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Christine Cann - Maidenhead Years 1964-2005






Here we are, back at the Lake District in August 1980. After the holiday we enjoyed at Bassenthwaite in 1976, we returned to the Lake District in 1977, 1980 & 1982, each time staying at the house on the left (Garden Cottage), which Christine rented for the week. It was situated at Threlkeld (a village lying at the foot of Blencathra, near Keswick) & she heard about it from a lady at St Joseph's church choir - Kim. We all have wonderful memories of our times spent here - & Maurice & myself returned in 2004 & saw the cottage & some of the areas we visited as children once again. On the right we see Diana (now aged 9), Christine & Maurice (now aged 15), again perched on Dodd Summit I think!

Christine: "Had a good journey in a nice comfortable [hire] car, & the weather got brighter as the day wore on. We left at 9:25 & stopped after nearly 5 hours (at Nantwich), & got to Threlkeld at 6:30. [The next day] we all went out in a rowing boat [at Derwent Water] - pretty hilarious with Maurice & Stephen rowing!"


This is Sally the Basset Hound (who had been with us since 1971, when we'd taken her on from a friend of Clive's Auntie Cath). She'd been part of our family for 10 years when, unfortunately, during 1980, she became very ill, & sadly had to be put to sleep at the beginning of 1981...

Christine: "It was done so beautifully, & was so quick. I felt so happy to see her so peaceful & at rest, but it upset me very much... we didn't think we'd miss her so much."

On a lighter note, around this time Christine started dyeing her hair to cover up some of the little grey that was starting to emerge...

Christine: "At last I coloured my hair again - very pleased with the result. Look & feel 15 years younger!"





This article appeared in the Maidenhead Advertiser on April 24th, 1981. Christine had joined St Joseph's Church choir in the late 60s (as I mentioned earlier), & later went on to become church organist too! She also played at weddings (from about 1975) - I remember her being a little nervous at first, but she soon settled in, & played at numerous marriages - many of them being couples from the local Italian community. Elena Pike (also pictured) later became organist too, & shared duties with Christine. I believe she was the wife of Mr Pike, of local estate agents Pike, Smith & Kemp.

(I'm sorry the above picture isn't more clear - it was the best I could manage, the original being sadly rather rumpled!)


The house on the left is Stubbings, Maidenhead Thicket - the HQ for many years of Beacon Garden Centres. My mother worked in the offices here part-time from about 1979 to 1985, & it became her first long-term job really since the Gower Street days. She enjoyed the beautiful setting at the Thicket - it was just up the road, so she was able to cycle there each day. Pictured above (in June 1982) we see Myrtle, Violet 'Vi' Lawson (who has since emigrated to Australia), Margot, & of course Christine - still looking very youthful it has to be said!

Vi Lawson: "We first met in 1981 when i joined the garden centre HQ in Maidenhead Thicket... I was only there just over a year, before leaving for Australia. Christine made me very welcome & always had a friendly word to say. We used to console each other about the conditions! The last time I saw Christine was in 2000 when I was over for 8 weeks on long service leave visiting family & friends. We spent a couple of hours in a cafe in Maidenhead shopping centre, catching up on all the news & saying we must do this again - but sadly it was not to be."



Here's Christine with Sally#2 - celebrating her 2nd birthday in July 1983. She took Sally on as a puppy from some friends who lived in a cottage on the Stubbings estate - Sally's parents were called Tammy & Scamp! She loved Sally very much, & later called her 'her angel dog'.











Here we have Christine (again with Sally), & also Reva & Diana, pictured enjoying some lovely sunny weather at Virginia Water in June 1984.








And here's my mother with her new car! It's a Mini Clubman Estate, & was about 7 years' old when she bought it in June 1985. Before this she'd owned a Fiat 126 & an Austin Allegro - which she kindly passed on to me! She liked this car as it was small & easy to manoeuvre, & she could put Sally in the back compartment when she took her out for walks. 







Here's Christine & Reva with Brenda, after she'd relocated to Farnborough in April 1986 - after living for many years at West End, Woking. After about 10 years, when they'd lost touch & hadn't seen each other (shortly after Maurice was born), Brenda paid us a surprise visit in 1974 - & they were to remain in close contact from then on. Like Christine, Brenda's 3 children were now all grown up too.

Christine: "Went over to see Brenda this afternoon at her new home in Farnborough. It's a lovely house [with a] beamed lounge... & a small garden back & front, & beautiful big windows with wide sills. She gave us a lovely tea which I did great justice to! It was lovely to see her again."






