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.