The Council has established and maintains a List of Locally Important Buildings. Local listing is a way of recognising the buildings and structures which do not meet the criteria for national listing, but are nonetheless significant to the heritage of the local area.
Criteria for inclusion of locally listed assets can be found in Appendix 2 of the Local Plan, whilst policy EN4 of the Local Plan sets out the Council’s approach to development which affects a locally important heritage asset. Buildings on the Local List should be retained and reused in the first instance.
If you think a building or structure meets the criteria referred to above, and would like to nominate it for inclusion on the Local List, please fill out the nominations form.
The buildings on the local list are listed below.
Date added to local list: 27 February 2013
The building is very distinctive and therefore considered to be of exceptional local significance. It is at present wholly complete and unaffected by inappropriate changes.
114 Kendrick Road is considered to meet a number of criteria in that it has a noteworthy quality of workmanship and materials as manifested in the ‘eye-brow’ dormers, which are understood to be challenging to construct. It has townscape value as it is considered to have prominence and a landmark quality that is fundamental to the sense of place of the locality.
Date added to local list: 9 May 2013
Oaklands Hall is a large detached Victorian Villa set in generous landscaped gardens and is a rare surviving example of this type of development within Reading. Whilst Oaklands Hall has been somewhat altered, in terms of local meaning, the external appearance of the building has not been so altered as to diminish its significance. The building retains much of its original form and charm and is suitable for local listing to help enhance and sustain its condition and the visual amenity of this part of Reading.
Dated added to local list: 9 May 2013
Rotherfield Grange is a large detached Victorian Villa and is a rare surviving example of this type of development within Reading. Whilst Rotherfield Grange has been somewhat altered, in terms of local meaning, the external appearance of the building has not been so altered as to diminish its significance. The building retains much of its original form and charm and is suitable for local listing to help enhance and sustain its condition and the visual amenity of this part of Reading.
Date added to local list: 20 November 2013
120 London Road is a landmark former public house at Cemetery Junction, a main crossroads along the Bath Road leading to Reading from the east.
A public house has existed on the site since the 1830s, with photographic evidence of the public house existing from the 1870s. The building in its current form has been in place since the 1950s or later (a photograph of the building in its 1870s form exists in a 1955 photograph); however, the current building retains many features of the original and is attractive in its own right.
The building is composed of two-storeys, in brick, clad with stucco to resemble stone, and has a handsome 3-bay composition. The middle bay sits underneath a gabled pediment, with banded pilasters setting it off from the flanking, single bays. This middle section is composed of 3 bays, with two bay windows on a banded plinth. All the original timber sash windows appear to survive on the main façade (6/6 panes), and the flank elevations (except for the left, Ground floor which are ‘blind’ or in- filled). The whole composition is unusually good.
In addition, The Granby retains its original out- buildings (brick stable and stores) which is highly unusual. All are in good to fair condition, currently.
The Granby/ The Marquis of Granby has been a landmark public house on this site since at least 1830, and was in use until very recently. It is therefore of social importance as a community facility as well as serving as a landmark building for visitors to Reading.
Date added to local list: 1 December 2015
The building makes use of brickwork which although Victorian is distinctively from the Berkshire area due to use of clays found in the area, possibly at local kilns from areas such as Tilehurst.
The Gothic building retains exuberant polychromatic brickwork and stone dressings and an ogee turret roof at the rear angle. The building retains virtuoso yellow stock brickwork forming the plinth, dentillated string course, quoins and levelling courses and forming the chimney stack. The decorative fretted timberwork at the gables is particularly impressive. Dressed stone around the windows heads and cills with keystones shows particular quality.
The building is associated with a number of large villas along Craven Road, and the historic Berkshire Hospital building.
Date added to the local list: 20 October 2016
The northern, eastern and western ranges of Pearson’s Court were built in 1913 and designed by a local architectural practice C Smith & Son; they are the second oldest, surviving, purpose-built halls of residence still in use at Reading University. C Smith & Son also designed other buildings for the University of Reading which include the grade II listed Wantage Hall and much of the London Road Campus, including the grade II listed University Great Hall. Photographs of the Library and the Physics Research Laboratories in Holt (1977) show strong similarities in form, materials and architectural detailing to Pearson’s Court. As such, Pearson’s Court is considered to be representative of a style of ‘red brick’ buildings that were characteristic of the University of Reading in the early 20th century.
