The Coopers’ Austin 7

My father Frederick John Cooper, having just obtained his driving licence, purchased a secondhand, black Austin Seven saloon car. He must have been about 21 at the time. Luckily the Austin just passed through the gate at the rear of 107 Milton Street.

Grandfather came out of the back door to look at the new acquisition. Father Fred offered to give him a ride in the car but Grandfather William declined the offer, saying that “it was flying in the face of the Lord” and he wasn’t going to have any of it.

However, over the coming months Grandfather gradually changed his mind, as he could see the potential benefits of this new vehicle over their usual transportation of plant and materials by builder’s hand cart.

A roofing job needed doing in Hadleigh, and Fred was given the task of delivering a long wooden pole ladder. To be able to transport this ladder to the outskirts of the borough boundary, my father opened up the front wind-out windscreen to its fullest extent and completely removed the rear view window. This enabled him to pass the ladder through both windows and tie the ladder down to the front and rear bumpers. The passenger seat and rear seats were used to store the slates, cement, sand, lead, battens and roofing tools. Not for the first time, the poor old car was well laden.

The next thing to do was to drive the car to Hadleigh. This was only just achieved by Fred poking his head through the rungs of the ladder so that he could see out of the open front window. He later said “when I think back, son, what a stupid thing to do!”. But I think Grandfather was being won over by this new form of transport.

Colin Cooper