‘Curtains Up!’ is the latest publication from Reading Borough Council (RBC) libraries. It tells the history of each of RBC’s music venues: the 1882 Concert Hall, the Hexagon and the newly refurbished South Street Arts Centre.
The grand Concert Hall is part of the Town Hall and Museum building and is Grade II listed (1113401). As well as being used for musical performances, including recitals on the Father Willis organ, it is the premier civic venue where the RBC Annual General Meeting and ‘Mayor making’ is held each year.
The capacity of Hexagon is greater than you might realise; it can seat 946 for plays and up to 1,686 for concerts with standing downstairs.
Librarian Katie Amos has unearthed many fascinating facts about the Hexagon. The name was chosen by competition and the winner was Catherine Ellis who was then 12 years old. It opened on 5 November 1977 so it is now over 40 years old and has outlived the demolished Civic Centre next door. It is looking a little alone now but its architecture can be appreciated more now that it is not hidden.
To complete the set of three is Katesgrove’s own South Street Arts Centre. However much you like the Inner Distribution Road (IDR) an event without crossing into the town centre is a bonus for Katesgrovians and other southern Readingas.
The Whitley Pump attended the stunning re-opening of South Street after the 2017 refurbishment. We have reviewed musical performances there including the Ex, Habib Koite and Emil Schult, whose performance was part of the 2017 Reading Fringe.
The illustrated booklet includes details of architects, dates of opening, capacities, notable acts and the suitability for different types of performance of each of the venues.
Currently available in this series of publications are:
- A Short History of Armour Road
- Hamlet Called Harmor
- 100 Years of Shops in Reading
- Tilehurst: an Introduction
- Southcote: and Introduction
- Reading in the 1970s (with snippets of Katesgrove History)
Most are priced at £2 and can be obtained from Reading Central Library.