Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Mercury about life in nineteeenth century Wokingham

Jim pic

1825

Mon 31st Jan 1825

Our young Roscius has, this week, has been performing at the Town-hall, Wokingham, to crowded and fashionable audiences. His astonishing talents display new beauties on every repetition, and we are happy to find his exertions are completely crowned with success. Tuesday and Wednesday next, he will perform at Wellingford. Stoves are fixed in the Town-hall, and every preparation made to accommodate the company. Moveable Theatre attracts great notice. The scenery is new and it is altogether very magnificent, and does great credit both to the mechanist and artist.

One swallow certainly does not make a summer, for we are informed by, by a gentleman of veracity, that he observed one flying in the streets of this town this morning.

Mon 28th March 1825

The Right Hon. Lord Braybrooke has accepted the office of High Steward of Wokingham.

A handsome piece of plate was lately presented to Mr. Robt. Eatwell of Wokingham, by the inhabitants of that town, in testimony of their approbation of his conduct as surveyor of the roads.

Mon 11th April 1825

On Wednesday last, Paul Holton Esq. Was elected Alderman and Chief Magistrate of Wokingham, for the year ensuing, being the sixth time of his election to that office; and the same day, Robert Palmer, esq. The ?? and respected Member for this County, honoured the Corporation of Wokingham with his company to dinner, at Waterloo Lodge, the residence of Mr. Crabtree, the late Alderman. The evening was spent in the greatest harmony and conviviality.

Mon 20th June 1825

Advert

SILK MILLS AND MANUFACTORY

WOKINGHAM, BERKS

TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION

By Mr. Creaker Without reserve, at the Roe Buck Inn, Wokingham, on Tuesday, the 21st Day of June, 1825, at three o’clock in the afternoon.

The residue of the LEASE of a capital and desirable silk mill, situate in Peach-street in the town of Wokingham, Berks, comprising substantial brick building, of four floors, each seventy feet in length, with a steam engine, of six horse power.—Also a brick building in two tenements at a short distance from the Mill and adjoining Peach-street

The estate is held by a term of thirty-one years from 25th December 1807, at the rent of £45 per annum.

For further particulars, and to view the premises, apply to the auctioneer, Wokingham; if by letter, postage to be paid.

Mon 27th June 1825

We understand that it is in contemplation to establish a National School at Wokingham; and an advertisement announces the sale of Ladies’ Fancy Work at the Town-hall, on Monday, July 4, which is likely to be attended by the principal families in the neighbourhood.

Mon 5th Sept 1825

Mr. Bird was lecturing last week at Wokingham, on astronomy, and those who attended his lectures were much interested by his manner, which was very intelligible to the junior part of his audience. We do not remember to have witnessed any thing on the sublime science of astronomy, better calculated than Mr. Bird’s lectures are, to excite in the youthful mind so lively and desirable impressions of the magnitude of the heavenly bodies, the order and immensity of the universe; and of the beauty, sublimity and utility of the mighty works of the creation.

The study of astronomy tends more than any other, to increase the force of the understanding. It may justly be considered the noblest privilege of our nature; for it is in the contemplation or the heavens that we discover the wonders of the Deity, see his wisdom in the works of creation, and follow his footsteps through the immense region of his boundless empire, where

“World beyond world, in infinite extent

Profusely scattered o’er the blue immense,”

Mr. Bird’s splendid transparent orrery has a very grand and imposing effect; it exhibits all the planets and satellites as if they were suspended in space; it shews their respective revolutions round a resplendent   scene, without any apparent cause; it gives the most brilliant and beautiful [illeg] the heavenly bodies, and shews in the clearest manner the appearances, laws, motions etc. of the whole of the planetary systems.

These lectures are evidently the production of a man of great ingenuity and study; for though the whole course, Mr. B. Delights his audience by the charms of variety, and the impress of novelty, which he has by intense application been able to obtain from the inexhaustible treasures which are every where to be found in the minds of philosophy. We feel great pleasure in saying that Mr. B.’s lectures have given the highest satisfaction to every lover of literature and science. We understand the lecturer intends visiting this town, and then Abingdon.

woky 1

 

 

Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Mercury about life in nineteeenth century Wokingham Jim pic

Mon 30th Oct 1820

At the Justice Meeting at Wokingham, on Thursday last, James Marshall, a carter boy to Farmer Rushton, was convicted in the penalty of ten shillings, for riding in his master’s cart upon the highway, without reins or anyone on foot, to guide the horse. Mr. and Mrs. Brigstock narrowly escaped a serious accident by the above negligence, and it is much to be wished that examples should be made of all persons observed to be guilty of such offences.

 

Mon 27th Nov 1820

BANK NOTES LOST

In the Town of Wokingham, or between that place and the Pheasant, King Street, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 1820.—A Twenty Pound Bank of England Note, No.11,358, dated August 26.—Two Ten Pound Notes of Messrs. Stephens and Co’s Reading Bank, out of the following Numbers, 3225—3292—or, 9798, and a Ten Pound Note of the bank of England.

Payment of all the above Notes being Stopped, they are of no use to any person, but the owner. Suspicion having fallen on certain persons of detaining the Notes, a long examination has taken place before the worthy and indefaticable Magistrates of Wokingham, from which there is good reason to suppose the money is detained under the expectation of a greater reward being offered, but as payment of the Notes is Stopped, and they are consequently useless, no greater sum will be given for the recovery of them than FIVE POUNDS.—Whoever returns the Notes to Mr. Creaker, Wokingham, or Messrs. Cowslade and Co., Reading, shall receive the reward.