Although not especially noteworthy for its architectural styling, Pearson’s Court is a well-built and serviceable building which is constructed in red and russet brick with limestone dressings. The three storey residential blocks arranged along two sides of the courtyard have a central pediment and doorway, with 16 pane sash windows surviving at the first and ground floor levels and 12 pane sashes at third floor. The external elevations of the hall blocks have central pedimented stair towers projecting with later single storey rear extensions forming the kitchenette area. This elevation has less architectural significance than the courtyard elevation.
The northern range has a central entrance block with a central pedimented block on the courtyard side, with ground floor pilasters, brick quoins, sash windows and a central clock and a small ogee lantern tower. The later southern range forms a single storey pedimented block.
Date added to local list: 27 April 2017
Date of building is thought to be 1877 and may have originally been known as the Rising Sun Tavern. Extensions were probably added around 1900.
This is a typical Victorian pub design and there were at one time likely to have been many more in the down centre.
Some please architectural features and at first floor in particular, are decorative brick and tilework/ tile-hanging which is characteristic of Reading.
Exhibiting interesting brickwork detailing around the window reveals in the form of corbelled bricks and pilasters. The roof retains plain tiles, decorative ridge tiles, a central gabled dormer with decorative barge boards and two unusual raised roof sections over the flanking first floor windows. The gable end chimneys appear to have been truncated.
The ground floor appears to retain the historic architectural detailing in the form of stone or tile over brick forming pilasters between windows (windows replaced) with lower decorative panels. There is a later extension to the right.
The building is by the practice of Albury & Brown, a noted architectural practice in Reading, who are responsible for many Reading buildings including (the original Heelas store, Caversham Free Library, Battle Library). Albury was clearly an important local architect of his time; he had links to Alfred Waterhouse and appears to use a style which often appears quite reminiscent of Waterhouse. He clearly mentored many other architects, listed in the Directory of British Architects 1834-1914.
Date added to local list: 22 May 2017
Date of building looks to be around 1900, possibly 1903. Building is now integrated within the wider (architecturally later) office and industrial depot SSE complex on Vastern Road, but is clearly architecturally separately identifiable and distinct, Building thought to be connected to the electric works. In 1903 the electric tramways also opened in Reading (Reading Corporation Tramways) and although this appears to be unconnected to this building, there was clearly an electric revolution in the town at that time, and it could mean that this may be the last original part of the original electric works.
The street directory entry for Vastern Road in 1933 suggests that it might have been an individual building as a John Edwards is listed at 55 Vastern Road. The 1939 register lists him as the ‘electric works superintendent’, so there is the possibility that this was the caretaker’s lodge to the electric works.
Main construction is orange brick in Flemish Bond with some grey/blue brick, which is characteristic of Reading. Liberal use of stone suggests a higher quality building. The style is an eclectic mix of a number of architectural styles, making use of polychromatic effects, including Neo-Gothic elements, appearing to be a Victorian building in a kind of Classical/Georgian revival, fashionable at the time.
There is use of stone in the string work, porticos, headers and pillars which gives this small building grandeur beyond its size.
The Local Studies Library has found an entry in Sidney Gold’s book on local architects does say that the stores for the Reading Electric Co. on Vastern Road were built in 1903 or thereabouts, and the architect was Frederick William Albury (d.1912). Albury & Brown were a noted architectural practice in Reading.
Date added to the local list: 3 April 2017
Building constructed in 1911. Is substantially complete, although the original individual baths were replaced with one swimming pool and the roof covering of the pool area appears to be more modern. Greatest significance is in terms of the frontal building (Kings Road), although not great in scale, the intricacy and largely intact frontal building in the Italianate Style makes it a pleasing building of townscape merit.
The building has historical association with local philanthropist (through his coal business) Arthur Hill, J.P. was Mayor of the Borough of Reading from 1883-1887. The Arthur Hill Swimming Baths were completed in 1911 in his memory, by his children, as Hill died in 1909. The architect was C B Willcocks and the builder was Robert Curtis. The land was donated by Dr. Jamieson Hurry J.P., who married Hill’s daughter and was responsible for the founding of West Reading Library (Grade II)(now Battle Library). Arthur Hill and Octavia Hill, half-sister of Arthur Hill and founder of the National Trust, attended the opening of the building. The building has played an influential role as part of the social well-being of the town by providing the first covered bathing facility in the town, instead of bathing in the Thames or the Kings Meadow Baths (which are open air). Also used by soldiers in wartime and for health reasons, canoe-clubs, and life-saving courses.
