The Whitley Pump

The view from Katesgrove Hill

Category: Offbeat (page 1 of 2)

A merry Christmas from the Whitley Pump!

Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball (John Leech, 1843)

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A Saturday afternoon trip to Fleet on the number seven bus

The number 7 ‘Tiger’ service from Reading to Fleet in Hampshire is a relatively new addition to Reading Buses’ services. Highlights of the trip include travelling in the bus lane across the middle of the roundabout at Junction 11 of the M4, bouncing through Mary Mitford’s village of Three Mile Cross and, when you get to Fleet, there is an ironmongers and an ice cream parlour!

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St Augustine’s Conduit House in Canterbury

St Augustine’s conduit house

The conduit house which supplied water to St Augustine’s Abbey should have been the first stop on the Whitley Pump tour of Canterbury, but there were so many other attractions and we almost didn’t find it.

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Katesgrove’s biggest cat toilet now open!

40 Silver Street – 13 April 2019

The cats of Cat’s grove have welcomed their new and spacious temporary toilet facilities on Silver Street. The archaeological site has been recorded and documented, and the trenches filled in, leaving a vast expanse of bare earth.

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Reading seeks help from the Russian Federation

By our senior political correspondent.

Katesgrove in Russian. An extract from a Russian map of Reading courtesy of

The Whitley Pump has unearthed secret plans to end austerity in Reading by forging closer links with the Russian Federation. Moscow is offering financial support if the town “Russianises” its schools by teaching Russian instead of French, and if the council transliterates town signage into the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, as shown in the above map of Katesgrove (Кеатс-гров).

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26 December – Stink pipes we have spotted

The Pheasant

The Whitley Pump collection of Reading stink pipes started with a reader’s enquiry about the unidentified pipe or pole near the Pheasant where Southampton Street and Mount Pleasant meet.

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Xmas Message from Tony Page, deputy leader of Reading Borough Council

When we interviewed Tony Page recently we asked him for an alternative Xmas message to folk living on and around Katesgrove Hill that we could publish on Xmas day.

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A merry Christmas from the Whitley Pump!

We hope everybody in Reading has a joyful Christmas!

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8 December – Austentation at Reading Museum

Austentation – without their instruments

Austentation will be performing at Reading Museum TODAY, 8 December, as part of the Living Advent Calendar organised by Reading Business Improvement District (BID).

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2 December – Katesgrove Pubs

Reading CAMRA are publishing an A to Z advent calendar of Reading and Mid-Berks CAMRA pubs on their twitter account (@ReadingCAMRA). They say that they are doing this “… [to] encourage you to give them some support especially during January, one of the quietest periods of business for the pub trade.”

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The first day of December

December, from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry c1440

The first day of December and there are a bewildering array of advent calendars out there counting down to the 25 December and Xmas day.

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Reading features in London exhibition

On a day in London this week, two Whitley Pump contributors ambling down Euston Road decided to investigate an exhibition in the crypt of St Pancras parish church. They discovered Reading images, maps and artefacts staring back at them.

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National Poetry Day at the Whitley Pump

Today, 4 October, is National Poetry Day and we are celebrating with a new poem from speed poet WT Vanderpump.

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Mamma mia! Italians invade Reading!

Italian students at the English language summer school at Bradfield College. Photo : Pierluigi Lippolis

This year, the Whitley Pump’s very own theatre reviewer Gillie Tunley helped teach English to Italian students at Bradfield College, an impressively beautiful independent school near Theale. The students spent a day in Reading and shared their views on the town.

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Matthew Farrall, 1968-2018

Matthew Farrall, friend, Reading enthusiast and author, died unexpectedly on Friday 20 April.

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Craft Theory at South Street

Chaats Indian Street Food at the Craft Theory Festival, South Street

I missed out on the first Craft Theory festival at Katesgrove’s South Street Arts Centre last year, but I read the reviews with excitement and suffered a major case of FOMO [note 1]. I was in a unique position for the festival on 13 and 14 April this year; not only did I volunteer for Friday behind the jump [note 2], pouring drinks and loving it, but I also arrived bright-eyed on Saturday to spend the afternoon getting merry with my pals.

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Friends of the IDR

Oracle roundabout under the IDR

The Friends of the Inner Distribution Road (FIDR) will meet for their inaugural meeting today at the Little Crown public house on Southampton Street.

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Redbrick blackbird

When you hear a very loud, varied, flutey birdsong from your roof or TV aerial at sunset or sunrise in these early months of the year, then you will be most likely listening to a male blackbird. The juvenile first-year males sing in January and February and the older ones follow from around March. Quite why these sentinels of the natural world have such a boring name in English is hard to understand; there are plenty of other black-plumed avians. They are lovingly called merle in French and merl in the old Scottish dialect.

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Blowing our own trumpet


The Whitley Pump comes to the end of its second calendar year today. The Whitley Pump, on the other hand, has been with us since the 1860s in one form or another. So, how have we been doing over the past two years? Would the real Whitley Pump approve?

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