Now you might well wonder what on earth the grainy old photo of four men and a floating tin shack has to do with our beautiful park and gardens.
Let me explain.
For those that have been (avidly) following our posts, you’ll already know that Radipole gardens was once part of Radipole Lake (or Backwater) and that its infill came from the lake bed.
It was done by this wonderful, very Heath Robinson styled contraction pictured above.
The first man in charge of that floating shack was a Mr Davis, foreman to the dredger team at the end of 1929, earning a princely wage of £5.00 per week.
Unfortunately the job was literally to be the death of him, he passed away after only three months.
In April of 1930 Mr Davis Thomas became foreman, with his weekly wage bumped up to a whopping £6.00!
Thomas took charge of the vehicle’s crew, which consisted of a driver, a winch man and a fireman, all seen here posing rather nonchalantly in the photo above.
Why a fireman? necessary because the dredger was fuelled by coal, supplied by Bryer Ash at 36/s 6d a ton.
Further men were employed as pipe hands, their job being to maneuver the heavy leather pipes into position and compact down the slurry.
Unfortunately, Mr Thomas didn’t last too long either, less than a year later, for whatever reason, his contract was terminated.
A plethora of puddlestones, thick clay and slow dredging output might well have played a part.
He was replaced by Mr J Gardener, who in sheer desperation took to three men in a boat… plus a few sticks of dynamite… blasting the lake bed in hopes of speeding things up!
The dredger pipe, being laid across the new Radipole Park Drive as it was, caused no end of fun for anyone wealthy enough to own a motor vehicle in those days.
Radipole Park and Gardens are being supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund