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Reading, Berkshire

Reading, Berkshire
Coordinates: 51°27′15″N 0°58′23″W 51.4541°N 0.9730°W / 51.4541; -0.9730


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South East England United Kingdom READING RG1, RG2, RG4, RG6, RG8, RG10, RG11, RG30, RG31 0118 Thames Valley Royal Berkshire South Central South East England Reading East Reading West

List of places: UK • England • Berkshire

St Mary’s Church and market

Reading (pronounced /ˈrɛdɪŋ/ pronunciation as Redding) is a large town in England, located at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, midway between London and Swindon off the M4 motorway. It is one of the contenders for the title of the largest town in England, and is the largest settlement in the Home Counties in terms of population. For ceremonial purposes it is in the Royal County of Berkshire and has served as the county town since 1867. It is also home to one of England’s biggest music festivals. Reading was an important national centre in the medieval period, as the site of an important monastery with strong royal connections, but suffered economic damage during the 17th century from which it took a long time to recover. Today it is again an important commercial centre, with strong links to information technology and insurance. It is also a university town, with two universities and a large student population.
143,096 (2001) 232,662 (2001) SU713733 Reading Wokingham Borough West Berkshire Berkshire

Reading shown within Berkshire

Population borough Urban sub-area OS grid reference Unitary authority

Middle ages
The settlement was founded at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet in the 8th century as Readingum. The name

Ceremonial county


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Reading, Berkshire
1253 Reading’s Merchant Guild successfully petitioned for the grant of a charter from the King and negotiated a division of authority with the Abbey. The dissolution of the Abbey saw Henry VIII grant the Guild a new charter in 1542 with which to become a borough corporation to run the town. During the Black Death in the 14th century the ruling elite fled from London to Reading, effectively using Reading as the capital while London was gripped by the Plague..

St Mary’s church was founded by the 9th century.

17th century
By the end of the 16th century, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, home to over 3,000 people. Reading had grown rich on its trade in cloth, as instanced by the fortune made by local merchant John Kendrick. The town played an important role during the English Civil War; it changed hands a number of times. Despite its fortifications, it had a Royalist garrison imposed on it in 1642. The subsequent Siege of Reading by the Parliamentary forces succeeded in April 1643. However, the taxes levied on the town by the garrison badly damaged its cloth trade, and it did not recover.[3] Reading was also the only site of significant fighting in England during the Revolution of 1688, with the second Battle of Reading.[4]

Reading Abbey was founded in 1121. is probably from the Anglo-Saxon for "[Place of] Reada’s People", or (less probably) the Celtic Rhydd-Inge, "Ford over the River". The name of the settlement was derived from an earlier folk, or tribal, name. Anglo-Saxon names ending in -ingas originally referred not to a place but to a people, in this case specifically the descendants or followers of a man named Reada, literally "The Red One."[1][2] Reading was occupied by the Vikings after the first Battle of Reading in 871, but had recovered sufficiently by its 1086 Domesday Book listing to contain around 600 people and be made a designated borough. The foundation of Reading Abbey by Henry I Youngest Son of William the Conqueror in 1121 led to the town becoming a place of pilgrimage. Henry was buried in the Reading abbey in 1135. Although the location of his body is still unknown, a small brass marker guesses at the approximate spot. Some believe that the body has been lost to grave robbery or during changes made to the Abbey years later. Few contest though that the Reading Abbey is the resting place of the first English born King of England Henry I. In

18th century
The 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. Agricultural products from the surrounding area still used Reading as a market place, especially at the famous Reading cheese fair but now trade was coming in from a wider area. Reading’s trade benefited from better designed turnpike roads which helped it establish its location on the major coaching routes from London to Oxford and the west country. It also gained from increasing river traffic on both the Thames and Kennet. In 1723, despite considerable local opposition, the Kennet Navigation opened the River Kennet to boats as far as Newbury. This opposition stopped when it became apparent the new route benefited the town. The opening of the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1810 made it possible to go by barge from Reading to the Bristol Channel.


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Reading, Berkshire

The Maiwand lion in Forbury Gardens, an unofficial symbol of Reading, commemorates the Battle of Maiwand in 1880. Reading from 1844 to 1847 and was managed by Nicholaas Henneman, a Dutchman and former valet of William Henry Fox Talbot (a pioneer of photography).[7] Many of the images for The Pencil of Nature by Fox Talbot, the first book to be illustrated with photographic prints, were printed in Reading. In 1851 the population was 21,500. The town became the County Town (superseding Abingdon)[8] in 1867 and became a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. By 1900, the population was 59,000 — large sections of the housing in Reading are terraced, reflecting its 19th century growth. The town has been famous for the "Three Bs" of beer (from 1785 dominated by the Simonds’ Brewery — India Pale Ale was invented in Reading), bulbs (1807–1976, Suttons Seeds), and biscuits (1822–1977, Huntley & Palmers). In the 19th century the town also made ’Reading Sauce’, described as a sharp sauce flavoured with onions, spices, and herbs, very much like Worcestershire Sauce.

