Sonning Hill is a hill near the village of Sonning in Berkshire, close to the River Thames. The Sonning Cutting takes the Great Western Railway through part of the hill between Twyford and Reading. There was an early railway accident at Sonning Cutting on 24 December 1841. There are good. At the foot of the hill by the Thames is Ali's Pond Local Nature Reserve, a nature reserve laid out with paths and large ponds in 1997; the UK headquarters of two major software companies and Oracle Corporation are located here on the Thames Valley Park business park. At this point in the River Thames, towards the Oxfordshire side of the main river channel, there is a long thin island creating two branches of the river. Islands in the River Thames
Reading is a large minster town in Berkshire, England, of which it is now the county town. It is in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway. Reading is 70 miles east of Bristol, 24 miles south of Oxford, 40 miles west of London, 14 miles north of Basingstoke, 12 miles south-west of Maidenhead and 15 miles east of Newbury as the crow flies; the first evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century. It was an important trading and ecclesiastical centre in the medieval period, as the site of Reading Abbey, one of the richest monasteries of medieval England with strong royal connections, of which the 12th century abbey gateway and significant ruins remain. By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth; the town was affected by the English Civil War, with a major siege and loss of trade, played a pivotal role in the Revolution of 1688, with that revolution's only significant military action fought on the streets of the town.
The 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. The 19th century saw the coming of the Great Western Railway and the development of the town's brewing and seed growing businesses. During that period, the town grew as a manufacturing centre. Today, Reading is a major commercial centre, with involvement in information technology and insurance, despite its proximity to London, has a net inward commuter flow, it is ranked the UK's top economic area for economic success and wellbeing, according to factors such as employment, health and skills. Reading is a major regional retail centre serving a large area of the Thames Valley, is home to the University of Reading; every year it hosts one of England's biggest music festivals. Sporting teams based in Reading include Reading Football Club and the London Irish rugby union team, over 15,000 runners annually compete in the Reading Half Marathon. In the 2011 census, the urban area around Reading had an estimated population of 318,014, making it one of the largest towns in the UK without city status.
The Borough of Reading has a population of 163,100. It is represented in Parliament by two members, has been continuously represented there since 1295. For ceremonial purposes the town is in the county of Berkshire and has served as its county town since 1867 sharing this status with Abingdon-on-Thames. Reading may date back to the Roman occupation of Britain as a trading port for Calleva Atrebatum. However, the first clear evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century, when the town came to be known as Readingum; the name comes from the Readingas, an Anglo-Saxon tribe whose name means Reada's People in Old English, or less the Celtic Rhydd-Inge, meaning Ford over the River. In late 870, an army of Danes set up camp at Reading. On 4 January 871, in the first Battle of Reading, King Ethelred and his brother Alfred the Great attempted unsuccessfully to breach the Danes' defences; the battle is described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, that account provides the earliest known written record of the existence of Reading.
The Danes remained in Reading until late in 871, when they retreated to their winter quarters in London. After the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror gave land in and around Reading to his foundation of Battle Abbey. In its 1086 Domesday Book listing, the town was explicitly described as a borough; the presence of six mills is recorded: four on land belonging to the king and two on the land given to Battle Abbey. Reading Abbey was founded in 1121 by Henry I, buried within the Abbey grounds; as part of his endowments, he gave the abbey his lands in Reading, along with land at Cholsey. It is not known how badly Reading was affected by the Black Death that swept through England in the 14th century, but it is known that the abbot of Reading Abbey, Henry of Appleford, was one of its victims in 1361, that nearby Henley lost 60% of its population; the Abbey was destroyed in 1538 during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. The last abbot, Hugh Cook Faringdon, was subsequently tried and convicted of high treason and hanged and quartered in front of the Abbey Church.
By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth. By 1611, it had a population of over 5000 and had grown rich on its trade in cloth, as instanced by the fortune made by local merchant John Kendrick. Reading played an important role during the English Civil War. Despite its fortifications, it had a Royalist garrison imposed on it in 1642; the subsequent Siege of Reading by Parliamentary forces succeeded in April 1643. The town's cloth trade was badly damaged, the town's economy did not recover until the 20th century. Reading played a significant role during the Revolution of 1688: the second Battle of Reading was the only substantial military action of the campaign; the 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. Reading's trade benefited from better designed turnpike roads which helped it establish its location on the major coaching routes from London to Oxford and the West Country.
