Memories of Armour


These are stories told by people living in Armour at about the turn of the century, ie the year 2000. They mostly tell of how they came to live and work in Armour and a bit about their lives - a living history. It is a snapshot of the community at that time.

You can see some pictures of Armour at the millenium
You can also see a map of Armour as it was more or less at the millenium.

Stories told by people in Armour Road

Stories told by people in Lower Armour Road

Stories told by people in Swansea Terrace

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Ken Englefield

Born 16th January 1916. I was born in Westwood Glen in Tilehurst.

I went to Norcot School. I started at Norcot when I was five in 1921 and stayed there until I left school at 14. I started work at Francis Brothers and stayed there till I was called up in 1942. When I started as an apprentice at Francis I got 7/6 a week. I gave my mum 7/- and kept 6d for myself. It was enough to go to the pictures. I started on the buildings in Gratwicke Road.

I used to find books and take them to Norman Scotts shop in Merchants place. His shop was full of the most amazing things. He used to give us 10d for the books. We made quite a bit of money that way.

I got married on 16th March 1942 and was in the army in Brock Barracks on the 19th March. I was there until September or October of that year and then got sent up to Liverpool and got the boat out to India and Burma. I got home in 1946.

We lived with my sister-in-law when I came home and then moved up here to Beverley Road in 1950, 20th May and I have been here ever since.

When I came home in 1946 I went back to Francis Brothers and said was there any chance of coming back to work for them and they said yes. I was a plumber by training. I used to bike out to all sorts of places to work. I worked on the houses in Thicket Road, Gratwicke Road, Bramble Crescent and Norcot Road in 1930 to 1933 ish. In the 1950s I worked on the houses by Birch Avenue. We used to bike out to Waylen hospital out at Bradfield. The clock there used to be on Reading Workhouse. When we went there there were two ladies who had been living there for 40 years because they had had children and not been married.

In the war a plane crashed in Norcot. It was a Canadian Bomber or fighter and it crashed into the netting under the buckets where the clay was ferried over the Norcot Road. When it crashed people took bits as souvenirs. Francis Brothers built the houses here in Beverely Road.

When I was a kid I lived in Lower Armour Road. I lived in Number 17. I don’t remember moving there.

While we were there my mum got rheumatic fever. I can remember her laying in bed. Her legs were folding back behind her. They tied bricks on to her legs to straighten them. I can remember her screaming with the pain. But there was nothing else they could do in those days. She could never move her legs after that. Blanche Foster lived next door at number 19. She nursed my mum and when my mum died my dad married her. Blanche was a lovely lady who helped everyone. She died in 1971. My dad, William Englefield, had also worked at Francis Brothers. He was a driver. He also kept pigs at the allotments in Armour Hill. The pigs got swine fever. They had to seal off the allotments and bury them seven feet underground. It broke him. He never recovered from it and never kept pigs any more.

Arthur Newbery Park was just down from Lower Armour Road. It was overgrown with loads of gorse bushes. We used to play a lot in the park. One thing we used to do was put a firework in a milk bottle. It was amazing that none of us got hurt. We also used to put the end of safety matches on to a key and swing it against a wall. It made a terrific bang.

Down there was Sheep Wash pond where we used to go paddling. We used to play with the frogs and tadpoles. There was another pond there but that was very mucky so we didn’t go there, It was the other side of a thick hedge.

When I was thirteen I went to Mr and Mrs Trotter in Norcot Road to do a paper round. You had to be thirteen to do a paper round. I did all down Armour Road, down Pierces Hill, and down Long Lane. There were only 10 houses in Long Lane then. There were only 7 ot 8 houses in Westwood Road. It used to be called Straight Street. Oaktree Road used to be called Penny Piddle. There was a chalk pit in Brooksby. We built houses there in 1935. There are 6 houses. It was fields with a huge walnut tree and just below were two old cottages. There was a rough old lane past the cottages with the chalk pit opposite. The foot path went past the ginifer pit and the shalves (woods) right down to where the Beethovens is now, on the Oxford Road.

Where the British Legion is now there used to be a place with one cow. That was Wickens’. There were dog kennels down Pierces hill. There was a big house surrounded by a big flint wall. Down at the bottom of Pierces hill there were sand pits. Stevens owned all the land on one side.

Mrs Weise used to live in Long Lane. My wife use to char for her. I got called out there one night. Everthing was so black, cause there were no lights. I got on my bike and went out there. She wanted me to get up into the attic to sort out the water. It was so dark I couldn’t see to do anything so I went home.

In Fircroft Road there was a big house. Lady Eldon lived there, and then a chap called Barnet lived there. He had a carriage and four and used it to go to our church. He was very good to the village. He gave eggs and other things to the needy people. He gave money to St Michaels church for repairs to the clocks. Mr Backhouse lived there afterwards. He used to have fetes in his garden. At the side of his garden was a pond. They used to say that you would never be able to build there because of the water. There are houses there now.

Westwood Road had a big deep ditch running along it with water running it is. There were lots of Chestnut trees and conkers.

Starting at Norcot Road end of Armour Road, there was Dr Lyn Jones. Then John his son took over. Old Dr Lyn Jones used to pull teeth as well. Nurse Bowles worked there. Her son was killed by a motorbike.

In number 3 lived Mr Lascelles. He had the shop Herbert and Lascelles in the Butts. Mr Herbert lived at number 50. Old Mr Herbert used to play the organ in the church in the 1920s.

In 1946 they built the two houses on the corner of Lower Armour Road. In the left hand house there lived a bookmaker - Mr Trinder. There used to be a great big hedge with a huge walnut tree. And there used to be a great big advertising billboard about 12 or 14 feet high.

Warings started in 1931. He started out on a pushbike. He had a big basket on the front of the bike - big enough to put about 6 or 7 loaves in it. He would be back and forth delivering the bread. He worked very hard. Then it was an ordinary house. The cakes were just in the front room.

Next to Warings was a fish shop run by Mr and Mrs Baker. They had a tragedy. Their young daughter was about 13 when she was playing and got hit by a tennis ball on the back of the head and she died.

Opposite was a shop which was a milk shop in the 1920s run by Harry Milton. He used to be called Midnight Milkman because he would deliver the milk so late. He used to pour the milk out into tins or jars or anything. There would be flies all over it. No one would worry about it then. When he died it was Wakefields general store. He had goceries. Maskells then took over the shop. They had a farm over by Pierces. They brought the veg they had grown to sell in the shop. Next door was Phillips, the blacksmith’s shop.

Down by where Sally Anne's is now there was another little shop that was run by Barry Wakefield, brother of the Wakefield with the other shop. Only he didn’t do very well and closed down. Before that the shop was a butchers shop run by Percy Thackster. His son was killed at Arnhem and it broke Percy. After that it was taken over by a chap called Fred Collins and he ran it as a groceries. Fred Collins lived down Armour Road by Wardle Avenue.

Berkshire Vintners (Cannings) used to be the Coop in the 1920s. There used to be a special little office where you had to go to sign a cheque. Gil Hunsdon’s wife and sister user to work in the Coop.

Berkshire Vinters in Armour Road, before it was demolished.

Grants at the Polsted Road corner used to sell oil and hardware. I used to have to go and get methylated spirits there for my mum. Her feet used to get very sore and she would rub the meths on her heels to toughen them up.

In 1930 when I was working at Francis, Don Crawford and me decided to start a football team. We called it Armour Villa. Don Crawford used to look after the village hall in Victoria Road. He used to live at number 17 Victoria Road. Stone was in the football team. He used to work for Francis but then he set up with Clarke who had been apprenticed to Francis and they had there firm Clarke and Stone opposite the rec. We were in the Armour Villa team until we went away in the army. The Football Chronicle was a Reading paper that printed all the results and articles about football. We used to send in articles. It was a yellow coloured paper. When we started we used to play friendly games. We used to get beaten 10 nil, 8 nil, but we had a load of fun. We did manage to score some goals, and won now and again and I was top scorer for the team.

In 1952 or 1953 the United Reformed Church needed repairs to the roof. A company from Staines did the roof, but they also needed a new weather cock. I put that up there. I also made and fitted the arrows on the weather cock. I made them from copper. The cross piece is a piece of copper pipe.

The United Reformed Church in Armour Road, showing the weather cock made by Ken.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Ted and Mary Haddon

I remember two things about Lower Armour Road that my grandmother told me. One was that there was a spy living in a thatched cottage; and the other was that a well known actress lived in one of the houses.

My dad's mum was an old Tilehurst person.

We lived with my mum in cottages in Chapel Hill. There are two white cottages by the brook. There was a little bridge to cross over to the front of the house. There was a big house at the top of Chapel Hill on the left where it starts to go up from the dip. Down the first hill there was a rough road that led all the way back round to Wicken's Farm. I went to Park Lane School. My sister used to be left by my mum at the school and she used to run round to the back and go out through the lane and be back home before my mum.

There were two caravans. In one lived Mrs Smith (Granny Smith), her daughter Emily and her son Leonard; in the other lived Mr and Mrs Synes. The caravans were lovely and were parked behind Numbers 34 and 36. Gran was in number 34 and we lived in number 36. Right behind the cottage was a hill that led up to Wicken's farm. There was a little lane that ran down to the Royal Oak. There were willows along by the stream and then over on the other side there were allotments.

On Sundays we had to walk to the mission house two or three times depending on the number of services. Sometimes there were eight of us.

We had no electric or running water and our toilet was outside. (We did have gas). Our cottages were rented from Johnson's Bananas down in Tidmarsh Street or somewhere near there. They were a company that imported bananas and sold them on to shops. When they came to collect the rent they used to give my mum a bunch of bananas. It was a real treat for us.

The front door led straight into the front room. There were red quarry tiles on the floor and a range built into the fireplace. To get warm in the winter we used to wrap a brick up in flannel and take it to bed with us.

The room at the back was very dark because of the hill rising up at the back.

On a Saturday night we used to hang a blanket up over the window and we all used to have a bath. There was a copper in the back room to heat the water. We took it in turns to have the bath first. We had the bath on a Saturday night so that we would be clean to go to church on the Sunday. It didn't matter if we weren't clean for the rest of the week!

The Andrews family were well known. My dad had 6 brothers and 3 sisters. My dad used to be a wood cutter. He went all over the place (even as far as Wales) cutting wood and selling it. Uncle Charlie died in the war.

He had a lorry to carry his sawn and cut logs. Before that he had a horse and cart. One of my first memories is of me being on this horse and cart. Afterwards he also had a motorbike. I also have memories of my dad driving Smith's coaches, land army girls on the farms to work and Polish prisoners of war from Ranikhet camp to work. The Poles were very clever at making things. They made wooden toys and lovely bracelets. I had one of the bracelets that was made of silver sixpences.

My Sons

I have Steven who is 38. He lives in Dulwich. He got married last year and they now have a daughter - Grace. He loves Reading Football Club and is an avid supporter. He is a legal advisor.

Ian is 36. He lives in Cheltenham with his wife and they have three childrenn, Sophie and Gregory who are twins and Dominic. He and his wife Vicky trained as nurses at Royal Berks Hospital. His wife works nights as a midwife.

Ian has gone back to Birmingham to do his masters.

David is 34. He got married this year. Susan and David are also nurses. He went to Brookes University and did History and Economics (he got a first). While he was doing his degree he had to work part time as well to pay the mortgage.

My three boys have got lovely wives who are all very supportive.

My first husband was a local man. His name was Ingledew, a Yorkshire name I believe, so all my sons are Ingledews. I brought them up on my own for 6 years. We met when he left the army. He worked for the Nat West. They had a policy of moving you when you got a promotion so we moved about quite a bit. He died in 1973 of cancer. He was 36.

Six years later I met my second husband. He is lovely with the boys.

I was in Leicester when my husband died. I first learnt to drive and then went to night school to do some O levels and then I did my nursing exams. I did my training over three years. There was lots of practical work and exams. While I was doing my O levels I worked as a dinner lady so that I could take the time off in the school holidays to be with the boys.

When my husband had cancer, I nursed him at home. Things were very different then. People didn't talk about it like they do today; now it is much more open. My GP was wonderfully helpful and he gave me my references when I wanted to go into nursing.

My husband loved his job and was wonderfully fit. He played football for Huntley and Palmers and for the Tilehurst team that played on the Rec in Armour Road. One of the hardest lessons I learnt when he was ill and when I was on my own bringing up the children was the discrimination. He was ignored by people and I was warned by the police about how to bring up my sons so that they didn't become a nuisance. At school, a school trip had been organized to Mont Blanc - to go skiing. We talked over whether we could afford for the two oldest to go and we decided they should go. When they put there names down they were questioned in front of the other children about whether they could afford to go.

We have family get togethers four or five times a year.

When I married Len, our first house was 3 Church End Lane when it was first built. We paid about £2300. One of my sisters still lives up there. I had my first two children in that house. Dr. Booth was the GP and the midwife delivered them in the home. When the first was born Len was away in the army. For the 2nd he was at home. Our third son was born in Birmingham. I had slipped downstairs (probably from hurrying around too much) and had to have a caesarian. It was never a problem not having a girl. I aways felt that the boys were very supportive. One of the things that I was determined to do was let my sons be independent.

Then I met Ted. I met him rather casually. I was in a works canteen with my girlfriend. I was working in a warehouse at the time. My friend was selling tickets for bonfire night. I decided to go. He had been in the canteen. When I went I just saw him there and he bought us a drink. We got married six weeks later. And that was 21 years ago. We decided that we needed a fresh start and so we moved back to Tilehurst. We lived at 36 School Road and we were there for 13 years.

The reason we chose to move to Armour Road was that we wanted to start planning for our retirement and we wanted somewhere a bit away from the traffic. I love the garden here.

When I was 15 after I left school I went to work in GreyFriars Road as a tailor. On Saturdays I went to where JP Accounts is now - you know the tiny little house next to the Trophy shop. I can remember going up the stairs there where I learnt to do tailoring.

I can remember going to the back of the White House to get bags of coal.

Lloyds is were the old Methodist Church was. The mission people used to be invited there for Christmas parties. The youth club was like a nissen hut and was where Barclays is now. None of the shops in the Triangle were there. There was the old National shool and the Little Plough. There was a hall where Jumbo is now where we went to the Methodist Church.

I went to Park Lane as a junior and then to Norcot School. Mr Saul was the headmaster and I left when I was 14. The Laurels was a convalescent home then. I remember going to Blagrave hospital to visit my sister when she had her appendix out.

I remember Victory day. We celebrated all down Chapel Hill. Everyone was dressed up and I remember getting first prize.

When I was working I was a dinner lady, a clerk in an estate agents, a nitty Nora (school nurse so I got school hours and school holidays).

In 1982 I joined the social services and did residential care work.

In 1991 I qualified as a social worker. I spent 2 years at Reading Tech - full time and then got a post where I did part college and part work - a sort of day release. I am still a full time social worker in Reading.

My oldest son is vice chairman (or something like that) of Reading Football Club. He had a trial for RFC. In fact all my sons support RFC.

My dad died of pneumonia at 56 just before the divorce to my mum became final.

There is 20 years between me and my youngest sister. There were seven of us and we all still live in Tilehurst including my mum.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Steve Blackburn

I moved here in 1985. I love this house.

I was born in Winchester. My father, Colin, was an army bandsmaster. After travelling to various countries, my father, mother, brother and I settled in Bury St. Edmunds. He was a very talented musician. He was a cornet player. He went to Naler Hall where he trained as a bandmaster. we have photos of him conducting over 2000 musicians. He died in 1991. My brother contacted the school where his children were and a music library was set up in his name in the school. The family donated all his music, sheet music, records, and copies of his broadcasts. The broadcasts were made from Cyprus for the BBC. We all moved around with him. He retired from the army when he was 40. He was born in 1930, and retired in 1970.

He then became a music teacher in a school in Bury St. Edmonds. He taught himself piano, guitar and violin so that he could teach the children.

There is a long trandition of army bandmasters in the family going back many generations, but it stopped with my father. My father was a Yorkshireman and was brought up with the mining bands and the music traditions.

When I left school I was involved in distribution of paper and magazines for about 10 years, working for John Menzies. It was there that I met my wife, Pam. She was on the management team of a large newsagents.

We moved to Reading on my promotion.

My wife was a Reading girl. Her five brothers and four sisters were all brought up in Reading. Her father was a steam engine driver. He was born at the turn of the last century. They all lived near Fawley Road. Their family name was Green. My mother-in-law came from Winchester as well. One of the brothers still lives in the house in Fawley Road.

I also spent 10 years in Parcel Force with the Post Office/Royal Mail.

Currently I am studying for a diploma in Information Technology in Swindon College. And I am also studying for a diploma in councelling in Guildford College.

I have two step children and 3 grandchildren.

On Saturday 2nd Decomber I am taking my 10 year old grandson to Twickenham to see England v. South Africa.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Number 9

One Sunday I was walking down toward the traffic lights when I happed to notice a man get out of his car and approach two people walking down the road to ask them something. He looked as though he was asking for directions. As I got nearer I noticed that the couple who were towards me were Mr and Mrs Bray. Mr Bray used to teach my daughter at Norcot School. He looked just the same as he did then. Anyway, it seemed that they couldn't answer the man's question but they suggested asking me.

The question seemed to be Did we know of a house called St Osyth. This was not a name that readily came to mind. It transpired that the gentleman was a Mr Venn, from Marlowe, and he was tracing back his family history. He seemed to think that he had a cousin who lived in Armour Road, as had indeed her parents. He had traced much of his family back to the 15th century and was trying to tie up some loose ends. He thought that all his family were farming stock but that the cousin's father was a pharmacist of some sort.

I told him that I didn't know of a house by the name that he had given. But we went and asked Navvy if he knew anyone who had lived in the road named Venn. And of couse he did. The cousin was a little older than him so he didn't know her very well except to remember that she had a very nice singing voice and sang in the church. Den Malham could remember her as well. The family had lived at number 9. When her parents died, Margaret lived in the house and married a Victor Adams. Margaret lived there till she died of leukemia in the early 1970s.

Mr Venn had another bit of his family puzzle in place.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Jean Turner and Maurice Bignall

Jean’s Shop

I moved into Number 29 in 1955. Old Mrs Jones lived there before me. I had one daughter, Carol, born at home in 1959. You had to have children at home in those days. In 1971, I moved into Number 20 and opened a wool and haberdashery shop. Before me the shop was run as a newsagents. There were two lots of newsagents - Bartlett and then Lawrence. Before Bartlett, the shop was run as a ladies’ hairdressers by John Casey. John Casey moved to Norcot Road and opened new ladies’ hairdressers (where the flower shop is now) and ran it until he retired. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to close the wool shop in 1974. The property was converted back into a house in 1976. Maurice joined me in 1984.

Maurice’s Story

I was born in Reading - in Stone Street. My dad worked for Francis Brothers in Armour Road, as a driver. My uncle Bob Warner (and Aunty May) were a local Tilehurst family. Throughout the 1920’s they ran a hairdressers shop - cutting the hair of Americans from the Ranikhet camp. I had one brother and we later moved to Waldeck Street. I went to Wilson School, Christchurch Junior and Katesgrove Senior School. I left school at 14 and worked for Cooks the builder. I worked on houses being built in Holmes Road, off Wokingham Road. The houses were selling for £2000. I also worked on houses in Berkeley Avenue, Ramsbury Drive and Cressington Road. I did the plumbing and worked on the roofs.

I did my National Service from 1948 to 1950.

Afterwards I worked for Drays in Mountpleasance, then at the Ministry of Aviation at Shinfield Park (where the Met Office is now) as an electrician, then on the railways, Signals and Telegraph on the Southern Region Guildford to Reading line.

From 1958 I was a Civil Servant at ROF Burghfield until I retired in 1995. I was awarded an ISM medal for services to the Ministry of Defence.