It shows noteworthy quality of workmanship and materials in an ornate Victorian style: portico, original sash windows, bracketed eaves, decorative brickwork, stone window surrounds, original matching chimneys. Rear section of building has some further interest (arches and columns) but these are not fully revealed.
Conrad Birdwood Willcocks was an architect from Caversham, who also worked on Fairmile Hospital, Cholsey (Listed Grade II). He also appears to have been involved in the design of All Saint’s Hall (Downshire Square) (Grade II) and appears to have lectured in architecture.
Date added to local list: 21 February 2018
This building meets the adopted criteria for adding buildings or structures to the list of buildings or structures with local heritage significance as set out in the Council’s Sites and Detailed Policies Document.
In summary 24 and 24A Southcote Road: Has a prolonged and direct association with figures or events of local interest. Is representative of a style that is characteristic of Reading. The building has a noteworthy quality of workmanship and materials. The building or structure is the work of a notable local /national architect/engineer/builder. The building has prominence and a landmark quality that is fundamental to the sense of place of the locality.
The elements of the building which contribute to its essential character and contribute to its heritage significance remain largely complete and unaltered. The original design and function of the building, and its architectural elements, remain clearly discernible.
The following is paraphrased from A Road of Distinction – a noble history of Southcote Road Part 2 – Walking Southwards – East Side by Anne Green Jesse (https://www.so-dive-in.co.uk/files/2016/09/Part-2.-B-East-Side-of-Southcote-Road.-odt.pdf).
Originally known as ‘Omer House’, the building was designed and built by Mr John Omer Cooper in 1865. His initials and the date of construction are included in the decorative shields above the ground floor windows. Mr John Omer Cooper who lived in Denmark House, across the street, ran an Estate Agent/Auctioneer/Surveyors business in Reading.
The road was originally known as Southcote (or Southcot) Crescent.
The first occupants of the house were Miss Sarah Lyons 52 from Belfast, and her friend Miss Mary Wilson 49 from Atwick Yorkshire. They had with them Lucy Wheeler 25 Parlour Maid; Emma Hewitt 39 Cook; Harriet Bothwell 39 Housemaid. These two ladies lived in the house until 1877.
The house was subsequently occupied by Mr John Omer Cooper, from c.1877 – 1884. He changed the name of the house to ‘Summerfield’ and lived there with his wife Mary Ann Webb, daughter of Richard Webb of Calcot Gardens.
The couple’s son, John James Cooper (born 1850), joined the family firm ‘Mr. J. Omer Cooper and Son’ at 162 Friar Street Reading and carried on the family business. He later moved to Elmhurst Road, Reading. At his death in 1920 he left behind his wife Henrietta when he left behind four children, two of which survived him. Mr John James Cooper was associated with the struggling Reading Standard newspaper and helped to bring it up to the leading newspaper in Berkshire.
In c. 1884, Mr Francis Skurray, a corn merchant, took over the residence of Summerfield house, and lived there with his wife Hester and children Francis 16 and Thomas 9. Thomas Skurray later played for Reading Football Club. The family lived there until 1886. The Coach House to the right housed their servants.
Their son, Thomas Skurray was educated at King Alfred’s School in Wantage and Reading School. Skurray joined T H Field & Sons, brewers of Shillingford, Berkshire which, in 1889 was taken over by Morlands Brewery. Skurray joined the Morlands board and became joint managing director in December 1906 and chairman in December 1923. Thomas Skurray sat as chairman of Berkshire County Council from 1931-1938 and was known by the following acronym:
S upreme he sits in Council Hall
K eeping a ceaseless watch o’er all
U ntiring in his chosen work
R efusing any task to shirk
R esolved his county’s rate shall be
A thing too small for eye to see
Y ea, verily, A King is he
1888 Mr Charles Philbrick, Head Tanner of the tannery ‘C & G Philbrick’, a tannery in Katesgrove Lane moved in. Charles Philbrick died in 1921 but his wife Euphemia (nee Webster) continued to live there until her death in 1942.
