The Cook Sisters.

We would like to share with you the story of Maggie Cook, one of the five ‘Cook Girls’ that have worked at the Regent Palace Hotel in between 1919 – 1926.

click to open big size picture

In October 2006 we have received a phone call from a lady called Pauline Clark, in hope that she could find some information about her mother’s sister – Maggie Cook, who ( according to her claims ) worked at the Regent Palace Hotel in the Grill Room as one of the ‘nippies’. Pauline has explained that her mum’s sister was celebrating her 100th birthday and wanted to surprise her by reminding her of the years spent at the Regent Palace which were the best years of her life mainly because she remembered the hotel as a place where she met her husband.

It was by a great coincidence that we had been sorting out some old images of the Regent Palace Hotel due to the hotel’s closure and came across a picture ( please see below ) of the ‘nippies’ in the Grill Room from round about the year 1922. We enlarged the image and sent it to Pauline in hope that this photograph would be of some use.

It was of a great surprise to us when we received an e-mail back from Pauline. We couldn’t believe when she wrote that not only she recognised her mum’s sister on the photograph but also her 3 other sisters ( Georgina Cook – known as Dot, Rosina Cook – known as Ena, Eliza Cook – Pauline’s mother ).What an amazing coincidence! Pauline went on explaining the precise positioning of the 4 sisters on the photograph and was even debating whether the head waiter ( Eddie Grosso ) standing in front of the main pillar was the man who married Maggie Cook! The last of the five sisters – Annie Cook is not in the picture.

Pauline has also very kindly forwarded to us these following details:

Maggie Cook married Eddie Grosso in 1920
Georgina Cook married Laurence, a waiter at the Regent Palace in 1924
Annie Cook started to work at the Regent Palace in 1926.
Eliza Cook worked in the Grill Room from 1919 to 1926 and married a Mr Buckle who worked at the Savoy. She met him at an afternoon tea dance in the Trocadero.
Rosina Cook worked at the hotel in 1922

We know that in the 1960s when immigrations was being encouraged from UK to Australia and the journey by boat was £10, Maggie and Eddie immigrated to Australia where Maggie still lives.

After Maggie’s 100th birthday celebrations, Pauline has sent us a picture of Maggie at her 100th birthday celebration looking at herself in the photograph ( above ).

It was all worth it!! What do you think?

Betty Chadwick (Mrs)

During December 1941, at the age of fourteen and a half, I started work as a Book Keeper at the Regents Palace Hotel. I heard of this job through a Mrs Sanderson who had visited our school in Colliers Wood, SW19 (Fortescue Central School for girls). She was I believe a manageress over staff at the hotel.

I who had just returned from being evacuated to Devon during August, was most interested to work in a hotel in Piccadilly.

The office was small and was situated on the first floor overlooking the Piccadilly theatre. At first a Miss Twitchen was in charge over us girls, followed then by a Mrs Horn.

We had National machines to work on making out bills for the customers. I remember also there were Lamson tubes to convey papers to the various parts of the hotel.

My training as a Book Keeper started at 7:30am in the restaurant. I was given a chart of all the room numbers, and because of rationing of food only one breakfast was allowed. I had to check off after asking customers their room number. Some came back for seconds which I had to report to the Head Waiter for which they were charged extra.

Rooms were eleven Schillings per night, (sixty pence in today's money).

Rainbow Corner in Piccadilly was filled with many Americans, and many stayed in the hotel (their military police we called "snow drops" because of the shape and colour of their helmets).

The hotel then had a Winter Garden and a small band played there. If I remember rightly a Daisy Kennedy played the violin. She practised in an office next to ours. All was also gentile then.

There were Page Boys then, one we called "Ginger" (because of his colouring). He was conscripted for the forces and very sadly was one of the many killed during the war.

Having to work shift work, eventually I had to live in the hotel. I had a room on the ninth floor (Z907) and my windows were boarded because of the blast of a bomb. There was just a wash basin in the room.

We girls were called when on early duty at 6:30am, by a dear soul we called "Valentine" (her surname). She would knock and say "6:30 Miss Sewell", we were always called by our surname.

A young girl called Daisy (Chapman) also 14, started work at the hotel in early 1942. We two became very good friends and are now to this day 65 years on !!

On the day the annex to the hotel had a direct hit from a flying bomb, Daisy and I were in the basement cloakroom, something she and I have never forgotten. Firemen came and rescued us in minutes. We were taken to the hotel where we were asked to tidy the office and continue working. Our being in the basement saved our lives.

Colonel Salmon (of Salmon & Gluckstein) who resided at the hotel, thanks us later and gave us ten Pounds for remaining on duty. It was a fortune then as I had started at one Pound per week.

I worked there until 1948 when I became twenty one. Memories of my time working at the hotel are happy ones.

Your faithfully,

Betty Chadwick (Mrs)
Essex. UK

Sandra (Australia)

So....the lovely old Regents Palace has now closed!! Stayed there in 1987 with my husband and two young daughters while visiting Britain.....

Lovely serviced bathrooms with the maid arriving to run your bath and returning later to clean same. Also, the very handy automatic shoe cleaner down at the end of the hall.

And the 'early morning call' by the very noisy rubbish truck in the street below!! Oh, and not to forget the elevator with it's swiftly closing doors; move fast or be left behind!!

But the memory that remains is the SUMPTUOUS breakfast served downstairs. An utter feast and all included in the accomodation cost which was - by London standards - very reasonable.

Lovely to read about The Cook Sisters and to see the beautiful old photographs.

Fond memories.

Many thanks, Sandra. {Australia}


Please let us know of your time at the Regent Palace and we will gladly publish it!


The Regent Palace Hotel London - Glasshouse Street (off Regent Street) - Piccadilly Circus London - W1B 5DN - 2006-2012