a time back in the early 1800’s and before bridges were built across The River Thames that the Thames Sailing Barge was the main form of river commercial transport. With a good wind they could make their way up the river and on the return would drift downstream at the river flow rate, while the bargee’s would steer the barge with an oar somewhat like that of a Gondolier in Venice.

To cross the river at that time was either by fording at a shallow point, or by using a chain ferry that were just coming into use at that time. When bridge building took place sailing was no longer possible and the use of horses became to the preferred method of power to tow the barges.

In this 1818 watercolour print of Cliveden Reach you can see two barges on their way down stream. It seems that the artist was seated by Formosa or close to it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Ferry Hotel & The Grove.

This is yet another view of the chain ferry slip beside The Ferry Hotel. But what I want t draw your attention to is the house at the left of the picture which is the original Georgian house called “The Grove.” It was at that time owned by a Miss Fleming. On the 26th of March 1919 and during a severe flood the house caught fire. The Cookham Fire Brigade could not reach the house because of the depth of the water. So they concentrated on playing water on The Ferry Hotel, as the heat was so intense. The High Wycombe Fire Brigade tried to come to the aid of the Cookham Brigade, but from the glare of the fire shining of the surface of the floodwater in Ferry Lane that the fire engine driver drove into the ditch and got stuck.

History has always had a habit of repeating itself, and now it makes me wonder what will happen to all those houses that have been built to the right going down Mill Lane and even Sutton Close. Now with the closest fire appliance being in Maidenhead and the Moor Causeway to be closed during a flood, it puts the whole village at risk.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Battlemead House.

Battlemead House.
This is Battlemead House as it is today, basically as it was, except for a few landscape changes. Now the parkland is no more and the Horse Chestnuts are all gone. Mind you, we boys made quite a lot of pocket money out of those Conker’s, as we were told they were used to make toothpaste. Not till long after the war did we find that the Conker’s were used to make the explosive “Cordite.”

Battlemead House and what was the adjoining parkland now covered with houses has quite a story to tell during the Second World War. After what was left of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, the military had to hide them from view. So Battlemead House and its adjacent park was just the ideal place as the park contained a large amount of Horse Chestnut Trees under which the army erected their bell tents. I have no idea how many troops there were at Battlemead, but if I tell you my uncle at Sheephouse Farm delivered two 10-gallon churns of milk every day to the mess tent.

One day while collecting money from the pay office in the house the Adjutant asked him how the harvest was going and could he use some help. He said that a few extra hands would be useful. The next morning 60 soldiers turned up with a sergeant and set about bringing in the wheat, oats and barley. In three days the whole harvest was in. I remember the remark that it was the fastest harvest at Sheephouse on record.

Battlemead House.

Friday, November 4, 2011

St. Georges Lodge.

Wartime life of
St. Georges Lodge.
Once again there are very few left in Cookham that will remember the wartime use of this building. It was taken over by the military together with the Odney Club. First survivors of the British Expeditionary Force in France used it. Then after Japan attacked Hawaii and the Americans came into the war. The American GI’s to assemble in readiness for D-Day used it.

As you can see in the photo there is an American GI on guard duty, and they soon got use to boys in the village going up to them and saying, “Got any gum chum?”

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Old Slaughterhouse.

The Old Slaughterhouse.

Looking at the village today, it is hard to imagine that it was a very much self-contained unit providing for it self all locally grown produce and meat, even to having its own slaughterhouse. Not only Cookham, even Bourne End had a slaughterhouse at the back of the Parade behind Ernie Colliass butchers shop until the beginning of the war. Maidenhead had one that was in use during the war and right until its end after the war in West Street.

In the photo above you can see where the slaughterhouse was located, just where the garages now stand. A lot will remember Jack Smith the butcher, but before him there was Dudley Sims who was a gentleman farmer and also had a butchers shop in Maidenhead. Before him there was a Mr. Wooster.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bridge Deflector Piers.

