Farewell to ‘Number 55’ – 23 May 2013
It may only be a house, but my grandparents lived in it for many years; my Grandad apparently designed most of it; it was built by my mother’s grandfather and Mum can remember the foundations being laid for it back in 1953.
In many ways, it was sad to see it go, but it was somewhat inevitable in the end: Grandma always said ‘When I’m gone, it’ll be knocked down and turned into flats!’. It’s better that it should go now, rather than immediately after she passed away.
Number 55 Cookham Road, Maidenhead was built on a plot of land purchased my my grandfather following the war. An ‘L-shaped’ bungalow, it had four bedrooms, a large kitchen, living room, lounge and bathroom with a separate toilet. Upstairs was a large room containing a homemade table-tennis table, my Grandad’s lathe and his much-loved model railway.
My grandparents used to host a church youth group at their house, known simply as ‘Club’. They would let the children into most of the rooms and I can well remember many happy times around there playing table-tennis or darts upstairs as well as golf and badminton in the extensive garden.
Of course there were many happy family occasions to recall as well. My parents had parties there for their 25th and 30th Wedding celebrations and every year when I was growing up, we would have Christmas tea there.
I remember other stories from growing up there as well. I made the mistake of playing badminton one time with my cousin, whilst eating an extra strong mint. When I played a high shot, I managed to get the mint stuck in my throat which was alarming. I went inside and Grandma’s solution was to give me some dry bread which would ‘wrap itself around the mint’ – sure enough it did the trick! Grandma knew best.
Another family celebration when I was younger also lingers in the memory. All of the cousins were sat outside eating at a table on the loggia at the back of the house, overlooking the garden. My aunt, over from Canada, was helping with the food and decided that my honey sandwich wasn’t exciting enough so decided to mix the honey with peanut butter! I soon saw through her trick and not surprisingly have never liked peanut butter since!
The garden was also the venue for a memorable camping experience for some of the boy cousins way back in 1983 when we all slept out in a borrowed orange tent.
Probably the most recent family gathering that I can remember around there was in 2006 when we enjoyed tea outside in celebration of more Canadian cousins visiting.
For me, memories of ‘Number 55’ are almost all happy ones and it’s sad to see the old place pulled down.
I took the opportunity to visit while the work was underway and was able to take a few photos of the house before it was reduced to rubble.
I took the opportunity to salvage the logs, still waiting patiently by the fire and also rescued the ’55’ from outside the front door (shown in the fourth picture above). A few days later, I managed to grab a couple of bricks, one of which I gave to my nephew, Hugh.
Just a few days later, the house had gone. After the meticulous removal and stacking of the roof tiles, there were no such niceties applied to the brickwork and in hardly any time at all, the house and its few remaining contents were nothing more than a pile of rubbish.
I’ll miss the old place, but not quite as much as I still miss its larger than life owner!