Minehead is a coastal town and civil parish in Somerset, England. It lies on the south bank of the Bristol Channel, 21 miles north-west of the county town of Taunton, 12 miles from the border with the county of Devon and in proximity of the Exmoor National Park; the parish of Minehead has a population of 11,981 making it the most populous town in the West Somerset local government district, which in turn, is the worst area in the country for social mobility. This figure includes Alcombe and Woodcombe, suburban villages which have been subsumed into Minehead. There is evidence of human occupation in the area since Iron Ages. Before the Norman conquest it was held by Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia and after it by William de Moyon and his descendants, who administered the area from Dunster Castle, sold to Sir George Luttrell and his family. There was a small port at Minehead by 1380, which grew into a major trading centre during the medieval period. Most trade transferred to larger ports during the 20th century, but pleasure steamers did call at the port.
Major rebuilding took place in the Lower or Middle town area following a fire in 1791 and the fortunes of the town revived with the growth in sea bathing, by 1851 was becoming a retirement centre. There was a marked increase in building during the early years of the 20th century, which resulted in the wide main shopping avenue and adjacent roads with Edwardian style architecture; the town's flood defences were improved. Minehead is governed by a town council, created in 1983 and has been part of the West Somerset local government district since 1974. In addition to the parish church of St. Michael on the Hill in Minehead, the separate parish church of St Michael the Archangel is situated in Church Street, Alcombe. Alcombe is home to the Spiritualist Church in Grove Place. Since 1991, Minehead has been twinned with Saint-Berthevin, a small town close to the regional centre of Laval in the Mayenne département of France. Blenheim Gardens, Minehead’s largest park, was opened in 1925; the town is the home of a Butlins Holiday Park which increases Minehead's seasonal tourist population by several thousand.
There is a variety of schools and religious and sporting facilities including sailing and wind surfing and golf. One popular ancient local tradition involves the Hobby Horse, or Obby Oss, which takes to the streets for four days on the eve of the first of May each year, with accompanying musicians and rival horses; the town is the starting point of the South West Coast Path National Trail, the nation's longest long-distance countryside walking trail. The Minehead Railway was opened in 1874 and closed in 1971 but has since been reopened as the West Somerset Railway; the town sits at the foot of a steeply rising outcrop of Exmoor known as North Hill, the original name of the town was mynydd, which means mountain in Welsh. It has been written as Mynheafdon, Maneheve and Menedun, which contain elements of Welsh and Old English words for hill. Bronze Age barrows at Selworthy Beacon and an Iron Age enclosure at Furzebury Brake, west of the town show evidence of prehistoric occupation of the area, although there is possible evidence in the intertidal area, where the remains of a submerged forest still exist.
Minehead was part of the hundred of Carhampton. It is mentioned as a manor belonging to William de Moyon in the Domesday Book in 1086, although it had been held by Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia. William de Mohun of Dunster, 1st Earl of Somerset and his descendants administered the area from Dunster Castle, sold to Sir George Luttrell and his family. There was a small port at Minehead by 1380, but it was not until 1420 that money given by Lady Margaret Luttrell enabled improvements to be made and a jetty built. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the town had its own Port Officer similar to the position at Bristol. Vessels in the 15th century included the Trinite which traded between Ireland and Bristol, others carrying salt and other cargo from La Rochelle in France. Other products included local cloth which were traded for coal from South Wales. In 1559 a Charter of Incorporation, established a free Borough and Parliamentary representation, but was made conditional on improvements being made to the port.
The harbour fell into disrepair so that in 1604 James I withdrew the town's charter. Control reverted to the Luttrells and a new harbour was built, at a cost of £5,000, further out to sea than the original, at the mouth of the Bratton Stream, it incorporated a pier, dating from 1616, was built to replace that at Dunster, silting up. Trade was with Wales for cattle, wool, butter and coal; these are commemorated in the town arms which include a sailing ship. Privateers based at Minehead were involved in the war with Spain and France during 1625–1630 and again during the War of the Spanish Succession from 1702–1713; the first cranes were installed after further improvements to the port in 1714. The Mermaid, one of the oldest business premises in the town, has been, at various times, a ship chandler's, a nineteenth-century "department store" and in more recent years a tearoom; the building was the home of Minehead’s famous Whistling Ghost – Old Mother Leakey, who died in 1634. The ghost became notorious by "whistling up a storm" whenever one of her son’s ships neared port.
