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Victorian Reading in maps

Posted in News on 08 Mar 2022

Residents of Reading and lovers of local history can now view a set of maps of Reading online.

The 29 maps cover the area from the Oxford Road to the west, Reading railway station to the north, London Road to the east, Southampton Street and Whitley Street to the south. Some of the outer areas of modern Reading – such as Caversham and Tilehurst – are not shown since the borough’s boundaries were smaller in the 1850s.

Working in partnership with Reading Council’s High Street Heritage Action Zone project team, the Berkshire Record Office (BRO) has digitised the maps which were drawn up by architect and surveyor John Clacy in 1853 to survey the state of sanitary provision in the town.

The maps were originally commissioned by Reading’s Local Board of Health, as part of their public health responsibility for monitoring the maintenance of streets, public cleanliness, water supply and sewerage.

This followed from the passing of the first Public Health Act, five years earlier in 1848 - a response to the great cholera epidemics.  For the first time, any town with a high death rate had to take responsibility for monitoring public health.

View the maps online today to zoom in on particular areas of Reading to explore the history of a house, street or neighbourhood.