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Orange Grove Designs Ltd 24 Ramsbury Drive Reading EN RG6 7RS
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Dex Removals Reading Whitley Wood Rd Reading EN RG2 8TL
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New Media 250 Oak Way, Green Park Reading EN RG2 6UG
01672552352
Lumo Marketing Atlantic House, Imperial Way Reading EN
0118 310 0880
JOHN KLEIS CAR AUDIO Digital Car Radio Centre 248 Basingstoke Rd, Reading, West Berkshire RG2 0HN, United Kingdom
+44 118 986 6224
Mya Lacarte 5 Prospect St, Caversham, Reading, West Berkshire RG4 8JB, United Kingdom
+44 118 946 3400
Ayurveda Retreat 32 Friar St, Reading, West Berkshire RG1 1DX, United Kingdom
+44 118 958 8190
Reading Audi Rose Kiln Ln, Reading, West Berkshire RG2 0JZ, United Kingdom
+44 118 975 4900
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About Reading

Reading, Berkshire

 

 

Reading is a large town and unitary authority areain the ceremonial county of Berkshire, England. It was an important centre in the medieval period, as the site of Reading Abbey, a monastery with strong royal connections. The town was seriously affected by the English Civil War, with a major siege and loss of trade, and played a pivotal role in the Revolution of 1688, with that revolution's only significant military action fought on the streets of the town. The 19th century saw the coming of theGreat Western Railway and the development of the town's brewing, baking and seed growing businesses. Today Reading is a commercial centre, with involvement in information technology and insurance, and, despite its proximity to London, has a net inward commuter flow.

The first evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century. By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, and tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth. By 1611, it had a population of over 5000 and had grown rich on its trade in cloth. The 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. During the 19th century, the town grew rapidly as a manufacturing centre. It is ranked the UK's top economic area for economic success and wellbeing, according to factors such as employment, health, income and skills. Reading is also a retail centre serving a large area of the Thames Valley, and is home to the University of Reading. Every year it hosts the Reading Festival, one of England's biggest music festivals. Sporting teams based in Reading include Reading Football Club and the London Irish rugby union team, and over 15,000 runners annually compete in the Reading Half Marathon.

The Borough of Reading has a population of 155,698 (2011 census) and the town formed the largest part of the Reading/Wokingham Urban Area which had a population of 318,014 (2011 census). The town is currently represented in the UK parliament by two members, and has been continuously represented there since 1295. For ceremonial purposes the town is in the county of Berkshire and has served as itscounty town since 1867, previously sharing this status with Abingdon-on-Thames. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Linerailway and the M4 motorway. Reading is located 36 miles (58 km) east from Swindon, 24 miles (39 km) south from Oxford, 36 miles (58 km) west of central London, and 14 miles (23 km) north from Basingstoke.

 

 

 

From top left: the Town Hall and St Laurence's Church, the Maiwand Lion, the Town Centre skyline from the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading Abbey and The Oracle
From top left: the Town Hall and St Laurence's Church, the Maiwand Lion, the Town Centre skyline from theRoyal Berkshire Hospital, Reading Abbey and The Oracle

 

 

 

 


History

 

 

 

Reading may date back to the Roman occupation of Britain, possibly as a trading port for Calleva Atrebatum.However the first clear evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century, when the town came to be known as Readingum. The name probably comes from theReadingas, an Anglo-Saxon tribe whose name means Reada's People inOld English,or less probably the Celtic Rhydd-Inge, meaning Ford over the River. In late 870, an army of Danes invaded the kingdom ofWessex and set up camp at Reading. On 4 January 871, in the first Battle of Reading, King Ethelred and his brother Alfred the Great attempted unsuccessfully to breach the Danes' defences. The battle is described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and that account provides the earliest known written record of the existence of Reading. The Danes remained in Reading until late in 871, when they retreated to their winter quarters in London.

After the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror gave land in and around Reading to his foundation of Battle Abbey. In its 1086 Domesday Book listing, the town was explicitly described as a borough. The presence of six mills is recorded: four on land belonging to the king and two on the land given to Battle Abbey. Reading Abbey was founded in 1121 by Henry I, who is buried within the Abbey grounds. As part of his endowments, he gave the abbey his lands in Reading, along with land at Cholsey. It is not known how badly Reading was affected by the Black Death that swept through England in the 14th century, but it is known that the abbot of Reading Abbey, Henry of Appleford, was one of its victims in 1361, and that nearby Henley lost 60% of its population. The Abbey was largely destroyed in 1538 during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. The last abbot,Hugh Cook Faringdon, was subsequently tried and convicted of high treason and hanged, drawn and quartered in front of the Abbey Church.


