Here are some of the common people who played a small part in the local community and helped to make Faringdon what it has become today. Others may be mentioned elsewhere on this website and can be found by using the search facility in the menu above:
Cyril Carter & Sons (Marlborough Street grocers since 1848)
Jonathan Goddard (self-made businessman, drapery shops and Methodist Church)
Henry and Sarah Proctor (headmaster and headmistress of what was then called the “British School” in Canada Lane)
Nancy & William Reeves (founder of post-war Faringdon Girl Guides and Ferndale School)
Russell Spinage (local builder and youth club leader – on the faringdon.org website)
Robert Tucker et al (Tucker & Sons Nurseries)
Percival (Bill) White (hairdresser, tobacconist and stationery shop, tennis club, councillor and mayor)
Sir Henry James Pye, Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson (Lord Berners) and Robert Heber-Percy – there is brief description of them and their activities in Faringdon on our Faringdon House page.
Alexander Henderson and Gavin Henderson (1st & 2nd Lord Faringdon) – there is brief description of them on our Buscot House page.
For more information on these or any other more notable people of Faringdon, of whom much has already been recorded elsewhere, then you might start with this page on the Faringdon Community Website or do a general search of the internet.
The Carter family had been associated with the grocery business through 4/5 generations in Faringdon since 1848.
Great Grandparents: John Carter (1813-1867) married Elizabeth Dubber.
Grandparents: John Carter (1839-1903) married Ruth Wheeler.
Parents: Albert Carter (1869-1925) married Mary Ellen Coles.
Cyril John Carter, with his sisters Kathleen and Phyllis, took control of the the grocery store, in Marlborough Street when their father Albert died in 1925. When Cyril got married to May Clark five years later, the sisters left to take over Lay’s shop in the Market Place. In 1935 Cyril and May had daughter June then John was born in 1937 and Norman in 1938.
John and Norman assumed control of the business, with their mother May, when Cyril became ill in 1953. In the same year they purchased the butcher’s business of Taylor & Sons at 6, Cornmarket and John managed that side of the affairs. In 1962 the main shop was given a face lift and made into a self-service store. The shop was further enlarged in 1966/67. The Carter brothers purchased the garden of the Red Lion public house, again enlarging the floor space of the store, and gaining access to the town car park in Southampton Street. In 1975 the centre of the store and the warehouse were demolished and rebuilt, thus expanding the store to 7,500 sq. ft. In the years that followed John and Norman purchased both Nos. 5 and 7 Marlborough Street, and the store was enlarged yet again. In 1986 Carter’s was one of the first grocery shops in the United Kingdom to use scanning at the exit tills. In that same year the remainder of 5 Marlborough Street was incorporated into the store as a new wine department. In 1996 the Carter brothers sold the store to Budgens.
Reference: The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Book 1 p62. By Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications 1999.
Jonathan Goddard, a Victorian self-made businessman (in drapery and haberdashery) and who played a leading role in building the Methodist Church on Coxwell Street (now the United Church).
Jonathan was born in Stanford-in-the-Vale in 1834, to a family of agricultural labourers. As a teenager, Jonathan went to work at the brick kilns with his father, and then became an apprentice shoemaker in Cricklade. Here he appears to have courted, and then married, Maria Stone who was two years his senior – and the daughter of his master.
In 1858 Maria gave birth to their first son, James, and they then moved to a cottage in Coxwell Street, Faringdon. Just opposite was the new Primitive Methodist Chapel, and Jonathan joined with enthusiasm, becoming in that year a lay preacher, Sunday School teacher, and steward. More children followed rapidly – Albert, Hannah, Jonathan Jr, and Tryphena. He must have been doing well because the family moved to what is now No. 11 Gloucester Street and in 1871 they had taken in Jonathan’s brother and sister as lodgers (and possibly employees).
Around 1882 Jonathan bought a draper’s business in Faringdon – one of many at that time – following the death of its owner Mr Edgar Goulding. This shop was known as “Goulding Goddards” well into the 1960s and is now part of the Betfred frontage at No. 10 Marlborough Street. Then in the 1890s Jonathan expanded his empire by buying Mr William Sell’s haberdashers in Bromsgrove. It was known as “Top Goddards” until it closed in the 1970s and was converted into a restaurant. It is now the Grade II listed “La Bobina” restaurant, with the haberdashery fittings from Jonathan Goddard’s time still in place.
By 1897 the Primitive Methodists had outgrown their little chapel and it was sold to the Anglicans as a Mission Hall (you can still see the plaque on the gable end). To replace it, the United Reformed Church, the redbrick building you see today on the corner of Coxwell Street and Gravel Walk was built and six foundation stones (one bears Maria’s name) placed at the front.
Jonathan died in 1917 and his son Albert took over the shop with his wife Nancy. It subsequently passed through the hands of other family members but retained the name “J. Goddard and Sons”. He is buried with Maria in the Free Church Cemetery in Canada Lane and a plaque commemorating his church life was erected after his death, possibly at the same time as the war memorial.
Adapted from an article written for the Faringdon Folly newspaper by local resident Dave Headey 2017.