Henry Addington, Viscount Sidmouth Towards the end of the century, Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, lived at Bulmershe Court, in what is now the Reading suburb of Woodley. Although he moved to Richmond when he was appointed prime minister, he retained his local connections. He donated to the town of Reading the four acres (16,000 m²) of land that is today the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and his name is commemorated in the town’s Sidmouth Street and Addington Road.[5][6]

19th century
In 1801, the population of Reading was about 9,400. During the 19th century, Reading grew rapidly as a manufacturing centre. Reading maintained its representation by two Members of Parliament with the Reform Act 1832, and the borough was one of the ones reformed as a municipal borough by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. In 1836 the Reading Borough Police were founded. The Great Western Railway arrived in 1841, followed by the South Eastern Railway, in 1849, and the London and South Western Railway, in 1856. The Reading Establishment, an early commercial photographic studio, operated in

20th and 21st centuries
The town continued to expand in the 20th century, annexing Caversham across the River Thames in Oxfordshire in 1911. This expansion can be seen in the number of 1920s built semi-detached properties, and the 1950s expansion that joined Woodley, Earley and Tilehurst into Reading. Miles Aircraft in Woodley was an important local firm from the 1930s to 1950s. The Lower Earley development, started in the 1970s, was the largest private housing development in Europe. This extended the urban area of Reading up to the


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Status: Region: Ceremonial County: Area: - Total Admin. HQ: ONS code: Demographics A trolleybus at the Three Tuns terminus, c.1966. The Three Tuns is now the terminus for the number 17 bus M4 motorway, which acts as the southern boundary to the town. Further housing developments have increased the number of modern commuter houses in the surrounding parts of Reading, and ’out-of-town’ shopping hypermarkets. The local shopping centre, The Oracle, built in 1999, is named after the 17th century workhouse founded by John Kendrick which previously occupied the site. The original ’Oracle’ gates can be seen in the Museum of Reading in the town hall but usually reside in the main hall of Kendrick School, a girls’ grammar school set up with money from John Kendrick’s Will. It provides three storeys of shopping and boosted the local economy by providing 4,000 jobs. Reading has also made itself more appealing to tourists by pedestrianising Broad Street. Population: - Total (2007 est.) - Density Ethnicity (2001 Census data):

Reading, Berkshire
Unitary, Borough South East England Berkshire Ranked 318th 40.40 km² Reading 00MC Ranked 127th 143,700 3557 / km² 86.82% White 5.21% Asian 4.14% Black 2.38% Mixed 0.73% Other 0.72% Chinese.

Politics Leadership: Executive: Mayor of Reading Leader & Cabinet Labour (council NOC) Councillor Peter Beard

Local government
Reading has had some degree of local government autonomy since 1253 when the local merchant guild was granted a royal charter. Over the years since then the town has been run by a borough corporation, as a county borough, and as a district of Berkshire. The Borough of Reading became a unitary authority area in 1998 when Berkshire County Council was abolished under the Banham Review, and is now responsible for all aspects of local government within the borough.[9] The borough council has bid for city status in several recent competitions but, as of 2008, these have been unsuccessful. The application for city status is politically controversial, with some groups of residents strongly opposed, while others support the bid.[10]

Borough of Reading



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Reading, Berkshire

Since 1887, the borough has included the former villages of Southcote and Whitley and small parts of Earley and Tilehurst.[11] By 1911, it also encompassed the Oxfordshire village of Caversham and still more of Tilehurst.[12] A small area of Mapledurham parish was added in 1977. An attempt to take over a small area of Eye & Dunsden parish in Oxfordshire was rejected because of strong local opposition in 1997.[12] Reading’s municipal boundaries are particularly old and constrained; and proposals occasionally surface to expand the borough to include them. It is believed that Reading’s chances of receiving City Status would be substantially boosted if these suburbs were to be included within the borough. However, the constricted nature of the borough also creates more serious difficulties for the town, as it attempts to develop and grow. The diminishing amount of suitable land within the borough’s boundary can bring the council in to conflict with those neighbouring it, who in turn have their own priorities and requirements. The longest running example of this is the planned third crossing of the Thames. So far, South Oxfordshire’s politicians and residents, whose primary concern is maintaining the non-urbanisation of their region, have successfully opposed this.[13] As a consequence, the debate has at times become somewhat acrimonious between the opposing sides, and little progress has been made. "However, the process has been painfully slow and it appears that, for every two steps forwards, there are three steps backwards—mainly because of the view of South Oxfordshire district council, which is being incredibly parochial about this matter. Meanwhile, Reading borough council is adopting strategies that prioritise local traffic in Reading, obviously to the detriment of through traffic. We have now reached the point at which we desperately need direct Government intervention to break the logjam between those local authorities." —Mr. Rob Wilson MP (Reading, East), House of Commons debate.[14]

National government
Reading has elected at least one Member of Parliament to every Parliament since 1295. Historically Reading was represented by the members for the former Parliamentary Borough of Reading, and the members for the former parliamentary constituencies of Reading, Reading North, and Reading South. Today Reading and the surrounding area is divided between the parliamentary constituencies of Reading East, represented by Rob Wilson, and Reading West, represented by Martin Salter. The whole of the town is within the multi-member South East England European constituency.

Town twinning
Reading is twinned with:[15] • Düsseldorf, Germany (since 1947, officially since 1988) • Clonmel, Ireland (since 1994) • San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua (since 1994) • Speightstown, Barbados (since 2003)

Reading is 41 miles (66 km) due west of central London, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Oxford and 40 miles (64 km) east of Swindon. The centre of Reading is on a low ridge between the Rivers Thames and Kennet close to their confluence, reflecting the town’s history as a river port. Just before the confluence, the Kennet cuts through a narrow steep-sided gap in the hills forming the southern flank of the Thames flood plain. The absence of a floodplain on the Kennet in this defile enabled the development of wharves. As Reading has grown, its suburbs have spread in three directions: • to the west between the two rivers into the foothills of the Berkshire Downs, • to the south and south-east on the south side of the Kennet, and • to the north of the Thames into the Chiltern Hills. However outside the central area, the floors of the valley containing the two rivers remain largely unimproved floodplain, subject to occasional flooding. Apart from one road across the Kennet floodplain, and the M4 looping to the south, the only routes between the three built-up areas are in the central area, creating road congestion there.


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Reading has its own subregional catchment area, incorporating the suburban districts of Earley and Woodley and the surrounding towns of Wokingham, Bracknell and Twyford, plus large villages such as Pangbourne, Theale, Winnersh, Burghfield and Shiplake.