In 1723, despite considerable local opposition, the Kennet Navigation opened the River Kennet to boats as far as Newbury. O
A4 road (England)
The A4 is a major road in England from Central London to Avonmouth via Heathrow Airport, Reading and Bristol. It is known as the Bath Road with newer sections including the Great West Road and Portway; the road was once the main route from London to Bath and the west of England and formed, after the A40, the second main western artery from London. Much of the route is now paralleled by the M4 motorway, which carries the bulk of long distance traffic in this corridor, leaving the A4 for local traffic, though sections in London and Bristol are still major through routes; the A4 has gone through many transformations through the ages from pre-Roman routes, Roman roads, basic wagon tracks. During the Middle Ages, most byways and tracks served to connect villages with their nearest market town. A survey of Savernake Forest near Hungerford in 1228 mentions "The King’s Street" running between the town and Marlborough; this street corresponded with the route of the modern A4. In 1632, Thomas Witherings was appointed Postmaster of Foreign Mails by Charles I.
Three years the king charged him with building six "Great Roads" to aid in the delivery of the post, of which the Great West Road was one. It was not until the 17th century that a distinct route between London and Bristol started to resemble today's road. During the 17th century, the A4 was known as the Great Road to Bristol; when Queen Anne started patronising the spa city of Bath, the road became more known as Bath Road. Over the years, the direction of the road has taken many detours depending on such factors as changes in tolls or turnpike patronage. For example, in 1750 the toll road from London was altered to go through Melksham; as Bath became more popular with the wealthy and famous, it was inevitable that turnpike trusts would be set up under the terms of the Turnpike Acts to pay for maintenance and improvements to the road. The first turnpike on this road was between Reading and Theale in 1714. Due to increasing traffic, sections of the road between Kensington, over Hounslow Hill, to Twyford were turnpike by 1717 with the remaining sections placed under turnpike trusts.
As turnpike trusts were individually run, there was the possibility for differing road conditions over the London Clay basin of Kensington, Brentford and Slough, where winter conditions left the way muddy and uneven. This was not always the case with the Bath Road, as many of the wealthy landowners along the route co-operated informally and exercised a large amount of control over feeder roads; as a result, control of the Bath Road was easy to maintain and many inns and towns became prosperous. Tollhouses were established at Colnbrook, Twyford, Castle Street Reading and Benham. During the 1820s, the employment of good surveyors improved the condition of the road and aided an increased flow of wealthy travellers; the tolls raised from such clientele ensured that when the turnpike trusts handed over the route to local highway boards, they had no financial liabilities. Justices of the Peace were empowered by the 1862 Rural Highways Act to combine turnpike trusts into Highways Districts; this meant that by the late 1860s trusts were either not renewing their powers or were being terminated by General Acts of Parliament.
For example, most turnpikes in Berkshire, including the Bath Road, were wound up by 1878 when legislation transferred responsibility for dis-enturnpiked roads to the new county councils. The tollgate on the Bath Road west of Reading was removed in 1864 as the outward pressure of urban development made rates a more acceptable way of financing the maintenance of what was now a suburban road. With the improvement being made to the road systems, the business of moving mail became easier and thus more profitable as volumes were able to increase. In Bristol, a postal office had been well established by the 1670s; the journey time to London at this period was about three quarter hours. A letter from Bath in 1684 took about 3 days going via a postal office in Marshfield on the Bristol Road.. Journey times during the Turnpike era fell with the improvements from 2 days in 1752 to 38 hours in 1782 and 18 hours by 1836. Royal Mail coaches in 1836 were able to do the trip in 12 to 13 hours. Further improvements to regional post services were made between 1719 and 1763 due to contracts with the London Inland Letter Office negotiated by Ralph Allen, the postmaster of Bath.
In the early part of the 19th century, coaching was at its height with six stagecoaches each day carrying passengers to and from London along the Bath Road in 1830, rising to ten by 1836. Hungerford is at about the midway point of the journey between London and Bristol and was ideally positioned to take advantage of the increase in coaching. In 1836, five companies operated a coaching service through Hungerford; this peak was to be short-lived following the construction of the Great Western Railway. The decline in coaching traffic in Hungerford coincided with the building of the Great Western Railway from London to Bath and Bristol, the subsequent Berks and Hants Railway line from Newbury to Hungerford itself in 1847. By 1843, it was reported that the stage coaches had ceased running between London; the A4 begins as New Fetter Lane in the City of London at Holborn Circus on the A40. It goes in a southerly direction to join Fleet Street where many British national newspapers at one time had their head offices.
