There were two important iron foundries in Hungerford - Gibbons (in Charnham Street) and Cottrell's (in Eddington). They became big employers, and both firms were known for the high quality of their work.
When Gibbons Iron Works closed, it became the Kennet Motor Works, then Kennet Garage, and more recently the Co-op Petrol Station and shop.
- 16 Bridge Street - Richard Gibbons first foundry in Hungerford
- Extract from the Gibbons Family Tree
- Adverts for Gibbons Kennet Works, 1883
- Advert for Gibbons Patent Moulding Machine
- Site plan of Gibbons Kennet Works and adjacent buildings
- Group photograph thought to be of Henry Gibbons senior.
- Group photograph thought to be of Henry Walton Gibbons and his family, c1920?
- Bill drawn to Mr Barr of Thatcham, ?1925.
- Letter of 6 Jan 1936. Note change of business address to Bishopstoke Iron Foundry, Eastleigh
- Cover of sale details when 9 & 10 Charnham Street were sold by auction, 20 Jul 1936
- Group photo, unlabelled, but thought to be of workers at the Gibbons Kennet Works c1925. If so, they are, L to R,: Charles Britton, ..?.. Purdue, William Dunn, Henry (Eddie) Gigg, George Rider (blacksmith) and Ted Potter.
- Kennet Motor Works, c1950s
- Kennet Motor Works breakdown truck, 1947
- Kennet Motor Works, c1949
- Kennet Motor Works, c1930
- In the workshop at Kennet Motor Works. Tom Bell (apprentice) on left. (Thanks to Roger Day)
- HW Gibbons and his wife's Diamond Wedding, 8 May 1960
- Texaco Service Station 8th Mar 1992, The night before demolition
- Texaco Service station, on the day before demolition, 8 Mar 1992.
- Building the new service station, Apr 1992.
- Building the new service station, May 1992.
- Petrol station (site of the Kennet Works) with 9 & 10 Charnham Street, home of Gibbons family and the works manager.
- The Texaco Service Station, Dec 2015.
- Feed trough by Gibbons, used as a garden ornament, Apr 2015 (with thanks to Peter Harries)
Gibbons Iron Works in Bridge Street:
Richard Gibbons moves to Hungerford from Ramsbury: The earliest ironworks in Hungerford was started by Richard Gibbons and his wife Mary. He and his brother James had begun work as an iron founder and whitesmith in Ramsbury in 1814, and they moved to Hungerford in 1824 along with their son Henry.
The premises he occupied were at 16 Bridge Street. After they moved, Henry Gibbons developed an iron foundry business at the rear.
On 22nd November 1830 a riot in Hungerford resulted in £260 damage being done to the Gibbons foundry in Bridge Street.
The move to Charnham Street:
After the riots, the Gibbons family set about designing and building a new foundry on Bell Mead in Charnham Street (now Co-op Service Station and shop), which eventually opened c1839.
Incidentally, Bell Mead is said to have been named as the endowed land for the maintenance of church bells and ropes in Hungerford.
They also built two semi-detached houses adjacent (now 9 & 10 Charnham Street) for their use, and their foundry manager. [See Reading Museum of Rural Life].
1869 PO Dir: Henry Gibbons, iron & brass founder, manufacturer of steam & hot water fittings & all kinds of agricultural implements, Kennet works, Charnham Street.
Mr Gibbons came into dispute with the Town & Manor in 1886-88 regarding a waterway in or near his garden. The Newbury Weekly News reported on 26 January 1888:
Hungerford disputed boundary case:
"The Town versus Gibbons, is down for hearing at the Berkshire Assizes, which commence on February 6 at Reading.
The dispute arose out of the action taken by the authorities when beating the bounds nearly two years ago, in removing a boat and boathouse belonging to Mr Gibbons, who had placed the same on a ditch near the Eddington bridge, and which he claimed bound his property.
Mr HD Greene QC is retained for the town, and Mr Jelf QC will conduct the case for Mr Gibbons. The hearing is expected to last several days with some forty or fifty witnesses on behalf of the town.
All the ancient documents in possession of the authorities have been searched, and some translated by experts. The charter is not to be found, but confirmations of the document by two kings are valuable evidence of its existence.
The town authorities pride themselves upon having twice fought Queen Elizabeth on the fishing rights, and what is more, defeated Her Majesty."
The dispute seems to have continued. You can read a detailed and interesting account of "Perambulating the Borough Boundaries" published in the Marlborough Times and Wilts and Berks County Paper, 31 Jul 1886.
The whole thing came back to court in Feb 1888, and was reported in detail in:
- the Newbury Weekly News of 9 Feb 1888 "The Hungerford Boundary Case - Gibbons v. Platt" and
- the Newbury Express of 9 Feb 1888 "Nisi Prius Court - Gibbons v. Platt".
Richard Gibbons ran the firm for over 50 years until he handed over to his son Henry Gibbons senior.
Henry Gibbons Kennet Works advertised as "manufacturer of Gibbons' patent moulding machines, lawn mower sharpeners, patent safety flush bolts and manufacturers of steam and hot water fittings and all kinds of agricultural implements (medals awarded)".
1895 Kelly Dir: Henry Gibbons, ironfounder, Kennet Works.
When Henry Gibbons senior retired in 1902, control of the business passed to his son Henry Walton Gibbons, who ran it thereafter.
