Local History Society

 Picture Gallery - H. A. Giles Collection

Reading Local Studies Library's collection of  Illustrations

Arborfield Cross and the 'Bull', Winter 1927 (from Reading Local Studies Library website)


Reading Local Studies Library has now scanned many pictures of Arborfield, including a set of postcards by H. A. Giles from around 1930.

We can't show you the pictures themselves on this page, but we can link you directly to the pictures in this collection, in the order in which we think they are numbered (they are not always legible!). Enjoy these beautiful copies of postcards from a bygone age.

Note: The pictures are all in 'Acrobat' format.

2  – Eversley Road by Whitewell Cottages and Arborfield Stores

3  – Hillcrest on Eversley Road, with the chimney of Arborfield Stores in the distance

6  - War Memorial

7  – Cattle drinking in the River Loddon

8  - The Swan Inn and Arborfield Cross

11 – Swallowfield Road looking towards the Cross, with old Parish Cottages in the centre

13 - The Post Office and the 'Swan' P.H.

14 - Newlands Mansion

15 - Molebridge Farm (then known as 'The Poplars') - looking towards Sindlesham

16 – Swallowfield Road: Applemore Cottage and Chamberlains Farm Outbuildings

17 - Arborfield Grange

18 - Arborfield Hall

19 - Arborfield Cross, towards School Road and Eversley Road, with War Memorial on the left

20 – The (old) Rectory, Church Lane

21 – Eversley Road, now Rickman Close, just north of the old T-Junction with Langley Common Road

22 – Eversley Road, now Bramshill Close, with the ‘Bramshill Hunt’ P.H. off to the left

David Cliffe, Reading Local Studies Librarian, has kindly put together some biographical details about H. A. Giles:

Mary Southerton, in her book "A Century of Photography in Reading", records Harold Augustine Giles as working from 2 Baker Street, Reading, between 1912-1914, and from 83 Audley Street, Reading, from 1915 to 1955.

[Audley Street is a street of terraced houses between Oxford Road and Portman Road.]

A gentleman who had lived in Audley Street next door to Mr. Giles rescued a box of postcards when he died, and over 2,000 were donated to the Local Studies Library, along with two pieces of correspondence. One is on headed notepaper: "83 Audley Street, Reading. H. A. Giles, commercial photographer and photographic view publisher", and is dated 16 March 1922. Mr. Giles was in correspondence with the sub-postmaster at Kintbury, with a view to selling him some postcards. The other is a postcard from the sub-postmistress at Medmenham, dated 14 May 1940, about buying postcards from him.

It seems likely that a lot of Mr. Giles's postcard business was done in this way. Many of his pictures aren't the traditional "postcard" views, but are of everyday buildings - shops, cottages and country lanes in rural areas. In Reading many of the pictures are streets of ordinary houses which other people didn't photograph. The sales were presumably mainly to local people through shops in the neighbourhood. Reading and its suburbs, and many villages around, were covered, including villages in South Oxfordshire and North Hampshire.

The donor told David Cliffe that in the end, Mr. Giles had lived on his own, and that there was no-one who might have a family or commercial interest in the cards. He said that Mr. Giles had never owned a motor vehicle, but strapped his camera tripod to his bicycle. He also said that there was no electricity supply to the house, and that Mr. Giles had developed his photographs by gas-light!

If you have any more information on Mr. Giles, or if you can identify the double-fronted house in picture 15, please contact us.

With acknowledgements to Reading Local Studies Library

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