The level of anxiety in the town became so great that, in 1636, the Bishop of Bath and Wells presided over a Royal Commission to inquire into the matter. The commission reported that the witnesses were unreliable and when its findings were signed by Archbishop Laud and
McIlroy Park is a local nature reserve in Tilehurst, England. The nature reserve is under the management of the Reading Borough Council. Along with Blundells Copse and Lousehill Copse it is part of West Reading Woodlands; the site covers 11.98 hectares. McIlroy Park is located on a steep hill and features a large species-rich grassland field and a large block of mixed deciduous woodland. There are two ancient sunken paths. There are old chalk pits in the west woodland area from the old clay extraction industry and a possible Saxon mound on its eastern edge. McIlroy Park abuts, is contiguous with another local nature reserve called Round Copse; the land for the reservation was donated by William Mcilroy, who owned a department store in Reading, was mayor of the town. In 1992 site was designated a local nature reserve; the site has the following fauna: Red kite Common buzzard Common kestrel Common starling Common whitethroat Fieldfare European green woodpecker Dunnock House sparrow Mistle thrush Redwing Song thrush Willow warbler Eurasian sparrowhawk Eurasian jay Cinnabar moth Bombus ruderarius Scotopteryx chenopodiata Gatekeeper Holly blue Meadow brown Lycaena phlaeas Speckled wood The site has the following flora: Acer campestre Quercus robur Fraxinus Hazel Ilex aquifolium Prunus avium Hyacinthoides non-scripta Catnip Mercurialis perennis Holcus mollis Melica uniflora Milium effusum Luzula pilosa Moehringia trinervia Calluna Ruscus aculeatus Xylaria polymorpha
House of Fraser
House of Fraser is a British department store group with 55 stores across the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was established in Glasgow, Scotland in 1849 as Fraser. By 1891, it was known as Fraser & Sons; the company grew during the early 20th century, after the Second World War a large number of acquisitions transformed the company into a national chain. From 1936 onwards the company expanded through acquisitions, including Scottish Drapery Corporation, Barkers of Kensington, Dickins & Jones and the Harrods group. In 1948, the company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange. Acquisitions included Howells and Army & Navy Stores. Ownership of the group passed to the Al Fayed family in 1985, in 1995 it was listed in the FTSE Index as House of Fraser plc, with Harrods moved into the private ownership of the Al Fayeds. In the 1990s several stores were closed and fifteen stores transferred to a joint venture with British Land Company, which continued operating under their old name; the former Harrod group store D H Evans on Oxford Street, London was re-branded as House of Fraser in 2001 and became the chain's flagship store.
In 2005, the group acquired Jenners, Beatties. In 2006, group was acquired by a consortium of investors including Icelandic based Landsbanki. An online store was launched in 2007. In 2014 the group was sold to Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co. a leading chain of Chinese department stores for £480 million. In May 2018, the group entered a company voluntary arrangement, in June the closure of 31 stores was announced. On 10 August 2018 Mike Ashley's Sports Direct chain agreed to buy the business for £90 million after the chain went into administration earlier that day; the company was founded by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur in 1849 as a small drapery shop on the corner of Argyle Street and Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Scotland trading as Arthur and Fraser. Hugh Fraser had been apprenticed to Stewart & McDonald Ltd, a Glasgow drapery warehouse where he rose to the position of warehouse manager and from where he brought many of initial customers. James Arthur owned a retail drapery business in Paisley, near Glasgow: he appointed a manager to oversee the Paisley business while he focused on his new business.
The company established a wholesale trade in adjoining premises in Argyle Street. In 1856 the wholesale business moved to a larger site in Miller Street and started to trade under the name Arthur & Co; the retail side of the business expanded into the vacant buildings left by the wholesale side. During the late 1850s and early 1860s the retail business was run by a professional manager – first Thomas Kirkpatrick and Alexander McLaren. In 1865 the partnership between the partners was dissolved and Fraser assumed control of the retail business leaving Arthur with the wholesale business. In 1865 McLaren joined the name was changed to Fraser & McLaren; when the first Hugh Fraser died in 1873, his three eldest sons, James and Hugh, acquired stakes in the business. James and John Fraser were directors in the business and employed Alexander McLaren and John Towers to manage it for them. In 1891 Hugh joined the partnership which by was called Fraser & Sons. In 1879, the current flagship store on Oxford Street in London was opened by Dan Harries Evans, a 23-year-old from Whitemill in Carmarthenshire, Wales, apprenticed to a draper in Forest Hamlet near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.
