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Alfred Palmer

East Thorpe and
Alfred Waterhouse

The origins of
St. Andrew's

Minute Books
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Rules for Women's
Halls of Residence

Closure of
St. Andrew's Hall

The Museum of
English Rural Life

Who was Alfred Palmer?

Alfred Palmer was a member of Reading's famous Palmer family, held the position of High Sheriff of Berkshire and was deeply involved in the University.


A portrait of Alfred Palmer.

Born in 1852 and educated in Tottenham, Alfred spent over fifty years working for the Huntley & Palmers biscuit company, chiefly as the head of the engineering department where he was responsible for the building and maintenance of the biscuit machinery.

It is believed that Alfred Palmer was responsible for the variety of biscuits the company produced.

"Had it not been for Alfred Palmer's mechanical inventiveness, the firm would have been quite unable to turn out so many different kinds of biscuits of such varying shapes and textures."

T. Corley. Quaker enterprise in biscuits : Huntley and Palmers of Reading, 1822-1972.

Alfred married Alice Maria Exall, the youngest daughter of William Exall who was a partner in the local Barrett, Exall and Andrewes iron foundry, in 1877. The marriage was a major event and a full description of the wedding was published in the Reading Observer newspaper.

George Palmer, Alfred's father, bought The Acacias on London Road in 1865. This was his modest family home just a short walk away from the Huntley and Palmers factory on Kings Road. On George's death none of the children chose to live at The Acacias and it was given, by Alfred, to the University College as part of their new London Road site.

Alfred's own home, East Thorpe, was given to the University to become St. Andrew's Hall in 1911.