Always a nice moment when conflicting agendas collide and something good comes of it for everyone. During the ‘questions from the public and councillors’ section of an edgy and rancorous Reading Borough Council (RBC) policy committee on 24 September, councillor Tony Page seemed to suggest that St Laurence’s drinking fountain could flow again.
Having carved its way from Caversham Road to the foot of Southampton Street, in the 1970s Reading’s Inner Distribution Road (IDR) stopped abruptly at the ‘ski jump’ where the Oracle roundabout now is. During this hiatus, Reading consulted and debated about whether and how to continue.
Stage 2 of Reading’s Inner Distribution Road (IDR) from Castle Hill to Southampton Street was under construction during 1969. After crossing Castle Hill, pedestrians can use a slipway down to Coley.
Construction of Reading’s Inner Distribution Road (IDR) started in 1969, but it had been included in development plans since 1957 and no doubt was a twinkle in someone’s eye some time before that. It still bothers Reading’s civic soul when proposals are brought forward to make it one-way or to cover over part of it or turn it into a park.
By Wynne Frankum
Good better best,
never let it rest,
’till your good is better
and your better best.
This was the Victorian rhyme learnt by heart by pupils visiting the Katesgrove schoolroom. It became our mantra when setting up the Victorian schoolroom. Artefacts and lessons used in the schoolroom had to be thoroughly researched and, as far as the budget allowed, historically accurate.
The Whitley Pump is leading a walk around Reading’s Inner Distribution Road (IDR) as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days in September. Reading’s post-war history, in which it transformed from a primarily industrial to a retail town, circle the IDR like the IDR circles the town centre.
In March we published a piece by Matthew Farrall about ‘The Berkshire Book of Song, Rhyme and Steeple Chime’ by Arthur L Humphreys. Matthew noticed that the author’s address was York Lodge, Reading, and discovered the connection between Humphreys and another, albeit short term and involuntary Reading resident, Oscar Wilde.
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.
The Whitley Conduit on Highgrove Street was probably Reading Abbey’s drinking water source until the Abbey’s dissolution in the sixteenth century. The conduit existed at least until 1908, when Edward Margrett described the remains and requested that the municipal authorities repair it. But what happened to it after that?
‘The Lime Tree’ by César Aira is a recent arrival in the World Shop at the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) on London Street. The short novel is set in Coronel Pringles in Argentina, a real place named after a real person, Juan Pascual Pringles, a hero of the wars of independence against Spain in the early nineteenth century. It is also where author César Aira really grew up.
Midnight is a black cat who prowls Boults Walk.
‘Curtains Up!’ is the latest publication from Reading Borough Council (RBC) libraries. It tells the history of each of RBC’s music venues: the 1882 Concert Hall, the Hexagon and the newly refurbished South Street Arts Centre.
Woolhampton’s drinking fountain was presented to the village (which is on the A4 halfway between Reading and Newbury) by Miss Charlotte Blyth, a member of the family who owned the Woolhampton estate at the time, to mark the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. The inscription on the wall inside says “Righteousness Exalteth a Nation. Victoria R.I. Diamond Jubilee 1897”.
by Adrian Lawson.
If you see me at this time of year, I am usually not walking very fast – I am scanning the fields and bushes on my regular walks looking for the common whitethroat. From spring and through the summer there are quite a few of them scattered around Reading, skulking in bushes or patches of bramble, and singing their curious scratchy little song.