Jean’s Story

I was born in Bridle Road in Whitchurch Hill in Oxfordshire. Turners have always lived in that house. My grandfather moved into the house when it was built. My dad inherited the house and lived there all his life. My nephew - a Turner - still lives there.

We were 11 children. the second oldest died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. I stayed at home until I was 20 when I got married.

I worked in Reading as a secretary at Peter Shepard, a carpet company in Katesgrove Lane. I worked there until Carol was born. I went back to work when she was 8. I worked at Southern Scaffolding in Church End Lane. The house was said to be haunted - something about some wallpaper ....

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Paul Hallis and Bernadette Hallis

Betty boxer - a white boxer puppy
A snake - Harry
2 guinea pigs - Bumble and Jess
A fish in a bowl on the windowsill


We have been here for about seven years. We moved from 102 Park Lane.

I was born on 5/9/58 in a place called RAF Jever in Germany on an RAF camp. I was there for about 2 1/2 years because my dad was in the RAF As a child I lived in Germany, Cyprus and Hong Kong. I moved back to this country when I was 11. I had been to about 19 schools by the time I was 11. As a child I loved it. Everything was a great adventure.

From 11 I went to Highdown School in Emmer Green. That was from 1969 to 1976. I lived in Whitley Wood at the time, but my mum's family were from Prospect Street in Caversham so that's how I came to go to Highdown. I had to get two buses to get to school. It was over three miles so I got a free bus pass.

I joined the RAF when I was 17 thinking that I would get to move around which I did, but all around this country. By the time that I was in the RAF there were only a few places left in the world where you could get an overseas posting. I was in the RAF for six years. I met my wife in Haverford West where I got my last posting. My wife is from Cardiff, born and bred Cardiff. We got married in Haverford West in 1981.

When I came out of the RAF we moved down to Reading to look for work because that is my mum still lived.

I worked first for the Council as an office manager in the transport department. I was there for a couple of years and then got a job as a sales rep for a couple of years at Carnation Foods in Medmenham near Henley. Then 17 years ago I worked for a packaging company in Wallingford and now am a packaging rep for a company in Slough. I don't have to go into Slough every day. I work from home or am out visiting companies.

We moved here about 7 years ago because the house in Park Lane only had two bedrooms and Sophie needed a bedroom - and this house had an extra bedroom. We love where we are in Tilehurst. There is everything you need on the doorstep. There are doctors, dentists, shops, a post office and we have the number 17 bus service to take you down to town. However, I am not too keen on the road humps - they get on my nerves.

Every one misses Berkshire Vintners. I am looking to see whether my mum can move into one of the flats that they are building there. Mann is handling the sale of the flats but they haven't got a price yet. It would suit by mum to have a new place to move to where everything is so handy.

Bernie was born and bred in Cardiff and went to school in Cardiff. She left school in about 1975 and worked as a switchboard operator for British Telecom. She joined the NAAFI as a manageress in Haverford West ( it was just like running a pub really), then when we moved to Reading she worked as a switchboard operator again but for an army establishment that was in Henley Road in Caversham. She was made redundant and then had Laura and was at home. Now she is a home carer and works for the Abbey Agency. She works in this area, Tilehurst, Victoria Road and so on. Strangely we are always getting mistaken for 21 Lower Armour Road, people (mostly doctors) come knocking looking for the people at the other number 21.

Laura and Sophie both went to the Laurels and then Park Lane and now go to Little Heath School.

Laura is a typical 15 year old into music and going out with her friends.

I always kept snakes. I had two pythons, not at the same time, two Italian garter snakes. When I was in Cyprus I kept an iguana. Sophie had her first snake from an animal sanctuary in Caversham. It was found under the floorboards by a builder. An advertisement was put in the paper so that it how we came to have a Californian King snake who we called Rex. He escaped form Sophie's room and hid under the floorboards. He is now 4 feet long and 14 years old. Then we had the garter snake - Harry. Rex would have eaten Harry so Rex now lives with a friend. Once the snake escaped and was found in Francis' yard by one of the men who worked there. He took the snake to the vets in School road. By chance the man went home and told his wife about finding the snake. His wife was the dinner lady at Park Lane School. So when she went to school the next day she told Sophie and so we got her snake back.


I love trampolining. I go on it all the time. I am not allowed to do flips, but I do. I do skateboarding and go to Karate classes in the Triangle Youth Club. Our teacher is Barry Porton. There are about 15 in the class (including Robin from number 43) and we are just about to do our grades.

About once a month the snake sheds its skin. If snakes are fed well they go on shedding their skin all their life.

Its good having a dog because I can blame a lot of things on to her! Betty eats everything. She ate one of my dad's contact lenses, she ate the cover of my library book. (Dad offered to pay for it but the library said that because it was only the cover they would be able to replace that - so didn't charge for the damage.) We have kept all her first teeth. Dogs loose their first teeth just like people do. We take her over to Arthur Newbery Park for walks. I think that the children's play area is going to be closed down because they have found needle and broken bottles there. The teenagers go there and break everything.

We put a rope swing up on one of the branches in the rec over the road and then the council came and cut the branch off with a chain saw. There is nothing to do round here. We could do with a skate board area. We can't use the one by Moorlands because the Teviot Road lot go there and don't let us in. The play area at Little Heath isn't safe either. We don't go out late or when it's dark. There are lots of muggings. Even the playgroup at Newbery Park got broken into. All the rubbish bins have been set alight and the play area was trashed. I mean - what pleasure can there be in nicking children's toys.

My favourite lessons at school are art, drama and PE because you don't have to do any writing. When I leave school I want to be a chef. We don't do cooking until we get to year 8. (Dad - Laura does cookery at school but it is not what I call real cooking.) I shall probably end up doing cookery for my work experience. I would like to have my own restaurant - not like Maccy D's - I fancy a 1950s type American diner with a massive car.

I used to want to travel round the world in a hippy caravan. I was going to work in Pizza Hut to get the money. I fancied going to stay in an ice hotel, where everything was made of ice - even the plates and cups, and the bed was just a block of ice, but I can't remember where is it. There was a program on Blue Peter about it.

I like M and M and D12.

We did a time capsule and hid it in the house. We put in it a newspaper, some money, sweets and toys, a Simpson sticker, a photo, a snake skin and a leaflet about the number one pop band at the time.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

David and Carol Pither
Victoria, Richard and Nicholas


The house had belonged to Mr Buckland. Mr Buckland's daughter married and became Mrs Waters. She had daughter, Virginia, who married a Mr Clive Hall. Terry (my first husband) and I bought the house from Mr and Mrs Hall. At the time living in the house were the grandfather, Mr and Mrs Hall and their four sons. We moved in on November 3rd 1968 with our ten month old daughter. We had a son 1 year and 1 day later followed by another son 17 months after that. Both boys were born in the house, in the front bedroom.

Next door to us, when we moved in, number 20 belonged to Mr Lawrence and was a newsagents. That was before Jean took it over as a haberdashery shop. The Lawrences probably went out of business when Cannings started up over the road.

I was born in East Reading, in Blenheim Gardens, then lived in Southcote. I went to school in Southcote primary and then Westwood School. I lived in Southcote until I got married when I lived in Crescent Road with my aunt until we moved here.

I trained as a laboratory assistant in the food research company, Gardner Merchant - which was taken over by Trust Houses Forte. The company was in Lockhart House on the Oxford Road. (They have just bulldozed the site!) I worked there until just before my daughter was born.

The children went to Norcot School and then to Denefield. From when the children were at primary school I always worked from home doing electronic assembly work, This was mostly for Chiltern Data Systems who were in the Oxford Road. My husband worked there and used to bring home work for me to do and then take the assembled work back with him.

We were all very involved with the 80th Scout troop at the church. My first husband was scout master; the boys started as cubs and formed many lifelong friends. Both boys were cub leaders. Victoria was in the Venture scouts and met her husband through being in the scouts.

My husband moved out in 1986. I was lucky enough to marry David in 1992. We wanted my daughter to get married and settled first. She moved to number 64b with Roy Harveson and lived there until their son Oliver (my grandson) was born. Then they moved to Lawrence Road.

This photo is a very special photo. In the photo you can see a boy standing over the other side of the road from our house. It looks like my son (Richard) did at age 12. It looks to me as if he is standing in the past looking forward to the time when he would be born in 1969.


I moved in here in August 1989. I was born in Alton, Hampshire in 1946. I lived in Alton until 1950, then in Henley until 1955, then in London until 1958 and then to Sutton Courteney, near Abingdon. In all I went to 14 different schools. After Sutton Courteney I moved to Reading and from 1967 lived in a variety of bed sits. At one time I bought a small house in Livingston, SW of Edinburgh. I sold that in 1993. We moved around a lot because my father took a number of businesses; moving each time to try and improve himself. In London he was in Fish and Chip shops (Peter Geales). We lived over the shop. In Sutton Courteney we had the village shop. That was three houses that had been knocked into one. It was a wattle and daub building - and fairly fragile.

When I left school my grandfather took me to the employment office. I wanted to be a fitter. At the office they said there was a vacancy for someone in the Civil Service. My grandfather said that I had better take the job with the Civil Service. You had to do what you were told then. So I joined the Civil Service. I started off in War Pensions and then moved to Automotic Data Processing and Machines. On the 1st April 1968 there was a formal opening of the premises in Queens Road. by the Queen and Prince Philip.

I moved from the mechanical side of things to the computer side because they needed a shift leader, and wanted bachelors who could do the job. Eventually we were in re-employment, paying out benefits. We had teams in Reading and Livingston and naturally increased the number of offices including Lytham St Annes and Newcastle and took on many staff and consultants.

I retired from the Civil Service after 29 years, and now work at AWE, as an enterprise architect for information technology.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Carol Cox

Harvey (a very big black poodle) 41/2 years old. I have had him since a puppy.

I moved here about six years ago, on 16th June 1995.

I was born in Reading in Milman Road. I have four brothers. Two are butchers, one works in Heelas, and one is a car mechanic. My mum still lives in Whitley.

I went to Christchurch Junior School and then to Southlands Secondary School. I started working when I was 15. I got a job in the Fruit and Veg Market in Kwiksave in Whitley and have been working for the same company ever since. After Whitley, I worked in Oxford Road and now I am working in Hungerford. I am the manageress there. I work in the shop and also do deliveries to restaurants and hotels, and so on. The Fruit and Veg Market is a franchised greengrocers working out of Kwiksave.

I am selling my house and moving down to the south coast, near Southampton, and am going to commute from there. It's quicker to Hungerford from there and the houses are cheaper so it will help reduce the mortgage.

When I was thinking of moving, number 16 in Lower Armour Road was for sale. I was quite interested in it because it is at the back, off the road and it has a bay window like a shop. So I went down to the central library and looked up some of the old maps and found out that that was where the Bird in Hand pub used to be.

The lady who lived here before me was called Miss Sparrow. She had a lodger. She probably lived here for about six years as well, then she went north. I didn't ever meet her, since I just bought the house through the estate agents. I haven't met the person who is buying this house either!

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Edna Haynes

2 children - Trevor and Jeanie
Trevor lives in Crescent Road. Jeanie lives in Westwood Ho!

Previously lived at Number 6 but moved to Number 32 to have a smaller garden

Mr and Mrs Vine lived at Number 6 before us.

Moved to Number 32 10 years ago in 1989

Bill Curtis lived at Number 32 before us. He was born in the house. His mother and father had 2 sons. But Bill lived his whole life at Number 32.

Edna’s Story

I was born in Caversham. My family all came from Swansea. Both my grandparents spoke Welsh. They came to Caversham to find work. My grandfather worked at Wymans the printers in Portman Road.

I went to Grovelands School, then Wilson School. I left school at 14. I started work in Newbury’s the Upholsterers in Vastern Road. The war came - so I went to work in a children’s nursery at Norcot Estate (the one by the Saxon Mound). Later I moved to the Jubilee Square, off King’s Road.

Recently I was invited back to the nursery which was celebrating its 50th anniverary. The old stove which heated the nursery was still there! (How I hated that stove!) The American soldiers who were at Ranikhet camp used to come and bring sweets and candy for the children especially at Easter and Christmas. I stayed at the nursery for about 6 years. While I was at the nursery I got married. Frank was in the army.

I then went to work at the Coop bakery because my Dad worked there. The bakery was in Grovelands Road. We had a lot of fun there.

Just before Trevor was born I gave up work. When Jeanie was about 5 I went to work part time at the Calcot Hotel. It was a good little job because I could work at night and spend time with my children.

When the children were younger they could go out and play in the street. They used to ride their bikes up and down. They could go in the park because it was safe there was a park keeper. Mr Savory from Bramshaw Road was one of the park keepers.

Frank lived in both 25 and 27. The landlord turned him out of one so he moved into the other! Frank was 2 when he moved into Armour Road - he moved to St Michael’s Road and then came back because Trevor had asthma and the doctors told us to move high up - so when Number 6 was for sale we bought it. (Incidentally, Trevor doesn’t have asthma any more).

Frank and his brother, along with Albert Illsey, were among the first members of the Horticultural Society in Tilehurst. They had a summer show on the rec. The rec. was always locked at night. Then the scouts took over the summer fete - which they still do. I was Archeala at the 79th Scout Troup in Kentwood Hill for 15 years. Great life and lots of fun.

The rest of my life was centred around my family, holidays, camping, birthdays, kids at school, grandchildren. Humdrum stuff but happy.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Den Malham

Mum and Dad married in 1912 when they moved in here. I was born in 1925 in this house. I am 74 years now.

The house had a scullery. Bath night was on Saturday. We used a zinc bath in the scullery using rain water out of the butt. There was a copper in the kitchen. The copper had a fire under it to heat the water. After the bath we would get dried. We then had a teaspoonful of cod liver oil followed by a teaspoonful of malt.

The toilet was outside, just past the kitchen. When my sister started work she used to give me 1/2d (a ha’penny) each time she went to the toilet. I had to take the candle out and then she took the candle into the toilet. I had to stay there ‘til she had finished in case she needed a new candle!

We had gas downstairs but had to use candles upstairs. We used to get the gas mantles from Grants the oil shop at the top of Polsted Road where the trophy shop now is. We used candles upstairs until 1952 when we put in electricity.

I went to Park Lane School then at 11 years I went to Norcot School till I was 14.

My mum went to work in service at 12. Most of them then left school at 12 or 13.

My sister is three years older than me. She lives in Emmer Green.

My first job was in a fish shop. It was at the top of Norcot Road next to where the hairdresser is. The people were called Rhodes. They sold wet fish as well as fish and chips. My first wage was 9s 4d. I gave my mum half a crown (2s 6d) and she used to go and buy 10 cigarettes! The job was going round selling fish with the governor. He had a van and we went out about 3 days a week to places like Polsted Road, Little Heath, Oaktree Road and down by Tilehurst Station where there weren’t any shops. The rest of the time I worked in the shop.

I then went to Tate and Lyles down at the Brick Kiln. It was on the right off Kentwood Hill, by the steep part where the new houses are now. The job was loading and unloading lorries with sacks of sugar. I also worked upstairs in the factory. There were about 10 long tables where the girls packed the sugar. There were four girls on each side of each table with a conveyor belt. The sugar dropped down from a hopper. One of the girls was under the hopper and filled a 1lb or 2lb bag with sugar. The bags were made of strong blue paper. The girl passed the filled bag on to the next girl who folded the top down. The next girl would finish packing the sugar and it would be put on to a pallet. The pallets were packed with 28lbs of sugar. I used to pull them away and put them on the lorries.

While I was there the war was on and I used to get 5/- extra for fire watching at night. You had to patrol the grounds when the sirens went off. (I didn’t see anything though.)

I went into the army when I was 18, with training at Colchester and North Walsham. It was the Ox and Bucks light infantry. I saw action in Belgium and Holland. When I was there I was transferred over to the 4th Battalion 53rd Welsh Division fusiliers because they were under strength. I was sent home with perforated eardrums from the guns and shells. I was in hospital in Leeds (Jimmies) and Royal Berks for about 6 weeks when I was passed A1 fit. I went to India with the 2nd Battalion to do jungle training for Burma but the war finished. I was sent to Japan as part of the occupation force. We landed in Ichijiwa and stayed at the naval barracks. For a year we had no heating and slept on wire stretchers. All the regiments had to go to Tokyo to do guard duty at the Imperial Palace. The Japanese kept lots of horses and at Tokushima we had to wash in the horse troughs. It was winter when we went there. We would come back in the evening and just crawl into bed. There were no fires and it was just so cold. We would sleep in our clothes. We only had two blankets and used to put coats etc on the beds just to try and keep warm.

Den took these photos of the barracks that he stayed in while on duty in Japan

Den visited Hiroshima and took these photos of the devastation of the area after the bomb was dropped

After that I went to Malaya with the 2nd Battalion. I was demobbed from Malaya. I came home and got married in 1947. We had been at school together and we were married for 41 years. She died in 1988.

We had one son. I now have 3 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. They all live in Spencer’s Wood.

I went to Collier’s brick kiln and did tile moulding. I went on the building, with Haddock. I worked for them first in Emmer Green, then City Road. I then worked for two or three sub-contractors. My wife worked as a home help.

I finished up working for Eastern Press, in Katesgrove Lane, for the last 11 years before I retired. I worked in the bindery.

I have had two new replacement knees!

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Ray and Jenny Whichelow

Moved here on 1st June 1982, It was a bank holiday so Ray had the day off. We lived in the Meadway before we moved here.

Jenny's Story

I was born in Chapel Hill on 4th July 1953. I have got three sisters and three brothers. I was the youngest. We must all have lived at Chapel Hill at some time. My mum and dad lived in a rented house there. It must have been crowded because it was a two bedroomed house, but I only remember being there with my mum and dad.

I went to school at the Laurels, then Park Lane and then Battle. I bussed from home to school and back even at lunch time because there was no way I was going to eat school dinners.

I left school at 15 and went to work in Hill's toy shop. The shop was E. Hill and Sons and was the toy shop in Reading. I was a sales assistant. Hill's closed down and W.H.Smith is there now. And then I went to Knight's toy shop on the junction of Friar Street and Union Street. I wasn't a very good sales assistant because they closed down too. In fact everywhere I went closed down. I also worked in a men's clothes shop near the top end of Broad Street. They closed too.

The last place I worked was toy packing in Prospect Mews of Oxford Road. The company was called Cada. They were still open when I left but they closed down not long after.

Then I got married in 1976.

Ray's Story

I was born in Elm Park Road on December the 22nd 1947. I lived there till 1976 when I got married. I had three sisters.

I left school when I was 14. I left at Christmas because I was 15 in the holidays. I have worked for about 34 different companies. Scaffolding is the longest - I have been a scaffolder or about 25 years.

I have done washing up, tree cutting, worked for the water board, the council, I have done plumbing. I worked at Goodman's Steel as a pipe fitter in 1961. I enjoyed some of the jobs when I was younger.

I went to Gibraltar in 1969 for a couple of months. I met a mate when I was in town and I asked him where he was going. He said he was on his way to get a passport because he was going to Gibraltar. I thought that sounded like a good idea so I went along as well. I sold my motorbike for £50 to get the money to go. We hitchhiked some of the way then got on the train. We worked when we got there. That was when the border was closed.

I then started scaffolding when I got back. I worked for Mill's scaffolding first and have been with Claw's on and off. The nice thing about doing this is that you can do a job and finish and then move on.

I am rebuilding an old motorbike. It is a 1961 Triumph trophy. This is my pension - I have hung on to this one. I got it in 1973. I paid £90 for it.

I do western re-enactments - (don't even mention line dancing etc). Some of he people used to do it at Littlecote House. When it closed they started up a show whoich I joined about 7 years ago. The team is called the Westerners. We have got a couple of wagons. We re-enact some real stories but we have to jazz it up a bit, hollywood style, otherwise people get too bored.

