My Coley

The banner picture is courtesy the Imperial War Museum © IWM

This is a personal record of my time in Coley from about 1943 up to about 1953 when my family were relocated to the Southcote Council Housing Estate.  Some of the pictures below are courtesy Google Maps.  If anyone I have named in this web page objects to being mentioned here, I will happily remove the entry – click here to contact me.
I am starting this web page on New Year’s day 2012. My reason for doing so is two fold.  Firstly – one of my sons has asked me to document as much as I can about my childhood years for their family tree activities, and this is the best way for me to do it.  Secondly – with the help of other former and present inhabitants of the Coley area, it will improve the web page and might act as a partial reference for them and their families as well.

I intend to ‘trespass’ the areas surrounding Coley, partly to satisfy my son’s family tree information and also because it fascinates me

I emigrated to Australia in 1966 and lived for most of that time in Melbourne.  I married and have three sons.  My first wife – Patricia – died from Multiple System Atrophy in 2004.

I have remarried and now live in Anglesea – on the iconic Great Ocean Road – near Melbourne in Australia.

For anyone interested, I have a bio at

My name is John Cummings and I was born in Barnstaple in 1941 – during the war – and moved to 106 Wolseley Street about 1943.  I have no recollection of the move.

106 Wolseley Street was a two storey house divided into two flats.  My family occupied the upstairs flat and Mr and Mrs Patterson and their daughter Angela and son Christopher lived in the downstairs flat along with a Mrs Long and her adult daughter Elsie.  Elsie always intrigued me because I couldn’t understand why she always wore men’s clothes!

I always thought that the man who lived in this house with my mother was my father but I have since discovered through DNA testing that he wasn’t. One of his brothers – one of my uncles – was my father – and I now know which one it was. There were three younger  brothers – Robert born in 1946, James born in 1949 and Raymond born in 1952.  Raymond is deceased.

My mother’s name was Delva and my step father was Leonard.  Both have passed away.

The house had quite a large garden with many fruit trees – apples, pears and cherries.  Local boys would often climb over the iron railings and pinch what they could – called scrumping!

I remember we had gas lights with small gas mantles that we had to frequently change.  At some stage we were converted to electricity but I have no idea when.

The staircase was in the centre of the house and traversed towards the back of the house.  At the top of the stairs was a large room at the back of the house which was the main living room – cooking, ironing, dining, kitchen, etc.  There was a large open range which provided heating and cooking.  The next room was the master bedroom plus there were two other bedrooms and a bathroom.  The bathroom actually had a bath in it but I seem to recall that we always took our baths in a tin bath in front of the fire in the main room.

106 Wolseley Street, Reading

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