Brickmaker’s Arms

This picture of a group of people outside the Brickmaker’s Arms is so descriptive of that time and it brought back many memories for me. The photo came from Jane Grainger – formerly Jane Rex whose parents owned the Brickmakers Arms.  The occasion was a day trip to Bognor on 9th July 1950 –  “Brickmakers Arms” Reading  Darts Club Outing

To get a quick look at the picture, click on it to enlarge it.  But you will get a better image if you click here and then click on brickmakersarms.jpg

To help identify people in the photo, I have split it into 3 sections and added a number to each person with a legend at the bottom of each photo.  Please click on each picture in turn and have a look and let me know if you can identify anyone else.  Please ignore the “Show as slideshow” comment.

The photo originally came from Jenny Ballard – see below.

Wednesday 22 August 2012
From: Jenny Ballard
Sent: Tuesday, 21 August 2012 10:34 PM
To: John Cummings
Subject: a picture for you

Hi John – don’t know if Ann Mitchell will send this to you as well. Saw it on
FaceBook. Wolseley St circa 1952 we think. The photo was taken from outside
my Dads shop, Bristows, No 33. The Pub was opposite the shop, called the
Bricklayers Arms, sadly long gone, now part of the school playground. I can
pick some people in the pic, one is Veronica Pike, young girl about 10 yrs
just in front of the bus, most likely a Smiths bus. Regards


[JC] Then I established contact with Jayne Grainger – formerly Jayne Rex whose father owned the Bricklayer’s Arms.  Here is an edited selection of emails between us – where comments have been made within an email, I have prefixed them with either “Jayne” or “JC” for me and made them bold type for easy reading.

From: Jayne Grainger
Sent: Friday, 24 August 2012 11:43 PM
To: John Cummings
Subject: RE: Wolseley Street – photograph

Hi John

My father was Edward Rex and the REX family had been in the licensing trade since the 1750’s in Exeter.  My grandfather and all of his sons bar one had public houses in Reading.  Dad took over the BRICKMAKERS ARMS 22 Wolseley Street in the late 1940’s.  My brother John was born in April 1947 and we were not living there then.  I was born in 1944 and we lived in Shinfield Road prior to Wolseley Street. I think we left Wolseley Street in 1959 when H & G Simonds closed down the pub because they wanted to transfer the Licence for the Brickmakers and The Shades in Gun Street to the  “Happy Prospect” at Southcote.

[JC] I also remember the “Happy Prospect” at Southcote.

The photo (size 12″x9″) was taken prior to one of the coach trips my Dad used to organise every year to the coast and the people in the photo were some of his customers ,Mrs Izzard, Beryl Adams, Mr Mason snr, Sid and Mary Chambers (they lived next door to us), Mr Adams, Mrs Dorothy Pike, Mr and Mrs Wicks, Len “Nobby” Clark, Lots of the Milams, Mrs Goldstone,, Mr Allwood snr, Mrs Steadman, Mrs Clark and baby Leonard Clark, Mrs Patey, Granny Aldrige, and Aunty Mary Aldridge, Veronica Pyke , Milam, Simpson children, Mrs Mackie and some of her children,  Jimmy Allwood, me with centre parting and door knocker plaits with my little brother John’s head peeping through, Helen Clark in front of John and next to me.  Mr and Mrs Absolom and their son Tommy (who had a bad leg and walked with a limp – think he had a built up shoe), Bill Ham and his wife, oh goodness me –  cannot think of anymore names to faces off hand at the moment.  But there are also eight people I definitely could not name even if my life depended upon it! But then there are others I can remember as if it was yesterday but not their names.

[JC] The new photo you sent me is much better than the facebook copy and I was instantly able to recognise a few faces.  Mrs Steadman is Mrs Stearman – her name was Gwen and she had a son – Michael – and a daughter – Rosemary.  I had completely forgotten about Tommy Absolom – but when I saw his name in your email – I went to the photo and picked him out straightaway – it really is amazing what the memory can do when prompted!

I will try and see if I can do a mock-up of the photo with numbers superimposed over the people in it and then see how many we can identify over time.

I am guessing the photo is around 1951/1952 by height of my brother and me. It would be pre 1953 as my Dad had lots of red, white, and blue hanging baskets for the Coronation and used to refill them every year (no signs of basket brackets in the photo) with geraniums, lobelia, and alyssum.  I remember that we used to drive out into the country and get fresh moss for the baskets.  People in the photo came from all parts of Wolseley Street from the Allwoods up your end to some that lived a few doors from the Blue Lion.

