“A Potpourri of History” Talk Series

Enjoy all five afternoon talks in the “A Potpourri of History” series, with tea/coffee, cake and expert speakers, for the reduced price of four. 

Thursday 9th January, 2-4 pm, London Transport by Design with Paul Joyce

Paul Joyce, Chairman of Reading Transport Group, is a life-long railway enthusiast. In this fascinating talk, he will cover such diverse subjects as architecture, posters, signage, decorative tiling, Art Deco lighting, and general fixtures and fittings and much more. Early booking is recommended as this is likely to be very popular.

Thursday 23rd January, 2-4 pm, The Friends Ambulance Unit in WW1 & 2 with Sue Smith

The Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU) was a volunteer ambulance service, founded by individual Quakers, in line with their Peace Testimony.  It operated during both World Wars and beyond, in many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Sue will talk about the FAU in both wars, and tell the stories of individual conscience and action in opposing war and preparations for war. 

Thursday 6th February, 2-4 pm, Caversham Court and its History with Dr John Evans

The land known today as Caversham Court Gardens has a long recorded history dating back to the 12th Century. The first house on this land was for the priest of St Peter’s Church. Subsequent houses on the site provided homes for some prominent people including the Alexander/Milward family in the 16th century, the Lovedays in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the Reading banking and brewing Simonds family throughout the 19th century. No house remains today, but John will talk about the research which aids our understanding of these families, their homes, and how they developed their gardens. He will also show how that information is presented for visitors to the gardens following a major restoration project ten years ago.

Thursday 20th February, 2-4 pm, The Nabobs of Berkshire – part 2 with Clive Williams

Nabobs were employees of the East India Company during the 18th and 19th centuries, who made their fortunes in India and returned home to England as wealthy men. So many made their home in Berkshire in the 18th century that the county became known as ‘the English Hindoostan’. This talk follows on from a previous talk on Nabobs given last year, which was so well received that the audience asked to hear more stories. You don’t need to have attended that talk to enjoy this one. There are 31 Houses in Berkshire with Nabob associations. In this talk, Clive will focus on those associated with the east of the county.

Saturday 7th March, 12-2 pm, Pop Pirates of the 1960s with Tony Hadland

Discover, or perhaps rediscover, the story of the offshore pirate radio stations of the 1960s, including ‘Big L’ and Radio Caroline. Tony will explain how restrictions on broadcasting light entertainment existed in the UK from the earliest days of public broadcasting and show how, between the two World Wars, the first generation of offshore stations were land-based, in Normandy, Luxembourg and elsewhere. Offshore ship-based broadcasting developed first in Scandinavia in the 1950s, then in Belgium and the Netherlands, before the first British stations went live in the 1960s. The talk is brought to life with numerous audio clips.

You may purchase tickets for individual events, please see separate links for each, or for all five talks in the series in this special multi-ticket offer. 

The ticket price includes tea/coffee and cake after the talk.

Advance booking is required by 9th January 2020. 

The event is finished.


09 Aug 2020


The Centre for Heritage & Family History


The Centre for Heritage & Family History
2nd Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 3BQ


  • Clive Williams OBE
    Clive Williams OBE

    Clive Williams currently chairs three Berkshire based charities and is secretary of two others. He was awarded the OBE for services to the Berkshire community in 1998. History has always been a passion and in 1994, he wrote “History of the Parish of Basildon” with a second edition appearing in 2004. He has followed that with “The Nabobs of Berkshire” and most recently “Shire Hall through the Looking Glass”. He is also a keen sportsman, playing tennis and enjoying rambling throughout the year.

  • Dr John Evans
    Dr John Evans

    Hailing from mid-Wales, John spent his working life in agriculture advising farmers on plant diseases and their control, and more recently, working for Government in Westminster on farming policy and running their agricultural laboratories. He has been a volunteer at Caversham Court Gardens for the last six years having moved to Caversham from South Wales where he was active in Britain in Bloom. He has a great interest in the history of the gardens and of the families who lived in the houses there.

  • Paul Joyce
    Paul Joyce

    Paul Joyce is Chairman of Reading Transport Society and has been an author and photographer for the railway historical magazine “Back Track” for over 30 years. Paul is also an avid collector of anecdotal history and vintage photography, especially of anything connected to the railways of Reading.

  • Sue Smith
    Sue Smith

    Sue Smith has a personal interest in the Friends Ambulance Unit and its history, as her parents were members in the Second World War. She gained a Masters in Historical Studies at Oxford University, and her dissertation focused on the conscientious objectors of Oxfordshire in the First World War. She lives in Oxford, and worked for Oxfam for 20 years.

  • Tony Hadland
    Tony Hadland

    Born 1949 in Reading, Tony Hadland is a retired chartered building surveyor, information scientist, operational risk manager and museum administrator, who has also been a freelance broadcaster. Today he is a historian specialising in bicycle history, recusancy and family history. He has been chairman of the Oxfordshire Local History Association and vice-chairman of the Oxfordshire Family History Society and editor of its journal. He is currently working on books for the Veteran-Cycle Club and the Oxfordshire Records Society.

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