Reading, Berkshire
• Earley including Maiden Erlegh and Lower Earley • East Reading, Emmer Green • Fords Farm • Holybrook, Horncastle • Katesgrove • Little Heath, Lower Caversham • Mortimer Common • Newtown • Purley-On-Thames • Southcote • Tilehurst • West Reading, Whitley, Whitley Wood, Woodley

Depending on the definition adopted, neither the town nor the urban area are necessarily co-terminous with the borough. The borough has a population of 144,000 in an area of 40.40 km², while the Office for National Statistics’ definition of the urban area of Reading is significantly larger at 232,662 people in an area of 55.35 km². This latter area – sometimes referred to as Greater Reading – incorporates the town’s eastern and western suburbs outside the borough, in the civil parishes of Earley, Woodley, Purleyon-Thames and Tilehurst (see below for further details). This urban area is itself a component of the Reading/Wokingham Urban Area. Reading is the 17th largest settlement in England, based on the population of the urban area. Furthermore, except for London boroughs, it is the most populous settlement that does not have city status.[16][17][18] Historically, the town of Reading was smaller than the current borough, and has had several definitions over the years. Such definitions include the old ecclesiastical parishes of the churches of St Mary, St Laurence and St Giles, or the even smaller pre-19th century borough.[12]


Reading Abbey

Besides the town centre, Reading comprises a number of suburbs and other districts, both within the borough itself and within the surrounding urban area. The names and location of these suburbs are in general usage but, except where some of the outer suburbs correspond to civil parishes, there are no formally defined boundaries. The borough itself is unparished, and the wards used to elect the borough councillors generally ignore the accepted suburbs and use invented ward names. The suburbs and districts include: • Beansheaf Farm • Calcot, Caversham, Caversham Heights, Caversham Park Village, Coley, Coley Park

St Laurence’s Church Reading Minster, or the Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin as it is more properly known, is Reading’s oldest ecclesiastical foundation, known to have been founded by the 9th century and possibly earlier. Although eclipsed in importance by the later Abbey, Reading


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Minster has regained its importance since the destruction of the Abbey. Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in 1121. He was buried there, as were parts of Empress Matilda, William of Poitiers, Constance of York, and Princess Isabella of Cornwall, among others. The abbey was one of the pilgrimage centres of medieval England, it held over 230 relics including the hand of St. James. The abbey was largely destroyed in 1538 during the dissolution of the monasteries and Henry VIII had the abbot, Hugh Cook Faringdon, hanged. The mediaeval borough of Reading was served by three parish churches. Besides Reading Minster, these were St Giles’ and St Laurence’s churches, both of which are still in use as Anglican churches. The Franciscan friars built a friary in the town in 1311 and after the friars were expelled in 1538, the building was used as a hospital, a poorhouse and a jail, before being restored as the Anglican parish church of Greyfriars Church in 1863. There are several other Anglican parish churches in areas that are now part of suburban Reading. St James’ Church was built on a portion of the site of the abbey between 1837 and 1840, and marked the return of the Roman Catholic faith to Reading. Reading was also the site of the death of Blessed Dominic Barberi, the Catholic missionary to England in the 19th century who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic faith. The town contains many other churches and religious centres of varying faiths.

Reading, Berkshire

University of Reading War Memorial clock tower 1904. Reading was chartered as an independent university in 1926 and moved onto its new Whiteknights Campus in 1947. It took over the Bulmershe teacher training college in 1982, becoming Bulmershe Court Campus. The Henley Management College, situated in Buckinghamshire and about 10 miles (16 km) from Reading, was taken over in 2008, becoming Greenlands Campus. All four campuses are still in use, although Whiteknights is by far the largest. The more recent Thames Valley University, which also has campuses in Slough and Ealing, now runs what was previously Reading College & School of Arts and Design on two sites in east Reading.

Reading School, founded in 1125, is the tenth oldest school in England. It is based in Victorian buildings designed by Alfred Waterhouse on Erleigh Road. There are 6 other state secondary schools and 37 state primary schools within the borough, together with a number of private and independent schools, nurseries. Some of the designated schools for pupils in the borough’s catchment areas are actually in the neighbouring boroughs.[19] Besides mainstream schools the Reading area has a Steiner-Waldorf school and an active Education Otherwise home schooling network. The University of Reading was established in 1892 as an affiliate of Oxford University, and moved to its London Road Campus in

Libraries and museums
The Reading Borough Public Library service dates back to 1877. The Central Library which was opened in 1985 contains the Reading Local Studies Library which provides books, maps, and illustrations of the history of the town and Berkshire. The Museum of Reading opened in 1883 in the Town Hall, parts of which date back to 1786. The museum contains galleries relating to the history of Reading and its related


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Reading, Berkshire

The new entrance block for the Royal Berkshire Hospital general hospital, the Battle Hospital, but this closed in 2005 with the patients and most staff moved to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust runs a NHS hospital, Prospect Park Hospital, that specialises in the provision of care for people with mental health and learning disabilities.[22][23] Reading is also served by two private hospitals, the Berkshire Independent Hospital in Coley Park and the Dunedin Hospital situated on the main A4 Bath Road.[24][25]

Reading Town Hall now houses the Museum of Reading industries and to the excavations of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester Roman Town), together with a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, an art collection, and galleries relating to Huntley & Palmers The Museum of English Rural Life, in Redlands Road, is a museum dedicated to recording the changing face of farming and the countryside in England. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. It is owned and run by the University of Reading.[20][21] On the University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus can be found the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology and Cole Museum of Zoology, together with the Harris Botanic Gardens. In the suburb of Woodley, the Museum of Berkshire Aviation has a collection of aircraft and other artifacts relating to the aircraft industry in the town.

