Memories of Tilehurst

More memories told by Nigel Bone

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Church Fetes were the main source of fundraising and were held on the Rectory Lawn usually on the first Saturday in July and as was usual in those days had a wide range of stalls together with flower tents and some entertainment. They usually brought in about £300.00. The opening ceremony was performed by a local personality or businessman – I remember Mr.Stevens the Butcher doing it one year. He was a great benefactor to the church. Fetes ceased with the arrival of the Stewardship scheme of giving and the sale of the old Rectory and grounds in the late 60s.

Other Churches

Tilehurst Methodist Church in School Road had a small hall at the back of the building during the 50s. Later a fundraising campaign resulted in a wonderful hall with stage being built. One of the main social events in the village in the 60s was the monthly dance there with local pop groups performing. I remember watching their monthly marching band walking from the church to Park Lane. The vicar there in the 50s was Revd.Jelbert and Revd.Dain in the 60s

The Congregational Church (later United Reform) in Armour Road also had perioidic dances in the 60s. I can remember Revd.Coles. The caretaker was Mr.Wickens who lived with his family in No.1 Victoria Road.


The plays on the Rectory Lawn ceased after the arrival of the Revd.Harvey and the closure of the Young Wives Group. This led indirectly to the formation of the Friday Frolickers so-called as they met to rehearse on Fridays. During the mid to late 50s a number of pantomimes were staged at the Village Hall involving the women and their children. Any profits made were given to charity or to increase facilities at the Village Hall – one item that was bought was a stage extension.

Christmas Pageant

My mother also produced 2 Pageants at Christmas which were performed on the triangle. This was a major undertaking and was a complete village effort with representatives from all the churches and involved some of the people from local businesses such as Mr.Waring (the founder) and Mr.Taylor (licensee of the Plough) presenting gifts at the stable. In the production in 1967 I remember being dressed up as a Roman Soldier (along with Malcolm Marsh) and acting out chasing a beggar (played by Mr.Wiles exTeacher at Park Lane)


School Road opposite Victoria Rec

Heaths Confectioners & Tobacconists
Bishops Chemists
Stevens Butchers
Thatchers Butchers

Norcot Road

Moving round the corner into Norcot Road I remember:

Warners Hairdressers run by father & son
Jacobs Shoe Repairs
Johnsons Newsagents
Fish Shop?

Across the road next to The White House were:-

Parr’s Garage & Workshop
Coggins Cycle Shop

School Road / Triangle

From the corner of Westwood Road moving along school road shops were as follows:-

Baines (Chemists)
Fish Shop
Doris (daughter of Mr.& Mrs.Hedgington of Hall Road)
Dabners (Grocery) – later Huishes
Bakers Greengrocery (later Ross). Some of the daughters of Mr.& Mrs.Baker were shop assistants
Co-op Butchers
The Plough Public House – Mr.& Mrs.Taylor
Hedges Estate Agents
Bungalow – Mr.& Mrs.Nathan and family. This had been built by Haddocks Builders – Mrs.Nathan was the daughter of Mr.Haddock.
Old National Schools ( I have a picture of my mother with her brothers and sisters together with grandmother standing in front of the stone plaque in the main hall)
Vineys Grocers. Mrs.Viney served in the shop. Mr.Viney was an insurance agent.

Further along School Road was Petrys (General Store)

Across the green on the triangle were (left to right):

Youth Club building with tennis hard court
House – Mr.& Mrs.West with sons Robert & Stephen. Mrs.West was the daughter of Mr.& Mrs.Baker (greengrocers)
Post Office run by Miss Townsend

Further round the corner leading to Church Road was the Plough (referred to as The Little Plough)

On the opposite corner of Westwood Road was Blackwells (Confectionery). This was later became Laceys in the early 60s – also included the Post Office when Miss Townsend retired.

Moving along School Road towards Park Lane there was:-
Crisp (TV Repairs)
Breretons (Ironmongers)

On the other side of the road were 2 shops close together:

Farmers Hairdressers & Syms (Shoe Repairs)
Bert Farmer often left children to wait for their haircut and allowed men to jump the queue – saying that he had something he wanted to tell you which then amounted to nothing.
All customers of Syms met Mrs,Sym on entrance to the shop where she sat serving people entering the shop while continuing to work on her sewing machine. Always excellent service.

Moving to Park Lane just beyond the school and the junction with Chapel Hill there was:-

Gamesters (later Barnetts) Confectionery. This was a popular shop for children. One favourite item were packets of sweet cigarettes as they had cards of footballers inside.
Breretons Butchers – Mr.Brereton was the brother of the ironmonger and his wife was another daughter of Mr & Mrs.Baker
Ladies Hairdressers
Frankums Greengrocers

Another shop not mentioned was Warings, a family bakery in Armour Road. This was a very popular business. It was my job to collect the bread each week and at the same time to buy cakes – the coconut slices and cream puffs I particularly remember.