2021. The first road on the new Oriel Gardens estate, off Park Road, is named Proctor Way, after both James Proctor who died at Gallipoli in 1915, and his younger brother, Major Percival Proctor who died in Sudan in 1941 and whose name is also on the Khartoum War memorial as well as the one in Faringdon. But the road name could equally serve as a memorial to their parents Henry and Sarah Proctor, who deserve to be remembered as two of the great characters who left their mark on the town.
Henry Proctor was born in northern Lancashire, trained as a teacher and worked at an elementary school in Liverpool. In 1892, at the age of 38, he was widowed and left with two daughters. Later the same year he married Sarah Postlethwaite, fourteen years his junior and quite possibly a teaching colleague. Two more children (James and Alice) arrived and in 1898 the family moved to Faringdon to become headmaster and headmistress of what was then called the ‘British School’ in Canada Lane. Baby Percival arrived the following year. They lived (I think) in the fifth or sixth house down Gravel Walk on the left, opposite Westbrook House.
Pay was so bad that the Proctors also taught in night-school to make ends meet (presumably the older daughters babysat the younger three) and were founder members of the National Union of Teachers. Any spare time they may have had was spent organising scouts, guides, dancing, gardening* and concerts. Oh, and a sixth child, Stella, was born in 1909.
Henry was in charge of First Aid for the district and trained nurses who went to France in WW1. Sadly in 1915 tragedy struck: within a month of James’ death in action, the Proctors lost their daughter May to TB. In 1926, four years before Henry died, they bought a smaller house that had just been built in Highworth Road. Sarah died in 1940, and so was spared seeing the death of her younger son, Percival in WW2. Their youngest daughter, Stella continued to live in the house in Highworth Road and shared it with a widowed friend, Mrs Constance Murray. Both ladies registered their ownership of the property in 1959 but then sold it 5 years later. Stella, who was said to be a most imposing lady, worked at the Express Dairy and led the choir at All Saints Church.
The birth of William Gordon (Bill) Reeves was registered in Swindon on 24th October 1916. Nancy’s birth was registered on the 3rd August 1920 as Nancy Beatrice Page in Christchurch, Hampshire.
Bill got his first job as a teacher at Faringdon Secondary Modern School in Southampton Street two years before being called up at the start of WWII. He was sent to Bournemouth where he served in the Army Education Corps. There he met Nancy, also a teacher, who was helping out as a volunteer behind the counter at a Bournemouth church canteen. After the war, Nancy and Bill were married in Bournemouth in the later half of 1946. Bill then returned to his old job in Faringdon bringing his new wife with him. Nancy also joined the school staff as a music teacher. And they both set about becoming very active members of the community.
Nancy had always been an active member of the Girl Guides, in Bournemouth, but the movement had been allowed to elapse here during the war, so she started it up again. She ran both 1st Faringdon Guides and Brownies for many years. In 1952 she also founded the Ferndale School and was Headmistress there until she retired in 1979.
Bill started up Faringdon Dramatic Society in 1948. Both of them and their son Tim were very active members; Nancy for nearly 50 years! Her last performance was as Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm, July 1994.
Nancy Reeves – Star of Stage and School (Faringdon Folly March 1992) – bill-nancy-reeves-ff1992.pdf
In 1849 Robert Tucker established his garden nursery business just off the Stanford Road on a very small scale to begin with. The business will have consisted of the growing of vegetables and flowers but there are indications that trees were dealt with as there are one or two trees, notable a Giant Redwood, which must have been planted in his time. This can be linked with trees planted at the same time on large estates in the district.
[Mrs Sarah Tucker appears listed as a gardener with a nursery in the Wantage (Stanford) Road in 1863.]
At the time of the Coronation of Edward VII in 1901, the business had passed through the control of a second Robert Tucker into the hands of Robert and Walter Tucker and had undoubtedly expanded considerably. The products by then will have included the growing of forest trees and hedge plants which supplied the large estates and farms in the area.
By the time of the crowning of George V in 1911, the Nurseries had greatly extended, as had the markets for its products. A retired foreman well remembers taking loads of trees to Caversham, near Reading by horse and cart at about this time.
[In 1929, W. Tucker was a committee member of the Faringdon Golf Club.]
When George VI was crowned in 1936, the business was under the partnership of Walter Tucker and his three sons – George, John, and Mike. By this time further large additions had been made. the clientele was of nation-wide proportion and the varieties and quantities of plants, trees and shrubs were now very numerous. By this time the world renowned rose growing firm of George Prince of Longworth had been absorbed.
