This is the area alongside Caversham Road between Reading’s Central Railway bridge and Caversham Bridge, and from the late 1800s it has developed both a community of Victorian dwellings and a wide array of industries. In the 1850s it was mainly fields, but by the 1913 ordnance survey map we see an almost complete housing layout with iron works, timber yards, a saw mill, printing and electric works and the Great Western Railway yards. (Maps ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ Map images website.)
The Bell Tower Community Association have researched the Industrial Heritage of the area and gave an excellent talk to BIAG on their findings – the presentation can be found here. Many thanks to the Association and in particular to David Neale who gave the presentation.
Below are a few highlights from the many topics covered in the talk.
There were a number of Iron foundries: H C Goodman on the current Stantec site, Robert Cort in De Bohun Road, and Samuel Griffith who started in Caversham Road and later moved to Vastern Road. Reading still retains street furniture branded with these company’s names (A Self Locking Coal Plate from the Griffith Railway Foundry is shown below – it is from Castle Street, Reading). There was also The Coronium Metal Company who operated a non-ferrous foundry on the site of Thames Water’s offices in Vastern Road. Maps also show the Thamesbank Iron Works in Vastern Road of which less is known but there is headed paper linking it to the companies of Lewis & Allen in 1894 and Henry Lewis & Sons in 1905.
S Griffith Coal Hole Cover (photo: Jo Alexander-Jones)
Sitting on the corner of Caversham Road and Northfield Road is a building many of those is Reading know as Drews – the Ironmongers. However, this building has a much longer history starting life in the 1870s as a malt house, at one time supplying malt to Simonds brewery. Later being occupied by a series of small industries. More about this building can be seen in the BIAG article – More than Drews.
Drews - The Ironmongers (photo: Jo Alexander-Jones)
One of the largest and oldest industries in the area was Cox & Wyman, who when the closed in 2015 were the oldest established printers in the UK and were Reading’s oldest print company. There is more about them in the BIAG article – Cox & Wyman.