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surprising Reading

quicker pivotal Thames historic inspire outside Heathrow

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want ancient




location East





luxury Kennet




parkland nightlife Blake’s



Endlessly postcard find abbey town energetic

started anyone stands Victorian floral





still garden

even countryside stretches heritage Rewarding




ten top ask Star play towns barge gates glorious restaurant inclusive recently enjoys long






setting best rivers friendly


sites great Oscar

open childs hundred Easily riverside

national offers

Michelin minutes moored relax

family picture England’s

positively appealing

theatre acres many formal Famous lived

easy listed acclaimed



reach London monuments lock heart canal tell shopping destinations exploring enjoy strolling airport two goal boutique monument much intrigue beautifully apartments Forbury ruins road ambition Berkshire places one doorstep


5 warmly welcoming

10 positively appealing

20 culturally rewarding

30 easily reaching

38 effortlessly entertaining

48 vibrantly engaging

56 proudly competing

64 carefully nurturing

74 environmentally caring

84 creatively living

92 globally enterprising

105 sustainably developing

warmly welcoming 5

warmly welcoming

wonderfully rewarding There are few places to rival Reading for its energy and ambition. Ask anyone who has visited recently and they will tell you about the shopping, the restaurants and the nightlife. Talk to anyone who has lived here and they will want to tell you about the beautiful stretches of river, the acres of parkland and ancient woodland.

endlessly surprising Reading is surprising in so many ways: Michelin Star restaurants; over eight hundred listed buildings and monuments; boutique hotels; a world-renowned red-brick university; family friendly museums; two National Trails and two great rivers on our doorstep. Famous as one of the UK’s top retail destinations, the heart of Reading offers so much more than superb shopping. Forbury Gardens, a nationally acclaimed Victorian formal garden, is the town’s floral heart, leading you beautifully to the ruins of Reading Abbey, ancient monument and focal point of our Heritage Lottery funded Abbey Quarter project.


Abbey Ruins meet modern skyscrapers u


There is so much to intrigue and inspire. You’ll want to walk along the canal, exploring the sites of Reading’s industrial past. Find yourself at Blake’s Lock and in the shadow of luxury apartments, explore the Riverside Museum and relax on a barge moored outside a restaurant that started life as a Victorian pumping station.

easily exploring Nothing stands still for long in Reading, and that is as it should be in a town that enjoys a pivotal location in the south east. The very best of England’s heritage is within easy reach by road and rail. Explore the glorious countryside of Royal Berkshire with its picture postcard villages, enjoy the historic towns of Windsor and Henley, the tranquil River Thames and the vibrant Kennet and Avon Canal.

Travel is child’s play – with Heathrow airport just thirty minutes away and London Paddington even quicker to reach by train. Live in Reading and you can enjoy the best of the Thames Valley life without the stress and congestion of London. You can download a pocket map of Reading town centre from

t Rowing and canoeing at Caversham Bridge


positively appealing 11

Remarkable landscapes abound in Berkshire – from pretty Thameside villages to the inspiring beauty of the Chilterns, the scenery around Reading is some of the best you will find anywhere in the south. Reading grew between two great rivers. The majestic Thames comes through the town just north of the town centre, on its way from Henley to Oxford. Our second river, the Kennet, flows through the heart of The Oracle shopping and leisure complex and meanders past some of the most historic parts of the town centre. The Kennet also provides the source for the famous Kennet and Avon Canal – linking Reading with the sea at Bristol. Reading’s connection with the Crown was partly thanks to its location on the Thames. It was easily accessible from London, Richmond and Windsor via the great river and so became a natural stopping off point and an important strategic base. Nowadays the river has little value for communication, so has regained much of its natural beauty, with wildlife returning in significant numbers to its clean water. And the river is, of course, a magnet for leisure activity of all kinds – boating, cruising, sports and events.


The Kennet flows through the heart of the town u

local attractions

houses and gardens Royal Berkshire is, as you would expect, one of the most remarkable counties in England when it comes to glorious stately houses and picturesque gardens. Those close to Reading include Stratfield Saye, Highclere Castle, Cliveden and ­­­­­­Stonor Park. Other outstanding properties include Basildon Park (National Trust) and Mapledurham House and Gardens (with a working water mill). Reading itself offers over 400 acres of parkland, riverside meadows and play areas. These include Forbury Gardens, a delightful early example of a Victorian formal garden that can be found in Reading’s most important heritage quarter in the centre of the town. Another park well worth discovering is Prospect, where you can enjoy excellent walking, explore the wildlife areas – and even model steam trains on a ‘steaming’ Sunday.

t Forbury Gardens


rivers and trails Our Thames Parks, which include vast waterside meadows, allotments, woodland, wildlife reserves and historic Caversham Court, provide some of the most diverse and accessible stretches of the Thames in the country. The whole family will enjoy exploring View Island, reached from Kings Meadow on the north bank of the Thames, while Caversham Court is perfect for tranquil afternoons watching the world go by, or enjoying the bustling activity of Thames Prom on the opposite bank.

national trails For those who love walking Reading is a natural starting point for both the Thames Path and Ridgeway National Trails. The Thames Path is some 184 miles stretching from the Cotswolds to Greenwich, and offers plenty of options for short, picturesque walks around Reading. The Ridgeway is an ancient bridleway – easily reached from Reading, offering challenging walks from Streatley.


