For well over 100 years there was a large house and garden called Observatory House in the Windsor Road, Slough.

The famous astronomer Sir William Herschel and his sister Caroline lived there and built the largest telescope in the world.

They had moved from Datchet in 1786 and the house remained in the ownership of the Herschel family until 1960.

Tragically it was demolished, and a modern office block built in its place and a token monument to Herschel erected nearby.

My links with the Herschel family go back nearly 75 years to the time when I was a young boy.

One day, Lady Herschel knocked on our door and said, "Could your boy come to our house on Saturday to help with the garden?"

With a slight curtsey my mother said, "Certainly your Ladyship." This job working at Observatory House and meeting Sir John and Lady Herschel changed the rest of my life.

I would arrive at the house, cap in hand, and wait in the entrance hall. On the wall hung a large mirror which to my surprise, made my reflection turn upside down as I walked towards it.

Soon, the two elderly people who lived there would meet me to discuss what they would like me to do that morning. The gentleman’s name was the Reverend Sir John Herschel and his wife Lady Herschel. He told me that he was the last direct ancestor of Sir William Herschel the famous astronomer.

They were the most fascinating adults I had ever met. They discussed everything in a most enthusiastic way and found everything around them wondrous. I felt very much at home because that is how children of my age explored the world around them.

My gardening job was usually to rake the gravel which made up a large circular path in the middle of the lawn. Also, to tidy up the bottom of the garden where there were some metal tubes, large enough to walk through.

On one occasion Sir John explained that at one time a telescope sat in the centre of the large path and it could be turned round to view the Heavens.

Once he told me about Sir William Herschel who, with his sister Caroline, discovered many stars and comets. He said that in 1781, when William lived in Bath, he was the first person ever to discover a new planet.

All this was very confusing to me; why would grown up people make telescopes and stand outside in the freezing weather just to look at stars.

Before leaving I was usually paid a half crown for my efforts but, more importantly, the couple would occasionally give me a small item to keep.

To this day I have kept these items, which include a mystery medal, with my other special treasures. I will tell you the story of the ‘mystery medal’ the next time.

Ron Lewin is a member of the Lewin family that has lived in Datchet and Slough since the 18th Century. He attended the Sir William Herschel Grammar School and then studied chemistry while working at the Fulmer Research Institute in Stoke Poges.

Later, he joined the newly established Government Industry Education Unit to explore ways to attract young people into science careers; subsequently he was involved in writing the Revised National Curriculum for science and technology.