Wokingham’s news from The Mercury 1913-1923

Wokingham’s ‘Coat of Arms’

Jim Bell continues his journey to provide us with an overview of Wokingham during the 19th and 20th centuries. This time he visits the archives to extract  Wokingham’s news from old Reading Mercury newspapers. They go as far back as 1859 (see post), but we start here just before the Great War.

1913 Saturday, 1st March

The Wokingham Picture Palace will be formally opened on Tuesday afternoon next and invitations have been sent to the leading residents of the district. A charge will be made for admissions and a share of the proceeds will be given to the Crowthorne & District Nursing Association. The Directors will provide light refreshments. The first public performance will take place the same evening.

1913 Saturday, 15th March

Electric Theatre (Wokingham Picture Palace)

The opening of this place of amusement took place on Monday afternoon. The Mayor (Councillor W. T. Martin) opened the proceedings and switched on the first film. Mr. Vince, a director, thanked the Mayor for his kindness. A selection of films was then exhibited. The theatre was filled at the evening performance

1914 Saturday Jan 17th

Fire Brigade Wedding – At St. Paul’s Church on Monday, Mr Weston B Martin, son of Mr & Mrs H Martin of Denmark Street, was wedded to Miss Margaret Emily Smallbone of St. Leonard’s, Wokingham, only daughter of Mr S Smallbone. The bride was attended by Master Joey Dearlove, who acted as page dressed in fireman’s uniform.

The bridegroom was driven to the church in a fire engine accompanied by the brigade including the Marquis of Downshire (who acted as driver) and Lord Hillsborough. Mr Martin has been a member of the brigade for 23 years and that body presented him with a clock. A reception was afterwards held at Fernleigh, home of the bridegroom’s brother.

1914 Saturday Feb 14th

Alderman Heron’s wife died Thursday last week at 22 Market Place.

1914 Saturday May 9th

Motor Fire Engine for Wokingham. Lady Downshire holds bazaar

1914 Saturday June 5th

Mr W Chambers, Sergeant at Mace died in Australia. (Sydney Daily Telegraph 28th April) Taralga. William Chambers who arrived recently from England, died suddenly at the Goodbron Hospital today. The late Mr W Chambers was well-known as a caterer at Wokingham and Wellington College. He served in the Volunteers and retired with the rank of sergeant. He was for about 20 years, a ‘Sergeant at Mace’ and Sidesman at St. Paul’s Church. He had advised his friends of his intention of returning home.

1914 Saturday Sept 26th

Lady Eustace died.

Lt. Frederick de Vere Allfrey, 9th Lancers, only son of Frederick Vere Allfrey and grandson of Mrs Bruce of Arborfield Court, was killed aged 22. He was shot by a wounded German after he had dismounted to extract a lance from a wounded comrade’s leg.

1914 Saturday Oct 17th

Fire Call. On Sunday afternoon the Fire Brigade received a call from Eversley and within 14 minutes were at the scene of the fire. A store in the occupation of Mr. Dearlove was burnt down, but the efforts of the brigade prevented other damage.

1914 Saturday Oct 24th

A matinee was given at Wokingham Picture Palace on Tuesday in aid of the Belgian refugees. The well-known bass, Mr. Berry, sang “The Battle Hymn” assisted by a chorus, and later the “Bugle Call”. The directors have much pleasure in handing over £5 to the fund.

1915 Saturday Jan 23rd

Death aged 80 of Mr Gotelee, well-known stationer and bookseller of the Market Place which had occurred on Wednesday morning. The deceased who was blind had been failing in health for the last three years. He was a good chess player and was noted for his kindness and will be greatly missed. The funeral is arranged for Saturday at St. Paul’s Church.

1915 Saturday April 17th

Members of the local fire brigade met on Monday evening and presented Fireman Lord Hillsborough with a firemen’s axe of silver steel (chased) with an ebony handle suitably inscribed on the occasion of his Lordship attaining his majority. Deputy Captain Caiger made the presentation.

1915 Saturday June 26th

On Tuesday the Fire Brigade received a call to a Heath Fire at Crowthorne. Within a few minutes of the alarm the firemen were off in the new motor fire engine, and were soon at the scene of the outbreak which they were able to cope with successfully.

