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?”