The Bricklayers Arms was up at the top of the steps under an archway. There was the Blue Lion across the road, The Rose and Crown further up Wolseley Street, at the bottom of Coley Hill owned by the Cox family. My brother used to play with Ronnie? Cox. Then round the corner past the Workmen’s Club was the Borough Arms by the river where we used to go fishing for minnows with our jam jars tied up with string which used to get caught up in the reeds and weeds. Quite a few of the Wolseley Street gardens, especially Veronica’s Mum’s used to overlook the river and had a gate for access.

[JC] I remember all those pubs – always were lots of pubs in those days – but nowadays there are so few.  Your recollections of fishing also brought back many memories.  I spent countless hours fishing in Holy Brook.

I remember the May family who lived almost next door to your house, their daughter used to do a lot of ballet as did I and I vaguely remember my Dad saying they were related to Peter? May, the Cricketer who bought a pub at the top of Prospect street Caversham when he retired from Cricket.

[JC] Next door to us at no. 104 were the Mayo family – children were John, Jeanette and Peter – Peter was killed in a car accident in Berkeley Avenue.  The Mayos were related to the Millams and Audrey Hora (nee Millam) told me that Florrie Mayo still lives there and she is close to a 100!!

Then there were the Bryants, Roger

[JC] and brother David

and his Mum and Dad, the Vockins family I remember Bill and he had a sister cannot remember her name,

[JC] Dorothy

and the Allwood’s – I saw Jimmy on Monday walking up Castle street and he looks exactly the same.

[JC] Does that mean he still lives in the area?  Any chance of getting a message to him?  Would love to get in touch with him.  He had a sister – Rosemary I think.

There was also an elderly little lady who lived two or three houses from Stoney Hill I vaguely remember her name was Mrs Pike who gave me a little doll which I still have today.

[JC] That’s right – no. 74 were the Pykes – son Bertie, daughter Edie and Edie’s daughter Eileen.

Next time I am in BFHS will see what Kelly Directories we have and take the picture in with me to see if it helps me remember more names.

[JC] Have you seen the two Kelly’s extracts on the “Wolseley and Garnet Streets” page under My Coley?  Right at the very end of the web page?

Veronica  lived at No 41 and  is a couple of years older than me and lives in Lancashire now and is my son’s Godmother.  Jennifer Bristow used to live in the shop opposite us and I used to have sleepovers there even though she was about 4/5 years younger than me.  You know about Ann Beavis.  The other side of the school was where the Gibbard family lived – I think Mrs Gibbard was a widow as I do not remember her husband – her eldest son was John, then Shirley, Marian, Joey, and Patsy who used to be one of my best friends – Veronica told me that Patsy died a few years ago.

Have attached photo for you.

Regards Jayne

From: John Cummings
To: Jayne Grainger
Subject: RE: Wolseley Street
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 11:50:48 +1000

Hi Jayne

We lived in the upstairs flat at 106 Wolseley Street until about 1954 when we moved to the Southcote Council Estate.  I would have been about 12 then.  Boys never really got interested in playing with girls until they were a bit older which probably explains why I have no recollection of either you or Jenny Ballard (Bristow).  I vaguely remember Pauline Winterbourne (Wiggins) as she was related to Bernie Millam and was friendly with Angela Patterson who lived in the downstairs flat at no.106.  And yet I hardly remember Audrey Hora (Millam) and she is Bernie’s sister!  And I only vaguely remember Ann Mitchell (Beavis).  I also suspect that you are a few years younger than me!!

I do remember the Mayos at no. 104, the Coopers at 102, especially remember the Roses at 100, Mrs Brown, the Stearmans, the Vockins, the Bryants and the Allwoods.  All bar Mrs Brown had boys around my age.  It seems I can recall people who lived in the street between Berkeley Avenue and Garnet Street but not beyond Garnet Street.  I do remember the Bristow shop very well and Jenny’s father Bert – and I also remember the your father’s pub, but I don’t remember either you or Jenny.  Maybe there were very few boys in that section of the street.

I remember Bernie Millam in Garnet Street quite well as we both went to St James School and almost opposite him was David Chard.

I also remember guys like Roy Merryweather and Les Harper who lived at the top of Stony Hill – more boys – of course!

I spent the first two years of my schooling at Coley Primary before going to St James when I was 7.  I have no recollection of that school at all – in fact I was convinced I hadn’t been at the school until I asked Nora Neville (Thompset) to check the Berkshire Records Office for me – which she did – and she sent me a copy of the extract which confirmed I had been at Coley Primary.

