We are grateful to Tim Hodgson of Windsor who sent in the following:
How fantastic it was to stumble across the story by Chris Evans about the Golding family and their boats on the River Thames in Windsor. So much in the article took me back… and I’ll try and put into perspective my own overlapping story.
I’m a Windsor boy and my Yorkshire family had moved down south after the war to ‘follow the work’. I guess that makes me the offspring of an economic migrant!!
My Mum’s brother, my Uncle Barry Throp who is 9 years older than me, at some stage in the late 1950s was working for the Goldings when I was a young lad. In fact I think I seem to remember that he went out with a Golding daughter for a while… I could be wrong here though.
Anyway, I sometimes used to cycle down to the river to see him at work and bludge the odd lift up and down the river for a bit of entertainment. Sometimes I would even get to steer either the Esperanza…or the Humble… or the Angler. They were all beautiful river boats although their reliability could sometimes be a bit questionable!!
One in particular had a habit of stalling just at the wrong moment as my Uncle found out when his sweeping and precise U-turn onto the promenade lost its panache as the engine faded to nothing when he went into reverse. The language from Arthur still rings in my ears as Barry careered into the parked rowing boats at an almighty lick!!!
I remember too the sales pitch shouts trying to urge people to walk past Pickins and Jacobs boats… we were furthest from the Waterside station after all.… “A one and six return on the motor boat. Boveney lock and return” (Jock); “Five mile trip, half an hour’s trip” (Arthur)!!; “A five mile trip on a motor boat. One and six return” (Ray)
Oddy, Arthur’s son, as has been previously noted spent winter months under the railway arches repairing those beautiful, presumably Victorian, boats. I too used to pop in for a look-see. Eventually I started to work on the boats and my time working on them led me directly to racing for Windsor Grammar school and later Eton Excelsior – coxless fours being my speciality.
By the way the most I ever got out of Arthur about why Oddy was called Oddy – was because he was the odd one out. That’s all he would tell me.
There was also Ray Golding who was another son. Whose, I can’t remember. Jock’s perhaps ? An educated and very artistic man whose company I much enjoyed… but really out of place on the boats !!
Now to pin a date on all this. The photo of me at the helm of the Esperanza must have been taken around 1959/60 because I think I was twelve or so. On the Brocas you can see the rowing boats previously mentioned by others. I’d forgotten the name Snowball until reading your articles. I’m pretty sure it was just him over there when I eventually worked on the boats at week-ends and during school summer holidays. By then, I was 15/16 so that must have been around 1963…. the year I walked across the Thames on the ice right there from the Goldings’ moorings. I was actually the second person across…. The school character (well, lunatic really) went first… I won’t say his name !!
Anyway here’s a picture of the most elegant boat ever in that year :
And here’s me as a young boy on board with another family Uncle in about 1955 :
Working on the boats was a joy. The 3 motor launches were parked downstream of Windsor Bridge overnight and the first task of the day was to row down and pick them up. This was uneventful unless the river was flowing a bit. The weir stream had caught a few people over the years and I well remember being under Windsor Bridge rowing upstream when my rate of progress equalled the flow. Quite a scary moment as I made it through inch by inch. Of course once out from between the bridge’s support pillars, the stream got slower…phew !
Well there were many delicious moments working the boats. By the way, boating was a really busy pastime… one day in a hot summer I remember every single punt, dinghy and skiff being out on the water. It was an extraordinary sight…. The launches having to gently ply their way through the melee. Of course, the Jacobs boats just ploughed through them regardless. No love lost there ! The Pickins were a little better I remember.
For my Saturday’s hard slog I earned the princely sum of 2/6d (yes, twelve and a half pence !) but for a full 7 day week during the school summer holidays, Arthur generously gave me… £1. Hard labour was involved too – as the youngster. I got to clean all the brasses … on the prow, all the cleats…and anything else made of brass !
But it wasn’t the money. It was the love of the river that kept me there…. and to drive the Esperanza, the Angler and the Humble from time to time.