And here's some more old friends! This is the day Christine & Ken Hale paid a very welcome visit in Sept 1986. Christine#2, as you may remember, worked with my mother at the NFYFC in the 1950s/60s, & they had remained in contact ever since. Christine & Ken had married in July 1964, & made their home in Peacehaven (near Brighton), in August 1966. They had twin daughters in 1970, Kathryn & Suzanne.

Christine: "Christine & Ken came to see us - so nice to see them again. Christine Has lost 2 stone, & looks much younger! We had a very nice afternoon & evening with them." 






This is my poor mum after she hurt her ankle & foot in an accident whilst at work.

Christine: "January 1987 - [me] after falling down stairs at CMS, Stubbings!"

She had to undergo physiotherapy, & wasn't able to walk again properly for a couple of months. She had left Beacon Garden Centres to work at CMS (Custom Microfilm Services) in June 1986, & they were based in a unit near Stubbings House - very close to her previous employment!

Christine: "Every move is such an effort with the crutches - the specialist... said 2 weeks on crutches but I told him Wexham said 1 week - I'll go barmy if I have to go another week on them. I know I shouldn't complain & that other people are worse off than I am, but that thought doesn't help!" 








This is King's College Chapel Cambridge, as photographed by my mother on a visit there with Diana in April 1988. It was completed in 1547.

Christine: "Diana & I went to Cambridge with Carters Coaches. Started at the market, then Lion Square Shopping Centre... made our way to St John's College... saw Bridge of Sighs then to the little redundant church of St Peter. Climbed tower of Great St Mary's... King's College Chapel is the most beautiful place I've ever seen." 








Christine: "Mummy, me, Grandad & Cath Hill at Grandad's flat - Dec 1988. Cath's... friend Marjorie [was] there too - Marjorie's son Paul used to be Saturday delivery boy at Endensor Road. It was very nice to see them all - Cath drove us back to Ealing Broadway station. Dad's flat looks much smarter - I think Cath had had a go at it!"

Cyril Cann (my father's dad - my Grandad) had moved to this flat in 1979, when he finally sold up his butcher's shop business & retired - aged 79! This flat was situated a short distance from the shop, just off Chiswick High Road. He remained here until the early 1990s - he then moved to a nursing home where he saw out the remainder of his days, passing away in 2002 at the grand old age of 101! My mother always referred to him as 'dad', which was rather nice.

Cath Hill had been a friend of his family for many years, particularly helping him out with the shop - for a while in the 50s/70s he ran another butcher's shop at 10b Edensor Road (near Chiswick Park), & Cath had worked there I think as the manager. She later became a home help, &, like Cyril, worked way past her retirement.   










Here's Christine at a snowy Maidenhead Thicket in early 1991 with Sally, & an new addition to the family - Bugsy the Beagle! He joined us in November 1989.

Christine: "Nov 19th - Bugsy arrived! A little Beagle needing a home - Sally's been very good about it all." 

Busgy had a habit of running off, so normally had to be kept on a leash. He loved his walks though, & my mum enjoyed taking them both out together.






Here are my mother & nan (with Sally) on the day of Reva's 88th birthday - 25th October 1992. You can see the flowers behind my mother that she had bought for my nan. Also, notice the same circular mirror that hung in the living room at Rutland Court all those years ago!










Here's Christine looking proud with her first grandchild! Sam Billington was born on February 27th, 1995. This must have been when he was just a few days old - & from then on, Christine became known as 'Nana'!










Here's Sam a little older - about 6 months - in his baby-walker with Nana (& Sally looking on!), above left. In the other photo, Mummy (Marie Billington), Daddy & Nana are seated at Marie's flat in York Road, Maidenhead - with a very excited-looking Sam!



Here's Christine (with Diana pictured left) during a celebration meal for her 60th birthday at Francesco's Restaurant in Maidenhead. It was a double celebration, being also Sam's 1st birthday during the same week. I think Maurice & myself must have been responsible for the bottles of Bud on the table!!







The photos below are from Christine's 60th birthday hot-air balloon-ride!




It was always one of her ambitions to ride in a hot-air balloon, &, as a special surprise, Diana (& her then-fiance Dave) arranged for her to take to the air as an extra birthday gift. The balloon set off from Newbury, & I remember my mother saying how much she enjoyed this experience, & how peaceful it was.