I am struggling to play the banjo. I started with the guitar but like the sound of the banjo. I have had a go at hang gliding and canoing. I am not very good at the banjo. But I am a natural born scaffolder.

I have done the allotment since we have been up here.

Jenny's Story

(Ray - Jenny is pretty good at everything.)

My main hobby is building doll's houses. I do everything - the building, the furnishing. I buy kits - starting with the sanding down of the parts which can take weeks. I buy the cheap furniture, otherwise you can spend a fortune on the pieces. Then I take them apart and rebuild the pieces properly. A piece can take a few weeks or as long as six months. So far I have made three houses. I'll have to start building box houses, which you can stack up one on top of the other.

I have also done a lot of work round the house. I have built a wall, and done a bit of bricklaying. What I have is a lot of patience. Ray gives up immediately when something goes wrong.

(Ray tells the story against himself of the time he was trying to fit a new bath. He couldn't get the pipes fitted so gave up and when down the pub. When he came back Jenny had fixed it.)

I have done a lot of decorating with Kerry. We have done most of the house now.

Kerry's Story

I was born in Royal Berks Hospital on 24th Austust 1976. We lived in the Meadway then. I went to Moorland's School and the Meadway. I went to Reading College to do A levels. While I was there I worked part time at the Virgin Megastore. Then I went full time at the Megastore and became a supervisor. Then I went temping. It was while I was temping that I got the job I am in at the moment. I work for Cunningham, Ellis and Bucklebury in the Apex Plaza. It is very nice in the open area of the Plaza. I work in the banking section in the loss ajustors department.

I did a small amount of canoing but dad lent the canoe to someone and I haven't seen it for ages. It was Trevor who I went to. I got a few certificates.

I am seriously into my mini and have done up the the shiny bits. I have just got a Wolsey Hornet which I am going to do up. It was given to me. I hope to get help from dad and am going to learn how to strip it down.

Apart from that I have been doing the rounds of the concerts, Berlin Love Parade, Glastonbury, Womad, Reading. For my birthday I went to EuroDisney. I have been to Scotland, Edinburgh and Stirling. I have been to Ireland and for the Millennium I am going skiing in Canada. I haven't been skiing before.

I love going to zoos. I have been to Berlin and Dublin zoo.

I shall probably spend about 2 years doing up the car.

About Armour Road

We like living here. We have good neighbours. Everyone is friendly without being too nosey. Since we moved here it has stayed the same because there isn't anywhere that they can build any more.

The garden is gradually becoming more natural. We have got quite a lot of bluebells which must have been here when it was all open at the back. We have got a small amount of lawn and grass and each year we get less. We don't want to keep mowing it.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Steve and Julie Gould

and Rosie the dog

We came here on 28th March 1998. We bought the house from Albert Ilsley’s estate for £83,000. It was advertised for £74,000. We put in an offer, but the estate agents said that they had had such a big response that the house would go to sealed tender. So we put in our offer; we had to include details of why we wanted to buy the house and where we lived. We really pleased when we found that the house was ours.

We came from a flat in the Birds estate and wanted to move into an old house and at the time there were hardly any for sale.

We have spent a lot of time since then rebuilding and redecorating the house. We are hoping to build an extension on the back. The first plans that we drew up were rejected by the planning officer. We then found out the lady who rejected the plans was pregnant and was due to be on maternity leave. While she was away, we represented the plans and that person said that she didn’t see what was wrong with the plans and so we got planning approval. We hope to start doing the building sometime this year. Steve thinks it will take him about two years.

When we first came here, the outside of the house was a sea of mud. The house was a cheaply built house for its day. The houses over the road (Surrey Villas) are much better quality. The house has needed new floors and joists to the front, damp proofing, new windows, new plaster.


One of my Christmas presents was the timber for a shed at the bottom of the garden. And for a birthday I had some skirting board. Steve hoards things in case they come in useful. he said that they should spend any money on the house first and get that straight before they did any work on the garden. I like the garden so decided to clear at least the end near the house. I took me about two months to clear it. My dad is a gardener. Then when we went away on holiday I had arranged for my dad to come and turf over the part of the garden that I had cleared. I didn’t tell Steve so he got a bit of a surprise when he got back.

We have finished the loft. It is lovely up there. We have it as a bedroom. It has a side window and loads of shelves and spaces under the eaves for storing things. We have moved the bathroom into what was one of the bedrooms so that will be ready for when we start building the extension at the back.

I am Tilehurst born and bred. I was born in Firs Road, up by the Bear Inn. I lived in an old cottage which is now a listed building. (Steve says it was probably cowsheds originally.) My maiden name is Partridge. My dad was well known in the area, mostly because he used to play darts and win a lot of matches. My nanny Rose lived in the house next door, and my nan lived in a mobile home in the garden.

We used to have open fires in the cottage. Our school clothes would be hung up in front of the fire and so we used to go to school smelling of smoke. All my friend used to love coming to the cottage but I couldn’t wait to move into a new house. Partridges have lived in the cottage for a long time and mum and dad still live in the cottage.

I have a brother John who lives in the Cedars, in a new house. He says he couldn’t bear to live in an old house any more. He has just opened an estate agency called Hastings. He called it that because when he was just setting up the business he went to a football match and that was the name of the footballer who scored a goal - and he thought it was a suitable name for the agency!

As kids we used to play all around there. You used to be able to see over the fields and across to Blagrave Woods. There was a big garden but some of the garden was sold for housing and the Birds estate was built right up to it.

Alan Hunsden, from the ice cream place, lives in Firs Road so I knew him from when I was little. We used to call him uncle Alan. It was a kid’s dream to know someone who sold ice cream. It’s strange that I have moved here almost next door to his place.

I went to Springfield School and then to Littleheath. I left school and worked in a company called Interinnovation, which was in the Oxford Road, We were taken over by De La Rue Cash System. They were a cash handling company and made things like the swipe machines at petrol filling stations. I was there for 17 years and then was made redundant. They rationalized the offices and I could have gone to work in Basingstoke but decided that I would rather take the redundancy offered. We used the money to pay for the drive in this house.

I now work part time by Chichester Road. We do reprographic work. At the moment we are preparing work for Reading Borough Council. They are putting all their planning applications on to CD. So far we have got to1997 so I shall be interested to see ours when it comes up.

I work 15 hours a day and start at 10 o’clock which is really nice because it gives me time to take Rosie for a walk in the park and go to the bakers before I go to work. It is really nice seeing everyone - they are all so friendly.


I was born in Blewbury Drive and went to school in Birch Copse and then Little Heath but I hated school. I went from Blewbury to Foxcombe Drive off Hilden’s Drive. My mum and dad are still there. I have a sister who lives in Caversham.

When I left school I wanted to be a carpenter but I couldn’t find an opening to get started. So I went to work for Chris Jones (131) and did an apprenticeship with him. The apprenticeship should have been for four years but I skipped a year and finished in three, I worked with Chris for about 5 or 6 years altogether. We worked subcontracting together for some time and then I started subcontracting for Fairley Brown in Reading. I don’t see much of Chris now. I just spend all my life working. My life is just working. But I don’t think I will ever move out of Tilehurst.

I bought a flat when I was 21. I was a bit of a lad when I was young. And after I had been sick on the landing carpet my dad kicked me out.

My dad is now 73 and a few weeks ago he found out that he had a sister that he didn’t know about before. This means that I have a newly discovered aunt. My dad was brought up in a children’s home in Bristol and then in York. His mum used to pay a certain amount of money every week for him to be looked after between the ages of 4 and 15. When he was 15 he went back to live with his mum. What he didn’t know was that in the meantime his mum had had another child but she never told my dad that she had had another child. He only found out because he asked why it was that he had been sent to York when he had been so happy in Bristol. We went through the family records and found a reference in the children’s home records to an “it” who was adopted. We found that the it is my Aunt Sheila. My dad has been in touch with her already and we are looking forward to meeting her soon


Fraser in Norcot Road is our accountant. We always try to use the local people.

We really miss the shop (Berkshire Vintners). When we first came, Steve used to go into the shop and chat with people and that way we had people coming and asking him to do jobs for him. Even Ian (from Berkshire Vintners) asked him to help one Sunday night when he had a leak in one of his pipes.

Steve and I still see all our old friends. We meet them a lot in the Fox and Hounds in City Road. I have had some of my friends since I was six years old and in primary school. Our local is the Fox and Hounds. When we walk back from there past some of the houses we dream of living in some of them.

I lived at home until I was 25 and I still go to my mum and dad’s for tea every week.


PS When I was about 15 I was paid £5 a day by Dennis to paint the eves of number 59. £5 was a lot of money then. I had to go up a ladder which wasn’t tied on to anything and get the paint on - somehow. I dropped white paint down the front of the house. You can still see it. Dennis always wore a fur coat even in the summer. He left the fur coat behind when the job was finished - it was left in the garage and the hedgehogs came and hibernated in it.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

John and Terry Hadland

Neither of us come from this area, John was born and bred in Worcester and I come from a small village in Warwickshire. I joined the A.T.S. in 1939 in my county town of Warwick where I was attached to the Royal Army Pay Corps. John was midway through his Architectural training when he was called up in 1940, and we met for the first time in Ilfracombe in that year. We were both posted to Reading Pay Office in 1941 and married in 1942. Soon after that John was commissioned in to the Royal Engineers and sent to India where his professional knowledge came in very useful in the building work that was going on in the fight against Japan. At one time he was Garrison Engineer of Madras. I remained in Reading looking after the pay of the Royal Signals Regt. There were not many British troops stationed round here in the last couple of years of the war, the 101st Airborne Div'n were at Brock Barracks and Rhaniket Camp, but I well remember the return of the Royal Berks Rgt after the war, my friend and I were watching them march by and were pulled in to the ranks and marched to the barracks with them.

John and I were demobbed in July 1946 and returned to Worcester, but when he heard about a vacancy in the Architect's Dept in Simonds Brewery he applied for it and started work here in the October. Soon after that we heard through friends that 48 Armour Rd was coming up for sale, the young couple who had bought it having to move to the north of England for his work.The house was only four months old when we moved in at the beginning of 1947, we moved in the day that the snow started. Coal was strictly rationed, electricity cuts happened every day, and we had two months of bitter weather.

When spring came we were able to look at where the garden should be, we had no proper fences, only a ragged hedge, and the first morning here I looked out of the french window and found a turkey staring back at me, probably a refugee from someone's Christmas celebrations. We knew that some of the land had already been acquired by the Council but had to wait for them to put up a fence, what is now the green was part of the plots surrounding the two houses.

The green became a pleasant outlook, but a few years later a council team suddenly appeared and dug up half of the grass replacing it with tarmac. Our local councillor discovered that someone had complained that they got their feet wet crossing the grass to post a letter. Since then the tarmac seems to have been dug up several times by various services. We planted a rowan tree as soon as we had a fence And it gave us great pleasure for many years until two dry summers and root disturbance caused by digging for cable television killed it off,

In those early days the Hunt had kennels in Long Lane and the huntsman used to bring the pack of hounds -as far as the green when exercising them. Our eldest son, then a baby would dance in his cot with excitement to see horses and 'doggies' under his window. The Muffin man came along Armour Road every week, dressed in white with a tray on his head and a bell in his hand, just like the nursery rhyme.

We raised three sons here, they are now middle-aged men with families of their own, we have eight grandchildren, four girls and four boys, five of whom are now grownup.

John remained with Simonds, later Courage, for the rest of his working life, in later years he became a district surveyor with responsibility for many of the public houses in parts of the Thames Valley and the South Cotswolds. He was always a keen member of the Royal British Legion and The Royal Engineers Association, serving for many years as Chairman of their Committees. He was also an active member of his professional association and still is, representing it on the Board of a charitable trust for architects and their dependants.

We are both very interested in Ecumenism and supported the how defunct Tilehurst Christian Council which he chaired at one time. I represented the Union of Catholic Mothers (usually known as UCM), on the Portsmouth Diocesan Council for Ecumenism for several years.

I stayed at home to look after the children until they had finished their education, but was involved in many voluntary activities, mostly church based. For instance, I have been the sacristan at our church for the last 33 years, and I was a marriage counsellor for more than 20 years, which involved a lot of work in schools where I gave talks and led discussions on relationships and family life, and I also took part in courses for engaged couples. This was with the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council. I was President of the Union of Catholic Mothers in the Portsmouth Diocese, and then Secretary, which involved quite a lot of travelling to visit parishes in Berks, Hampshire, Guernsey and the edge of Oxfordshire.

I have always been interested in flowers and gardening, having had my own garden plot from a very early age, so when the boys were off my hands I went to flower arranging classes, eventually doing the three years City and Guilds course and achieving the silver medal in the final exams. I then trained as a teacher for Adult Education and as soon as I qualified was asked to teach the City and Guilds course at the Technical College. A few years later I moved to evening classes. I belong to Reading Flower Club which comes under the umbrella of the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) and I am a NAFAS qualified Speaker and National Teacher which means I am on their lists to give talks to flower clubs and to do day schools. I am cutting back on the travelling now and am not keen to go out at night. I often get booked to judge the flower arrangements at local horticultural shows. I was on the Editorial Board of the Area magazine for Berks Bucks and Oxon for 11 years, 7 of them as Editor, which I enjoyed very much. John used to do the drawings of places of interest in the 3 counties, which we used on the covers of the magazine. (We both enjoy visiting stately homes and gardens at home and abroad).

Armour Road is not the quiet peaceful and homely road that it was when we came here, sometimes it seems more like one large car park, complete with the traffic noises involved with that, but in the main it is still a pleasant place to live, although we do miss some of the large trees especially the large cedar tree outside Waring's where the cuckoos used to come and sometimes a nightingale sang.

John Hadland

48 Armour Road is also known as Cornerways

It is interesting to note that this name was very fitting owing to the position of the house in relation to Armour Road sited as it was across the corner of the junction of Armour Road and Lower Armour Road. Unfortunately this gave rise to some confusion when another house nearby but not on a corner was given the same name many years afterwards.

We gave the our house a name because of further confusion being caused by the fact that the Authorities gave Planning Permission for one dwelling on a comparatively small plot whereas the builder (Francis Bros) wanted to erect two dwellings to make the exercise viable. The proposed building had already been allocated a postal number i.e. 48, and so it was agreed that the second house should be known as 48A.

The site was originally an allotment garden with its own water supply from a Well on the site.

Permission for the development included moving the boundaries with Armour and Lower Armour Roads to improve visability for drivers of vehicles. Hence the "green", which at one time had a seat for the older residents to use. However it was used much more by young people creating a nuisance at night, and so was removed.

The block was completed in mid 1946 and we moved in over the New Year period of 1947, an awfully cold winter. We have had about five different neighbours in 48A but members of the same family have occupied No. 46 ever since we came to Tilehurst.

This house has quite a large garden at the N. West side of it upon which stood a Blacksmiths Forge with its own access for various vehicles. I am not sure when it ceased to be used but it was well before we came.

It would seem that the hamlet of Armour was once quite separate from Tilehurst and there was a large brick built house where the fairly new flats are built in Lower Armour Road which we always knew as the Manor. The house was officially known as Armour Lodge I am informed. This was pulled down to make way for the new development. As the Parish Church was some distance away from Armour, the Salvation Army had a corrugated iron hut on the site of the Builders Office which doesn't appear to have been used much after W.W 2. Near this hut stood a small half-timbered cottage which was occupied for some considerable time after we came to live in the road and there was another old cottage in Lower Armour Road near where the bungalow now stands next to the Butchers Arms. I believe the only other half-timbered cottage is in Armour Hill opposite the site of the water-trough for horses west of the entrance to Newbery Park.

Armour Road had several shops and businesses including a shoe repairer, 3 General stores, Dairy, Ladies Hair Dresser, Light Engineering. Corn Merchants, and a branch of the Co-op. (now Berks. Vintners) plus Francis Bros the Builders. Some of those have gone and new office complexes have opened together with smaller trades men.

Den Malham added this: Re Mrs Hadlands house 48 Armour Road. They were built in 1946, and my brother in law was a builder (a bricklayer) and he was the bricklayer who helped to build her house. Mr Hadland later mortgaged his house (48 Armour Road) to provide the funds for the British Legion to be built.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Lionel and Betty Smee

I was born in 1927.

I left school at 14 on a Thursday. I started work on the Monday at Tate and Lyle. When I went to talk to them about getting job, they asked me what I could do. “I am an engineer, Sir” I said. “Good”, said the chap, “we could do with a lot of engineers.” So on the Monday I turned up for work and they gave me a broom and I had to sweep the floor! The place was very modern and automated. The girls were lined up at elevator rows. The girls had to lift up a blue paper bag to be filled with sugar. They didn’t dare miss because the filler was automatic. But when they did, the sugar spilled all over the floor and it was my job to sweep it up.

I was there until it caught fire. The fire was in about 1941 (I remember that the soldiers were already in Ranikhet camp). We saw that the place was on fire and all congregated on the hill and watched. So that was me out of a job.

My father was in St Georges Road, West Reading. In the war it was renamed the Food Priority Garage. They used to distribute things all over the place. I started working for him. So he started by giving me a broom! but that was how I came to be involved with diesel engines. He was a very strict disciplinarian. I had to call him Sir. We all believe it was because he was in the first world war. He was made a officer but after the war everyone said that he was much changed.

At the time Mr. Francis (Francis builders) owned the yard at 14 to 16 Armour Road. On the left of the yard was a timber shed. They used to stored the timber there for quite a number of years. Each piece of timber had the date it was put there painted on it. My father took over the yard and kept his lorries there and started Tilehurst Engineering Services. At the time it was all farmland round here so he used to service a lot of farm machinery. The farmers used to settle up once a year - on May Day!

Father moved from St Georges to Chapel Hill. He built a bungalow and had five acres of land at Northampstead Road - on the left hand side. He kept jersey attested cows, pigs and had chickens everywhere. I always thought he loved those animals better that us! By now I was working in Armour Road, and every morning I had to go and milk the cows before I went to work. Again I had to milk them when I got home in the evening. All the cows had their own stalls each with her name painted over the door - Buttercup and Daisy...

We all worked in the firm, my brothers Donald and Ken and Joy. Joy was sent to Thorneycroft on ammunition work but had a bad accident so she joined the ATS. She now lives in Barnstaple. Ken is now retired in Australia but came over here about five years ago. He didn’t recognize Reading and was glad he didn’t live here any more.

I did an apprenticeship with my Dad. Diesel was just coming and people were still a bit frightened of it. Before that we ran parafin engines. You had to start the engines with petrol and then heat a plate on the manifold so that it was hot enough to ignite the parafin, and then you would switch over to the parafin. Part of my apprenticeship was to learn how to tell when the plate was hot enough to switch over. My Dad used to tell me that I had to spit on the plate to find out! The parafin was actually called Tractor Vaporizing Oil and was known as TVO.)

Dad died in 1958 and we had to sell the business in Armour Road and share the money. Mr Cardy owned the workshop when Dad died. All the equipment was sold off and I didn’t have a bean. Mr Cardy use the premises to make the prototype for the Little Chef. When it was successful he made quite a lot of Little Chefs. The Cardy family still live in Upper Basildon and own property in Pangbourne. But old Mr Cardy I remember came in a Rolls Royce. It was one of those that had a running board. We sat there on the running board and he told me all about himself. He was a thatcher by trade. He even had string tied round his trousers but he was a millionaire.

We sold all the animals but my mother stayed on in Normanstead Road with the cowsheds. So I carried on the business there. I paid Mum £1 a week rent. The names of the cows were still up on the sheds. I got a Jeep. I worked servicing concrete mixers and built up the business servicing dumpers, vibrating poker units, cranes and so on for the local building trade.