P.S. Whoever detains any notes or other articles, having found the same, is subject to a prosecution for Felony.

 

Mon 6th Aug 1821

CORONATION BALL

A very elegant Ball was given last week in honour of the Coronation at Wokingham. It took place in the Town-Hall, the interior of which was tastefully decorated and brilliantly illuminated with a Crown of variegated lamps and a resplendent G.R. Through the polite attentions of the Stewards [illeg], the evening passed off with considerable [illeg], and the loyalty, which gave birth to the greatly enhanced [illeg] of the scene.

 

Mon 18th March 1822

TOUTLEY HALL FURNITURE TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION AND EFFECTS

Toutley Hall, Berks, by the side of the Forest Road, leading from King-street to Bill Hill, about a mile and a half from Wokingham. To be sold by auction by Mr. Creaker, on Friday, March 22nd, 1822 at eleven o’clock, on the premises.

All the genteel household furniture and Effects of a Gentleman leaving Toutley Hall

 

Mon 22nd April

The Recordership of the ancient Town of Wokingham, in this county, having become vacant by the resignation of Giffin Wilson, esq. Of Lincoln Inn, the Corporation on Friday last unanimously elected John Roberts, esq., to that highly respectable situation. This unsolicited appointment by a body of his fellow townsmen with whom he has been associated for forty years, must be gratifying to the feelings of the esteemed individual, who has been the object of their choice.

woky 1

 

Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Jim picMercury about life in nineteeenth century Wokingham

Reading Mercury Mon 9th Nov 1818

WOKINGHAM FAIR

The Fair at Wokingham on Monday last, exceeded everything of the like kind in the remembrance of the oldest inhabitants. The novel scene of an ox roasted whole in the Market-place, excited general curiosity in the adjacent country to a wide extent, which exclusive of those, who attended on business brought a numerous influx of spectators to witness the unusual performance. The whole business was conducted by Messrs. Beechey, Baker, and Giles, butchers with singular judgment and propriety. In a brick erection about four feet high, in the centre of the Market-place, iron bars were placed, so as to have the effect of an extensive wide grate, and at four o’clock in the morning the animal was suspended on a piece of beech timber full three inches square, with a coach wheel fixed at each end, and continued roasting till eleven, when the managers began cutting off slices, in which they had full employment for four or five hours. The meat was well done, and all who partook thereof were amply gratified, and not an atom left.

There was a large shew of Welsh cattle, and others of the home-bred kind, with a great quantity of store pigs, which went off quick at something advanced prices.

 

Reading Mercury Mon 23rd Nov 1818

It is with peculiar satisfaction we record the establishing of another of those excellent Institutions the Savings’ Banks, in this county. A meeting of the inhabitants of Wokingham was held in the Town Hall, on Thursday, for the above purpose; James Webb, esq. Alderman, in the chair, when it was unanimously resolved, that a Provident Institution, or Bank for Savings be established, under the title of “THE WOKINGHAM SAVINGS BANK.” The High Steward of the town, Lord Braybrooke, was unanimously elected President, as were also the Hon. R. Neville, M.P. Chas. Dundas, esq. M.P. C.F. Palmer, esq. M.P. Sir W. Wynn, the Rev. G. Seeker, and G.J. Cholmondeley, esq. Vice Presidents.

Sir William Wynn addressed the meeting in an animated speech, congratulating the inhabitants on the establishment of such an excellent institution, and most ably and clearly pointed out the benefits derived from such Institutions in a political, moral, and religious point of view. The Rev. Georg Kemble Whatley, as well as the Alderman, bore testimony to the justness of Sir William’s remarks. After the usual votes of thanks had passed, the meeting was adjourned to Wednesday the 2nd Dec. To enable the committee in the mean time, to have the rules, & c. Printed and circulated.

Reading Mercury Mon 17th Jan 1820

PEDESTRIOUS FEAT

A young man named John Wellman, a native of Wokingham, aged 19, went on Monday, for a wager, from Hannican’s Lodge to Wokingham, (a distance of 2½ miles and 51 poles) and back, ten times within twelve succeeding hours, making in the whole fifty three miles and nearly a quarter, which he accomplished with comparative ease twenty-five minutes within the given time, notwithstanding the ground is very hilly and slippery. In the course of the journey he had to open 3 gates 20 times each, making in all 60 times, and to climb over 6 stiles as many times, making in the whole 120, all of which he performed without being at all distressed, as he was able to pursue his occupation the following day.

Jim 1

 

 

How Wokingham and Britain Celebrated VE Day

Local Historian Jim Bell has collated some information from the Reading Mercury and Wokingham Times which gives us a fascinating insight into how Wokingham Celebrated VE Day in 1945

ve day 1

Germany surrendered on the 7th of May l945 and the 8th May was declared V-E (Victory in Europe) Day. The people of Britain celebrated and those of Wokingham were no exception.

   The Wokingham Times & Weekly News of May 11th 1945 described the feeling of the residents of Wokingham in their celebrations during Victory in Europe Day as being restrained-sober but thankful jubilance.

