Newtown in a new century – 1900 through to 2000
The wendy house is south of Cemetery junction. Newtown is north of cemetery juntion. My neighbour! Several friends live in Newtown. I bump into them when shopping in the local Co-op or in the local Abbot Cook pub.
The Newtown area appears to be described by being bounded by:
- North: the Great Western Railway (GWR)
- South: Kings Rd / London Rd
- East: A4 railway bridge
- West: Forbury Rd
According to Wendy Hobson (1995), cited on the Reading Forum:
It was jointly owned and developed by John Sutton and George Palmer for their workers and by the 1870/80’s extended up to Cholmeley Rd, from there across to the railway was Suttons planted areas – this was then developed in the late 1800’s early 1900’s
It includes a beautiful primary school that looks much as it would have done when it was originally built in 1864.
One of the most striking visual features of the area is a disused gas storage tower that can be seen from the river Kennet, the train lines, and at the northern end of cumberland road. It’s diagonally opposite the Jolly Anglers pub. I find it strangely beautiful and peaceful. An architectural sculpture.
The remaining original housing in this area is mainly small terraced house’s with walled gardens and narrow back lanes. What I’d call ‘2-up, 2-downs’. Houses where you walk from the street, or forecourt, through the front door into a front room. A staircase goes to 2 bedrooms and the 2nd room downstairs was originally the kitchen where the fire was used to heat water for a tin bath. The toilet was outside the house – at the bottom of the garden. Newtown clearly includes some larger homes with forward facing gables more bedrooms, front gardens and downstairs hallways.
Many of the buildings nearer downtown, to the East, were knocked down and redeveloped as social housing in the mid 1970s. Coinciding with the closure of the Huntley andPalmer business.
The areas north of the Kennet and south of the Thames were developed with both private apartments for London commuter set and more modern social housing. It looks like this happened in the 1980s and 90s.
There are only 2 pubs in the Newtown area. they sit on the river (kennet) bank and look like they may pre-date Newtown. Perhaps being built to serve the canal traffic that would pass this way between London and Bristol. The pubs are:
- Fishermans cottage
- Jolly Angler
The Abbot Cook is on the borderlands, effectively south of Newtown and in either the “University District” or possibly “Earley”
Rumour cited on Reading forums suggests that:
The story went that H&P realising that the workers, not being quite so ‘religious’ would go to the pub anyway, and rather than have the drunk / hung-over they would control it. They supposedly gave out rationed tokens as part of the salary that could be exchanged for a limited amount of drink. Enough to wet the whistle but not get drunk!