January 1964 (ex-Khormaksar), arrived Shinfield. As a Telegraphist, worked alongside Taff Leggett, George Chapman, Rene Wilson, Josie Fagan (now Hill), and Bob Murney in Station Signals. Shift work Mon-Fri 0800-2200 and on Saturdays till midday. Enjoyed a single-man room, that was ball-and-catch fitted.
Two months later, my wife-to-be Yvonne Freeman, and on re-muster, was posted in from Abingdon to Clothing Stores. Our eyes eventually clicked in the NAAFI and in November that year, married at Shinfield village church. Funds determined our level of Reception, so was held in the NAAFI, with the Manager/bar person (Barbara) making up a lovely buffet of sarnies and desserts. My Mum made and provided the wedding cake. From camp, all who could attended the Church and Reception did so. Photography courtesy one of our ranks. The food was laid out in the Pool Room (near toilets), with the Blue Room and Bar next door for general socialising. Later, Yvonne and I went to secure a rented flat on Upper Redlands Road. Observing the custom of the future Groom and Bride not setting eyes on each other, Yvonne donned her bridal dress in John Imrie’s house, which was across the road from the Black Boy but further down the road. Someone managed to officially borrow the CO’s car to transport Yvonne to the village church and then both of us to the NAAFI
As with others, our social activities took in Reading’s pubs, cinemas, park and jaunt in a motorboat. The Black Boy was obviously main focus, with their back-room providing opportunists a chance at their singing skills. After a few Cherry B’s, Yvonne belting out Petula Clarks ‘Sailor’ became the norm.
AOC’s Inspection drew out the paint and brushes, with kerb stones and discoloured grass subject to attention. Assembling for Parade outside the Guardroom was straightforward but it was the marching route through trees and along a triangular path, which proved more of a test.
Some recollected names: Pete Zeller (Swiss); ‘Pandit’ (nickname of an Indian lad); Kathleen Corris /Doris ?/Gordon Campbell/Charlie ?(all Catering), Pauline Eastwood; Frank Skelton; Jimpy(sp) Symes & John Imrie (both RAFP); Jackie ?/Deirdre Blackmore (both MT), Alfonso, Judy Sanderson, Dave Angood (Supply Accts), Ron Matthews, Phil Flavell, Bernadette, Margaret Atkins (WW), Ian Farley (Fire), Pete Peregrine, Gloria Batchford, Jim Leonard, Jim Davison, Richard Butcher, Phil Fuller, Faith Railton, Rose Britton, Mick Templeton, Taff Donovan, Cpl Penman (Stores) + fair few others. The Shinfield and White Waltham ladies, shared their accommodation with two WRAC’s from Aborfield.
Apologise in advance if some the names/trades depicted are incorrect.
The Blue Room: A den of iniquity, with its two blue sofas and one armchair sitting atop a blue carpet. One window with blue curtain always drawn closed. This was a serious place of attention when the TV in the next room became a bore or programmes finished, for 23:59 was the magic time ‘afore the ladies needed to be in their block, so courting couples would dash into this hushed room seeking out a suitable piece of comfort. One of the sofas was premium-located, so when vacated, rushed movements from one of the other two couples would see a pair of victors. Room then fell back into a quietness, accompanied by some uncommon rustling and breathing. When the duty Corporal did his security run, this was always the last room of visit and one which invariably delayed his rounds.
Weather permitting, there was also a grassy spot behind the Airman’s Mess, shielded by a vegetable plot of sorts. (Got surprised by the gardener once and then suitably bollocked).
There were dares in visiting the other’s barrack block. Weekends proved to have a high success rate.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our short tour at Shinfield, as it holds something special for us and along with our photos, will always be a memorable place that kicked off a happy marriage.
Revisited in 1986 and 2014. On former visit, it was noted a change to the external pictorial image of the Black Boy. Pub Manager reflected change occurred due a suggestion by a male TV celebrity (LH) living locally. Objection was the original depiction of a Black Boy. This is unconfirmed.
© Andre Francis 2020