Matt Rodda at the opening of the ‘In Reading Gaol by Reading Town‘ exhibition at the Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock

The Whitley Pump asked Reading East MP, Matt Rodda, about his ‘Save Reading Gaol’ petition.

He said that he was prompted to raise the petition when he heard that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was planning to sell the prison to the highest bidder to maximise the financial return to the tax payer.

He went on to say that he was concerned about the loss of Reading’s heritage that this might entail. He hoped that the petition would prompt the MoJ to reconsider and find a more creative solution such as as an arts centre, museum, theatre or a combination of all three which would benefit Reading as a whole .

You can sign the petition online, or there is a paper version, which has been delivered to some parts of the Reading East constituency. The results will be presented to the MoJ.

2017 Civic Day walk around a conservation area.
L to R: Dr Margaret Simons, Richard Bennett and Matt Rodda

Background

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has in principle endorsed the proposal by Theatre and Arts Reading to create an arts and heritage destination including a theatre within the site.

The prison was built within the original precincts of Reading Abbey, a scheduled ancient monument (1007932), and the prison is grade II listed (1321948). The ruins are owned by RBC and were re-opened in June 2018 following a conservation project.

Nine historic prisons, including Reading’s, were closed in 2013.


Links
  1. Matt Rodda home page, Twitter, Facebook, at Hansard and They Work For You
  2. MP expenses at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
  3. Find your MP
  4. Council sets out is position on Reading Prison site.
  5. Theatre and Arts Reading
  6. Historic England
  7. The creative re-use of historic prisons
  8. ‘In Reading Gaol by Reading Town’ exhibition