Reading is an important commercial centre in Southern England and is often referred to as the commercial capital of the Thames Valley. The town hosts the headquarters of major British companies and the UK offices of major foreign multinationals, as well as being a major retail centre.[26]


The principal National Health Service (NHS) hospital in Reading is the Royal Berkshire Hospital, originally founded in 1839 but much enlarged and rebuilt since. Until recently there was a second major NHS

Prudential’s administrative centre


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Reading, Berkshire
is home to Verizon Business. Winnersh Triangle Business Park is home to many of the other technology companies, whilst Arlington Business Park is home to KPMG, Nvidia and PepsiCo.


The Oracle Corporation campus Reading has a significant historical involvement in the information technology industry, largely as a result of the early presence in the town of major sites of International Computers Limited and Digital. Whilst both these companies have subsequently been swallowed by other groups, their respective descendents in Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard both still have local operations. More recently Microsoft and Oracle have established multi-building campuses in the town. Other technology companies with a significant presence in the town include Agilent Technologies, Audio & Design (Recording) Ltd, Bang & Olufsen, Cisco, Harris Corporation, Intel, Nvidia, Sage, Sagem Orga, SGI, Symantec, Symbol Technologies, Verizon Business, Virgin Media, Websense, Xansa (now Steria), and Xerox. The financial company ING Direct has its headquarters in Reading, as does the directories company Yell Group and the natural gas major BG Group. The insurance company Prudential has a major administration centre in the town, whilst PepsiCo and Holiday Inn have offices. As with most major cities, Reading also has offices of the big 4 accounting firms Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. These companies are distributed around Reading, including many in peripheral business parks just inside or outside the borough boundary. Prudential and Yell, together with most of the accountancy companies, have their offices in central Reading. Thames Valley Business Park is home to the Microsoft and Oracle campuses, as well as BG Group and ING Direct. GreenPark Business Park is home to Symantec and Cisco, whilst the nearby Reading International Business Park

Broad Street

The Riverside level at The Oracle Reading town centre is a major shopping centre. The primary catchment area for the town centre (the area for which the centre attracts the largest single flow of generated expenditure) for non-bulky comparison goods extends as far as Goring-on-Thames, Henleyon-Thames, Pangbourne and Wokingham. The secondary catchment area (the area where the centre attracts 10% or more of generated expenditure) also includes Ascot, Bracknell, Camberley, Didcot, Farnborough, Fleet, High Wycombe, Maidenhead, Newbury, Slough, Tadley, Thatcham, Wallingford and Windsor. In 2007 an independent poll placed Reading as one of the top ten retail destinations in the UK.[27][28] The principal town centre shopping area is around Broad Street, which was pedestrianised in 1995.[29] Broad Street is anchored at its east and west ends respectively by The


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Reading, Berkshire
a fishmonger and butcher still remain here.[34] Unlike many English cities, Reading has no indoor market hall. There is a street market at Hosier Street in the town centre, open from Wednesday to Saturday, with 60 stalls selling a mixture of food, flowers and plants, cultural goods, and household goods. A farmers’ market operates on two Saturdays a month at the cattle market.[35][36] Other than the markets, Marks and Spencers, a few small supermarket branches, and a few speciality shops, food retail has largely deserted the town centre. Large branches of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Iceland and Waitrose supermarket chains can be found in suburban and edge of town locations.


Smelly Alley Oracle and Broad Street Mall enclosed shopping centres. The Oracle shopping centre regularly attracts over 250,000 people passing through on a Saturday alone. It plays host to a number of major retailers which had previously not been present in the town. There are three major department stores in Reading: John Lewis Reading (formerly known as Heelas[30]), Debenhams and House of Fraser. There are also branches of many chain stores, including Bhs, Boots, fcuk, H&M, Marks and Spencers, Next, Primark and W H Smith. The booksellers Waterstone’s have two branches in Reading. Their Broad Street branch is of particular interest, as it is a remarkable conversion of a nonconformist chapel dating from 1707.[31] Besides the two major shopping malls, Reading has three smaller shopping arcades, the Bristol & West Arcade, Harris Arcade and The Walk, which contain smaller specialist stores. An older form of retail facility is represented by Union Street, popularly known as Smelly Alley[32][33], due to the former presence of many open-fronted fishmongers and butchers. More recently the trend has shifted more towards major retail chains, although a few of independent shops, including

The wind turbine at GreenPark produces enough green electricity for around 1000 homes. Mains water and sewerage services are supplied by Thames Water plc, a private sector water supply company. Water abstraction and disposal is regulated by the Environment Agency. Reading’s water supply is largely derived from underground aquifers, and as a consequence the water is hard.[37][38][39]


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As with the rest of the Britain, the choice of commercial energy supplier for electricity and gas is at the consumer’s choice. Southern Electric runs the local electricity distribution network, while Scotia Gas Networks runs the gas distribution network. One notable part of the local energy infrastructure is the presence of a 2 megawatt (peak) Enercon wind turbine at GreenPark, which is wired to the local sub-grid. It was constructed in November 2005 just outside the borders of the borough in the civil parish of Shinfield and is owned by Ecotricity. This turbine can be seen from a large part of Reading, as well as from near junction 11 of the M4. The turbine has the potential to produce 3.5 million units of electricity a year, enough to power over a thousand local homes.[40] BT provides fixed-line telephone coverage throughout the town, and ADSL broadband internet connection to most areas. Parts of Reading are cabled by Virgin Media, supplying cable television, telephone and broadband internet connections. The dialling code for fixed-line telephones is 0118. Mobile phone service is available throughout the town, from all the UK licensed network operators and using the GSM and UMTS standards.

