Peter Small

University of Reading researcher Alice Mpofu-Coles spoke with Peter in January 2021. In their conversation, Peter reflected on what the Oxford Road was like when Peter first moved there in 1964 and how it has changed since.

Below, discover highlights from their conversation!

Peter Small

Peter did not grow up on Oxford Road, he came to the UK at the age of 18/19 years. His eldest child, who is now 49, grew up on Oxford Road. 

He first moved in to a house on Zinzan Street, off the Oxford Road, in July 1964. The house was a big house, with nine rooms. Each family had an individual room, Peter lived in a room with his brother who had got him his working visa. Peter started working at a factory in Woodley as a machinist making plastic bottles, and he never stopped working until 2010 when he retired.

Peter also later lived on London Road, but he moved back to the Oxford Road when he married his childhood sweetheart and bought a property there. He has now been living there for over 49 years and in his road he also has two other neighbors have also been there for as long as I remember.

Oxford Road in 1967, approaching Norcot Road, shops in the background include Nos. 739-741 (Mace Foodmarket), and No. 743 (W. L. Johnson, ladies' hairdresser) (c) Reading Libraries Local Studies Collection

He tells us how he enjoys the summer months on Oxford Road, when you see your old mates walking around. He also enjoys the variety of shops, that sell the foods that him and his family love. 'Where else can you buy a hot dog and next you are buying a car. Only Oxford Road!'

Peter explains that there is a great representation of Afro-Caribbeans in Reading, but there is little for them. Sadly, Peter does not feel that he can see much of himself or his culture along the Oxford Road anymore, which has meant that he can not identify himself with the Oxford Road as much as he used to. 

Peter at Reading Carnival on Oxford Road

Peter feels that the Oxford Road needs to be recognised more, and the community who have contributed to Oxford Road's viability should be celebrated. Peter would particularly like to see a monument or similar to the Windrush generation of Reading or others who have contributed so much to Reading and the Black community. This includes better education for the younger generations about Reading's more diverse histories.

He explains how many of the struggles of the Black community used to be seen through the Carnival, this was sadly canceled. 'I think without bringing back the Carnival there is very little in Reading for Black people and it’s a shame'. Peter says that he wants to encourage more people to act and incite change.

Peter at Reading Carnival on Oxford Road