1915 Saturday July 24th

The members of the local Fire Brigade have appointed Lieut. A Goswell Hon. Sec., and appointed Mr. E V Robinson the Hon. Treasurer in place of Sergeant H Watts, who is now serving in the Berks Yeomanry.

1915 Saturday Sept 4th

Wokingham Fire Brigade applies for extra room in the Town Hall.

1916 Saturday Jan 8th

Dr T B Bokenham of Broad Street has been elected by the Committee of St. Paul’s school managers as one of the foundation managers in place of the late Mr T E Ellison.

1916 Saturday April 8th

The Earl of Hillsborough, elder son of and heir of the Marquis of Downshire entered his 23rd year yesterday having been born on April 7th 1894. His Lordship held a commission for a short time as 2nd Lieut. In the Berks Yeomanry but recently resigned on account of delicate health.

1916 Saturday April 22nd

Miss Vera Allfrey only daughter of Mr & Mrs Vere Allfrey of Ashridgewood married Capt. Francis Anderson of Little Harle Tower, Northumberland.

Was Fireman W S Medcalf a councillor.

1916 Saturday Sept 9th

The popular manager of the Electric Theatre (Mr A P Stevens) having been called to the colours, the directors have appointed Mr F S Perkins of Wokingham to fill the vacancy.

1916 Saturday Nov 18th

Wokingham Fire Brigade under the Captain, the Marquis of Downshire and Deputy Captain, F Caiger.

The following were elected:

Town Crier: Mr J Taylor

4 Honorary Constables: R W Turner, W H Wilson, W Pearce, A Jervis.

Srgt at Mace: C Sparkes

Medals and a bar were presented to three members of the Fire Brigade:

Eng F G Martin for 20 years’ service

Eng F Knight for 20 years’ service.

Eng. W B Martin who already received a medal for 20 years, received a bar representing five years.

1917 Saturday 14th April

T B Bokenham was sidesman at St. Paul’s Church.

1917 Saturday 21st April

F W Saulez of Wixenford was appointed to the vacancy at Lucas Hospital caused by the death of Rev J Stratton.

1917 Saturday 14th July

Mr C Trill, motor car proprietor of Peach Street received news on Tuesday that his eldest son Clarence had been killed on the 7th instant in an explosion. He had attended the council schools and on leaving there was employed by Messrs Sales & Son. He had only joined up in the Royal Navy five months previously.

1917 Saturday 4th August

Extract from Palmer School annual treat article—The members of the Wokingham Fire Brigade attended as usual with their engine for the purpose of boiling the water required for the tea.

1917 Saturday 17th Nov

Death of Lieut Cockerell

1917 Saturday 24th Nov

Miss Julian Roberts died suddenly at 5, The Terrace at the age of 80 years. She was the eldest daughter of John Roberts. Her brother was town clerk and father was alderman. She was hon sec of Wokingham Habitation of the Primrose League. She was buried at All Saints on the following Saturday. Two of the mourners were Mrs Basnett and Miss Helen Roberts, sisters.

1918 Saturday 25th May

CSM Alfred Jeffcock Rifle Brigade was killed in action on the 25th of March at the age of 21 years. He was the youngest son of  Mrs Jeffcock of 21, Easthampstead Road. His rapid promotion was noted. His brother is wounded and his father died a few months ago.

1918 Saturday 3rd August

Lieut. Allan H. Perkins, Pioneer Battalion, Australia Forces (Queensland) youngest son of H H Perkins of the retreat married Miss Elsie Adelene Pither youngest daughter of Mr & Mrs T B Pither of Broad Street. Her sister Daisy attended.

1918 Saturday 7th September

Lieut. Col. Hills Nicholson awarded DSO by the King

Death and Funeral of Alderman D N Heron

1918 Saturday 12th Oct

Death of Lieut. Col Hills Nicholson

1918 Saturday 16th November

W T Martin appointed Deputy Mayor

The following were elected:

C Sparkes Sgt at Mace

J Taylor Town Crier

Honorary Constables: A J Rodgers, E Jefferies, N W Turner and W H Wilson.

1919 Saturday 8th March

The Town Hall accepted the portrait of Alderman Wescott from his widow.