Reading, Berkshire
these rivers remain navigable, and the locks of Caversham Lock, Blake’s Lock, County Lock, Fobney Lock and Southcote Lock are all within the borough. Today navigation is exclusively leisure oriented, with private and hire boats dominating traffic. Several scheduled boat services operate on the Thames, operating from wharves on the Reading side of the river near Caversham Bridge. Salters Steamers operate a summer daily service from just downstream of the bridge to Henley-on-Thames, taking somewhat over two hours in each direction and calling at the riverside villages of Sonning and Shiplake. Thames River Cruises operate several different trips from just upstream of the bridge, including a service on summer weekends and bank holidays to Mapledurham, taking 45 minutes in each direction and allowing two hours ashore for visits to Mapledurham Watermill and Mapledurham House.[41][42]

Road transport

Reading’s location in the Thames Valley to the west of London means that it has always had a significant position in the nation’s transport system.

River transport
Reading Bridge on the River Thames. Reading was a major staging point on the old Bath Road (A4) from London to Bath and Bristol. This road still carries local traffic, but has now been replaced for long distance traffic by the M4 motorway, which closely skirts the borough and serves it with three junctions (J10–J12). Within Reading there is the Inner Distribution road (IDR), a ring road for local traffic movements. The council has put forward a plan to make the IDR one-way. This has proved highly controversial and the plan is now (July 2008) waiting to be formally abandoned.[43] The A329(M), A33 and A4 national routes link the town with junctions 10, 11 and 12 of

High Bridge on the River Kennet. The town grew up as a river port at the confluence of the Thames and Kennet. Both of


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the M4 motorway respectively. The IDR is linked with the M4 by the recently constructed A33 relief road, which runs past the Madejski Stadium and Green Park Business complex. National Express Coaches run out of Calcot, just off the M4 at junction 12. The Thames is crossed by both Reading and Caversham road bridges, while several road bridges cross the Kennet. There has long been a desire to construct a third bridge across the Thames, to the east of the existing bridges. Some people believe that this will remove one of the town’s bottlenecks and ease traffic congestion. Others believe that it will induce more traffic, move bottle necks and open up swathes of South Oxfordshire to unwanted development. However, the proximity of the county border means that any such route will have to pass through South Oxfordshire, and this development has so far been blocked by its residents and politicians.[44]

Reading, Berkshire
South Wales, Exeter, Plymouth and South West England, Birmingham and the North of England, and Southampton and Bournemouth. Local services link Reading to Oxford, Newbury, Basingstoke, Guildford and Gatwick Airport. Other stations in the Reading area are Reading West, Tilehurst and Earley, but all serve local trains only. A new Reading GreenPark railway station is planned.

Air transport

Rail transport

RailAir coaches in Reading awaiting their departure to Heathrow Airport Historically, there have been two airfields in Reading, one at Coley Park and one at Woodley, but these have both long since closed. Today Reading is within reach of several international airports. The nearest airport is London Heathrow, which is 30 miles (48 km) away by road. An express bus service named RailAir links Reading with Heathrow, or the airport can be accessed by changing at Hayes and Harlington railway station from the local rail service to Paddington to the Heathrow Connect rail service. London Gatwick is 60 miles (97 km) away by road and is served by direct trains from Reading. London Luton is also 60 miles (97 km) away by road, whilst London Stansted is 90 miles (140 km) away; both can be reached by rail by changing stations in central London. The airport at London City can also be reached by a combination of rail services. Away from London, Southampton Airport and Birmingham Airport are both served by direct trains from Reading and can faster to

Reading station buildings. The original GWR building is now a pub (The Three Guineas): the main facilities are in the newer building to the right. Reading is a major junction point on the national rail system, and as a consequence Reading station is a major transfer point as well as serving heavy originating and terminating traffic. Plans have been agreed to rebuild Reading station, with grade separation of some conflicting traffic flows and extra platforms, to relieve severe congestion at this station[45]. Railway lines link Reading to both Paddington and Waterloo stations in London. The route to Paddington offers both non-stop (taking around 30 minutes) and stopping services, whilst that to Waterloo offers only a stopping service. Long distance services also link Reading to Swindon, Bristol, Cardiff and


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reach than the more distant London airports. Southampton is 45 miles (72 km) away by road, whilst Birmingham is 92 miles (148 km) distant.

Reading, Berkshire

Local public transport

The Town Hall, Reading

A bus running on Reading Buses route number 17. Local public transport is largely road-based, and can be affected by the significant peak hour congestion in the borough. A comprehensive and frequent local bus network within the borough, and a less frequent network in the surrounding area, are provided by Reading Buses. Other bus operators include: • First: Reading - Winnersh - Wokingham Bracknell services • Thames Travel: Reading - Arborfield Wokingham; Reading - Wallingford Oxford services • Arriva: Reading - High Wycombe services • Newbury Buses: Reading - Newbury services • Fleet Buzz: Reading - Fleet - Aldershot service[46] • Motts Travel: Reading - Nettlebed Watlington - Stokenchurch service[47]

The NME/Radio 1 tent at the 2005 Reading Festival after Glastonbury. While WOMAD found a home in the town in 1990,[48] it has been announced that after 17 years WOMAD Reading is to find a new location, having outgrown the Rivermead site.[49] Internationally, it is perhaps for these two events that the town is best known. The town has had mixed fortunes in creating home-grown artists over the years. Perhaps most notable is Mike Oldfield of Tubular Bells fame. More recently, Slowdive, The Cooper Temple Clause, Stuart Price, Morning Runner, My Luminaries, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, OK Tokyo, Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip, Pete & The Pirates, SixNationState, Pure Reason Revolution, Exit Ten, Bennet and Mr Fogg have had some degree of success. David Byron, first and most famous singer of hard rock band Uriah Heep lived his last years in Reading before he died in 1985. Reading plays host to semi-professional and amateur choirs and choral societies. Reading Festival Chorus has just celebrated

Reading has a number of arts centres, including concert halls, fine art galleries and general use spaces, with a vibrant arts scene.

