The past of South Street Arts Centre

Inside the Labour Exchange 21 October 1939 (1)
Reading Museum’s online collection
contains some photographs inside the South Street Arts centre when it was in use for its original purpose as a labour exchange (a job centre). The Berkshire Chronicle published these photographs on 27 October 1939.

The occasion for the photographs was 21 October 1939 when men between 20 and 22 years of age were required to register under the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War. The labour exchange was used for the registration process which included all men, including conscientious objectors.

Inside the Labour Exchange 21 October 1939 (2)
The South Street building opened on 17 July 1933 as a replacement for an office on London Street. This previous life inspired the Labour Exchange Project in 2010 which was the idea of one of the theatre companies supported by South Street Arts Centre. Research and interviews with Reading residents resulted in a potted history of the labour exchange in three key eras, as well as shows put on by Reading Youth Theatre and South Street Arts Centre in 2011.

South Street Labour Exchange today


Links and references

  1. Reading Museum online collection
  2. The South Street Labour Exchange, Reading’s working people and their stories. Project Coordinators: Sabina Netherclift and Cassie Friend.
  3. South Street Arts Centre
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