He moved to London in 1878 to set up his own business in Westminster Bridge Road. The store traded under the D H Evans name until 2001. By 1900, Hugh Fraser II was in charge: he incorporated the business as Fraser & Sons Ltd in 1909 and introduced the famous stag's head motif. After Hugh Fraser II died in 1927, his son Hugh Fraser III, an accountant, became Chairman of the business, he opened new departments, enlarged the tearoom, opened a restaurant and began to look at possible acquisitions. In 1936 he purchased Arnott & Co Ltd and its neighbour Robert Simpson & Sons Ltd in nearby Argyle Street, merging the companies to help improve trade. In 1948 the Company, now named House of Fraser, was first listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1951, the Company purchased McDonald's Ltd, with it a branch in Harrogate. Fraser purchased the Scottish Drapery Corporation in 1952, followed by the Sunderland based Binns group of stores in 1953. Fraser sold the property sites to insurance companies, leasing them back for long terms at advantageous rates.
This enabled the release of capital for the purchase of new premises and the modernisation of existing stores. In 1957 the Kensington store group of John Barker & Co Ltd was acquired and in 1959 Harrods and Dickins & Jones joined the Group. Sir Hugh Fraser succeeded his father as Chairman of the company when his father died in 1966. Sir Hugh resumed the expansion of the company in 1969 with the takeover of J. J. Allen Ltd, a Bournemouth based group. During the 1970s, the House of Fraser Group acquired more companies including: T. Baird & Sons Ltd of Scotland, Switzer & Co. Ltd of Dublin, E. Dingle & Co. Ltd, Chiesmans Ltd, Hide & Co and the Army & Navy Stores in southern England, as well as a number of independent stores, totaling over fifty stores during the decade. In 1973 the House of Fraser Group was considering merging with the British pharmacy company Boots, was subject to a written answer in the House of Commons; the government decided to ban the proposed merger in 1974. In 1981, Prof. Roland Smith succeeded Sir Hugh Fraser as chairman.
A takeover bid by Lonrho was referred
Debenhams is a British multinational retailer operating under a department store format in the United Kingdom and Ireland with franchise stores in other countries. The company was founded in the eighteenth century as a single store in London and has now grown to 178 locations across the UK, Ireland and Denmark, it sells a range of clothing, household items and furniture and has been known since 1993 for its'Designers at Debenhams' brand range. Headquartered in Regent's Place in the London Borough of Camden; the company owns the Danish department store chain, Magasin du Nord, has a subsidiary in Ireland The business was formed in 1778 by William Clark, who began trading at 44 Wigmore Street in London as a drapers' store. In 1813, William Debenham became the corporate name changed to Clark & Debenham; the shop was renamed Cavendish House and carried drapery, haberdashery, hosiery and family mourning goods. As the trade grew, the partners determined to expand the business by opening provincial branches in Cheltenham and Harrogate.
By 1823, Clark & Debenham had opened a small drapery business at 3 Promenade Rooms, selling a selection of silks, shawls, gloves and fancy goods. The new shop flourished. In 1837, Clark retired from the business and Debenham assumed two of his most trusted staff, William Pooley and John Smith, as partners, trading in both London and Cheltenham as Debenham, Pooley & Smith. By 1840, the management of the Cheltenham branch appears to have been given to Clement Freebody, Debenham's brother-in-law. Around 1843, another branch shop was launched in Harrogate. Extended and refurbished premises opened in Cheltenham in October 1844. Pooley and Smith retired from the business in 1851 when Debenham took his son and Clement Freebody into partnership, trading as Debenham, Son & Freebody. At this time all three shops in London and Harrogate were trading in similar goods and issued a joint catalogue, called the Fashion Book, the basis of an extensive mail-order trade. In 1876 when Freebody retired, a new partnership, Debenham & Hewitt, was formed.
