Accessible Parking in the Early Days
Two Bays for Cricket Fan “Cobbler
It was Obvious a major event was about to happen in our street. A
Crane had arrived. But why was it here? And what was it for?
On the Opposite side of the road to our house was a Public House with a large forecourt and a Beer Garden at the
side. I was naturally even more curious when a Large Green Shed loaded on a Lorry arrived, and was then craned onto
the Pub Car Park blocking the Access to the Pub’s Beer Garden.
It took our next door neighbour less than an hour to find out that the Green Shed was going to be a Cobblers Repair
Workshop and that the Cobblers were two brothers one of whom had a Disability he suffered with
severely restricted mobility, as a result of having one leg amputated, and the other leg badly
The Brothers had been taught the skills of the Leather Industry in particular the Shoe-mending trade at one of the
invalided returning ex-servicemen’s residential workshops that had been established around the country. Both of
them were trained, and given work experience at The Papworth Industries Workshops and
Rehabilitation Centre at Papworth Everard in Cambridgeshire which became the Papworth
Trust in 1965.
Very soon it was Obvious to me that the Shed had been transformed into a fully fledged Workshop. It had machinery,
large windows, a customer reception counter and side entrance. The Pub Customer Access to the Pub Beer Garden was
repositioned, and new Way-finding signs erected. “No Parking” had been painted on the ground inside a marked
out rectangular box next to the side entrance door.
The opening first day of the Cobblers was by all accounts a great success as in addition to taking shoes to the
menders for some customers there was the optional incentive to wait while they were repaired and slip into the Pub
for a crafty pint or two. It was not uncommon to see one customer with multiple shoes to be repaired quenching
their thirst in the Beer Garden.
Everyday one of the brothers would arrive in what can only be described at that time as a Giant Three
Carriage. He would then park this over the “No Parking” wording and inside the
perimeter lines of the box. An original Disabled Accessible
Parking Bay concept had
The “Mobility Scooter” was unheard of at the time. An “Invalid
Carriage” was their title then.
My research has discovered that The Government purchased the Invalid Carriages from a company
called “Invacar” (of whom I am to write another article) and leased them to Disabled Drivers such
as our Cobbler. I can only conclude that this particular Three Wheeler had been specially selected and adapted for
its suitability and ease of practical use by one particular person and was quite probably unique.
Bernie was the Disabled Cobblers name. His nic-name was “Bunny “He would drive the Three Wheeler up to the side
door of the Workshop. One side of the Chair Apron would be folded back and Bernie would ease himself out, and then
use his crutch-stick to help himself stand up, and then his brother would come out of the workshop and assist him
into the workshop.
As the years rolled by Bernie and his Three Wheeler became a regular sight in the Town. Most
people knew that he would only drive at about 15 miles per hour maximum speed. If they got stuck behind Bernie in
traffic they were in for a slow trip. Most people knew Bernie’s timing and route and tended to steer clear of
I became friendly with Bernie as he would regularly put new studs in my “Stanley Mathews” Football Boots, using his
Cobblers Anvil. He was very knowledgeable about most Sports particularly Cricket
and Football, and usually went to many of the local matches.
The Cricket Matches were played on the Local Heath usually in front of quite large crowds. Spectators used to
arrive by Car and park around the Boundary. Bernie and his Disability Three Wheeler had by now become a
regular fixture there. He invariably parked in the same spot each week.
As the Pitch was on Common Ground no entry or parking charge could be
made by the club but a collection was usually made for club funds by passing a collection
box around. The Box would start at Bernie get passed all around and finish back with him from there a club member
or player would go to collect it from him.
This week it was my job to take the Box round to Bernie and pick it up later after it had been passed around the
ground. Bernie’s Three Wheeler was not today in its usual spot closest to the ground entrance and the Pavilion it
was on the opposite side. When I got to Bernie he was not a “Happy Bunny” “Somebody has
got here early, parked up, and gone for a walk and taken my parking spot. Now look how far and
difficult it is for me to get to the Pavilion from here.” He explained.
I was later told by the club secretary, that when I went back, to inform Bernie not to worry as the Cricket Club’s
Grounds man would put up a no parking reserved space notice for him on match days in future to
reserve his spot for ease of access to the pavilion. Bunny’s
second very early Disabled Accessible Parking Bay concept had evolved.
The irony of this story is that apparently as the car that had taken Bernie’s space that day was
about to leave the ground it collided with an out of control rider less racehorse that had broken out from the
local racing stables and was heading for the Training Gallops next to the Cricket Ground on the Heath.
Fortunately the Thoroughbred Racehorse survived to carry on racing which is more than could be said for the car in
question, and as for Bunny my friend The Disabled Shoe Repairman. He escaped the melee of the
runaway racehorse in his Three Wheeled Invalid Carriage .and for years continued to use his Two New
Permanent Reserved Disabled Parking Bays.
This is how Bunny’s Invalid ‘Invacar” Three Wheeler looked like then
This is possibly one of Bunny’s later models restored showing Ian with Jon Heasman who runs a project called GAP
(Garnett Access Project) which provides access to the Countryside for People with Disabilities. The Invalid
Carriage is being used by Jon to promote the Project
Photos and GAP Information Courtesy of Virtualgaz visit www.virtualgaz.com
David Bedwell is a Disability Access Consultant. He is a Director of Obvius Access
September 4th 2012
Obvius accesss are an Accredited Disabled Access Consultant based on the Gold Coast South East QLD and Sydney
NSW Australia.A family business with over forty years experience in the consultanting industry.We can be contacted
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