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Reading is a large town in Berkshire located in the Thames Valley with a population of around 162,700 recorded in 2016. The town is situated on the Thames and Kennet Rivers in southern England, and it is 42 miles west of London, 75 miles east of Bristol and 25 miles south of Oxford. The history of the town traced its roots back to 8th century. In the medieval period, the town was considered as a 10th largest town in England and served as the main trading and ecclesiastical centre. One of the richest monasteries ‘Reading Abbey’ is also built in the town. The town was severally affected by English Civil war, and the wealth of the town declined with the major siege and loss of trade.
With the establishment of ironworks and Great Western Railway in the 18th and 19th century, the town grew rapidly and became the principal manufacturing centre. During that period, the economy of the town again flourished, and it became famous for its brewing trade. The town is crowned as leading economic area for economic success, and well-being and the factors contributing towards its growth are health, employment, and income. Due to its strategic location and establishment of information technology and insurance sector in the town, it became a major commercial and regional retail centre catering the needs of a large area of the Thames Valley.
The first evidence of settlement was found in the 8th century, and it is estimated that the town may date back to the Roman period. It was also referred as Readingum, the name derived from an Anglo-Saxon tribe in Old English. The first battle of the town was held in 871, and an army of Danes set up the camp and remained in the town until the end of 8th century. With the presence of six mills, Reading was explicitly known as a borough in 1086. In the 14th century, the most devastating pandemics Black Death also affected the city and lost 60% of its population.
Reading Abbey founded in 1121 was largely destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. The town was little affected by First and Second World War compared to other towns and cities of the United Kingdom. The town centre was attacked by Luftwaffe plane machine in 1943 resulted in many causalities. The town is ranked among one of the largest urban areas of the England, but it has not granted the city status so far even after bidding for three main occasions celebrated Diamond Jubilee, a new millennium and Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. All three bids remain unsuccessful.
Reading is a major retail and commercial centre in the Southern England. The town is home to various UK offices of foreign multinationals and British companies’ headquarters. Due to its proximity to London, it is also known as part of the London commuter belt and inward tourist destination with 30,000 inward arrivals recorded during the morning peak period. The headquarters of the major companies including Microsoft, BG Group, and Oracle Hibu is located in the town. PepsiCo, Ericsson, Commvault, and Wrigley have their offices in the town. The town centre is a major shopping centre; there are three major departmental stores, two shopping malls and three shopping arcades in the town.
In 1892, the University of Reading was established. It was rated as one of the most research-intensive University of England. It is also rated among top 200 universities in the world. A large number of primary, private, independent and state secondary schools in the town provides the best education to the students.
The town is famous for Thames Valley countryside, medieval abbey ruins, a major shopping centre and Thames and Kennet rivers. Notable places to visit in the town are Reading Abbey Ruins, Reading Museum, Basildon Park, Wellington Country Park and much more exciting locations.
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