Some chap then wanted to know who was doing all this work on Winget engines - that was Winget’s of Rochester. and so I became their agent. I had to travel all over the place and worked all hours. I used to be in the shed late at night. I had lights outside so that I could continue to work when it was dark. When a lightbulb went I used to worry because a new bulb cost 2s.

Betty was born in Ilford in Essex but mostly lived in East Ham as a girl. Betty’s father came to Reading in 1939. He was a Chief inspector on Great Western Railways. He got a transfer from Paddington. His offices when he moved were in the Bath Road. His job was to fit the right train to the right carriages. When the family came to Reading, they lived in Armour Hill. There were six in the family. Betty’s father was quite a gentleman. He used to wear a bowler hat. You could set your watch by him. After the war loads of lads would come to him asking him for work.

I think the first time I met Betty was when I was repairing one of Warings van. I stopped and asked Betty if she wanted a lift. She was taken aback and dropped her handbag. She refused the lift. After that I used to see her around Armour Road. She used to walk up to the Triangle where she worked in Sims, the shoe repair shop. She had previously worked in Maples in Reading, and Hedgingtons on the corner of School Road.

Betty’s father thought I was a bit scruffy and needed a haircut. I can remember that I had my hair quite long because it was 1/6d to have a haircut. Mr Francis once took me on one side and put his hand in his pocket and put 2/6d down and said that that was for me to go and get a hair cut - but he wanted the change. So I went ot Warners (where Grahams is now ) in School Road. “That’s better” he said when I got back.

Some time quite lot later Betty’s dad had a pub called the Top Hat. We went to visit him in the jeep. Her Dad was appalled and rushed inside to find a blanket to put round his daughter. It was an excellent blanket and we used it for a long time after that.

We used to service all of Francis’ lorries and they had a priority over all the other customers.

We got married in 1952. That is 50 years ago this year - August 2nd.

When we got married we moved into Betty’s Dad’s house. We had to sleep on the floor. I can remember going down in to the Coop in Reading and buying a mattress. I had to fold it up and bring it back on the bus. I put it in the luggage rack on the bus. I had to carry it back along Armour Road. You can imagine the remarks I got.

After a while we moved into the flat at the back on number 50. Mr Herbert was the owner and he wanted Key money of £75. So I had to sell my motorbike. It was all in a terrible state. We used to lie in bed looking up at the stars. Mr Herbert used to live at the front but he also had a house on the Isle of Wight. He used to go and live there in the summer.

Mr Herbert had houses in Little Street, Victoria Road and others. I used to go and collect the rent for him. I was always having to pass on messages from the tenants. He just didn’t do anything for them even though the rent was 7s6d.

While we were renting the flat here, there were lots of fruit trees in the garden. Since Mr Herbert wasn’t here in the summer when the fruit was ripe, we had instructions to pick the fruit for him. We had to parcel it up and take it to the post office and send it to him in the Isle of Wight.

On another occasion Herbert asked us if we would like to have a television. He had a shop in the Butts, Herbert and Lascelles. We thought that would be OK so he brought one up - a little black and white thing - and charged up 10/- a week for it!

Then he said he was going to sell the house. Some people came to look at the house saying that they were interested in buying it, but in fact stayed there as squatters. There were three of them. There used to be big wooden gates with a letter box. They wouldn’t let me get the post from the letter box. So I took off the gates. It nearly came to big bust up. Mr Herbert then wrote and gave us an eviction order. I had a word with the man from Lloyds bank. He said that he couldn’t lend me the money to buy the house, but he could loan the money to Tilehurst Engineering Services.

Although we bought the house in 1959, we didn’t move into to it properly unitl 1965. We moved in the day that Dawn was born - February 4th. The house wasn’t quite ready but we had to move in really.

Herbert hadn’t spent a penny on it. We were living in one small room at the back where the flat was.

The Sergeant family (of Sergeant’s Tools in Reading) used to live here before Mr Herbert. I used to get a lot of my tools from Sergeants. They used to ask me if the house was still standing and I used to reply that when I left it that morning it was.

There are two bay windows to the front of the house. Mr Herbert had drilled holes along the beam over the bays to let the water drip through.

We had been in the house a month when a man from the electricity board came. The place was condemned. I pleaded with him that we had small children. But he was unmoved. He invited me to accompany him to the main house. There were brass fittings to the lights. He told me to lightly put a finger on one of the fittings. Of course I got a shock. It was live. So we had to completely rip it all out and have it replaced. And what a job that was.

I moved out of the cowshed in 1969. I was in the Great Western Hotel when I met a man called Bob Kendall. He had had rather a lot to drink and he said he was going to sell up his business. I said I would buy it from him. I thought he was so drunk that he woudln’t remember anything about it but he did mean it. I had to buy everything, lock stock and barrel including the four employees so that he wouodln’t have to pay the off. So I became the owner of the Wharf in Pangbourne for £15,700. The building was a wonderful old boathouse down by the Thames. The bulk of the work there was fabrication so I divided it up into three businesses, Smee Steels (Thames) Ltd., Smeeways Plant Hire and Tilehurst Engineering (Plant) Co Ltd.

I found the fabrication work very interesting and learnt how to do the work. We made fire escapes for Royal Berks Hospital, and made pub signs for Courages. One of the pub signs lost its owner so I painted THE WHARF on one side and hung it over the Wharf. I ahd to learn quite a lot about making staircases especially for fire escapes, since I had to calculate the side thrust that people running down the stair case in panic. And then I had to calculate the fitting to make sure that they were adecuately fastened to the wall.

So I also made the spiral staircase that is at the back of the house here, and I made the balcony at the front of the house.

I did work at Reading Prison both using the plant and metal work. When I was there once and inmate asked me for a cigarette and I was about to give him one when one of the wardens smacked me on the wrist with his truncheon (I thought he had broken my wrist). He told me that the inmate would have used the opportunity to grab me and hold me to ransom.

I branched out into making fire baskets. I couldn’t bear to see the offcuts from other jobs going to waste so I turned them into baskets and that side of the of the business became quite successful. Just about all the family worked for the company. Paul and Barry did, I sent Kim to college to learn book keeping and then she worked for a while and Betty helped out with the book keeping. My brother’s daughter Cherry helped too.

I was an agent, buying and selling plant to quite a number of companies. On one occasion I had to fly to Scotland to negotiate the agency for Rob Roy. I found out that the chap I had to see was interested in fishing. I knew nothing about fishing so I bought a book on salmon fishing and went up there. I got the agency but I also had given me some smokies. I am not sure what they were but they smelt dreadful and I had to bring them back on the plane.

In 1992 we had a huge number of bad debts - about £62,000. The building trade was going through a very bad time. We were afraid to do any business. So we used Thimbleby and Shoreland to auction everything off.

I still worked for companies but as a consultant advising people about using plant etc.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Bernard Charles Badshaw

2 step children; 1 cat on loan

I was born on January 20th 1928 at Herne Hill near Dulwich. When I was about 12 months old Mum and Dad moved out to West Wickham near Bromley in Kent. Dad worked in London at the Royal London Insurance. He worked there all his life. He started as an office boy and was an office manager when he retired . Mum worked there in her younger days and that's where they met.

I have one brother. He lives in Orpington in Kent. I am going to Grenada with my brother and his wife. I have been to loads of places all over the world but never to that part of the world so when my brother invited me to join him and his wife on the trip it seemed a good idea.

I went to Horsdown Infants School and then went into the junior school and after that went on to boarding school in Crowborough. My brother went to the local school. I was always getting into mischief so I think I was sent away to do me good - and it did. After three or four years there I loved it although at the beginning I was homesick. It was right on the edge of Ashdown Forest. It was a co-ed school.

The war was on and the school was evacuated to St Columbs near Newquay in Cornwall. That is what started my love of the countryside. You had to leave school at 12. There was a 14 year old who worked up the road at a farm called Besson. He had been at the school and used to come back to visit and he told me that from time to time he got ten shillings. Well that made me interested.

In the meantime, because of the air raids on London, my dad went to stay with some friends in Herts. and my mum and her parents came down and rented rooms in a farm about a mile from the school. The farm was called Trebudanan. After a bit she rented a bungalow near White Cross and Tony, my brother went to Mountjoy School. I could have gone as well but I asked my mum if I could go and earn myself a few ten bobs. Every day I used to cycle to the farm. I used to do the cows, muck out, look after the calves. It was all hand milking then. I used to collect the milk and put it through the filter. They made Cornish cream and all the farmers used to eat Cornish cream and splits. My mum warned against them; she said it made them all pasty faced. When I was alone with my mum I used to feel responsible for looking after her. I used to get the wood in and do lots of jobs like that which I didn't when my dad was there.

My brother and I used to go in the woods and on to the common. There was a place where there were hundreds of baby lapwings - I still have a picture that I took of the lapwings. The farm used to go round setting gin traps (illegal). He used to take me with him and then the next day I was made to go round and collect all the rabbits. I used to slit and gut them. I assume that they sold them. I sometime ate rabbit with them because I had my lunch with them, but they never once gave me one to take home. He was a tight old devil. I got ten shillings a month.

Two or three years ago I went back to where the school was but it was no longer there. The lane to it was completely overgrown.

Mum rented the bungalow from a man called Mr Richard. They had a young child, and they had a nanny. I though she was gorgeous! We lived in the bungalow for about 2 years. On the coast there as an oil depot - so we didn't get away from the bombing. The raids on London were finishing. Dad was living in Cuffley and mum and dad wanted to get back together again. Dad came to get us in a big old American Buick! He didn't drive but hired it and a driver. All the way back we had to keep stopping to put oil in it. We had a nice little bungalow at the end of the Meadway in Cuffley and I went back to school again. A chap had started up the school and I was in the middle to top of the age group for the school. There was one prefect who didn't like me, we just didn't get on. He was a bully.

I had an allotment at the time. My dad got me one and I started growing things, cabbages and all sorts of vegetables, which I would give to my mum.

Then we went back to West Wickham - we still had the house there. We put all out bits and pieces on the local green grocer's van and trundled back through London. The house had been hit by an incendiary bomb so it needed a bit of tidying up.

I still went to school. We had one teacher who carried a swagger cane with him tucked under his arm. He had been in the territorial army. on one occasion he grabbed me by the arm and wacked me on the hand something terrible. He would have been arrested now!

I was keen on gardening, photography and art, so the school asked me if I fancied being a commercial artist. I trained at a technical college and learned about printing and photography, and then joined a company in Fleet Street. The chap in charge of the photography was ill fore a bit so I took over. I was quite good at it but I got fed up with going up to London every day - and I wanted to go back to farming. There was a training scheme for young boys which I joined in Surrey. I got some good milk yields from a herd I was looking after.

On one of the farms they kept chickens and I thought that if I was to start on my own that I would be able to do it with chickens. My mum saw an advert in the Smallholder magazine for a chicken farm near Rotherfield. It had planning permission for a house. I went to the bank and got a small loan. I lived in the local pub, the George, for a while and built up an egg round in the village.

I met Sue in the pub. She was from Wales. She had lost her husband and her friend Gwyneth pursuaded her to go and stay with her (Gwyneth's) sister who ran the pub. We started going out and then we got married. We lived in a caravan for a bit and then had a bungalow built on the chicken farm. We were there for seven years. It was very hard graft. I then started getting back trouble and the price of eggs fell. We had reps. coming into the farm, and we used to talk about the work so I applied to a company in Gloucester for a job as a chicken rep. I had a small area at first. If I sold 1000 chickens a week I was doing well. Then I got bigger and bigger areas with targets of 50000 chickens a week. I moved to about three different companies and ended managing the sales South East area.

We moved to the Reading area and lived in Kentwood Close with my step daughter, while we tried to sell the bungalow. Then we bought a flat in Aylesbury and then a house in Upton, near Slough. We moved back to Reading and lived in Westwood Road for about five years. We moved to Armour Road in 1975 , so have been here about 25 years.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Rod and Liz Ellis

2 Children Lucy lives in Nottingham Austin lives in Weybridge

We have lived at 59 since July 1973. The house was previously lived in by Mrs Maurice, known as "the Sister" because she worked in the local hospital. The house goes back to about 1870.

Liz's Story

I was born in Ashbourne, Derbyshire in 1941. I have an older brother who lives in Hellertown Pennsylvania. I have two younger sisters who live in London. My parents, Winifred and Ralph, live in Paulerspury, in Northamptonshire. Mum comes from Derbyshire; Dad was born in France and brought up in Spain. I briefly lived in Cuffley, Hertfordshire then we moved to a cottage in the New Forest. When I was four we moved to Poole Harbour. At the end of the war, the landlady's son was demobbed and she needed the cottage for him to return to. My parents had a week to find somewhere else to live. At the time they had three children under the age of five. Probably as a fairly desperate measure they borrowed my uncle's demob money and bought a Torpedo Boat (MTB349). That was where I lived until I was eighteen. I went to Bristol University and attempted to study Spanish and Portuguese. This is where I met Rod. He won me over with his New Orleans trumpet playing. He played in lots of clubs and pubs in Bristol - I thought this was very exotic. Well you would after living on a torpedo boat. We were married in 1966 and moved to London. I worked in the statistics office of Shell Mex in Knightsbridge. In 1968 we moved to Reading. We were very keen to move back to Bristol and felt that Reading was a move in the right direction. First of all we lived in Caversham, where Lucy was born in 1971, and finally we moved here. Austin was born a week or so after the move.

Rod's story

I was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1942. My mother, Winifred, was from was Gosport on the South coast and my father, Samuel, was from Colwyn Bay where they were married. Sam was a policeman and now lives in Blackpool.

We moved to Goole when I was eleven. When I left school I lived in Hull for a year working at Blackburn Aircraft in Brough East Yorks. I went to University of Bristol where I met Liz. When I was at university I started playing the trumpet in various jazz bands and had a briefly successful career in a Rhythm and Blues group - the RBQ. We moved to London and worked for ICT (later ICL). Then in 1968 we moved to Caversham when my job with ICL moved to Friar Street. In 1981 I joined the Polytechnic of Central London (now University of Westminster) as a lecturer in computing. I was there till 1997 and since then have worked as an avionics software engineer working on the Eurofighter project at British Aerospace in Warton.

Armour Road

We came to look at the house in the winter. We parked the car outside Arthur Newbery Park and walked up Lower Armour Road. We got to the corner and saw the house, and that was it. The thing that impressed us most about the house was the shutters. These are wooden shutters that are built into the window frame as a integral part of the window. The shutters are of a sash style, the same as the windows. We have seen a few houses in and around Reading that include shutters of the same style. There is one in Cane End and another in Alexandra Road. There may be many others for all we know. But we love our shutters and windows. (And incidentally hate double glazing salesmen!). Lucy was wearing her blue fake fur coat because it was very cold. Mrs Maurice called her a bright little button.

That day it was very foggy and we couldn't see down to the bottom of the garden. The garden was so overgrown that it was virtually impossible to walk down to the bottom. There were brambles and nettles about eight feet high all the way down to the bottom. Some time later we were amused to discover that Mrs. Maurice wrote articles for the Parish magazine about gardening! We gradually cleared the garden, with a lot of help from family. We kept finding piano wire for years - we can't imagine how many pianos were ditched there. Right at the bottom of the garden were buried lots of interesting bits and pieces. There were horse brasses and chains, bottles and jam pots (many from Henley jam makers). We found brass lamp fittings, gold rimmed spectacles, brass ink pots. All is explained by the fact that the house was built before a community rubbish clearance service was provided. So that is were it all went.

Not long after we had moved into the house, we discovered that the gates were missing. It transpires that this was a local custom, since it has happened more than once. It didn't take us long to find them down the road, propped up against a wall. Most gates down the road are screwed down and locked!

Mrs Wilkins lived next door to us in the ground floor flat of Number 57. She was in her nineties when we moved in. She had lived there for many years - also before there was a rubbish clearance service. And she wasn't going to make use of it now. So every Tuesday morning for about an hour we would tolerate the smelly bonfire that she had to burn her rubbish! She was a dear old soul. She slept on a feather mattress which we admired greatly.

One of the advantages of the garden being overgrown was that it was very interesting. We had wrens nesting in the plum trees at the bottom of the garden. There would be field fares, woodpeckers, large numbers of great tits and blue tits, blackbirds, foxes and hedgehogs. There is often the feeling that we no longer have quite such a haven, but we have always had lots of stag beetles and still do - even though nationally they are now endangered. We have had lizards breeding. There are toads and frogs and newts. We get dragonflies and damselflies. We don't see hedgehogs quite so often and we don't see the fox quite so often, but that is probably because we don't keep chickens any more.

The trees in the garden were mostly sycamores. However we had many trees that were the remnants of the old orchards that had been here. Mrs Wilkins could remember going to school by walking out of a back gate and across the fields and orchards to the school by the Plough. We had a wonderful russet apple tree and various other apple trees of old varieties that we didn't recognise. Alas they are now all dead, although a few of these old trees still remain in the vicinity. There was a magnificent damson tree right at the bottom of the garden. This came down in a storm a few years after we moved into the house. Fortunately a new one is taking its place nicely.

One of the trees that has remained and brings great joy to us is the willow tree. Although the tree itself is not much to look at it, every year at the beginning of the spring a swarm of bees visit over a period of a few weeks. At this time, when you stand under the tree the noise of the bees is a wonderful portent of the coming summer. At that time, we also have a carpet, well a rug of bluebells and snowdrops.

Lucy went to first to Tilehurst Methodist Church Playgroup and then Blagrave nursery under the watchful eye of Miss Batty. The children both went to Norcot Junior School. There was no edge to the pavement so cars often came up on to the pavement which made walking them to school along the road interesting! The top end of the road, between Francis and the junction with School Road, often flooded when it rained. The children called it Armour Lake.

As well as school, they were involved in many other activities. There is a strong tradition in this areas for girls to attend dancing classes. So there was lots of that, with medal tests and exams. They both were in pantomimes mostly at the Hexagon but also with the Triangle players and Austin did a season in Aldershot - it starred Dave Lee Travis as the Pied Piper of Hamelin. They were also both involved in local music activities eventually spending a number of years with Reading Youth Orchestra. This was a most enjoyable and formative part of their education. And there was also the horse years with many years spent to-ing and fro-ing to Bradfield, many competitions and rosettes and mucking out and grooming.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Ron Eales

I have been here for about 25 years so I moved here in about 1975.

I was born on 5th January 1933 in Great Knolly Street in Reading. I have one sister who now lives in Bramshaw Road.

My dad was a slaughterman. The slaughterhouse was in Great Knolly Street at the time so he lived nearby. After the slaughterhouse closed down he worked on the railway as a general labourer.

Before she married my mum worked in Huntley and Palmer doing biscuit packing and checking. There were thousands of people working there then. I don't think they had conveyor belts then, so the checking was all manual. Her mother died when she was 16 so she had to take over the running of the family. Her mother had suffered from swelling and water on the legs. My mum had a tough life. She had pneumonia and a collapsed lung but she lived till she was 90. She was only little but she was tough - a short lady who knew how to look after herself. When I moved up here she used to come up and go down to the pub. Everyone liked her - a wonderful woman.

My mum's father was Champion Mile Runner of Reading. His name was Dick Ledger. He was a terrible man who left young gran to do everything at home. And then when she died my mum took it on.

I went to EP Collier School and then to Battle. You could read write and spell when you came out of schools then, so there couldn't be much wrong with them. They were strong on discipline as well.

I left school at 14. I went to work as an apprentice at Vincent's a big place down opposite the station. Dick Vincent was one of the biggest motor businesses - the Huntley and Palmer of the motor trade in Reading. The apprenticeship was for 5 years but when I was 18 I did my National Service. I just had to do it - but it straightened me out. I was in the National Service for 2 years with the First Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment and then was 31/2 years with the Territorial Army. I served in East Africa, Egypt and Cyprus. It was all semi active service. We were there because they were all trouble spots.

