Glimpse history through old images of Aldermaston, Berkshire, England.
A Bit of Aldermaston History
‘The Journey-Book of England: Berkshire, including a Full Description of Windsor Castle’
by Charles Knight
Published in 1840
“ALDERMASTON, about one and a half miles from the main road, is situated S. of the Kennet, on the border of Hampshire, at a distance of above twelve miles S.W. from Reading.
In the church, among other monuments, is one of alabaster, with the effigies of Sir George Forster, who died in 1526, and his wife Elizabeth. Round the sides, under gothic canopies, are small figures of their eleven sons, in armour, and eight daughters with the angular head dresses of the day.
There are three fairs held here, May 6, July 7, and October 11.
Aldermaston House, the residence of W. Congreve, Esq., was built in 1636, as appears by the inscription over the door-way, and owing to the very excellent restorations made within a comparatively recent period, the mansion appears nearly in its original state.
The exterior is not remarkable, presenting simply a plain brick elevation with a bold cornice, and with the doors adorned with twisted columns; but the interior presents some peculiarly interesting features, particularly the staircase, which is unique in the richness of its decorations. The dining room is large and handsome, and the great drawing room above is very richly ornamented with carving and gilding: both rooms have ancient ponderous chimney-pieces, extending nearly to the ceilings. In most of the windows through the house are impaled the arms of the different possessors of the house. The rooms in the back look into an avenue in the park, which consists of nearly 800 acres of ground, and contains many venerable oaks, some of them above 20 feet round.
Among the pictures are many family portraits, including one of the poet Congreve, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, a landscape by Gaspar Poussin, Queen Esther before Ahasuerus by Tintoretto, &c.
There are entrenchments visible between Aldermaston Heath and Stratfield Mortimer windmill.”
Aldermaston Atomic Research Reactor (1956)
In 1956 the new private atom reactor brought news cameras to Aldermaston.
Footage from the construction of the first privately owned atomic reactor, at the research laboratories of Associated Electrical Industries Ltd in Aldermaston.
“This woman researcher worker handles liquid air as calmly as though it was a pot of tea”
Under the plans, the nuclear reactor would supply atomic energy for distribution by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy authority. The facilities were also to be used for university research and training purposes, and to form a prototype for future export models.
The reactor was of the swimming pool type, “simple and versatile”.
First Private Atom Reactor Aka Aldermaston Atomic Research Reactor (1956), posted to YouTube by British Pathé
Merlin Reactor 1959
In 1959, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by businessman and politician Lord Chandos of Aldershot, was shown Aldermaston’s new Merlin Reactor by the facility’s head Dr Salmon.
About two minutes in there are external views of the reactor sitting in beautiful parkland, and nearby buildings, just before the important visitors arrived.
Duke Opens Merlin Reactor (1959) – British Pathé on YouTube
More about Berkshire
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