Every year Reading hosts the Reading Festival, which has been running since 1971. It is considered as the largest UK music festival


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its 60th anniversary. RFC sings a diverse music programme, with works like Mozart’s Requiem, Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man in 2005 to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and a summer programme of English and American Folk songs by Tippett and Aaron Copland. Reading also has orchestras including the long-established Reading Symphony Orchestra (RSO) Reading Symphony Orchestra is Reading’s premier amateur orchestra in Berkshire, led by a professional conductor and leader. They present four main concerts a year, and are often engaged to work in collaboration with other musical organisations and for private functions. Reading Youth Orchestra (RYO). and the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra (APO), named after Richard Aldworth, the founder of Reading Blue Coat School (where it rehearses and plays most of its concerts), was formed relatively recently, in 2002. APO’s remit is to be as innovative as possible, giving more local people the chance to play by rehearsing exclusively at weekends, attracting a wider audience to classical music (especially younger people) through its ’Concert Virgin Scheme’ & education projects, and championing the music of talented young composers.

Reading, Berkshire

Reading has two local newspapers. • The Reading Evening Post is an evening newspaper published on Mondays to Fridays. • The Reading Chronicle is published weekly, on Thursdays. "Blah Blah" magazine provides free monthly Arts and Entertainment listings. Three local radio stations broadcast from Reading: BBC Radio Berkshire, Reading 107 FM and Heart Berkshire. Other local radio stations, such as London’s 95.8 Capital FM, Basingstoke’s 107.6 Kestrel FM and Slough’s Star 106.6 can also be received. Local television news programmes are the BBC’s South Today and ITV’s Meridian Tonight.


Reading has several theatre venues, including The Hexagon and 21 South Street, which are professional venues supported by Reading Borough Council. The Hexagon is a multipurpose venue in the heart of Reading that provides a programme of events including rock, pop, comedy, classical music and dance as well as theatre. Recent performances have included Reel Big Fish and their mix of skapunk as well as comedy from Russell Howard. [50] South Street also presents a diverse range of performing arts from both the professional and community sectors, including fringe theatre, comedy, music, dance and live literature.[51] Amateur theatre venues in Reading include Progress Theatre,[52] a self-governing, self-funding theatre group and registered charity founded in 1947 that operates and maintains its own 97-seat theatre.[53] Progress Theatre produces a yearly open air Shakespeare production in the Reading Abbey Ruins that has come to represent a highlight of Reading’s cultural calendar.[54]

The Madejski Stadium, during a game against Swansea in 2008

The Reading Half Marathon climbing Russell Street in West Reading in 2004 Reading is the home of Reading Football Club, an association football club nicknamed The Royals, who were formed in 1871.


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Formerly based at Elm Park, the club plays at the 24,500 capacity Madejski Stadium in the south of the town near the M4 motorway. The stadium is named after chairman John Madejski, who has owned the club since 1991. Reading FC won promotion to the top flight for the first time in 2006 as Football League Championship champions with a national record of 106 points. They finished eighth in their first season as a top division club (just missing out on a UEFA Cup place) but were relegated the following season. The club’s current manager in Steve Coppell. Reading is a centre for rugby union football in the area, with the Guinness Premiership team London Irish as tenants at the Madejski Stadium. Reading is also home to another three senior semi-professional rugby clubs; Reading Abbey R.F.C., Redingensians R.F.C. and Reading R.F.C.. The town plays host to a number of other football variants, such as Gaelic football’s St. Anthony’s GAA, Australian rules football team Reading Kangaroos, and American football team Berkshire Renegades. The sport of field hockey is represented by Reading Hockey Club. The Reading Half Marathon is held on the streets of Reading in March of each year, with as many as 13,000 competitors from elite to fun runners. The Reading Rockets, are a basketball club that play in the English Basketball League. The Rockets were formed in 1997 by the owner Gary Johnson. Now firmly established within the EBL Division 1. In the 2008/ 09 season the Rockets won all four of the competitions, the EBL National Cup, the EBL National Trophy the EBL Division 1 League title (their first ever league championship) and ended the season unbeaten for 36 games by winning the EBL Division 1 Play-offs. The first team ever to win all four of the EBL trophys. Like many Thames-side towns, Reading has several rowing clubs, representing both town and university. The local Redgrave-Pinsent Rowing Lake provides training facilities, although much rowing is also conducted on the river itself. Dorney Lake, some 27 km (17 miles) to the east of Reading, provides a full international competition venue and will host the rowing events of the 2012 Summer Olympics. There are also several sailing lakes to the south and southwest of the town, the largest being Theale Lake close to junction

Reading, Berkshire
12 of the M4. These lakes are also popular with water-skiing and jet-skiing enthusiasts. From 1984 to 1994, The Hexagon theatre was home to snooker’s Grand Prix tournament, one of the sport’s ’big four’ Grand Slam events. Britain’s first-ever triathlon was held just outside Reading at Kirtons’s Farm in Pingewood in June 1983. The Reading International Triathlon was revived by Banana Leisure in 1994 and 1995. Thames Valley Triathletes, based in the town, is Britain’s oldest triathlon club, with origins in the 1984 event at nearby Heckfield. The British Triathlon Association was also formed at the town’s former "Mall" health club in 1982. Reading’s Palmer Park was also the host of the UK’s first-ever outdoor Aerobics display; pre-dating the more famous Hyde Park (London) event by a year. Reading is also in the history books of motorsport. Reading-born Richard Burns became the first Englishman to win the World Rally Championship, in 2001. The town is also home to Reading Greyhound Racing and there is a velodrome at Palmer Park where many of Britain’s junior champions train and race. The town is home to the Reading Racers Speedway team. The sport came to Reading in 1968 at Tilehurst Stadium but this closed and the site was redeveloped. The team took a year off whilst the current venue was built. This venue is also due to close at the end of 2008 and another year off is anticipated as another new venue is built. The history of Reading Racer has recently (2008) been set out in a book by Arnie Gibbons.


