Huntley & Palmers (see below) first recreation ground was at Kings Meadow. This was liable to flood however, and in due course W H Palmer acquired the lease of the Reading & District Amateur Sports Club ground in Kensington Road (West Reading) and in 1919 Huntley and Palmers employees had exclusive use of the ground, which was considered one of the best in the South of England. The factory team would play cricket against the MCC here annually during the 1920s. It was about this time that ladies' cricket teams were begun (the majority of employees were male pre 1914, but after World War 1, females were in the majority). There was also a football club based next door to the ground.
The sports ground at Kensington Road was the scene of Huntley & Palmers annual gala. As well as the usual sports, the gala included vegetables, pigeons, dogs, babies and needlework. Among the prizes in the lucky ticket competition were a bicycle and a season ticket to watch Reading FC at Elm Park. William Morris, who was a racing cyclist in his youth, raced at the Huntley and Palmers Diamond Jubilee sports bicycle race in 1897.
The photograph shows a bicycle race in Huntley & Palmers Annual Gala probably in the 1950's. The caption on the back read "The start of a Bicycle Race, Scene from Huntley and Palmers Annual Gala."
Huntley & Palmer - the company
Huntley & Palmer were founded in 1822 by the Quaker Joseph Huntley in Reading. George Palmer joined in 1841 and soon became the driving force. By 1900 they employed 7,000 people, were the largest biscuit manufacturers in the world and had the biggest factory. The Palmers family played an active role in local life and gave money and land to Reading, including Palmer Park. The town was known as "biscuit town" and Reading FC as the "biscuit men".
In 1921, Huntley & Palmer merged with Peek Frean to form Associated Biscuit Manufacturers. They bought Jacobs biscuits in 1960 and became Associated Biscuits in 1969. The Reading factory closed in 1976 and production was transferred to Liverpool and Bermondsey. Nabisco, the American manufacturer of shredded wheat and Ritz crackers, bought Associated Biscuits in 1982.