 

The following extracts are taken from the report—

 

Fri 11th May Reading Mercury

WOKINGHAM AND DISTRICT CELEBRATE VE DAY

The official declaration of Victory in Europe day was celebrated in Wokingham and throughout East Berkshire, with sober restraint. With a few exceptions, there were no scenes of wild enthusiasm, the populace generally, preferring to observe VE DAY in the privacy of their homes. To many whose husbands and sons are still fighting in the Far East, this was not their occasion for rejoicing—their day will come, with the cessation of the Japanese conflict.

Flags, bunting and streamers were prolific, and displayed from every house in the district. More ambitious residents displayed fairy lights in their front gardens, while business houses and factories made full use of the end of the blackout, by flood-lighting their premises.

The public holiday with no organised entertainment, left no alternative but to continue with their own personal pursuits, and the countryman took the opportunity of the occasion to spend VE DAY in the garden or in the allotment.

Other sections of the community took full advantage of showing thanks to victory by attending Thanksgiving Services, which were held throughout the day in churches of all denominations.

In Wokingham, the day’s services culminated in a United Thanksgiving Service which was held in the Market Place, and attracted a large congregation. The Mayor and representatives of the Corporation attended, and the service was conducted by Rev. Gordon Kenworthy.

At the conclusion, the square was crowded with spectators who remained to listen to the broadcast of the King’s speech.

As was to be expected, local licensed house were prepared to meet an unprecedented demand and so great was this that at times, particularly in the Market Place, it was impossible to gain an entrance to many of the ‘pubs’.

While the atmosphere was most convivial, and the scenes of comradeship and good fellowship were rife, no incidents occurred, the public enjoying themselves with noticeable sobriety.

The large crowds in the square joined in the dancing which had spontaneously commenced to the sounds of relayed dance music, the scene being illuminated by flood lighting from the Rose Hotel.

The fact that the ‘dance floor’ consisted of recently laid gravel appeared to be no deterrent to the dancers, whose numbers increased as the public houses closed. Fireworks and ‘thunderflashes’, also made an effective contribution to this unusual (for Wokingham), spectacle, and at midnight everyone joined in the singing of “God Save the King”.

On the evening of VE plus 1 Day, presumably in view of the success of the previous evening, relayed music was broadcast from the Rose Hotel, and another large crowd assembled to dance outside in the square.

The Mayor took full advantage of this opportunity to go round amongst the people with a large basin asking for contributions towards the “welcome Home” fund, and collected £10 15s.

Whilst the festivities were progressing in the centre of the town other scenes of festivity were being witnessed further afield. In Waterloo Road, almost all the residents of the road, with many friends, joined in the dancing in the road, to the music relayed by Johnny Goswell. The scene was illuminated by flood-lighting.

At Forest Road, Wokingham Without, fifty odd children of the district, having been entertained to a sumptuous tea party arranged by residents of the district at the Changa Service Station, completed their VE day celebrations by dancing madly round an enormous bonfire. The occasion was made doubly exciting for the youngsters for the burning of a Nazi effigy. We learn that this spontaneous treat followed a VE Day-eve party in which most of the residents celebrated on the green outside the Warren House, and terminated in the very early hours in the morning. Having had their treat, it was felt that the children should receive one too.

 

ministry of fuel and power

 

8 May 1945

– VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a war that had cost the lives of millions; had destroyed homes, families, and cities; and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.

Millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.

But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

Many people in Britain didn’t wait for the official day of celebration and began the festivities as soon as they heard the news on 7 May. After years of wartime restrictions and dangers – from food and clothes rationing to blackouts and bombing raids – it was understandable how eager they were to finally be able to let loose and enjoy themselves. Colourful bunting and flags soon lined the streets of villages, towns and cities across Britain.

 

 

VE Day was a national holiday

A national holiday was declared in Britain for 8 May 1945. In the morning, Churchill had gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capital and the Board of Trade announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There were even commemorative items hastily produced in time for the celebrations, including V E DAY MUGS. Some restaurants had special ‘victory’ menus, too.

Various events were organised to mark the occasion, including parades, thanksgiving services and street parties. Communities came together to share the moment. London’s St Paul’s Cathedral held ten consecutive services

 

 

What You Need To Know About VE Day

 

8 May 1945 – VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a war that had cost the lives of millions; had destroyed homes, families, and cities; and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.

Millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.

But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

 

ve day 6

Some people celebrated early

Many people in Britain didn’t wait for the official day of celebration and began the festivities as soon as they heard the news on 7 May. After years of wartime restrictions and dangers – from food and clothes rationing to blackouts and bombing raids – it was understandable how eager they were to finally be able to let loose and enjoy themselves. Colourful bunting and flags soon lined the streets of villages, towns and cities across Britain. On the eve of VE Day, bonfires were lit, people danced and the pubs were full of revellers.

ve day 7

VE Day was a national holiday

A national holiday was declared in Britain for 8 May 1945. In the morning, Churchill had gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capital and the Board of Trade announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There were even commemorative items hastily produced in time for the celebrations, including ‘VE Day’ mugs. Some restaurants had special ‘victory’ menus, too.

Various events were organised to mark the occasion, including parades, thanksgiving services and street parties. Communities came together to share the moment. London’s St Paul’s Cathedral held ten consecutive services giving thanks for peace, each one attended by thousands of people. Due to the time difference, VE Day in New Zealand was officially held on 9 May. The country’s leadership wanted to delay the national holiday until peace in Europe had been announced by Winston Churchill. New Zealanders therefore had to go to work on 8 May and wait until the following day to celebrate. In the Soviet Union, too, VE Day was on 9 May due to the different time zones.

ve day 8

Churchill addressed the nation

Winston Churchill was the man of the hour on VE Day. Britain’s Prime Minister had been a major driving force behind the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany and, now that peace had come, the British people were keen to celebrate it with him.

