Reading is a large University town in the Royal County of Berkshire, situated approx. 40 miles west of London sited where the River Thames meets the River Kennet. Reading is one of the largest urban areas in the UK to not have city status & had been a strategic trading centre for many hundreds of years, being a major staging post on the Bath Road between London & Bristol. In the 18th & 19th century, Reading became a major manufacturing centre significantly benefitting firstly from the advent of the Kennet & Avon Canel then the Great Western Railway. Reading's famous industries became known as the '3 Bs' of 'biscuits, bullbs & beer' with Huntley & Palmer, Suttons Seeds & Simonds Brewery respectively being based in the area. Nowadays, Reading is a major commercial centre particularly for IT & insurance with many well-known international companies having their heaquarters in & around the town. Reading town centre is a popular shopping destination & boasts the huge Oracle shopping mall where most major retailers are represented. As well as the town centre itself, the Reading urban area has grown to incorporate a number of suburbs and other districts including Tilehurst, Purley-on-Thames, Caversham, Emmer Green, Whitley Wood, Earley & Woodley.
Reading enjoys excellent communication links, with the M4 motorway running to the south of the town with access from junctions 10, 11 & 12. The recently redeveloped Reading railway station provides a swift & frequent service to London Paddington in approx. 22 minutes. London Heathrow Airport is approx. 25 miles away. Although Reading relatively near London for commuters, the town is actually a net inward destination for comuters as fewer people commute out of rather than into Reading on a daily basis.
Reading School founded in 12th Century is one of the country's oldest schools. There are 6 other state secondary schools plus a number of notable public schools around the town. Reading College & Reading University provide further education with a diverse range of courses.
Sport & Leisure
The Madjeski Stadium is home to both Reading Football Club (The Royals) & London Irish Rugby Club. Reading FC formed in 1871 have been Championship winners in 2005-6 & 2011-2. Reading hosts a Half Marathon every year in March attracting some 16,000 competitors. Perhaps the town is most famous for the Reading Festival held over the August Bank Holiday; the largest music festival in the UK after Glastonbury.
Notable Past & Present Residents
- Jane Austen – Author
- Oscar Wilde – Poet & Playwright
- Sir John Madejski - Entrepreneur
- Michael Foot – Politician
- Chris Tarrant – Radio & TV Braodcaster
- Ricky Gervais – Comedian
- Richard Burns – Rally driver