Bridge Deflector Piers.
There was a time during the early years of the iron bridge being built that there was quite a lot of barge traffic on the river. Most of this traffic was Thames Conservancy barges, which were loaded with gravel from the riverside pits at Marlow and for use further down stream in maintaining the riverbank from erosion.

It was quickly found out that during periods of a fast flowing stream that the barge helmsman would lose way as the tug slowed to make the turn into the lock cut. So three deflecting wooden piers were erected to prevent these barges from colliding with the bridge supports. Although the barge traffic has but all ended, the wooden piers on the upstream side of the bridge still remain.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Second Cookham Toll Bridge.

The Second Toll Bridge.
In July 1866 the Cookham Bridge Company announced that a new iron bridge would be built and requested designs and quotations. Thirtyseven plans were submitted and the contract was awarded to Messrs Pease, Hutchinson & Co Ltd of the Skerne Ironworks of Darlington for a bridge of two wrought iron girders supported by eight pairs of concrete-filled iron pillars. The estimated cost was £2,520 it proved to be some £1000 cheaper even than the estimate for the 1840 wooden construction. The remarkably low cost, due to the fact Pease & Hutchinson were major iron manufacturers and experienced bridge builders. This led to the new bridge being known as: "The cheapest bridge on the River Thames for its size".

Work on the replacement bridge began at the end November 1866. The approaches rerouted ready for the new bridge to be commissioned on the 1st July 1867 The bridge continued to be owned by the Cookham Bridge Company and operated as a toll-bridge until 1947. It was then purchased by Berkshire County Council for £30,000 and the tolls lifted.

The last major overhaul of the bridge was carried out in March, 2000.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The first Cookham Toll Bridge.

First Cookham Toll Bridge.
As the chain ferry in the late 1830’s was slow and frequently had chain breaking due to wear and a fast flowing river at times, the result was the formation of The Cookham Bridge Company.

On 25 May 1839 a Mr Freebody was contracted to construct the bridge for £3,140 with George Treacher as the designer. Freebody was also contracted for a further £225 to build a Toll House and gates on the Buckinghamshire side of the river. Work started on the construction of the bridge in the Summer of 1839, and was finished by the end of the year, over-budget at a total cost of £4,224 The bridge was wooden and had 13 spans, nine of 24 ft and four of 18 ft. Cookham Bridge opened on 1 Jan 1840 and was let to a Mr Bolton at an annual rent of £350 although by 1844 it was only producing £330 per annum in tolls.

Due to its wooden construction and the preservation of timber using creosote under hydraulic pressure was not yet in use. The bridge required a lot of maintenance, in 1859 George Treacher reported to the Cookham Bridge Company that several of the piles were "very much decayed and likely to give way". In Treacher's opinion the bridge was unlikely to survive the winter, so a Mr Cook of High Wycombe was engaged to make emergency repairs at a cost of £96 12s 2d. The repairs did little to stop the decay and five years later in 1864 the new surveyor, a Mr. Carter, described the bridge as "not dangerous, but not safe." “It may colapse if a heavy vehicle passes over it.” By 1866 the situation had deteriorated to such a degree that the lessee asked for a reduction in rent as the toll income had fallen off due to people being too afraid to use the bridge.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A chain ferry hand crank.

Ferry Hand Crank.

It is very hard today to find a photo or even a sketch of an old chain ferry hand crank, so I have had to use this small version of a pedestrian chain ferry as an example. Ferry's like the original Cookham Ferry, if it had not been replaced by first the wooden bridge and later the iron bridge that is still in use, would I am sure like a lot of similar ferry's would have converted to a steam driven system, like the one in the photo below.

Steam powered ferry.
With grateful thanks to the ferries at Southwold and Trowlock Island ferry on the Thames.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Holy Trinity Church circa 1798.

Holy Trinity Church 1798.
I have just had the pleasure of communicating with Neville Lee who now lives in Melbourne, Australia. He recently became the proud possessor of a very large painting of Cookham Church from which research now dates it as being around 1798. From the larger painting it looks as if the artist was seated on Sashes Island. The light is right as if it was late afternoon early evening with the sun in the west.

