Kathy Tytler spoke with Dorothy Wood on 2 March 2013.
Dorothy's memories of Reading
Nos 123 & 125 Chatham Street 1935. These homes were previously shops that kept their bow windows (c) Reading Libraries Local Studies Collection
Dorothy Wood (nee Cooper) who now lives in Hereford was born in 1927 and lived in Reading until 1937.
She lived in Chatham Street and attended Oxford Road School. Dorothy walked to Oxford Road School along the back streets and remembers being fascinated by the crane at the stonemason’s (which is still there).
Aluminium being delivered in lorries to G. R. Jackson Ltd, the scrap metal merchants on Chatham Street. This photograph was published in the Berkshire Chronicle on 9 August 1940 (c) Reading Museum
Her house backed onto the Thames Valley Bus Depot which meant they weren’t allowed bonfires in their back garden, even on bonfire night. The sweep lived two doors away from Dorothy, there was a fish and chip shop opposite and a pub on each corner. There was also a rag and bone yard behind Chatham Street. The tall houses on the north side of Chatham Street, set back from the road, are still there. On the south side the houses were smaller, with their front doors opening directly onto the street.
The public house, usually known as Butler's, and the adjacent off-licence and bottling plant, Nos. 81, 83, 85, 87, 89, 90 and 91 Chatham Street, Reading, c. 1975. Photograph by Terry Allsop (c) Reading Libraries Local Studies Collection
She lived next to a sweetshop run by Mr and Mrs Holmes who moved to Tilehurst. This was considered to be a long way away. Trips to the river and to Caversham were more likely. She remembers playing down by the river and going for a ride on a steamer down the river to Sonning. Groups of children also visited the chalk pits in Caversham, bringing back chalk which was used to whiten front door steps.
Forbury Gardens was also a popular place to visit and to play. As well as the Lion there was also a cannon on top of the hill in the gardens.
The Russian cannon, captured at Sebastopol, on top of the Forbury Hill 1910 (c) Reading Libraries Local Studies Collection
In town there was the Co-op in West Street, a theatre opposite the back of the Co-op, where she was taken to the pantomime. There was a sweetshop in Friar Street which displayed a big Easter Egg each year. The egg was donated to the children’s hospital. McIlroy’s was the big department store in Reading which had a Christmas Grotto each year.
Dorothy’s father worked for Marks and Spencer based first in West Street before the store moved to Broad Street. He was then transferred to the Andover store when the family left Reading. She later worked for the company in Andover and Hereford in later life.