[Leading Fireman, John Tucker, 29 years old, from The Nurseries, Stanford Road, Faringdon was recommended for an award for devotion to duty during a German air-raid on Coventry on the nights of 14th and 15th November 1940. More…]
[A nurseryman all his life, John Tucker made his own significant contribution to virtually every element of community life in the town. He was Chairman of Faringdon Parish Council, 1958-60; Chairman of the old Faringdon Rural District Council; Chairman of the Faringdon Chamber of Trade; Chairman of the local Conservatives; President of the Faringdon Horticultural Society; and a Berkshire County Councillor. After relinquishing his interest in the family nursery business at Faringdon, John concentrated his efforts until retirement on his other horticultural venture, Princes Roses at Longworth. He died in a Witney nursing home in 1993. His older brother George, wife Millicent and their son Martin attended the funeral.]4
[After World War II, when the ‘Recreation Ground’ on Park Road, once situated between the dairy/sawmill and the Hobwell footpath had become swallowed up by railway storage or timber yards, land on the opposite side of the road was given to the town by Walter Tucker to create Tucker Park; as a lasting memorial to his son Mike Tucker who had been killed during the war, in 1940 at Dunkirk. He is listed as M. H. Tucker, a casualty of the war on the Faringdon War Memorial.]
In 1953 when the young Queen Elizabeth was crowned, the firm of Tucker had undergone a major reorganisation. It had become a limited liability company under the direction of Robert John Tucker and his wife (is this perhaps the same afore mentioned John?). Major reorganisation had taken place in reducing the number of nurseries from 6 to 2 with very large increases in the home Nurseries. Production of trees, shrubs and plants exceed 10 million, floristry and vegetables were completely eliminated and customers numbered tens of thousands, occasional export orders and a large number of Government departments, County, Borough, Urban, Rural District and Parish Councils in all the countries of the United Kingdom. Production has become highly mechanised. A specimen garden was started to avoid the need for miles of walking which customers have to do on a large nursery. A start was made with rock plants by the construction of a rock garden under Mrs. M. M. E. Tucker (John’s wife’s name was Millicent).
During its 104 years of existence, the business has weathered several difficult periods due to the splitting of partnerships and reorganisation necessary, particularly two world wars which mean almost annihilation to a nursery business, when vast quantities of stock had to be burnt. Whilst the nature of the business alters with the passing of time, the old tradition of service, courteousness to the customer, competitive prices and fair dealing remained.3
[Robert Tucker was a very active member of the Faringdon Rural District Council and became Chairman from 1958 to 1960.]
The nursery was still in business when I visited it in the early 1980’s, a time in which there was a large boom in DIY superstores and garden centres. However, by the 1990’s it was abandoned and was left derelict for many years until taken over by large housing developments. I remember walking through the area many times and seeing the frames of abandoned green houses and piles of black plastic flower pots. A particularly memorable sight was a fairly large tree whose roots, in their bid for survival, had forced their way through the bottom of the tiny pot the young tree had originally been planted in and were firmly embedded in the surrounding ground.
Percival Frank White was born in 1920. He had an elder brother, Henry, who had been born two years earlier. Their parents were Frank (1876-1952) and Ruth White who ran a hairdresser, tobacconist and stationery shop in the Corn Market at No. 7. They lived in Bleak House at the very end of Church Street.
The business had been started by Percival’s great grandfather, George (b. 1794). It was first recorded in London Street in 1844 and then in 1854 in Gloucester Street and he was listed as a hair cutter and perfumer. Then continued by his grandfather, Henry (1840-1877), but Henry died young, only a few months after his father, Frank was born. Presumably the business continued in the hands of Henry’s six older siblings and past on to Frank when he became old enough to take over.
Percival left school at the age of 14 years and joined his parents Frank and Ruth in the Corn Market shop. His uncle, Percival Henry White, was also a hairdresser in the business and he declared that there couldn’t be two people of the same name working there. He told young Percival that he would be called Bill and from then on this was the name that everyone knew him by. During the World War II, Bill joined the 5th Berkshire Home Guard Battalion as a despatch rider. The brothers Bill and Henry had probably taken over much of the running of the shop from their father Frank before the war and they ran it until 1987, when it became Haine & Smith’s opticians.
His wife Gwendoline Tanner was born at Cirencester in 1923 and Bill met her when his brother was courting her sister, Joyce. Bill, Henry and Joyce had been to a car rally and on the way back they had a slight accident with the car so it was decided to take Joyce back home first. Bill asked her if there was another one at home like her, Joyce replied that there was her young sister Gwen. Joyce and Gwen joined the Armed Forces during the war and, as the romance blossomed between her and Bill, Gwen applied to transfer to the W.R.N.S. based in Faringdon, The sisters were married on the same day at Faringdon in 1944, Joyce to Don Slingsby and Gwen to Bill. Bill liked to play tennis and helped to rejuvenate the Tennis Club. He was an enthusiastic supporter for a swimming pool in the Corn Exchange but unfortunately it failed to materialise. He also became interested in local politics, serving on the Council for about 30 years, being mayor for four years and becoming so well known that he was often called ‘Mr. Faringdon’. Bill died on 1st September 1996 aged 76 years.
- The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Book 1 p63. By Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications 1999 – now out of print.
- The history of the Proctors is adapted from an article written on Facebook by local resident Dave Headey and subsequent responses. Also the deeds of my house in Highworth Road.
- Extracted from the Faringdon Coronation Celebrations Programme (pdf)
- Faringdon Folly, August 1993 p7 – Death of a ‘friend of Faringdon’.
Researched and compiled by Ian Lee, November 2021.