A NEW automatic letter sorting machine nicknamed “Alf” which could deal with 18,000 items an hour, was delivered into the sorting office in Friar Street in 1969.

The four-and-a-half ton ‘monster’ had to be hoisted into the premises by crane and gently lowered onto a cushion of air which resembled the ‘skirts’ of a hovercraft.

A GPO (General Post Office) spokesperson told the Chronicle: “The machine will be in use by this weekend in conjunction with the automatic segregator, sorting them into stacks of first and second class, long and short envelopes.”

British Rail engineers were using two cranes to reconstruct the Pangbourne railway bridge over the A329 Reading to Oxford road 50 years ago.

The 78-year-old span was previously supported by steel supports, these were being replaced with giant lengths of concrete.

An empty house set for demolition to make way for the IDR (Inner Distribution Road) in Wolseley Street, Reading, was being systematically looted in 1969.

73-year-old Fred Slark, owner of the neighbouring property, told the Chronicle he was doing his best to chase off the thieves: “They have tried to enter my house by the back door, so I keep a stick by the side of my bed at night, a cistern, lead piping, all the fire grates, roof tiles and even the curtains in the front windows have all been pinched.”

Residents in the street were being re-housed in Dee Road, Tilehurst and Mr. Slark admitted: “My wife and I shall be sad to move, we have lived here happily for 54 years.”

Over 140 of the top British Press pictures of the year went on display at the Odeon in Reading as part of a nationwide tour of the cinema chain.

It was the first time the exhibition had been out of London and the photos depicted many world news events such as the horrors of the Vietnam war.

One of the most iconic and ‘controversial’ snaps on show, was taken by the Daily Mirror’s Kent Gavin, this photo, entitled “Price of a Sealskin”, captured a baby seal looking up at its fur-trade killer seconds before being clubbed to death in Canada.

Reading College opened its doors to 200 local school children during a one-day course arranged for prospective apprentices in the printing industry.

The youngsters were shown all aspects of the college’s Department of Printing, including a Heidelberg two-coloured sheet-fed rotary letterpress machine, operated by former student Michael Wiggington.

A former pupil at Stoneham School, Corporal John Lynden, serving with 17 Port Regiment, appeared in an Army press release photo 50 years ago.

His unit was responsible for operating ‘sea terminals’ in the UK and overseas and was pictured in the Chronicle sending radio messages from his operations room in Marchwood, Hants.