The Office of Fair Trading has its main office here. The road heads west through the City of
A broad-gauge railway is a railway with a track gauge broader than the 1,435 mm standard-gauge railways. Broad gauge was first used in Great Britain in Scotland for two short, isolated lines, the Dundee and Arbroath Railway and the Arbroath and Forfar Railway. Both the lines were built in 5 ft 6 in. Both the lines were subsequently converted to standard gauge and connected to the emerging Scottish rail network; the Great Western Railway, was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, in 1838, with a gauge of 7 ft 1⁄4 in, retained this gauge until 1892. Some harbours used railways of this gauge for construction and maintenance; these included Portland Harbour and Holyhead Breakwater, which used a locomotive for working sidings. As it was not connected to the national network, this broad-gauge operation continued until the locomotive wore out in 1913; the gauge proposed by Brunel was 7 ft but this was soon increased by 1⁄4 in to 7 ft 1⁄4 in to accommodate clearance problems identified during early testing.
While the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was prepared to authorise lines built to the broad gauge of 7 ft, it was rejected by the Gauge Commission in favour of all new railways in England and Scotland being built to standard gauge of 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in, this being the gauge with the greatest mileage. Railways which had received their enabling Act would continue at the 7 ft gauge. Ireland, using the same criteria, was allocated a different standard gauge, the Irish gauge, of 5 ft 3 in, used in the Australian states of South Australia and Victoria. Broad-gauge lines in Britain were converted to dual gauge or standard gauge from 1864, the last of Brunel's broad gauge was converted over a single weekend in 1892. In 1839 the Netherlands started its railway system with two broad-gauge railways; the chosen gauge of 1,945 mm was applied between 1839 and 1866 by the Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij for its Amsterdam–The Hague–Rotterdam line and between 1842 and 1855, firstly by the Dutch state, but soon by the Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg-Maatschappij, for its Amsterdam–Utrecht–Arnhem line.
But the neighbouring countries Prussia and Belgium used standard gauge, so the two companies had to regauge their first lines. In 1855, NRS regauged its line and shortly afterwards connected to the Prussian railways; the HSM followed in 1866. There are replicas of one broad-gauge 2-2-2 locomotive and three carriages in the Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht; these replicas were built for the 100th anniversary of the Dutch Railways in 1938–39. Ireland and some states in Australia and Brazil have a gauge of 5 ft 3 in, but Luas, the Dublin light rail system, is built to standard gauge. Russia and the other former Soviet Republics use a 1,520 mm gauge while Finland continues to use the 5 ft gauge inherited from Imperial Russia. Portugal and the Spanish Renfe system use a gauge of 1,668 mm called Ancho Ibérico in Spanish or Bitola Ibérica in Portuguese. In Toronto, the gauge for TTC subways and streetcars was chosen in 1861. Toronto adopted a unique gauge of 4 ft 10 7⁄8 in, an "overgauge" stated to "allow horse-drawn wagons to use the rails", but with the practical effect of precluding the use of standard-gauge equipment in the street.
The Toronto Transit Commission still operates the Toronto streetcar system and three subway lines on its own unique gauge of 4 ft 10 7⁄8 in. The Scarborough RT, uses standard gauge, as will the future light rail lines of the Transit City plan. In 1851 the 5 ft 6 in broad gauge was adopted as the standard gauge for the Province of Canada, becoming known as the Provincial gauge, government subsidies were unavailable for railways that chose other gauges; this caused problems in interchanging freight cars with northern United States railroads, most of which were built to standard gauge or a gauge similar to it. In the 1870s between 1872 and 1874, Canadian broad-gauge lines were changed to standard gauge to facilitate interchange and the exchange of rolling stock with American railroads. Today, all Canadian railways are standard-gauge. In the early days of rail transport in the US, railways tended to be built out from coastal cities into the hinterland, systems did not connect; each builder was free to choose its own gauge, although the availability of British-built locomotives encouraged some railways to be built to standard gauge.
As a general rule, southern railways were built to one or another broad gauge 5 ft, while northern railroads that were not standard gauge tended to be narrow gauge. Most of the original track in Ohio was built in 4 ft 10 in Ohio gauge, special "compromise cars" were able to run on both this track and standard gauge track. In 1848, Ohio passed a law stating "The width of the track or gauge of all roads under this act, shall be four feet ten inches between the rails." When American railroads' track extended to the point that they began to interconnect, it became clear that a single nationwide gauge was desirable. Six-foot-gauge railroads had developed a large regional following in New York State in the first part of the 19th century, due to the influence of the New York and Erie, one of the early pioneering railroads in
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was an English mechanical and civil engineer, considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history", "one of the 19th-century engineering giants", "one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions". Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, numerous important bridges and tunnels, his designs revolutionised modern engineering. Though Brunel's projects were not always successful, they contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his career, Brunel achieved many engineering firsts, including assisting in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river and development of SS Great Britain, the first propeller-driven, ocean-going, iron ship, when built in 1843, was the largest ship built. Brunel set the standard for a well-built railway, using careful surveys to minimise gradients and curves.
