Lifestory shared by Keith Jerrome: 

From: Co-operation in the Thames Valley, Arthur Lockwood (1949):

“The Reading Society actually began at a meeting held in the Blackhorse Hotel, Queens Road in August 1860. The convenor was 28-year-old Stephen Gyngell the son of a Warfield Farmer, who had been apprenticed to, and worked for, Barret, Exall and Andrews (Later the Reading Iron Works). It was after reading a speech by John Bright that he induced his fellow workers in the boiler-making department to subscribe to a capital fund in order to start a cooperative society.

Black and white photograph of Stephen GYNGELL - a slight smile can be seen behind his thick beard

A limit of £5 was fixed to individual shareholding and Gyngell was the first to complete the payment of this modest sum. He tried to rent premises in Broad Street, the main shopping centre, but he was not successful, otherwise there might have been a different story to tell. He succeeded however in securing a shop at 14 Caversham Road, and here for many years, was the centre of the Society. At first the premises were opened two evenings a week and the committee members served the goods behind the shuttered windows, as it seemed to have been the custom of early societies. Before the Stores were opened however, the Provisional Committee met in a cottage at the corner of Oxford Street and amongst them was CH ‘Charlie’ Cheer, foreman of the boiler shop, third member of the society, though he claimed to have subscribed the first five shillings.

His activities in the society were followed by his son and were associated with Gyngell while the foundations were being laid. Gyngell held office as a committee member for 30 years. He saw the Society expand well on its way to its present magnitude. He died on April 4th 1904 at the age of seventy-two.”

On 12th September 1857 Stephen Gyngell applied to join The Amalgamated Society of Engineers Reading Lodge. He was 25, single, living at 3 Coley Place, a Smith for 7 years, indentured at BEA, now at Barrett, Exall and Andrewes wages 30/- not previously a member of ASE Proposed by Stephen Parsons and seconded by Josiah Lydne indentured @BEA.

(From ASE Proposition and Entrance Book, By permission of AUEW District Committee by KJ 29th December 1981.)

Buried in Section 12, Row E, Number 10