I came back and after a couple of years got married. I went back to Vincent's for 2 to 3 years. My wife was a seamstress in Burberry's in Reading before we got married. Burberry's was opposite the bus station then but that has all gone now. We lived in Cambridge Street. I have 2 sons and 3 daughters who live all over the place. They were all born in Cambridge Street. We lived for a bit in Prince of Wales Avenue and then we all came up here. I used to play football and played for quite a number of different teams including the Victoria Athletic which was the Great Knolly Street team. I also played for West Reading Football Club which was a good team. I stopped playing football after I left them - I wanted to stop when I was at the top. I didn't want to keep getting into not such good teams.

I worked at Norcot Timbers, at the bottom of Norcot Road for about 10 years doing timber felling and forestry work. I went all over the place mostly doing tree lopping and felling in woods and estates. The wood was brought out and used for pulp wood, charcoal or for timber, depending on the type of wood.

Nowdays I have got my allotment and I do tree lopping and grass cutting and general garden work for people. With my allotment in between, that's enough!.

If I go out, we usually go down to the Butler, Queen's Arms, Wallingford or Alfred's Head. My wife used to go to the ladies bar in the Butler. but that's gone. I go out now where I grew up. and the people I go out with all grew up as kids together. We would rather stick with that. The Duke of Edinburgh is now derelict. Loads of the pubs round there have gone. The pubs round here are more for young people and I don't like that. You could go walking up Great Knolly Street and drink in all the pubs and you'd get quite drunk there are so many!

When I grew up there, with the cattle market there, they used to drive the cattle down the main road and turn by the railway line to the market. There used to be gypsies coming in with horses doing the horse trading.

At the back of Great Knolly Street they used to have a huge fair every year. It spilled out all down Great Knolly Street and stretched from George Street to North Street. This part of Reading used to be the centre of life in Reading although it was a bit rough. The fairground was given to the children of Great Knolly Street by Lord Knolly, although some of it has now been built on. During the war the Americans use the fairground to park their lorries and tanks on.

Ron updated his reminiscences with this photo of when the people of Great Knolly Street all got together to celebrate VE Day in May 1945.

VE day

We used to get floods down there. At least twice we were flooded right up to the first floor and we had to be taken out by boat. We had to stay upstairs and couldn't go out to play. Quite a bit of the area used to get flooded - all the way down Caversham Road.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

John Hobbs - Cooks Accountancy

I have worked for the firm for 28 years. Cook and Co. came here in 1989. We used to be in Oxford Road.

We moved here because of the problems with parking and the high rents in the Oxford Road (and because the boss lived just round the corner!).

Many of the staff left then and we took on many local staff. I live the furthest away, but my boss discussed the move with me and we realised that the No 17 bus serves the purpose. I live in Earley, so have a half hour walk to the bus stop and a walk down Armour Road at this end. I look upon this as my exercise. I shall be retiring in July - so I shall have to make sure that I still get some exercise.

The company is a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants. My boss qualified in 1961. Mr Cook is now semi-retired - we have worked together for many years. I didn't qualify as an accountant. I am staff and work as a senior audit clerk. We handle the accounts for all sorts of clients but mostly for medium sized companies.

We are moving over to a lot of IT work now so I have seen many changes in the way that we work. I am not very computer oriented and am not going to get involved now, but the new staff are and take it all very seriously.

When I started work it was with Huntley, Bourne and Stevens. They made the tins for Huntley and Palmer. But of course the containers are all plastic now. I met my wife, Pauline, there. She joined the finance department straight from school. She worked for them until about 6 months ago when they closed down. The finance department was about the last bit to be closed down. Since then she has worked part time.

We have been married for 30 years. We have always lived in Earley. At first we lived in a terrace house and after a few years we moved to a semi. It is an older style house. We like it because of the size of the rooms and the high ceilings. They are 8 feet 4 inches high! I know because of the decorating!

When I came to work over here, I didn't know anything about the area. I couldn't find my way around at all. However, because I used to walk up and down the road a lot, people would stop and ask me the way - especially to the motorway. They assumed I was local. I hadn't a clue where it was. It is a shame about Cannings closing down - I used to go in there to get my paper.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Chris Wall and Merci Grace de la Conception


I am from the Philipines. My great grandparents were from Spain. I am also part Malay and part Chinese on my mother's side. Both my parents have some Spanish.

I was born in Medina in the south of the Philipines. In total there were eight brothers and sisters. One died so we are now seven. Most of us are very tall except for one sister who is only four feet eight. I grew up during times of insurrection. Often there were dead bodies lying in the street and gunpowder was a way of life.

I have been in England for 7 years. I came here as a fiancee. I actually sacrificed my life to come here with the person I loved. Although we were not very well off in the Philipines we had a good standard of living - by their standards. I was struck by the very different culture here. I have always been very interested in things and am used to very open communication between all of us. I am very direct and I like to stand up for myself - especially at college. If I have a problem I like to solve it myself. I feel I should stand up on my own two feet without help from other people. My mother was like that as well.

When I came here first I lived in Blundell's Road. My fiance was half English and half Italian. His parents lived there for 33 years. I am now going through a divorce.

I am studying at Reading College doing HND in Computing. and I also work part time as an interior sales consultant at Debenhams. The course I am doing is for two years but I am not very pleased with the course - it is a bit old fashioned - for example they are still teaching Pascal. I think we are developing bad computing habits. I have complained but nothing has been done.

I am starting a web site - and am very ambitious for it. I am close firends with someone in Oklahoma who I met on the internet. What I have learnt about computing is mostly self taught.


I have lived in Reading all my life - 39 years now.

My mother lived on a river boat by Scours Lane. The boat was then moved to Caversham - and they stayed there until the coucil repossessed the land. She can remember the times when the meadows at Cavershan used to flood and they had to leave the boat by dinghy. At those times she can remember the dead cows everywhere. My mum lived on the boat until she married my father. She is Scots. My father was stationed in Scotland during the war and that's where they met.

My dad was a painter and decorator and had his own business. When I was born, my mum stopped working and we went to live in a tiny little flat at the top of a Victorian built house in Castle street and then we were rehoused to Whitley - to a council house that was on Harbrook Road. There was a park over the road which had open fields at the back before they started the redevelopment of the area. I have a brother and two sisters and we all lived in that house until my parents separated.

We then went to Orts Road near Cemetery Junction. I loved living there between the Kennet and the Thames but I hated the house. It was very cold. There was an electric geyser that provided enough hot water for half a bathful. The rest of the water was heated in saucepans. We all had to share the bath - me with my brother first and then the sisters. My mum met another man who was really quite brave taking on four children. He had a boy as well.

But my bother and I loved playing in the area. We used to walk along the river to Sonning and go fishing. That was before Tescos was build there. But then they started to redevelop the area over the 60s and 70s so we were moved out. We went to a brand new house in Elizabeth Walk in Whitley. I had a room of my own. I always remember that we took the carpets from the old house in Orts Road to the new house and they wqere about 2 feet too short all round. The beauty of it was the central heating, but my mum couldn't afford to have it on all the time. So although it was a lovely house all my friends were back at Orts Road.

I had been to Geofrey Field Junior School and spent the last year of juniors at Newtown School. I then went to Alfred Sutton School and I left at 16. I didn't know what I wanted to do so I ended up working for a painting and decorating company and am still doing that although I work for myself now.

I was working for a little while at Rawlings. They were in a building off the Recreation Road car park at the back of the Coop. I worked as an apprentice carpenter. Ken Leavey was a very kind man. He was a partner of Lafford and Leavey at Theale. I had worked for some Dutch Canadians and they had told me that they had some work that needed doing which turned out to be in the South of France. I was very scared of going out there because it was my first trip abroad. I went on the boat train to Nice and spent four months there but didn't learn any French.

While I was there I met this really lovely lady. She and her sister had been out on a trip with a friend in the car. They had a puncture and while they were trying to mend the puncture the car fell on their friend and killed her. They went for help and the help turned out to be an English officer. They eventually married and came to live n England. He started the Sleepeeze company. They went back to France when he developed Alzheimers disease. She had taken her butler out there and so when I was there they would give me meals and were very kind and translated things for me. So the experience was very much better than I expected. and that was my first experience of being self employed.

I have worked in many places since but most of my work was at Gillettes, doing maintenance and painting and decorating. My dad had done the work there before me, but I got the contract from him because I was younger and cheaper. I liked working at Gillettes because it was steady work.

After France it was a long time before I travelled abroad again and then I met some people from the Canaries and I visited there a lot. I have been to all the islands except two.

It's rather strange how I came to live here. I knew nothing about this area at all. I wanted to leave home and earn more money and get a house. When I was thinking about leaving I saw the house advertised in the local freebee newspaper. My mum worked in a pub at the time and she asked a man in the pub if he knew anything about the house. It turned out that he lived next door to it! I loved it immediately. I think a Mrs Collins lived here and she had gone into a home. The only thing that was wrong with it was that the man over the road told me that her husband had died in the house and that scared me a bit. It had been empty for about a year. It was very neglected and needed a lot of money and hard work spent on it.

The only person I really know round here is Jim, the man next door, who knew about the house when it was for sale.

The other good thing about the road is Warings with their wonderful friendly staff, even though one of Warings vans knocked over my front garden wall. The driver was very apologetic and said he had skidded on black ice. When I went into the shop to ask what they were going to do about it, I said "I am Chris Wall and I have come to talk about the wall". It took some time for them to understand me. But they did sort it out and rebuilt the wall without any trouble.

I have had the front wall knocked over three times in all so I was quite pleased when they put the humps in to slow the traffic.

I have no wife, no children but have had a lot of lovely lodgers.

It has been a good thing

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Stephen and Brian Cooper

Moved in on 15th December 1995

James Ettridge and his brother Rob lived here before us and then moved out to Cold Ash because they inherited their grandfather's house. They were here for about four years.

We haven't moved very far, about a mile and a half, from Gwynne Close, off Fairford Road. We were born there. Stephen was born on 19th November 1970 and Brian on 14th August 1972.

We both went to Westwood Farm School and Little Heath.

Stephen's Story

I got a job when I left school down in Theale for a firm of surveyors called Ridge and Partners and I am still there. I am now a chartered building surveyor.

I studied part time at Reading Technical College on day release for 5 years.

I had to keep a professional diary for two years and had an interview with RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) in London. I became an ARICS, qualifying in 1997. By coincidence, I was at a conference where I met my girlfriend who was also studying to become an ARICS and she also went to Little Heath School.

I help run a church youth club for children from 9 to 13 years old at St. Michaels church. I have been doing that for 6 years.

I play rugby on a Tuesday for Shire Hall ( the Old Berkshire County Council team)

Brian's Story

After school I sneaked into university. I did History at Leicester University. I did three years at Leicester and graduated in 1993.

I did loads of short term dead end jobs - put my degree to such good use! I did stints at Yellow Pages and the Intervention Board amongst other places.

In 1995 I joined Thames Valley Police working at the training centre at Sulhamstead. I have an 18th century drawing room as an office. My actual job is staff officer to the Head of Training for Thames Valley. She is a police superintendant.

I have always had a female boss.

I have an obsession (Stephen - he really has!) - cricket. I used to play for Tilehurst Cricket Club when they played here on the rec. I started in the under 13s. Tilehurst Cricket Club started in the 1890s. I was in the last year of the colts when the Tilehurst Cricket Club folded in the 1996 season. It closed because of the poor facilities. It only had the portacabins. So Tilehurst merged with Theale Cricket Club because Theale had nice facilities and Tilehurst had the players.

So during the summer I play every Saturday and every Sunday. I am 2nd X1 captain and have been for 3 years. I help with the under 15s and under 17s. That dominates every waking hour in the summer. I do loads of coaching for the colts during the winter.

I am a sad regular of the Bird in Hand. I watch Reading Football Club. For three years, until recently I was secretary for the PCC (Parish County Council).

About the House

On the ground floor on the lintel over the window is the inscription 1872. Upstairs on the lintel are the initials GH which is probably for George Hunt, the builder.

Our neighbours

In April 1998, I (Stephen) had a blue Fiesta which Brian now has. The car was parked in the drive and I was inside the house. There was a knock on the door. It was a neighbour from over the road. My car had rolled out of the drive, across the road and demolished the wall of their garden. All things considered she was remarkably calm. It was lucky really that it didn't hit anyone or another car. I eventually cleaned up the bricks and got the wall rebuilt. It needed 12 new bricks!

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Milly Somerfield

In 1941 I moved to Number 75 Armour Road. I was married at St. George’s Church in St George’s Road. We moved there when we got married. And next year we will celebrate our Diamond wedding.

We lived at number 75 for about 5 years. The rent was 12/6 a week and we had a job to find that. My husband worked on the railway on the signals and he earned £2-10s. a week. He worked as a signalman in Scours Lane. The signal box has gone now. Harold used to go on his push bike, and later on a motorbike.

Before I married I worked in service. I started along the Oxford Road, in Argyle Street. I did the housework for a lady for 5/- a week and had half a day off. She did the cooking but I did most else. My father came and got me one day and said I wasn’t to work there any more because the lady was too religious.

After that I went to Sulhamstead. I was scullery maid to the wine people, the Gilbey’s. I got up at 6 in the morning and had to light the fires. Then I had to take tea to the lady’s maids and the under butlers. You were meant to have a rest in the day and then I usually worked from three till midnight.

The butler told my mum to take me away because they were working me to death. So that was another job gone.After that my mum decided that I should live at home. I got a job looking after a boy in Russell Street. I went down there each day.

Then the war came and I went to Slough in a munitions training factory. I wasn’t there long when I got married and moved to 75 Armour Road.The landlady was a Mrs. Iremonger, who lived in Purley. Mrs. Macdonald moved out of number 77 and we then moved to number 77 because number 75 was rented furnished and number 77 was unfurnished so the rent was cheaper. We had to buy our own furniture, though. We lived at number 77 for 14 years. We had a very good neighbour, Mrs Conley.

We had two boys and two girls. My children were all brought up in Armour Road. They were all born at home. Elizabeth was booked in to be born in Dellwood, but at the last minute they say that they had too many emergencies. So at 3o’clock on Easter Sunday Elizabeth was born. The midwife said that I was a very lucky mother. When I asked her why she told me that there was a fire at Dellwood that night and several babies died.

The children all went to the Laurels and then Park Lane School. One of the boys went to Stoneham School and one to Norcot. Pauline went to Westwood Girls School.

Alice Lambden, Hilda Childs and I used to collect money each week from people in the road and take the children to the sea side - I remember one year we went to Hayling Island. We did that for two or three years. For several years we had a street party. On VE day we had a party in the rec. All the children had to dress up.

For very many years I was very friendly with Ethel; Ken Englefield married Ethel.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Fiona Graham
James and Julia

Dog, 2 cats (Lulu and Billy), 4 fish, 1 bird (a bald budgie)

We have lived here since 1987

Fiona's Story

My dad worked for BOAC as it was then (BA). He was a servicing Engineer. I was born in Brazil, then lived in Iran till I was 2 then Libya for three years. I went to an American school in Libya. It was an American oil company's school. I was there when Gadalfi had his revolution. He was only 24 when he did that. It's really scary to think about someone as young as that doing something like that, but we didn't have to leave. We did have to move houses and couldn't go to church any more. We used to hold secret services in people's houses. Then we came back to England. and lived in Burnham. I went to school in Slough at St. Bernard's Convent and then went to Slough college to do a hotel booking course.

I worked in Windsor at the Castle Hotel until I got married 1985 and lived in a flat in Maidenhead. James was born in 1986 and we moved in here in May 1987.

The house had been empty for about a year and before that Mr and Mrs Evans lived here. Mrs Evans moved to the church cottages by St. Michaels.

Julia was born in 1989. I started working at the Tilehurst Methodist Church Under 5's playgroup in about 1992 and was there for about 4 years. I then started working at Boots in about 1996.

Both children went to Blagrave nursery then Park Lane where Julia still is and James is at Little Heath.

The cats are show cats. I show at Bracknell. They have won loads of rosettes.

Billy's best at winning prizes but he is not brilliant because his ears are a little high!

My life is work, housework, show the cats and walk the dog in Sulham Woods.

My grandfather worked as a wool merchant and went to Germany when the war broke out (it would have been the first world war). He spent the war in a prisoner of war camp and my grandmother had to wait until the end of the war to get married.

James' Story

I am 13. I go to Little Heath School. My favourite subject is Design Technology. I am best at science.

I play football with Southurst Park Colts. The home ground is at Prospect. A friend got me into it. I went to training for three weeks and got into the team. We play every Sunday. The team plays every week. We train on Monday nights.

I got my ear pierced because it looks really good. Most of the children in my class have their ears pierced. It is a bit unfair. The girls can wear a pair of earrings and a finger ring but the boys aren't allowed to wear jewellery. So when I get home I put in my stud.

I do a paper round two nights a week, round Armour Hill, Mulberry Close, Dudley Close, Dudley Mews and the Cedars and Larissa Close. It takes about 11/2 hours for the three of us (+ Mum) to do the delivery (197 houses). You can tell the houses that have a dog to help deliver the paper.

I do homework. The homework has slackened off a bit in year 8. It gets tough in year 10.

I ride a bike for a hobby, trick stunts and wheelies.

I have a mobile phone in case I get lost in Savacentre. (I have got lost lots!)

I would like to be a computer graphic designer for Sony and make games for Playstation. I will have to work hard at maths and art and go to university.

Julia's Story

I am 10. I go to Park Lane School. My favourite subject is maths. I am best at maths. In September (2000) I shall be going to little Heath.

I go to the youth club on Friday night at the Triangle. I love the disco nights best. I like being read to! I love the Harry Potter books.

My granddad (Dad's dad) was William in two of the first black and white films of Just William. He taught Bruce Forsythe to tap dance.

Granddad lives in Exmouth in Devon. He was called William Graham for the film but his real mane is Ed Graham.

My grandpa (Mum's dad) was in the film Santa Claus and the Elves, he starred as an elf.

(Fiona - my Mum used to work for Phyllis Dixie.)

I help my brother with his paper round and we split the money.

I would like to go and live in America and live in Disneyland. It would be excellent. My best dream is to be bigger than James and beat his up.

I would love to have a dolphin and swim with it. I have a friend who did that in Florida. She had a video of it. There were two dolphins and she was whizzed around with them.

I would like to do something with maths because I really like maths.

About Armour Road.

There was a woman down the road one day some years ago delivering things. She had asked to deliver to the road because she used to live here. She told me that the people used to keep a pig at the back. They would share the feeding the pig with scraps. When the time came they would share the meat.

We used to love getting fish from Alan the fishman. He used to give James extra strong mints. Every week we used to go to his van and he would given James the money to go into the sweetie shop to buy the mints.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Keith and Liz Aldersley

2 children Rachael and Simon
Rachael still lives at home
We moved here in September 1982
We moved here from Overdown Road. I came to see the house first and fell in love with it.


My dad’s family came from Yorkshire. He moved south when he was stationed in Portsmouth and Dover during the war. He worked on the ack ack guns. But he was a metallurgist by trade. I was born in Devizes in Wiltshire. When I was six months old the family moved to Huddersfield.

We went to live in Canada for two years. My dad spent two years working in New Glasgow in Nova Scotia, making booms for the St Lawrence seaway. He was Chief Metallurgist. My mum worked in Huddersfield as an auxiliary nurse, but when she was in Canada she was a lady of leisure.

When we came back in 1960 we lived in Keighley. We were there for about 18 months. For some of the time my dad worked in Preston. He was a weekly commuter leaving home on Sunday night and coming home at the end of the week.

I went to Outlane School in Huddersfield and in West Side High School in Canada. In Keighley, I went to Eastwood Secondary School.

After that we came to live in Reading. My father worked in AWRE. I went to Stoneham School. I left school at 16 and went to Reading College for two years. I did a Building Technology course and went into building construction. I work as a freelance quantity surveyor. I am part of the Chartered Institute of Building and am self employed.


