Open for Art dips a toe in Katesgrove

View of Reading from Coley School (Ray Atkins). Image courtesy of (c) Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum)

The 25th annual ‘Open for Art Festival‘ started on 2 July and continues until 8 July. To mark this anniversary there are 25 specially curated stories. Most of the venues are in central Reading but there are a few closer to home or of local interest.

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The top of Whitley Street before there were shops

Whitley Street at the beginning of the twentieth century

Around 1900, the top of Whitley Street was entirely residential. Conduit Crescent was built in the first half of the nineteenth century and the houses beyond, which curve to meet Highgrove Street, were built about the turn of the twentieth century.

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Reading’s New Local Plan moves forward to last stages

You can now read everything you ever wanted to know about Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) new local plan on a dedicated web page. Once adopted, it will be the main planning document for Reading until 2036.

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Fidget and Bob on Kennet Island

Shuet and Breege at Fidget and Bob’s on Kennet Island

Within the old Whitley borders, and built on the sewage plant that had been the origin of the Whitley whiff before new facilities were built on the other side of the A33, Kennet Island isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as a place to live or visit. Some people point to its isolation from the town, the zombie-film-like soulless streets and architectural sameness as the downside. On the upside, it’s clean and safe with some nice foliage, there is a hospital for a minor op and it’s close to the football and Kennet Meadows; you can even walk or cycle by the canal from central Reading. While most Islanders are hunkered down in their living machines, two resident pioneers are working hard at building a smart and tasty new business, situated slap bang-in the middle of the estate’s rather wonderful and a bit mad waterfall-bedecked piazza. Breege Brennan and Shuet Han Tsui are the friendly, busy folk behind the memorably named Fidget & Bob and generously agreed to talk to me about it.

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Beer and cheese make people happy

Every working morning I sleepwalk off the Emerald number 5 bus and take a slow short-cut through the Edwardian-style Harris Arcade. On my way I pass what I can only describe as the most promising and welcoming chairs in Reading, outside the Grumpy Goat shop. Then this sharp thought comes into my blurred mind – instead of going to work I could sit here all morning drinking beer and eating cheese. After all, beer and cheese; what’s not to like? I was kindly given some time to pop-in for a chat to get a taste of what this business is all about and I was given some jolly good info too.

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Life in a Katesgrove charity shop

Trish and Jackie at the Age UK shop on Whitley Street

William Morris once said “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. You can find something that fits that adage at the Age UK shop on Whitley Street or you can donate something you don’t love or need, and please someone else, while supporting a cause that affects us all in some way. Last month, I saw a raspberry beret in the window and the search is now on for a charity shop leopardskin pillbox hat. I popped in to ask friendly assistant manager, Jackie, about how it all works and what life is like behind the counter.

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Katesgrove, the urban village

By John Dearing.

Early in 1980 I wanted to move from Maidenhead to Reading, where houses were cheaper. I contacted an estate agent and one Saturday in May I collected details of four properties, three of which were in Katesgrove. After the usual laborious process of house purchase, I moved to Sherman Road in October 1980. By 2015 more than half my life had been spent at this address.

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Marina, pub and hotel proposed near Waterloo Meadows

Reading Borough Council (RBC) have proposed to enter into a development agreement with H20 Urban and the Canal and River Trust to build a 100 berth marina, hotel and pub on the A33 side of the Kennet opposite Waterloo Meadows, according to the Katesgrove Labour group.

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Housing, parking, litter and green spaces cause grief in Katesgrove

Katesgrove’s first local election hustings for many years was held at RISC on Saturday 30 April. Topics discussed included local traffic and parking, cross-party co-operation, voluntary contributions to council work, litter and the provision of green spaces, but the biggest issue was the cost, economics and politics of housing.

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Bringing a bit of Brazilian sunlight to a Reading February

Pau Brasil upper storey

Low grey clouds scudding above rain washed streets. People hunched against horizontal freezing rain, scuttling to get home before it gets dark by four. The next time you have one of those bus stop moments where you find yourself giving the far side of the road a thousand yard stare whilst a trickle of cold rainwater makes it way down your neck, take some time out to visit Katesgrove’s tropical oasis at 89 Mount Pleasant, the Pau Brasil café.

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