At 3pm on VE Day, Churchill made a national radio broadcast. In it, he announced the welcome news that the war had ended in Europe – but he included a note of caution, saying: ‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.’ He knew that the war was not over: Japan still had to be defeated. Later on, Churchill appeared on the balcony of the Ministry of Health building in central London and gave an impromptu speech. Huge, cheering crowds gathered below and he declared, ‘This is your victory.’ The crowd shouted back, ‘No – it’s yours!’ Despite Churchill’s crucial wartime role, the British public did not vote him back into power in the July 1945 General Election. Instead, Clement Attlee’s Labour government had control of the country in the immediate post-war years. For Churchill, nothing would match his period as wartime prime minister – he later wrote that everything afterwards was ‘all anti-climax’.

ve day 9

The Royal Family took part in the celebrations

The Royal Family also played a central role in London’s victory celebrations. Huge numbers of people surged down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, soon appeared on the balcony to wave to the cheering crowds.

In total, the King and Queen made eight appearances on the balcony, and at one point were joined by Winston Churchill. While the King and Queen were waving to the crowds for the last time that evening, their daughters were secretly mingling with the jubilant crowds below them. The future monarch, Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Margaret had been allowed to leave the palace and take part – anonymously – in the party-like atmosphere. Princess Elizabeth later recalled, ‘We stood outside and shouted, “We want the King”… I think it was one of the King”… I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.’

King George VI, like Churchill, also gave a radio address. In it, he praised his subjects’ endurance and called for a lasting peace. He also paid tribute to those who could not join in the celebrations, saying: ‘Let us remember those who will not come back…let us remember the men in all the services, and the women in all the services, who have laid down their lives. We have come to the end of our tribulation and they are not with us at the moment of our rejoicing.’

ve day 10

There was dancing in the streets and pubs stayed open late

The VE Day celebrations continued well into the night. The largest crowds in Britain were in the capital, but people all around the country took part in the parties, singing and dancing. Many bonfires and fireworks were lit to mark the occasion.

An estimated 50,000 people were crowded around Piccadilly Circus by midnight. The joy of the day broke down normal social conventions, and people spoke to and embraced those whom they had never met before. Music was provided by gramophones, accordions and barrel organs, and revellers sang and danced to the popular tunes of the day. Licensing hours were extended so that people could toast the end of the war with a drink (or two), and dance halls stayed open until midnight.

ve day 12

V-E Day, also written VE Day

   V-E Day stands for Victory in Europe Day. In the Soviet Union it was called simply Victory Day and still goes by that name in states of the former USSR. Some early reports in the West also called the day V-Day, but V-E was more accurate, as the war still continued in the Pacific Theatre. Today in France the day is called World War II Victory Day.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Mercury about life in nineteeenth century WokinghamJim pic

Up to the second half of the 19th century news concerning Wokingham was quite sparse because the Reading Mercury didn’t have an agent in that town. Information came mainly from advertisements placed in that newspaper by companies or reports from local councils.

Mon 31st March 1817

DUEL EXTRAORDINARY

On Thursday a duel was fought in the Cock-Pit, Wokingham, between Mr. D. T—e, and Mr. T—p—n, both of that place. The combatants arrived on the Field, accompanied by their respective Seconds, about 10 o’clock, where an immense number of spectators had collected two hours before. The distance being marked (six paces) by the seconds, the opponents said a short prayer, and then took their station. The sounding of a trumpet was the signal to fire—it did so—and both pistols went off, but neither were wounded: determined to conquer or die, they agreed to have a second round; fired again and Mr. T. Fell, apparently dead. The successful adversary immediately took to his heels, and was out of sight in a second. A Surgeon was sent for, the Constables     , and the whole place exhibited a scene of uproar and confusion, that has seldom been witnessed.—The wounded man being carried to a neighbouring Public-house to have his wounds dressed; after an long examination, it was discovered that he was perfectly sound, and a few ounces of blood taken from him soon brought back his senses. Indeed, it has since been found out, that the pistols were only loaded by the Seconds, with powder. The conquering Mt. T—e, who thought he had the blood of his friend on his head, was found, after a long search, in a privy—where he heard the joyful news of the recovery of the dead man. The origin of the duel was a point of honour, who could eat the most Beef Steaks in the shortest time, so that when both the combatants had recovered from their fright, they adjourned to an Inn in the Town, where they settled the dispute in a more amicable manner, by one (the conqueror) eating 4½ pound of Steaks, and the other 5¼ pounds, with a proportionate quantity of vegetables, bread, &c.

 

Mon 2nd June 1817

On Whit Tuesday (the anniversary of the establishment of the Wokingham Charity Schools on Dr. Bell’s System,) an appropriate Sermon was preached in the parish Church, to a most crowded Congregation, never was the Church so full, either on the like or any other occasion.

Nearly 200 Poor Children attended Divine Service and publicly reiterated the Catechism; after which they were regaled a plentiful Dinner provided for them in the Town Hall.

These Schools are supported by the liberal Contributions of the Inhabitants, and the indefaticable attention of the ladies of Wokingham, has been the means (under the blessing of God) of bringing the Institution to a perfection, beyond the most sanguine expectations.

