Having secured High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) status for three conservation areas, Reading joins one of 68 places in England to receive a share of a £95 million government fund.
Over the course of a 4-year programme, which commenced in 2020, Reading will receive up to £700k to fund community, cultural and conservation work. This amount will be matched by Reading Borough Council.
Our High Street Heritage Action Zone programme is based within 3 designated conservation areas within Reading: Oxford Road, Castle Street, the southern end of St Mary’s Butts, and Market Place.
All these areas have distinct characters and histories, though they share similar challenges and have the potential to benefit from the investment in time, expertise, and finance the programme offers.
The town’s origins appear to be in the Saxon period around St Mary’s Minster Church at the crossing of an east-west route (Castle Street/Gun Street) and the north west-south east route along Bridge Street/St Mary’s Butts.
With the foundation of Reading Abbey by Henry I in 1121 the town flourished as the monastery was a major pilgrimage destination and one of Europe’s largest Royal monasteries. The town’s layout had a new focus with the triangular Market Place outside the Abbey’s main gate into The Forbury and the parallel east–west running Broad Street and Friar Street, and a new north–south route of London Street/Duke Street.
The many channels of the River Kennet are likely to have been important for waterpower for fuelling mills as the town developed its cloth industry processing wool and this became the town’s chief industry until it declined in by the mid 17th century. The plan of the town recorded by Speed’s map of 1610 is still largely recognisable.
The programme combines three complementary strands:
To read blogs about the history of the HSHAZ areas:
For latest releases about the HSHAZ project:
Historic England High Street Heritage Action Zones