George Hewitt appears to have worked at the Cheltenham store as a draper's assistant during the early 1860s but details of his subsequent career are not known. By 1883, George Hewitt was the sole owner of the Cheltenham business and William Debenham having withdrawn to manage the London store as a separate concern; the business was incorporated as Debenhams Limited in 1905. The modern Debenhams group grew from the acquisition of department stores in towns and cities throughout the UK, under the leadership of its chairman, Ernest Debenham; the first of these purchases, Marshall & Snelgrove at Oxford Street in London, was acquired through a one sided merger in 1919. Purchases included Harvey Nichols in London's Knightsbridge in 1920. Most of the acquired stores retained their former identities until a unified corporate image was rolled out; the company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1928, shortly after it had purchased fellow retail group Drapery Trust. In 1976 the company acquired Browns of Chester.
It remains the only UK store to have retained an individual identity. The business diversified during the 1970s buying South East based supermarket group Cater Brothers in 1972, after the death of its chairman Leslie Cater. Using the new purchasing power Debenhams modernised its 40 food halls within its stores, branding them Cater's Food Halls, opened two new Cater superstores; however the business declined in the intense marketplace and in 1979 the chain was sold to Allied Suppliers who converted the Cater stores into their Presto format. Debenhams was targeted three times during the 1980s by the Animal Liberation Front in protest at the sale of animal furs in stores. Stores in Romford and Harrow were fire-bombed by members, the worst attack being on the Luton store; as a result, the company stopped selling clothes with animal furs. It was alleged by Caroline Lucas MP in a debate in Westminster Hall that Bob Lambert, a undercover police officer, planted the fire bomb that caused £340,000 worth of damage to the Harrow branch of Debenhams in 1987.
It is unclear if anything has come of these allegations as of March 2014. In 1985 the company was acquired by the Burton Group. Following the closure of the store in Dudley in January 1981 and the Birmingham store in 1983, the company's only store in the West Midlands for the next six years was a town centre store in Walsall. On 4 November 1989, it opened a store at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre in Brierley Hill. Debenhams demerged from the Burton Group in January 1998 and was once again listed as a separate company on the London Stock Exchange, it expanded under the leadership of Belinda Earl, appointed CEO in 2000. Debenhams opened its largest British store on 4 September 2003, at the new Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham; the new store contains 19,230 sq m and opened 20 years after the company closed its Birmingham city centre store due to declining trade. A private consortium named Baroness Retail Limited acquired the company in November 2003, it returned to a listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2006.
The consortium comprised CVC Capital Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, management. The company purchased the brand name and stock of Principles in March 2009 after the business entered administration. Principles operated concessions within 121 Debenhams stores, was subsequently relaunched by Ben de Lisi as part of the Designers at Debenhams range. In November 2009, Debenhams acquired the Danish department store group Magasin Du Nord for £12.3 million. The company operates six stores in Denmark under the Magasin brand. In July 2010 Debenhams purchased the 115 Faith concessions trading with
Bristol is a city and county in South West England with a population of 459,300. The wider district has the 10th-largest population in England; the urban area population of 724,000 is the 8th-largest in the UK. The city borders North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, with the cities of Bath and Gloucester to the south-east and north-east, respectively. South Wales lies across the Severn estuary. Iron Age hill forts and Roman villas were built near the confluence of the rivers Frome and Avon, around the beginning of the 11th century the settlement was known as Brycgstow. Bristol received a royal charter in 1155 and was divided between Gloucestershire and Somerset until 1373, when it became a county of itself. From the 13th to the 18th century, Bristol was among the top three English cities after London in tax receipts. Bristol was surpassed by the rapid rise of Birmingham and Liverpool in the Industrial Revolution. Bristol was a starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World.
On a ship out of Bristol in 1497 John Cabot, a Venetian, became the first European since the Vikings to land on mainland North America. In 1499 William Weston, a Bristol merchant, was the first Englishman to lead an exploration to North America. At the height of the Bristol slave trade, from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slave ships carried an estimated 500,000 people from Africa to slavery in the Americas; the Port of Bristol has since moved from Bristol Harbour in the city centre to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Dock. Bristol's modern economy is built on the creative media and aerospace industries, the city-centre docks have been redeveloped as centres of heritage and culture; the city has the largest circulating community currency in the UK—the Bristol pound, pegged to the Pound sterling. The city has two universities, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, a variety of artistic and sporting organisations and venues including the Royal West of England Academy, the Arnolfini, Spike Island, Ashton Gate and the Memorial Stadium.