1906 Cosburn's Dir: Gibbons & Son, Kennet ironworks.
1916 Cosburn's Dir: Gibbons & Son Ltd, motor and general engineers, Kennet Works.
1920 Kelly Dir: H Gibbons & Son, (T W Baker), iron founders, Kennet Works.
Ken Gigg, of Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, contacted in 2001 to offer some further information about the firm. It also included notes made in 1987 by his uncle, William Dunn. Ken Gigg's father, Henry Edwin (Eddie) Gigg, started work at the foundry in the late 1920s, before he was married. He married Irene Kate Dunn in December 1931 - the marriage certificate states that he was resident at Stokke near Great Bedwyn, whilst she lived at Winding Wood.She was born in Hungerford in 1910, her father ran a cycle shop in Charnham Street (but he died of the Spanish flu in the 1918 epidemic). (This further info from Ian Gigg, of Fareham Hampshire, Aug 2018).
Immediately after their marriage they rented rooms in Henry Gibbons' house in Charnham Street. Ken was born there in Dec 1932. Irene Dunn's brother, uncle William Dunn, also worked at the foundry.
Notes made by Ken Gigg from discussions with William Dunn record that during the First World War, the Hungerford foundry had been closed by "the authorities", and HW Gibbons had been sent to manage a firm "up north". It re-opened after the war and made cast iron plough shares and drag hoes for braking horse-drawn wagons. The firm tried manufacturing brick-making machines for a period after the war, but this was not successful, and was discontinued. In the 1920s it changed to making man-hole covers.
Around this time the firm got into financial difficulties. Richard Gibbons, grandson of the founder, resigned his full-time job in the Salvation Army, and together with his wife, took over management and rescued the business. William Dunn recalls that at times employees had to wait for their wages until customers paid their bills.
The firm employed about 8-10 people, and a photograph (thought to be missing but probably the one shown below right) showed (from left to right): Charles Britton, ..?.. Purdue, William Dunn, Henry (Eddie) Gigg, George Rider (blacksmith) and Ted Potter. William Dunn also remembered Joe Ford, George Collis, Fred Smith (a local preacher from Aldbourne) and Bill Cope (also from Stokke).
Another photograph (also missing) from 1933 showed William Dunn and his wife Mary in the firm's yard.
Gibbons's Charnham Street factory closed 1934:
In the summer of 1934 (??1935) the Hungerford foundry closed, and the Gigg family moved (in the firm's lorry!) to Bishopstoke near Eastleigh to work at the new foundry. They found accommodation at Fair Oak, as did uncle William Dunn. Ian Gigg contacted the Virtual Museum (Sep 2018) to add that his father Henry Gigg (from Stokke) and mother (nee Dunn, born 1910 in Hungerford - her father ran a cycle shop at 14 Charnham Street but died of Spanish flu in the 1918 pandemic) married in 1931. Henry drove a lorry at the Iron Works. Ian kindly gave Henry's Driving Licences (one from 1933 anad 1934, with The Fioundry address, the other dated 1937 with the address at Fair Oak) to the HHA Archives). Henry died 1983. William Dunn, Ian's mother's brother, also worked in the firm. Ken Gigg was born 1932 at The Foundry - Ian in 1936 at Fair Oak.
Henry Gibbons bought a house nearby at Hornton Heath.
Richard Gibbons sadly committed suicide in the 1950s, and Mrs Gibbons went on to run the firm herself..
In c.1952 the foundry moved again, to Fareham in Hampshire. It was later taken over by a Midlands firm - Brickhouse Dudley & Co - and some years later, perhaps in the 1980s, it closed down, the factory was demolished, and the whole area re-developed.
Henry W Gibbons and his wife eventually retired in Barton-on-Sea.
Rosemarie Musson emailed (Nov 2016) to add: "My father Philip Gibbons was the youngest child of Henry and Kate Gibbons. My father continued to run an iron foundry in Grantham Lincolnshire after leaving Fareham Hampshire. He later had a small foundry in Bourne and carried out model engineering castings for a many of years before his death in 1993."
Kennet Motor Works, c1936-c1960:
c1936 (Robert James) The old Gibbons Iron Works was bought by Geoffrey Turner (of Hungerford Park). It was run partly by John Turner (who lived at Inkpen) and the previous manager of Gibbons Works, Mr Ludford (should this be Durnford?). They employed Mr Smith ("Smithy", who was married to Doris). Smithy lived in 9 Charnham Street, and died by 1973. He had two daughters, Ann and Pat.
1939 Blacket's Dir: "Kennet Motor Works (J C Durnford).
1940 Blacket's Dir: "Kennet Motor Works" (J C Durnford).
Cunningham Service Station, c1960-1971:
At some stage in the early 1960s the site was bought by the Regent Oil Company (a subsidiary of the Texas Oil Company, now Texaco) and operated by the Blue Star Group.
In January 1963 Bill and Joy Cunningham took on the lease and named the site "Cunningham Service Station".
In the same year the old garage and foundry buildings were demolished and replaced by a combined shop, storeroom and small workshop, all well set back from the road, giving a huge forecourt. (See "A Motoring History of the Kennet Valley" by Roger Day and Tim Green for more).
The site was rebranded Texaco in 1965/66 and given a cosmetic face lift.
Texaco Service Station and Riverside Service Station, 1971-2018:
In 1971, just before the M4 opened with the anticipated reduction in petrol sales, the Cunninghams moved away and the site was empty for a while until Peter Stirland Limited took over the lease, rebranding it "Riverside Service Station".
Since then it has been redeveloped on a couple of occasions (the main change being in March 1992 when the new "by-pass" road was built through Charnham Lane Industrial Estate ) until in 2018 it was sold to the Co-op group.
Co-op Service Station, 2018-present:
Since September 2018 the Co-op group has run it as a Service Station and convenience store.
- Parish Magazine, Jan 1893.
- "The Hungerford Boundary Case - Gibbons v. Platt", NWN 9 Feb 1888.
- "Nisi Prius Court - Gibbons v. Platt", Newbury Express of 9 Feb 1888.