Finally, the last leg of the tour brings us back to Whitley Street and the Whitley Pump.
Last week we reached the corner of Glebe Road and Christchurch Gardens, and we now continue west.
The numbers on the route map are referred to in the text below in bold italics.
The plot of land bounded by Glebe Road, Christchurch Gardens, Whitley Street/ Basingstoke Road and Christchurch Road was developed at the end of the nineteenth century.
The nine south facing houses in the group on Christchurch Road are impressive and substantial three storey properties of a similar style, built from grey bricks with red and white patterns. Number 3 is detached and 5 – 19 are semi-detached.
The modern houses right on the corner of Christchurch Gardens and Basingstoke Road have been built since the conservation area was designated.
At this point look, across at St Leonard’s Terrace opposite (no 14). This terrace of smaller three storied properties was built in 1888 and is pictured in the appraisal. The houses, although not listed or within the conservation area, have been given additional planning protection by an Article 4 direction because of their patterned brickwork. This means that a planning application is required for work which might otherwise be within permitted development rights.
Cross Basingstoke Road at the crossing (no 15) and walk down towards the Hindu Temple, taking care when crossing Milman Road.
The strip of Basingstoke Road/ Whitley Street between Christchurch Gardens and the Whitley Pump roundabout is not very attractive. It has all the usual trappings of a main road including a bus shelter and a telephone box, however it is within the conservation area.
Stop in front of the Hindu Temple (no 16) and look south across the roundabout to the properties on the south side of Christchurch Road. This is what the conservation area appraisal has to say about them.
2 Christchurch Road. Later house now subdivided into flats. Shows influence of arts and crafts style. Gate piers and railings in front.
4-14 Christchurch Road comprise a group of turn of the century three storey gable fronted houses with large bay windows on the ground floor. The front elevations are in light grey brick with red and dark grey decorative details. The centre pair have lancet shaped entrance arches, which motif is repeated in the timber entrances porches of the outer pairs. Gate piers retained at 4, 6 and 8 (4 rebuilt). Walls and railings retained where no frontage parking. Latter tends to coincide with houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), which also tend to be exemplified with a typically unattractive plethora of refuse bins.
Certainly 2 Christchurch Road has a very impressive position at the top of the hill, with a gateway right on the corner.
Cross Whitley Street at the crossing by Tescos (no 17) and to complete the circuit of the area walk back to the top of Highgrove Street (no 19).
As my fellow walkers will have experienced, this conservation area is not large but packed with an enormous variety of building ages and architectural styles. Some had eminent architects, and others housed notable residents in the life of Reading. The hilltop position is one which may not be as greatly appreciated today as when the first properties in Whitley Crescent were built, but it still provides residents with views of hills to the south and ever-changing views of the Reading skyline to the north.
- Conservation Area Appraisals. Christchurch starts on page 16 (of 371) and there is a map on page 39.
- Conserving Katesgrove – An introduction to Christchurch Conservation Area
- Reading Borough Council Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings
- Reading Borough Library Local Studies Christchurch Estate Folder
- Historic England – Article 4 Directions
- Planning Portal – Permitted Development Rights