Memories of Pubs


Butchers Arms
as told by Christine Turner
Butchers Arms
as told by Rita Miles
Butchers Arms
photos sent in by Paula Miles
Bird In Hand
as told by Mary Coe
The Plough
as told by Mike Keep
The Royal Oak
as told by Alison Ogden
The White House
as told by Graham Higgs

From John Doughtery about the Roundabout

Hi, just a comment; I was a barman at The Roundabout Pub, from 1970 to 1973. The landlord was called Trevor and his wife, Dawn.

The Butchers Arms, Lower Armour Road as told by Christine Turner

I was born in January 1947, worst winter on record. Moved to The Butchers Arms in Lower Armour Road, Tilehurst – opposite the Bird in Hand – later the same year.

After my grandfather died, my dad was to help his mother with the pub. Payment was a roof over our heads and twenty cigarettes per day. Mum and Dad had to have outside jobs in order to feed and clothe us. I went to a baby nursery in a big house where the college is now. Mum worked at “Long Lamps” in London Street. I stayed with an old lady in Silver Street until Mum collected me to catch the bus home to Tilehurst. I then moved to a nursery school at the bottom of Kentwood, where Nurse Jean put me on a trolley bus with instructions to the conductor to put me off at McIlroys, where I must wait until my Mum could collect me, I was 3 or 4 years old. Three schools followed – The Laurels, Park Lane and finally Norcot School. The headmaster was Mr Turner (no relation). He remembered teaching my dad at Wilson School. Miss Scott was our class teacher, strict but fair. She was in charge of 42 of us in one class. I remember most of their names but maybe others will recall those I’ve forgotten. Similarly does anyone remember me singing in the bathroom (and applauding). And later in the pub on Saturday nights, with the Brooker brothers, Mick, Nobby and Denny.

I remember Ivor Harris. He belonged to the pub darts team, but he was also accurate at throwing six inch nails.

School Photo Me as a Brownie Coronation Celebrations in Victoria Rec Outside the Butchers Old Car In doorway Ladies Outing Sitting on the bar Another Outing Ladies Outing Pub without the ivy

These are photos of the Turners at the Butchers Arms in Lower Armour Road. In the second photo which shows Christine in her Brownies uniform, you can also see, if you look carefully the Bird in Hand across the road. The photos are also of various outings in the late 50s and early 60s. Note the beehive hairdos! Also if you look carefully at the last picture, you will see that the rampant ivy has all gone and that next door you can just see Armour Lodge, a splendid house which was demolished in the 70s.

You can click on a thumbnail to see a bigger picture.

The Singing Days

I previously mentioned singing in the bathroom, where I found an “audience” of my peers listening outside. When I was 14, I was allowed to be in the pub bar, where I joined up with the Bookers, a band of brothers from a local family, who were friends of ours. Saturday nights saw many people coming in for a singsong, some from Calcot, Southcote etc., and some Sundays we played at the Red Lion in Theale.

I then joined various groups, the last of which was “The Dark Ages”. We played at many venues, and one was at Cirencester, the R.A.F. Club (for officers), which I thought was rather “posh” for us especially when the ladies appeared in evening dress, jewellery, etc. It was an outdoor event so the noise wasn’t a problem, but I wondered if our kind of music would suit them. I needed to not worry. Halfway through, they were kicking up their heels and the hairdo’s were a thing of the past! We also spent a week in Wales, where our manager had made bookings for us – the Empire Ballroom in Neath – Seven Sisters Rugby club etc. We had one evening off, but the local pub asked us to play, so we obliged.

Past and Present Newspaper cutting 1965 Majestic Ballroom letter The River Room Comrades Club Me at a gig Majestic Ballroom Jack of Both Sides The Band in Wales Our business card

These are photos of Christine taken during her singing days.

You can click on a thumbnail to see a bigger picture.

At one time, I was on the pillion on the motorbike belonging to “Pugsy” when he had to play in a Windsor club, and he yelled over his shoulder “We are doing a hundred!” so that was classed as a “Ton Up”! Another time we ran out of petrol when I was with the Five Star Combo. We thumbed a lift to Reading, but the buses has stopped, so Jock and I walked to Pugsy’s house in Castle Street and borrowed a couple of push-bikes, then cycled to my pub. By this time my Dad was not happy! With the Dark Ages I had the opportunity to go professional with a contract to perform around the American army bases in Germany. However, Dad refused to sign the relevant papers, saying I was in a good job with the Prudential. I continued singing- pubs and clubs, but kept falling asleep at work. So I moved on, taking any job I fancied, milk delivery, Post Office loading bay railway duties, night sorting deliveries etc. Eventually, I spent many years for Sainsbury’s Savacentre in Calcot, the last 15 years as a store detective.

