World War Two Talks Series

This all series ticket covers all three talks in the “World War Two” 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 in The Centre for Heritage and Family History, Reading. They last about an hour with time for questions and discussion afterwards. Tea, coffee and cake after the talk is included in the price.

Thursday 13 April “Early Closing Day – Air Raids on Reading in WW2” with Mike Cooper

Forty-one people were killed by just four bombs during Reading’s only fatal air raid on 10th February 1943. Most of the fatalities occurred in The People’s Pantry, a popular restaurant at 175 Friar Street, staffed by the Women’s Voluntary Service. It provided cheap and nutritious meals for an affordable price to supplement rations and was demolished. Had it not been early closing day in Reading the casualties would have most likely been even greater. We commemorate its 80th anniversary this year and remember its victims and their families. Before that the town had been bombed around ten times. This is an account of how Reading prepared for air attack, and what can be told of the air raids themselves. 

Thursday 11 May “Britain’s Railways in World War Two” with Richard Marks

Find out the important role that Britain’s four railway companies had in achieving victory in World War Two. Discover the war work that was undertaken in the railway company works across the country and the impact of Luftwaffe operations over Britain’s railway network during the war. This talk will also look at how the legacy left by the Victorian railway builders benefited Britain in World War Two.

Thursday 8 June “Tilehurst in World War Two” with Mike Cooper

Was there any such thing as an “ordinary” community in WW2?  Mike Cooper looks at the experience of Tilehurst from newspaper and official records. Tilehurst was bombed, saw the arrival of US airborne troops, raised a Home Guard company and its people welcomed evacuees.  From as early as October 1939, the village suffered losses and was also organised as part of Civil Defence and food production.

Please note that these are face-to-face talks.

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Thu 13 Apr

Tickets from



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


The Centre - Berkshire FHS


  • Mike Cooper
    Mike Cooper

    Mike has had a lifelong interest in history, especially military and local history. Following a history degree at the University of Reading he worked as a librarian, with both the University and Reading Library. In addition to work on librarianship, he has had three books on the history of Reading published. Mike works for Reading Borough Council, and lives in Tilehurst with his wife and Moggy the Cat.

  • Richard Marks
    Richard Marks

    Richard is a published historian based in Berkshire who specialises in industrial, military, and railway history and also the history of science. His current areas of research are industrial development in the Victorian period, the development of the railway and canal systems in Britain in the mid to late 19th Century and the history of British Rail. Richard’s book about British Rail Engineering is due to be published by Pen and Sword early in 2024. He is currently researching a PhD in economic history and a new book about the Wantage Tramway Company.