The Thames – accessible enjoyment for all u

for all the family Where do you start? One of the country’s top children’s attractions – Legoland – is within easy reach. Closer to Reading, Beale Park is a conservation trust working with rare birds. Set in acres of glorious land on the Thames, the park also offers play areas, pools, a pets corner and model ships exhibition. Odds Farm Park and Bucklebury Farm Park offer the chance to meet a host of unusual breeds. Meanwhile at The Living Rainforest you can enjoy a real rainforest environment and discover some of the rarest plant species in the UK – whatever the time of year. Family friendly museums are an all year round, all-weather favourite. The Museum of Reading has gallery after gallery of hands-on fun, whether your children want to dress in a Roman toga or colour in a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry. Just outside the town centre explore the Museum of English Rural Life, with all sorts of farm equipment, from medieval scythes to hay carts to tractors. Both Museums offer full programmes of special events and activities for families. And if your children (including the big kids) love all things mechanical and military visit the Museum of Berkshire Aviation at Woodley, or the REME Museum at nearby Arborfield.

t Lessons in history at the Museum of Reading


culturally rewarding 21

history and heritage Perhaps because it has such excellent transport links, people tend to think of Reading as a modern, high-tech kind of place. Whilst it’s true we have our share of striking modern architecture, we have managed to retain the feel of a town that has a colourful and important history and a world famous cultural identity. The historic heart of Reading is now subject to an ambitious Heritage Lottery Bid to create the Abbey Quarter. This will allow important restoration work to some of our most precious landmarks, as well as creating a vibrant, well interpreted destination area – telling the story of Reading from medieval to Victorian times. The Abbey Quarter is bordered by four historic buildings: The first landmark is the Museum of Reading and Town Hall complex (opened 1872– 75). Victorian gothic architecture at its finest, the buildings include a family-friendly museum, the Madejski Art Gallery, a conference centre and the magnificent concert hall, complete with its fine Father Willis organ. The central Town Hall building was designed by eminent Victorian architect (and local boy) Alfred Waterhouse.


t Sunseekers relax in Forbury Gardens – the view from One Reading Central


The next notable building is St Laurence’s Church, a surviving reminder of the magnificent Abbey that once covered the whole of this area. The church also survived a direct bombing during World War II. Just a few minutes walk through the peaceful churchyard you’ll find yourself in Forbury Gardens – once the forecourt of the Abbey. Wander through the Gardens, past the Maiwand Lion and the Victorian bandstand to find the town’s most important historical feature – the Abbey Ruins. Henry I, the Abbey’s founder, was buried in front of the high altar on this site in 1136. Dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 (when the last Abbot was executed on what is now Town Hall Square) the Ruins give some idea of the size of this great structure. ‘I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky’

Finally, right next to the Ruins is probably the best-known prison in literature: Reading Gaol. The Ballad of Reading Gaol was written by its most famous inmate, Oscar Wilde, upon his release from the prison in 1890. Reading has 13 specific conservation areas – look out for their special green street signs – varying in character from Victorian suburbs at The Mount, to village centres at Horncastle and St Peter’s and formal Georgian/Regency townscapes at Eldon Square.


The Oscar Wilde Gate frames Prudential’s offices – the former site of Huntley & Palmer’s biscuit factory u

it’s about the Bs Reading’s great economic growth in the Victorian era was due to its ‘Three Bs’. Generally held to be beer, biscuits and bulbs, it is advisable not to argue this point with local people – many believe bricks should be in there and more than a few think bacon played a role too! While Reading was famous for its bricks (and has some of the finest examples of traditional grey and red brick work in the south) it was the great Victorian industries that really put Reading on the map and brought thousands more working people to the area. The greatest of these, Huntley and Palmers, is celebrated in the Museum of Reading’s unique Biscuit Gallery. Suttons Seeds (bulbs) relocated some time ago and the town has just seen the closure of the brewery that provided the last link with its original Simond’s Brewery. The ever-changing face of Reading, from early Saxon settlement to high-tech capital, is brought to life vividly at The Museum of Reading. Displays cover everything from Viking invasions to the Reading Festival. One of its most important galleries, however, is the Silchester – containing collections from the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, to the south of Reading.

t Echoes of London’s Natural History Museum … Waterhouse’s town hall building


famous people Actors and writers, knights and kings, musicians and film-makers. Just a few of the faces of Reading.