 

 

Economy



 
The Oracle Corporation campus in Thames Valley Business Park

 

 

Reading is an important commercial centre in the Thames Valley and Southern England. The town hosts the headquarters of several British companies and the UK offices of foreign multinationals, as well as being a major retail centre. Whilst located close enough to London to be sometimes regarded as part of the London commuter belt, Reading is a net inward destination for commuters. During the morning peak period, there are some 30,000 inward arrivals in the town, compared to 24,000 departures.

Major companies BG Group, ING Direct, Microsoft, Oracle Hibu (formerly Yell Group), have their headquarters in Reading. The insurance company Prudentialhas an administration centre in the town. PepsiCo and Wrigley have offices. Reading has a significant historical involvement in the information technology industry, largely as a result of the early presence in the town of sites of International Computers Limited and Digital. Other technology companies with a significant presence in the town include Agilent Technologies, Cisco, Ericsson, Nvidia, SGI, Symantec, Verizon Business, and Websense. These companies are distributed around Reading or just outside the borough boundary, some in business parks including Thames Valley Park in nearby Earley, Green Park Business Park and Arlington Business Park.

Reading town centre is a major shopping centre. In 2007, an independent poll placed Reading 16th in a league table of best performing retail centres in the UK. The main shopping street is Broad Street, which runs between The Oracle in the east and Broad Street Mall in the west and was pedestrianised in 1995. The smaller Friars Walk in Friar Street is derelict and will be demolished if the proposed Station Hill redevelopment project goes ahead. There are three major department stores in Reading: John Lewis Reading (formerly known as Heelas), Debenhams and House of Fraser. The booksellerWaterstone's has two branches in Reading. Their Broad Street branch is a conversion of a nonconformist chapel dating from 1707. Besides the two major shopping malls, Reading has three smaller shopping arcades, the Bristol and West Arcade, Harris Arcade and The Walk, which contain smaller specialist stores. An older form of retail facility is represented byUnion Street, popularly known as Smelly Alley. Reading has no indoor market, but there is a street market in Hosier Street. A farmers' market operates on two Saturdays a month.

 

 

 

 

 

Public services

 

 

 

 

The Royal Berkshire Hospital original frontage, built in 1839 with bath stone





Reading has over 100 parks and playgrounds, including 5 miles (8.0 km) of riverside paths. In the town centre is Forbury Gardens, a public park built on the site of the outer court of Reading Abbey. The largest public park in Reading is Prospect Park, previously an estate owned by Frances Kendrick and acquired by the Reading Corporation in 1901.

The principal National Health Service (NHS) hospital in Reading is the Royal Berkshire Hospital, founded in 1839 and much enlarged and rebuilt since. A second major NHS general hospital, the Battle Hospital, closed in 2005. Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust runs a NHS hospital, Prospect Park Hospital, that specialises in the provision of care for people with mental health and learning disabilities. Reading has three private hospitals, the Berkshire Independent Hospital in Coley Park, the Dunedin Hospital situated on the main A4Bath Road, and the Circle Hospital at Kennet Island.

The Reading Borough Public Library service dates back to 1877. Initially housed in Reading Town Hall, the central branch of the library relocated in 1985 to a new building on King's Road.

Mains water and sewerage services are supplied by Thames Water Utilities Limited, a private sector water supply company, whilst water abstraction and disposal is regulated by the Environment Agency. Reading's water supply is largely derived from underground aquifers, and as a consequence the water is hard.

The commercial energy supplier for electricity and gas is at the consumer's choice. Southern Electric runs the local electricity distribution network, while Scotia Gas Networks runs the gas distribution network. A notable part of the local energy infrastructure is the presence of a 2-megawatt (peak) Enercon wind turbine at Green Park Business Park, wired to the local sub-grid. It has the potential to produce 3.5 million units of electricity a year, enough to power over a thousand homes.

The dialling code for fixed-line telephones in Reading is 0118. BT provides fixed-line telephone coverage throughout the town and ADSL broadband internet connection to most areas. Parts of Reading are cabled by Virgin Media, supplying cable television, telephone and broadband internet connections.

 

 

 

 

 

Education




 

The University of Reading's main Whiteknights Campus


Reading School, founded in 1125, is the 16th oldest school in England. There are six other state secondary schools and 37 state primary schools within the borough, together with a number of private and independent schools and nurseries.

Reading College has provided further education in Reading since 1955, with over 8,500 local learners on over 900 courses.