Go to top     Home

The Butchers Arms, Lower Armour Road as told by Rita Miles in 1999

Moved in 1977, 22 years ago last May

Ken and Rita met on 7th August 1957, got engaged on 26th April 1958 and married on 7th February 1959. Ken died in 1995.

I remember that because it was Jubilee year. There was a party in Andover Close and it was nice because they invited Helen.

I was born in Caversham in 1939. My mum was from Reading and my Dad from Jersey.

Ken was born in 1934. He was a Reading lad. We met in a pub, the Red Lion in Chatham street. I was sweet eighteen - well eighteen anyway.

I went to school in St john’s and then Caversham secondary. I left school at 15. First of all I went as a shop assistant in McIllroy’s (a big department store in the centre of Reading). I wanted to be a window dresser but they said there weren’t any vacancies for that but I could have a job as a shop assistant until a vacancy for a window dresser came up. So I worked in Millinery and coats.  After a bit I realised that there were about 6 other juniors all wanting to be window dressers.

So I went to work in the Co-op Laundry as a wages clerk which was handy because it was just round the corner from where we lived.

I got married when I was 20 and had my first baby at 21. First, Deano and then Paula who lives in Worthing, and then Helen who is 26 and is married.

Ken did a little bit of electrical work and then when he was 18 worked as a drayman first with Simmonds and then Flowers Brewery. He must have worked there for about 10 years. The he worked as a driver with a building firm in Mount Pleasant for about eight years.

We took our first pub in 1968. It was the Bershire in King’s Road, a big old Victorian pub. It was where the Kings Tavern now is. We were there for 31/2 years.

We then moved to the Greyhound in Peppard and were there for about 6 years. We loved those 6 years out in the country. But the house was too small.

So then we moved here.

These are photos of the Butchers Arms in Lower Armour Road, with one of Rita pulling a pint.

We like it. It’s a family pub. Young people today don’t know what a pub is. We had darts and crib teams and sing songs. Ken used to love singing. People won’t remember all those songs. We still have a crib team which was started up the year before we came. But it’s not the same now Ken’s gone.

I don’t know how old the pub is. Dicky and Isabel Turner had the pub before us. And their dad had the pub before them, so it was in the Turner family for a long time. The pub used to be very small. The back of the lounge was the cellar and the family’s living room. The bar on the other side was very small. It has had two big extensions added by the brewery at different times.

Go to top     Home

Photos of the Miles family at the Butchers Arms,as sent in by Paula Miles

Sitting on the bar Another Outing Ladies Outing Pub without the ivy Sitting on the bar Another Outing Ladies Outing Pub without the ivy

These are photos of the Miles family when they ran the Butchers Arms. You can see that they certainly had a fun time there.

You can click on a thumbnail to see a bigger picture.

Go to top     Home

The Bird in Hand, Lower Armour Road as told by Mary Coe

I have just been given the article on "Memories of Tilehurst" by my cousin who still lives in Tilehurst. I found it interesting as I lived there many years ago. My name was Mary Newington and my father was called George. My father lost his job owing to the talk of there being a war. He wasn't ready for retirement so decided he would like to run a public house, which resulted in us moving to the Bird in Hand in Lower Armour Road. I was 16 at the time and we were living in Burghfield Road and I had just started work wtih the Atco Motor Mower Company in Bath Road. I went to Kendrick School and then my father took me away and sent me to Pitmans Business College for Shorthand Typing and Bookkeeping which was then in Station Road.

Well, we had not long moved to Tilehurst when war was declared. It then meant fitting all the windows with blackout shutters which had to be put up every night and taken down in the mornings. We were not there long before all the American soldiers arrived at Raniket Camp.

Another task was getting coal in every day as the fires had to be lighted in the bars in the morning. We were very busy with the Americans but they were a really nice bunch of guys.

It was quite hard as we had to walk to the cellar for every pint of beer as we had no pumps then. Luckily the cellar was level with the bar and people liked the beer drawn straight from the wood.

Those days, closing time was 10pm and after we had washed up and gone to bed you would hear the Police come round trying all the doors to make sure you were closed. It was quite different then!

Of course rationing was in then. We always bought our bread from Warings. We also has a customer who owned a cow which he kept in a field next to Arthur Newbury Park. He would sit in the field milking it smoking his cigarette and we would buy a pint off him to help the rations. Can you imagine that these days!

In the summer we would walk down to the station and cross over the bridge, drop a penny in the gate which would then open and walk down to the river where you could hire a punt or rowing boat and have a lovely day on the river.

