Robert James Cooper
Robert James Cooper 6 May 1914-9 Feb 1993 was born in Finedon.
His parents were also two Finedon people, Frederick Jerome Cooper and Margaret Dougall nee Manning Shrive.
Robert Cooper or Bob as he was widely known was a kind and funny man. Well known in the community, as a pigeon fancier who along with his father sent pigeons across the country and at times over the sea to foreign parts. I remember as a child how they would wait for a return always knowing more or less when the bird should return to safety. He and his father would worry when one was late, or indeed did not return.
The pigeon coop was built in their shared back yard where they lived. Apparently it was uncle Bob’s father who had purchased these houses, one for himself and his wife, the second for son, my uncle Bob and his family.
I didn’t find out until I started to do the family tree that uncle Bob’s dad, whom I met as a child was actually Fess Cooper, a professional footballer who played for The Cobblers no less. His grandson Robert tells me that Fess used to play for Irthlingborough and it was while there he was spotted and invited to join the Cobblers. This was in about 1903-7 thereabouts and I am still trying to get more details of this part of Cooper history.
Bob played piano at the Finedon Town Band Club in his time. With a pint on the top and a cigarette between his lips he would bang out tunes for his public. Gill says he also played piano for the Buffs, and in a pub in Wellingborough plus The Alexander’s Arms in Kettering. With his piano playing and of course being a serious pigeon fancier it didn’t matter where you went he always knew someone to chat to.
Robert James was a jovial and sometimes blunt spoken man who possibly knew every swear word in the book but only used mild words in front of his family.
I often recall aunt Delph’s voice as she sang out from the kitchen on hearing Bob when he used a bad word. “Not in front of the children Bob” she’d shout. But we all loved him. He was kind and funny and very truthful. He loved his family with a passion and I always felt safe when he was around.
Both Diane and Gill told me that uncle Bob worked for British United Shoe Manufacturers as a BU mechanic. He travelled around the county mending machines. I can imagine him wandering around the factory floor laughing and joking with the workers.
Gill’s memories of Tenter Lane are only happy ones. She recalls she was about 16 in 1956 when the family moved to live at 64 Irthlinborough Road.
I myself loved the house at Tenter Lane and spent many happy hours their playing and entering the forbidden territory of pigeon land. My aunt Delph hated those birds with as much passion as she loved her husband and always referred to them as ‘Those dirty birds’
Gill tells me that after they all moved to live on Irthlingborough Road her dad had a friend known as Hobby to help him build a new pigeon house. All this I imagine much with Aunt Delph’s disapproval. Anyway a funny story Gill related was that her father called her out to see this new pigeon hut asking her approval. She recalls saying it was fine but, ‘where was the door’. She tells me she laughed herself silly as her dad said ‘B…. me Hobby you’ve nailed me in.’
There are many tales we could tell you about Bob Cooper but would be here for days.
Although I was never a resident of Finedon much of my childhood was spent there. What wonderful memories.
Holidays spent with my grandparents in Burton who I loved to be with and days in Finedon with my uncle, aunt and cousins.
Aunt Delph singing around the house, Gill and Diane on the piano in the front room and young Robert messing around in the back yard or out the front playing cricket with his mates across the lane.
And of course, there was always ‘Bamp’ Cooper, the name Bamp given to him by his grandchildren, he and my uncle bob were so physically alike it was amazing to me as a child.
Then there was Jack, the old Jackdaw, perched in a cage that hung up on the wall outside who used to swear loudly having my aunt to answer to.
Yes Uncle Bob deserves a place here on this site I am sure many who remember him will agree.
Robert James Cooper, a friendly family man who was also a pigeon fancier and my uncle Bob.
The poem, The Blackbird, was written some time when Bob was scribbling on his pad. Family often caught him scribbling but he never admitted to what he was writing.
An unassuming man he was possibly a bit embarrassed. However it was discovered after his death and we are pleased it was found.