University of Reading researcher Robyn Woronka spoke with Ron in February 2021 about his life growing up on the Oxford Road and his involvement with the Holy Trinity Church.
Below, read highlights from the transcript of their discussion!
Memories of Oxford Road
Ron's Aunts standing opposite 199 Oxford Road, Reading, where Ron was born
'I was born at 199 Oxford Road, three doors from prospect street and lived there until I was six years old. It is a big house and I lived there with my maternal grandparents, their six children and their spouses when they grew up and married, three of them at Holy Trinity Church. My grandmother's sister lived next to Reading West railway bridge and my grandfather's family live opposite Brock Barracks'.
King George VI at Brock Barracks, Oxford Road, Reading on 23 October 1939. Photograph from Reading Chronicle Collection (c) Reading Museum
'During my childhood I remember seeing the King driving along the Oxford Road after visiting Brock Barracks. I remember that we looked out of the windows from where I was living and the Oxford Road was completely empty. Then we saw one black car came from Brock Barracks, along the Oxford Road and past our house. This is a very vivid memory I have from my childhood. The King must have visited several times, as the picture here is from 1939 and I saw him about 1947.
We used to shop locally and had butchers, bakers, greengrocers and grocery shops all now driven out by Tesco. I remember Mrs Beanies sweet shop where we brought a penny black for a farthing and half penny chews. Next door was the radio shop where my grandfather used to get his valves and batteries attended to. Opposite Holy Trinity there was a post office and a hairdressers. On the corner of Howard Street was Dunlops which sold hay and straw and pet food. On the corner of the Butts was the beautiful glazed red brick white lion hotel which must have replaced the one in the picture here in 1900'.
The White Hart Hotel, No. 1 Oxford Road, Reading 1900 (c) Reading Libraries Local Studies Collection
Holy Trinity Church
'My main connection with the oxford road for the last 42 years is with Holy Trinity Church which will celebrate its bi-centenial in 2126. The war memorial in the calvary garden was carved by a local craftsman in Lorne Street and was unveiled on Christmas Sunday 1919 only 13 months after the great war ended which must make it one of the earliest memorials in the country!
Two of our stained glass windows are of great local interest as they are memorials to members of the famous Jackson family, George, his wife and daughter. George was a Mayor of Reading and Church Warden for 35 years and his wife a member of the congregation for 60 years.
During its history Holy Trinity was heavily involved in looking after the poor of the parish as this area was and still is one of the poorer in Reading. It ran many clubs for men and women and at one point raised £10 to buy a railway carriage to house the Sunday School as there was not enough room in the church. We have not had a priest of our own for 10 years now so cannot do much in the community but we have a small and very loyal congregation. We are currently installing a new heating system and renovating the Church'.
A Bazaar for the Holy Trinity Church raising funds, Reading Photograph from Reading Chronicle Collection - November 1938 (c) Reading Museum
How could Oxford Road be improved?
'The areas shops need to improve their appearance, their signage less gaudy and repairs to woodwork and brickwork. The huge waste bins are a perpetual eyesore. The whole road is like a tip with all the waste and dumped rubbish. The Reading West bridge could be improved with local history painted on the panels and Bridge Hall smartened up. Signs like those for the Abbey would add interest to the history of the road and not forgetting Battle Hospital of which only the gateway survives'.
Holy Trinity Church and School, Oxford Road 1904 (c) Reading Libraries Local Studies Collection