The Whitley Pump

The view from Katesgrove Hill

Tag: Reading Life (page 1 of 3)

Liam Challenger, the Labour Party candidate in the Katesgrove local election

Liam Challenger Katesgrove Labour Party local election candidate 2019

Liam Challenger is standing as a Labour Party candidate in the local election on Thursday 2 May. There are four candidates in Katesgrove, and the winner will become a local councillor at Reading Borough Council. We asked each candidate the same eight questions to learn more about them.

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Natalie Greenstreet, the Conservative Party candidate in the Katesgrove local election

Natalie Greenstreet, Katesgrove Conservative Party local election candidate 2019

Natalie Greenstreet is standing as a Conservative Party candidate in the local election on Thursday 2 May. There are four candidates in Katesgrove, and the winner will become a local councillor at Reading Borough Council. We asked each candidate the same eight questions to learn more about them.

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Peter Kinsley, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Katesgrove local election

Peter Kinsley, Katesgrove Liberal Democrat local election candidate 2019

Peter Kinsley is standing as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the local election on Thursday 2 May. There are four candidates in Katesgrove, and the winner will become a local councillor at Reading Borough Council. We asked each candidate the same eight questions to learn more about them.

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Louise Keane, the Green Party candidate in the Katesgrove local election

Louise Keane, Katesgrove Green Party local election candidate 2019. Photo: Louise Keane.

Louise Keane is standing as a Green Party candidate in the local election on Thursday 2 May. There are four candidates in Katesgrove, and the winner will become a local councillor at Reading Borough Council. We asked each candidate the same eight questions to learn more about them.

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Diwali at the Reading Hindu Temple

Pictures by Huma Jehan.

Dancers waiting to perform

The Reading Hindu Temple on Whitley Street held their annual Diwali cultural programme on Sunday 11 November. Katesgrove artist Huma Jehan went along to draw what happened at this lively and colourful event.

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Whitley past and present explored with Dennis Wood

By John Howard and Adam Harrington.

Dennis Wood at the Whitley history talk on 29 September. Photo: John Howard

Dennis Wood, the author of Views from the Hill, the Story of Whitley gave a charming and fascinating talk called Whitley Past and Present at Whitley library on 29 September.

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The Big Bang Tidy

By Matthew Davies, aged 33⅓.

HATYM and Uncle Peanut at the After Dark club. Photo by permission (c) Musical Bear Records.

Pete Brookes of Uncle Peanut fame curated a Big Untidy evening of music at the Rising Sun Arts Centre on 14 September. Despite the untidy name of the evening, Pete pulled off a blinder; all the acts worked together and it made perfect sense.

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Lessons at the Victorian schoolroom at Katesgrove School

1873 school on Katesgrove Lane

Good better best,
never let it rest,
’till your good is better
and your better best.

This was the Victorian rhyme learnt by heart by pupils visiting the Katesgrove schoolroom. It became our mantra when setting up the Victorian schoolroom. Artefacts and lessons used in the schoolroom had to be thoroughly researched and, as far as the budget allowed, historically accurate.

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Mamma mia! Italians invade Reading!

Italian students at the English language summer school at Bradfield College. Photo : Pierluigi Lippolis

This year, the Whitley Pump’s very own theatre reviewer Gillie Tunley helped teach English to Italian students at Bradfield College, an impressively beautiful independent school near Theale. The students spent a day in Reading and shared their views on the town.

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Setting up the Victorian schoolroom at Katesgrove School

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The Victorian Schoolroom at Reading Museum was originally housed at Katesgrove School and as it prepares to move again into a new home at the Abbey Gateway, the Whitley Pump looks back to when it was first established.

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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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The natural and social pictorial history of a house in Whitley

In the autumn of 1973 David Turner was told by a friend that there was a derelict detached house on the Basingstoke Road that had been empty for a few years and was up for sale.

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Melodic anxiety and tuneful paranoia with Harroland

I caught up with “Reading’s best new band” Harroland at their third ever gig, at Readipop in Milford Road in March, and they kindly granted me a very public interview in the car park. It was a freezing cold night, but I was ably assisted with questions by Whitley and Katesgrove aristocracy, music gurus Trevor Absolom and Michael Wyatt, as well as a very pleasant passer-by. When they become big and global in the years to come, you can boast about seeing Harroland early on at Reading venues.

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Munchees happy café

I spent a year unemployed in Reading in 85-86 and it made me feel pretty low. It is incredible how quickly your self-confidence ebbs away when you are in that situation. On Giro day I used to treat myself to a meal out at this friendly café at the Butter Market called Munchees; I would have usually have either the burger or fish-n-chips and a milky coffee. A waitress would take your order and you paid at the counter afterwards. Back then, there was a big bloke with a moustache running the place who always made you feel as you were on to a bargain by knocking 10% off the bill and you would be offered a free lollipop on leaving.

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The Berkshire book of song, rhyme and steeple chime

The Berkshire book of song, rhyme and steeple chime was published in 1935 and is a unique record of country song, children’s games, epitaphs, droll church inscriptions, poems, doggerel, social history and some scurrilous local gossip. These pieces were lovingly collected over twenty years or so by the publisher and author Arthur L Humphreys.

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Whitley Amateur Boxing Club and the Tamuka Mucha fight

Whitley Amateur Boxing Club.

Whitley Amateur Boxing Club is right at the heart of Whitley, both in location and spirit. In just three years, a lot of hard work from locals has seen this small hall in Callington Road transformed into a hub of community boxing and exercise activity that is well equipped and staffed. The place is packed to the rafters with talented fighters, hopefuls and enthusiasts, six days of the week.

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A portal to a parallel Whitley

Nick Garnett (Whitley Flamboyance Festival)

Last year I got a text from a mate who lives in the flats opposite the John Madejski Academy (JMA). He said that there was some sort of uprising going on and the gates of the JMA had been flung open to unleash an alien entourage, who were now parading through Whitley looking like an escaped troupe of space-age circus performers or an absurdist dream made flesh with dancing, klaxons and odd machinery.

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Katesgrovians buried in Coburg Cemetery, Melbourne, Australia

Henry Philbrick, elder brother of Charles and George Philbrick of the tannery on Katesgrove Lane, went out to Australia to seek his fortune in 1857. After a period in the goldfields of Victoria he turned to the family trade and set up a tannery at Broadford in 1865.

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Nigel Pounds’ response to…

Nigel Pounds

Redbrick poet Nigel Pounds is one of many talented poets, musicians, writers, dreamers, drinkers and schemers who live in Katesgrove. His new work My response to is available on Amazon at a very reasonable 99p (not a pound) and contains 22 honest poems that really are his cri de coeur. On reading these poems, I am reminded of this lament from Allen Ginsberg: “poets are damned… but see with the eyes of angels.”

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Fidget and Bob on Kennet Island

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.

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