 

Mon 23rd June 1817

Wednesday, a division of the Royal Horse Guards (blue) stationed at Wokingham, celebrated the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, with a public dinner, consisting of good old British fare. The tables were tastefully and appropriately decorated, and the day was spent most convivially.

Mon 6th Oct 1817

Saturday last, as Mr. Creaker’s workmen were ploughing in a field near Wokingham, the ploughshare struck and broke an earthenware pot containing a thousand Roman Copper Coins, mostly in a state of good preservation. The name of the Emperor Constantine, who reigned upwards of fifteen hundred years since, is very perfect on several.

 

 

woky 1

Photograph courtesy of the Wokingham Times

Reminiscing about times of crisis

Our Reminiscence Club Volunteer, Gordon Goodey has been thinking about Britain in times of crisis and has written this post which includes a quiz.

  1. The Suez crisis.suez

In 1956, Egypt’s  ruler General Nasser decided to take control of the Suez Canal away from Britain and France. The two European powers with help from Israel tried to take back the canal and defeat the Egyptians. UK for weeks was put on a war footing. On the home front, radio broadcasts and those with TV’s followed the task force sent from Britain. Eventually the canal was taken back after much fighting. However, USA was very much against what Britain and France did and demanded they give it back. Which they did.

If you were in the UK at the time what did you think. What was the mood in the country? Some rationing was ending, but was there any shortages and did it affect you?

Who was Prime Minister?

a) Clement Atlee b) Winston Churchill c) Anthony Eden

2. The Cuban Missile Crisiscuban missile crisis

October 1962.They say the nearest the world has come to a nuclear war. John.F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev bickering over missiles deployed in Cuba. As an ally of USA Britain would have been at the for front of anything as not only did UK have nuclear weapons but many American Airbases here had some too.UK was the nearest to get to bomb Moscow.

It was a scary time. Many parents took their children out of school in case the worse happened. The BBC transmitted a programme of what to do if the bomb was dropped. Council leaders opened up their bunkers all around the country. For them obviously!

Yet in September the Pop group the Beetles released their first single. Love me do. Were all the young people singing that, as it raced to number one?

So what do you remember of those times? Did you buy the single?

Who was Prime Minister?

a) Harold Wilson b) Harold MacMillan c) Alec Douglas Home

3. The Three Day Weeksold-out

This started on January 1st 1974 and went on until March of that year. There was a petrol shortage. Television Broadcasts had to end at 1030. The BBC and ITV had to alternate broadcasting on different days and times. Electricity was rationed at certain times of the day. On weekdays the pubs were shut early and none after 1030 on the weekends

So, if any of above affected you and you have a story let us know.

What may give further clues to what went on in those days? See if you can answer the following questions

Wny did we have a three day week. Was it because of:

a) The oil crisis b) The Coal Miner’s Strike c) Rampant Inflation

Who was the Prime Minister who ordered the three day week?

a) Harold Wilson b) Sir Alec Douglas-Home c) Edward Heath

4. The Falklands War 1982falklandsfalklands

Argentina invaded the Falkland Island in May. Margret Thatcher the prime minster. Told then to get out when they didn’t, she sent a Task force of Ships and men to turf them out. Vulcan aircraft was sent to bomb the captured airfields. When the task force arrived, there was many battles which saw some ships sunk by French made aeroplanes and armaments but the French Government sided with the UK and stopped the resupply. Soon the Capital Stanley was recaptured. A ceasefire was imposed and then the remaining Argentines left.

Who was the defence secretary who appeared on TV with updates about the war?

a) Nicholas Ridley b) Wilie Whitelaw c) John Nott

Who was the French President who stopped supplies being sent to Argentina?

a) Valery Giscard D’Estaing  b) Francois Mitterand c) Georges Pompidou

5. The Financial Crash 2008

Was said to be the biggest financial crash since 1930’s (Perhaps what is happening today will be worse. Let’s hope not)

In America where it started banks were going bust for over lending causing panic around the globe. Here in the UK our banks and Building Societies began to fail too. Many asked for public funds to support them. Two Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley were taken over by the Government. (Bradford and Bingley was eventually sold to Santander. Northern Rock was slowly wound down) Others were given huge loans including RBS and Lloyds. Some of which are still being repaid. This crash had a profane effect on our society. Many lost their jobs due to well-known firms going bust.

Who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time?

a) George Osborne b) Norman Lamont c) Alistair Darling

Which of the following firms went bust in this 2008 crisis?

a) Dewhursts b) Woolworths c) Focus

 

Quiz Answers

1.1)Antony Eden

2.1) Harold Macmillan

3.1) All of them

3.2)Edward Heath

4.1) John Nott

4.2)Francois Mitterrand

5.1) Alistair Darling

5.2) Woolworths

 

 

 

 

Wokingham in Times Past

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Jim picMercury about life in nineteeenth century Wokingham.

 

Mon 5th Sept 1814

ROBERT TRICKEY

PLUMBER, GLAZIER, PRINTER, &c.

MARKET-PLACE, WOKINGHAM,

Solicits leave to inform the nobility, Gentry, and Public, in Wokingham and its Vicinity, that he has commenced business in the above branches, and hereby assuring them that he will pay the strictest attention to those who may chuse to favour him with their kind commands.

