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Wokingham
Market town
Wokingham-town-hall.jpg
Wokingham Town Hall
Wokingham is located in Berkshire
Wokingham
Wokingham
Area 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2)
Population 46,745 (2017 est.)
• Density 51,939/sq mi (20,054/km2)
OS grid reference SU8068
• London 39 mi (63 km) ENE
Civil parish
  • Wokingham
Unitary authority
  • Wokingham
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WOKINGHAM
Postcode district RG40, RG41
Dialling code 0118
Police Thames Valley
Fire Royal Berkshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Wokingham
Website Wokingham Town Council
List of places
UK
England
Berkshire
51°24′36″N 0°50′24″W / 51.410°N 0.840°W / 51.410; -0.840

Wokingham is a market town in Berkshire, England, a constituent part of the Reading/Wokingham Urban Area. Wokingham was a borough before the 1974 reorganisation of local government, when it merged with Wokingham Rural District to form the new Wokingham District. Borough status was granted in 2007. It is 37 miles (60 km) west of London, 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Reading, 8 miles (13 km) north of Camberley and 4 miles (6 km) west of Bracknell.

History

All-saints-church-wokingham
All Saints' Church

Wokingham means 'Wocca's people's home'. Wocca was apparently a Saxon chieftain who would also have owned lands at Wokefield in Berkshire and Woking in Surrey. In Victorian times, the name became corrupted to Oakingham, and consequently the acorn with oak leaves is the town's heraldic charge, granted in the 19th century.

The courts of Windsor Forest were held at Wokingham and the town had the right to hold a market from 1219. The Bishop of Salisbury was largely responsible for the growth of the town during this period. He set out roads and plots making them available for rent. There are records showing that in 1258 he bought the rights to hold three town fairs every year. Queen Elizabeth granted a town charter in 1583. From the 14th to the 16th centuries, Wokingham was well known for its bell foundry which supplied many churches across the South of England.

During the Tudor period, Wokingham was well known as a producer of silk. Some of the houses involved in these cottage industries are still to be seen in Rose Street. The houses with the taller ground floors housed the looms. This can be seen from the position of the exterior beams of the houses. It is said that one of the original Mulberry bushes (favourite food of the silk worm), still remains in one of the gardens.

In the years 1643–44 Wokingham was regularly raided by both sides in the Civil War. These raids would involve the looting of livestock and trading goods, and over thirty buildings were burnt down, accounting for nearly 20% of buildings in the town at that time. It was not until the early 18th century that Wokingham had fully recovered.a

Wokingham was once famous for its Bull-Baiting. In 1661 George Staverton left a bequest in his will giving two bulls to be tethered in the Market Place and baited by dogs on St. Thomas' Day (21 December) each year. The bulls were paraded around the town a day or two before the event and then locked in the yard of the original Rose Inn which was situated on the site of the present-day Superdrug store. People travelled from miles around to see the dangerous spectacle. A number of dogs would be maimed or killed during the event and the bulls were eventually destroyed. The meat and leather were distributed amongst the poor people of the town. Some of the spectators also sustained fatal injuries. In 1794 on the morning after the bull-baiting Elizabeth North was found dead and covered with bruises. In 1808, 55-year-old Martha May died after being hurt by fighters in the crowd. The cruel 'sport' was prohibited by the Corporation in 1821 but bulls were still provided at Christmas and the meat distributed to the poor. Bull-baiting was banned by Act of Parliament in 1833.

In 1723, the 'Black Act' was passed in Parliament to make it an offence to black one's face to commit criminal acts. It was named after an infamous band of ruffians, known as the 'Wokingham Blacks', who terrorised the local area until 29 of them were arrested after fighting a pitched battle with Grenadier Guards in Bracknell.

Historically, the local accent could be described as a blend of traditional London Cockney, influenced by aspects of West Country pronunciation. However, the rapid expansion of the town, and subsequent influx of non-locals, has led to a decline of this speech pattern since the 1970s. In the 21st Century, traditional Wokingham accents are becoming rare, particularly amongst young people, who are increasingly influenced by the spread of Multicultural London English.

The formerly important industry of brick-making has given way to software development, light engineering and service industries,and the population has greatly increased.

Geography

Agates Meadow - geograph.org.uk - 64515
Agates Meadow

Wokingham is on the Emm Brook in the Loddon Valley in central Berkshire situated 33 miles (53.1 km) west of central London. It sits between the larger towns of Reading and Bracknell and was originally in a band of agricultural land on the western edge of Windsor Forest. The soil is a rich loam with a subsoil of sand and gravel.

