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.
The start of the IDR is at Weldale Street where the first of the IDR canyons descends beneath the roundabout at the junction of Caversham Road, Friar Street and Chatham Street.
Pedestrians have the opportunity to appreciate the concrete in this section alongside the pavement of Thorn Walk segregated from the slip road by a low wall with railings on top. The area is currently looking a little sorry for itself as the Iceland and Wickes site awaits re-development following the grant of planning permission for 427 flats in four 11 storey blocks.
The Thorn Street register office and a Methodist church lies beneath the roundabout.
On the other side of Chatham Street is Chatham Place. There is a very good view from here back to grade I listed Greyfriars Church. The Chatham Place development is now complete and Muse Developments commissioned nine historical panels called Walking Words from Sally Castle that depict Reading events and places with distinctive fonts and images.
The Chatham Place development was planned in two phases: phase one was a lower rise development and phase two was the high rise development closer to the IDR. If completed as originally envisaged, the project would have included decking over this part of the IDR as well as a 25 metre swimming pool.
The Oxford Road vehicle and pedestrian bridge over the IDR has a plaque to commemorate the opening of stage I and II by the mayor, Councillor Herbert Williams on 2 February 1971.
The IDR enters a zone of destruction on the south side of Oxford Road. One side of Howard Street has disappeared into the thin air of the canyon that separates Baker Street from Hosier Street.
The Hosier Street area was redeveloped as the site of the Civic Centre, Hexagon, police station, magistrate’s court and Butts Centre (Broad St Mall) during the 1970s. Only 40 years later it is to be redeveloped again and Reading Borough Council are consulting on the draft Hosier Street area development framework. Decking or a bridge over the IDR between Baker Street and Hosier Street is being considered to relink the two streets.
Historic Castle Street and Castle Hill, climbing up to the Bath Road, lost some of their buildings to the IDR. Happily the Horse and Jockey (now Castle Tap) survived.