Parks / Open Spaces

Victoria Rec

This was the ground where I spent a great deal of my childhood. On some Saturdays I might be there morning, afternoon and evening just going home for meals in between.
Like many children, I wasn’t allowed out to play on Sundays.
On Saturday afternoons there was always a match on – either Tilehurst First team or the reserves on the top pitch and often another match on the lower pitch.
Tilehurst matches were quite well attended – 100 or so; on Boxing Day there was the traditional match for the Blagrave Cup against Theale when numbers would be around 300. I particularly remember the team which won the Reading & District League title in 1957 for the first and only time. “Squib” White was the right-back and captain. Some of the other members were Leo Butler (goalkeeper), Charlie Parr, Bill Brown, Norman Butler, “Ducky” Giles, Ron Passmore and Pete Maslen. The cup was later displayed in
Mr.Heath’s confectionery shop opposite the ground.
In the summer, the cricket square in the centre was used by Tilehurst and Lower Tilehurst teams. On occasions I used to score – this entitled me to a tea of sandwiches and cakes. I was scoring on the day when Pete Copsey scored a century – a rare occurrence in club cricket. Other players I remembered are Reg Lawrence (captain), Bob Denton, Jack Abery (wicketkeeper), Mike Dixon (also Reading FC goalkeeper), Derek Fortune, Alan Bunker, Fred Morton and “Chunky” Allison (fast bowler).
In those days groundsmen were employed to mark out pitches, keep pitches tidy and put up and take down nets for football matches. At Victoria Rec there were two quite strict characters Messrs Robbins and Stevens who stood no nonsense and often chased us away if we played on the top pitch on match days. The also had responsibility for the “little rec” in Recreation Road. On occasion we might be thrown out of one park and possibly the other if found to be playing in a shed. It was quite an eye-opener in 1991 when I was visiting my parents in Tilehurst to see how things had deteriorated – of course no groundsmen were employed any more. Also the rec was not locked in the evenings – gaps in the hedges had appeared which meant access was available at any time.


Mr.& Mrs.Gobels were a couple who used to deliver milk for Jobs Dairy in School Road. They dressed in white coats. Mr.Gobels usually walked in front not looking at all in the best of health. His wife who was the more forceful of the two pulled along a battery controlled cart containing the milk. The slogan for the company was “Jobs Better Milk”.
I cheekily called out “Jobs Better Milk not so good as Williams” (the other dairy). She answered “Don’t be so rude”
Mrs.Blackett lived at no.35 Victoria Road. Just after the horse-drawn vehicles delivering milk for the Co-op had left the road she would be out with her bucket to collect the deposits from the road to use as manure
Mrs.Hunsden lived with her husband on the corner of Armour Road & Victoria Road. Each day she would walk her 2 dogs together with a neighbour’s dog called Sammy Price along Victoria Road and back again. Dogs walked freely as there were so few cars on the road. She and her husband also sold vegetable seeds and windfall apples.
Other people living or working in Victoria Road included:-
Dr.Bissett (Jacqueline Bissett’s Father) and Dr.Fosbery had a surgery on the corner of Westwood Road
Mr.& Mrs.Jackson – former Deputy/Acting Head of Alfred Sutton Secondary
Robert Noble – Music Organiser for Berkshire County Council
Gilbert Hunsden – recently deceased aged 90 years. Possibly the last of the residents living in the street since the 50s
Hewitt Family – 2 boys Michael & Jimmy were well-known local footballers who played for Tilehurst.


Some other events which have come to mind:-
1951 Centenary of the Great Exhibition. I can just recall the float procession going along School Road. My mother & grandmother were dressed as Queens on the Womens Institute Float. I believe the Young Wives won the competition dressed as days of the week
Canning. Again this is an early memory but I remember queueing in the Village Hall with my mother to have fruit canned – picking up the tin, putting fruit in and then getting the lid steamed on.
Tilehurst Eisteddfod. This festival of drama and music took place over many years.
It had been founded and chaired orinally by a Welshman Mr.Evans, who lived at Norcot House, Norcot Road (later to become home and surgery for Dr.John Williams) assisted by his friend Mr.Warman. Later it would be chaired by Mr,Moriarty. Most of the activities were based at the Village Hall although other venues such as Norcot School were hired. At its height I believe it would run each year for a few weeks and attracted a wide range of entrants in the various competitions from throughout Reading & Berkshire.
Children’s Christmas Parties There was always an abundance of these run by various groups:-
Sunday School, Womens Institute, Dr.Barnardos (as thank-you to collections in the house-shaped money boxes) and also schools.