Close up of cast iron urn monument

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.

Black and white arial image of Reading Iron works (including smoking chimney's) with two bridges spanning the river Kennett
Photo source: GoReading Berks/Reading Berks History

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”.

Close up image of cast iron monument with inscription that reads "In memory of George Barrett of Katesgrove, Reading"

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