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The view from Katesgrove Hill

Category: Coley water meadows

Goodbye to the Coley Park Black Poplar

The Coley Park black poplar after storm Ciara

The Coley Park black poplar after storm Ciara, February 2020. Photo: © Adrian Lawson.

The great Coley Park black poplar was, for me at least, one of the most iconic trees in Reading.

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Boundary commission proposes big changes to Reading electoral wards

LGBCE draft recommendations for Reading.
Map contains Ordnance Survey data (c) Crown copyright and database rights 2018.

England’s Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBCE) has proposed big changes to Reading’s electoral wards. The town’s residents have until 13 April to give their opinion before the LGBCE present their final recommendation on 1 September. If they go ahead, the boundary changes will affect all wards in Reading except Park.

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A walk into the Wilds of Coley

Coley Meadows (Adrian Lawson)

Coley Meadows (c) Adrian Lawson

On Sunday 17 November there’ll be a walk from Waterloo Meadows Children’s centre into the marshes of the Coley water meadows. We’ll meet at 10am, and we’ll expect to return by 1pm.

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Ask Sustrans questions about improving the Kennet path on 22 October

The sustainable transport charity Sustrans will hold a drop-in event at on Tuesday 22 October at the Waterloo Meadows Childrens’ Centre to answer questions about their proposals to improve the Kennet cycle and foot path.

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A view of Katesgrove across the Coley Gorge

Coley Park flats from the south-east

On a sunny January morning we set out for a walk to see the high rise flats at Coley Park which are a feature on our skyline on the other side of Coley Gorge.

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Winter flocks on Coley meadows

A murmuration of starlings at Gretna. Photo: Walter Baxter via Wikimedia Commons

Flocks of birds are a phenomenon that have always intrigued me. Watching how different birds go about it has fascinated me all my life. There are those obscure little flocks of twittering tits that flit about the hedgerows in winter, and there are those massive and spectacular starling murmurations that fill the dusk skies with choreographed magic.

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Whitethroats and I

Whitethroat. Photo: Nikola Middlemast

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.

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1962 air crash wreckage found at Kennet Meadows

Coley Meadows (c) Adrian Lawson

I met the owner of part of Coley meadows many years ago, and he told me a fascinating tale of two aeroplanes colliding there. He described the area where he thought they had crashed, and for many years I kept my eyes open for any sign. When the Fobney Island nature reserve was being dug I had hoped to find some evidence, but there was none. I looked it up and found a news report; the crash happened on 4 November 1962. There was no detail on the actual location, so I asked a few of the more senior residents, but strangely nobody knew much.

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Katesgrove’s bountiful river valley

Sadly, there are few good places on Katesgrove hill to enjoy the westward view. The steep west-facing scarp of Katesgrove hill is the edge of a river valley, and at the bottom flows the river Kennet. The river carved the valley into Reading before it became a canal, and used to run riot over a vast area of low lying land between Southcote and Whitley. The valley south and west of Katesgrove is a couple of miles wide, suddenly narrowing as it passes through two hills, Katesgrove and Coley. From the top of Katesgrove hill the view over the valley should be cherished, especially when the valley is full of floodwater and the sun sets beyond.

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Marina, pub and hotel proposed near Waterloo Meadows

Reading Borough Council (RBC) have proposed to enter into a development agreement with H20 Urban and the Canal and River Trust to build a 100 berth marina, hotel and pub on the A33 side of the Kennet opposite Waterloo Meadows, according to the Katesgrove Labour group.

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Dawn chorus at Coley Meadows

Naturalist Adrian Lawson and Wang Hua, an English teacher visiting from China.

We met local naturalist Adrian Lawson at 6 am on a mild cloudy morning at Southcote Junction. Adrian had kindly offered a show and tell of the birds and wildlife that we could see or hear at Coley meadows near the Kennet, as well as at the wonderful Fobney Island nature reserve.

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Explore industrial archaeology on the Coley branch line

Coley branch line bridge

The Berkshire Industrial Archaeology Group (BIAG) are organising a walk along the Coley branch line on Saturday 15 October.

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Then and now. The Central Goods Yard

IDR north of Berkeley Avenue Bridge

The Central Goods Yard north of the Berkeley Road bridge, features in Reading Museum’s latest exhibition On Track.

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Preparing for floods in Katesgrove

Kennet Towpath, just under Pell Street Bridge, February 2014

Kennet Towpath, just under Pell Street Bridge, February 2014

Between a quarter and a half of Katesgrove, as well as parts of Redlands and the Whiteknights university campus, are susceptible to groundwater flooding according to Reading Borough Council (RBC) statistics. The UK Environment Agency (EA) has identified areas at risk near the Kennet such as Waterloo Meadows, Elgar Road, Katesgrove Lane, Mill Lane and Queens Road .

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Reading’s Lost Railway

Coley branch line bridge over the Holy Brook

Reading has its very own crumbling monument to Edwardian civilisation lurking behind a BP garage on Rose Kiln Lane. The Coley branch line was built in 1908 and decommissioned in 1983. It ran a short distance from the Basingstoke railway line, just south of Reading West station, to the wharves along the Kennet at Fobney Street.

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