Cheers  JC

From: Jayne Grainger
Subject: RE: Wolseley Street – photograph
Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2012 10:08:05 +0000

Hi John

Have remembered a few more names – Mrs Grantham, lady standing behind me with a light blouse with two button and black belt, her son Norman is the little boy in the front row with a blazer and white open necked shirt to the right of Jimmy Allwood. I made a mistake on Len “Nobby” Clark yes he was known as “Nobby” but his Christian name was Jim, and his wife was Margaret – heavy Scottish accent, it was her son that was Leonard he used to play with my brother John, their daughter Helen is standing just below her mother’s handbag. They lived a few doors from the Blue Lion next door to the McQuistens – Ronnie and Sheryll (Not in the photo). Mr Harry Wicks is at the back of the photo with glasses on near the Public Bar. Mr Mason snr is the gentleman to the left of the photo with the hat on and my dad Edward Rex is in front of him with a white shirt and braces.  Looks as though he is talking to Mr Adams, whose head is in front of the Bottle and Jug doorway looking towards my Dad. An error – I put Mrs Patey’s name in the photo, yes she was a regular customer but she is not in the photo –  it was Mrs Paddy Hamblin – the little lady in the black coat and posh hat next to Margaret and baby Leonard Clark. Should I remember anymore names, I will let you know.  By the way the photo is in a large envelope and I found a second photo in there and my Dad has written on the back of that photo –  Bognor 9th July 1950 “Brickmakers Arms” Reading  Darts Club Outing, so now we have a definite date for the photo as it was taken of my Dad and four of the people in the photo when they got to Bognor.


From: John Cummings
Sent: 08/25/2012 8:41 PM
To: Jayne Grainger
Subject: RE: Wolseley Street – photograph

Jayne – your memory is fantastic – I envy you!

I’d like to try and get the others on my email list to suggest some names but it would be easier if I put your emails up on the page for them to see and check against – do you mind if I do that?

Because the photo – which is fantastic – is so crowded with people, I’m having a problem following some of your names.  Is the lady in black – about 6 from the left in the front row – is she a Millam?  And are the two in front of her Bernie and his sister Audrey?  And it seems to me the guy with glasses on behind the lady with white top and horizontal stripes must be a Millam – possibly Bernie’s cousin Michael?  And who is the kid to the left of Jimmy Allwood?

You mentioned another photo – any chance of having a copy?

Cheers  JC



From: Jayne Grainger
Sent: Saturday, 25 August 2012 8:45 PM
To: John Cummings
Subject: More Wolseley Street Memories For You John
Do you remember Charlie Martin and his horse and cart when he used to go down Wolseley Street and collect vegetable peelings etc load it on his cart and then take it up to Coley Rec for his pigs, he was one of Dad’s customers and he would take us up to see the pigs, long gone later houses built on there and called St Saviours Road? by the park anyway.

[JC] To be honest – I don’t but you have started a niggle in the back of my tired brain!!

Also children’s highlight was when the Ice Lorry used to go to Uncle Bert Bristow’s shop opposite our pub and big chunks would fall off the lorry when he opened the back tail gate and the children would be scrambling for ice that fell on the road, my little brother got knocked down accidentally trying to get some.

[JC] Don’t remember that.  Probably because it was outside your house and you lived the other end of the Street

There was also Mr Gayler (think is name was Gordon) who was the Milkman who had a horse and cart too he lived half way up Wolseley Street almost opposite Ann Beavis and her parents house (next door to Coley Primary School) Ann’s Dad was the school caretaker.

[JC] I checked that out on one of the Kelly’s extracts on my “Wolseley and Garnet Streets” pages and there is a Gordon Gayler listed at no. 59.

Phil and Jack Paget and their daughter Wendy lived almost next door to the Gaylers near to the Gregory’s I remember Ken and his Mum.

[JC] I can’t find the Paget’s where you suggest on the Kelly’s extracts but there is a Paget listed at no. 38.  The Gregory’s are listed at no. 67.

Then there were the Wheelers Can remember going to Mr Wheelers house with my Dad to see his huge collection of butterflies and moths in a large cabinet with lots of draws where he kept his amazing collection.

[JC] The Wheelers are listed at no. 79 and 42.  If you haven’t looked at the Kelly’s extracts on my web page – I recommend you do as they will spark new memories for you for certain.

End of 0ctober when they started to build the huge bonfire sometimes two, I can remember one night looking out of my bedroom window overlooking “the buildings” as it was known and someone had set fire to the bonfire and later another one was rebuilt.

[JC] I loved the bonfire nights.

Me too we had a big yard to the side of the pub, part of it you can see in photo behind Mr Pike’s brick wall, and heavy wire mesh and two huge great gates closing it off, this is where the dray horses would come and deliver the barrels of beer down through the – God!  I can’t remember what it was called – the huge heavy metal doors on the floor which had rollers that went down into the cellar so that my dad could “peg them up”.

