Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We are Five Years Old.

We are Five Years Old.
It is five years ago on the 1st of August that Historical Cookham was launched so that the more recent history of the past century could be preserved, covering the period from where Stephen Darby left off.
I also wish to say thank you, to those who have supplied me with information and photographs of past happenings in the village and some of its well-known characters who have added colour to the village. As our well known and most famous resident, Sir Stanley Spencer described it a little bit of heaven and worth preserving.
I am also still researching for stories and events from old residents who may like my-self find themselves living now in other parts of the world. The odd photo is always helpful, as a picture is worth a thousand words.
You may contact me either through the webmaster, or direct to

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The home of the Cookham Fly.

The home of the Cookham Fly.
The entrance to this building has quite a history. At the opening of the Great Western Railway between Maidenhead, High Wycombe and London in the mid 1850’s, gave the opportunity for the more affluent of the city businessmen to move out into Cookham and Cookham Dean and commute daily to the city. Rather than go to the expense of having coach and horses, there became a need for a transport hire service. In the building above was the start of the Cookham Fly Service. The Fly, was the country version of the city Hansom Cab. This service existed until the arrival of the motor car and the switch to the Taxi Cab. This service remained available until the middle 1950’s, when new small and economical cars started to become available to those living in Cookham. Now it is a small garage. During the war those businessmen that I mentioned, could be seen walking to and from the station every weekday morning and evening. So regular were they, that one could set your clock by them.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The old Greenhouse Tomato.

The old Greenhouse Tomato.
We now travel back to when first started school at Holy Trinity and met up with one Gerald Effamy whose father was gardener at White Lodge in Maidenhead Court. Our parents became good friends and we use to see quite a lot of each other, both in and out of school. One thing that I remember quite well was the large greenhouses similar to the one in the photo above with cold frames in front and a small coal fired boiler house to keep the greenhouse frost free during the winter months. There were peach trees trained against the wall. And during the spring and summer months there were tomato and cucumber vines trained up inside the sloping glass. The fragrant smell one got as you entered the greenhouse is something that I always remember. After leaving school Gerald followed his father into the gardening world and a well-known member of the Royal Horticultural Society. The last I heard of Gerald, he is now retired and living in Cobham.

Click on photo to enlarge it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Meet the Hedgehog.

Meet the Hedgehog.
Taking note of a request from Dr. Phil Baker and Mr. Ben Williams of Reading University in I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with to my previous blog on the White Place Farm Hedger Neddy James with the Hedgehog that use to frequent the local hedgerows and gardens. Being a nocturnal feeder one did not see a lot of them during the day. Their primary food source was slugs and worms, but they also could climb in the hedgerows for birds eggs or fledglings in the nesting season. With the introduction to the farming community, of large tractors and combine harvesters a great many hedgerows were torn out to suit economic farming practice. This over a few years has caused the reduction of a lot of country wild life including the hedgehog. So if you find a hedgehog dead or alive take a photo of it with your camera or cell phone and pin point the location so that it can be logged for research purposes by Reading University.

To get a larger look at old 'Hotchi.' The Romany word for Hedgehog, just click on the photo.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Riphook used to trim hedgerows.

The Riphook, used to trim hedgerows.
Birdman mentioned about hedging being performed at the wrong time of the year. Well this is true as farmers and estate owners use to do this over the winter months. I can remember at White Place Farm that this practice would start after the harvest was finished. It proved to be a winter long job for old Neddy James. His only tools were a Riphook as seen in the photo above and a cut hazelnut stick,  cut so that at one end was a hook. The last tool was a dung fork to clear up the cuttings ready to burn them. Sometimes he was required to  lay a  hedge at which he was a master craftsman. Then he would change his cutting tool to a Bilhook, which was also used for hurdle making. Neddy’s joy in life was his clay pipe and a ounce block of rubbing tobacco. Plus his walk to the Royal Exchange for a pint on a Friday evening. His spring, summer enjoyment when not helping with the hay making and harvest, was his kitchen garden, growing prize vegetables.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The word Towpath.

The Word Towpath.
There has been quite a lot of talk about who may or may not use a towpath. First off, the towpaths were formed for the canal and river systems of Great Britain when due to the construction of bridges over the waterway prevented the use of sail barges. So to be able to move the barges up stream a series of horse power was used to tow the barges and a series of towpaths were formed for that purpose. These remained in active use until the faster use of the Tugboat, finally the coming of the steam train became the mode of transport.
Even on the canals today the horse drawn narrow boats are now powered by diesel engines.