Life story retold by Cynthia and Steve Thomas with additional material from online sources
George Barrett (son of Allen Barrett) was born in Alton, Hampshire and ran a saltworks in Lymington. In 1925 George joined Joesph Perry as a partner and the firm became Perry and Barrett, Katesgrove Iron Foundry.
According to Corley (Berks. Archeological Journal, Vol 67) “Barrett was not a trained engineer, but he contributed both capital and much-needed commercial expertise. As well as undertaking the general foundry work common in those days, the firm specialised in ploughs at a time when the demand for them was rapidly changing”. Corley also speculates that perhaps Barrett’s and Perry’s non-conformist backgrounds had bought the two partners together.
When Joseph Perry died in about 1830, Barrett, who had no children, brought his nephew George Allam Barrett (1799 – 18710) and his nephew by marriage – William Exall as partners and the company became Barrett, Exall and Co. In 1842, Barrett also appointed Charles James Andrewes to a clerical post.
George Barrett retired in 1849 at the aged 78. As Corley notes “since his arrival in Reading nearly 25 years before, he had seen the firm grow from a local plough-making and general foundry into an agricultural implement manufacturer for a national market”.
On retirement, George sold his share of the firm to the other three partners: George Allam Barrett, William Exall and C.J Andrewes for £2,500 and the company became Barrett, Exall and Andrewes
In 1863, George Allam Barrett’s son Alfred joined the business as a partner and the company expanded and became Reading Ironworks Ltd in 1864.
George Allam Barrett retired from the firm aged 65 and died on November 5th 1858 – he was 87 years old. The large cast iron urn shown in the photograph above is one of a pair that stand on the portico of what was formerly the site of the Non-conformist chapel. Sadly Barrett’s urn has lost the flame that once topped the monument although a flame is still present on the adjacent monument of the Andrewes family.
Other names on the monument are: Sarah – wife of George Barrett who died on 19th March 1852, aged 84 years and William Randall Barrett who died on 14th July 1863 aged 38 years. Cynthia is a direct descendant of Sarah Barrett.
The Berkshire Industrial Archeology Group (BIAG) website hosts detailed information about Reading Ironworks Ltd.
Buried in Section 19, Row F, Number 1