A horse bus at the corner of West Street and Broad Street looking east c.1895

On 9 November 1895, Alderman Charles James Andrewes was travelling on a Reading Omnibus Company horse bus from the Queens Head public house, via the Whitley Pump, to West Street, when his fellow passengers noticed that he was unwell.

He was en route to a Reading council meeting where he was to propose Owen Ridley to serve a second term as Reading mayor, for the forthcoming year.

The bus took him back to his home at Broad Oak on Upper Redlands Road where he was later pronounced dead by Dr Hurry.

Alderman Andrewes (1815-95) had begun his career in industry as an apprentice in the Katesgrove foundry of Perry and Barrett and was made a partner in 1842. By the 1850s the firm was known as Barrett, Exall & Andrewes and in 1864 it was incorporated as the Reading Iron Works Ltd. Although it had an excellent reputation, the firm began to make losses towards the end of the century; it closed and in 1888 was put up for auction.

The Reading Iron Works Ltd in Katesgrove c1888

He spent most of his life in Reading and lived in Russell Street (with his parents), in Katesgrove Lane, Castle Street, Greyfriars House on Friar Street and Broad Oak. His final home was built for him in 1877 and is now occupied by St Joseph’s College.

Like many other Reading businessmen of the time, he was very active in civic life and became a councillor for Church ward in 1854, mayor in 1858-59 and was elected an alderman in 1868.

Charles Andrewes had been one of the founders of the Trinity Congregational Chapel which stood on the south-west corner of Sidmouth Street and Queens Road until the 1970s. His funeral took place there on 14 November, which would have been his eightieth birthday. Among attendees at the service were famous names of Reading in the 1890s including G Philbrick of C & G Philbrick’s tannery on Katesgrove Lane whose premises were next door to the Reading Iron Works.

Alderman Andrewes was buried in the family grave in the unconsecrated section of Reading Old Cemetery at Cemetery Junction.

Reading Old Cemetery

In 1899, a stained glass window in Trinity Congregational Chapel was dedicated to him with an apt text from Nehemiah chapter 4, verse 6: ‘for the people had a mind to work’.

  1. Berkshire Chronicle and Reading Observer 16 November 1895 – Obituaries and funeral reports via findmypast.uk (subscription required but free access at Berkshire Record Office)
  2. Reading Iron Works auction catalogue 1888 – Reading library local studies collection
  3. Barrett, Exall & Andrewes’ Iron Works at Reading: the partnership era 1818-64. T A B Corley. Berkshire Archaeological Journal Vol 67 1964
  4. Reading Mercury 1 July 1899 p7 via findmypast.uk (subscription as (1) above)
  1. Bus Zone – Reading Horse Tramways (According to an advertisement in the Berkshire Chronicle of 13 June 1896, the fare was 1d from Whitley and 2d from the Queen’s Head. Buses ran every day except Sunday, the first bus was at 9.30 from West Street, took half an hour to get to the Queens Head and ran every hour after that.)
  2. Graces Guide to British Industrial History
  3. The Historic Katesgrove Industries Tour
  4. Katesgrovians in Reading Old Cemetery – John and Eliza Philbrick
  5. Katesgrovians in Reading Old Cemetery – John Cecil Grainger