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 Reading

Destinations > UK > South > Reading guide

Reading is a delightful place to visit and is considered by some as the capital of the Thames Valley. The town itself is only twenty minutes from London, yet has is own individual character and vibrant history. Situated on the banks of the river Kennet and the river Thames, Reading is full of charm and character.

The town is famous for its beer and biscuits, but also for its vibrant history from Henry I in the 12th century, Henry VIII in the 14th century, Edward the IV in the 15th century, through till the Industrial Revolution. During the two World Wars Reading became an established university town for educational excellence. Today it is one of the largest universities in the country.

It is hardly surprising that a town, which grew between two great rivers, should enjoy waterways and riverside activities, weather you take a stroll down the river banks or canoe along the river there is plenty of activities to enjoy which evolve the rivers.

If you prefer dry land why not visit one of the historical buildings, the museums or enjoy one of the many exciting family days out on offer. Why not sample some local food and attractions, or discover some of the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Whatever you decided, Reading has a lot to offer.

 
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 Arts

Shinfield Players Theatre & Arts Centre
Local performance venue.
Location: Whitley Wood Lane
Telephone: (+44) 0118 926 7135

21 South Street Art Centre
Here you can enjoy the best in Fringe Theater, comedy and live music.
Location: 21 South Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 950 4911

The Hexagon
This is the biggest venue and hosts music, drama, comedy and film.
Location: Queens Walk
Telephone: (+44) 0118 960 6060

Reading Abbey
In the Abbey grounds you can now enjoy a wide variety of live performances, from band to plays.
Location: Reading Abbey

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 Attractions

There is so much to visit in Reading and the surrounding area. It is also a prime location with Windsor, Oxford and London all near by.

Museum of Reading
Reading is a town steeped in History and there is no better place to go and discover this than a museum. There are some hands on approach displays inside to help you interact and discover. Wonder through the history of the town, and enjoy the Roman finds.
Location: Blagrave Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 939 98000

Blakes Lock Museum
This museum is equally revealing about the history of Reading it centres on the social and industrial development of the town.
Location: Gas Works Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 939 0918

The Look Out Discovery Park
This science and nature exhibition offers some hands on displays, adventure play ground and a mountain bike trail and hire.
Location: Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell
Telephone: (+44) 01344 354400

Basildon Park
This beautiful 18th century house over looks the Thames valley and is set in 400 acres of woodland, which is way marked so you can enjoy woodland walks. The house nearly came to ruin in the 2nd world war, as it was a Billet for British and American Troops, and a prison of war camp. It has now been reformed to its former glory.
Location: Lower Basildon, Reading
Telephone: (+44) 0118 984 3040

The Herb Farm
Location: Sonning Common
Telephone: (+44) 0118 972 4220

Beale Park
Take a visit to this conservation park, there is loads to do for the whole family.
Location: Lower Basildon. Situated outside Pangbourne on the A329
Telephone: (+44) 0118 984 5172

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 Clubs

Club Tropicana
Location: Chatham Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 956 8388

After Dark
Location: 112 London Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 957 6847

Churchill's
Location: 18 Richfeild Avenue
Telephone: (+44) 0118 939 1888

Club RG1
Location: 57 Caversham Road

Level One
Location: Chatham Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 951 1661

Utopia
Location: Pincents Lane, Calcot
Telephone: (+44) 0118 930 4433

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 History

Reading is a historical town that was first inhabited in the sixth century by the Saxons. Later in 1121 Henry I founded Reading Abbey, and in 1164 the Abbey became one of the most important religious and political centre in England. Today the remains of the Abbey are still standing and can be explored, and there are still regular live performances by bands, poets and playwrights.

During the Industrial Revolution Reading entered a period of industrial growth and in 1810 the Kennet and Avon canal opened, providing the town with direct access to Bristol and the sea. It was at this time that Reading became famous all over the world for three reasons, its Beer, Biscuits, and bulbs.

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 Leisure

Whether it is hard exercise you would like or family fun reading has a good selection to choice from. The largest leisure centre in Reading is The Rivermead, it has a fun pool with a 80m flume and a wave machine. There is also a good gym with a wide range of facilities. There are other public swimming pools for those who wish to swim; Central Swimming Pool, Meadway Sports Centre, Arthur Hill's and South Reading Leisure Centre. There are also several privately run gyms available in the area.

