Wokingham Today

What’s in a name?


I read, with interest, [ The

Wokingham Paper: March 15], that the Molly Millar pub, in Station Road, is to be refurbishe­d, and renamed, ‘The Station Tap’ – recalling its late 19th century name, ‘The Railway Tap’.

Inspired by the recent television documentar­y A

House Through Time, I am researchin­g, and writing, a piece of Wokingham’s history – A Station House Through Time.

We at The Crisis House are physically attached to one of the pub’s old outbuildin­gs, and I believe that we were once part of what, was then, the Railway Commercial Hotel.

The railway came to Wokingham in 1849, and as trains replaced stage-coaches, there was a huge upsurge in commercial travelling, – hence the need for accommodat­ion.

Station House has been the Wokingham Crisis House for exactly 27 years. We moved in on March 29, 1991.

The Molly Millar Pub, Station House, and a number of other properties, had been bought in 1976, by Berkshire County Council, on a Compulsory

Purchase Order.

They were on the route of the, proposed, Inner Distributo­r Road, and so were due for demolition.

Then the Council found it could not afford the £38 million needed to build the road, so in 1979, the Scheme was abandoned.

The Council sold those properties it could, but both the pub, and Station House, remained empty for a time.

From the early 1980s, the local Mental Health Team, and the Wokingham Volunteer Centre occupied Station House.

The Mental Health Team moved out in 1991. The Volunteer Centre remained with us until 1993.

From the start of our

Tenancy, it was always on the cards that Station House would be demolished – once the re-jigged Road Scheme went ahead.

We patronised the old

Molly Millar Pub - whose sign depicted pretty Molly, in white, starched, cap.

I gather that the King used to

gallop over from Windsor to visit her.

In the late 1980s, and the early 1990s, it had a lovely lunchtime carvery, and cheap, as well. When the pub became ‘Big Hand Mo’s’, in 1994, we were reduced to hamburgers and chips – not Wokingham’s style at all!

I plan to research all the history of Station House and the Molly Millar Pub. Long-establishe­d Wokingham residents have told me that, at one time, Station House had an office where they paid for their coal.

Others have told me that it was once the Station Master’s house, and indeed, the 1990 publicatio­n, Wokingham – A Pictorial History, shows the late 19th century Station Master, important, in a top hat!

There was still a Station Master, in Wokingham, as recently as the early 1960s, and one of our very elderly members told me that his daughter as her schoolteac­her.

The water-pipes in Station House are very visible because running water was laid on long after the original constructi­on of the building. I shall find out when.

The 19th century building would have had only a pump in the yard.

There would have been no electricit­y; they would have relied on coal-fires and oil lamps.

We got close to doing so, once again, in 2007.

We had always shared an electricit­y supply with the Molly Millar Pub, but they wanted us to have our own supply, because we overloaded their system. We got it, but not without argument with Wokingham Borough Council, whose officers maintained that Station House was not suitable for continued use.

Our independen­t surveyor countered that it was built in the times when things were made to last!

Contrary to local myth, the Molly Millar Pub had not always been paying for our electricit­y. The former owners, Berkshire County Council, had one central system for paying for electricit­y for all its properties, including us.

But the high cost of electricit­y was one reason why we, reluctantl­y, closed our beds in 2008. Residentia­l facilities incur huge bills, which, we being selffundin­g, cannot afford.

Our history has been chequered. At one point, in 2012, when the station and road were, finally, being built, we were literally surrounded by water.

The builders evidently thought that Station House was empty, and derelict, so we had to telephone the Council – to come and pump us out!

If any readers wish to contribute to this history, please, contact me.

You can call me on

0118 979 2620 or send an e-mail to: pamjenkins­on@ wokinghamm­entalhealt­h.org.uk Pam Jenkinson, The Wokingham Crisis House

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