Notice in the top-right photo Diana & Maurice helping her aboard... & in the middle-left picture her head (with red scarf) poking from the left-side of the basket! 




Here's Christine (just about visible by the garden wall!), back at her very first home at Chapel Way, Epsom in 1996. Again, this was a little treat from Diana & Dave, & it may have been the first time she'd seen this house since she left in 1943. Not much had changed externally - save the obligatory satellite dish perched on the roof! I wonder how she felt seeing this place again - unfortunately she didn't keep a diary at this time for me to view her thoughts on this return to her roots. 








Christine: "22nd Sept 1996 - Diana & me at Portsmouth beside 'The Warrior'."  

This was taken during a day out in Portsmouth with Diana & Dave, when they also visited the HMS Victory. The Warrior was launched in 1860 & cost 377,292 to construct - a lot of money in those days. It served in the Channel Squadron from 1861 to 1883, & would have had a crew of over 700! It was restored in 1979 - opening to the public in 1987.  







Christine: "24th Nov 1996 - visit to Bath with Diana, Dave & John (Dave's dad) - Pulteney Bridge."

Pulteney Bridge (1 of only 2 bridges in Europe to support shops) crosses the river Avon joining east & west Bath, & is a landmark of the city. Architect Robert Adam was commissioned by Sir William Pulteney to provide a fitting approach to his estate, & the bridge, completed in 1770, was the impressive result.







Here's my mother outside one of the most famous pubs in Britain! Coronation Street was a programme she rarely missed, & in 1997 she visited the set with Diana, Dave, & Dave's Auntie May - whilst staying at Dave's parents' house in West Kirby, Wirral, on a long weekend.

Christine: "Left at 12:30 to go to West Kirby - long journey, arrived about 5:15. John & Pat's [Dave's parents] house is very nice, & so tidy - & tastefully decorated & furnished. I have a nice little bedroom painted all in white with pretty green & beige floral curtains. Picked up [Dave's] Auntie May & went to Manchester for Granada tour - saw Coronation Street! Drove back through Liverpool & visited cathedral."

Notice also that Christine is now walking with a stick - she was experiencing difficulty with her leg, & would eventually have to undergo a hip replacement in early 2000.






Here we have Clive's brother Cyril (always known as Wally), his wife Rachel (Ray), Christine, Marie & Sam - pictured during a visit to their home in Otford, Kent in June 1997.

Christine: "Nice to see them again after 5 years - they'd changed quite a bit. Ray had made us a lovely tea - & we spent some time in their garden. Lots of wild flowers - especially Lady Slippers growing in the grass, also orchids. Sam liked the garden!" 

Sadly, this would be the last time we would see Wally, as he passed away suddenly on May 3rd of the following year.

Christine: "Had a phone-call from Simon [Wally's son] to tell me the sad news that Wally died this morning - quite unexpected, & I could hardly believe it. Poor Ray - she'll miss him so much - they've been together for about 47 years."





Here we all are gathered together the following month at Diana & Dave's wedding - which took place at Monkey Island Hotel, Bray - near Maidenhead.

Christine: "Very pleasant ceremony in the Temple Room, then photos. Lovely weather - saw peacocks on the lawns at Monkey Island. 4pm on to the motor launch for reception - nice meal, & most enjoyable river trip to Windsor & back. Back to the River Room at 8pm [for party] - extremely loud 'music'!" 

Christine, Diana, Dave & members of Dave's family stayed the night at the Monkey Island Hotel - before Diana & Dave set off for their honeymoon the following morning.







Here we see Christine on Mother's Day 1998 placing flowers upon her mother's grave. Reva had passed away from a heart attack on August 20th 1997 at the age of 92 - after a gradual deterioration of her health & the contraction of Alzheimer's. My mother had in effect been her carer for the past few years, & it had been a very challenging time for all of us. 

Christine (speaking on the day of Reva's passing): "Went to see Mummy this afternoon at her new ward 15 [at Heatherwood Hospital] - she was very poorly, semi-conscious & not really aware that I was there - I got there at 2:10 & held her hand & stayed till 3:45. The staff nurse, Helen, spoke to me about her... [they] said all they could do was to keep her comfortable. I kissed her goodbye & told her I'd come Monday, although I knew she couldn't hear me. Anyhow, at 7:45, Helen phoned to tell me she'd passed away. It was quite a shock... although I was expecting it."