I was born in Dellwood Maternity Home. My mum and dad lived with my granddad in Burghfield Road. My granddad managed Kennet Valley Nursery in Burghfield Road. During the war my mum was a land army girl and my dad served in the RAF as a mechanic.

When he left the army he maintained his trade as a mechanic. He worked for Halls Aggregates. It was originally called Barnets.

My mum trained as a hairdresser. She did her training at Thomas' in Cross Street.

We lived in Burghfield Road for two years. We moved when I was two and my sister was three to a council house in Emmer Green. My mum still lives there.

That area was a real community. It was a new estate. The community were nearly all young families with children. I have very happy memories of my childhood there. I was at Emmer Green primary school - which is still there. I then went to the Grove which is now Highdown School. I have very happy memories of school.

Red Cross has always played a big part in my life. My mum started a youth group in the Emmer Green area and I was part of it.

When I left school I went to Reading College to do my NNEB (National Nursery Examination Board) - a nursery nurse, but end up as a florist. I was a nanny for a few months but my aunt had a florist's shop in Caversham. So I went to work there and I found a had a natural talent for arranging flowers. I stayed there till Simon was born. My aunt would have loved me to have taken on the shop.

I have done a lot of voluntary work. In 1986 I gave up working for the Red Cross. We joined the Tilehurst Methodist Church in School Road and I felt called to do something in the church. That became clear. I trained to be a local preacher. Before that I could never have imaged doing anything but Red Cross work.

For the last three years I have worked in the Social Services with the Children and Family Team, and since April this year in the Disabled team.I have just completed a diploma in Pastoral Counselling from St John's College in Bramcote in Nottingham. I did it as a distance learning student. It has been very rewarding.


He was born in 1973 in Reading in the Royal Berkshire Hospital. He was always mad on football which has played a big part in this life. He could kick a ball before he could walk.

He went to Newbery Lodge and was there until he went to Westwood Farm. He then went to Reading School.

Simon played for Manor Boys and later with Reading Boys and Berkshire County teams. Keith was manager of Manor Football Club. I (Keith) started with the under 9's. Les Pring was a scout for Tottenham Hotspurs. He lived just round the corner in Victoria Road. He encouraged Simon and brought him on.

Simon played for Sheffield University first team and also for Reading Town but he had a knee injury so is now playing for Hurst.

He works for the Customs and Excise in London Road.


Rachael was born on July 4th 1975. She went to Newbery Lodge and then to Blagrave Nursery and Westwood Farm. She then went to Hemdean House. She was there until she was 16 and then went to Reading College. She was with Reading Swimming Club for many years. And she danced at the Wilkinson School of Dancing.

She now works at Pizza Hut and has done so for 6 years. She worked briefly at Warings the Baker and really enjoyed that.


We had 2 cats. Smokey came with us from Overdown Road. She was 19 when she died. We also have Gemma. She came as a stray in 1983. She is a very affectionate cat. She must be about 19.

The House

We bought the house from Roger Breeze. Before that Maurice Edelstone lived here. We think he moved here in about 1935. He played for Reading and was a commentator on the BBC. He also had a chain of sports shops in Reading.

A headmaster of Reading School also lived here before that. The house was also lived in by a spinster from Newbury.

We think the house was built in about 1910.

We have a well in the garden. A sycamore tree has grown round it and the pump doesn't actually work. It just has frogs living in it.

We have servants' bells in the house - but no servants!

Update at 2014: Liz is now retired but Keith is still working as a self employed Quantity Surveyor. Simon is married to Claudia and they have 5 boys and live near Southport in Lancashire. Rachael is married to Richard and they live in my mum's old house in Emmer Green where I grew up.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Mrs Williams

I moved here in 1964. The house was being built then, and when it was finished we bought it and moved in. Mrs Croft, next door, moved in within a few weeks of us. We bought it to retire to. Up till then we had lived in the Dairy. The land had been part of the garden that belonged to Mr Edelston (the famous Reading footballer).

My mother was a Londoner. She was evacuated to Coleshill in Buckinghamshire. My father lived in the Battle Inn in the Oxford Road. As far as I know he was born there. When the family gave up the pub they moved to Maidenhead. My dad was a plumber. All my husband's family were into business: one was a butcher in the Oxford Road, another ran a butcher's business as part of a Co-op. They were all big families. My father was one of 11 children. My mother's mother also had a huge family.

I was born in Dellwood in Reading. I sometimes go past there now and look up at the window where I was born. My parents lived in Oxford Road, on the Norcot Estate. It was a lovely estate then. We lived in a close where we all knew each other and got along fine. I went to school in Grovelands (which isn't there any more) and then went to Wilson. I had to walk to school - both of them. We didn't think anything of it then. We even used to walk home at dinner time. It was only the poor children that stayed for dinner at school.

We had Williams Dairy at 675 Oxford Road. The dairy was in the family for years. My father-in-law ran it and then Dennis (my husband) worked with him. When my father-in-law died Dennis took over. I used to help in the shop. The shop was a new one built in front of the old dairy in 1945. Before that we only had a small yard which was actually in Shaftesbury Road. It was an orchard before that and we had ducks on a pond. When we first got married, we lived in a house on the other side of the dairy and then we moved into the house that was at the back of the dairy. The bedrooms were over the shop.

In the war, I used to help out with the deliveries. The women had to do all these sort of jobs then. I worked in the office during the day and then in the evening we had to go out to the farms to collect the milk. Mabel Cripps used to drive the van. We went out to all sorts of different farms in Bucklebury, Midgham, Woolhampton etc. On the way back we often used to stop off in the pub for a drink!.

Normally, I used to work in the office and my husband was in charge of pasteurising and cooling the milk and bottling. There were huge vats of milk and we had a mechanized conveyer with the bottles on it that went round to be filled. We made the cream which everyone said was really good. We used to get loads of complements about it. You just can't get cream like that today.

Once in 1962, it was a really cold winter. One day, 7 of the delivery roundsmen failed to turn up. My husband and I had to do all the rounds. We had people phoning up all day asking where their milk was. The conditions were really icy and we were out delivering till 8 o'clock that night. My husband started his work at 4 o'clock in the morning - we used to go to bed at 9 o'clock we just used to get so tired.

We had three children who were all brought up in the dairy. We didn't really have a garden for them to play in so I used to take them up to Prospect Park. I used to go with a friend and her children. While we were up there we used to collect firewood and put in on the pram to bring home. We had a big old chimney which caught fire once. It was quite serious and the firemen had to come out. It flared up again in the night and needed to be put out again.

Nowdays I have a good friend who takes me out and about. She has a daughter who married an American from Greenham Common USAF base and who now lives in America. So we have been to visit her. We go for about six weeks at a time. We have a get together at Christmas and the New Year. And she is always organizing trips out for the day.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Linda and Julian Leverett
Sarah and Jess

3 cats, a rabbit, fish in the pond

We have been here for about 16 years. We moved here just up from Polsted Road (number 11). We were there for about 10 years. We were married in 1973 - we did our courting in the Greyhound at Peppard Common which used to be our local. When we were married first we lived for about a year in Kendrick Road. While we were there we were burgled, our car was stolen and people complained about the noise we made.


I was born in Nettlebed in 1949. My dad was a painter and decorator. He worked all his working life for Browns of Nettlebed. In his last year at work Browns was taken over by Collier and Cately of Reading. My grandfather lived all his life in Nettlebed and dad lived there most of his life. My mum came from Newcastle under Lyne. She came down to work on a farm as a land girl in the war.

I went to primary school in Nettlebed which was just over the road. The secondary school was at Woodcote. We had to go by school bus and it took about an hour. The bus went through Nuffield and all the other villages collecting all the children. It was about a quarter of an hour's walk even to get to the bus.

When I left school I took an apprenticeship with Southern Electric. The apprenticeship was five years with day release at Maidenhead and Reading Colleges.

I left Southern Electric after about six years and worked on my own for about 2 years. Then I got a job servicing and maintaining hairdressing equipment. Depemo was the company in Lancashire. I had this area, about 30 or 40 miles round Reading. Of the 8 or so electricians they had working for them only two of us were profitable so after about 10 years I took voluntary redundancy. I got to keep the company car and £1000. In fact the next day I started work for myself and took the same clients that I had had with Depemo. I did well out of that. I was able to reduce my prices to the client and offer a better service and am still doing this work after 15 years.

I play in the crib team for the Bird in Hand. We play in the Reading League. I also play in a 10 pin Bowling team at Megabowl in Pincents Lane.


I was born in Bracknell in 1953. I was there for about six months. My parents moved around a lot because of their work and we ended up in Maidenhead. Both my nan and grandad were in domestic service. My father was chauffeur for Lord and Lady Palmer. They lived in Pinkney Green and we lived in the lodge to the house. My mother worked in the house. I can remember going to the Huntley and Palmers factory quite a bit. We lived there until I was about 11. The Palmers moved to Fairly Hill and we moved to Peppard Common. My father then started work as a plumber at Arthur Butlers in Peppard. Arthur Butlers are celebrating their 50th anniverary. Julian still does a lot of work for them as a subcontractor.

My mother cleaned houses all her life. She still does a bit in Sonning Common where they have been living for about a year. She gets to know people that way.

I went to school in Courthouse primary in Maidenhead and then to Chiltern Edge in Sonning Common.

My first job was in James Bird travel Agency in Yield Hall Place, where the Oracle is now. I worked as a travel clerk and end up as assistant manager. I worked there about 12 years and then at British Airways for 3 years as a ground hostess at Terminal 1. I left when I was pregnant. I had the two children. Sarah was about seven when I went back to work. I now work in the intervention board offices as an administrative officer.

About Armour

It is quite an unsociable road. We don't know many people except the people immediately round here. In fact we know more people still from Polsted than here. However it is really convenient but not so convenient now that Cannings has shut down. Julian used to do electrical work for Cannings and when it closed he took out all the electrical equipment. He also rewired the bakery at Warings about 10 years ago.

We don't like the bumps in the Road. It has caused a lot of damage to our cars and van.


I was born in 1981 in Cleveland Ward in the Royal Berks Hospital which was then a GP unit. (Linda - she screamed for the first three years.) It was the day that the first space shuttle was launched. What a send off. I don't remember much about Polsted Road, but I went playgroup over the Happy Shopper (which was Budgens then) and then to Blagrave Nursery with Lynne Tyler who ended up a family friend.

I was at Norcot School when it closed down. I have a picture of the school and the children just before it closed. I also got a mug and a spoon and a brass plaque with a picture of the school etched on it. When it closed I went to Park Lane. About 6 of us left there and went to Park Lane, most of the others went to Upcroft or Moorlands. I stayed at Park Lane until I went to Little Heath.

On the only day I ever bunked off from school, there were three of us and we were going to my mate's house. She had a note to say that she could be out of school to collect her trainers. It was the picture day, when they were taking school photos so we thought it would be easy to bunk off. We were walking down the road when we were stopped by the police. They thought we had been doing robberies. We were put in the police van, but because my mate had a note signed off they let her out. We had our shoe sizes taken and we were searched and then we were taken back to the school. All my class were in an English lesson watching me walked back by the police.

That was the only time I ever did it!

I used to go riding from about the age of 5 to about 13 at Halls Place. Sarah tried once but didn't like it because the horse moved!

While I was at school I did a Saturday job at Kappers (the hairdressers) in the Meadway Precinct but they didn't have enough spaces for me to stay full time when I left school. So I did my apprenticeship at Tony and Guy in Cross Street. They were a very hard two years and with very little pay. So now I am qualified and am still there.


I was born in 1983 at the RBH in the same ward as Jess.

(Linda - we didn't know what to call her before she was born - but that night on the television Sarah Jane, Miss America, won the Miss World competition. She was the best baby ever.)

I went to Newbery Lodge playgroup. I liked that and then I went to Blagrave nursery and towards the end I started not to like going. I went to the Laurels Infant School and that was when I really started hating school. I think it all started when Ruth was sick all over me! Mrs Cooper said that I could only have my happy badge if I stopped screaming. I got it in the end. I then went to Park Lane School and I am now in the first year 6th form at Little Heath doing AS levels in Drama, English and Geography.

I have a Saturday job with Jess but don't want to be a hairdresser. I might like to do a job with children.

I started dancing lessons with the Wilkinsons, Amanda and Sally, at the village hall. I used to do medals and variety shows and have only just given up. They made it a lot of fun. The Trophy shop in Armour Road belongs to one of their husbands. (Jess - I had one dancing lesson and didn't like it.)

Both Sarah and Jess went to Brownies at Gratwiche Road. Brown owl was mad. Sarah went to Pioneers Woodfolk at Upcroft School.

We both did swimming lessons at Central Pool and got lots of badges for it. We both performed at the Hexagon in the schools concerts. We did singing and country dancing there, and played the recorder. Jess played the flute and recorder and Sarah played clarinet and recorder. We gave up when we went to secondary school.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Tom Kirton

Lived at 115 since about 1960

The house was built in 1927 by Francis Brothers. During the first world war the ground had been used as allotments.

Tom's Story

I was born in 1923 in a thatched cottage on the common in Rotherwicke in Hampshire, I was registered in Lloyds Green. When I was still a baby we moved to a cottage in the City. When we were there we had our next house. My mum and dad used to rent the land where Travis Perkins is now for 5/- per annum. The house had no electricity or gas or bathroom.

In 1934, when I was eleven Brian, Mum, dad and I moved to Chapel Hill cause we didn't all fit in the house any more. Although next door to us there were nine people living in a house the same size. I have five bothers, Reg, Alan, Peter, Nobbie and Brian, and three sisters Pam, Daphne and Ikey. My dad was always called Trouble by everyone not because he was a trouble maker but because he was born with bad asthma. When I was born naturally I was called Young Trouble, after my dad, who was now called Old Trouble.

My mum arranged for me to leave school at 13, and I worked on my uncle's farm in Halls Road. He was Mr. West.

I had various jobs, but started work in the Tylehurst potteries. In those days Tilehurst was down the bottom of the hill and the top of the hill was Tylehurst. We pronounced it Tilly-hurst. Most of the people who worked in the potteries were members of the Territorial Army, so the potteries closed during the war when we were all called up. Tate and Lyle used the potteries buildings during the war because the kilns kept the conditions dry. However the building burnt down. The place got the name the Treacle Mines. The potteries, including Colliers in Water Road closed down when the area ran out of clay. Both the Potteries and the Colliers land was built on by Pye of Oxford.

While I was waiting for my call up papers I had various jobs. I was drifting.

I worked in Butler's Dairy down at the bottom of Pierces Hill, which was on the island were there are now three bungalows. We did two shifts a day; one from 5 to 9 when we had to wash and sterilise the bottles, scrub the floors and generally make the place clean. The other shift was from 4 till any time up to midnight since we had to wait until all the milk lorries had come in and then get the milk bottled ready for the milkman to deliver. I didn't get much of a life then, I didn't have time to go out to the pictures or see my mates or anything.

One night when we were working in the dairy, there were just two of us and it was very late. We had the big double doors shut and the lights on inside. We didn't hear much, but afterwards we found out that a German plane had been chased and it dropped its load. One of the bombs fell on Langley Hill, the next fell on Blagrave. The third one fell in searchlight field, which was what we called the field by Dark Lane where the searchlights were manned. The first thing we knew about it was when the double doors blew open with a huge flash of light - the two of us ran down into the cellar and stayed there till we thought it was safe.

I got a job as tea boy, making tea for the gang who built the railway to RAF Burghfield. The tracks aren't there any more. That first winter, there was a freezing rain when we were meant to be building Ranikhet Camp (Edwards was the builder of the camp). the conditions were so bad that we couldn't build the camp, so we were all sent to Kennet Valley Nurseries to work. Charlie Ilsey (from Armour Road) was one of the ones to go as well.

I worked at Fleetwood Jones Timber Merchants, just by the railway bridge in Theale, as a mate to a circular sawyer.

I got my call up papers in 1942 and left the army in 1947. I went back to the potteries and worked on the kiln gang. The conditions were so bad, my weight dropped from 12 stone to 10 and a half stone - the heat was terrible, we were just dripping in sweat the whole time.

So in 1949 I went to work for Haddocks the builder. And then we had the idea of setting ourselves up in business. We bought the kitchen garden for Park Lane School, a Quaker school with 600 boarders. The first summer it didn't rain at all. The second summer it was wet all the time. So we sold the kitchen yard back to the school! And in 1951 I started work with Francis Brothers finishing work at Mayfair. We then moved to Thatcham were Francis were building 108 houses. Over about fifteen years me and my brother Reg did a lot of contracting work, mostly doing foundations, roads and drainage. Reg stayed on after I left and went back to work for Haddocks.

Pam, Brian, Mum and I moved into Armour Road in 1960 because Brain had two greyhounds and 115 had a big garden. By then all my other brothers and sisters were married. But I never married.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Ingrid Jensen and Mark Whetton

We have been married 11 years.

We came here in August 1989.

3 children 1 cat Fossey (named after Diane Fossey who wrote the Gorillas in the Mist. Fossey has the same sort of character, creative, adventurous and bloody minded and self determined). We used to have a dog called Yorkie.

Robin is 22 and is at university in Canada studying Psychology. She was born in Canada and sort of shuttles backwards and forwards between Canada and Britain. Her father is in Canada.

Adam is 15 and is at Denefield School. Matthew is 13 and is at Littleheath School.


I was born in Aden (Yemen as it is now). My father was in the RAF doing a tour of duty there. I came back to England when I was about six months old. I lived all over the place and went to a huge number of schools. It gave me a very jaundiced view of teachers. Occasionally I went to a private school but they were more interested in elocution and whether we wore hats.

My father was a fighter pilot, and probably because of the noise we tended to be housed out in the sticks. It was a very free upbringing. We were always in a community. My brother and I merged into it wherever we were.

I went to St Martin's School in London which was a joy. I lodged in Earls Court where the shops were open late!

My father retired before I left school and he went to Saudi. He carried on working in the aircraft industry. Quite a number of retired RAF people were there running businesses connected with the aircraft industry.

I then emigrated to Canada for an adventure. I can remember my parents standing on the dock and my father imitating the ship's siren in a rather defiant sort of way. I had always wanted to go to Canada, when I was younger I had a friend from Canada. It's a wonderful place. I went for some time, came back and then went again and ended in Washington DC working in the World Bank. The work was mostly secretarial. My first husband and I went back to Canada and stayed for about six years. While I was there I went to university to study Biology and then came back to do my doctorate in Zoology at Oxford. I met Mark there. He was doing his Doctorate in Zoology - he studies grass bugs. He did his first degree at Nottingham. He went on to work at the Natural History Museum doing research into springtails and was a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. I am still a member of the British Ecological Society and that is the last of our links with academe.

I am a teacher of Biology at Padworth College which is an International girl's sixth form College. We get a large number of girls from overseas. So I now know people all over the world.

Mark now works with computers. Zoology doesn't pay too well. He started as a database analyst with Johnson Matthey and then went to National Power at Swindon. He now works at ABB at Farnham. He is a technology manager involved in databases for power and in the internet at a commercial level. He travels quite a bit. He is in Amsterdam now and used to go a lot to Singapore and Australia. We all went out to Australia - we stayed for about 4 months. We would liked to have stayed there but at the time we had family commitments and so came back.

I recently went back to Canada with my daughter. I loved being back there. It was good being with her and the younger generation as well as being with the people that I knew when I was there.

I have stayed here in this house longer that I have stayed anywhere else. Mark was from Wolverhampton and his family didn't move. In fact the midwife who delivered Mark was the same midwife who delivered his parents.

About this house.

I think that there have only been two families living in this house since it was built.

