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Wokingham Society: A History of Food and Drink in Wokingham

Wokingham Society

As you probably know, Wokingham Town Council (WTC), along with many other historical venues across the country, will be celebrating Heritage Open Days on Saturday, September 11th. The national theme is “Edible England” and WTC will be celebrating local and seasonal produce in the Market Place and Howard Palmer Gardens.

The Wokingham Society, in support of this Heritage Day, has made available on its website a couple of e-booklets. The first of these can be found at A History Of Food And Drink In Wokingham

What we eat and drink is at the heart of much of our history, culture, communities and daily lives, and this booklet documents some of the events, people, associations, shops, restaurants, and stories that made a contribution to Wokingham’s way of life.

People such as Mr. E.J. Garrett, who retired in 1957 after thirty years as a milkman at the age of 65. He had left school when he was 12 years old, and started as a milk-boy for Mr. Elder of Matthews Green Farm.

Associations such as the Agricultural Association, which was established in Wokingham in 1883 to encourage farm servants and labourers into husbandry.

Shops such as Ye Tuck Shoppe at 7 Market Place that Harry Hawkins, confectioner, started running in 1936. He was also a volunteer fireman and would close the shop when the fire alarm sounded and run to the Town Hall, where the fire engines were kept. Harry remained at these premises until 1968.

Restaurants such as those run by the Berni Inn chain, which took over Ye Olde Rose Inn in 1963. In the 1970s most people only ate out on special occasions such as birthdays and the go-to place in Wokingham was the Berni Inn. The favourite combination of food was a prawn cocktail starter followed by steak and chips and then black forest gateau. If you were really lucky you ended up with an Irish Coffee, with a waitress pouring the cream over the back of a spoon into a glass.

Stories such as the “Muffin Man’, who was a regular visitor to the streets of Wokingham during the mid-1920s. He had muffins and crumpets piled up in a wooden tray sitting on a cushion on his head. He would ring a bell and call out “ Muffins and Crumpets”.

The other e-booklet can be found at Frank Day’s memories and Day Family article

This tells of Frank’s childhood memories of the people and shops of the town, and of the tasks he performed as an apprentice at the London Central Meat Company which supplied meat to Wokingham and beyond.

Kevin Lenton
The Wokingham Society

Wokingham Society
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