1 Oscar Wilde 2 Rudolph Walker OBE 3


Henry I

4 Martin Hope Sutton 5

Henry Hopkins


Sam Mendes


Kate Winslet


Kenneth Branagh


John Kendrick





14 21




11 David Lean

9 13





7 12

10 Yasmina Siadatan 12 Ricky Gervais





19 24

13 Alfred Waterhouse




14 Jaqueline Bissett

18 Henry Addington

24 Thomas Noon Talfourd

15 Chris Tarrant

19 William Marshall

25 Archbishop William Laud

16 Mary Russel Mitford

20 Marianne Faithfull

26 George Palmer

17 Levi Stanley – King of Gypsies

21 Kevin Warwick

27 Sir John Madejski

22 Mike Oldfield 23 Ernest Hives


diversely twinning For over fifty years Reading has worked to strengthen international links through town twinning. Our twin cities and towns reflect the diverse and multi-cultural community of Reading. Reading’s sister city is Reading in Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA. Our twin city is Düsseldorf, the capital of the north Rhine-Westphalia and at the heart of Europe. The city covers 84 square miles and has about 570,000 residents. Our links stretch back to 1947, and the official twinning in 1975 was one of the earliest. Twin town Clonmel is the capital of Ireland’s County Tipperary, and has been dubbed the most beautiful inland town in the country. Clonmel is situated on the River Suir with the famous Comeragh mountains nearby. The population of Clonmel is 15,800 and the main employment is medical and care products, minerals and drinks manufacture. San Francisco Libre in Nicaragua is a small rural town, with a population of about 10,500 people. It lies next to Lake Managua, close to the magnificent Momotombo Volcano. Life in the town is fairly simple and the houses have few comforts. Although the town is only 50 miles from the capital of Nicaragua, communications are poor and the road is often impassable in the rainy season. Reading’s most recent twin, Speightstown in Barbados, represents formally the long-standing links between Reading’s large Bajan community and the beautiful Caribbean island, world famous for tourism as well as its agriculture.


t MC Naptalie reads his poem Reading Then To Be in the Concert Hall


easily reaching


from within the UK


by train Reading is one of the busiest national rail interchanges in Britain and has direct routes to almost every part of the UK. It is currently undergoing a massive ÂŁ850 million expansion programme, to improve capacity.





PADDINGTON (average journey time 25 mins)








The M4 has three junctions at Reading and links us directly with the M25, M3 and M40. Parking in Reading is relatively easy as the town has plenty of good quality multi-storey car parks. Car parks are clearly marked and real time information signs on main routes will advise you if car parks are full.







J10 J12




A M25







National Express coaches serve Calcot (about 6 miles west of Reading centre, just off M4 Junction 12).

by car

(every 15 mins from Paddington)


by coach

There are excellent Park and Ride Services at Madejski Stadium, just off junction 11 of the M4 and Loddon Bridge, off the A329M, at Showcase Cinema.




t Great connections by road, rail,air and water


from around the world by plane Our local airport is Heathrow – just 30 minutes drive time straight along the M4. A regular direct coach service runs between Heathrow and Reading Station. Gatwick Airport is about 11/2 hours by road, or use the regular train service.

by ferry Routes from Portsmouth and Southampton are easy, about 11/2 hours drive, or regular direct train.

when you are here by bus Reading Buses offers a great service around the urban area and local villages. Newbury Buses has routes between Reading and West Berkshire. Arriva, First and Thames Travel serve other rural areas.

by bike Reading is on several of the UK’s Sustrans Routes (routes 4, 5 and 23) linking the town with Oxford, Newbury and Basingstoke. There is good (but very well used) cycle parking in the town centre.


A national cycle network route marker in Thames Valley Park u

effortlessly entertaining

going out

professionally catering From Michelin starred restaurants to celebrity chefs’ pubs, Reading has fast become an iconic foodie location. The town has an abundance of top-notch local producers as well as a growing choice of fabulous restaurants. Michelin-starred l’Ortolan, is based in a former village vicarage, at Shinfield, just south of Reading. Forbury Square, in the town centre, is the base for Forbury’s Restaurant, which specialises in French food and great wines. Just across the square you can find Cerise – the chic brasserie in The Forbury Hotel. And a short stroll will find you in yet another classy eaterie – the London Street Brasserie on Oracle Riverside. For informal food in a relaxed atmosphere seek out Carluccio’s or Bel and the Dragon (surely the most memorable of all settings: a Victorian pumping station), or perhaps Loch Fyne (in another historic building). For more exotic cuisine the quartet of excellent restaurants in King’s Walk (Italian,Tibetan,Thai and Indian) are all outstanding in their field. If the emphasis is on family fun the best place to find yourself is The Oracle Riverside – a real melting pot of culinary choices from Brown’s to Wagamama via Cote and Jamie’s Italian.


Creating fabulous food at London St Brasserie u


culinary exploring The villages around Reading, whether in Berkshire or South Oxfordshire, have a wealth of traditional pubs and great gastropubs, including The Pot Kiln at Yattendon, The Crooked Billet at Stoke Row, The New Inn at Kidmore End, The Crown at Playhatch and The Bull at Sonning… the list goes on and on. Whilst it’s true many of our traditional pubs are in danger of closing, the ones that have evolved into ‘must visit’ eateries seem assured of a future, with the very best enjoying national reputations (and we would list The Beetle and Wedge, The Crooked Billet and The Leatherne Bottle amongst these). One of the real joys of living in Reading is its proximity to some of the prettiest scenery in the south – 15 minutes by car heading north (slightly longer if you decide to cycle) and you are in the Chilterns Area of Natural Beauty. 10 or 15 minutes drive heading west and you are in the heart of rural Berkshire, where you can explore Kennet and Avon country (there is a visitor centre at Padworth) and heading south you are almost immediately in north Hampshire, where farming and village life are still the natural order of things. For more details on dining out, or exploring the countryside around Reading see:


t Self-sufficiency at The Crooked Billet


sensibly shopping Reading is one of the UK’s top retail destinations and really is a shoppers’ paradise. With the choice of stores having grown dramatically over the past few years it’s the perfect destination for finding a new outfit, the ideal gift or a whole new look for your home. The town boasts two impressive shopping centres, The Oracle and Broad Street Mall, and is also one of the few places where you can find the UK’s top four retailers in one place. Debenhams, House of Fraser, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are all situated within easy walking distance of each other. Harris Arcade, King’s Walk, St Mary’s Butts and Queen Victoria Street offer a mix of small specialist and boutique shops.If it’s famous brands you are after Reading delivers, with names like Hollister, Apple, Cath Kidston, Hotel Chocolat and Lakeland. For more information see:


Intriguing shopping in the Harris Arcade u

naturally tempting You will find that fine food is a feature of shopping throughout Reading. High quality independent traders are still flourishing. Long established family businesses like The Smelly Alley Fish Company (Frosts), Dudmans Greengrocers, Vicars Butchers and Sweeney and Todd (fine pies!) are a well-loved asset of the town centre. New independents businesses like Picnic and Bill’s Café and Produce Store are flourishing. We even have Strange Sweets, selling old-fashioned or hard-to-find confectionery – and a couple of Oriental supermarkets. Market Place and The Oracle Riverside are home to occasional speciality food events – from fresh farm produce, to world foods, to hearty Christmas fayre – and Reading was one of the first towns to promote a regular farmers’ market. Offering a mix of fresh produce (everything from stuffed olives to dressed geese) the market now runs every other Saturday morning at Reading’s cattle market on Great Knolly’s Street.

until the early 1800s theRE WAS A September Cheese Fair IN THE FORBURY where up to 500 tons of cheese was exhibited

t A huge selection of fresh fish is always available at The Smelly Alley Fish Company! 47

vibrantly engaging

creatively playing Reading has been long established as a cultural centre: it has several theatre venues, including The Hexagon, The Concert Hall and South Street, as well as the Progress Theatre (the innovative repertory theatre where Kenneth Branagh took his first acting steps). The Mill at Sonning is a theatre-restaurant converted from an 18th century watermill. Reading plays host to semi-professional and amateur choirs and choral societies (Sainsbury Singers, Phoenix Choir, Reading Operatic Society, Reading Gay Chorus and many more). It even has resident orchestras, including the long-established Reading Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and the Reading Youth Orchestra.

you want more? We’ve got it. Two casinos, jazz clubs, cinemas and film theatres, open air Shakespeare, Sunday band concerts, local band nights, gigs at Rivermead, and a different festival to celebrate almost every month. For up to date listings see:


Jack Savoretti live at a local cafe u

outstandingly attracting Our diary of events and festivals is outstanding. Biggest and most famous is Reading Festival, running since 1971 and the second largest UK music festival after Glastonbury. It attracts 80,000 fans every year, to watch headline acts from around the world. Other events include the long running Community Carnival in May, the Children’s Festival (four weeks in May to June), the Real Ale and Jazz Festival (July) and WaterFest (June). In fact the events calendar in and around Reading celebrates our cultural diversity, our heritage and our energy; whether it’s the Dhoom Dhamaka festival of Asian art, the Reading Crime Writing Festival or Heritage Open Days. And the regularly scheduled events are there just waiting to be explored. From nail-biting, edge of your seat Championship football to leisurely river cruises along the beautiful Thames, there’s an experience just right for you.

t Canal barges at June’s Water Fest


live after five Reading has a good mix of nightlife, mostly centred around the Friar Street / London Street parts of the town centre. We’ve managed to attract a growing list of quality independent restaurants, family friendly venues and some great nightspots with their own unique appeal – from Zero Degrees with its on-site micro brewery, producing some surprising flavours in beer, to the relaxed and homely charms of Oakford Social Club, to atmospheric venues like Lola Lo’s, Bar Iguana and Sakura. Friar Street is home to Sub 89/Highlight, Rewind, O’Neills, The Walkabout, Bed Bar, Pitcher and Piano, Yates and Q Club. Revolution is nearby on Station Road. Afro Bar/Chan Cham (on Merchants Place, behind Novotel) is a relaxed, friendly kind of bar ideal for chilling. Reading legend the Purple Turtle has been on Gun Street for a couple of decades and is as popular as ever, with students and residents alike. Its newer neighbours, Zero Degrees and Sahara, are also favourites with the after-office crowds. Travelling up to London Street you’ll find another local landmark – the After Dark Club, which runs a variety of themed nights throughout the weekend. In King’s Walk, Mix is an award-winning cocktail bar and entertainment venue.


Mix – an award-winning cocktail bar u

proudly competing 57

successfully playing The sports offer is just as impressive as the nightlife in Reading – the Royals (Reading Football Club) share the magnificent 25,000-seater Madejski Stadium with London Irish RFC. Reading Men’s Hockey Club have been European Champions, as well as forming the core of Olympic sides. Rowing is equally well represented: the University of Reading Rowing Club is an important breeding ground for Olympic hopefuls, and Reading Amateur Regatta is the second biggest in the country (after Henley).

actively participating If you love water based sport you can try your hand at sailing, canoeing, or even jetskiing, waterskiing or windsurfing on one of the large lakes that surround Reading. The Reading Half Marathon is held on a Sunday in March each year. It is open to everyone from fun runners to elite athletes, and was one of the first town races to include wheelchair athletes. Over 16,000 entrants can take part.