 

Mon 7th Nov

Thursday morning Joseph Budgett, a blacksmith of Wokingham, in a fit of insanity threw himself into the river and was drowned. It is much to be wished, that the persons in authority would use some exertions to obtain a writ to elect a Coroner for this division, as delay is a serious public inconvenience.

 

Mon 21st Nov 1814

ROYAL HUNT

The Stag Hounds will meet at Salt Hill, on Monday morning, at half past eleven o’clock; and on Friday at Wokingham.

 

There is at this time an apple tree in full bloom in the garden of Mr. Frewen, White Hart, Broad-street.

 

Last week a person of Wokingham whilst sitting by the fire side, accidently moved his hand within about an inch of the spout of a tea kettle at the moment of the extreme ebullition of the water bursting there from, and received the ignited contents all over his fingers, with no other sensation of feeling than what arose from the wet spreading round them at the instant, nor any thing painful or injurious since.

 

On Monday night last some villains stole out of an out-house in Battl Farm Lane, near this town, three pair of milk pails, three pair of yokes, and nine milk measures, the property of a poor milk man of this town.

 

Mon 30th Jan 1815

Sunday died, at Wokingham, at the advanced age of eighty-two, Mr. Wm. Watts, shoemaker. Possessed of a comprehensive genius, by his ingenuity he obtained the credit of being the completest boot-maker in the kingdom; and as a florist, in the production of forward cucumbers, he bore the pain from all competitors. Calmly resigned to his humble portion in life, and wholly divested of all the horrid sin of pride, throughout his whole deportment he manifested the observation of the celebrated Pope.

“Honor and credit from no conditions rise,”

“Act well your part, there all honor lies,”

 

Mon 23rd Oct 1815

Tuesday morning, between one and two o’clock, Mrs. Watkins, of the Ninepin and Bowl   public-house, about a quarter of a mile from Wokingham, was awoke by a noise in the room, on looking up she perceived a man in a smock frock near the foot of her bed; terrified at the object she darted from the bed to the window, which was open, being the place where the robber had made his entrance. In her hasty descent she fell on the ground and was much bruised, but the fright enabled her to give the alarm to a neighbouring gentleman, who, with his family, immediately went to her assistance. It is supposed her precipitate escape caused the villain to decamp, without his prey, as he only took away about 9s. in silver from a table, which Mrs. Watkins had emptied from her pocket the preceding evening. Her husband was gone to the Quarter Sessions at Abingdon

woky 1

Photograph courtsey of the Wokingham Times

 

 

 

 

Digital Books with a historical theme from Wokingham Libraries

For those who enjoy reading about history  here is a choice of books you can enjoy by using our free digital books service at https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/e-books/

Portillo’s Hidden History of Britain by Michael Portilloportillo

Discover the hidden history of Britain through the stories of its ‘lost’ or abandoned places and buildings.Portillo’s Secret History of Britain presents a compelling and wonderfully evocative history of Britain through the stories of its ‘lost’ or abandoned buildings. The chapters cover a variety of historical themes: Crime and Punishment, Health and Medicine, Defence and Warfare, and Entertainment and Leisure. Using a combination of his own investigations and archive research, plus memories and quotations from the contributors he interviewed for the series, Michael Portillo explains what the buildings were used for and by whom, why they were abandoned, and what they can tell us about our past. . Filled with fascinating insights and observations, his narrative provides a compelling and original perspective on Britain’s social and military history. Complementing the text are 32 pages of atmospheric and informative photographs, including ‘then’ and ‘now’ images of the locations, which pointedly juxtapose their former glory with their present-day destitution.

This is available as an ebook

Crown and Country by David Starkeystarkey

From one of our finest historians comes an outstanding exploration of the British monarchy from the retreat of the Romans up until the modern day. This compendium volume of two earlier books is fully revised and updated. The monarchy is one of Britain’s longest surviving institutions – as well as one of its most tumultuous and revered. In this masterful book, David Starkey looks at the monarchy as a whole, charting its history from Roman times, to the Wars of the Roses, the chaos of the Civil War, the fall of Charles I and Cromwell’s emergence as Lord Protector – all the way up until the Victorian era when Britain’s monarchs came face-to-face with modernity. This brilliant collection of biographies of Britain’s kings and queens provides an in-depth examination of what the British monarchy has meant, what it means now and what it will continue to mean.

This is available as an ebook

24 Hour Trench by Andrew Robertshawtrench

During the Great War millions of men were consigned to a life of ‘mud, blood and bullets’, eking out their daily existence in a line of trenches that stretched across the Western Front. These earth dug-outs were their kitchens, their bathrooms and their bedrooms. Days were often a boring routine, peppered with artillery fire and action. It is almost impossible for us to really understand what it was like to live in such a confined space everyday with the constant terror of enemy bombardment and attack. Now, a group of soldiers recreate the trench experience using official war records and personal diaries, answering the questions: How did they go to the loo? How did they wash their clothes? How clean can you really get from washing out of a mess tin? How easy is it to sleep in a trench? What did you do to keep yourself entertained? And much more… Following them from constructing the trench to living in it for 24 hours, Andy Robertshaw brings together his deep knowledge of the First World War with the frontline experience of serving members of the army to recreate trench life for the first time. Hour-by-hour, the soldiers’ lives are detailed in text and a combination of colour photographs and contemporary images, as well as quotes from the frontline and interviews with those who took part in this innovative and groundbreaking experiment.