From 1942 – 1949 the property appears to have become the premises for the Central Land Board.
By 1962 it had been divided into 3 flats and by 1964 there were between 5 and 7 flats.
The property comprises a large and impressive three storey villa, located in a prominent position at the junction of Southcote Road and Tilehurst Road and set within its own large gardens.
Front boundary wall of decorative pierced diaper work pattern brickwork, with brick coping and brick entrance piers with stone capping to left. Those to the right widened and partly re-built in non-matching brickwork.
The building is highly ornate, being built of decorative red brickwork in English bond, with grey brick diaper-work across the front elevation.
Porch: The ground floor has a large central rendered, open-sided classical porch, with balcony over. The square supporting columns have a strap-work decoration, with moulded arches with keystone decoration. There is a projecting cornice with ovolo decoration below and turned balustrades at ground floor level.
Ground floor: Tripartite windows to right and left of porch, with stone mullions, and moulded arched heads with keystone decoration over central arch. Sash windows. Projecting cornice with ovolo decoration below and a large central panel above with shield above the window with intertwined initials ‘JOC’ for J Omer Cooper and inscription ‘AD 1865’ with side scrolls.
First floor: Three sliding sash windows, with moulded surrounds, segmental heads and projecting side scrolls. Moulded stone string course between ground and first storey windows.
Second floor: Three sliding sash windows with flat, stone surrounds. Central window with central stone motif over window.
Roof: Pyramidal roof, with over-hanging eaves exposing decorative moulded rafters ends.
Central decorative dutch gable in brickwork, with stone surrounds, a central oval window with decorative stone surround and an ornamental finial surmounting the whole.
Three large chimney stacks projecting above roof level, formed of three brick chimneys with stone flaunching and stone chimney pots.
Two storey extension to left, in brick with stone surrounds around windows and hipped roof. Single storey extension to left of this.
The premises included outbuildings including a coach house which were demolished in the 1950s and a bungalow was built on the site ‘The Dwarfs’ and now flats ‘Hampton Towers’. This property was numbered 22 and at this time Summerfield was renumbered 24.
Large flat roof modern extension to right of poor quality.
In conclusion, as well as proven local associations with local historic figures, the building is considered to have townscape value, and has a ‘sense of place’ being in a brickwork style characteristic of Reading and displays both innovation and virtuosity in the architectural design and the quality of the workmanship and materials.
Date added to local list: 13 September 2018
South Branch Library (now Whitley Library) was opened on Tuesday 2 April 1935 by the Mayor Dr G.H.R Holden. It was the first purpose built community building in the centre of Whitley. It is a significant building in the development of the community of South Reading and was in place before many of the houses around it had been built. It pre-dates the nearby community centre opened in the 1940s and which now houses Whitley Library which has now vacated the original building.
The building has a distinctive frontage, which has a round plaque inserted in the triangular construction above the entrance door with ‘LIBRARY’ embossed on it and a wreath surrounding the letters. The building has been extended to the south but that has not detracted from the look and shape of the original building façade. Behind the library is a Second World War ARP post or shelter. It is marked on a map of ARP posts in Reading Museum’s collection and its position is clearly visible on the ground. Before any change in use of the site takes place this should be fully documented and investigated in terms of its heritage significance.
This whole library site is a significant local landmark of considerable community significance. The library building that has served the community for over 80 years since it opened in 1935.
During the Second World War the library was an ARP group headquarters and there is still an underground post or air raid shelter on the site behind the library.
The building was socially important as the local library which as well as providing books also held activities for the local community.
Most early Whitley community buildings no longer exist in their original form.
a) Sense of Place
The style is characteristic of municipal and institutional developments in Reading at that time. Very few examples of this style remain and this one is particularly distinctive because of its façade and ‘LIBRARY’ in bronze letters in a cartouche over the entrance.
It has been referred to as ‘the architecture of hope’.
When the library was opened in April 1935 the construction was described as brick, faced with two inch bricks. The architect (at this point) is unknown.
Although understated, the building exhibits the use of non-standard materials of high quality with particular attention to detailing.
