Wartime black markets, mysterious deaths and a victim of government crackdown on swear words: these are just three stories from reading pubs in a new book detailing more than 500 local inns and breweries.
Abbot Cook to Zero Degrees: An A to Z of Reading’s pubs and breweries Closest to the city is a comprehensive history of its bars spanning hundreds of years.
The Reading Chronicle took a look at the book and listed ten of the most intriguing stories from Reading’s past and present.
âIt was written to make people happy and bring back memories,â said David Cliffe, co-author and president of History of Reading Society, who has lived in Reading for over 50 years.
âFor a lot of people it was a part of everyday life – going to the pub – although it’s not so much now. A lot of people will remember it and they will look back with pleasure and nostalgia.
He helped prepare the book with John Dearing, author of Reading history, whom he rightly met in the Cambridge Arms in the 1980s, and Evelyn Williams, chair of the Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
Here are some of the fascinating facts the trio have gathered from recordings, interviews and more.
1. Beer house, Wide Street
Built in the 19th century, rumors circulated in the pub that its soil came from the London Zoo and that animal hoof prints could be seen there.
Perhaps a more likely story is that of the Lemonade Man who in the 1950s was known to drink eight pints of sparkling juice per session.
That was until during a screening of Jack the Ripper on Ale House TV, he let out a scream that knocked all the other bettors upside down.
“We never saw The Lemonade Man again,” one interviewee told the authors.
2. Allied weapons, the butts of Sainte-Marie
The pub was then frequented by people working on the construction of the M4, during which time “An owner allegedly rioted by deciding to call the time two minutes earlier with the hapless bartender detailed to convey the message seized by the neck and nearly suffocating.
3. The angel, Broad Street
In the mid-20th century, the pub served a drink called 7X Stout, “a beer so potent it was rationed by management.”
Colorful tiles depicting sporting scenes such as boating and cricket can now be found in the Reading Museum, designed by ceramic artist William Rowe.
4. Barlow’s ArchLondon Street
During World War I, owner James Wyeth was fined Â£ 3 (now roughly the equivalent of Â£ 300) for allowing drinking after 9 p.m. in violation of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1914.
At Reading Borough Police Court in June 1915, the two customers involved were fined 50 pence or seven days behind bars for consuming beer after hours.
5. The bear, Rue du Pont
In 1588, the Earl of Essex Robert Devereux purchased 15 pints of white wine while in Reading.
During a plague epidemic in 1625, the courthouse was evacuated to Reading and its judges housed at the Bear.
In 1784 Governor Joseph Wall was arrested for murdering one of his troops by flogging in what is now Senegal and being held at The Bear Inn, where he escaped through a window and escaped justice for 18 years.
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6. Cambridge WeaponsSouthampton Street
While food was rationed during World War II, the Cambridge Arms was said to have been the scene of illicit meat sales. A government-threatened raid saw all the meat hidden in a coal hole.
Southampton Street residents may recall that its quiz teams were two-time winners of the Morland Original Bitter League and the tradition of pubs spreading down the middle of the street on New Years Eve to sing “Auld lang syne “.
7. Hat of cardinalsMinister Street
Before its demolition in 1753, Reading’s only Protestant martyr was arrested here under Mary I in 1556.
The book also says: âIn 1963, when authorities cracked down on swearing, a man named Joseph Jones was accused of taking ’40 most cruel and fearful oaths’.
8. Catherine Wheel, Rue des FrÃ¨res
“One Saturday in May 1852, when Mrs. Complin was in charge,” a curious cow entered the Wheel Inn on Friar Street and considered sitting at the bar, but was politely informed that she lacked the distinctive qualities by which judicial honors are guaranteed, and on the door being closed coldly and departed with complacency.
9. Caversham Bridge HotelCaversham Road
In 1864, the hotel was the site of an investigation into the deaths of Emma Legge and her three children, who traveled to Reading from Tunbridge Well and were found drowned in the River Thames.
10. Cross keysgun street
The book describes how in the 1970s the owner told a client he was on vacation in South Wales.
The client was driving on the A4 a few days later and stopped at one of the hostels, where he was surprised to find the owner playing darts – not having moved forward on his trip.
âOn another occasion, a passer-by was almost struck by a chair thrown through a window – he grabbed it and threw it out of another window. ”
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Abbot Cook to Zero Degrees: An A to Z of Reading’s pubs and breweries is on sale for Â£ 12 and is available from Reading Museum Shop and Fourbears Books in Prospect Street, Caversham.
Copies will also be on sale during the October and November meetings of the SociÃ©tÃ© d’histoire de la lecture, in the Baptist church of the abbey, place de l’Abbaye at 7:30 p.m.
The October meeting is on the 20th and admission is Â£ 2.