1919 Saturday 5th April

At a meeting of the town council held on Thursday the General Purposes Committee reported the receipt of a communication from the authorities offering a German howitzer as a war trophy for the town.

1919 Saturday May 24th

Mr Cathrow Martin has recently been admitted a Freeman of the City of London

1919 Saturday 31st May

The captured gun presented to the town arrived on Tuesday. It is a 120mm German howitzer and presents a very battered appearance. The gun was captured by the 12th Division on the 27th July 1917 and claimed by the 5th Royal Berks. Regiment.

Tithe Barn is the residence of Col. Leslie Wilson GMG DSO MP.

1919 Saturday June 7th

The Borough Surveyor reported that a 120 mm howitzer had been received from the War Department and was temporarily stored in the Town Hall yard. The question of the provision of a site was deferred for further consideration.

Dr Bokenham is to leave Wokingham.

1919 Saturday July 26th

Wokingham Peace Celebrations

1919 Saturday Aug 2nd

Children’s Peace Celebrations

Presentation on Thursday evening last week at the Fire Brigade Station. Dr Bokenham, for 17 years Hon Surgeon to the Wokingham Fire Brigade, was presented by the members with a case of pipes on his leaving the town. Chief Officer Caiger introduced the object of the assembly. There were present the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and Mr. A T Heelas.

The Mayor spoke in terms of appreciation of  Dr Bokenham’s work, and regretted the reason of his leaving the town, namely, the state of his health.

1919 Saturday Sept 20th

Notification has just been received from the military authorities by Mr & Mrs Treaacher of The Lodge, Embrook House, late of Keep Hatch, Wokingham that their son, the late Driver Frank Treacher, RFA who died a prisoner of war is buried in the prisoner of war cemetery at RAGHTCHE?, Asia Minor 20 miles NNW of  Aleppo.

1919 Saturday Nov 15th

The following were elected: C Sparkes Sgt at Mace.

1919 Saturday Dec 6th

The late Alderman Heron’s wine and spirit business of 40 years has been re-opened after extensive alterations as Heron’s Wine Vaults by Messrs Fergusons Ltd of Reading.

1919 Saturday Dec 13th

Mr A T Heelas has been elected a foundation manager of St. Paul’s Schools in place of Dr Bokenham.

1920 Saturday Feb 7th

Free Churches to purchase burial ground near Skew Bridge, Reading Road

1920 Saturday Feb 28th

Fire Brigade hold social in town hall.

1920 Saturday May 8th

Duke of Connaught’s daughter died.

1920 Saturday Nov 6th

The General Purposes Committee recommended that the shell presented to the War Savings Committee be placed in the corridor of the town hall. Alderman Hughes having kindly offered to supply a base.

1920 Saturday Dec 18th

Presentation to Supt. Goddard and of medals and certificates to the men. – see photocopy.

1921 Saturday Jan 22nd

The trustees for the Nonconformist burial ground have been appointed by the Mayor.

1921 Saturday Feb 5th

An inscription has been fitted to the shell presented to the War Savings Committee.

1921 Saturday Feb 26th

The Nonconformist burial ground was dedicated.

1921 Saturday April 9th

C B Middleton & Co. has taken over the mill of Mr. F C Heelas and established a knitting factory. The factory began on Tuesday. There are handknitting machines and a large winder operated by water turbine.

1921 Saturday June 2nd

All Saints War Memorial was unveiled and dedicated on Monday.

1921 Saturday Aug 20th

Richard Herring dies

1921 Saturday Nov. 12th

Councillor Blake was appointed Mayor with Alderman Sale as Deputy Mayor.

Also elected were:

Sgt. C. Sparkes as Sergeant-at-Mace

E Jeffries, W Pearce, A Jarvis and H Dyer as Honorary Constables.

James Taylor as Town Crier.

1922 Saturday Sept 23rd

Dorothy Dearlove elder daughter of Mr & Mrs G J Dearlove died suddenly aged 25.

The tannery in Barkham Road for many years in the occupation of Messrs Philbrick and latterly Harry Grace Ltd was offered for sale at the Rose Hotel. The bidding ceased at £2,300 after which the auctioneer announced that he must bid on behalf of the vendors. This he did and the property was bought at £2,500.

1922 Saturday Nov 14th

Alderman Blake was re-elected mayor with Philip Sale as deputy mayor.

