Treasure trove of local history

Gina Cook who has edited a book about her late husband, local historian and collector Colin
Gina Cook who has edited a book about her late husband, local historian and collector Colin

Stopsley widow Gina Cook, 69, has just finished a labour of love – a book about her late husband, local historian and popular speaker Colin Cook.

She has edited and self-published One Man’s Treasure – Colin’s Collection and hopes it will make an unusual Christmas stocking filler.

In it she reveals the stories behind Colin’s famous Museum in the Garden and how he became fascinated by Luton’s past after he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.

Colin wrote The Story of Limbury-cum-Biscot before he died five years ago and always intended doing a follow-up.

Gina said: “Sadly he didn’t live long enough to know how well it sold.

“He’d written various bits for what he called his ‘talk book’ and they were all on the computer.

“I thought I couldn’t just leave them there so I’ve spent the past two and a half years putting them in chronological order and sorting through photographs.

“He’d always been interested in anything to do with industrial and social history and collected so many items over the years that he had his own ‘museums’ in the back garden.”

They’re displayed in five sheds containing everything from old agricultural implements to household items and office equipment.

Gina explained: “Colin used to find them, clean them and refurbish them and I’d label everything and catalogue it. I’m sure people thought we were a couple of old eccentrics but we both enjoyed it.

“We were a good partnership. He was my best friend as well as my husband.”

The couple met at the Victor Silvester Dancing School. They married in 1966 and had two sons, Peter, 44, an atmospheric physics research scientist and English teacher Derek, 42, who lives in Sweden with his wife and three children.

One Man’s Treasure is in two parts – the first a celebration of Colin’s memory and the second reminiscences of growing up in Luton, his apprenticeship at Hayward Tyler and the restoration of his beloved 1936 Austin Ruby car.

There is also a chapter on the legacy of Luton’s influential Crawley family.

Gina said: “I’m so glad I’ve done it and I’m really pleased with the result.”

> One Man’s Treasure: Colin’s Collection edited by Georgina Cook is published by Cook Family Publishing and costs £9.99. It is available from