It is connected to London and other major UK cities by road and rail, to the world by sea and air: road, by the M5 and M4. One of the UK's most popular tourist destinations, Bristol was selected in 2009 as one of the world's top ten cities by international travel publishers Dorling Kindersley in their Eyewitness series of travel guides; the Sunday Times named it as the best city in Britain in which to live in 2014 and 2017, Bristol won the EU's European Green Capital Award in 2015. The most ancient recorded name for Bristol is the archaic Welsh Caer Odor, consistent with modern understanding that early Bristol developed between the River Frome and Avon Gorge, it is most stated that the Saxon name Bricstow was a simple calque of the existing Celtic name, with Bric a literal translation of Odor, the common Saxon suffix Stow replacing Caer. Alternative etymologies are supported by numerous orthographic variations in medieval documents, with Samuel Seyer enumerating 47 alternative forms; the Old English form Brycgstow is used to derive the meaning place at the bridge.
Utilizing another form, Rev. Dr. Shaw derived the name from the Celtic words bras, or braos and tuile; the poet Thomas Chatterton popularised a derivation from Brictricstow linking the town to Brictric, a leading landholder in the area. It appears that the form Bricstow prevailed until 1204, the Bristolian'L' is what changed the name to Bristol. Archaeological finds, including flint tools believed to be between 300,000 and 126,000 years old made with the Levallois technique, indicate the presence of Neanderthals in the Shirehampton and St Annes areas of Bristol during the Middle Palaeolithic. Iron Age hill forts near the city are at Leigh Woods and Clifton Down, on the side of the Avon Gorge, on Kings Weston Hill near Henbury. A Roman settlement, existed at what is now Sea Mills. Isolated Roman villas and small forts and settlements were scattered throughout the area. Bristol was founded by 1000. By 1067 Brycgstow was a well-fortified burh, that year the townsmen beat off a raiding party from Ireland led by three of Harold Godwinson's sons.
Under Norman rule, the town had one of the strongest castles in southern England. Bristol was the place of exile for Diarmait Mac Murchada, the Irish king of Leinster, after being overthrown; the Bristol merchants subsequently played a prominent role in funding Richard Strongbow de Clare and the Norman invasion of Ireland. The port developed in the 11th century around the confluence of the Rivers Frome and Avon, adjacent to Bristol Bridge just outside the town walls. By the 12th century Bristol was an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland, including slaves. There was an important Jewish community in Bristol from the late 12th century through to the late 13th century when all Jews were expelled from England; the stone bridge built in 1247 was replaced by the current bridge during the 1760s. The town incorporated neighbouring suburbs and became a county in 1373, the first town in England to be given this status. During this period, Bristol became manufacturing centre. By the 14th centur
Oxford Road, Reading
Oxford Road is a major arterial road in Reading, England, Beginning near the town centre at the meeting of St. Mary's Butts/West Street/Broad Street; the road leads west to Pangbourne, continuing to the city of Oxford. The road was known as Pangbourne Lane. Most of the road is designated the A329. Reading West railway station is near the eastern end of Oxford Road. Tilehurst railway station is near the western end of the road, serving the Reading suburb of Tilehurst; the road to the northwest becomes Purley Rise at Purley on Thames. To the east in central Reading, it becomes Broad Street, the main pedestrianised shopping street in Reading. Travelling from east to west, the road passes the Broad Street Mall shopping centre before crossing the town's Inner Distribution Road on a bridge; some 500 metres further on, Holy Trinity Church is passesd on the right followed by the Oxford Road Community School at 146 Oxford Road. Battle Library is at 420 Oxford Road; the Oxford Road Community Garden is located off the Oxford Road.
The entrance to the Battle Hospital was located at 344 Oxford road, where the original gate still stands. The Chatham Street development off Oxford Road, still under construction, offers possible improvement for this part of Reading with a £250 million investment scheme, including new shops, accommodation and leisure facilities. Mike Oldfield's Family lived on Western Elms Avenue, where his Father worked as a General Practitioner; the first Little Chef Restaurant was opened on Oxford Road in 1958. Media related to Oxford Road, Reading at Wikimedia Commons
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