As we have showrooms situated either side of Reading (Maidenhead and Thatcham), we regularly venture into the town to perform a variety of installation work. A major commercial centre, it is one of the largest UK towns without city status, although not for want of trying. But which county is Reading in? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
The town is in Berkshire
Not only is it situated in the ceremonial county of Berkshire, but it’s also Berkshire’s county town. However, this wasn’t always the case; Abingdon was originally the county town of Berkshire, becoming so not long after receiving its Royal Charter in 1556. Its status as Berkshire’s county town became challenged by Reading in the 17th century. Although, after Abingdon only accepted a branch line during the 19th-century railway revolution, Reading emerged as the preferred option, becoming the county town in 1869. Nowadays, Abingdon is situated within Oxfordshire.
What is a ceremonial county?
Ceremonial counties are areas to which a Lord Lieutenant is appointed. Historically, a Lord Lieutenant was responsible for raising an army, however this right was lost in 1921. Ceremonial counties in the UK do not perform any administrative duties, meaning they’re important for distinguishing between the purposes of lieutenancy and administration within a county. Ceremonial counties in England include Somerset, Hampshire, Lancashire and Berkshire, meaning they’re useful for geographical purposes also.
Reading Borough Council
The Reading Borough Council is responsible for overseeing administrative functions within the area. Previously, Berkshire County Council was in charge of this. However, after the Borough of Reading was granted unitary authority status in 1998, Reading Borough Council has overseen education, healthcare, transport, etc. within the area.
Brief History of Reading UK
The first mention of the town as a settlement within historical literature was the Battle of Reading in 871. But back then, it was known as Readingdum, a name many believe to have been derived from an Anglo-Saxon tribe called the Readingas. Before the founding of Reading Abbey in 1121, it was a small town, however it became the largest town in Berkshire by 1525 thanks to the abbey and the cloth trade.
By 1611, the town had 5,000 inhabitants and this continued to grow steadily, particularly after the River Kennet was opened to boats in 1723. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of the Great Western Railway during the 19th century that the town began to emerge as an important centre for brewing, baking and seed growing in the UK. This led to an overwhelming growth in population, taking it from 21,500 people in 1851 to over 59,000 by 1900! Nowadays, Reading is one of the UK’s most vibrant hubs for information technology and insurance, with an estimated population of around 336,000.
If we look at historic county boundaries, Reading is also a rare example of a town that falls within two different historic counties. The part of the town that is south of the River Thames is in Berkshire and the part north of the river is in Oxfordshire. Here at Oakley Green, we’ve operated in both parts for over 20 years, providing a selection of high-quality home improvement solutions from windows & doors to conservatories. For more information on our products and services, check out our website or get in touch with our friendly team.