The main symmetrical façade consists of a large projecting, single storey, gabled entrance porch of brick with stone detailing. Behind the projecting porch entrance is a two storey height, symmetrical brick gable with stone parapet and tow flanking, flat roofed ‘wings’. The gable has a central stone plaque with surrounding wreath and the word “Library” in bronze in typical Art Deco style font.
The brickwork is all well-built in Scottish bond (5 courses of stretchers and 1 course of burnt headers) and built in thin, 2 inch bricks with light mortar with sharp inclusions.
The porch consists of brickwork with an arched entrance built of sandstone ashlar with moulding and recessed doorway; the porch has stone surrounds around two flanking windows of sandstone with decorative squares in relief at the corners; the stone parapet the front gable is slightly concaved and continues around building. The interior is largely ‘institutionalised’ with the only surviving features being some original doors. Original cast iron hoppers and down pipes exist. Windows have been replaced in uPVC throughout. The rear of the main building is constructed in the same materials but is devoid of architectural detailing. To the right is a flat roofed extension in matching style (but thicker) brick in stretcher bond; the extension is not of architectural or historic interest.
Date added to local list: 23 November 2018
The Architect, William Roland Howell, was a prominent figure in borough and county life, serving on Reading Council from 1911 to 1930 (including a stint as Mayor between 1921 and 1922), as Chairman of the Berkshire Society of Architects from 1922, and as Superintendent of Works for Berkshire from 1924.
The founders of the 1879 mission hall were Arthur Warwick (1854 -1925) and Martin John Sutton (Arthur Warwick), partners in Reading firm Suttons Seeds. William Lansbury and John Lawson Forfeitt were both Suttons employees who became Baptist missionaries in the Congo. In 1893 W L Forfeitt married Anne Maria Collier, daughter of Samuel J Collier.
Collier’s brickworks moved to Grovelands from Coley in 1870. It is more than possible that the bricks for Grovelands chapel came from Collier’s Grovelands brickworks.
The development of the western end of Reading’s Oxford Road began in 1877 with the construction of the Brock Barracks, one of a large number of new military ‘depots’ established under the provisions of the Registration of the Forces Act of 1871, which aimed to encourage infantry recruitment by allowing soldiers to serve in their own county regiment rather than being drafted further afield. There was at that time no church in the area, and in 1879 two Anglican laymen, the brothers Arthur Warwick and Martin John Sutton, founded a mission hall in Grovelands Road East (now Wilson Road) as a place of worship and virtuous recreation for the soldiers. A few years later this operation was taken over by Reading’s long-established Baptist community.
The site comprises two buildings: the main chapel of 1899 at the corner of Oxford Road and Wilson Road, and a smaller hall to the south, probably built as a Sunday school. The building itself is of red brown brick with terracotta dressings in an Arts and Crafts-influenced Free Renaissance style, and tiled roofs.
The high quality exterior of the former chapel is a stark contrast to the interior, where almost all original features have been removed by the church. In consequence the building was not accepted by Historic England (English Heritage as was) as being of national importance, but of “local interest for its pleasing architectural quality” and “the quality of the chapel’s exterior and the local standing of its architect give it considerable significance in the Reading context”.
Reading Civic Society considers, to the best of their knowledge, that the building is unique in Reading. It is noted also that the windows do not have painted frames, the brick appears to come right to the glass, which seems an appropriately economic design.
The building is a very prominent structure on Oxford Road and has considerable presence. The views from the West are particularly striking. The terracotta building with its marked bell tower, with the cupola, make a very distinctive and distinguished mark in this part of Reading surrounded as it is by modest terraced properties.
Date added to local list: 11 April 2019
James Williamson was the founder of the Williamson Manufacturing Company Limited and produced aerial cameras for the Great War. The Company continued to produce these through to and during the Second World War, in particular the G45 camera.
Production of aerial cameras for aircraft mapping and reconnaissance during the Second World War by Williamson’s. Manufacture of soap products at the factory when Bourjois took over the premises and also distribution of the perfumes of the company. Since then Gillette has used the factory for production of safety razors and other equipment.
At the time that the population of Whitley was growing quickly during the 1930s and after the war, the factory was and has since been a large employer of local Reading people and especially form the Whitley area.
The owners of the factory since it was built in 1939 have been important national and international businesses and employers – Williamson, Bourjois and Gillette UK.
