The Whitley Pump

The view from Katesgrove Hill

An oral and social history of Katesgrove

Waterloo Sunrise. Picture courtesy of Mike Cox

In the 1990s, Mike Cox from the Friends of Waterloo Meadows co-edited and co-researched a book about the history of Katesgrove as part of the Katesgrove Community Book Project.

Waterloo Sunrise – discovering the past, the life and the wildlife of Katesgrove includes oral histories describing the minutiae of human life in Reading during the twentieth century. It also includes a fully researched history from the mid-seventeenth century as well as a description of the cycles of nature on Waterloo Meadows from spring 1997 until spring 1998.

The history opens:

Katesgrove itself had very humble beginnings. It appears to have been the next area developed after the main town was established. It was effectively the first industrial estate of the town, and was from the start a very poor area… This poverty lasted until recent times, and there are still parts of Katesgrove that are not well off.

The oral histories were gathered from people who had lived in the area for many years by the mid-1990s. Sid Ballard, who was born in 1920 and who had worked at Robert Cort engineering on Elgar Road, contributed many insights to the book:

There were no cars then. If anybody had a car, and that was in our later years, they were rich. The only traffic you would see on the streets were carts and barrows. When we moved in 1955, there was only one car on the street. There was only one car for years.

You can purchase your copy of this detailed insight into the social history of Katesgrove for £5 from [email protected]. Proceeds go to the Friends of Waterloo Meadows.

  1. Friends of Waterloo Meadows (Facebook page)
  2. Katesgrove Community Association
  3. The Top of Whitley, by Daphne Barnes-Phillips and Revisited at Amazon

1 comment

  1. I read this book when it first came out and would certainly endorse the recommendation.

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