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Huntley & Palmers Timeline
  Themes Homepage > Gifts to the Town
 
Reading Town
Gifts to the Town

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The Palmer family gave many gifts to the people of Reading including recreation grounds and educational buildings. These now provide the town with a lasting legacy from the days of Huntley & Palmers.
 

Palmer Park
In 1875 George Palmer gave 14 acres of King’s Meadows, beside the River Thames, for use as a recreation ground. This was followed in 1889 when he gave 49 acres of land in east Reading. The land was planted with trees at George Palmer's expense and provided a much-needed park and space for sporting activities.
Palmer Park, around 1903
Palmer Park, around 1903
 
Plate commemorating opening Palmer Park, 1891
Plate commemorating opening Palmer Park, 1891

The Opening
The newly named Palmer Park was formally handed over to the Mayor of Reading on 4 November 1891. In the evening there was a banquet for George Palmer, fireworks in the park and free entertainments for the public. George Palmer’s generosity was marked by the unveiling of his statue in Broad Street. This now stands in Palmer Park.
 
The Ragged School
George Palmer was also concerned with the welfare of Reading’s people. In 1847 he wrote to the Reading Mercury suggesting that a ‘ragged school’ be set up for the poor children roaming the street. This would provide them with one or two meals a day of porridge and soup as well as facilities for washing themselves. One year later, as a direct result of this letter, the town’s first ragged school was founded.
Palmer statue and delivery van, 1920s
Palmer statue and delivery van, 1920s
 
Educational Institutions of Reading
George Palmer’s brother, William Isaac, was also well known for his public philanthropy however his interests were focussed on education and the temperance movement. He ran a small, free library in West Street for several years until the public library was opened and was also a founding father of the Museum and Art Gallery.
 

The University of Reading
The University of Reading was another recipient of the generosity of three generations of Palmers. In 1906 George Palmer’s son, Alfred, presented the college with the site in London Road which included The Acacias, his fathers former home. This became the University Library.
The University Library, early twentieth century
The University Library, early twentieth century
 
 
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