The factory was built in the late 1930s at a time when the Whitley estate had been growing rapidly and the factory provided much needed local employment. It was built and extended in the art deco style, which was used in the building of many factories during the 1930s, including the Grade II listed Gillette factory at Brentford. It retains several unique and individual external features, including the tower (with its clock and special windows near the top), the planters, outside the north building entrance, the almost matching north and south building staff entrances with door furniture and brass work, and the gates at the vehicle entrance by the south side of the tower. Reading had designated the area as industrial before the Second World War and this was the first such building in that area. The factory has a unique position in Whitley and the wider Reading community both because of its art deco style and also because it is seen, and has been seen for nearly 80 years since the original building was erected, as a landmark on the Basingstoke Road.
Based on evidence currently available, there is a high level of architectural significance with the main building dating from between 1914 and 1939, being substantially complete and unaltered (excluding the interior). The later extension to the south of the clock tower, although built post 1939, was developed in the same style and is considered to add to the overall impact of the building as an important local landmark. The significance is focused on the exterior of the buildings.
It also has architectural interest as it provide a sense of place with virtuosity in the quality of workmanship and materials.
The building is an example of deliberate town planning before 1947 being associated with the Whitley estate and has Townscape value as a landmark building. The building has social importance (significance) having had an important role in the development of one of Reading’s communities. It also has industrial importance relating to the historic industrial processes and important business in the history of Reading particularly Williamson Optics and Gillette.
Date added to local list: 7 February 2020
Originally built as a Government building (the Inland Revenue). A handsome Edwardian building of 1902. The building is of 3½ storeys, with dormer windows at attic level. Built in red brick with Ashlar stone detailing forming the quoins of a canted bay at the junction of Station Road and Friar Street, and forming the gauged arch over the door into the canted bay. The door has a niche with stone surround above it above and a decorative stone relief. The main canted bay, corner elevation at the junction of Station Road and Friar Street is relatively unaltered and the historic form at first and second forms is clearly identifiable. Three bays on Friar Street and an impressive 11 bays on Station Road with a former main entrance with stone surround at ground floor level (now lost) emphasised by a segmental pediment at roof level with a decorative stone relief. Five impressive brick chimneys survive. Parapet with hipped slate roof behind with dormer windows with pitched roofs. Windows: 9 over 9 sashes survive at first and second floor levels with gauged brick arched heads with keystones. Interior and ground floor shopfronts largely altered.
Architects were E B Hoare and M Wheeler of Portman Square, London and Reading. The building is considered to be an early example of the Neo-Classical Style in Reading.
Date added to local list: 11 February 2020
A collection of buildings at the corner of Caversham Road and Northfield Road, with strong historical/social and industrial connections to the Reading beer industry.
The original owner, Henry Pendlebury Dowson, was a notable Reading figure. He was a well-known local businessman and maltster who owned two other malthouses in Reading. The buildings were built for the purposes of malting in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, but these were later converted to other commercial uses; although the principal structures survive. The buildings contain features notable to the area and the industry such as patterned brickwork and decorative arches and are an important feature in the local townscape.
Date added to local list: 1 December 2021
A memorial drinking fountain erected in 1908 in memory of Frank Attwells, a former Mayor of Reading, who died whilst in office in 1892. Frank Attwells founded a musical instrument manufacturer and piano dealers in Friar Street in 1866. In 1887 he took over the Royal County Theatre, also on Friar Street. His wife, Georgina, left money in her will for a memorial.
The fountain is constructed of Portland stone with a base of Aberdeen granite. The design shows elements of Indo-Sarcenic architecture. The fountain was designed by Charles Smith and Son of Reading, constructed by Collier and Catley, with stone masonry by Mr A F Jones and carving by Messrs Hayden and Batting.
The fountain has been moved slightly from its original position, but remains substantially unaltered. It makes an important contribution to the environment of the southern bank of the River Thames in this location.
Date added to local list: 1 December 2021
Kings Road Garden (formerly Huntley & Palmers Garden) is a surviving element of the former Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory that covered a substantial site around the Kennet from the mid-nineteenth century until the second half of the twentieth century. The Huntley & Palmers operation was a major part of Reading’s 19th Century industrial expansion, and Reading was renowned for its production of biscuits.
