Civic Society Membership renewal

The membership year runs from January to December and so renewals are now due.  We do hope that existing members will wish to rejoin to support our activities. In March we are planning hold the AGM (these are always brief) along with a talk.  COVID may however push us on line.

The membership renewal form may be accessed Membership renewal form 2022  The annual fee is £10 (single) or £15 (for two people at the same address).  The membership form gives details of our bank account to enable payment electronically.  We do however accept the good old fashioned cheque.

Chestnut Walk trees to be replaced

Removal of the Trees in Chestnut Walk

Chestnut Walk

(some text with thanks to Friends of Reading Abbey, image Reading Chronicle whose report is HERE)

Chestnut Walk Tree Replacement is part of £160,000 Improvement Plan by Reading Council. A total of 18 distinctive mature horse chestnut trees along the Walk have been declining for a number of years, suffering from canker, fungal brackets and other defects. Inspections have found they are a risk to public safety and four have been felled previously for the same reason. Work to remove the remaining horse chestnuts is set to begin on 17 February. They will be replaced with sweet chestnuts, a large, robust species known to be resilient to the issues that affected these trees, and for their tolerance in urban environments. Depending on the condition of the felled horse chestnut trees, some of the wood may be recyclable with a view using it for artwork or seating in other parks and open spaces across Reading. Chestnut Walk did not have any pedestrian lighting. As part of the wider Council Improvement scheme, new lighting will also be installed, as well as a CCTV camera to improve security along what is already a popular direct route into the town centre. There was a lot of ill-informed (being kind) opposition on social media to RBC’s well researched rational for having to take this action. One protestor suggested that the diseased trees had to be preserved as they “could have been seen by Oscar Wilde” . This being in 1897 so the trees would have been 123 years lower so hardly likely to have been higher than the wall at best. Simply bonkers!

William Marshal: ‘The Greatest Knight’

8 November 2019.

The information panel about William Marshal, The Greatest Knight, was unveiled on 7th November. The cost of some £5,000 was funded by donations from some 50 members of Reading Civic Society and Caversham and District Residents Association, Gift Aid and CADRA itself. Eight Key Stage 2 children from Marshal House from Caversham Heights Primary School walked to the viewing point on Caversham Bridge to help ‘unwrap’ the plaque. The children really enjoyed learning more about the impressive life of William Marshal and his legacy, not only for Caversham, but for the whole country. They agreed it was a lovely event and were very grateful to Helen Lambert and CADRA for inviting them. The project would not have been possible without the excellent response to the appeal for funds and we would like to thank the very kind donors for their generous donations. Reading Borough Council have been very supportive of the project. Reading Civic Society (a registered charity) has agreed to receive donations and apply for Gift Aid for the project. See also CADRA’s Website CADRA Page about Wm Marshal Info Panel

New website for all Arts, Culture and Heritage Events

New website for all Arts, Culture and Heritage Events was launched at South Street Arts Centre on 29 October. It will replace the existing Reading Arts and Venues website shortly.  The big change is that groups other than RBC related venues are able to add their events to the programme (after some training) and so far 60 groups have signed up to take part. Additionally a full time post has been funded jointly by the Council and Reading UK for 4 years.  The site will become the Time Out for Reading and a Virtual Cultural and Heritage Hub.



Reading Gaol Hug

13 October 2019 – READING GAOL HUG 

Alok Sharma MP and Matt Rodda MP

Coming together for the Big Hug

Coming together for the Big Hug Reading’s MPs – (L-R) Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP and Matt Rodda MP

The Councillors join the Hug

The Councillors join the Hug

The Deputy Mayor and Councillors join the MPs in the Hug and Oscar is there too.

The Hug in the Abbey

The Hug within the Abbey Ruins

A video by Andy Jones of BBC Radio Berkshire of the Hug In Progress may be seen:

Party politics were transcended on Sunday 13th October when Reading’s two MPs, Matt Rodda, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma (Secretary of State for International Development), and Reading Borough Councillors from all parties joined the 1,000 people who assembled in Reading Abbey Ruins on Sunday afternoon to stage a community Hug of the boundary walls of Reading Gaol. This was successfully completed despite downpours. People of all ages took part.

The aim of the campaign is to encourage a more imaginative use for the closed Gaol than selling it for housing. The vision of Theatre and Arts in Reading and RBC is for it to be an Arts / Cultural Hub.

The event was initiated by Artist Linda Saul. The Reading Gaol Hug Society was formed to make her vision happen and was composed of 4 members of Reading Civic Society. We were guided on any issues about running the event by Cllr Karen Rowland (RBC’s Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation), RBC staff and a member of the Baker Street Area Neighbourhood Association. On the day the support of around 30 Marshals and First Aiders, to ensure it all happened safely, was vital.

A press release can be seen HERE.

Matt Rodda MP’s Petition campaigning for this vision has now reached over 7,000 signatures.

Support has come from many quarters including the Oscar Wilde Society and
the Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading.

Students out in Taiwan also did a virtual hug which may be seen on the
Facebook site.  HERE 

A good report was provided by The Wokingham Paper.

The report from the Reading Chronicle is Reading Chronicle report

The Reading Gaol Website is

Reading Civic Society Annual Party, 2 March 2019 – Pepe Sale

57 members and their guests attended the annual Civic Society party at Pepe Sale on Saturday 2 March. As ever we were brilliantly looked after by Toni and the Pepe Sale team. It was terrific to see such an enthusiastic turnout with some new members attending and some long standing members attending an event for the first time in many years.

We were very grateful for the donations of prizes for the raffle which raised £130.

A selection of images by Chris Widdows is below:

The Quiz by Chris Widdows