This is available as an ebook

Who Do the English Think They Are? by Derek J. Taylortaylor

The English are often confused about who they are. They say ‘British’ when they mean ‘English’, and ‘English’ when they should say ‘British.’ But when England, more than the rest of the UK, voted to leave the EU, polls showed national identity was a big concern. So it’s time the English sorted out in their minds what it means to be English. A nation’s character is moulded by its history. And in ‘Who Do the English Think They Are?’ historian and journalist, Derek J. Taylor travels the length and breadth of the country to find answers. He discovers that the first English came from Germany, and then in the later Middle Ages almost became French. He tracks down the origins of English respect for the rule of law, tolerance and a love of political stability. And, when he reaches Victorian times, he investigates the arrogance and snobbishness that have sometimes blighted English behaviour. Finally, Taylor looks ahead. He asks – faced with uncharted waters post-Brexit, what is it is in their national character that will help guide the English people now?

This is availabe as an ebook

Life Below Stairs by Alison Maloneylife below stairs

In Life Below Stairs, bestselling author Alison Maloney goes behind the scenes to reveal a detailed picture of what really went on ‘downstairs’, describing the true-life trials and tribulations of Edwardian servants in a gripping non-fiction account. Thoroughly researched and reliably informed, it also contains first-hand stories from the staff of the time. A must-read for anyone interested in the lifestyle and conduct of a bygone era. Alison Maloney is a journalist and author whose books – for both adults and children – have included the Number 1 Sunday Times bestseller The Mums’ Book.

This available as an ebook

Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy NewmanBloody brilliant women

In this freewheeling history of modern Britain, Cathy Newman writes about the pioneering women who defied the odds to make careers for themselves and alter the course of modern history; women who achieved what they achieved while dismantling hostile, entrenched views about their place in society. Their role in transforming Britain is fundamental, far greater than has generally been acknowledged, and not just in the arts or education but in fields like medicine, politics, law, engineering and the military. While a few of the women in this book are now household names, many have faded into oblivion, their personal and collective achievements mere footnotes in history. We know of Emmeline Pankhurst, Vera Brittain, Marie Stopes and Beatrice Webb. But who remembers engineer and motorbike racer Beatrice Shilling, whose ingenious device for the Spitfires’ Rolls-Royce Merlin fixed an often-fatal flaw, allowing the RAF’s planes to beat the German in the Battle of Britain? Or Dorothy Lawrence, the journalist who achieved her ambition to become a WW1 correspondent by pretending to be a man? And developmental biologist Anne McLaren, whose work in genetics paved the way for in vitro fertilisation? Blending meticulous research with information gleaned from memoirs, diaries, letters, novels and other secondary sources, Bloody Brilliant Women uses the stories of some extraordinary lives to tell the tale of 20th and 21st century Britain. It is a history for women and men. A history for our times.

On a Wing and a Prayer by Joshua Levineon a wing

Few are aware of the risks that the pioneering airmen of the First World War took. On a Wing and a Prayer is a narrative history that conveys the perils of those early days, the thrills of learning to fly, and the horrors of war in the air at a time when pilots carried little defensive armament and no parachutes. In 1914 aircraft were a questionable technology, used for only basic reconnaissance. But by 1918, hastened by the terrible war, aircraft were understood to be the future of modern warfare. The war changed flying forever. The stories are presented to the reader in a frank and open way, revealing the feelings of the men who defended the trenches from above and witnessed the war from a completely different perspective.

This is available as an eaudio book

Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikottermao

Between 1958 and 1962, 45 million Chinese people were worked, starved or beaten to death. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward. It lead to one of the greatest catastrophes the world has ever known. Dikotter’s extraordinary research within Chinese archives brings together for the first time what happened in the corridors of power with the everyday experiences of ordinary people. This groundbreaking account definitively recasts the history of the People’s Republic of China.

This is available as an eaudio book

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimertime traveller

What was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that visitor to late sixteenth-century England would ask, applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England.

This is available as an eaudio book

 A Secret Sisterhood by Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawasisterhood

Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, this book will reveal Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp, how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor, the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

This is available as an eaudio book

Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at some newspaper reports from the Reading Mercury about life in nineteeenth century WokinghamJim pic

Up to the second half of the 19th century news concerning Wokingham was quite sparse because the Reading Mercury didn’t have an agent in that town. Information came mainly from advertisements placed in that newspaper by companies or reports from local councils..

Mon 11th June 1804

KING’S BIRTHDAY (George III)

At Wokingham, in honour of his Majesty’s birth-day, the inhabitants testified the most distinguished marks of heart-felt satisfaction. Every class united in genuine expressions of loyalty Monarch.and fervent wishes for his future preservation. In the afternoon the Forest Volunteers assembled, and marching to a lawn, near the town, performed the customary evolutions with promptness and precision, to the gratification of their commanding officer, Major Webb, and the surrounding spectators. From thence they paraded to the Market-place, preceded by music, drums and fifes, and forming in martial array, after various manoeuvres, fired three excellent vollies. The scene that followed may be better conceived than expressed. When the music ceased playing God save the King, the plaudits from every individual of the numerous assemblage of persons, in three huzzas, rending the air, was extremely expressive, conveying the most decided and devoted affection for the beloved

 

Mon 21st July 1806

CRICKET

On Wednesday last a grand match of cricket was played at Chapel-Green, between the gentlemen of Wokingham, and the gentlemen of Finchampstead, which was won by the former, by 60 runs. The odds at the beginning of the game were six to four in favour of Finchampstead.

