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The view from Katesgrove Hill

The past, present and unknown future of the Woodley Arms

The Woodley Arms - Reading

Reading Borough Council’s planning department will recommend acceptance of the latest planning application for the site of the Woodley Arms on Waldeck Street. The proposal is for the pub to be demolished and for 40 student flats to be built in its place.

The application will be considered at the planning applications committee on Wednesday 29 June. The current application (160558) seeks to address some of the objections to the previous application (150134) which was rejected on appeal to the planning inspectorate.

Changes have been made to the planned height and bulk of the building compared with surrounding properties; both will be reduced by setting the building into the ground.

Planning approval (140524) was given in 2014 for conversion of the building to four flats.

There has been considerable local opposition to the proposal to build student flats, including from local councillor Rose Williams. Applications have been made for the building to be listed by Historic England and for a local listing, but both have failed:

Although the former Woodley Arms Public House has some points of local interest, it does not merit listing in the national context.

The paper going to the planning committee states:

The building is two storey red brick (with yellow brick to the rear) and is a relatively modern building of no particular architectural merit.

With an unknown future for the building and the site, the Whitley Pump takes a look back at the past of the Woodley Arms.

Waldeck Street

The Woodley Arms closed as a pub in 2012. The public house was built as part of the redevelopment of Spring Gardens in the 1970s, the pub’s third incarnation.

The Woodley Arms (highlighted) Extract from 1979 OS Map

The Woodley Arms (highlighted) Extract from 1979 OS Map

The new building replaced an older building on Mount Street demolished to make way for the new estate. The older building had been a mock Tudor redevelopment of the original beerhouse undertaken by Morlands Brewery.

Records for the beerhouse start in 1869 when it received a beerhouse certificate. The licensee was William Sayer who was described in the 1871 census as a grocer and beerseller at 4 and 5 Mount Street, later renumbered to 50 and 52 Mount Street [ref 1]. This was the period when the Spring Gardens area was undergoing rapid development.

Map of Reading - Post Office Directory 1842

Spring Gardens in 1842 at the bottom (south) of the map

By 1875, when brewery names are first included in licensing records, the Woodley Arms was part of the Berkshire Brewery estate. The Berkshire Brewery was at the junction of King’s Road and Victoria Street and was auctioned on 1 August 1883 with its tied estate [ref 2]. The lease of the Woodley Arms at 50 and 52 Mount Street, Spring Gardens was purchased by Ferguson’s Brewery for £60 [ref 3].

Other pubs included in the auction were:

  • The Berkshire, adjoining the brewery,
  • The Cambridge, at the corner of Upper Crown Street and Southampton Street,
  • The Eagle, Baker Street,
  • The Brickmakers’ Arms, Coley,
  • The Clifton, 18 Caversham Road,
  • The White Lion, 39 Chatham Street,
  • The Bristol, 95 Castle Street,
  • The Clarence, 11 Broad Street,
  • The Life Boat, 39 St John’s Road,
  • The Crown, 35 King’s Road,
  • The Vine Hotel, at the corner of Broad Street and West Street.

In 1903 the pub had three bars and one bedroom for travellers. It had two entrances (probably as in the map below from 1958), one on Mount Street and one on Waldeck Street [ref 4].

The Woodley Arms (highlighted) Extract from 1958 OS Map

The Woodley Arms (highlighted). Extract from 1958 OS Map

Mount Street was described thus:

Street consists of cottages occupied by the working classes of which the neighbourhood is entirely comprised.

Morlands of Abingdon, which had an interest in Ferguson’s since 1914, took over full control of its brewery and pubs in 1944. The last brewery at the Woodley Arms was Greene King; their identity on the pub sign pictured at the top of this story has since been painted over.

The last landlord and landlady were Ade and Viv Carter. They had run the Woodley Arms on Mount Street before taking over the new Woodley Arms and are remembered as the longest serving landlord and landlady in Reading.

The planning applications committee meeting will take place on 29 June at 6.30 p.m in the Council Chamber at the Civic Offices. It will be chaired by Councillor Livingston. A live webcast of the proceedings is expected to be available.


I am grateful to John Dearing for sharing his notes on Katesgrove pubs.


  1. Register of alehouse licences PS/R 14/1. Between 1830 and 1869, beerhouses came under a separate licensing regime. In 1869 they were require to apply to magistrates for a licence in the same way as other licensed premises.
  2. Reading Mercury 14 July 1883. The auction was as a result of the judgement in a legal case Romanes v Grey’s Brewery in 1883. Grey’s Brewery Ltd, Henley was wound up in 1884. The premises were acquired in 1896 by Brakspear & Sons Ltd, brewing ceased in 1897.
  3. Reading Mercury 11 August 1883
  4. County Borough of Reading Licensed Houses REPORTS of the committe of borough justices appointed to visit Licensed houses to obtain Statistical Information, and of the Clerk to the Justices, and Statistical Information obtained.


  1. Planning application 160558
  2. Planning application 150134
  3. Planning Applications Committee 29 June 2016
  4. Woodley Arms Again
  5. Reading Borough Council webcasts

1 comment

  1. A decision on this planning application was deferred at the 29 June 2016 planning applications meeting to allow committee members to undertake a site visit.

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