In July 2018, the multi-disciplinary artist Peter Driver set out on a three day pilgrimage from the Stanley Spencer Gallery in the village of Cookham to the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere. A Walk for Stanley is a travel diary that captures the journey in photos, sketches, woodcuts, sonnets and prose.
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.
Our interview with Tony Page continues with reflections on Reading, its waterways and the Abbey.
We are grateful to the the ‘Reading Book of Days’ for informing us about the death of Alderman William Blandy on this day, 17 December, in 1817.
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.
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.
Here at the Whitley Pump, we have been keeping an eye on the development of the old Lok n’Store site, just over the Kennet in Minster ward.
Reading Abbey’s much anticipated big day re-opening was well celebrated by visitors yesterday, 16 June. The formal cutting of the crimson and gold ribbons was undertaken by Reading Mayor, councillor Debs Edwards, and HM Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire James Puxley.
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.
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.
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.
There is an nearly traffic-free route from the Whitley Pump to the Madejski Stadium. It is a timeless and almost secret world of ancient paths beside rivers and streams and through the meadows of south Reading.
The Historic Katesgrove Industries tour was available for the first time on 8 September 2017 during the Heritage Open Days weekend. The two hour walk started at the foot of London Street outside Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) and, after a loop around Katesgrove, ended outside Great Expectations, next door to RISC.
Courtesy of the “Reading-on-Thames Festival“, which is sadly a misstatement when clearly Reading’s whole history is based on the River Kennet, came free culture in the form Reading Between the Lines Theatre Company’s play The Life and Death of Reading’s King. For the lucky 700 ticket holders on the night of 15 September this was a history making moment.