Goal celebrations at the Madejski Stadium u

Private facilities As well as our public facilities Reading offers a good choice of private gyms and health clubs, including Nuffield Health, David Lloyd, Fitness First and Reflex. Many of the larger hotels also offer private membership of their gym, pool and spa facilities. Golfers will be delighted to find an excellent range in the Reading area. There are two clubs in the town – Reading and Calcot (plus Castle Royle within easy distance). There is a golf driving range (Leaderboard) at Rivermead just north of the town centre and public golf facilities at Mapledurham, Wokefield Park, Wokingham and Binfield.

Reading sports and leisure Reading Borough Council has seven sport and leisure venues that offer something for everyone who wants to improve their fitness levels and have fun. As well as offering a broad range of specialist and fitness classes there are adult and baby swimming pools, dance studios, a health suite, squash courts, a bowls hall – in fact something for all ages and abilities. Other activities cover many areas such as the Healthy Workplace Challenge, StreetGames, Walk Your Way to Health Scheme, GP Exercise Referral Scheme, Sports Unlimited and much more. Reading residents can enjoy ‘Your Reading Passport’ (or YRP), a discount card that is accepted for reduced charges not just at leisure centres, but for child care, events and entertainment and shops throughout the Borough. You can apply for the card at any Council leisure centre or library. t The starting line at the 2008 Reading Half Marathon wheelchair race


Pathway to Wellbeing Scheme The Pathway to Wellbeing Scheme can help support you to lead a healthier lifestyle and improve your wellbeing through access to a range of programmes and activities. Whether you are looking for ways to increase physical activity levels, eat more healthily or simply need extra support in reaching your goals the wellbeing scheme can work for you! The Scheme will help you get started with activities such as gardening, walking or cycling or get you set up with activities in leisure centres such as a gym programme, fitness classes, swimming or even an adult informal learning course to help you try out something new. Reading Borough Council’s Sport Development team provides the delivery of a number of sport and physical activity initiatives in the local community, across all ages and abilities. One of its key areas of work is in coaching development, and increasing the number of people who can teach and inspire others to become more involved in all kinds of sports or physical activity. The team also support many of the member organisations in the Cultural Partnership – which is now the main delivery body for sport and physical activity participation in the town, as well as arts activity. Together, the member organisations are creating a sporting legacy for Reading, as well as using the power of sport to deliver a number of key priorities around health and well-being for our community. The Partnership helps people fulfil their potential, and can offer local opportunities and grants to help talented athletes of all ages achieve their best.


Evening exercise at Thames Valley Park u


carefully nurturing

pre-school education The Family Information Service (FIS) This free information service is for Reading families with children aged from birth to 19 years old (or 25 years old for people with Special Needs/ Learning Difficulties and Disabilities). The FIS works with parents and carers to support them with information regarding childcare, leisure activities and other needs. They also welcome contact from professionals and businesses who may require additional support in meeting their family focused work-life balance policies and aims. You can contact the FIS with any family matter including: childcare, parent development, special needs, health, financial enquiries, education, leisure activities, holiday activities, pregnancy, family support and much more.

Children’s Centres There are 13 children’s centres across Reading, providing a range of support and services for children aged 0 – 5 years old, and their families. Full details of these can be found on Reading Borough Council’s website.


schools in Reading state schooling For detailed information on catchment areas and admission to primary and secondary education in the Reading area please refer to the website for your relevant local authority (see page 90). Reading has two outstanding grammar schools, Kendrick School and Reading School, accepting admissions from across central Berkshire. For more information on Reading Borough Council schools please refer to children-and-families/EducationandLearning/

private schooling The Reading area is home to some of the best achieving private schools in the country. These include The Abbey, St Joseph’s, Blue Coat and Crosfields. For advice on private education in the area please refer to


a passion for learning University of Reading The University of Reading is ranked as one of the UK’s 10 most research-intensive universities and as one of the top 200 universities in the world. It enjoys a world-class reputation for teaching, research and enterprise. This red-brick university is home to several centres of excellence and conducts worldclass research across a broad range of disciplines. It is consistently one of the most popular higher education choices in the UK. The unusually broad portfolio of full and parttime degree programmes covers the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences.

Reading College This thriving further education college located at the edge of Reading town centre serves over 8,500 local learners. Offering 900 further education courses, the College plays a vital part in meeting the learning and training needs of local people and local businesses. Reading College (formerly part of Thames Valley University) is a new partnership between Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, an Oxfordshire based further education college, and the Learning and Skills Network, a not-for-profit organisation active in improving education and training through support programmes, research, consultancy and training. The College offers a wide choice of full-time, part-time and work-based courses for people in Reading and the surrounding areas, but also welcomes students from all over the world – who come to improve their English or prepare for degree courses. Around 10% of the student population come from overseas. 70

access to health services in Reading registering Registering with a GP is quick and easy. For more information on how to register with a local GP please call 0118 918 3333.

PALS NHS Berkshire West’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) provides free, informal, confidential help and advice for patients, carers and their families. You can call them on 0118 982 2829.

