The Crowsnest Guide to the town of Reading


Reading is in the Thames Valley about halfway between London and Oxford. It grew near the meeting place of the Rivers Thames and the Kennet which were the main transport routes through the ancient woodland which covered most of Southern England.


Even today, one of the main attractions of Reading is the number and quality of its transport links.


There is an excellent rail service to London and direct rail links to:-
Penzance - via Exeter and Plymouth;
Bristol - via Swindon and Bath;
Swansea - via Cardiff;
Hereford - via the Cotswold line and Worcester;
Birmingham and the North - via Oxford and Coventry;
Poole and Weymouth - via Winchester and Southampton;
Gatwick Airport; and
London Waterloo for Eurostar services to Paris, Bruxelles and Disneyland, Paris.

Branch lines offer easy day trips to Henley, Windsor or Marlow.


The M4 motorway linking London to Bristol, South Wales and the South West of England runs South of the Town. Further South, the M3 motorway provides a link to the South Coast. Heading North, the M40 motorway gives access to Birmingham and the M1 and M6 routes. There is a regular coach service from the Railway Station to Heathrow Airport.


The towpaths along the Thames and Kennet provide easy walking conditions and quick access to the countryside. A long distance footpath, the Ridgeway, passes nearby.


Both the Thames and the Kennet are navigable. A variety of boats are available for hire in Reading. The restored Kennet and Avon Canal offers a route for narrow boats to the West. Larger boats can follow the Thames at least as far as Osney (Oxford) where a low bridge prevents prevents progress to those needing more than 2.3m headroom. Smaller craft can take the Thames West to Lechlade or the Oxford canal North to the Midlands. There are also passenger boat services in summer to Mapledurham House or Henley.


London Gatwick Airport - Direct Rail Service - Approximately hourly
London Heathrow Airport - Direct Coach Service from the Railway Station - Approximately half-hourly


Although a good base for visiting the Thames Valley, Reading itself offers some attractions.

The Abbey Ruins - Burial place of King Henry I
The Hexagon Theatre
Rivermead Sports Centre - Venue for the WOMAD and Reading Rock Festivals
Reading Gaol - Still in use - Made famous by Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol
Reading Museum and Art Gallery - Recently refurbished - Has a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry
Waterways Museum - At Blakes Lock near the mouth of the Kennet and Avon Canal
Kings Meadow, Hills Meadow, Thames Side Promenade - Pleasant walks beside the Thames
Horse riding is available nearby at Wellington Riding


Once famous for Beer, Biscuits and Bacon as well as seed production, Reading has seen these industries close down or move away. There is still a large brewery on the edge of Reading, near the M4 but the town centre site of the old brewery is about to be redeveloped for a major new shopping centre.

The main stay of employment is now the computer industry with Microsoft, Digital, Hewlett Packard and Oracle all having large offices in or near the town. One of the privatised water companies, Thames Water has its HQ near Reading Bridge. Recent developments in the Smallmead area, South of the town centre included a new stadium for Reading Football Club


Last Updated 2005-08

Any Wikipedia content included in this page is licensed under the GFDL