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The early speakers of Esperanto in Berkshire

    Berkshire is one of the historic home counties, and people there began learning Esperanto in the early part of the 20th century.

The names and addresses of fourteen early speakers of Esperanto in Berkshire, with their registration numbers are found scattered throughout the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists) between 1903 and 1908. All of the following are listed in Anglujo, i.e. England.

Here are the names of those Berkshire pioneers of over a century ago:

1903: J. Harold Consterdine, 77, Baker Street, Reading, Berkshire, Anglujo

1903: A. Everest Jr., esq., Wokingham

1905: S-ino (=Mrs) E. Kendall, Warren Tor, Woodcote road, Caversham, Reading, Anglujo

1905: Harry R. Metcalf, Canwick, Newbury, Anglujo

1906: Thomas B. Harris, c/o Kenyon Fuller Esq, Sonning, Nr, Reading. Anglujo

1906: F. J. Freeman, 8, Castle Street, Reading, Anglujo

1906: S. Jackson Coleman, 107, Broad Street, Reading, Anglujo.

1906: Norman Goertz, 3, High Street, Windsor, Anglujo

1906: R. G. Radnor, 11, Peascod St, Windsor (Berke), Anglujo

1906: M. Beachcroft, Wingates, Boyue Hill, Maidenhead, Anglujo

1906: J. C. Caulfeid, Bradfield College, Bradfield, Berks, Anglujo

1906: F-ino (=Miss) Lonise A. Wright, "Dagwell", Sunningdale, Berks, Anglujo

1906: S. T. E. Chinneck, Bradfield College, Reading, Anglujo

1908: D. Astley, Bridge Villa, Hungerford, Berks, Anglujo

James Harold Consterdine was at Emmanuel College, gained his BA in Cambridge in 1907, so he was a very young man when he discovered Esperanto.

Harry Railton Metcalf (1877-1959) was a pharmaceutical chemist’s assistant in 1901, then a pharmaceutical chemist ten years later.

Norman Goertz was born in Windsor in 1884. In 1901 he was a draper’s apprentice in St Pancras, London.

Reginald George Radnor (1882-1962) was a tailor’s apprentice in 1901, and in 1911 he was a tailor and employer.

Sidney Thomas Elston Chinneck (1877-1952) was a public school master in 1911. After studying at Cambridge he was an assistant schoolmaster at Bradley College until 1926. He was ordained a deacon in 1927 and became an Anglican priest in the following year. From 1926 to 1935 he was headmaster of Ovingdean Hall preparatory school.

Lawyer Stanley Jackson Coleman was author of ‘A Week at Esperanto’, a 16 page brochure published by the British Esperanto Association in 1920. In 1926 he married his Hungarian sweetheart Muzza Schönau at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury. The whole marriage ceremony took place in Esperanto, the language which had brought them together. It was the first such service. Jackson Coleman was born in Reading, 1887 and died in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1962. He and his wife Muzza, who used Esperanto as their home language and shared a love of folklore, moved to the island in about 1946.

Those interested in the language came together from time to time. According to The British Esperantist magazine for 1913 an Esperanto Society in Reading was functioning in that year, meeting every Thursday. Its secretary is named as Miss R. Woolford, That group continued to meet until the 1980s. I cannot trace any documents about that societryt. Nor can I find any groups of Esperanto speakers elsewhere in the county.

Bill Chapman

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