NHS dentistry For the most up-to-date information about dentists accepting NHS patients, please visit

Royal Berkshire Hospital Reading has one of the largest district general hospitals in the country and is rated by the Healthcare Commission as ‘good’ for its quality of services and ‘excellent’ for its use of resources. More information about the Trust is available from the website www. or the main switchboard number is 0118 322 5111.

Private hospitals There will be three private hospitals in Reading by the end of 2012. The Berkshire Independent and Spire Dunedin are well established, while the CircleReading is a new-build facility opening during 2012. Numerous private clinics offer access to both traditional and complementary medical treatment. 73

environmentally caring

Reading is committed to exploring ways of improving the sustainability of our town and providing a safe and healthy environment for the present and the future.

reduce, reuse, recycle reduce: reuse: recycle:

to produce less or make smaller to use something again to collect and treat rubbish and turn it into useful materials which can be used again

The re3 partnership provides recycling facilities for residents living in Bracknell, Reading and Wokingham Boroughs. Reading currently recycles 35% of its household waste (with a target of 40%). All the materials collected from your recycling bins (currently paper, tins/cans, plastic bottles) go into an industrial reclamation process. The materials resulting from these processes are then made into new products. In addition there are over 50 recycling sites in the town where you can take your bottles, shoes, clothes, books, drinks cartons and mixed paper. Larger household items (including electrical goods) and potentially hazardous waste (such as paint or engine oil) can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre at Smallmead. You can find out more here:


Reading in Bloom Reading in Bloom is part of the national ‘Britain in Bloom’ initiative bringing out the best in villages, towns and cities throughout the UK every summer! All types of people get involved – and the whole town benefits from the amazing floral displays that pop up all over the place. In fact with the help of many local people and businesses, and all types of organisations from schools to restaurants, Reading has been the proud winner of the Thames and Chilterns City category for the last few years – achieving a prestigious Gold award in 2011, thanks to the town’s environmental programmes and the amazing contributions of our community groups.

Reading Tree Wardens Scheme Tree Wardens are a national force of local tree champions and a key part of The Tree Council’s community action programme. Trees are a precious part of our natural heritage and we need to take action now if future generations are to enjoy the beauty and variety that they bring to our landscapes. To be most effective, this action should be taken by people on the spot; the people who know their own localities intimately and who have most to gain from the protection and enhancement of their immediate environment. The Reading Tree Warden Scheme provides an effective mechanism for local people to take action to protect and enhance their treescape. 78

The scheme provides: a proven method of working with the community a cost effective way of consulting the community about trees a volunteer force who can become the eyes, ears and hands for trees the ability to empower the community to manage their environment a method of establishing links with parish councils and other groups a network structure that offers regional and national support. Find out more about the local network from the Planning Natural Environment Team on 0800 626 540.


fairly trading Reading has been a fair trade town since February 2004, with community, council and the commercial sector working together to meet the requirements of the Fair Trade Foundation. Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) plays a big role in bringing together Reading’s fair trade commitment and helping to promote and publicise the benefits of fair trade. Fair trade aims to give producers a fair price for their product. This is a steady price agreed in advance by both sides and covers the true production costs and leaves producers with a profit. Fair trade is not just about the price or profit producers make from their crop or goods but it’s about changing the unfair structure of world trade and so building a fairer society. The range of fair trade goods has increased greatly over the last five years. As more shops sell fair trade products, and more cafés serve coffee and tea sourced ethically, the choice for consumers has increased… and they have chosen fair trade!

an urban oasis Above the RISC World Shop lies the RISC roof garden – a forest garden complete with over 120 species of edible and medicinal trees, shrubs, vines and plants from around the globe. Irrigated by stored rainwater gathered from the roof, pumped by energy generated by solar cells and wind collectors on the chimneys, this urban oasis is fed by paper and food waste compost from the RISC offices and is one of the most tranquil and surprising places in Reading town centre. 82

The RISC roof garden u

creatively living

remarkably fulfilling Like many major towns and cities in the south east, Reading has gone through a recent boom in residential development. Much of this development has been focused on brownfield sites in the centre, with apartment living in chic high-rises becoming ever popular with singletons and younger couples. Other development on the edge of town – at Kennet Island, West Village and Tamesis Reach – offers more variety and the very best in modern design aimed at family living. The latest, rapid expansion of building adds to the town’s traditional offer of red brick terrace, 1930s bay fronted semis and impressive array of Victorian and Edwardian villas.



Modern apartments at Chatham Place u


the villages of Reading Reading has grown intuitively since the Middle Ages – gradually reaching out to link smaller village communities together into a vibrant metropolitan area, which still contains a number of urban villages, each with a very distinct feel. These include Caversham, Coley, Emmer Green, New Town, Southcote, Tilehurst and Whitley. As you would expect from a town growing as rapidly as Reading, we have a buoyant housing market. Whether you are looking to buy or rent you will find an excellent choice of property from fine old Victorian villas to funky one-bed apartments. Letting is obviously a good option if you want to get a feel for an area before making a major financial commitment. However, the letting market in Reading has remained strong, so is not necessarily a cheap or easy option.

