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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4430

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1895-1980

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 3.98 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Reader Brothers | builders


Administrative/Biographical history:

Reader Brothers was a firm of builders established in the 1890's by Tom and Richard Reader. They began work drafting designs in the front room of a terrace house in Hackney, renting lock-ups in the area. The firm expanded in the years leading up to the First World War building fashionable houses for the middle class. By the 1920's the firm was renting premises in a defunct Hackney corset factory. These premises seem to have been acquired as the firm re-built them to their own design in 1928.

The 1930's brought renewed prosperity to the firm. Between 1932 and 1939 they built and sold some 'two thousand houses' at Chingford, Winchmore Hill, Loughton, Cricklewood and Edgware, as well as undertaking housing schemes for the borough of Poplar and additional wings to Saint Andrews Hospital. Building began again after the Second World War along with work repairing bomb damaged properties. New designs were created in the late forties and fifties and extension work became more common. The work of the firm gradually moved eastwards, into what was once Essex, as land around London became more built-up. The firm was finally wound up in 1972/3.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Reader Brothers, builders, 1895-1980. The collection consists of three main types of record: There is administrative material which includes both the 'formal' records of Reader Brothers (Builders) Limited, such as the Memorandum and Articles of Association, Minutes of meetings, Registers of Members and records relating to shares; as well as various accounts ledgers, cash, petty cash and wages books, diaries and notebooks.

Secondly there are files, planning applications and other legal documents - some with plans attached.

Then there are books and other printed material related to the building trade and lastly there are plans and drawing of housing projects undertaken by the company.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The material has been arranged into the following series: LMA/4430/01 is Administration: 'formal' records of the business, accounts, staff records, diaries and notebooks LMA/4430/02 is a series of files, planning applications and other legal documents - some with plans attached LMA/4430/03 is a small series of sketchbooks used to draft ideas for building details and other notes LMA/4430/04 consists of publications about the building trade, including published plans of houses and bungalows, 'Ideal Home' catalogues and a large number of leaflets and advertising material for products and services LMA/4430/05 are plans of buildings.

Conditions governing access:

These records are open to public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to closure periods.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the depositor.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated to the Archive in 2002.


Publication note:

A fuller history of the family and the business can be found in 'Builders of Repute: the story of Reader Brothers' by Josephine Boyle (granddaughter of Richard Reader) published by The Suitable Press, Woodford Green (ISBN 0954168801). A copy of the book is available on the library shelves {LMA reference 35.11REA}

DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: July to October 2009

Articles of association | Documents | Information sources
Builders | Construction industry personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Building construction | Building operations | Construction engineering
Building plans | Plans | Visual materials
Business administration | Business
Business management | Management
Business records | Documents | Information sources
Construction industry | Industry
Financial records | Documents | Information sources
Legal documents | Law
Planning applications | Planning control | Town and country planning | Urban development
Publications | Communications media | Information sciences
Business x Enterprises
Business administration x Business management

Personal names

Corporate names
Reader Brothers | builders