The small and narrow pedestrianised street between Broad Street and Friar Street is called Smelly Alley although it's official name is Union Street. It is so called because of Frosts Fishmongers that hs been there for the past 40 years at least. The street also is home to the Graffiti shop mentioned by EdwinaDolly.
One of Reading's Most Famous Buildings - Its Gaol!
"In Reading Gaol by Reading Town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name."
If it hadn't been for Oscar Wilde's imprisonment here, and his subsequent writing of "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" then I don't suppose that anyone would take any notice of the jail here nor would Reading have its Oscar Wild Walk. Wild was imprisoned here for two years hard labour following his conviction in 1895 for homosexuality. The epic poem was written after his release and concerns the hanging of Trooper Charles Thomas Wooldridge who was found guilty of murdering his wife. The poem's main theme is that of forgiveness and redemption and how we are all culpable to some extent.
The Gaol is still a working prison (now a young offenders' institute) and so isn't open to the general public but is a classic example of Victorian prison architecture.
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The Maiwand Lion
The Maiwand Lion is one of Reading's best known and loved local characters. The 31 foot, 16 ton, sculpture was built by a local sculptor, George Blackwell Simmonds (of Simond's brewing fame), and commemorates the men killed at the battle of Maiwand, in Afghanistan, in July 1880.
The lion strides atop its plinth in the Forbury Gardens and features on the masthead of the "Reading Evening Post" and on the crest of Reading Football Club.
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Berkshire accent (pronounced "Bahrk-shur").
People who've never been to Reading, or met anyone from Reading might think they speak with a London, Cockney, 'Estuary' or 'Southern' accent. Not unreasonably so, because, as the crow flies, Reading is only 34 miles from central London and 20 from Heathrow. With the A329(M) and M4 this means central London's about 50 minutes away (less than 40 miles from eastern parts of Reading). Heathrow is half an hour's drive.
Look at a map: towns between Reading and London are noticably closer together than to the west, north or south from Reading.
Infact Reading people speak with a version of the 'rural' accent that exists throughout southern England (except London and the West Midlands).
Pam Ayres is the most famous example of the accent, but she's from the Vale of the White Horse (Faringdon) so speaks more broad.
Ricky Gervais is from Reading (we hear more of him nowadays than Pam Ayres, so he is the best famous contemporary example) and has kept his accent, despite spending a lot of time in London and America.
"Air ace" they mean "Our house" not a Battle of Britain pilot! "Daiown the taiown" means "Down the town" and "Lunden" is the capital, not the Cockney "Lahn-dan".
Like a lot of local accents, it is threatened by outside influences.
Many residents of Reading's suburbs close to the A329M and M4 motorways work in east Berkshire, Surrey, Heathrow, west London, etc. and consequently shop and socialise in these places, so they could live in Reading for years, without meeting a local (or thinking the few locals they meet are probably from the west country, or East Anglia). Newcomers to Reading might correct their children's speech if they find them picking up Berkshire. Teachers from outside the area might similarly try and cleanse or dilute Berkshire from their pupils' voices.
Youngsters might be influenced by London accents from TV, radio, pop-stars, actors, etc. & cultivate it as they might associate the Berkshire accent with 'old' people, bus drivers, postmen, tradesmen and those in dead-end jobs.
The 3 B's of Reading
I saw these B words in the pavement outside a new office block in Reading Town Centre. There was no explanation for what they were, and indeed I should imagine most people don't even notice that they are there.
I tried to get a photograph with all (or just most) of them in, but they were spaced too far apart to make it any good. So I took a picture of each separate word (OK that's sad I know!) and made the montage which you can see here.
If you still don't know what I am talking about, Reading has historically been famous for the 3 B's. These were items that the Town produced. However there is some dispute as to exactly what these 3 B's might actually have been. Whoever made this office block must have known about these 3 B's, and decided to throw in a few new modern B's for good measure (such as Binary - there are lot of computer companies in Reading these days, and as you may or may not know, most computers 'think' in Binary).
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