There are a few things missing and that is the Ferry Inn, but in a lot of instances these sort of thing happens, which I will call artistic license. What is clearly shown is the ferry slip. That is why I am including this painting in on my history of the Cookham Ferry.

Once again, my very grateful thanks to Neville for this painting of the church and river.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ferry Chain and Guide.

Ferry Chain & Guide.
When researching for photos or sketches of chain ferries that were in use 160 years ago, one has to use example photos or make drawings to explain the subject. This is something that I had to do in the case.

Here you see the chain being lifted up from the river bed as the ferry makes its way from one bank to the other. Power in the early days was by a manual crank handle turned by the ferryman.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cookham Chain Ferry Slip.

Old Chain Ferry Slip.

In the photo above, which I have run once before in this series of Historical Blogs. This time I want you to look behind the young people, and you will see what remains of the village end of the Cookham Chain Ferry. Nowadays, it has been utilized as a ramp for launching boats off of mobile boat trailers. The slip on the Bourne End side of the river has long since disappeared with the building of the boathouses.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

John Brooks, Ferryman.

John Brooks, Ferryman.
There has always been a member of the Brooks family up until 1956 acting as ferryman to Sashes Island from below Cookham Bridge for nearly a century. Even when John Brooks the Elder went off to fight in World War 1, his daughter Biddy took her fathers place to work the ferry. Then after he retired his son John took on the position until it was closed. As were the other two ferries at Cookham Lock and My Lady’s Ferry at Cliveden Reach.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Fleet Bridge 1930.

Fleet Bridge 1930.
There has been quite a lot of talk about The Fleet Bridge and The Causeway over the moor lately. I thought that this photo taken just a year after it was built in 1929 would fit in very nicely. According to my sources the couple pushing a pram over the bridge are my mother and father on their way to Cookham Cemetery to tend my brother’s grave, as he died just two months before I was born in January 1930. According to my aunt this was always a Sunday afternoon ritual for them to walk from Widbrook to the cemetery and back to tend his grave, taking flowers from the garden.

Of course seven years later it was the setting for the Sir Stanley Spencer painting of the moor and the village from that bridge. Yes that bridge is now 82 years old.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Cookham Horse Ferry.

Cookham Horse Ferry.
It has long been known that the Romans used to use mules to pull their barge traffic up the many waterways of Britain, and the Thames was no exception. In the photo taken above, taken around 1875, the photo of the Horse Ferry that use to transport barge horses from Sashes Island to a point at the back of the old Ferry Hotel.

In the next photo of the same period, there are a group of men from the village about to go across to Sashes Island for a Sunday afternoon walk, known then as the Three Ferries. This Horse Ferry you will note that the Ferryman propels and guides it by using a barge or punting pole.

Another photo also of the same era of a pair of horses pulling a Thames barge upstream.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eddy Smythe. A true village gentleman.

Eddy Smythe.
A true village gentleman.
Eddy Smythe was a very well known local resident of Cookham for just over 80 years. According to his mother he was born on the 2nd of August 1909 at 9.00 a.m. in the village of Braunton in northwest Devon. A very special day by all accounts, as it was the day of August Bank Holiday Fair.

At the age of 14 he left school and started an apprenticeship as a wheelwright then changed to become a joiner. After finishing his four-year apprenticeship at 18 he first came to Cookham, and found work on a new building site in Bromley in Kent. He also worked for a time for Lovell’s, builder in Beaconsfield.

It was in 1940 in Grace’s Builders Yard by the Moor in Maidenhead and he looking for work when he came upon Courtaulds lorry loading material for their new wartime site at Islet Park in Maidenhead Court. He asked if they had any work for a Joiner at midday, and by 2.00 p.m. he was at work. This is where he worked until he retired in 1974.

Eddy took a very active part in village life, married to the eldest daughter Roberta (Bob) of P.C. Joe Tubb, who it was often heard him refer to his wife in that soft Devonshire burr as “My Tubby.” After the war the bell ringers of Holy Trinity use to have a ringers outing to the seaside, of which Bob was a very active member, and it was always on the August Bank Holiday Monday, which at that time use to be the first Monday in August. So it was always close enough to his birthday as well.

