A Potpourri of Social History Talks – Summer Series

This all series ticket covers all three talks in the Summer “Potpourri of Social History” talks series, for the discounted price of £12.50 (members £10.00). You may also book each talk individually – see each separate event page. All three talks are on Thursdays at 2pm and last about an hour. Afterwards there will be time for questions and discussion. This is an online talks series using Zoom. 

Thursday 25 July “Tilehurst’s Big Houses: Dellwood, The Laurels & Kentwood” 2 – 3.15pm with Katie Amos

This was such a popular talk when we held it face-to-face in April, that we are repeating it on Zoom to allow more people to hear it.  Katie Amos, Local Studies Lead for Reading Library, will be taking a look at three properties – Dellwood, an ex-maternity and care home, The Laurels, now the infant department of Park Lane School, and Kentwood Farmhouse, now flats. Each used to be a private house. Katie will reveal the tragedies, scandals and stories behind each one.

Thursday 22 August “Bells and Bricks (Two Wokingham Industries)” 2 – 3.15pm with John Harrison

Church bells were cast in Wokingham between the mid 1300s and the early 1600s. The foundry is long gone, but some of the bells cast there are still in use. Furthermore, the bellfounding methods used today can be traced back to the way mediaeval founders worked. Brick making thrived in Wokingham during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with some works producing millions of bricks per year. The brick works too are long gone but they left their mark. This talk describes these traditional Wokingham and Berkshire industries and how they changed over time, together with an overview of how their products were used.

Thursday 26 September “The History of Purley’s River Estate” 2 – 3.15pm with Catherine Sampson

The largest inter-war plotland site in Berkshire, Purley’s River Estate has a significant history. It began life in 1935 as a holiday destination for camping and caravanning in usually idyllic former parkland by the Thames. However, very soon many of the plots gained more permanent accommodation, particularly after war broke out in 1939. Entrepreneurship thrived, resulting in a multitude of private businesses and shops over the years, as did a strong community spirit. This talk is accompanied by lots of images of the estate and its people, including its famous adapted dwellings such as railway carriages and buses.

Zoom Talk Requirements

To join these talks, you will need a computer device with speakers. Ideally, also a webcam and microphone. You also need to be able to access the internet from it. First-time users of Zoom, will need to download a small piece of software – included in the link. 

How to Book

Pre-booking is required because places are limited. Full joining instructions will be emailed to attendees in advance. Bookings close one day before the first event.

To book – scroll down.

Book Event

Available Tickets: 20

For members of Berkshire Family History Society

The "Member" ticket is sold out. You can try another ticket or another date.
Available Tickets: 20

For non-members of Berkshire Family History Society

The "Non-Member" ticket is sold out. You can try another ticket or another date.
Total: 0


Thu 25 Jul




Zoom Video Conference


The Centre - Berkshire FHS
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  • Catherine Sampson MSc
    Catherine Sampson MSc

    Catherine is a veteran family historian. Her own family history research is mainly concentrated in East Anglia and the North-East.

    She loves history across all periods, both the very early and the more modern. She is a keen social historian and regularly gives talks across Berkshire and the surrounding counties.

    Catherine is Chairman and Projects Coordinator for Berkshire Family History, and a former chairman of Project Purley, Purley’s local history society. She has published several histories of her own family and in 2010 edited “Purley in Old Images”. She is currently working on a new book on the history of Purley’s River Estate.

  • Katie Amos
    Katie Amos
    Local Studies Lead, Reading Central Libraries

    Katie has been working at Reading Library for around 30 years, mostly in the Local Studies Department, where she is now Local Studies Lead. Through her work here, she has developed an interest in family history, and has been researching her own tree for the last 18 odd years. This led to her first book on her Timms family, and her second book came about from a customer request and is on the history of the Mansion House in Prospect Park. When not researching she loves contemporary English folk music, reading and also works for the Hexagon theatre as part of their front of house team.

  • John Harrison
    John Harrison

    John Harrison has been a ringer for sixty years, holding national, regional and local offices. He has published extensively on ringing related topics, including Bells and Bellringing for Shire Books, and a history of ringing in Wokingham.

    He began observing brickwork while he was at Cambridge, when a friend explained the differences between various brick bonds. This led to a lifetime of observation, supplemented by reading, a couple of courses, a bit of research and collecting quite a lot of bricks. He is a member of the British Brick Society. He shares what he has learned through his website and by giving talks.

    He has many other interests (see jaharrison.me.uk/) and gives talks on many other subjects. Before retiring he was a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Ergonomist.