People living near the University of Reading (UoR) think that the university and its students are causing parking problems, damaging local communities by demanding more houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), littering and causing late-night disturbances. The Northcourt Avenue Residents’ Association (NARA) have released the analysis of a consultation they ran this year to see what residents really thought about living next to the University.
‘Destination Zoë Andrews’ at the Reading Buses July 2018 open day. Photo (c) Zoë Andrews
I hadn’t lived in Reading properly since 2010 when I moved back in 2015. Throughout university in Cardiff, I regularly came home. One of the comfort blankets of home was the buses. I lived in both Cardiff and Bristol between my spells of being back in the ‘ding, and I can tell you something categorically: we have a very good bus service in comparison to elsewhere.
I’ve occupied my present home in Northcourt Avenue, Reading for 30 years, but I’ve lived in the Whitley area my whole life. In that time, I’ve witnessed a lot of change as Reading has grown and the number of people living and working in the town has followed suit. Traffic and parking issues appear to be an inevitable part of this growth.
The Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) at the foot of London Street houses the Global Café and the World Shop. The Global Café does not usually open on Mondays and so on the evening of Sunday 23 December it will open for the last time in 2018 and will not re-open until Wednesday 2 January.
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.
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.
Reading, from the South Hill 1882. Reproduced from Illustrated London News.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.