We bought this house from the estate of Irene Chapman. She must have come to this house as a young girl. We think she moved here with her parents. The Leibenroods sold the land to a Mr Charles Taylor and we think that Mrs Chapman was probably a Taylor. Then she married and was here with her husband Mr Chapman. Everyone liked Mrs Chapman but were not so keen on Mr Chapman.

Upstairs we have this old cast iron bath, with big claws and great bulbous taps. I sometimes lie out in the bath and think back on Mrs Chapman and how she must have watched herself growing from a yound girl to an old lady in the same house.

There are a few houses here that are the same as some houses at the far end of Westwood Road. In our back room there was rather a nasty fireplace. We noticed some new people moved into one of the houses in Westwood Road and shortly afterwards skip appeared. So we went and asked them what they were going to throw away. One of the things was a fireplace with a wooden surround and a shelf. We thought that it was probably of the style that was originally in our house so we got it and had it fitted. Probably you would think that it had always been there!

When we bought the house, the land at the very front of the front garden was not registered as part of the property. We imagined that there might have been a ditch running along the road and that it dried and the land was just taken over by the Chapmans. Mrs Chapmans nephew, Geoffry Alderman, lives in Thatcham and he helped us when we registered the front of the garden as ours.

As told by Tom Kirton of 115 Armour Road

Mr Chapman lived here (117). He had lived in a cottage in Firpit, at the back where the British Legion is now. Tragically, his little girl was knocked down and killed and his son died of TB even though he was a big healthy looking chap.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Diane and Michael Gray

4 children, 2 cats, 2 goldfish, 2 dwarf rabbits, 1 dog, 1 tortoise (very old tortoise, about 70 or 80 years old) called George. We were asked to look after George. He had been found in the road. He used to keep escaping an going into the neighbours garden. But now he stays in our garden, hibernating in the winter.

We moved into this house 13 years ago last September. When we came to look at the house we walked through and looked at the garden and decided to have it, and then we looked at the house. We had lived in a lot of houses before but this was the first house that was home. We felt there was a warm atmosphere. In the garden, you can still imagine yourself in the middle of the country. We have a wren which is lovely.

The house was once owned by Mr and Mrs Wheeler. He was a watchmaker or a watchmender. People said they were wonderful people. We get the feeling that this has passed on to us.

The house was built in about 1920. It had stained glass windows on the landing, in the front windows and in the door. The Bells who lived here before took it all out. It was fashionable then to do it, but we wish they hadn't.

We are not allowed to have pigs or sell beer (or any other alcoholic liquor) from the premises.

We kept chickens and ducks. Michael brought the first hens up from Dorset. Emily and Puddleduck. Emily used to come up to the back door and peck for food. The duck wouldn't sit on the eggs, so we put one of the duck's eggs under the hen and she hatched Charlie. Emily and Puddleduck rejected Charlie. But the day Charlie was hatched we had about 25 visitors!. We made a little run in a box with some turf on one side and a little pond on the other for him to live in.

We ended up with too many ducks and hens. A lady in Beech Hill House phoned to say that she could take the ducks, so we took them over there. There is a lake there and we let them out on to the lake. But it broke our hearts. We went back to visit them several times.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Ann and David Jerome

Moved in 30 years ago We already had one son, Paul when we moved in. Later we went on and had Kevin and Jane.

Kevin moved out last year to live with his girlfirend. Paul got married in May and now has settled in Lower Early, and Jane is in Chichester Road, having got married a month ago.

All three children went to Norcot School and then on to Denefield School. Paul now works for Waitrose in Bracknell. Kevin works for a security firm and Jane works at Chiltern College, as a nursery nurse.

Jane went to a local dance school and has appeared in many shows and pantomimes, and also on television. She met her husband Alan when they were both appearing in Peter Pan at the Hexagon. Jane was a dancer, her husband Alan was an acrobat.

When we moved in, on the corner of Wardle Avenue what are now houses were both wooden huts. And along the road where the town houses are there was a lovely thatched cottage, that belonged to a Mrs Smith. It had a lovely cottage garden. Can anyone else remember Mascalls the greengrocer's? Then it became a video shop for a short time. That was opposite Warings the bakery. Then we had the wool shop opposite Berkshire Vintners.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Graham Slater and Kate Del Bravo
Michael and Roddy

We moved here in 1995. We will have been here six years in March.


We came from Bexhill. I work in the Health Service in Paddington and commute. In the summer I walk down through the park to Tilehurst Station. It was one of the reasons for us moving here. The children go to Park Lane School and I am on the PTA. I play bridge and am a reasonably regular, semi-serious player at the Loddon Bridge Club.

We have both moved around quite a lot in the past. When we came here we decided to settle and made a deliberate decision to make a family home. We felt there was a strong sense of community. People talk to each other. The people in the shops say hello. All the amenities are in walking distance.

We are the third family to have lived in this house. It was built in about 1954. Gerry McGrath lived here before us and was here for about 20 years. Mrs Croft from over the road thinks that he went to live in Ireland. The person who lived here before that was a scientist of some sort and was probably a radio ham. We found a whole load of wires and cables in the loft. He lived here for about 20 years as well. It seems that he seeded the lawn with grass that wasn't suitable for walking on, so it all had to be reseeded.


I am a clerk to the governors of Highdown School and also run a lunchtime club in Latin at Park Lane Junior School. I do it for year 5 (the 9 to 10 year olds). I have 28 children in the class. The headmaster pays for all the notes and is very supportive. I shall be doing it for about 4 years.

I also am an agent (Del Bravo Management) and promote the music of Danielle Perret who is a harpist. She has made quite a few recordings and is about to make another. We have been organizing a tour of 10 engagements in Australia. She gives concerts, takes master classes and is Head of Harp at London College of Music and Media Studies. I maintain her Website which has about 200 hits a month. She also publishes books of studies for the harp. We were at university together. I play the flute and on Saturday mornings play with Calcot rehearsal orchestra.


I like football and badminton. I can't play badminton, but I like it. I like gym. On Tuesdays I go to the Meadway for a class. Roddy goes as well but he doesn't like it.

My favourite thing on television is Match of the Day. On Sunday morning I get my drink and then Dad and I watch it together. My favourite team is Liverpool because Michael Owen is in it. Maths is my favoutite subject and I hate English and Science. English is just about writing things and words.


I like my piano practice. I have lessons with Denise Hartwell near Little Heath. I have been learning since September. I go every Thursday (except when Dad has the car). I am now on to both hands together.

I like Blue Peter and Pokemon and Digimon, but I don't watch Digimon now because of my piano lessons.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Chris and Angie Jones
2 children, Samantha and Adrian
2 cats

We have been here for 21 years. Adrian is 25 this year and he was born in 1976. We moved from Thatcham and he started school just after we moved here. He went to the Laurels.


I was born in the Oxford Road opposite the Barracks. I went to Wilson School and then to Stoneham.

I met Angela in Buckinhamshire when I was working with William Press. They were based in Abingdon in those days and were one of the biggest civil engineering companies in England. I was doing the gas conversions (changing the supply over to natural gas). I have always done plumbing, heating and gas. I trained with Reading Borough Council.

When we married we moved to Thatcham, mainly because the houses were much cheaper then. Then we moved back to City Road (just about at the time when they were building the Birds Estate. We lived there for about two years. We lived two doors down from the Rose's. Archie Rose was a very respected florist. He had a number of flower shops round Reading; one in station road, one in Blundells and others. After two years we moved here. We have always been very happy here. Rosina Sargeant lived next door. Her husband was the Sargeant of Sargeant's the hardware shop. The Sargeants used to live in the big house on the corner of Westwood road and Armour Road. It had a tennis court at the back. Our house is built on the land that was part of the house. When Mr Sargeant died, Mrs Sargeant had the little white house next door built and moved into it. It was built in the 1950s although it looks older. When the big house was knocked down, they built the new houses and our is one of the new houses. Terry Mills the scaffolder lived here before us - I think he bought it from new.

When we moved, our house was about half the size it is now. A builder bought the house next door and offered us the land at the side. So we bought the land and moved the boundary. I needed an office for my work. I have my own business (plumbing and heating); my son works for me and so does my wife. I have had my own business for 30 years. Steve (of Steve and Julie) who also lives in Armour Road did his apprentiship with me.

I play golf at Calcot - in fact we both do.

Every other weekend we look after my son's daughter - Lauren.


My full name is Angela Susan Janes - that was before I knew I was going to marry a Jones!

My father and mother met in High Wickham, but my mother was a Speen girl. They met when my father came up from Kent and asked my mother where he could get a cup of coffee. She told him the way to the Lyons Tea House in High Wickham and he invited her to join him.

My mother and father lived in Speen (Buckinghamshire). My father was a chair bodger. He used for work in the woods, making chair backs, legs, etc. He had two cart horses and he used to take his work up to London. He was the first to have a telephone in the village, and he was the first to have a taxi. About a quarter of the village of Speen was owned by various bits of the family. (They were a miserable bunch of old devils - says Chris).

My father is buried at Hambden. He had been in the RAF for 7 years. He had been in Belsen (the prisoner of war camp) and had seen some terrible things. When my father died, my mother came to live in Reading. She lives up just off Little Heath Road, in Kiln Lane.

I trained in soft furnishings in Murrays in High Wickham and then in catering at Mowlyn's in High Wickham. They made cigarette machines. Mr Mowlyn use to fly in in his helicopter and bring Chinese and Japanese guests, and I would do the catering for them. While I was there my girlfriend arranged a blind date for me. Chris had just come back from Canada where he had been for a year. We went out for about 4 years and then we got married.

Chris and I were married in Hambden in Buckingham, in a little church. There was a small private girls school in Hambden. The girls choir from the school sang at our wedding. Chris's uncle came over from South Africa for the wedding. When we took him to meet my mother and father they were amazed to find that my father and he knew each other - they had been in the RAF together.

I had loads of jobs of all different kinds. Some lasted a day others lasted a week. Now I work with Chris in his business.


When I was young I was in the cadets. We used to go up to the nissan hut at Ranikhet camp. We used to go to the Munge which is what we called the area at the top of what is now Dee Road. We used to call Dee Road Starkeys Lane. At Lawrence Road at the top of the hill we had a track (a bike track). We used to ride in the buckets that carried the clay over Norcot Road to Colliers Bricks yard.

My dad used to work for Abbey Mills. It was run by Soundeys. The mill was down by the Abbey ruins. They used to grind corn there. The mill was worked by the stream that runs by the ruins. I believe the mill stone is still there but you can't get to see it because it is now all built up there.

I started work as a fitter at Handley Paige over at Woodley airfield. Pulsometer Pumps was at the back of us. I didn't stay there long. Handley Paige was disolved and at the same time I decided that I didn't want to work in a factory all my life.

When I worked for Reading Borough Council, I worked on the houses that were built in Corwen Road. These were the first council houses that were built by Reading Borough Council as council houses.

Samantha is a nurse and went to live in Australia. She went there out of a sense of adventure. She lives in Sydney. She was working with a sheet metal worker. It turned out that his great grandfather came from Armour Road. He still has relations here. Last year he made a trip over to Reading and we took him to various places that his great grandfather would have known.

Lower Armour Road

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Sonja Jueterock

I moved here in April 1998.

The people who lived here before were Mr. and Mrs. Bunt.

I was born in Reading. My mother is from Reading. My father is German. They met when my dad was a Prisoner of War. He was working on one of the local farms. They had a tied cottage. I am the youngest of five children. I have three sisters and a brother.

I went to Norcot School, but before that I went to Grovelands, so I was six when I went to Norcot. It's funny that both the schools I went to have been knocked down. When they knocked down Norcot, they produced commemoration mugs with a picture of the school. I still have one.

After Norcot I went to Westwood Girls School. They had the eleven plus then to go to Kendrick. I passed that and could have gone to Kendrick but I wanted to go to the same school as my friends. My mum was the sort of person that let us do what we felt was right for us, so I went to Westwood (this is now Prospect School). I was in London for 4 years to do my degree (in institutional management). Then I came back to Reading and spent a couple of years in Caversham Heights, four years in Addison Road and then moved up here. I spent most of my career in catering, starting with two years in the town hall. This was after the reopening of the town hall after it was refurbished. I was catering manager. I left and went to the Hexagon as assistant catering manager. I then went to John Lewis (Heelas) as section manager to the partner's dining room.

Then I did something completely different. I now work at Halifax Estate Agents in town as a Senior Negotiator.

The house

This house and the one next door were known as Cherry Tree cottages. I found a set of deeds in the house under the stairs; they are dated 1924.

On the deeds it says
ALL THAT piece of parcel of land situate lying and being at Harmer otherwise Armour in the parish of Tilehurst .... known as 'Cherry Tree Cottages' formerly respectively occupied by Hunt and Dance as tenants thereof but then respectively by Wm. Ilsley.

The cherry tree was in the back garden which is now where number 3A is now. There isn't a cherry tree any longer.

The Garden

In 1994 the house had a 'problem garden'. The BBC wanted people to write in about their problem gardens. Bethan, a teacher who lived here at the time, wrote to the BBC and was chosen for a makeover. The new garden was featured on Televison and in a book of the series of programs. The book is called More Front Garden, Nine striking new Designs to transform your garden.

When I am sitting in my front room it is like being in the country. I love the cottagey feel and the fact that it has grown up. I don't think I would have liked to have been here when they had just done the makeover. Its nice that there is a wild, natural feel to the garden.

What I do when I am not working

I belong to the Pang Valley Ramblers. The Berkshire Walkers are the younger members. About once a fortnight we go walking near here. There are some lovely places to go walking round here. You don't have to go far. We do about 8 miles. I am leading a walk in August - the walk will go from Southcote to Burghfield mostly following along the canal.

I do keep fit and gym and swimming, and like socialising. And obviously I do gardening. And now that I don't have to do cooking for a living any more I do more cooking at home. I learnt how to cook from messing around with my mum in the kitchen, and went on to do 'O' levels and 'A' level in Home Economics.

I love living here with the two parks. In particular I love sitting in Arthur Newbery Park looking out over the hills on the other side. I love having the bakers and am disappointed in the newagents closing early - it means I have to walk up to the garage to get my chocolate. Well, I have to have some bad habits!

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Malcolm Andrew Knight

I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, in Newcastle general hospital, 25 years ago. I was brought up in the village of Winlaton Mill, which is near Blaydon (of Blaydon races fame).

I think this house belongs to Rita (of the Butcher's Arms) or her sister.

James has lived here for 5 years and I have been here for about a year. Marianne has been not quite a year.

Since I was brought up in a village I am used to everyone knowing all about you. In 1977, it was jubilee year and there was a lot done then about the history of the village. The village was practically rebuilt in the 1930s. It was a mining village, but now all the collieries are shut. It used to cost 6d. to go to Newcastle on the bus from the village.

I went ot Nottingham University - I did maths. I then worked for the Civil Service in the employment service in Sheffield. I was bitterly upset when I left Sheffied.

I moved here after doing a PhD in Southampton. I started to do my PhD in Southampton, but after living in Sheffield I was so miserable. So I gave up the PhD and I took a job in Windsor and didn't want to live round there.

That is how I came to be living here. I am a market analyst with HFC Bank, dealing with the Goldfish credit card.

I would like to have work up in the north of England near to where I was brought up, but there aren't any suitable jobs up there. Of the 15 people who did an Msc, we are all working in the M4 corridor.

I like walking and have been to Canada lots of times walking in the Rockies. I have walked all over England (the last time I was out in the Chilterns I saw Red Kites. I have done the three peaks challenge, which is Ben Nevis, ScafellPike and Snowdon. Snowdon is easy - we even did it in March when it was snowing and practically no visibility.

Marianne has walked in Peru with a big group raising money for charity.

In our village it is surrounded by country so I got really used to open space. From Southampton I once went across to Cheddar Gorge. I went to Poole once. We started off from Corfe Castle and then walked round and along the coastal path and back to Poole.

My favourite place for walking is Northumberland. It is one of the most dramatic places in the whole of England. When I was young we used to go for trips out to Bamburgh Castle which is still one of my favourite places. The north has more castles per square mile than the rest of England. I have been out to Lindisfarne, one of the first outposts from Iona.

Recently, my car, which was parked outside the house here, was deliberately scraped all along one side - from bumper to bumper. That is the only bad thing about living here.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Katherine and Richard Penney
James, Stephan and Frances
Some stick insects

We moved here about six years ago, in about 1994, from the Birds Estate just up the road.


I was born in Stockton on Tees. Dad came down to Cove where he met my mother and then they moved back up north to Stockton on Tees. We went to Cambridge and then moved to Caversham when I was six. He was a structural engineer and he worked for Watcham's, a local Reading firm. (They don't exist any more.). My mum was a full time mum. I have two younger sisters, one lives in Caversham and the other in Tilehurst.

I went to Caversham Primary School and then to Highdown. I then went to Reading Technical College to do catering. I joined the Post Office in Richfield Avenue first, and then in Friar Street. I was catering for the Post Office and worked all round the place - Guildford, etc. I worked there for about ten years and was a catering manager. Then I made a move to personnel and wished that I had gone into that from the start instead of catering. I loved it.

It was while I was working there that I met Richard. When we started going out, he warned me about his passion for football. That was in May. It got to about August and I thought that there had only been a few matches and so it wasn't too bad. That was before the season started! He said that he was arranging a romantic trip for us to the Lake district. It was only on the way up that he mentioned that Reading were playing at Preston and they might as well stop off to see the match! So we went. It was so foggy that you couldn't see the end of the pitch. There were about twenty Reading supporters there. Since we couldn't see anything we decided to leave before the match ended. We got to the gates but they wouldn't let us leave until all the Preston supporters had gone - so we had to wait another 20 minutes! Since then I have only been to about four matches. It's the one thing that stops me being the perfect wife!

The section of the Post Office that I was working for moved to Portsmouth, so I decided to put in for redundancy - which I got. I then discovered that I was pregnant so I got maternity benefit as well. So I did quite nicely out of that.

At the moment I am a full time mum, but I am doing a book keeping course so that when Frances goes to school I can take it up. So I am doing this 12 week Sage course. I hope I will be able to get work that I can do at home. I also play a lot of badminton.


I come from near Newbury. My dad was a pig farmer. He had a little smallholding and in his heyday he kept about 600 pigs. I used to help out. Originally my Granddad came from Winchester. They had a long tradition as a family of gardeners.

I am an only child. For hundreds of years back there have been only one son in the Penney family. When Frances was born my mum made an announcement in the paper to celebrate the arrival of a girl Penney.

I went to school in Newbury and then went too Presentation College. I came to school by train every day. I was head boy there in 1983-1984. After school I joined the civil service in the pensions department. That was in Friar street in the Market Place in Reading before they shut it down. Then I joined the Post Office in Friar Street (where Yate's Wine Lodge is now). I worked on the counter for about a year.

While I was there, a tramp came in asking about income bonds. I thought he had just come in to keep warm. So I told him that the minimum you could invest was £2000. So he said he was still interested and he then said that he would like £50,000 pounds worth. I still though he was there just to be inside for a bit and that he was just wasting my time. But then he lifted up a Sainsbury's carrier bag and put it on the counter. There was £50.000 in the carrier bag! All in cash and all bundled up! I took me between 2 and 3 hours to count it up and check whether the money was counterfeit.

I later moved to the Technical Services of the Post Office, looking at the Building Services, maintenance and security of the Post Office buildings. That was when Katherine and I got together.

For some time I was working in Portsmouth and Southampton - commuting - since we still lived in Reading. Now I am based in Croydon covering the whole of the South East area and South London, but I also have the opportunity to do some work at home.

My hobby is Reading Football club. I started going when I was still at school, when I was about 13 or 14. Now I go with my dad and look forward to taking my children when they are a bit older. I go to all the home matches and used to go to all the away games but we now have a rule that I can only go to away games if it is at a stadium that I haven't been to yet. There aren't many of them left. I went to the opening of the Madjeski stadium.