To the West of Reading there is a Superbowl, great fun for all the family. Or why not try your hand at Laser Quest, which is situated on London Street.

For those who prefer a more sedate leisure activity there are plenty of libraries in reading. The town's main library is on Abbey Street.Rivermead Leisure Complex
Location: Richfield Avenue
Telephone: (+44) 0118 901 5000South Reading Leisure Centre
Location: Northumberland Avenue
Telephone: 0118 901 5040Meadway Sports Centre
Location: Dunsfold Road, Tilehurst
Telephone: (+44) 0118 901 5060Central Swimming Pool
Location: Battle Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 901 5070Arthur Hill Pool
Location: Kings Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 901 5055Reading Super Bowl and Sega Park
Location: Pincents Lane, Calcot
Telephone: (+44) 0118 930 6080Laserquest
Location: 100 London Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 950 0988Warner Village Cinema
Location: The OracleReading Film Theater
Location: Palmer Building, Whiteknights
Telephone: (+44) 0118 986 8497

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 Pubs

Reading has so much to offer in Bars, Pubs and nightclubs, all catering to a variety of different tastes. Listed below is a very small sample of some of what is on offer.

The Purple Turtle
Location: Gun Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 959 7196

The Fruitbat Bar
Location: 30 Erleigh Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 926 0077

The Rat & Parrot
Location: The Market Place

The Broadwalk
Location: 110-117 Friar Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 959 0692

Edward's
Location: 12-16 Station Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 958 2508

The Royal Albion (A great family pub)
Location: 642 Oxford Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 957 4583

Flyer and Ferkin
Location: 53 Blagrave Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 956 9151

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 Restaurants


Chinese

Shanpan
Location: 8 Station Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 950 8888

Pavilion
Location: 250 Shinfield Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 931 3268


Indian

Gulshan
Location: 20 -24 Station Hill
Telephone: (+44) 0118 958 9914


Portugese

Mr Piri - Piri
Location: 97 Kings Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 956 9440


Seafood

The Lemon Plaice (Fish & Chip Take away).
Location: Norcot Road, Tilehurst
Telephone: (+44) 0118 942 7086

Mr Cod (Fish & Chips)
Location: 211 London Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 926 1853


Thai

Old Siam
Location: King's Walk, King Street
Telephone: (+44) 0118 512 600

Pad Thai
Location: 9 Queens Walk
Telephone: (+44) 0118 959 6670

Peekay (non-licensed, bring your own alcohol).
Location: 59 Cardiff Road
Telephone: (+44) 0118 939 1970


Vegetarian

Café Iguana
Location: 11 St Mary's Butts
Telephone: (+44) 0118 958 1357
Open: Monday - Saturday, 11am - 11pm.

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 Shopping

Reading is a great place for shopping, and with the opening of the new Oracle complex has made reading one of the best places to shop in the U.K. It is also it more enjoyable as the whole of the town centre is pedestrianised between 11am ad 4pm. Allowing you to amble at your own pace and enjoy the street entertainment. In reading you will find large department stores, major high street names, smaller unique shops, and the colourful street market (which is held on Hosier Street, Wednesday to Saturday). With lots of shopping arcades to explore you are sure to find what you are looking for, whether it's from a high street store or a unique boutique.

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 Transport


Air

There are fast direct rail links between Reading, Heathrow Airport (30 minutes by car via the M4) and Gatwick Airport (1 hour 20 minutes by car via M4/M25). There is also direct coach service to both the airports.


Bus

There is a good local bus service with plenty of stops around the town centre and Station Hill.
Location: Travel Shop, Duke Street

Car

The M4 has three junctions at Reading, with the M25, M40 and M3 all in easy reach there is little problem accessing Reading by car. Once in Reading there are multi-story car parks around the town; the largest is at Reading train station. There are also three pay and display car parks at Chatham Street, Queens Road and Broad St Mall. So there is little stress of finding places to park.


Coach

National Express Coach services have a wide U.K. service. For pick up points and destinations, and run regularly from London Victoria to Reading.
Telephone: National Express - (+44) 0990 80 80 80


Rail

Reading General Station is situated in the centre of the town on Station Hill. There are main line services to Reading from all over the U.K. with good connections if there is no direct train
National Rail Enquiry Telephone: (+44) 0345 48 49 50

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