Reading-on-Thames Festival : What’s in it for Katesgrove-on-Kennet?

Kennet Towpath, just under Pell Street Bridge, February 2014

The first Reading-on-Thames Festival takes place from 9-17 September. It promises to “use Reading’s rivers as a backdrop and inspiration”.

The Thames at Reading has suffered in the past from a negative image summarised by Jerome K. Jerome:

We came in sight of Reading about eleven. The river is dirty and dismal here. One does not linger in the neighbourhood of Reading [ref 2].

To counterbalance this, the programme is packed with interesting and imaginative events and water-themed diversions celebrating the River Thames. The Kennet does not feature as prominently except for the confluence of the two rivers at Kennet Mouth. Holy Brook, which hides behind the Kennet as it approaches Reading along the Katesgrove border, is name-checked but there is no mention of Foudry Brook at Green Park.

Only one item on the programme has the Kennet at its heart and takes place on our river. Reading Between the Lines (RBL) will perform ‘Reading’s Royal Burial’ at the Oracle Riverside on Friday 15 September at 7.30pm. Entry is free, but tickets are required. RBL’s production of ‘Henry I of England‘ last year was an incredible dramatic production and they are currently working on ‘Matilda the Empress‘.

‘All of a Twist’ at the Turbine Gallery at Blake’s Lock on the Kennet explores “the science and technology of twisty turny stuff” in connection with Reading’s rivers. This free exhibition runs from 2-15 September and is open 10am to 6pm.

The Kennet at Blake’s Lock

There is a series of events on the general theme of rivers and water curated by Amy Sharrocks in collaboration with Barton Willmore, University of Reading, The Museum of English Rural Life and Two Rivers Press. It includes the obscurely titled “#RiverCity” at the Crowne Plaza hotel on 11 September at 7.30pm which aims to :

… build connections between researchers, artists, academics, scientists and town planners, to support ways to face unpredictable futures, to address questions of population tides and city structures and to consider Reading as a river city.

This is a free event and no booking is required.

Other venues are Christchurch Meadows, Caversham Court Gardens, Caversham Lock, Broad Street and Reading Museum.

Unfortunately, the last tram from the Whitley Pump to Caversham Road ran in 1936. However, the journey to Caversham from Katesgrove has become easier and more pleasant since the completion of the pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames to Christchurch Meadows.

Full programme and booking details are available form the Reading Place of Culture website.

  1. Reading-on-Thames Festival
  2. Jerome, Jerome K. Three Men in a Boat
  3. Reading Between the Lines
  4. The Museum of Water
  5. Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock
  6. Bus zone