Reading Gaol, one time home to Oscar Wilde


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See also: List of residents of Reading, Berkshire Oscar Wilde was imprisoned in Reading Gaol from 1895 to 1897. While he was there he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905. After his release he lived in exile in Paris and wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, published in 1908. Jane Austen attended Reading Ladies Boarding School, based in the Abbey Gateway, in 1784-86. Thomas Hardy painted a rather disparaging picture of the town, lightly disguised as Aldbrickham, in his 1895 novel Jude the Obscure. T. E. Lawrence lost the first draft of his Seven Pillars of Wisdom at Reading railway station. Thomas Noon Talfourd, the judge and dramatist was born in Reading and later became MP for the town. Mary Russell Mitford lived in Reading for a number of years and then spent the rest of her life just outside the town at Three Mile Cross and Swallowfield. Charles Dickens was asked to stand as MP for Reading, but declined. He became president of the Reading Athenaeum. In his novel Bleak House, Esther Summerson goes to school in Reading. His great-granddaughter Monica Dickens died in Reading in 1992. Jerome K. Jerome did not warm to the town on his famous journey up the Thames in Three Men in a Boat (1888): "The river is dirty and dismal here. One does not linger in the neighbourhood of Reading". He does, however, recognise the historical significance of Reading in local history. Jasper Fforde set his series of Jack Spratt novels in this town. The comic novel A Melon for Ecstasy by John Fortune and John Wells is set in and around Reading. The 1992 radio serialisation of Mark Wallington’s Boogie Up The River by the BBC (a modern-day Three Men in a Boat) includes a spoof lament entitled O Caversham Man.

Reading, Berkshire
instead granted Brighton & Hove city status in 2000. The interview show As It Happens, which airs on CBC Radio One in Canada, is notable for its mention of Reading. Frequently, after concluding an interview with someone in the UK, the host will describe the individual in relation to how far they live from Reading. For example, one might hear "That was professional bagpiper William J. Tweed from Biggleswade, which is about 81 miles north of Reading." In 1974, the BBC filmed The Family in Reading. The show, considered to one of the first reality television shows, followed the lives of the Wilkins family.[55] The roadside chain of restaurants Little Chef began in the town back in 1958. Its first branch was a small eleven-seater venue.[56] When Ricky Gervais (who comes from Reading) used to perform a stand-up comedy segment on the British TV show The 11 O’Clock Show, he would often (comically) describe the residents of the Reading suburb Whitley as the lowest members of society. This turned Whitley into a household name for the duration of the series. His upcoming film Cemetery Junction will be based in 1970s Reading and is named after a busy junction in East Reading. Charlie Brooker was also born, though not raised in Reading. Reading in Pennsylvania and Reading in Massachusetts are both named after Reading. Actress; Golden Globe and Oscar Awards winner Kate Winslet is born and raised in Reading. Her husband, award winning director Sam Mendes was also born, though not raised in Reading. Soul singer Glen Goldsmith was born in Reading in 1965 and helped pen the massive 1996 record hit called "Mysterious Girl" by Peter Andre. In a 2007 poll by Readers Digest, Reading was named the worst place to live for families[57]

A Reading edition of Monopoly is available (see Localized versions of the Monopoly game). Perhaps surprisingly, given its size and status in the South East, Reading is not yet officially a city, having missed out during the millennium celebrations when the Queen

See also
• List of people from Reading, Berkshire

[1] Cameron,K., (1961) English Place-names, Batsford, p. 64.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reading, Berkshire

[2] Transactions of the Historical Society of thames-bridge.en;jsessionid=acqbaXTYTBerks. County, By Historical Society of gh. Retrieved on 3 August 2006. Berks. County, Published by The Society, [14] "Transport (Greater Reading), 11 1910: v.2 (1905-10) p. 164 January 2006". Hansard. [3] Ford, David Nash. "The Siege of Reading". Royal Berkshire History. Nash pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060111/ Ford Publishing. halltext/60111h04.htm. Retrieved on 3 August 2006. articles/reading_siege.html. Retrieved on [15] "Town twinning". Reading Borough 2009-04-27. Council (2000-2006). [4] Ford, David Nash. "The Battle of Broad Street". Royal Berkshire History. Nash communityandliving/towntwinning/. Ford Publishing. Retrieved on February 6 2006. [16] "Table KS01 Usual resident population". articles/reading_broadst.html. Retrieved Office for National Statistics. on 2009-04-27. [5] Ford, David Nash. "Henry Addington, Expodata/Spreadsheets/D8271.csv. Viscount Sidmouth (1757-1844)". Royal Retrieved on 2006-07-06. Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. [17] "Population overview". haddington.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-04. Populations/index.htm. Retrieved on [6] "Royal Berkshire Hospital". Royal 2006-07-06. Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. [18] "Largest Towns without City Status". about_us/our_locations/ royal_berkshire_hospital.aspx. Retrieved CityStatusTable2.asp. Retrieved on on 2009-05-04. 2009-04-27. [7] "Fox-Talbot, William Henry (1800–77), [19] "List of schools". Reading Borough pioneering photographer". Reading Council (2000-2006). Borough Libraries. educationandlearning/ services/local/foxtalbot.htm. Retrieved schoolsinformation/listofschools. on 2007-05-21. Retrieved on February 23 2006. [8] Ford, David Nash. "Abingdon". Royal [20] "Doors set to open on rural museum". Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. BBC. 2005-06-30. 1/hi/england/berkshire/4638321.stm. villages/abingdon.html. Retrieved on July Retrieved on 2009-04-25. 6 2006. [21] "About the Museum of English Rural [9] Berkshire (Structural Change) Order Life". University of Reading. 1996. [10] "Mayor head-to-head over city status merl-about.asp. Retrieved on plans". Reading Evening Post. 2009-04-24. 2001-09-25. [22] "Book Launch: Battle Hospital History". Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. 1585_mayor_headtohead_over_city_status_plans. Retrieved on 2009-04-27. book-launch-battle-hospital-history.php. [11] Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Retrieved on April 25 2007. Reading. Newbury: Countryside Books. [23] "Welcome to Berkshire Healthcare NHS [12] ^ Dils, Joan (ed.) (1998). An Historical Trust". Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust. Atlas of Berkshire. Reading: Berkshire Record Society. index.asp. Retrieved on April 25 2007. [13] "Third Thames bridge". South [24] "Capio Reading Private Hospital". Capio Oxfordshire District Council. Healthcare UK. Find+a+hospital/chooseyourhospital/ content/cmt/press-releases/june/thirdCapioHospitals/


