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IHBC Reading 2024 Webinar Series – Heritage and Conservation in Reading: a perspective on 60 years of change and development with Richard Bennett and Evelyn Williams

24 May - 13:00 - 14:30


Forming part of the IHBC Reading Annual School 2024, we are delighted to announce the fourth online event in our pre-conference webinar series presented by Richard Bennett and Evelyn Williams: Heritage and Conservation in Reading: a perspective on 60 years of change and development. 

Friday, 24th May 2024 – 1.00pm – 2.15pm

Threats to, and the potential further loss of, the ruins of Reading Abbey led to some conservation stirrings in the 1830s and as a result of other pressures again the late 1940s/ 1950s, though they soon petered out.  However, Reading in the 1960s was modernising fast.  Alongside the positive improvements that this brought came a realisation that heritage was being lost.

Reading Civic Society’s was founded in 1961 to respond to these threats. You will hear that story and the challenges its founders faced.  Wide and high level support was gained but there were also battles with apathy and comments from businesses “far better to demolish the thing”,  however; there was the critical support of a councillor, who was still serving until May 2024. You will hear about some of the early campaigns for individual buildings, some of the wins and losses. Then we move on to the Society’s sustained pressure on the council to start to designate Conservation Areas which have helped to shape the retention of Reading’s historic areas and buildings as it is today.

The story broadens to consider the work of Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee, which started in 2016.  Reading Civic Society was a founder member along with several key Residents Associations. This group of volunteers works to update the appraisals for Reading’s 15 Conservation Areas. We’ll hear the story of the hurdles faced and the progress made.

We will also hear about the Society’s planned Blue Plaque initiative which will to run alongside the Historic England proposals, as well as its plan to engage young people in Architecture and the future built heritage through a project for Primary schools, which engages them on Architecture, Engineering and the history and future of the railways, using Reading Station as example.

About the Speakers:

Richard Bennett DL is the Chair of Reading Civic Society and Vice-Chair of Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee

Evelyn Williams is the Chair of the Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee

Register for your place here


24 May
13:00 - 14:30
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