Watford author John Cooper talks to Rosy Moorhead about his new book, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green and Chorleywood Through Time

John Cooper at a book signing

This is John's seventh local interest book

Overturned army vehicle at Scots Hill in 1912

Croxley Green station master and staff

The Chorleywood Hotel

The swimming bath at the Royal Masonic School

First published in News by

Soldiers from the 57th Company Army Service Corps gather around their upturned motor lorry after a crash on Scots Hill in Rickmansworth on September 22, 1912.

They had been on their way to Aldershot carrying stores when the brakes failed and crashed into the army vehicle travelling in front of them. Luckily no-one was hurt, and most of the soldiers and passersby who stopped to look appear to be more interested in the photographer snapping the shot than in the stricken vehicle behind them.

This is just one of the images on a postcard collected by Watford author John Cooper for his seventh book, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green and Chorleywood Through Time.

Others, displayed here, include the indoor swimming bath at the sanatorium - now home to the junior school - at the Royal Masonic School in Rickmansworth; the time King Edward VII passed through Croxley Green, on June 14, 1909, on his way to visit the Earl of Clarendon at The Grove in Watford; the station master and his staff– plus an unidentified and incongruous child - posing for a picture at Croxley Green Station just after the turn of the century; and an image of the Chorleywood Hotel towering over a cluster of shops and businesses opposite Chorleywood station in the early 1900s.

“I buy the postcards mostly from postcard fairs,” explains John, 76, who has lived in Watford for more than 40 years.

“I started buying all the postcards of interest on Rickmansworth I could find and found quite a few on Chorleywood as well. Some of them you look at and think ‘There’s not much I can write about this’ but others, there’s lots to go on.”

When he has his postcards, John starts buying and reading books, visiting museums and talking to various local people to find the stories behind the pictures, and then travels to the places depicted in his postcards to take photographs of them as they look now.

John started writing local interest books after he retired as a quantity surveyor and office manager in 2007 and has produced a book a year since then.

“I’ve already got one or two ideas for the next one,” laughs John, whose other titles include A Postcard From Watford and Watford Through Time, "maybe Hertfordshire villages or the Langleys. But I think I’ve earned a little rest first!”

  • Rickmansworth, Croxley Green and Chorleywood Through Time is available now from Amberley Publishing. Details: amberley-books.com

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