Frank Job Chambers and Eric Holland Chambers – Up The Lane
Frank Job Chambers was born in August 1855. He trained as an architect in his father’s practice and qualified in 1881. He married Charlotte Margaret Holland in 1888, whilst living in London. In 1903 he purchased Up The Lane and in 1919 he further acquired Barn Cottage and Bakers Cottage in Whiteleaf. He was involved with the golf Club in its early days. The Chambers’ had three children, only one of which survived – Eric Chambers, who was born in 1890.
According to the Civil Divorce records F. J. Chambers and his wife appear to have had a stormy relationship as Charlotte petitioned for divorce in October 1903 on the grounds of cruelty “by reason of his ill temper and bad language” and claimed that he had “also assaulted her by throwing a mustard pot at her and later a glass of whisky”. That petition does not appear to have been granted, however they separated in 1908. A divorce was eventually granted in 1918 on the ground of adultery. F. J.Chambers died in June 1937, having moved back to London.
Eric Holland Chambers was a more colourful character. Born in 1890, he emigrated to the USA in July 1912 and resided for eight or so years in Portland Oregon. He first married in 1916 and was described as an automobile mechanic. Although he received a call up for the American War Service in 1917/18 he was not then an American citizen and had a family to support. He became a naturalised American in September 1922.
Although an automobile mechanic and lumberjack, Eric was also interested in radio. In May 1923 a station called KGN suspended operations and the apparatus was sold to Chambers’ company “The Radio Bungalow”. In March 1924, the new station, KFOH, began broadcasting music, market reports and general entertainment, but closed in May of that year when the licence expired. Chambers also ran a retail radio shop called the Radio Doctor.
At some point Eric must have divorced his first wife as he married Sylva Isenhour Montaigne in October 1926 in Seattle. By 1928 they were living in Whiteleaf. Eric was a keen amateur golfer, having played in several championships at St. Andrews, representing the USA and the Beaconsfield and Ashridge Golf Clubs. He became a member of Whiteleaf Golf Club in August 1929 and was awarded a scratch handicap.
Perhaps his oddest achievement was to build an aeroplane in a shed of the garden of Up The Lane. The “Flea” was about 20 feet long and had a wingspan 12ft 6ins and took about 6 months to build. The wings could be folded up for towing and Chambers took the plane down to Ramsgate aerodrome to fly. He had never flown before but reported to the Bucks Advertiser that he “took off first day although I had never handled a plane before. Rose four feet, but owing to inexperience had to come down” Chambers taught himself to fly and achieved a flying certificate in 1936. See also article and picture – click here.
Chambers also purchased in the early 1950s an old air sea rescue launch, which had featured in Dunkirk, and transported it to Whiteleaf. He renovated the launch in the front garden of Up The Lane and in May 1952 it was taken back to Ramsgate. See article from the Bucks Herald May 1952 – click here.
Eric Chambers was also a keen bridge player and hosted the Bridge Olympic in 1935 at Up The Lane, when the event was moved from Whitecross Hall. The Olympic was an opportunity for bridge players of all grades to play identical hands with others of all nations around the world simultaneously.
It is possible that Chambers introduced Christmas lights to Princes Risborough ,bringing the American tradition home with him. A newspaper reported in 1935 about travellers along the Risborough to Aylesbury road admiring the “charming effect created by floodlighting Up The Lane. Mr. Chambers created a beautiful Christmas card effect which was enhanced by a wreath of holly electrically lit hanging on the front door and two little trees similarly lit on each side of the door”.
Notes compiled by Chris Kingham of Princes Risborough Heritage Society.
Bucks Herald 2 May 1952