Reading museum opens new Abbey gallery

Reading Museum opened its new abbey gallery to the public on Monday 12 February. The museum’s abbey gallery is the most recently completed part of the Reading Abbey Revealed project, which is jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Reading Borough Council (RBC). Restoration of the abbey gateway will complete in April 2018 and the abbey ruins will re-open to the public on 16 June 2018.

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Katesgrovians buried in Coburg Cemetery, Melbourne, Australia

Henry Philbrick, elder brother of Charles and George Philbrick of the tannery on Katesgrove Lane, went out to Australia to seek his fortune in 1857. After a period in the goldfields of Victoria he turned to the family trade and set up a tannery at Broadford in 1865.

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How many Harrison’s Barns were there?

Plan of the 1643 siege of Reading defences – north is at the bottom of the page. © British Library Board (ADDMS.5415.E.3.)

The heritage antenna on Katesgrove Hill crackled into life when it received a transmission from the Reading Borough Council planning committee webcast in November about possible English Civil War defences underneath a town centre site proposed for redevelopment .

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Book Review – Parched City by Emma M Jones

Parched City‘ was an impulse buy from the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) bookshop. The cover featuring the 1859 opening of London’s first public drinking fountain in the wall of St Sepulchre’s Church in the City of London was a magnet for this Whitley Pump correspondent.

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Glen’s Blue Collar Food

Glen Dinning, of the Blue Collar Food Market

Glen Dinning is the 25 year old enthusiast behind Blue Collar Food, which can be found at the Butter Market on Wednesdays, the summer foodie events at the Forbury and other recent well-received markets in Henley and Guildford. In a town where a wagon-train-like huddle of feisty independent shops and cafés survive and sometimes thrive amongst a Scooby Doo background of chain coffee shops and retail, Glen is a true innovator and entrepreneur, but he’s not a bit like Del Boy or the Wolf of Wall Street. He is a friendly Reading geezer with a blue and white hooped heart who has already achieved great things with a smile on his face and a large portion of savvy and sheer bottle. He agreed to meet me over a pot of tea to give up some of his business secrets and tell of future plans (and perhaps seek investment in my toast business). He had his phone turned off and he paid for the tea.

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‘Black History’ mural becomes an asset of community value

Reading Borough Council (RBC) have listed the ‘Black History’ mural on Mill Lane as an asset of community value after it was nominated by the Aspire community interest company (CIC) as part of their campaign to acquire the Central Club.

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Whitley Library: the architecture of hope

Whitley library

Whitley library was built in 1935 in the classical and confident municipal style of the time, and is a stand-alone building in smart red brick, with a lovely scrolled Bath stone cartouche at the top with “LIBRARY” written on it. It stands on Northumberland Avenue next to a roundabout at the heart of south Reading. There is a very similar library building in Palmer Park and the style does seem to project a pride in civic life, education and the burgeoning welfare state with that glorious dawn of the National Health Service just a war away.

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Giant Maps of Reading in New Christ Church Primary school

Cathy and Dot with modern Ordnance Survey Map of Reading

Earlier this year the New Christ Church Primary School entered a competition run by Redcliffe Imaging Ltd, a Bristol-based company who produce wall murals. As part of the entry, the school explained that, with their 150th anniversary coming up, they would really love to have a copy of the 1880 map of Reading which showed the school and its surrounding area.

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‘The Firefighters’ – location Katesgrove

Southampton Street today opposite the Huntley Boorne & Stephens Southampton Street entrance

For local historians with a penchant for photographs and films, David Cliffe’s Picture Palace to Penny Plunge may turn out to be the book of the year. Following up on the filming of A Bridge too Far on Hill Street in 1976 led to the discovery of ‘The Firefighters’.

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Apollo, After Dark and the Central Club: “when the music hits you, you can feel no pain”

Matthew Farrall (left) and David Archibald (right), making a sign for ‘Africa’

I was on a lunchtime walk from work with colleagues recently and among them was Jamaican-born Rastafarian, David Archibald. David’s knowledge of the Afro-Caribbean history of three Katesgrove buildings had us all enthralled. He gave us some real insight into the cultural and socio-political side of life growing up in Reading in the 70s and 80s. With vivid joy, he talked of the great times he had at the Apollo Youth Club, the Caribbean Club and the Central Club; David explained most of his life at the time revolved around social gatherings with music at the heart of everything.

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