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.