In 1846, Huntley & Palmers purchased an old silk mill and embarked on a programme of additions and expansions. In 1873 new buildings north of the river and the original site were added. Between 1867 and 1925 Huntley & Palmers systematically purchased the land and properties occupying the site of the Garden and land to the west of Watlington Street with the intention of creating a ‘Great Social Scheme’. The proposed social and recreation centre would have included dining rooms, smoking rooms, a social club, baths, gymnasium, and a great concert hall able to seat 2,500 people. However, the scheme was not implemented due to problems with transferring the licences of two public houses on the site, as well as increasing public sector welfare provision and financial difficulties experienced by the Company.
In 1937 Huntley & Palmer sold some of the site to Reading Corporation for the widening of Kings Road and the garden was laid-out at the same time as the building of new office buildings on King’s Road, an example of deliberate town planning from before the establishment of the modern planning system in 1947. The garden has a relationship with the former Huntley & Palmers Social Club to the east, across Kings Road, as the most prominent surviving elements of the Huntley & Palmers site.
The site comprises a small formal garden adjacent to Kings Road and the River Kennet. It includes footpaths and soft landscaping and retains its original layout albeit with subsequent changes to soft landscaping and the waterside boundary. Around the boundary to the north and west is a low brick retaining wall and wrought iron railings. The wrought iron gates bear the Huntley & Palmers initials, and the ironwork of the gates is in the art- deco style of the time.
Date added to local list: 12 January 2022
This row of four commercial shops, was designed c1868 by local architects, J T & W Brown. The two properties on either end, 85 and 88, had their street facades modified in the 1930s. The centre group of 86 and 87, still retain their original red brick facades on the first and second floors and retain their original, shallow pitched slate roof.
This group of Victorian commercial terraces is (apart from the George Hotel, dating from the 16th century, at the eastern end of the central shopping precinct) one of the oldest groupings of buildings in the central shopping area along Broad Street.
On the first and second floors of numbers 86, 87 and 87a, the original timber double hung windows are still in place. On the first floor the top sash is a semi-circular window with a rendered drip mould and small boss over the window openings. On the second floor, the windows are topped with a shallow arch on the top section, and also have a shallow arched rendered drip mould over. This is an unusual feature and there are not many buildings with this feature in the centre of Reading. There are six pairs of extant windows with this detail on the first and second floors.
While the ground floor shops fronts have been lost, this does not reduce the importance and contribution this group makes to the historic streetscape at the south western end of Broad Street. In contrast the northern side of Broad street has lost most of the original street facades, with only a few remaining historic buildings. On the roof, there are still original chimneys in place, above the shallow double pitched roof, which is still intact across all four properties.
Date added to local list: 2 March 2022
The Huntley and Palmer Social Club is a survivor from the Huntley & Palmers factory that covered a vast site around the Kennet from the mid-nineteenth century until the second half of the twentieth century.
In 1846 Huntley & Palmers purchased an old silk mill and embarked on a programme of additions and expansions. In 1873 new buildings north of the river and the original site were added.
The building is typical Reading red brick with coloured brick details.
The architect could have been local architect William Henry Woodman who is known to have worked on some of the factory buildings. He became borough surveyor in the mid 1850s. He has many significant Reading landmarks to his credit including the almshouses on Castle Street.
When Huntley & Palmers left Reading a piece of land was given to Reading Borough Council for the benefit of residents that included that on which the former social club stands.
The future of the building resulted in at least two campaigns. In March 1990 a group of artists took over the building a few weeks before RBC was due to begin using it as offices. The group wanted the council to give a commitment for the building to become an arts centre. An open day was held at ‘Biscuit Base’. Press quotes in the Evening Post included John Punter of Reading Civic Society wished “every support for the public use of a historic building.”
‘Don’t let Huntley & Palmers become history’. On 30 July 1994 at the factory garden (Huntley & Palmers, also given to RBC) a picnic was held to protest against its demolition. A local campaign led by Edward Hancock raised a petition of over 2,000 signatures that was presented to the RBC planning committee. The committee agreed to save the building.
By 1998 the building had been converted to social housing and was officially opened on 20 April along with new houses along the canal. The properties are owned and managed by Stonewater Ltd (registered society 20558R), previously Raglan Housing Association.
