You are in [Themes] [Reminiscences] [Oral History - Audio Archives] ["Sonner" North and Hugh Pihlens, 1978]

This page includes links to recordings of interviews of "Sonner" North by Hugh Pihlens in 1978.

"Sonner" North was born in Eddington in 1898, and in these audio clips he describes his memories of people and places in Hungerford and Eddington in the early years of the 20th century. Much less was known in the 1970s about the history of the town, and the interviews contributed much to start to build up a picture of life in the town before the First World War.

The interviews took place 13th and 22nd September 1978 in his home at 4 Atherton Crescent.

"Sonner" North was born Alfred William North on 11 Jun 1898 in Eddington. He worked as a stable lad at Templeton House before joining Alexanders, the grocers, of Hungerford as a delivery boy. Having tried unsuccessfully to enlist in Newbury in 1916 while under age, he joined up in 1917 at Reading Barracks and was initially drafted into the Somerset Light Infantry with whom he did his training. After landing in France, he was transferred to the 5th Battallion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, and served with them throughout the remainder of the war. Sonner North was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 1999, aged 99 years.

The series of 38 clips (mostly 1-4 mins in length) is loosely based on a tour of the town:


- 01: Winkworth's Stores, Eddington (3m 10s)

- 02: "Birdy" Seal, and the Thatched House, Eddington (0m 45s)

- 03: The Hermitage, Cotterell's Ironworks, "Burglar" Bob North, Bobby Haynes, "Danno" Scarlett (5m 39s)

- 04: Jack Giles, Middleton's Wheelwrights, Harding's Steam wagons (3m 31s)

Across the Kennet Bridge to Charnham Street:

- 05: The Barracks, Gibbons Ironworks (3m 30s)

- 06: Faulknor Square, The Tannery (3m 8s)

Bridge Street (east):

- 07: International Stores, Caswell's blacksmith, Jessett's cycle shop, Boarden Carriage, Mrs Andrews (3m 25s)

- 08: Barley Mow, Beard's Coalyard, Blake's saddlers, Major Burrard (3m 5s)

Lower High Street east (to Park Street):

- 09: Mr Astley, Mrs Froome's School, Tommy Fruen undertaker, Earle's Stores (3m 59s)

- 10: Chemist, Banyard's woolshop, Higgs' grocers, Manor House (1m 53s)

- 11: Champs mineral waters, laundry, Platt's brewery, James' Mill (3m 13s)

- 12: Alexander's coalyard, the Banks, Three Swans and Tap (2m 37s)

- 13: Bell Inn, Oakes (1m 42s)

Upper High Street east:

- 14: The Plume, Bodman's, Craven Arms, Clifford's boot & shoemaker, Neate's (2m 31s)

- 15: Dr Dixon, Mr Coal, Mill's butchers, Macklin's dairy, Crossleys (4m 1s)

- 16: "Esso" New tailor, Miss Highman, Vockins family, Con Wilkins builder (3m 10s)

- 17: Kittles, Goslings, Borough Arms, Salisbury Arms (2m 33s)

Salisbury Row and The Priory area:

- 18: Salisbury Row, Moon Lane, Mission Hall, Priory Road (1m 36s)

- 19: The Priory, John o'Gaunt School, Atherton Crescent, Prospect Road, Prospect House (2m 28s)

Church Street, The Croft and the canal:

- 20: Wesleyan School and Church Street (4m 15s)

- 21: Hoskyns & Joyce, Church Street, The Croft, Canal, Kennet House (4m 48s)

Lower High Street west:

- 22: High Street west (railway to Little Church Lane) (3m 11s)

- 23: High Street west (Little Church Lane to canal) (2m 53s)

Wooldridge's yard and canal wharf:

- 24: Wooldridge' and canal wharf (1m 39s)

Upper High Street west:

- 25: High Street west (Atherton Hill to National School) (3m 10s)

- 26: Giles, carrier (1m 46s)

- 27: National School, Harris baker, Caswell blacksmith, Vets (5m 38s)

- 28: Congregational Chapel, Dr Moreton, Mr Salt, Penny Bank (2m 41s)

- 29: Parsons photographer, Adnams seed & corn (2m 15s)

- 30: Alexander's, plane crash 1915, Gingell's, Wren ironmongers, Crown brewery, Barnard's, Bartholomew's (4m 52s)

Bridge Street west:

- 31: Wooldridge, Low plumber & glasier, Borlass tailor, Phelps baker (2m 53s)

- 32: Batt barber, Town Mill, Rumball butcher (1m 26s)

- 33: Freeman tobacco & fishing, Taylor chemist, Fruen undertaker, New printing works, Clements watchmaker, Smeaton vegetables & fish (3m 17s)

Eddington & Charnham Street:

- 34: Eddington Mill, Hofland, Charnham Street Workhouse, Horne carrier, Annetts (2m 55s)

Miscellaneous items:

- 35: Golf course on Common, The Priory and George Platt (3m 26s)

- 36: Wells, well diggers and Hungerford waterworks (2m 13s)

- 37: Night soil and Diphtheria (1m 24s)

- 38: Fire brigade, the Kennet at Eddington and the Door-knocker prank! (2m 59s)