Sawston Village History Society

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April 2014 Meeting Report

Derek and Lesley Cornell gave A Talk On Bygones

Two intrepid attic explorers, Derek and Lesley Cornell, gave a most interesting talk on their discoveries to the Sawston Village History Society, which brought back many memories  for members and kept even the most somnolent wide awake.

They showed a vast collection of objects from "the olden days" which were defined as "when your parents were children".  The copper stick, which had belonged to Derek’s mother, was recognised for its official and unofficial uses, as was the rolling pin.  Some people had even used a flat iron, but nobody claimed to have used a carpet beater. They had a very fine Singer sewing machine dated 1904 which brought back memories for many of the ladies present. We learned a little of the history of Mr Singer, including that he had 24 children by four wives, so it was probably just as well that his sewing machine was so successful.

Lesley showed a collection of sewing, knitting, and tatting patterns, and some of their son’s collection of plastic shopping bags from shops in Cambridge and beyond from days gone by, many of which no longer exist.  There was a Tilly lamp, familiar to those who remember the days before electricity came to rural areas.  Cobblers’ lasts were common in those days of make do and mend, and no workshop was complete without a brace and bit.  When electricity arrived it would also have an early Black and Decker drill.

The typewriter was the first example of office automation before the days of computers, which began for many people with local man Clive Sinclair's ZX80 and Spectrum computers. Derek lamented the lack of success for Clive's C5 personal transport.  A deeper exploration of the attic revealed a clockwork train set in full working order which he looked forward to allowing his grandson to play with, but he had yet to find the track to go with a later electric set.

Finally they showed a collection of cameras from a box brownie, single lens reflex, Polaroid, APS, through to compact and SLR digital cameras, development stages through which many members will have passed during their lives.

Jim Butchart
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