If anybody doubted for a moment that the second afternoon tea could not live up to the success of the first then all doubts were blown away! It went absolutely swimmingly! Once again Signal was transformed into a 1950’s themed tea room with atmospheric music and decor.
We were lucky to be visited by Mr David Cooke and Mrs Brenda Sharpe (nee Cooke) grandchildren of the original Mr Henry Cooke. They brought along photos and clippings for us to see. Including a picture of the famous mascot bear!
Brenda told Rachel how she remembered visiting the shop as a child and seeing men busy at work, sawdust on the floor and the distinctive smell of varnish. As a young woman she worked in the shop and often was charged with the window dressing.
Cooke’s had an array of different coloured velvet curtains for a backdrop, furniture and wares would be displayed with nicely arranged vases of Gladioli.
Mrs Anne Fell who we met at the first tea was at last able to meet David and Brenda and relate to them her tale of their fathers’ as young men.
Mr Postlethwaite and Mr Cooke senior were the best of friends and were very adventurous. Anne had shown us some fantastic photographs of them on their motorcycles!
Annie, from Risedale, who is amazingly 100 years old in May told Signal’s Kerry of some fantastic tales from over her lifetime. During the war she met a German soldier prisoner of war on Earnse Bay. They became firm friends during and after the war. They continued to visit each other and write for many years.
We were also proud to serve Mrs Olga Sedgwick a cup of tea and slice of cake. Olga is cousin to Michelle Hanson, author of ‘What the Grown Ups were doing’, and features in the book a great deal.
A must read for all! Their family the Davidson’s had a shop on Rawlinson Street and then Dalton Road at the time of Cooke’s.
We had a selection of visitors from Risedale and Rocklea too. It was great to witness some lovely people enjoying an afternoon out and regaling us with their tales! Mr Maxwell still had a receipt for some Cooke’s furniture from 1947. He also told Lynne how his house was burgled and all his wedding presents (many from Cooke’s) were stolen!Another told us of how he went dancing in the room above the Traveller’s Rest and that the beer in the Wheatsheaf was very strong!
A great deal of memories were made note of and will be followed up by the research team shortly. Once a shortlist has been made we can go forward with our new found audio recording skills and record people formally.
Volunteers have been attending workshops run by Ken Haworth, founder of the Northwest Sound Archive and author of ‘Oral History – A Handbook’.
One more afternoon tea to go and many more exciting workshops to come. It is all go go go down here at the Cooke’s Studios!