Reading Visitor information
Reading is a large town in England. The town originated as a river port at the confluence of the rivers Thames and Kennet, both of which are navigable. Outside of the central area of the city, the valley floors containing the two rivers still remain for the most part unimproved floodplain, which subject to occasional flooding. During the medieval period, Reading was an important national centre, being the site of an well known monastery and having very strong royal ties. Historically, the town has been famous for the "Three Bs", which are beer, bulbs and biscuits. Today, the city remains a hugely successful commercial centre – many major companies, such as Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard have a storn presence in the area. More recently, the giants Microsoft and Oracle have both established multi-building campuses in several sites throughout the town. Among other technology companies with a significant local operations in the town there is Bang & Olufsen, Ericsson, Virgin Media and Xerox. The directories company Yell Group and others, like PepsiCo and Holiday Inn also have large offices.
Reading is also the home of two universities, boasting thus a large student population. The University of Reading was founded in 1892 and was an affiliate of the University of Oxford. Reading was declared an independent university in 1926 and moved onto the Whiteknights Campus in 1947. Since 1971 Reading hosts one of the biggest music festivals in England, the Reading Festival. Since 1999, this festival has been twinned with the Leeds festival, which takes place at the same time, with the same acts appearing at both festivals, but on different days. The city is the home of musician Mike Oldfield and the first and probably most famous singer of hard rock band Uriah Heep, David Byron, lived his last years in Reading before his death in 1985.
The local shopping centre, named The Oracle, was built in 1999 and is named after the 17th century workhouse founded by John Kendrick which had previously stood on the site. The Museum of Reading first opened in 1883 and is housed in the Town Hall, parts of which date back as far as a hundred years earlier to 1786. The museum hosts galleries depicting to the history of the city and its related industries. The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, the Cole Museum of Zoology and the Harris Botanic Gardens are all is situated on the university’s Whiteknights Campus. In the suburb of Woodley, the Museum of Berkshire Aviation is also a worth-while destination – it has a large collection of aircraft, which relate relate to the town’s aircraft industry.
Reading university accommodation
Reading is home to two universities, who offer a wide range of accommodation in convenient areas of the city. It should be understood that the university halls are designed primarily for students: not children or for adults expecting a high level of luxury. However, with this in mind, the halls do meet level of comfort that we expect most visitors to be happy with, and we will welcome any feedback where this is not the case.
Getting around Reading
Reading is 41 miles (66 km) west of central London and around 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Oxford. The city is closely skirted by the M4 motorway, which serves it via three junctions (J10-12). The city is also major intersection point on the national rail system and Reading station is a busy transfer point between many of the England’s cities. It is linked via railway to both Paddington and Waterloo stations in London. The Paddington route offers both fast (around 30 minutes) and stopping services, whilst the Waterloo line offers only the latter. Inter-city services also connect the city to Bristol, Cardiff and South Wales, Exeter, Plymouth and South West England, Birmingham and the North of England, and Southampton and Bournemouth.
There are additional local services linking Reading to Oxford, Newbury, Basingstoke and Guildford. The nearest airport is London Heathrow, which is 25 miles (40 km) and can be reached by car or by the express RailAir bus service. London Gatwick is 60 miles (97 km) away by road and can also be reached by direct trains from Reading. Away from London, the nearest airport is Southampton Airport, which is aorund 45 miles (72 km) away by road.