t Victorian splendour sympathetically converted


local government Local government, either at district, borough or county level, is responsible for raising local taxation (through council tax) and provides a range of crucial services for all its residents including education, planning, environmental maintenance and cultural services (including museums, libraries and sports facilities). Berkshire is one of the few regions in the country that does not have a county council. Instead, all local government services are provided by six unitary authorities. These include West Berkshire District, Wokingham Borough and Reading Borough who between them cover varying parts of greater Reading. There will be differences in the level of council tax raised and the variety of non-statutory services provided by the various councils. Reading Borough itself follows a very tight boundary based around the urban core of the town, servicing a population of nearly 150,000. The geographic area traditionally recognised as Reading is home to nearly 250,000 people. You can find more details on the following websites: Central Reading, Caversham, Emmer Green, East Reading, Whitley, West Reading, most of Tilehurst. Calcot, parts of Tilehurst, Purley, Streatley, Theale, Beech Hill, Lower Basildon etc. Mapledurham, Sonning Common, Goring, Peppard, Earley, Woodley, Winnersh, Sonning, Spencers Wood, Charvil etc. Stoke Row, Shiplake etc. 90

Taking the long view on Thames Promenade u


globally enterprising 93

a world of possibilities Reading is one of the most interesting and dynamic towns in the UK. With a diverse, well educated and creative population, the town has some of the best performing schools in the UK and a red-brick university leading the world in climate change study. It’s perfectly located for access to Heathrow, London, the south coast and other key areas of the country. Long established as a major transport interchange for both rail and road, location has been a major factor in the ongoing success of Reading. So it is hardly surprising that some of the world’s most famous companies have chosen to set up home here – Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, BG Group, Verizon Business and Symantec to name just a few. But Reading is surprising in so many other ways: Michelin Star restaurants; over eight hundred listed buildings and monuments; boutique hotels; family friendly museums; two National Trails and two great rivers on our doorstep.


Davidson House, Forbury Square u

As the town moves forward it proudly acknowledges its remarkable history. From an influential position at the heart of monarchy in the Middle Ages (the formidable Abbey Ruins still sit in the heart of the town centre), to its popularity as a thriving commercial centre under the Victorians, each new development has been embraced as part of a natural process of growth. The rapid expansion of the modern town, its optimism and commitment to regeneration is about re-establishing Reading as a leader on the international stage – but is also about creating a town that its people can feel proud of. The people of Reading reflect the energy and ever changing face of the town. They come from all over the globe – to learn, to work, to experience our culture and to be part of the exciting way of life in modern Reading. Together, people and place are moving forward, sharing an ambitious vision for a town that is recreating itself with imagination and heart.

Sumer Is Icumen In is a traditional English round, and the oldest KNOWN example of POLYPHONIC MUSIC in ENGLISH. the manuscript comes from Reading Abbey and is estimated to date from around 1260

t The Blade framed by the Abbey Ruins


the business heart of the Thames Valley As the largest town in the south-east, Reading is already acknowledged as a city in all but name, with 213,000 residents in greater Reading (800,000 within an hour’s drive). Success in its bid for city status would underline Reading’s significance as the centre of the Thames Valley economic region. The town’s proven attractiveness to business puts it at a great advantage in the economic recovery. In its 2012 Outlook, the Centre for Cities once more identifies Reading as one to watch – a “small and nimble” city because of its continued increase in business start-ups and wage levels. The report is the fifth published in recent years to have recognised Reading’s position as one of the top ten cities driving the UK economy. Reading’s functional economic area (FEA) stretches from Theale in the west, to Bracknell in the east. This FEA acts as a catalyst, stimulating the wider regional economy. Official statistics show that a fifth of Reading’s workforce – 20.6% – is employed in professional occupations, much higher than the national average of 13.9%. Similarly, 34.3% of employees are concentrated in finance, IT and business activities, compared to 22% nationally. A larger proportion of workers has NVQ4+ qualifications (33.9% against 29.9%). Unsurprisingly, these higher level skills result in better earnings, with gross pay in Reading reaching £563 weekly by the end of 2011, well up on the national average of £491. Just 2.3% of local people were registered as looking for work in Nov 2011. Accessibility contributes to success in attracting foreign direct investment – almost 20%


Reading International Business Park u

of such investment in the southeast during 2009/10. An excellent location and everimproving infrastructure, proximity to London, and fast links to Heathrow, all contribute to continued growth. Not surprisingly then, the Financial Times fDi magazine judged Reading to be the best “micro-city” (under 250,000 population) for infrastructure in 2010. And location has been key in attracting a major new distribution centre for Tesco (on the site of the old Scottish & Newcastle brewery in South Reading) – and new warehousing for Brakes, another food giant. Over 2,500 new jobs are being created in coming months – broadening the local economy, a vital factor in maintaining Reading’s continuing success in the future.


t Lime Square at Green Park


Reading UK CIC – the economic development company for Reading Reading UK CIC is an enterprise that brings together all those sectors that have an interest in sustaining Reading’s world class economy. The Company does this through a programme of economic development activities based on: Influencing policy Marketing, promotion and PR Co-ordination of stakeholders and skills for business Business investment, support and intelligence

