In 2021 a large collection of social history objects were donated to the museum. They all belonged to the Eayres family, who had continually lived at a house in Chesham Bois for nearly 100 years.
Herbert Edward Harold Eayres was born in 1893 in Tottenham, one of five brothers. His parents were Edward Eayres, a carman with the Great Northern Railway, and Amelia Jane. In 1917, shortly after his marriage to Lilian Leadbetter, he was sent to France to fight with the Royal Fusiliers. Herbert was badly gassed in the war, something that he never fully recovered from.
In 1926 Herbert moved with his wife, Lily, and young family from London to Woodside Avenue, Chesham Bois.
One of the objects donated to the museum was part of the front door of the house. The door contained a stained-glass panel bearing the name of the house, “Inversnaid”, a beautiful rural spot on Loch Lomond where Lily and Herbert probably spent their honeymoon. The door panel was designed and made by an uncle from Scotland and interior doors of the house also contained stained-glass in the upper portion.
Herbert was recalled in 1939 to serve in WWII as a railway transport officer, in charge of logistics and getting essential supplies around the UK by train. For some of this time he was based in Preston and Chester.
The family remembered a WWII bomb exploding at the village end of Woodside Avenue and the window of his and Lily’s bedroom to the rear of the house was blown in. Lily had been standing by the window only moments before.
Herbert helped initiate the Amersham Community Association and represented Chesham Bois on that Association. He became Chairman of the Executive Committee until his death in 1964. He also served for many years on Chesham Bois Parish Council and represented Chesham Bois on the Amersham Rural District Council until 1961.
He supported Oxfam and was the Chairman of the Amersham Old People’s Welfare Committee. He was heavily involved with the Scouting movement and was Secretary of the Chesham Bois Boy Scouts Association. He was also a member of the Amersham Citizens’ Advice Bureau and was a Senior Officer in the Civil Defence Corps. At his funeral, representatives from the local Police, Amersham Round Table and the Rotary Club of Amersham were also present.
His granddaughter Gill remembers him as gentle, kind, always smiling, and unfailingly generous with his time with the family, despite all the hours he gave to the community. “He took us on holiday every year in his wonderful green Standard Vanguard as we didn’t have a car until we were in our teens. And he would take great delight in buying novelty items that enchanted us – a working model of a funicular alpine railway, a Dutch musical box, wooden clogs and a round box that when you rubbed the top, the little paper figures inside danced! We as children weren’t aware of how much our grandfather did for his community – he never spoke of it to us, except once when I heard him say that “some people were ruining” his beloved Common!”