The University of Reading was established in 1892 as an affiliate of Oxford University. It moved to its London Road Campus in 1904 and to its new Whiteknights Campus in 1947. It took over the Bulmershe College of Higher Education, a teacher training college, in 1989, becoming Bulmershe Court Campus. The Henley Management College, situated in Buckinghamshire and about 10 miles (16 km) from Reading, was taken over in 2008, becoming Greenlands Campus. The University of West Londonmaintains a presence in the town for its higher education students, principally in nursing, but has now divested itself of its previous ownership of Reading College and its further education students.

English language schools located in Reading include Gateway Languages, The English Language Centre, ELC London Street and Eurospeak Language School.


Museums




The Museum of Reading opened in 1883 in the town's municipal buildings. It contains galleries relating to the history of Reading and to the excavations of Calleva Atrebatum, together with a full-size replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, an art collection, and galleries relating to Huntley and Palmers.

The Museum of English Rural Life, inf natio East Reading, is a museum dedicated to recording the changing face of farming and the countryside in England. It houses designated collections onal importance. It is owned and run by the University of Reading, as are the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, the Cole Museum of Zoology and the Harris Botanic Gardens, all of which can be found on the university's Whiteknights Campus.

The small Riverside Museum at Blake's Lock tells the story of Reading's two rivers, the Kennet and the Thames. In the suburb of Woodley, the Museum of Berkshire Aviation has a collection of aircraft and other artefacts relating to the aircraft industry in the town.




 

 

Religion

 
St Mary's Church tower, chequered with flint and ashlar

Reading Minster, or the Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin as it is more properly known, is Reading's oldest ecclesiastical foundation, known to have been founded by the 9th century and possibly earlier. Although eclipsed in importance by the later Abbey, Reading Minster has regained its importance since the destruction of the Abbey.

Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in 1121. He was buried there, as were parts of his daughter Empress Matilda, William of Poitiers, Constance of York, and Princess Isabella of Cornwall, among others. The abbey was one of the pilgrimage centres of medieval England; it held over 230 relics including the hand of St. James. Today all that remains of the abbey are the inner rubble cores of the walls of many of the major buildings of the abbey, together with a much restored inner gateway and the intact hospitium.

The mediaeval borough of Reading was served by three parish churches: Reading Minster,St Giles' Church, and St Laurence's Church. All are still in use by the Church of England. The Franciscan friars built a friary in the town in 1311. After the friars were expelled in 1538, the building was used as a hospital, a poorhouse, and a jail, before being restored as the Church of England parish church of Greyfriars Church in 1863.

The Bishop of Reading is a suffragan bishop within the Church of England's Diocese of Oxford. The bishop is based in Reading, and is responsible for the archdeaconry of Berkshire. There are a total of 18 Church of England parish churches in Reading.





 
The Town Hall and St Laurence's Church tower from the Market Place

 

 

 

 

 

St James's Church was built on a portion of the site of the abbey between 1837–40, and marked the return of the Roman Catholic faith to Reading. Reading was also the site of the death of Blessed Dominic Barberi, the Catholic missionary to England in the 19th century who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic faith. There are now a total of 8 Roman Catholic parish churches in Reading.

Reading has had an organized Jewish community since 1886. At least one Jewish family living in the area has been traced back as far as 1842. The group grew to 13 families, who in 1886 declared themselves a community and commenced building a synagogue. On 31 October 1900, Reading Synagogue officially opened in a solemn public ceremony, packed to capacity with dignitaries, lead by the Chief RabbiHermann Adler. Reading Synagogue, which still stands on its original site at the junction of Goldsmid Road and Clifton Street near the town centre, is a Grade 2-listed historical structure, built to a traditional design in the Moorish style. The community forms the spiritual and communal centre for Jews in Berkshire and surrounding counties and is affiliated with the Orthodox United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Reading also has a Liberal Jewish community which convenes in the Reading QuakerMeeting House and a UK Reform Jewishcommunity which convenes in nearby Maidenhead Synagogue.

Reading also has places of worship of other religions, the Shantideva Mahayana Buddhist centre, a Hindu temple, a Sikhgurdwara, a Salvation Army citadel, a Quaker meeting house, and a Christadelphian Hall.

There is presently one mosque, the Central Reading Mosque.The £3–4m Abu Bakr Islamic Centre, on Oxford Road inWest Reading, was granted planning permission in 2002. The community-funded project began construction in 2006, but, as of July 2008, had no estimated completion date. A second Islamic centre in eastern Reading has also been granted planning permission. This £4m project has garnered some controversy.


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