Speaking on Mother's Day, 1998: "Me, Maurice & Stephen went to Braywick Cemetery to see the stone that had been lain last week - it looked very nice, & I'm very satisfied with it. I put some flowers on the stone, & I showed them Barbara's grave - Carol had been & put flowers on for Mother's Day [too]."




Here we see Nana & Sam together with Christine & Ken, who had paid us a welcome visit in May 1998.

Christine: "So nice to see them again after 8 years! We all went out to the East Arms where they treated me to lunch, [&] afterwards I asked Ken to drive to Hurley. When we got home Stephen & Sam were there... [then] we all went for a walk round [Ockwells] Park. We came home & had a coffee & chatted. Enjoyed their visit very much - showed them Diana's wedding dress & photos."





Christine: "Brenda & me at Lulworth Cove, October 1998."

Mum had travelled down by train to stay with Brenda for the weekend at her new home in Weymouth.

Christine: "Brenda gave me tea in bed - what luxury! She drove me into Weymouth as I wanted to look around - we walked all round the harbour, & saw ferries to the Channel Islands & St Malo - also lovely old Regency houses. I wanted to see where her parents are buried at Preston in the churchyard of St Andrew's - she took some flowers along & put them on their grave. [The next day] Brenda drove to Lulworth Cove, as I had particularly asked to go there - we walked around the west side of it, then down on to the beach. It's almost circular, with a narrow opening out to the sea where the sea has worn it away. [Brenda's] looked after me so well - I feel so much better... it's really done me good."





Here's Christine outside the gates of her old flat in Rutland Court, West Acton. This was the day in early 1999 when I took her to visit some old haunts... & for me to see them too of course.

Christine: "Stephen decided he'd like to visit Monks Drive etc... visited Queen's Drive (flat at Rutland Court), Monks Drive & St Vincent's [school] - came back via Western Avenue. The lovely houses in Gunnersbury Avenue look very run down - & look as though a lot of them have been turned into bed-sitters. So much traffic now, & Monks Drive crammmed with cars - wouldn't want to live there now."

We also visited Chapel Way, & the church where her father is buried - All Saints, Banstead High Street. 

Christine: "[Stephen] wanted to see the bungalow, as he's never seen it. M25 very busy, even on Sundays - we had a long look at 125 Chapel Way & 'The Start' [house where she was born] & compared it with the photos. Then drove to Banstead & went into churchyard to look for Dada's grave - not exactly sure of its position, but had a fair idea - went inside the little church & bought a picture of it."




Here's mum pictured at that famous railway station with the longest (& most unpronouncable) name! This was during a visit to North Wales whilst she stayed with Dave's parents (Pat & John) in Birkenhead once more in May 1999.

Christine: "Left about 10:45am for our Grand Tour of North Wales - crossed Queensferry Bridge over the River Dee to get into Wales. All the road signs are in Welsh & English - just like being in a foreign country! We visited Holywell - the oldest shrine in Britain. Went on to Rhyll & visited the ruins of Rhuddlan Castle - lots of castles around North Wales built by Edward I to 'subdue the Welsh'."

"Crossed the Menai Straits bridge to get into Anglesey... quick visit to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch... the locals call it 'Llanfair.P.G.' (In English [it translates as]: 'St Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool & the church of St Tysilio near the red cave).Then on to Portmeirion, the village built in Italian style by Clough Williams-Ellis, & featured in the TV series 'The Prisoner'... Went to the 'Prisoner' shop & bought Stephen a T-shirt! I had a lovely weekend with Pat & John & Diana & Dave = they looked after us so well, & we had wonderful meals - it was very nice to see them again. Dave was so good taking us on the Grand Tour... it was so enjoyable & interesting seeing so many new things."  




Christine: "Berusca re-union with Ruth - the 'old' Berusca singers in Angela's garden."

Here's mum with her old friends from Berusca (see 1970s) - Ruth is the white-haired lady at the front, who was up in Maidenhead on a visit from her home in Newton Abbot. Most of them were now a new singing group, the 'Tuesday Singers'.

"Went to singing - Ruth was there, & we sang some of our songs for her. After the practice, we went to Angela's house in Ray Lea Road. Judy (& Betty Raven) arrived as well - haven't seen the 3 of them for years. Very nice to all meet up again - Angela has a nice house & garden. Her husband Ken was there too - he reminded me of their son when he was a little boy, which is really round the wrong way! Mummy would have liked to see Judy again - she looks so young still - very slim & energetic, & she has a son of 45!"