Sunday, January 29, 2012

The early Refrigerator.

A 1930's Refrigerator.

Today, everyone has to have a refrigerator and maybe a deep freeze chest as well, they can’t imagine living without one. The photo above is an example of the first refrigerator that I ever saw in about 1935-36 in the dairy farm shop at Sheephouse Farm, Maidenhead Court. My uncle and aunt purchased it so they could keep the milk, cream, butter and eggs for customers that wanted extra to their regular daily deliveries to their homes. Yes, even in those days, 365-7 was the norm, and the cows had to be milked twice a day.

As you can see in the photograph, the Freon gas compressor was mounted on the top of the unit, so that the surrounding air could readily cool the heat from the compressed gas. Prior to this milk was kept cool by standing the bottles in a tray of water and a cloth placed over the top with the ends in the water so as to keep the milk fairly cool.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jack Gardener and The Mount Farm.

The Mount Farmhouse.
We now turn to a family that had quite a lot of influence on the village and district. I now refer to the Gardner family of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The best know of its family of course was Sir Ernest Gardner M.P. Member of Parliament for Windsor and Maidenhead constituency, who made his home at Spencer's Farm Maidenhead along with his brother Joseph.

It was Joseph's son John Sylvester (Jack) Gardner that many of my age will remember when he owned The Mount Farm and Lower Mount Farm in Cookham and Cookham Dean. He'll also owned Sheephouse Farm in Maidenhead Court, which he rented out as a tenancy to first my great uncle Alfred James Hatch, then to his son Jack Hatch.

Jack Gardner of which I have no photograph could well be described as a gentleman farmer. Whose dress during the daytime was always in plus fours and Harris tweed jacket and flat cap. I can remember during the war when picking potatoes with other classmates from the Top School, his favourite expression was, “ Up behind the Harrow boys, up behind Harrow! This was so that no potato was left behind covered up in the ground.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cookham Flood History.

Cookham Flood History.
The photo above shows the flood of 1894 in Cookham High Street. It has happened several times since including 1947. My father, grandfather and great grandfather knew that this could happen at anytime when certain weather patterns occurred, also that the whole village is sitting on one vast bed of gravel and that water will find its own level no matter how many flood barriers you install. If you live in a flood plain, then you have to prepare to put up with the consequences of flooding and the damage it can do to your property. History has a nasty way of repeating itself.

In 1947 the only way to Moor Hall was by boat. The Royal Exchange, now Malik’s was flooded, so was every building going towards The Moor, that included Tom Emmett’s old forge now a Tandoori. Access to Berries Road was only by boat.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Cookham Village "Dad's Army."

Dad's Army Headquarters.
I now take you back 52 years when this building behind the “The Crown” was the home of Cookham Village platoon of “Dad’s Army” better known as the Home Guard, but in the first instance was named “The Land Defense Volunteers” or LDV on their arm bands. It also was the home of the Cookham Army Cadets.

The reason for my sudden switch to this building is that it may be by now not even recognizable with the present modernization of The Crown. I seem to remember that most segments of the Home Guard were associated with public houses as their base of operation. Cookham Village Platoon for the most part did guard duty on the two bridges. They were the Toll Bridge and The Railway Bridge. Plus they also had some input with The Upper Thames Patrol, between Cookham & Marlow Locks.

I did cover the Cookham Army Cadets earlier in this blog with their photograph taken on The Moor just outside the pub.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Walnut Tree Cottage.

Walnut Tree Cottage.
Walnut Tree Cottage, the one time home of the Briggs family, who I remember were very much into growing your own produce at home and in their Sutton Allotment. They also kept chickens in a run in the far corner of the garden and fed them among other things all their kitchen scraps. This was quite a common practice in many households in the village sixty to seventy years ago.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Briggs Memorial Bench.

The Briggs Memorial Bench.

This is for those followers of and also read my history blog, so I have inserted a photo of the Memorial Bench, which the Briggs family gave to the village in memory of their son Michael, who lost his life during the Battle of Britain in 1941.

His father was a wounded veteran of the First World War. Although he suffered a stiff leg, he never seemed to complain and maneuvered himself around the village on an old ladies bicycle and a walking stick and also tended an allotment at Sutton Allotments.

His mother was a very active woman in Holy Trinity and at the end of the war arranged a drive called “The Mile of Pennies” in aid of the church roof repairs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Annual Cattle Drive.

Annual Cattle Drive.
The annual cattle drive to Cockmarsh from Sheephouse Farm; Maidenhead Court would take place during the first week in May. This is when George Allan the Hayward at that time would come to the farm and count and stamp the cattle on their hind quarter with the now historic “C” brand with hot coal tar.

So after tea we, my cousin John and I with the rest of the farm staff with our bicycles would head off down the road ahead of the herd to make sure that all gates leading to private homes were closed. Then across Widbrook Common and Sutton Road to School Lane. There we would turn them up School Lane and on to Moor. Here we kept them on the south side of the causeway and over the Fleet Bridge. The next turning point was up Terry’s Lane, again making sure that all entrances were either closed or blocked, and this being uphill was a little bit slower.

Finally we arrived at the top of Cockmarsh and there would be George Allan with his pony and trap to count the heifers and steers through the gate. Then we would walk all the cattle down the hill and continue to the easterly end of Cockmarsh and go under the railway bridge. It was then a ride along the towpath to Marsh Meadows, where we would walk across to The Crown for our reward. The men for their pint of beer and we boys for large lemonade and a packet of Smith’s Crisps.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hedsor Wharf 200 years ago.

Hedsor Wharf 1812.
This painting of Hedsor Wharf by William Havel will be 200 years old this year. It clearly portrays the Thames as being very slow moving and with no great depth; due to the fact at that time there was no real regulation of its flow by either weir or locks. There were a few eel basket weirs, but they did not stem the river flow by any means.

Cookham around this time was becoming a very popular small market town and a point at which it was easy to ford across. Hedsor to the bargee’s, was one point in the river that was difficult to navigate around, especially during low water, and quite often got grounded on the ever-present sand or gravel bars.

Then came the building of the A4 Bridge over the Thames, which was the death knell to the sailing barge traffic and the bargee’s had to rely on local horse towing power to pull them up stream. With the building of locks and weirs to control the river level and the building of the Great Western Railway by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, trade and transportation changed dramatically.