Among other things he was for a long time Church Warden and also helped in constructing the sets for the annual pantomime in the Pinder Hall. The last time I saw Eddy was to sit with him Lodge in Cookham Dean together with Jim Ricketts in 1998. May they both have found their reward in The Grand Lodge Above?

I would like to thank at this time the help given me by the Maidenhead Waterways Preservation Society and the Bourne End Video Camera Club.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The history of the Cookham Ferry.

Ferry Lane Cookham.

Many centuries ago, as far back to when the Romans first came to Britain there was a settlement here in Cookham and here was a good place to ford the Thames, this being one of the shallower parts at that time. Though back in the 1800’s there was a discovery of a Roman bridge near Hedsor wharf. Which no doubt fell into disrepair when the Romans left in or around 410 AD.

Of course The Danes and The Vikings did sail up the Thames with some difficulty, having to navigate around sand bars and the like. What really changed the Thames for barge and commercial trade was the introduction of a system of weirs and locks. Even then there was still places where tricky navigating had to be applied around the area of Hedsor Wharf, where many a barge got stuck on a gravel-sand bar. This problem existed until the present Cookham Lock cut was built and put into service. Then that ended the sailing barge trade and the towpath system with horses came into use. Only to fade out in the 1850-60’s when Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the Great Western Railway causing the commercial barge traffic to die completely.

Of course all this construction of the locks and weirs had caused the water level at the once Cookham ford was no longer available. So a ferry system was built to allow commercial and private traffic to cross from the Berkshire side to the Buckingham side of the river and the chain ferry came into being.

The photo above is that of Ferry Lane, the once well-travelled highway for anyone wanting to cross the river. This part of Cookham has not changed in the past 70 years.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Aitkenhead Chain Harrow.

The Aitkenhead
Chain Harrow.
Among dairy farmers for years now The Aitkenhead Chain Harrow is one of less significant pieces of agricultural equipment, yet it is one of the most frequent used on the farm pastures.

For at the end of the grazing season and the pastures go into a winter rest it is normal for the chain harrow to go over and accomplish three things. One to break up the cowpats and spread them over the surface. The second thing is to loosen all the dead grass and let the moisture gets to the roots. The third item is to level any molehills that may be present.

Again in early spring before applying a top dressing of nitro-chalk the pasture is harrowed to open up the soil once again and to level any molehills that have occurred during the winter. Then after the cattle have grazed, on what is known as the spring flush of young grass the harrow is used once again to spread the cowpats and encourage further growth.
Harrow Close Up.

The close up is to give the reader an idea of this harrow and its construction, which has been in use on British farms for at least 150 years or longer. The construction of this impliment was most likely was made locally by the village blacksmith in early times.
The same harrow is still in use today, but is mounted on a tractor three point hitch and divided into three square frames that can be folded for easy transportation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The lowly historical Cowpat or Cow Chip.

A Odney Cowpat.
When complaints of cowpats on Odney Common were started, it opened up a whole bag of Cookham history, of which I am about to relate to one and all. First off, the photo above is of a cowpat sent to me by one of my enthusiastic readers of the blog of a cowpat on Odney Common, for which I say thank you.

I don’t suppose many of you realize that dried cowpats or sometime known as cow chips have been used as fuel for heating and cooking for thousands of years around the world, which also included droppings from Elephants, Camels and Buffalos.

Here is an extract from Cookham’s history by Stephen Darby in 1831:

Clatting was a somewhat important occupation with the poor, and was carried out by the elderly women. When the cow droppings in Widbrook, Odney and Cockmarsh were sufficiently solidified, they were turned over or balanced in pairs edgeways to dry.

When dry, they were collected and carried home for fuel, being then known as Cow-chips. The material, being light, admitted of very large loads, which were carried, on the heads and a moderate wind, even, sadly interfered with the chattering with which ordinarily the homeward journey was accompanied.