The Company’s mission is to: promote and sustain the economic development of Reading through programmes that drive its world class economy. Its business-led Board of Directors is made up of senior figures from:   First Great Western Ltd, DTZ Ltd, Hammerson UK Properties plc, John Lewis Partnership, Muse Developments Ltd, Peter Brett Associates LLP, PRUPIM Ltd, Reading Borough Council, Surrey & Berkshire Media Ltd, Oracle Corporation UK plc


Reading, as part of Thames Valley Berkshire, has a thriving economy, but faces intensified global competition from Europe and the fast emerging Asian economies. To stay ahead Reading recognises that the region needs to work in a more integrated way, and was pleased to support the creation of the TVB LEP, one of the first wave of LEPs approved by the Government. LEPs have been created at the request of Government to be business-led organisations for promoting the growth agenda in their area. They are independent and serve the interests of their regions at Government level. The strength of the LEP is the ‘collaborative momentum’ of key players representing education, employment and skills, SME and corporate enterprises, local authorities and the community sector – all working together to bring about a plan that will deliver economic prosperity for the next 20 to 30 years. TVB LEP will work hard locally, nationally and internationally to retain businesses and attract more here; to ensure a ‘work-ready’ skilled labour force and world-class support initiatives for local businesses, such as innovation business services, business start-up mentoring, high growth business support, and a world class inward investment package. The LEP maximises the partnership between business and local authorities and helps deliver the infrastructure (business, transport, housing, digital and social) needed to support both the economy and quality of life. It also nurtures a generously spirited community sector to look after its own, to support others and enrich life throughout the Thames Valley Berkshire. 104

An impression of the Station Hill redevelopment u

sustainably developing

Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership

growing our own future In the next few years our station will be transformed thanks to an £850 million expansion project. Five new platforms will be added, together with a new passenger footbridge and escalators, while lifts will provide step-free access to all platforms. A viaduct to the west of Reading will take fast Great Western main line services over freight and relief lines, allowing the railway to cope as demand for train services increases. The new track will provide space for six extra freight trains each day. Fourteen million people currently use the station each year – a number expected to double to 28 million by 2030. The current building will be transformed into a spacious, modern glass cathedral – a place fit to welcome the world. This development will go hand in hand with the regeneration of Station Hill. The tired old architecture of the sixties will be replaced by landmark residential property, dynamic office space and new public areas to draw commuters into the heart of Reading. One of the most important regeneration schemes ever seen in the town, the Station and Station Hill projects will offer new ways for visitors to interact with the town, as well as making public transport the only way to travel. Elsewhere in the town, projects held up due to the recession should gradually come back to life and there are exciting prospects ahead for Green Park, Kennet Island / Southside, Chatham Place and Kenavon Drive to name but a few. These developments have already added significantly to the changing face of Reading and there are ambitious, exciting things still to come.


t Proposal for the new station forecourt


useful weblinks


local government

Reading Football Club

Reading BoroughCouncil

Sport Reading – development, health and education

West Berkshire District Council

Information on every aspect of living and working in Reading from inward investment to local attractions. Includes areas focused on relocation, investment, shopping and tourism.

leisure waterways Kennet and Avon Canal British Waterways

National Sustrans network

walking National Trails


River Thames

Reading Borough Council theatres

Environment Agency

Museum of Reading


Reading Library

Cycle Touring Club Reading Cycle Campaign


Museum of English Rural Life

Reading Leisure Centres leisureandculture/ readingsportandleisure/

local media Reading Chronicle Reading Post 107fm

Wokingham Borough Council South Oxon District Council Hampshire County Council

transport Local rail and bus information Heathrow – Reading coach link

BBC Radio Berks

Local door to door bus provision for the less able

Heart FM

Local bus services





Children’s Information Centre

Berkshire Disability Information Network

This eBrochure was lovingly designed and produced in Reading by Indent Design


The Disability Network

The University of Reading Reading College http://www. deadline reading-college. New Directions Schools – Reading Borough Council learning/schools/

work Job Centre Plus www.

business Business link – the online resource Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce

Schools – private berkshire.htm

health Primary Care Trust

The Economic Development Company for Reading

Royal Berkshire Hospital


Principal photography was by Reading-based photographer Neil Horne www., and by Jo and Ian Dennis of Indent Two Rivers Press who have kindly allowed us to include illustrations from their superb range of publications about their home town

images Blue Matrix Pages 4, 67, 68, 76

Reading Borough Council / Network Rail Page 104

Gus York Pages 30, 46, 95

Reading Football Club Page 59

Indent Design Pages 1, 7, 13, 20, 25, 29, 37, 42, 63, 72, 74, 80, 83, 84, 87, 96, 99, 112

Sackville Developments Reading Ltd / Allies and Morrison Page 105

Lawrence Bragg Page 88

Sealand Page 92

Neil Horne Pages 10, 14, 17, 18, 32, 38, 41, 45, 48, 51, 55, 56, 60, 71, 79, 91

University of Reading Page 64

Reading Borough Council Pages 8, 26, 52

Wordsearch Page 100

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this brochure was correct at the time of going to press, it should not be relied upon for any commercial or other decision of value. We will be happy to correct any errors in future editions. © Copyright Reading UK CIC 2012



Relocate to Reading, Thames Valley  
Relocate to Reading, Thames Valley  

Find out why Reading is the business capital of the Thames Valley and home to many of the most dynamic and fast growing businesses in the UK...