 

Mon 26th Sept 1808

Last week a match at Cricket was played on Bull-marsh-heath, between the gentlemen of Wokingham and the gentlemen of Reading, which was won by the former, with eight wickets to go down. After which a foot race took place between a gentleman of Wokingham and a gentleman of Reading, which was won easy by the Forest pedestrian.

 

1809

TO THE PRINTER OF THE READING MERCURY

Sir,

Observing the account in your Paper of Dec. 26, of the disgraceful Bull-bait, at Wokingham, and upon the principles, that,

“A verse may catch him, who a sermon flies,”

And, that ridicule is often an auxiliary to virtue, the following is submitted for insertion, by a Constant Reader. He certainly has no personal aim, as he knows not a single creature in that village. The Editor is much to be commended for introducing Dr. Barry’s sermon on the subject, whose exertions in the cause of humanity to the dumb part of the creation, entitle him to honourable distinction in society.—I withhold my name because it would be no recommendation to a bagatelle, like the one here presented.

I am, Sir, your’s respectfully,

 

INNOVATION!

Or, The NEW SAINT at WOKINGHAM

On St. Thomas’s-day, when some go to pray

Some others, of goodness brimful—

These humane devotees (though not on their knees)

Have agreed to worship Saint BULL.

 

I could wish Doctor Barry, a new sermon would carry,

And preach it in Wokingham Church,–

The old Saint to replace, who is now in disgrace;

Then leave Master BULL in the lurch!

W—d, June 2, 1809.                                                   A Friend to OLD Saints

———

Mon 7th May 1810.

Mr. Henry Seymour, ironmonger and auctioneer, in the Market-place, Wokingham, is appointed deputy post-master, for the Wokingham District, on the resignation of Mr. Farr Loughton.

JB1

Wokingham in Past Times

Local historian Jim Bell looks back at how Wokingham celebrated an important international event in the pages of the Reading Mercury and The Wokingham Times.

The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between France and the United Kingdom by Joseph Bonaparte and the Marquess Cornwallis signing a “Definitive Treaty of Peace”. The consequent peace lasted only one year, and was the only period of peace during the so-called ‘Great French War’ between 1793 and 1815. Under the treaty, the United Kingdom recognised the French Republic; George III had only two years previously dropped the English crown’s historical claim, dating back to 1340 and Edward III, to the now-defunct French Kingdom.

   Together with the Treaty of Lunéville (1801), the Treaty of Amiens marked the end of the Second Coalition. The War started well for the Coalition, with Gen. Bonaparte’s reverses in Egypt. After France’s victories at Marengo and Hohenlinden, Austria, Russia and Naples asked for peace. Nelson’s victory at Copenhagen (2 April 1801) halted the creation of the League of Armed Neutrality and led to a negotiated ceasefire.

Monday 5th April 1802 Reading Mercury

The arrival of the definitive Treaty of Peace (Treaty of Amiens signed 26th March) at Wokingham on Tuesday last, was received with universal joy. The assemblage of people from the circumjacent neighbourhood (it being market day) rendered the happy tidings more diffusive, while the harmony and satisfaction universally prevailed. On Wednesday afternoon the Associated Foresters formed in a line in the Market-place, and preformed various evolutions with promptitude and precision. A grand foi de joie ensued, after which three excellent vollies were fired which would have obtained approbation from any veteran corps.

The band of music then struck up God save the King, and the surrounding multitude joined in the chorus expressively testifying their loyalty and heartfelt satisfaction on the happy occasion. Illuminations next succeeded, and notwithstanding the little notice for preparation many houses and windows were illuminated with great beauty and brilliancy, and several expressive devices were displayed with good effect. Fireworks also were exhibited consisting of rockets and divers curious mutations and devices. Good sound strong beer which was dispersed in the Market-place, being the generous benevolence of the worthy Captain of the Associated Foresters, James Webb Esq.

The Gentlemen of the Association, with many respectable Gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood, assembled in the Town-hall, and partook of an elegant cold collation provided by Capt. Webb. His Majesty’s health was reiterated with enthusiastic plaudits, appropriate loyal toasts and songs gave infinite pleasure, and the evening was spent with conviviality and harmony highly gratifying to all.

 

Monday 2nd August 1802 Reading Mercury

On Wednesday last, James Webb, Esq., Captain Commandant of the late Wokingham Loyal Association was (at the request of the Corps), and the inhabitants of that town and parish) presented by Thomas Bunce, gent. The Chief Magistrate of the Corporation, and the Officers of the Corps, with an elegant three quart gilt tankard and cover, with the town crest engraved on one side and a suitable inscription on the other, as a lasting testimony of their approbation of his assiduity and the attention during the enrollment of that Corps.

 

The abovementioned gilt tankard and cover were returned to Wokingham many years later in.1983. It is now on display n the Jubilee Room of Wokingham Town Hall.

 

Thursday 3rd March 1983 Wokingham Times

THE ACORN CUP RETURNS TO WOKINGHAM

Canon John Lawton presented the town Mayor, Cllr. David Ireland with the acorn cup which is over 180 years old. The cup was originally given to Captain and Commandant, James Webb, by the townspeople of Wokingham in 1802 for his part in their protection. At that time people were afraid of attacks from the continent and an invasion of Britain. The cup had been in the care of the Canon, a descendant of James Webb, for many years.

Jim and Amiens

Photograph courtesy of The Wokingham Times