Homeward Bound.
In the photo above taken in the mid 1800’s of a lady taking home a wheel barrow load of dried cow chips. So you can now see even then, the villagers of Cookham knew how to re-cycle waste materials.

Today in various parts of the world they still hold Cow Chip Throwing Competitions, to see who can throw their chip the furthest.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Old Moor Gates.

Old Moor Gates.
As I mentioned in the previous blog there were at one time and for certain in the mid 1700’s four five bars gates were placed at the four entrances to the Moor that were travelled by the public. The sketch above shows the gate to the Back Lane as it was known in those days, now of course it is known as School Lane. Another was place at the west entrance to the village. Another was placed at the entrance of what is known today as Berries Road. The last one was located at the west end of The Moor and very close to the then active village Pound.

The Kissing Gate.
Along with these four gates were four smaller gates, known in those days and even today as “Kissing Gates.” These gates as shown in the photo above were installed to provide easy access for the pedestrian public, and at the same time preventing the cattle from straying off The Moor.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Seven Foot Bridges across the Moor.

Moor Foot Bridges.
According to Stephen Darby’s account of early Cookham of 1831, there were seven earthen mounds across The Moor where the causeway is now located. Each mound was joined together with a wooden footbridge. This would enable the village folk to cross when the water was high during periods of flooding, or when the ground was marshy after a heavy rain without getting their feet wet.

This arrangement stayed in place until Mrs. Belfour-Allen gave the present Fleet bridge and causeway in memory of her husband in 1929. It was always well used by the gentlemen of the village, who could be seen every morning stepping out in a brisk walk to the station to catch the 7.35 a.m. train to Paddington. Only stopping briefly at Norman’s the newsagent to pick up their copy of The Times.

There were also four gates of entrance to The Moor. Three at the village end and one located at the west end close to The Pound. At the village end one gate was located at the entrance of Back Lane, now of course known as School Lane. The next gate was at the west end of the village high street. The third gate was at the entrance of what is now Berries Road.

The Fleet Bridge.
A view of the Fleet Bridge looking west together with part of the causeway. This 82 year old brick and concrete structure has stood well the test of time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Heather Atkinson-Ahmad

Heather Atkinson-Ahmad.
This lady though she was not resident in Cookham, she had very strong and historical connections with the village. Most of the older members of the village will remember her brother Desmond Atkinson. So with that in mind I asked her niece Carol to write a tribute to her Aunt Heather. You can see from the photo a strong resemblance between her and her brother.

It is with much sadness that I was told that my Aunt Heather, who was the sister of the late Desmond Atkinson, who passed away in Toronto, Canada on August 26th 2011 at the age of 92, where she had lived for the past 40 years.

She was born in Sidcup, Kent, as was Desmond, where her father was the bank manager of Martins Bank. She worked in London for Air India where she met Kay Ahmad, her husband. She travelled extensively and on at least four occasions’ they drove by car from London to Karachi, which was very adventurous and would probably be too dangerous to attempt now.

She regularly visited and stayed in Cookham, with Desmond & his wife Ursula and where her husband is buried.

She was very interested in the theatre & the arts, particularly Desmond’s activities for many years as writer-producer and director of Christmas Pantomimes in the Pinder Hall.

She will be remembered with much happiness but, also sorrow by her niece Carol, Desmond and Ursula's daughter and so many friends in Cookham, Toronto and around the world.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Cookham Fire Station.

Cookham Fire Station.
I have noticed recently of what is to happen to the village fire station. I have discussed in earlier blogs the wartime history of the station that was made up with both full time and volunteer firemen.

One full time fireman had a very strong Irish brogue and in his off duty hours, use to busy himself making leather handbags and purses, which he sold locally to the local villagers for birthday and Christmas gifts. I remember watching him punching holes and then lacing the parts together. So at one time in its history was the source of making handbags and purses. Of course working with leather was already part of the village history.

I wonder if some lady has a handbag or purse today, handed down from her mother that was made right here in the fire station?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Crown Hotel of the early 1900's.

