Caffs I have known - The Windrush

I've recently rejoined the club after an interval 25 years, and one of the first things that struck me was the change in style of the "Club Trip". In the late 1960s few members had a driving licence and even less owned a car. Club trip transport was by hired minibus or van from Bourman's of Croydon and two members shared the driving along the old A roads. (These were the days before the extensive motorway network).

A halfway stop was an essential and the club had a "standard" stop. The South Wales trip stop was the Windrush Cafe west of Burford on the A40.

The whole place had a "buzz". These were the days of the British Truck and vehicles with impossibly romantic names such as AEC Mandator, Albion Rover and Guy Warrior entered, left and manoeuvred in the lorry park.

The Windrush was a low single storied rectangular whitewashed building of concrete blocks, set in the middle of a two acre lorry park of compacted earth and gravel. The architectural style can best be described as "Latin American Cantina" and this effect was heightened by the interior decor which was bright primary colours. The central eating area was surrounded by bunk rooms where truck drivers could grab a few hours sleep and a rest room fitted out with a few easy chairs and a giant television. The air throughout the Windrush had a blue grey tinge caused by a mixture of tobacco smoke and atomised cooking fat.

The Windrush was staffed entirely by slightly voluptuous women of a certain age. All had blond bouffant hairstyles. They wore no uniform but their outfits did have one thing in common - they were all one size too small, and there were variations on a theme of thin white nylon or nylon jersey - these were the stuff wet dreams were made of ! What of the food? - it was superb - fast, plentiful, hot, it smelt good and tasted good. The bright colours of the egg yolk, red fried tomato and vermilion bacon complimenting the deco. We ate to bursting, knowing that this was to be the last good food we ate until Monday.

The result of the eating binge was that all of the group fell soundly asleep in the van, leaving the unlucky driver who had drawn the second shift to battle to stay awake while pushing the van through dark narrow lanes at 60mph +. Somehow we always survived without incident.

I passed the Windrush on my way to Wales last year. It now stands boarded up and deserted, a victim of the M4 and M40. Nothing grows in the former lorry park, the spilt diesel fuel, lubricating oil and load spillages ensures the sterility of the ground. All of this only serves to heighten the Latin-American cantina effect. All that is missing is the blowing tumble weed - an oddly romantic end to a club legend.

Graham Bessant