BERKSHIRE was having one of its coldest winters on record 56 years ago, and a local family were being hailed as heroes for clearing the snowy roads, some with drifts as high as 14 feet.

For three weeks the Painting family, father Norman and his three sons, had used their own heavy machinery to clear narrow lanes near Newbury, allowing some villages a vital lifeline for essential food supplies.

Mr Painting told the Mercury (later to be called the Chronicle): “They say 1947 was terrible, but this winter is twice as bad, we have cleared nearly 50 miles of lanes and sometimes we come back from work really blue in the face!”

Plans for the route of the M4 motorway took an unexpected turn in 1963, one of the proposals announced included a huge viaduct, set to dominate the skyline near Tilehurst railway station.

The motorway would enter the Reading area near Shiplake, follow a line just north of Caversham and, (because of a large drop in height) require a viaduct to cross the Thames near Purley.

There were also tentative proposals for a road tunnel, but these were being met with doubts that the various levels of road, railway and river would not make this possible.

The Downs Preservation Committee had already come out in opposition to the proposals, insisting that the road should run to the south of Reading.

One of Reading’s landmark ancient buildings, No. 22, The Forbury, was being demolished despite the cold weather, and the Chronicle were on hand to capture its final moments as its chimney was brought crashing down.

The once-handsome 17th century structure, was cleared to make way for office development, which would be commonplace in Reading for many decades to come.

The foundation stone for a new £6,000 headquarters of the 79th Reading Scout Group was laid in Tilehurst in 1963, after eight years of fundraising by the group.

After a short speech, Sir Anthony Hurd MP laid the foundation stone, and the assembled dignitaries retired from the freezing weather, to the draughty First World War hut, which had been their home for many years.

Reading FC’s players said farewell to their manager Harry Johnston in January ’63, after seven years in charge at Elm Park.

Club skipper Johnny Walker paid tribute to his former boss: “Football respects Harry, he has stood by us through fair and foul, and a captain I am only sorry that we could not achieve the promotion that he was aiming for.”

At a special party held in his honour Mr. Johnston replied: “The enthusiasm you have given me at Reading is as much as any manager could ask for, I want you to show the same spirit for Roy Bentley (the incoming coach), if you do, I know the club’s ambitions will be fulfilled.”