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Reading aerial photographs

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Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby mewstone » Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:18 pm

I have 2 ex GWR crossing lamps from Long Lane, Craven Arms. Both lamps have S Griffith as the foundry markings. A while back I posted a thread (it might have been on the old email system) and it was identified that the founder was a Samuel Griffith, engineer and iron founder. He first appears in trade directories in 1878, with a foundry on Caversham Road, just north of the GWR’s signal works. By 1915 he is listed in Kelly’s as iron foundry and engineering works at 57, Vastern Road. The last entry I can find for him is in the Kelly’s Trade Directory of 1919 at that address.

I have found 2 interesting photographs on the Reading Borough Libraries web site. The first is described as “Aerial view over the west end of Reading town centre, looking north, in 1949. The railway runs across the top of the picture, with the River Thames and Reading Bridge top right. The new buildings of the British Railways (Western Region) signal works on Caversham Road are prominent to the left. The large roofs and yard of Vincent's garage with Station Hill, artificially raised up on concrete pillars, appear in front of the General Station. Parts of Oxford Road, Broad Street, Friar Street, Cheapside, and St. Mary's Butts can be seen. 1940-1949.

http://readingimages.epixtech.co.uk/loc/1405985.pdf

There is another photograph described “Aerial view over the west end of Reading town centre, looking north, in 1949. The railway runs across the top of the picture, with the General and Southern Stations visible. Beyond, the Western Region signal works, railway sidings and buildings along Vastern Road can be seen, including the power station, backing onto the River Thames. Station Hill, supported on concrete pillars, is visible, with Vincent's garage in front of it. In the foreground are Cheapside, Oxford Road, West Street, Broad Street, Friar Street, and Greyfriars Road. 1940-1949.”

http://readingimages.epixtech.co.uk/loc/1405986.pdf

I was wondering if anyone with a historical knowledge of Reading could identify the buildings that might have formed a part of Samuel Griffith’s railway foundry and engineering works. It might be that by 1949 they had changed beyond recognition from when Mr Griffith occupied them. I think they were just south of the power station.

Also I was wondering what the new buildings that formed a part of the by then BR WR signal and telegraph works were used for and when they were built.

Any information would be most gratefully appreciated?
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby mewstone » Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:28 pm

There are some more interesting photographs (to me at least) of the GWR Signal Works at Reading:

http://reading-hip.epixtech.co.uk/ipac2 ... 25&x=0&y=0

http://reading-hip.epixtech.co.uk/ipac2 ... 25&x=0&y=0
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby JRB » Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:50 pm

On the North side reading from east to west:Admin office, tool room, machine shop, toilet/washroom, fitters' shop, tinshop.

Further south: Entrance lobby, erecting shop.

Then: Stores, signal shop, carpenters' shop.

Items in bold are in the brick building, the rest in the 'sheds'.

The first floor in the brick building was more stores and the top was the telegraph shop and clock shop.

The one railway track came down the erecting shop under the overhead crane.

Te brick building was separated by a roadway from the drawing &c. offices along Caversham Road (old) which were the head office, not part of the Works Manager's realm.
Last edited by JRB on Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby mewstone » Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:09 pm

Many thanks JRB for labelling the constituent parts of the signal works buildings, shown in the photographs. I must admit I did not realise that the signal works were so extensively rebuilt in the late 1940's. I assume the Samuel Griffith's railway foundry and engineering works would have been on the opposite side of Vastern Road, to the right of the power station and backing onto the River Thames?

Here is an URL link to a photograph of a coal hole cover his works produced (apologies I am getting a bit off the railway subject here)

http://readingimages.epixtech.co.uk/loc/1415296.pdf
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby JRB » Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:15 pm

The main works buildings were completely replaced. The separate buildings along Caversham Road (as mentioned) remained as did the row of buildings backing on to &/or overtopping the Subway Road retaining wall. These included the gatehouse, signal school and canteen/hostel. This last was a very utilitarian (wartime I believe) thing with access from Subway Rd. The 'Tin Tabernacle' up against the railway bridge abutments also survived and contained the gauge 1 model railway (not preserved). The space between the works and Vastern Rd. was filled by the coal yard.
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby mewstone » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:49 am

Many thanks JRB for imparting your personal knowledge of the rebuilt signal works. It is wonderful to learn so much about what went on at these works and there seems to be so much that happened that has not been recorded, at least I have not found it anyway.

As far as I am aware the signal works did not have its own ferrous metal foundry and this is probably why Iron Founders such as Samuel Griffith were employed by the GWR to provide castings to them. My understanding from previous threads on here is that the GWR Swindon Locomotive works did the foundry work for the signal works, along with private commercial foundries in the South West and Midlands and probably elsewhere too.

On the Reading Museums website this item caught my attention:

http://collections.readingmuseum.org.uk ... Start=1737

The reason I mention it is about 30 years ago I was told a story about “allegedly” a redundant GWR wooden signal post being “unofficially” taken to a local saw mill to be cut for further non- railway use. As the post was being cut by the circular saw the blade hit a concealed bolt and shattered. I was wondering if the left hand chimney in the first aerial photograph was the one being demolished at the George Lewis timber works and if this was the location for the saw mill story I was told?

I have another link to the Berkshire Industrial Archaeology Group’s Spring 2015 newsletter.

http://biag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2 ... ng2015.pdf

This is where I found the recent information about Samuel Griffith. Listed in his talk, under foundries, Mr Cliffe mentions The Coronium Metal Company Ltd in Vastern Road who specialised in bearings for railway vehicles in the 1930’s
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby JRB » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:30 am

There was no foundry at the signal works and, I believe, never was. The distribution of casting work to Swindon and contractors was discussed in another thread in some detail.
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Re: Reading aerial photographs

Unread postby mewstone » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:42 am

JRB wrote: "There was no foundry at the signal works and, I believe, never was. The distribution of casting work to Swindon and contractors was discussed in another thread in some detail."

Many thanks.

I should also add that the story about the reclaimed signal post and the saw mill related to an incident many years ago well back into GWR days and of course I have absolutely no evidence to substantiate it. I thought it was an interesting little bit of historical gossip though!
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