Date added to local list: 30 March 2022
Palmer Park was opened for the people of Reading in 1891. The land was gifted and buildings and structures commissioned by George Palmer, of Huntley & Palmers biscuit manufacturers, a major contributor to Reading’s 19th Century industrial expansion, who were present in Reading between 1822 and 1976.
The day after the opening of Palmer Park, the Daily Graphic newspaper (Thursday, Nov 5th, 1891) reported the fete held to mark the opening of the park and the granting of the freedom of the town to George Palmer. The paper says: “In the new park is a handsome pavilion” with “large public refreshment bar and room.” These buildings epitomise the Victorian philanthropist’s lasting legacy to Reading.
The Victorian tradition of public, free to access urban parks was characteristic of the period, addressing concerns about the need for the working and middle classes to access space for leisure and recreation. As is the case with Palmer Park, such parks provided a welcome relief to areas with substantial amounts of worker housing. Palmer Park has fulfilled a role as a vital area of open space for the people of Reading and beyond for over a century.
The buildings and gated entrance were designed by local architect William Ravenscroft, also responsible for a number of other buildings of historic significance in and around Reading, and show features of both Arts & Crafts and Gothic styles.
The Pavilion and associated structures are substantially complete and unaltered and of definite significance to the people of Reading. The Pavilion itself, designed as a refreshment house for users of the park, is as of June 2020 occupied by Tutu’s Ethiopian Table. On the western side, the Caretaker’s / Keeper’s residence is still in residential use. However, the associated toilet block, found close by (within the children’s play area) is currently unused, and has been allowed to fall into some disrepair. The gated entrances, comprising ornate railings, gates and pillars bearing the arms of the Borough of Reading and George Palmer.
The local listing covers the following elements:
The Pavilion and keeper’s residence;
Former toilet block;
Gated entrance from Wokingham Road; and
Gated entrance from London Road.
Date added to local list: 30 March 2022
It is thought that the house at 40 Christchurch Road was probably built for Lady Henrietta St Maur, who was living there in 1861. This fits in with historical maps, which shows the house on an 1877 OS map.
Lady Henrietta St Maur (1810-1890), was daughter of Edward St Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset (1775-1855) and the sister of the 12th Duke of Somerset. She never married but had an influencing role as a Woman of Society in Reading. She died in March, 1890 and was buried in Reading at London Road cemetery.
The house was a substantial grand Victorian Villa. The original 1860s house is built of brick with grey and red brick patterns, stone-work quoins and window frames. The pattern is of three grey stretchers and one red header. The 1890s extensions are primarily red brick in English Bond. The hanging tiles in the gables were added later, probably when the west wing was added at the end of the nineteenth century. Hanging tiles are common in Reading and are a common feature in buildings of this time. The keystone of the front porch bears a ‘W’ (presumably for Henry Marriage Wallis) and the date, 1897.
Ashton Lodge is the last remaining example of the villas built in the period at the end of the 1850s and beginning of the 1860s along Christchurch Road (at the time Southern Hill). These included Cintra Lodge next door to the west, but this has since been demolished.
Henry Marriage Wallis (1879-1941) lived at the house from the late 1890s, until at least the 1920s. He was the son of Henry Wallis (1854-1899) a corn merchant, originally from Suffolk. They were a Quaker family. The business continued as Wallis, Son and Wells until 1939. H M Wallis participated in local civic life as a JP (1894) and was also involved with the Reading branch of the NSPCC, Reading Literary and Scientific Society and Reading Fat Stock Association. He was a founder member of the Reading Natural History Society. In 1914. Henry Wallis was involved with housing Belgian refugees in Reading and this continued until 1919. 635 people were registered by the Committee for the Relief of Belgian Refugees.
During the Second World War the house was used by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and was the regional office for the National Savings Committee. This continued until 1957. Thereafter it has been the home of a school: Wakefield Lodge, Reading Alternative School, Phoenix College and now Hamilton School. The school is now moving to new premises in Crescent Road. Ashton Lodge has formed part of Reading’s special school provision for over 60 years. The rear garden backing on to Cintra Park is now covered with outbuildings and extensions added for its education use, but it is the original villa and the 19th Century extensions that are the main features of importance.”