The Crown Hotel 1910.
With the destruction of the first Crown Inn by fire, a second and grander edifice was built to replace it. It was also designed to accommodate the fast growing motoring public; giving competition to the already changed Kings Arms Hotel that had built a garage where the chauffer/mechanics could service their vehicles ready for the next days driving.

They too also had a garage for their guests as well, the only thing that they did not have was a petrol pump service that the Kings Arms had installed.

Cookham was well known to the touring public coming out of London during those early years of the 1900’s. It was a very popular place to be seen on the river, or visiting one of those thirty night clubs that existed between Maidenhead Bridge and Cookham at that time, only to be destroyed once again by fire 1929.

The Crown Inn 2011.
It was replaced by the present modest public house, which was one of the thirteen public houses in the Cookham’s during the 1930’s and 40’s.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The rope laced bed of the 1800's

Rope laced bed.

Inns of the first Crown’s vintage, the bed shown above would have been one of the most common in use. The lace network of rope between the frame of the bed, which had auger holes, spaced about six inches apart.

The end of the rope was double knotted at one end; the rope was fed through the first hole at the foot of the bed frame and threaded through the corresponding hole at the other end. The rope was then pulled taut using a simple levering device and a small tapered wooden plug was tapped into the hole to stop the rope losing its tension. The rope was then fed into the next hole and the whole process was repeated at the other end of the bed. Again when the tension had been made another tapered wooden plug would have been tapped into place. This process would have continued until the threading of the rope was completed. As the work proceeded from end to end the wooden plug was removed and reused in the next hole. At the completion of the last hole the tapered plug was left in place and the balance of the rope was coiled for future use.

The cross roping was then done in the same format except, that this time the rope is fed under and over the rope strands going in the opposite direction. This also gives the rope support extra firmness. On top of which would be placed the straw filled palliasse.

From time to time the rope had to be tightened due to it stretching in a damp atmosphere. Hence the term of sleeping tight, as in the old saying passed down through the years, “Goodnight, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

The original Crown Inn.

The Crown Inn 1883.
We now take a look at the location of the Crown public house in Cookham. As you can see in the photo above is what was known then as “The Crown Inn.” From its architecture it is estimated that it was built in the 1700’s. Providing food and shelter to the weary traveler. Accommodation in those days was to say the least, very sparse. This I will go into greater detail later.

Wattle & Daub Construction.
The construction of the first Crown was of wattle and daub, fixed to an oak beam wall frame as seen in the drawing above. The wattle was made of in most cases of hazel saplings, of which there was plenty growing localy. The lime and sand mortar mixture would have come from a local source also. Horsehair was also used, as a binder in the mixture of which there was no shortage either.

This building was destroyed by fire in the late 1890's. Exact date not known at this time and was replaced by a new and much larger building and named "The Crown Hotel." The story of will continue in the next blog.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Family Washboard.

The Family Washboard.
In the late 1800’s right through to the middle 1900’s a washboard such as the one in the photo above was in regular use during the Monday washday. By rubbing the clothes over the ripple section of the board using a good block of Sunlight soap the lady of the house would ensure to get her whites sparkling white and her coloured items bright.

Then as the washing machine with its built on power wringer came along, the washboard became a thing of the past, till Lonnie Donegan came along came and resurrected the washboard, with an old tea chest, a broom handle and piece of string, plus a cheap Spanish guitar and the age of Skiffle was born. Also many mothers lost their metal needle finger stools, as this was needed to make the washboard sound audible.

One song that he made famous was “My old man’s a dustman.” Plus of course “The Cumberland Gap.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Wartime "Stone Pig."

The Wartime "Stone Pig."
The earthenware “Stone Pig” as numerous people named it was from my researches a Scottish invention. They were the replacement during wartime due to the scarcity of rubber used in the making of hot water bottles. Mothers and aunts would knit tubular socks to keep them warm and for children to snuggle up to without getting burnt from a bottle that was too hot.

Today if you find one it has become a collectible antique. Along with other items of this vintage.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cookham Army Cadets 1942.

Cookham Army Cadets 1942.