1922 Saturday Dec 9th

Vacancies in the fire brigade have been filled by E P Osmond, W W Stewart, C F Mason and R Maddams.

1922 Saturday Dec 16th


An interesting case was heard at the Wokingham County Police Court on Tuesday when an airman was fined for flying at too low an altitude over the town. A summons for trick-flying over the town was dismissed. The proceedings the first of their kind for Berkshire were taken under the Air Navigation Orders.

The defendant, Sidney Frank Woods, a young airman with considerable war experience in various parts of the world, was staed to be now in the employ of the Berkshire Aviation Company which arranged for a series of passenger flights  and air tricks during the past week at Wokingham. His address was given as “Hillside” Lilleshall, Salop and he was summoned for breaches of  Air Navigation Orders by reason of the low altitude was the cause of unnecessary danger to persons below and also with carrying out trick-flying over a town area both on December 6th. He pleaded not guilty and Mr. A F Clark (Reading) defended.

Mr Clark asked for the names of the persons to whom danger was caused. Supt. C Goddard said danger must have been caused to hundreds of people but he would give the names of himself and four constables.

Supt. Goddard produced the Order which stated that trick-flying must not be carried out over any city or town area or any populous district, nor must aeroplanes be flown at such a low altitude as to cause unnecessary danger to persons or property. At 2.30 pm on Wednesday, November 8th, he said, he was in the police station, when an aeroplane went over at such a low altitude that it seemed to skim Mr Barry’s house. It made a tremendous noise and had there been a timid horse in the street it was more than probable that it would have been alarmed. He had heard that some sort of trick-flying was to be carried out having seen bills to that effect in shop windows. He went towards the meadow where he understood the landing was to be, and at All Saints Church he noticed that another flight was taking place. The aeroplane came over him and was lower than the tower of All Saints’ Church. Finding that the meadow was rather further away than he thought he turned back to send a constable on a bicycle. He returned to the Market Place at 3.00 pm and again heard a tremendous noise and looking up he saw the aeroplane come over Barclay’s Bank. Until it came over those premises he could not see it. It turned and after rising a little nosed down into a vertical position and turning again returned in the direction from which it came, namely Buckhurst Farm. Later it returned over Broad Street at an exceedingly low altitude and when it had travelled over a shop he could not see it. At the time when it was over Palmer Schools the children were dispersing and had it crashed two or three hundred children would have been in danger.

Cross-examined by Mr. Clark Supt. Goddard would not agree that it was a difficult matter to estimate the height at which an aeroplane was flying

Defendant was flying at the height of the weather vane at the top of the Town Hall. He did not know that defendant was carrying an altimeter neither has he asked to inspect it. Defendant was unable to show his licence but he was not charged with that.

Mr. John B Holmes, a director of the company, who was commissioned as a pilot during the war in 1918 said he was with the Defendant on December 6th. His company had been taking the public for flights during the past four years. The defendant did not perform any trick-flying that afternoon but had turned vertically or “banked” – a necessary operation. It was extremely difficult to judge the height of an operation but they were carrying an altimeter which never registered below 1,600 feet a height at which, should the engine fail , it would give ample scope to reach a safe landing.

The chairman said that the Bench were of the opinion that there was no trick-flying and that the case would therefore be dismissed. The Bench thought, however, that defendant was flying too low and the punishment which could be inflicted for that offence was a fine of £200 and six months imprisonment . For this the defendant would be fined £1.

1923 Saturday March 24th

Death of Howard Palmer

1923 Saturday April 21st

The Wokingham War Memorial Clinic in Denmark Street was opened on Tuesday afternoon by the Marchioness of Downshire.


We noticed a few weeks ago the efforts made for the purpose of erecting a new clock on the turret of our Town Hall. After the committee had decided upon accepting the tender of Mr Tucker of London for the erection of the clock and the funds necessary had been generously contributed by the inhabitants and their friends a strong desire was expressed by many of them that the new clock should strike the quarter hours. The estimate has consequently been amended by the addition of the necessary works to carry out what certainly appears to be a great improvement on the original and this includes three bells which are considered requisite. It will alter the amount to £100 and has been collected. We trust that all intending subscribers will at once forward their donations.

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