I had my 21st birthday in the village hall in Victoria Road. I was then working at Tidmarsh with Tate and Lyle as the accounts department had evacuated there which was really lovely. I then met my husband who was in the RAF and we married at St Michaels Church in 1947. My father had died then and was buried at St. Michaels. My mother decided to carry on the pub so we lived there with her and my husband had to travel to London every day for work.

Our first daughter was born at the Bird in Hand with Dr Macormick in attendance. He was marvellous. When Virginia was three Mum decided she had had enough so she gave up the pub and we all moved to Stanmore in Middlesex.

I now live in Cholsey near Wallingford as we moved here when my husband retired. I still keep in touch with my cousin from Tilehurst also hear what is going on there which is nice as I had a very happy time there.

This is a photo that Mary has sent in of the Bird in Hand. It was taken when she lived there. You will notice that the Symonds Pale Ale and Stouts sign is also on the next building since this was was the original Bird in Hand Pub from many many years ago.

Also sent by Mary

We had a piano in the public bar and occasionally I would play in the evening and we would have a singsong, which customers really enjoyed.

Also, when I got married and my mother made my dress, we had to buy coupons off customers who didn't use them all to get enough material for my wedding dress and the bridesmaids as clothes were still on ration.

Go to top     Home

Whereas this is not strictly speaking a "Tilehurst Memory", this striking painting on the side wall of the Plough is a fitting memorial to the end of the First World War. The painting was done by Curtis Hylton.

My gran in the snug

The Plough also known as The Little Plough as told by Mike Keep

You can read more from Mike.

The little Plough pub was situated where Walnut Way is now. It was run by Syd and Kate Lovegrove. The pub had no cellar so the bar had no hand pumps. The beer was drawn from barrels in the public bar. The barrels were sat in wooden cradles, and the barrels were marked X, XX, etc. The pub was small so there was no snooker table. They had a cribbage drive once a week. They had a parrot called Peter; the customers tried to teach it to swear.

Click on the pictures to see a bigger picture.
Note that the Little Plough is on the right hand side

The Little Plough The Little Plough

Syd and Kate Lovegrove in the snug of the Little Plough at Christmastime

Syd and Kate in the snug Syd and Kate in the snug

Kate and Nibbo Abery in the snug of the Little Plough

Kate and Nibbo Abery in the snug Kate and Nibbo Abery in the snug

My gran with a friend in the snug of the Big Plough

My gran in the snug My gran in the snug

Go to top     Home

The Royal Oak as sent in by Alison Ogden (née Isaacs)

I moved to Brooksby Road from Lancashire in 1959 when I was six. The houses were new-build then. As children we played in the road and, as we grew older the local fields and woods. Brooksby Road was the furthest development of Tilehurst at the time. By my mid-teens I would go for long walks with my father on summer weekend afternoons. Sometimes we would stop off at the Royal Oak on the way home for a ‘swift half’, sitting in the beer garden if the weather was warm enough. My father always chose Guinness (he spent years trying to acquire a taste for it) and I had ginger beer. The pub was in Westwood Glen which, in those days, was a quiet country lane. In my late teens/early twenties I went to the Royal Oak many times with friends, walking there and back, putting the world to rights. Those days seem a long time ago, and my memories of it are dim, but it was probably the first pub I went into when I was old enough to buy alcohol myself.

Go to top     Home

The White House as sent in by Graham Higgs

The White House is now known as The Victoria. A lot of Tilehurst pubs have changed their names. Graham has also sent in other tales and photos of his family. Click here

My mother Jean Higgs nee Andrews was born in July 1927 and brought up in the White House pub in Tilehurst.

Her mum and dad were Violet and Harry Andrews. They shared the house with Harry’s brother Bill and his wife Olive Osteridge.

I think that I’m right in saying that Harry and Bill both served on the Somme in World War 1. Both returned home without a scratch.

They all worked in the pub. Harry also for a time ran a coal lorry. This ended in tragedy when on returning home one day his daughter Anne fell under the rear wheels of the lorry and was killed. My Dad Roy Higgs and my mother lived in Cranbury Road Reading. A trip up to the White House was always a treat, going up on the trolley bus, under the gravel buckets crossing Norcot Hill.

The White House

Behind the bar White House Pub ( early 1960s ?) from left - Harry Andrews, Violet Andrews, Olive Osteridge and Bill Andrews.

My mum’s father and mother Harry and Violet with Bill and Olive all lived at the White House. As a kid, the upstairs accommodation seemed huge, big rooms and long corridors. It also had at that time, a large piece of land at the rear, and I remember Harry had pig styes and a vegetable allotment there.

After Harry passed away, Violet ended up moving to Australia to be with our family. We emigrated to Australia in 1970.

Go to top     Home