Whitley Pump contributor Evelyn Williams met with Reading photographer and author Terry Allsop at the Malmaison Hotel on Station Road over coffee to talk about his life and work. Terry is well known for his two books of photographs Newtown: A Photographic Journey in Reading 1974 and Caught on Camera: Reading in the 70s.
I had read Terry’s first book documenting Newtown at the time of its redevelopment and had contacted him to see if he had any photographs of Spring Gardens, an area which underwent similar treatment at about the same time. It was appropriate we met at the Malmaison as this building, before its renovation, appeared in his book. Terry lived on Francis Street in Katesgrove during the 1960s and had taken some delightful photographs of Crown Street and Southampton Street that were published in ‘Caught on Camera.’
Terry’s family had moved from London to Grimsby, where he grew up, during the Second World War. His older brother moved to Reading in the late 1950s and the family was considering returning south when, on a visit to Reading, Terry saw an advert for an architectural assistant at H&G Simonds, applied for the position and was offered the job. He, his girlfriend and family relocated to Reading and they moved into Francis Street in 1960 or 1961. His father Jack got a job as the china packer for Heelas.
Even in the 1960s house prices in Reading were much higher than Grimsby and a larger mortgage was needed for a smaller house. Terry lived in Francis Street until he married in 1964 and still has a friend who lived on nearby Hill Street. He recalls buying paraffin from the corner shop on Elgar Road and Francis Street, which is now the No 1 Convenience Store.
The staff at H&G Simonds architect’s office wore white coats that were supplied stiffly starched at the beginning of each week. Terry remembers the basement bar of the Peacock, on Broad Street, from this time.
Most of the photographs in ‘Caught on Camera’ come from when Terry Allsop worked at the Reading office of architects Broadway & Malyan. His books include evocative shots of 1970s Reading; instantly recognisable views, quirky corners, demolished buildings that were once a familiar part of the town as well as recently renovated buildings that were once derelict eyesores. One poignant photograph captures two laughing young women running across Southampton Street outside the Red Cow pub.
The Whitley Pump is lucky to have been given permission to include some of Terry’s photographs that weren’t included in his books (click for a larger image).
Terry still takes photographs and may have further books planned, although perhaps not about Reading.
The Whitley Pump is very grateful to Terry Allsop for allowing us to use his photographs. All images in this article and any marked copyright Terry Allsop belong to him and cannot be copied, altered, printed, retransmitted or used in any way without his express permission.
If you want to use any image published in one of Terry’s books, then contact Two Rivers Press, 7 Denmark Road, Reading RG1 5PA. If you want to use an image only published in this article contact the Whitley Pump.