With very many thanks to an old wartime Cookham resident Dan Coles I am able to bring you the photograph of the village Army Cadets. Between Dan and myself we have been able to name nearly all the members in the photo.

So if you have a father or grandfather or even a great grandfather who lived in Cookham during the war years who were either evacuated from London or whose family was already living here, you may get a surprise.

I have numbered all those in the photo for easy recognition, or for a grand child to say, ”Is that what granddad looked like as a little boy.

1. Lt. Green. 2. Peter "Nobby" Clark. 3. Dick Lewingdon.
4. Unknown. 5. Charlie "Waggle" Coles. 6. Charlie "Slogger" Smith.
7. Derek "Hole in the Road" Buckingham. 8. Sgt. Dan Coles.
9. Unknown. 10. Unknown. 11. Fred Holland. 12. Bernard Hills.
13. Face is familiar Unknown. 14. Unknown.15. Willie Harris.
16. Peter Kent.

Lt. Green use to run a shoe repair business very close to the Pinder Hall.

Peter “Nobby” Clark was the son of George “Dawdy” Clark who was a carter on White Place Farm.

Dick Lewingdon was the second of three sons of Jim Lewingdon who ran the Off License in Hamfield Cottages.

Charlie “Waggle” Coles, Dan Coles, brother, got his nickname from his quick footwork on the football field.

Charlie ”Slogger” Smith, got his nickname from his famed goalkeeping skill of kicking a football the whole length of the field. In later years he was known as “CAB” Smith.

Derek Buckingham, got his name when he played in a school play with the late Bill Fisher called “The Hole in the Road.” In which he played a Night Clubbing Gent, while Bill played the road works Night Watchman. The play was put on in aid of “Wings for Victory Week.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Wash Stand.

The Wash Stand.

It is very hard to believe that even 80 years ago in Cookham, the wash stand set as seen in the photo above was still in use by many families. To have a bathroom in the house was an unheard of luxury. These would be found in the various bedrooms of the house. The stand itself would have a marble top and would be around two feet in depth by about three foot six inches wide. Besides the basin being used to wash in was about eighteen to twenty inches wide, it was often used for the mixing of Christmas Puddings. The jug or ewer, to give it the correct name would carry the warm water from the kitchen to the bedroom. The chamber pot seen on the was often called by little boys as "The Goesunder." As it goes under the bed.

The toilet was usually outside the house and hooked up to a septic tank system, usually next to the family wash house and copper. Bath night was usually on a Friday night in a tin bath next to the fire in the kitchen. Children first and off to bed, followed by father before he went to the local for a pint, then last but not least it was mothers turn. That is where the old saying of "Friday night is bath night" came about.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Saturday Butcher's Boy.

The Saturday Boy.
Out of the blue I received an e-mail, which got me thinking of my wartime activity as my father’s “Saturday Boy.” He was at that time manager of JH Dewhurst Ltd, butchers, located at 95 High Street in Maidenhead.

In those days of the war I use to deliver not only rations of meat to local households, but I use to deliver to several wartime factory canteens, one of which was the Fairy Aviation assembly factory at White Waltham. Once I had delivered meat to the canteen, I then had to go to the office to pick up a cheque. This was the part that I liked, as I had to walk through the hangar where the aircraft were being assembled, this was quite a treat for a young boy. The pear drop smell of the aircraft dope that had been sprayed on the body fabric still lingers in my nose to this day.

My usual Saturday rounds started at 8.30 a.m., having caught the 8.00 o’clock bus from Cookham at Widbrook, then a quick walk up the High Street to the shop. My usual delivery was two routes around town before lunch, then a trip down to riverside customers after lunch.

Then I would be finished about 3.00 p.m. I would pick up my 5/- from the shop bookkeeper and depending what I had collected in tips from the various customers, I would take myself off to the pictures. Either, it was the Rialto, now demolished, or to the Plaza on Queen Street. Mind you I had to be out in time to catch the last bus to Cookham, which left the Rialto at 8.30 p.m. Yes, there were no late buses in wartime.