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Capio+Reading+Hospital.htm. Retrieved on April 25 2007. [25] "Dunedin Hospital". Classic Hospitals. hospitaldetails.asp?article=90. Retrieved on April 25 2007. [26] "Vision for Reading Chamber of Commerce". Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce. memberservices/readingvision.asp. Retrieved on 2008-06-11. [27] "Retail & Leisure Study of Reading Volume 1 – Chapters 1 to 3" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. 2005. servingyou/planning/ Vol1_Chapters1-3.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-06-13. [28] "Battle to stay top of shops". Reading Evening Post. 2007-09-28. 2015699/battle_to_stay_top_of_shops. Retrieved on 2008-02-03. [29] "Regional Focus on Reading". Career Planner. BCL Legal. Retrieved on 2009-03-31. [30] "The history of John Lewis Reading". DSTemplate.aspx?Id=36. Retrieved on 2009-04-28. [31] "Images of England - Congretional Church, Broad Street, Reading". English Heritage. Details/ Default.aspx?id=38777&mode=quick. Retrieved on 2007-12-24. [32] Sowan, Adam. "Abbatoirs Road to Zinzan Street". Two Rivers Press. abattoirs2/SmellyAlley.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-01. [33] "Holland & Barrett Smelly Alley Reading". Thames Valley Vegans And Vegetarians. 61.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-01. [34] "Reading Planning Document". Reading Borough Council. 13. servingyou/planning/ futuredevelopments/

Reading, Berkshire
SHSPUDB_07_Appendices_pp1-15.pdf. Retrieved on 2009-04-19. [35] "Reading Market". Town & Country Markets. shoppers/all-markets/reading/. Retrieved on 2009-04-29. [36] "Farmers’ Market". Reading Borough Council. communityandliving/ General.asp?id=SX9452-A77FB5A9. Retrieved on 2009-04-29. [37] "Water and sewerage operators". Water UK. resources-and-links/links/wateroperators/sewerage-operators. Retrieved on 2008-06-11. [38] "Water Resources". Environment Agency. subjects/waterres/?lang=_e. Retrieved on 2008-06-11. [39] "Water Quality". Environment Agency. subjects/waterquality/?lang=_e. Retrieved on 2008-06-11. [40] "Green Park, Reading". Ecotricity. plan_greenpark.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-11. [41] "Reading to Henley Service". Salters Steamers. readhen.htm. Retrieved on April 30 2007. [42] "Boat service from Reading to Mapledurham". Thames River Cruises. scheduled_trip2.asp. Retrieved on April 29 2007. [43] "Transport Commission Report 1st July 2008". Reading Borough Council. pressreleases/ PressArticle.asp?id=SX9452-A78353D9. Retrieved on 2008-07-01. [44] "Local Transport Plan 2006-2011, chapter 6, figure 6.7". Reading Borough Council. transportandstreets/transportstrategy/ GeneralM.asp?id=SX9452-A7817040. Retrieved on 9 August 2006. [45] 4664.aspx [46] service72.html


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Reading, Berkshire

[47] [55] "When reality TV was in the real world". DesktopDefault.aspx?ptabindex=6&ptabid=185 Telegraph, UK. [48] "WOMAD in Reading". Guardian Unlimited - Arts. main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2006/07/12/ bvsarah12.xml. Retrieved on July 12 0,,765215,00.html. Retrieved on July 6 2006. 2006. [56] "Little Chef, A65 near Clapham, Lancs.". [49] "Womad venue change after 17 years". Guardian Unlimited, UK. BBC News. england/berkshire/5403836.stm. story/0,,1449073,00.html. Retrieved on Retrieved on October 3 2006. August 9 2006. [50] "The Hexagon, Reading Arts". [57] "Reading named worst for families". BBC News. thehexagon. england/berkshire/6564923.stm. [51] "21 South Street, Reading Arts". Retrieved on April 18 2007. Retrieved on 14 March 2007. [52] "Progress Theatre homepage". • Reading (Berkshire) travel guide from Wikitravel Retrieved on 15 March 2007. • Reading Borough Council [53] "Progress Theatre, Reading Arts". • Reading Pride 2006 • Reading Guide othervenues/theprogresstheatre. • Reading information Retrieved on 14 March 2007. • Reading’s GreenPark windfarm [54] "Progress Theatre Open Air • Royal Berkshire History: Reading Shakespeare". • Reading Fringe Festival • Reading GreenPark index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=6&id=30&Itemid=50. • Polish community in Reading Retrieved on 14 March 2007. • Tamil community in Reading

External links

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