This necessitated expensive construction techniques, new bridges, new viaducts, the two-mile long Box Tunnel. One controversial feature was the wide gauge, a "broad gauge" of 7 ft 1⁄4 in, instead of what was to be known as "standard gauge" of 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in, he astonished Britain by proposing to extend the Great Western Railway westward to North America by building steam-powered, iron-hulled ships. He designed and built three ships that revolutionised naval engineering: the SS Great Western, the SS Great Britain, the SS Great Eastern. In 2002, Brunel was placed second in a BBC public poll to determine the "100 Greatest Britons". In 2006, the bicentenary of his birth, a major programme of events celebrated his life and work under the name Brunel 200. Brunel's given names come from his parents; the first name Isambard was his French-born father's middle name, his father's preferred given name. Isambard is a Norman name of Germanic origin, meaning either "iron-bright" or "iron-axe"; the first element comes from isarn meaning iron.
The second element comes from barđa. His middle name Kingdom was his mother's maiden name; the son of French civil engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and an English mother Sophia Kingdom, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9 April 1806 in Britain Street, Portsmouth, where his father was working on block-making machinery. He had two older sisters and Emma, the whole family moved to London in 1808 for his father's work. Brunel had a happy childhood, despite the family's constant money worries, with his father acting as his teacher during his early years, his father taught him drawing and observational techniques from the age of four and Brunel had learned Euclidean geometry by eight. During this time he learned fluent French and the basic principles of engineering, he was encouraged to identify any faults in their structure. When Brunel was eight he was sent to Dr Morrell's boarding school in Hove, where he learned the classics, his father, a Frenchman by birth, was determined that Brunel should have access to the high-quality education he had enjoyed in his youth in France.
When Brunel was 15, his father Marc, who had accumulated debts of over £5,000, was sent to a debtors' prison. After three months went by with no prospect of release, Marc let it be known that he was considering an offer from the Tsar of Russia. In August 1821, facing the prospect of losing a prominent engineer, the government relented and issued Marc £5,000 to clear his debts in exchange for his promise to remain in Britain; when Brunel completed his studies at Henri-IV in 1822, his father had him presented as a candidate at the renowned engineering school École Polytechnique, but as a foreigner he was deemed ineligible for entry. Brunel subsequently studied under the prominent master clockmaker and horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet, who praised Brunel's potential in letters to his father. In late 1822, having completed his apprenticeship, Brunel returned to England. Brunel worked for several years as an assistant engineer on the project to create a tunnel under London's River Thames between Rotherhithe and Wapping, with tunnellers driving a horizontal shaft from one side of the river to the other under the most difficult and dangerous conditions.
The project was funded by the Thames Tunnel Company and Brunel's father, was the chief engineer. The American Naturalist said "It is stated that the operations of the Teredo suggested to Mr. Brunel his method of tunneling the Thames."The composition of the riverbed at Rotherhithe was little more than waterlogged sediment and loose gravel. An ingenious tunnelling shield designed by Marc Brunel helped protect workers from cave-ins, but two incidents of severe flooding halted work for long periods, killing several workers and badly injuring the younger Brunel; the latter incident, in 1828, killed the two most senior miners, Brunel himself narrowly escaped death. He was injured, spent six months recuperating; the event stopped work on the tunnel for several years. Though the Thames Tunnel was completed during Marc Brunel's lifetime, his son had no further involvement with the tunnel proper, only using the abandoned works at Rotherhithe to further his abortive Gaz experiments; this was based on an idea of his father's, was intended to develop into an engine that ran
Reading railway station
Reading railway station is a major transport hub in Reading, England. It is on the northern edge of the town centre, near the main retail and commercial areas and the River Thames, 36 miles from London Paddington. Reading is the ninth-busiest station in the UK outside London, the second busiest interchange station outside London, with over 3.8 million passengers changing trains at the station annually. Reading is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail; the station is served by three train operating companies: Great Western Railway, CrossCountry and South Western Railway. The first Reading station was opened on 30 March 1840 as the temporary western terminus of the original line of the Great Western Railway; the time taken to travel from London to Reading was reduced to one hour and five minutes, less than a quarter of the time taken by the fastest stagecoach. The line was extended to its intended terminus at Bristol in 1841; as built, Reading station was a typical Brunel-designed single-sided intermediate station, with separate up and down platforms situated to the south of the through tracks and arranged so that all up trains calling at Reading had to cross the route of all down through trains.