Talking about that can you remember the floods, I remember going down the cellar after Dad had to have pumps put in to drain  out the masses of water in the cellar had to wear my wellington boots as water was so deep.

I also remember the houses that were on the front of “the buildings” must have been very young as when I mentioned them to Veronica nee Pike she could not remember them. I know one day I came home from School they had been demolished, I think the Simpson family lived there. Also to the side of The Brickmakers there were several little houses where the Cripps family lived. My Mum was friendly with them and their daughter Ann who used to come and look after me  sometimes, have a photo somewhere of us at my Aunt’s in Pangbourne.

2nd June 1953 Coronation Day Did you go to the Party they held in St Saviours Church Hall?

[JC] I really can’t remember but I suspect I did as we lived virtually next door to the hall.

What was the name of the scary little man who looked after the church hall and churchyard  he probably was not scary but when you are little he scared me, he was there for years and years.  When they had the youth club in there he used to go downstairs and stoke up the boilers to keep the hall warm as it was on two floors, the Coronation Party was on ground floor also remember going to some sort of ballroom dancing classes with Veronica upstairs, they also had a stage up there and went and saw some plays by local amateur dramatic society people too young to remember who they were though.

I also went to St Saviours Sunday school and one sunny afternoon we were to be taken on an unexpected  trip to Checkendon – wait for it – on the back of a big open topped lorry.  I freaked out and ran home crying and did not want to go as he was going too, cannot 100% remember outcome but vaguely remember eating egg and tomato sandwiches and fairy cakes so must have gone but that’s all I remember about that day. Crazy how you can remember some things and others a blur.

[JC] That’s hilarious!!!  However – I can understand why a little girl would be scared of him – he was actually a good bloke.  His name was Bert Norris and he lived in Brook Street West with his wife.  The reason why he looked scary was because he had one leg shorter than the other so one of his shoes/boots was built up but even with that, he still had a pronounced limp – as Spike Milligan would have said – L I M P pronounced limp!!.  Bert was very kind to me and I suspect he knew of the problems upstairs at no. 106.  He used to let me use the lawn mower and cut the grass, and let me stoke the boilers down in the basement – I loved it down there – it was a different world – made me forget about my dysfunctional family for a while.  If he was still alive and I was in the UK I would buy him the best meal he ever had.  Today – parents would be scared that someone like Bert would be a child predator which is sad – to me he was simply a nice man.

I went but did not really want to go as we had a lovely day at home, we were the only people in the Street to have a television and my Dad opened up our big back room for half to street to come in and watch it.

[JC] That reminds me – the Pattersons who lived downstairs at no. 106 had a TV and Mr Patterson invited me to watch Blackpool play Bolton Wanderers in the 1953 Cup Final which Blackpool won 4-3 thanks to the maestro Stanley Matthews.

Somewhere I think I have a photograph of the Party if I can find it and you are interested will email it to you. But got to find it first.

[JC] I’ll take any photos – they are priceless.


ps just remembered re the photo the little gentleman to the far right of photo with black jacket shirt and tie and flat cap was Veronica’s Grandad Mr Pike. Know as soon as I “send” will remember something else.

Sent: 08/25/2012 9:11 PM
To: ‘jayne grainger’
Subject: RE: More Wolseley Street Memories For You John

Where does it all come from!!!!!

Because the photo – which is fantastic – is so crowded with people, I’m having a problem following some of your names.  Is the lady in black – about 6 from the left in the front row – is she a Millam?  And are the two in front of her Bernie and his sister Audrey?  And it seems to me the guy with glasses on behind the lady with white top and horizontal stripes must be a Millam – possibly Bernie’s cousin Michael?  And who is the kid to the left of Jimmy Allwood?

[Jayne] Do you mean the elderly lady with glasses on? to the right of  Veronica this is Granny Aldridge. Really not sure about the boy next to Jimmy Allwood could be a Simpson or a Wheeler, or now I come to think of it think Mackie as well as the little blond boy next to him and the bigger dark haired boy with his hands on his little brothers shoulder.

The boy in front of Granny Aldridge is definitely a Milam his name could be Bernie, and yes the guy with glasses is Michael Milam they were quite a lot older than me and I went to St Josephs Convent so only knew children in my immediate vicinity not going to the local school.  The dark haired girl with white hair clips in her hair is Veronica Pike who lived opposite me at No 41 I think.

You mentioned another photo – any chance of having a copy?

[Jayne] Yes will try and scan it later for you.

Cheers JC

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