I am four years old. I go to nursery, Blagrave nursery. I like playing on the computer.

My favourite story is "Five Little Ducks". and I like the train book. My best friends are Laura and Lauren. I sometimes play outside in the sand pit. It is new.

My favourite programs on TV are "The Teenies" and Spot the Dog and Tom and Jerry. I like to ride my bike. I go to speech Therapy at Tilehurst Clinic, just next to the school. I have learnt how to say five fingers and four fingers properly.


I am six and a half. I go to school in the Laurels. My teacher is Mrs Hodge. My favourite lesson is Maths - adding and taking away and today I did a number in between. We do literacy, which is reading and writing. Oh no, my favourite lesson is reading. The book that I have now is Rak and the Tiger - he goes into the jungle.

Sometimes the teacher reads to us and sometimes I read to the teacher. I also read to my mum. (K. the school has parents that help out to give the children extra reading practice.) We do mental maths. I have got seven stickers for doing good work.

I love football. I play with Barton Rovers on Sunday mornings. I am not in a team yet, I just go for training. Daddy takes me to Little Heath and Pete teaches us football.

I go to Beavers on Monday night. Beavers is in Polsted Road. I am in Blue Lodge. There are about seven of us in Blue Lodge and we have an Yellow lodge and an Green lodge. Rainbow (Donna from Armour Hill) takes the group and Tigger helps.

My dinner lady is Mrs Grey. We have dinner at school. They put the food on a table and we go and get served at the table.

My favourite programs on TV are Pokemon and Digimon and Scuby Do.

On Saturdays I go swimming in the Meadway. We go with Jackie and my five cousins - so there are eight of us altogether. I can do a head over heals under water.

I have got millions of friends from school and from Beavers.


I am just eight. I got to Park Lane juniors. I have been there for one term. My teacher is Mrs Coggles.

I like doing science. I am doing magnets. We have to do experiments and then write about it. We do literacy and maths. We played football. And this term we are playing netball. The girls and boys do football and netball.

I play for Barton Rovers. We play against other teams - such as Meadway Yellow. We have won two matches and I have won a trophy for fair play - but I have to give the trophy back. I am either defender, midfield or goalkeeper but I like defence best.

Out team shirt is black and red stripes.

I go to beavers - actually I am joining the Cubs. It is in Kentwood Hill so I have to have a different necktie. Arcala is Kathy Evans. The main difference between beavers and cubs is that you have to work for badges in Cubs. At Beavers we got a 2000 badge. I got another one for going to Beavers fun day at Ascot race course.

My favourite book is Dilly goes on Holiday. It is by Tony Bradman. I have his autograph in my book because he visited the school. He read us two stories. One was Silly Lists and the other was a Dilly Book.

I am starting recorder. I can play one tune already. Mrs Bell is going to teach anyone who wants to learn.

I want to learn to play badminton. Now I am going to Cubs I will be able to learn badminton on a Monday.

My hobbies are sport and I love trains. I collect stuff about them. The last train trip I went on was to the Dome. It was okey dokey. I liked the Timekeeper best.

I want to be a builder like granddad. I am good at Lego making houses, cars and space stations. I make things with cardboard boxes. We made a space station out of a Pringle tube and about six or seven cardboard boxes. It had a radar in the middle which you worked with a string. I watch Blue Peter but I get my own ideas in my head.

I like Pokemon. I just love it. We are not allowed to do swaps at school. I have got loads of cards. The person I play most with is my brother. I mostly win because I have got better cards. The cards have points.

Another hobby is my gameboy. I have played 43 hours since I had it on my birthday (about 2 months ago!). I go to my friends house and we can link it up so we can battle against each other.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Jennie Newitt

Born in 19 Lower Armour Road and moved to 17 Lower Armour Road when 7 years old. The house next door (19) used to have the date it was built written on it but it is all covered over now.

I was born in number 19, next door. I lived in number 19 until my real dad died. My dad died when I was 7. I had a sister but she died young. She died when we were in 19.

A Mr West lived down by the chalk pit down by Chepstow, he bought number 19 and the Waysons (?) lived there. Vincent W. the son lived there. He kept a shoe repairers at the White House.

My mum moved in here because she couldn't keep up the rent for number 19 and to look after Mrs Englefield who was disabled.

The Englefields lived in number 17 for ages before we moved in. Mr Englefield and his son were there as well. Mr Englefield used to drive lorries for Francis Brothers in Armour Road and Ken was a plumber for Francis. Ken went into the army when he was called up. He got married before he went in the army. He picked up with a girl from Sharesbury Road by Grovelands. Her dad used to have a shop, Forbury's, a grocery shop, so when they got married they lived over the shop with her family. Then he came back from the army. She had had a baby boy while he was away. Then they went and lived over in Caversham with her brother and they had two girls and then they came back to Beverley Road. Ken still lives there. One daughter lives in Lyme Grove off Crescent Road. One daughter lives in Mayfair. The son lives at home in Beverly because he didn't get married.

When I was 5 years old I went up to Park Lane School. My mum took me away - being a catholic I had to go to a catholic school. I used to go to St. James School at the back of the Forbury. I used to go on the bus. A girl from Chepstow Road, who was a bit older than me, used to meet me by the bus stop and take me to school. I was a bit backward and went to the special school at Whitley. It was a nice school. I was 12 when I went there, I was there until I was 16.

After school I went to Huntley and Bourne and Stevens making tins for the biscuits. There were two parts to Huntley's, one up London Street, one part in Southampton Street. I worked in London Street. I worked putting the lids on the tins. I had to leave because I kept cutting my fingers on the tins. After that I went to Berkshire Waste Paper in Valpy Street - where the town hall is and round the corner. They moved then and I then worked in Katesgrove Lane. Neither of the places is there any more. We had the paper on tables and sorted out the rubbish. We put the clean paper into wooden moulds down on the floor. We would put a piece of cardboard on the bottom and then would tread down the paper. It was then bound into bales which were then sent out. I left when the doctor made me leave because the dust got on my chest.

I then looked after my mum's nephew. It was my mum's sister's boy but mum took him over.

She had a stroke - she was in hospital unconscious for some time and when she came round she didn't even know him (Tom). He came up and asked for help and mum said "Jen could come over". I looked after her for 14 years. They lived in Ashamstead Road off Southcote. I used to go every day on the bus even in the winter. I used to go on the 6.30 bus in the morning. He had to do shift work. His shift would start at 11 so I was there til 9.30. He used to see me to the bus.

I used to wash her, dress her, get her breakfast and a neighbour used to help me with her down the stairs.

I used to go out with a woman friend to the Bugle in Friar Street. We used to have a drink and I met my husband (Bill) there. He was at the Berks Hospital as a porter. We went out together and then we got married. We lived here when we got married. He had to leave the Berks when he got a rupture so couldn't lift heavy loads. He went to Arborfield, the army camp. He worked first on the gardens and then went to the kitchens. He worked there till the doctors told him he had to leave.

We used to have one old black cat and then got a tabby.

I go to a day centre on a Friday at Prospect Park in Liebenrood Road. I have made quite a few friends there. I go to the Red Cross in Caversham once a month. They do little concerts and play electric keyboards for us. We go to Tilehurst Red Cross once a month to St. Michaels on a Monday once a month. The Red Cross ambulance picks us up and brings us back. The day centre has got buses that pick us up.

I have a friend who takes me to Argyle Chapel on Sundays.

I have a lady, Mrs. Brock from the alley (Swansea Terrace), who gets me things from town if I need anything.

The room was decorated by a neighbour (15) and his friend. All they wanted was a bottle of drink for doing it. So I gave them a bottle of drink! The wallpaper came from my sister-in-law. There have been several different families in number 15 since.

I am seventy three.

My neighbour in 19 does my garden. I have his green house and his shed. His daughter does all the plants and pots them up. She now has a little girl, Rosie. She brought her in for me to give her a little cuddle. It was lovely. I gave her two matinee coats, one white and one lemon.

I have a home help. I have had Sue for quite a long time. She gets my shopping. On Mondays, they spin my washing. I hand wash it, and they spin it for me. They come on Mondays and Tuesdays. They used to come Wednesdays as well but now I have Anthea with me with the dog and she does the housework. Before that the home help used to do the housework. Anthea has been here for about a year.

When I was little we never had a lot of traffic.

There was a horse and cart with the bread on. It was Beasley's, the baker. Beasley's mother used to live in Swansea Terrace so he used to stop off and see her. There was a milk float - a hand cart which a couple used to push around. We used to have Jobs milk then on the hand cart.

There was a motor bike and side car. He used to have top and bottom loaves. He used to do little ones. They were cottage loaves but we called the top and bottoms.

We used to have an ice cream man on a bike. They used to sell coloured ice sticks. A long one was a penny (1d) and they would cut one in half for a 1/2d.

The fourth house down on this side used to be a general stores. Dawsons were in it some of the time. In the summer they used to sell ice creams and lemonade. Beryl still had it as a shop when she took over. We used to shop there, but then my mum used to go to Pettry's grocers shop in School Road (next to the Methodist Church - Jobs Dairy was on one side of the church and the grocers shop was on the other) because he used to deliver and bring the book down in his little van.

There was a little general store, Bridges, in Armour Road. Where the new flats are there used to be a cottage with fruit trees in the back. Then a bit further along there was a thatched cottage where a nice family of gypsies lived. They were called Smith, a man and his wife and two daughters and two sons. And next to that was the Salvation Army hall.

We used to play in the park. A crowd of us used to go. The park keeper wore a uniform. There was a paddling pool still there. A lot of mothers used to take the children down there with their cozzies.

The other pond opposite the thatched cottage was there then. There were a lot of frogs about.

There was the trough for the horses and underneath it used to be one for dogs.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Roger Keane

Moved in 1988 2 children Daughter, Jenny, lives next door Son, Andrew, lives in Hatfield

I was born and brought up in north London. When I was 14 the family moved to Reading when my father started working at Aldermaston. I have one brother. We lived in Woodley. I went to Forest School in Winnersh. My brother still lives in Woodley. He worked at Harwell and then at ICL in Bracknell. He has retired now, but my niece, his daughter works at ICL Bracknell as well.

I left school and went to work in the Labour Exchange in South Street in Reading. Of course, it's not there now. I was there for about three years and then transferred to London. In the early 1970s, I lived all over London in bed sits. I moved back to Reading when I got married in 1973. That was when I came to Tilehurst. First of all we lived in a maisonette in Dee Road. Then we lived in Westwood Road. Most of the time when the kids were young was in Westwood Road. Jenny was born when we were in Dee Road and Andrew in Westwood Road. They went to school in the Laurels, Park Lane and then Little Heath.

Nothing much happened then until 1988 when I retired from the Department of Employment. I was working in the Job Centre in the Butts. I have Multiple Sclerosis. It is not very severe but it stops me working full time. I get very tired. I got divorced then and that was when I moved here.

I have got my allotment. I do woodworking and mend clocks. I do picture framing and make a bit of furniture and make things round the house. A bit of do-it-yourself really. I have done this house and helped my daughter with hers.

I started off with clocks going to evening classes and just went on from there. I got started with the picture framing at evening class as well. These days I have to walk with a stick so it's nice to have the clocks to do because I can sit down and do them. The only trouble is that aren't that many clocks that need doing.

It's nice having the allotment. I do it with my daughter. We grow the usual sorts of vegetables. Last year with her being pregnant it got a bit neglected. Now the allotments are better cared for than a few years ago. It's lovely going over there. I will be disappointed if I have to give it up. Sometimes by the time I get there I am already tired so I can't manage to do too much. I have to pace myself otherwise I can't get out of bed for two or three days afterwards. The dog next door likes to go over to the allotments as well. We hope to keep the allotment so we can carry on doing it with my daughter's child(ren?).

I wouldn't want to move anywhere else. It's got a nice mix of people. People seem to stay in the area for a long time. It's lovely having the park at the end of the road. There is something about the place. It's got everything.

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Sheila Parker-Boyes and Dave Boyes

Moved here in September 1998

Nick the Greek lived here for about a year before we did. We think he came to do it up. Before that an old lady lived here.

Sheila's Story

I was born in Three Mile Cross and moved to Shinfield and spent my childhood in Shinfield. I have two brothers, one older than me and one younger than me. One lives in Devon; the other in Norfolk.

I went to Ridgeway Primary School and then Kendrick. I left school at 16 and worked in the Midland Bank in the Oxford Road.

I was married at 18. That was when we moved to Armour Road first, because my late husband worked for Francis Bros as a surveyor. We lived at number 13. Philip and Debbie were born there, Philip in 1970 and Debbie in 1973. We moved to Chichester Road. That was the first house we owned. We chose there because Philip was at Norcot School and we wanted to be sure that they both went to the same school. On one side of the road the children were in the catchment area for Moorlands School and on the other Norcot School. They both later went to Denefield. Philip went on to college and is doing estimating surveying, now in Crawley. Debbie is an underwriter in Bracknell. She lives in opposite Prospect Park, in Tilehurst Road.

We moved to Kentwood Hill in 1983. I lived there until we moved here.

I worked for the BBC for 16 years, and then at the Thames Valley Trader for about 6 years. I then worked for ICL in Thames Valley Park.

I have recently taken a six months holiday. I can thoroughly recommend a break! I am going to start part time demonstration work. It allows me to be more flexible and catch up on old friends.

Dave's Story

I was born in Reading, in the Kings Road. I went to Oxford Road Primary School and Sutton School. I left school at 16.

I started work at Robert Courts, an engineering firm that made equipment for the coal board. I worked for Alf Meade's, at the abbatoir and then at Lebus, the furniture maker. They have now closed.

I then worked for 20 years for Murco Petroleum in Theale. as a supervisor for the storage and distribution of fuel, and then briefly for Burmah Castrol at Whitchurch. I then worked for the BBC and now work part time at the university.

I have always been lucky to have worked in places that are surrounded by open space, parks or open fields.

I am looking forward to a full retirement!


I have lived in Arborfield and Woodley, and first came up here and lived in Norcot and on the Birds Estate. This was because they had cheap new housing. I like Tilehurst. The family has always been local. I think it is because it is still a village. When we lived in Kentwood, we had a wonderful apple tree. We used to swap some of the apples for things that people had grown on the allotments. We miss the apple tree, but now have a plum tree.

Swansea Terrace

Back to list     Go to top     Home

Bob Embling

I was born in Dellwood at Leibenrood Road on 28th April 1944. My mother took me home to 12 Baker Street where I was brought up and lived until I was 26.

I have one sister who is ten years older than me who moved and lives in Eversley Hampshire, after she got married.

In my school years I went to the infants and juniors at Oxford Road and then on to Battle Secondary Modern School at Cranbury Road Reading. On leaving school at the age of 15 I had a very poor education and left without being able to read or write, therefore my mother took a decision to sit me down and teach me the basics of reading and writing.

In 1959 I was employed by Vincent's Garage as a trainee trimmer and upholsterer. The weekly pay was very small, so in 1960 I moved on and found a job with Williams an engineering company at Silver Street and then on to Hillyers Engineering of Cardiff Road.

I then decided that the indoor working life was not for me and then found employment as an illumination engineer for a company by the name of Whitaker signs based in Caversham, in 1964 they moved and based the company in Cholmeley Road Newtown. I had some good times working there. Sadly the company was having some financial problems, so in 1965 I moved on and found work as a lorry driver for British Road Services.

In 1967 I found employment working for the Thames Conservancy Division based at Reading headquarters. I started as a labourer and worked my way up to an area Superintendant and was trained on many subjects through the National Water Council. In March 1982 the Thames Conservancy Division ceased to exist and was amalgamated with Thames Water. Under the amalgamation Thames Water went through a massive reorganization and therefore in January 1985 I decided to take severance. On leaving I found a temporary position working for the National Trust as a Manpower Services Commision (MSC) Supervisor training youngsters as arborists.

In 1985 I found work with Reading Borough Council in the Leisure Services Department employed as a supervisor and head groundsman in open spaces. It would always amaze me what people would lose in the parks. Whilst working for the council I went back to college at the Reading College of Technology in Green Road, and took a diploma in managment and supervisory studies and gained a certificate in NEBS.

Unfortunately in 1987 I went through a divorce forcing me to leave the council in order to earn more money to take on a new mortgage and pay maintenance for my children. Therefore to get back on to the property ladder, I took a position working for Prestcold based in Theale as a honer which entails boring out holes for the compressors.

After getting back on the property ladder I found employment in January 1989 working for Wokingham District Council for the Recreation Department as a Senior Chargehand and then on to Assistant Manager. Whilst working for the council I was given the opportunity to go to Berkshire College of Agriculture where I took my city and guilds in Amenity Horticulture. In 1990 Wokingham District Council decided to privatize all of their working departments under the name of Artel Services. In 1991 I was promoted to a position as the Cleansing Services Manager. This involved the writing up of street sweeping schedules for Wokingham and South Oxfordshire Councils, which were very complicated having cycles of 66 days and 13 days. I also tendered and won several smaller contracts.

In 1997 I was unfortunately made redundant. However, after a few other little jobs I was offered the chance to go back to Artel Services as an Area Arborist Supervisor working alongside Southern Electric reducing the height of trees to prevent them damaging the overhead cables. This also involved the supervision of working gangs of men who are highly trained in the art of Arboriculture.

My family

I met my wife in 1966, we both worked hard and saved enough money to buy a mobile home located at Harvey's Nursery in Emmer Green and then married in July 1970. After four years we both saved enough money for a deposit to purchase a house, and in the summer of 1974 we took on a mortgage for a property at Rodway Road.

We had three children, Lorraine in 1975, Michelle in 1977 and Dean in 1979. They went to school in Westwood Farm and then on to Denefield. After leaving school Lorraine worked in the catering business, Michelle trained to become a nanny but went back to college to study into computers. Dean started work in a well known shoe shop and then trained in silver service. We also owned a golden Labrador by the name of Buster for thirteen years, and on walking him every night I got to know the Tilehurst area very well. Unfortunately Buster suffered from arthritis and sadly had to be put down after my divorce in 1987.

As already mentioned I was divorced in 1987 and therefore had to start a new life for myself but did not want to go or be too far away from my children, so I took on a mortgage for a property in 1987.

The House

The block of Swansea Terrace houses were built in the early 1900s. After some research and investigations the property does not appear on the 1899 Tilhurst Tithe map but clearly shows the properties on the 1912 map. The access track way up to the four properties stops at the boundary of the allotments that belong to the Tilehurst Poor's Trust. The land where the four properties now stand used to belong to a Jane Parr. She actually had two plots of land that lead down to Armour Hill.

When I came to Swansea Terrace I was pretty penniless, but over the years I have worked hard to improve my property and have extended the back by building a new kitchen and bathroom where an old outhouse used to be. There are several nice views from the attic and bedroom windows overlooking the allotments. The garden was very bare and enclosed by a row of 20 feet conifers which I reduced to make a high boundary hedge. I religiously prune the hedge of new growth every year to make sure that it stays looking in good shape.

I sometimes used to wonder how I managed, as it took me seven years to do up the front bedroom. However I am quite proud and pleased with my achievements and have come a long way since the days I left school when I could not read and write.

My hobbies are gardening, reading and photography. I like to travel both in this country and abroad. I love walking and visiting old historical houses, gardens and castles. I like following the football results and the grand prix. I also have a valid interest in old classic cars.

Update at 2014

In 2001 Artel Services ceased to exist so I moved on and started working for myself building up a weekly round of gardening duties. In 2004 I was offered employment by Waterers Landscapes, working as a Head Gardener on contract to a company by the name of Johnson Matthey based in Sonning Common.

In 2007 I decided to semi retire and only work one day a week for a lady in Fleethill Finchampstead, who owns a very large house with six acres of garden and I still work there in this year 2014.

Back to list     Go to top     Home