In 1844, the Great Western Hotel was opened across the Forbury Road for people visiting the town. It is thought to be the oldest surviving railway hotel in the world. New routes soon joined the London to Bristol line, with the line from Reading to Newbury and Hungerford opening in 1847, the line to Basingstoke in 1848. Between 1865 and 1867, a station building, built of buff bricks from Coalbrookdale with Bath Stone dressings, incorporating a tower and clock, was constructed for the Great Western Railway. Sources differ as to. In 1898 the single sided station layout was replaced by a conventional design with'up','down' and'relief' platforms linked by a pedestrian subway. Access to the station from Broad Street was not direct, until Queen Victoria Street was built in 1903; this provided a route through to Station Road. The station was named Reading and became Reading General on 26 September 1949 to distinguish it from the neighbouring ex-South Eastern Railway station; the "General" suffix was dropped from British Rail timetables in 1973, but some of the station nameboards still stated "Reading General" in 1974.
The juxtaposition of the two stations meant that the town's buses showed the destination'Stations'. From 6 September 1965, services from the former Reading Southern station were diverted into a newly constructed terminal platform in the General station; this was long enough for a single eight coach train, found to be inadequate, so a second terminal platform serving the same line was opened in 1975 for the commencement of the service from Reading to Gatwick Airport. In 1989 a brand new station concourse was opened by InterCity, including a shopping arcade named after Brunel, opened on the western end of the old Reading Southern station site, linked to the platforms of the main station by a new footbridge. At the same time a new multi-level station car park was built on the site of the former goods yard and signal works to the north of the station, linked to the same footbridge; the station facilities in the 1860s station building were converted into The Three Guineas public house. The Queen reopened the station on 4 April 1989.
By 2007, the station had become an acknowledged bottleneck on the railway network, with passenger trains needing to wait outside the station for a platform to become available. This was caused by limited number of through-platforms, the flat junctions east and west of the station and the need for north-south trains to reverse direction in the station; the Great Western Main Line at Reading has two pairs of tracks – the Main lines on the southern side and the Relief lines on the northern side. Trains transferring between the Relief lines and the lines that run through Reading West had to cross the Main lines; those trains slow-moving freight trains, blocked the paths of express trains. In July 2007, in its white paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway, the government announced plans to improve traffic flow at Reading mentioned along with Birmingham New Street station as "key congestion pinch-points" which would share investment worth £600 million. On 10 September 2008 Network Rail unveiled a £400 million regeneration and reconfiguration of the station and surrounding track to reduce delays.
The following changes were made: Five new platforms: Four new through platforms on the northern side and an extra bay platform for the Wokingham lines. A new footbridge on the western side of the station, replacing the 1989 footbridge; this included a new entrance on the southern side, for ticket holders only. A new street-level entrance and ticket office on the northern side of the station; the original subway was converted into a pedestrian underpass between the two sides of the station, with no access to the platforms. Making the Cow Lane bridge under the tracks two-way with a cycle path. A flyover to the west of the station for trains to allow fast trains to cross over the lines to Reading West, replacing the flat junction. A section of track beneath the flyover to provide a connection between Reading West and the relief lines; the redevelopment was designed to provide provision for future Crossrail and Airtrack services at Reading station. The improvements have allowed capacity for at least 4 extra trains in each direction every hour and 6 extra freight trains a day.
The local council has planned developments of the surrounding area in association with the developments a
President of the Board of Trade
The President of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade. This is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, first established as a temporary committee of inquiry in the 17th century, that evolved into a government department with a diverse range of functions; the current holder is the Secretary of State for International Trade. The idea of a Board of Trade was first translated into action by Oliver Cromwell in 1655 when he appointed his son Richard Cromwell to head a body of Lords of the Privy Council and merchants to consider measures to promote trade. Charles II established a Council of Trade on 7 November 1660 followed by a Council of Foreign Plantations on 1 December that year; the two were united on 16 September 1672 as the Board of Plantations. After the Board was re-established in 1696, there were 15 members of the Board - the 7 Great Officers of State, 8 unofficial members, who did the majority of the work; the senior unofficial member of the board was the President of the Board known as the First Lord of Trade.
The board was abolished on 11 July 1782, but a Committee of the Privy Council was established on 5 March 1784 for the same purposes. On 23 August 1786 a new Committee was set up, more focused on commercial functions than the previous boards of trade. At first the President of the Board of Trade only sat in the Cabinet, but from the early 19th century it was a cabinet-level position