A hand grenade from the 2nd World War. A magnet fisherman had caught it underneath the bridge and despite lying there for over 70 years without a murmur, now it had been found, it needed to be disposed of safely with a controlled detonation.
Returning from an afternoon at the shop, I discovered the bridge had been cordoned off, preventing me from returning home. The Police however had not thought to cordon off underneath the bridge so with some pride in my ability to evade the cordon, I took a circuitous route via a foot path and managed to get home.
A bit later on, I was on the phone when I was approached by not one, but two police officers, from both sides of the river …They asked me to evacuate my boat!
Somewhat surprised, given the distance between me and the offending grenade, Brindley and I retreated reluctantly, but as requested, to the lock keepers cottage and I chatted to Mark, the Lock Keeper while we waited for the controlled explosion to take place.
I recorded events as they unfolded… slowly. Lechlade never fails to deliver when it comes to adventure! The resulting explosion a bit of a disappointment after the pomp and circumstance from the bomb squad I thought!
While I was chatting I noticed a pair of tiny houses on the lock island which I had never really looked at properly before.
I had sent a copy of this scintillating recording to friends for their amusement! And PJ picked up on my observations concerning these tiny model houses… it turns out he knew something about them – he told me:
“The history of the small Cottage and Mill House on St John’s Island…
In 1968 the Rogers family arrived at St. John’s with their, new to them, 25 foot cabin cruiser. The lock keeper at the time was Alan Slatter and his wife Pauline. They had two boys a year or so older than the Rogers children.
As we spent virtually every summer weekend at St. John’s, it would be fair to say that we became friends.
One weekend the families made a visit to the model village at Bourton on the Water. It was this visit that inspired Alan into trying to see if he could make a model house.
That winter he made his first house, the thatched cottage.
The Mill was installed with the plan that the pond fed the wheel and was then pumped back up, but I don’t think it was completed.
I would guess their construction date to be around 1970, but I expect they have been repaired many times by subsequent lock keepers.”
The next morning I relayed this story to Mark, the current Lock Keeper, who confirmed that, like his predecessors, he has also been involved in the refurbishment of these two delightful miniature dwellings!
Mark said “I bought 800 miniature tiles to go on the roof of the mill but then people said that they liked the way that it looks at the moment so I haven’t put them there yet. I might use them for the house if I can get around to fixing it. Theres a tree root growing underneath the house at the moment so I will have to dig underneath to remove it before I can start fixing it. I would like to build a wind turbine pump for the mill house but I am not sure I am capable of that – at any rate I wont be doing anything soon as its too busy. I was up at 4am sorting out the wier at Grafton this morning as the temporary lock keeper there hadn’t let enough water through yesterday after the recent rain”