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Remember When: 200 protest rail barrier removal

Welcome to Remember When, which takes a weekly look back through our archives, spanning nearly 150 years, to bring you snapshots from Maidenhead's past.

Martin Trepte

Martin Trepte

Remember When: 200 protest rail barrier removal

1982: Feelings ran high and tempers were frayed when a crowd of more than 200 held a mass protest to stop British Rail removing the level crossing barriers at Cookham.

Placard waving demonstrators descended on Cookham station to plead with railway officials who wanted to remove the gates to make it an ‘open’ crossing.

Pensioners, mums and children were joined by dads who had taken time off work for the protest.

They were backed by district, county and parish councillors and Maidenhead woman Marina Henry, who had been involved in a near-fatal accident at the ungated Furze Platt crossing when a train ploughed into the car in which she was travelling with her young daughter.

A traffic census carried out simultaneously at both crossings had found Cookham’s figures were double that of Furze Platt, with 500 vehicles an hour using the crossing on a typical Saturday morning – one every seven seconds.

Despite fears the plan would be railroaded through, the protestors did not give up saying they planned human links across the railway line, chaining themselves to the barriers and a ‘sit-in’ on the level crossing to save the gates.

The protest obviously had the desired effects as the crossing still has barriers today.


Apple tree goes in

1977: As part of Furze Platt Infant School's silver jubilee celebrations, two crab apple trees were planted in the grounds. Five-year-old Karen Lee Menzel and Sean McIlhatton, seven (pictured), helped with the spadework.

Do readers know if the trees are still there and if Karen and Sean are still living in the area? If so please let us know as it would be nice to reunite them for a new picture with the tree they planted 40 years on. Email news@baylismedia.co.uk


Princess Anne opens clubhouse

1982: Princess Anne came to Maidenhead 35 years ago this week to open the new £90,000 clubhouse of Wamdsad at Braywick and launch the Maidenhead 400th anniversary celebrations.

Among the people she met at Wamdsad (Windsor, Maidenhead and District Sports Association for the Disabled – since renamed SportsAble) was then vice-chairman John Jenkins, who is now the organisation’s president.


Firefighters tackle burning gas cylinder

1982: Maidenhead firefighters had to keep their cool as they battled to put out a dangerous burning gas cylinder that would have exploded with the force of a 500lb bomb if it went off.

And that would have been enough to blow the Cordwallis Street factory it was in sky high – taking them with it.

They lashed hose pipes to equipment near the factory doors at Moores of Maidenhead and directed their water jets onto the burning cylinder.

Then the firefighters took what little shelter they could and hoped the cylinder containing dissolved acetylene would not explode.

As soon as the fire went out the crews rushed in and manhandled the cylinder outside to immerse it in a tank of water.

The drama began when works manager Colin Palmer prepared to do some welding. As he turned on the acetylene cylinder there was a blow back down the tube and the gas caught fire.

The building was evacuated and the fire brigade called while staff at neighbouring firms were warned to stay away from windows in case there was an explosion.

The fire caused an estimated £2,000 damage to the factory.

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