Wokingham has a town centre, with main residential areas radiating in all directions. These include Woosehill to the west, Emmbrook to the northwest, Dowlesgreen, Norreys, Keephatch and Bean Oak to the east, and to the south Wescott and Eastheath. Older names include Woodcray and Luckley Green.

Much of Wokingham has been developed over the past 80 years. Woosehill and Dowlesgreen were built on farmland in the late 1960s and early '70s, along with Bean Oak. Keephatch was built in the early '90s. The Norreys Estate was built in the 1960s; however, Norreys Avenue is the oldest residential road in that area, having been built in the late 1940s as emergency housing following the Second World War. Norreys Avenue has a horseshoe shape and occupies the site of the demolished Norreys Manor. Much of the road contains 1940s-style prefabricated houses, although there are some brick houses along with three blocks of 1950s police houses.

In 2010, the council set up WEL (Wokingham Enterprise Limited) to manage a £100m regeneration project to redevelop the town centre with new retail, leisure and residential facilities, parking, roads and open spaces.

Several major expansion projects around the town are planned over the next decade, including a major redevelopment of the town centre, new north and south relief roads and at the former military base at nearby Arborfield Garrison. As of 2015, the redevelopment of the railway station and surrounding area is complete, and large scale housing construction is underway to the north-east and south-east of the town.

Transport

The A329(M) motorway, accessible from the east of town, connects Wokingham to Reading and the rest of the motorway network at junction 10 of the M4. The Wokingham junction is where the A329(M) ends and becomes the A322, for Bracknell and the M3.

Wokingham railway station is at the junction of the Waterloo to Reading line with the North Downs Line. South Western Railway manages the station and provides services, along with Great Western Railway.

Most local bus services are provided by Thames Valley Buses, but the services from Wokingham to Reading and Bracknell are operated by Reading Buses, after First Berkshire & The Thames Valley closed their Bracknell depot in the summer of 2015. There is also a football bus run on Reading FC match days by Stagecoach South to the Madejski Stadium.

Literature

In the 18th century, the Ballad of Molly Mogg was written in Wokingham. Molly was the barmaid daughter of the publican of the old Rose Inn (not on the site of the present one). They wrote the ballad extolling her virtues to pass the time.

The character of Tom the chimney sweep in Charles Kingsley's classic childhood story The Water Babies was based on the life and times of a Wokingham boy called James Seaward, who was a boy sweep in Victorian times. In his later years Seaward swept the chimneys at Charles Kingsley's home at the Rectory in Eversley, Hampshire. Seaward was elected Alderman of Wokingham from 1909 until his death in 1921. He had 12 children and many of his descendants still live locally. The Water Babies are the subject of Wokingham's first public sculpture, installed in 1999, which graces the upper level entrance to Wokingham Library.

Film

Soldier Soldier season 7 was filmed at Bearwood College, the college was the scene for the parade ground, officers mess, and a school.

Sport and leisure

  • There are public parks at Barkham Road Recreation Ground, Langborough Recreation Ground, Cantley Park, Chestnut Park, Elizabeth Road Recreation Ground, Elms Field, Riverside Walk, and Waverley Park.
  • There is a local nature reserve called Holt Copse & Joel Park.
  • The council provides a number of leisure facilities such as the Carnival Pool, St. Crispin's Sports Centre and the Pinewood Leisure Centre. Pinewood is the base for over 20 clubs and associations. There is a King George V Playing Field behind St. Crispin's in memory of King George V.
  • Speedway racing was staged at California in Reading. Before then the track, known then as Longmoor was used as a training track. After the war the track featured in the Southern Area League in the 1950s. The team were known as the Poppies. The site of the stadium is now part of a nature reserve but a few remnants of the track remain.
  • The local football team is Wokingham and Emmbrook F.C.
  • The Wokingham Half Marathon is held each February and starts and finishes at Cantley Park.
  • Wokingham Library is in Denmark Street.
  • Wokingham Cricket Club (founded 1825) played at their ground on Wellington Road before relocating to a new, bigger ground in Sindlesham in 2012.
  • Wokingham Music, Food & Drink Festival is held every August. Showcasing local musicians, local food producers and also wines, beers, and ciders from Berkshire and surrounding breweries.
  • Wokingham Open Air Cinema. For its second year, three films were shown the weekend before the Wokingham Festival.

Twin towns

Wokingham is twinned with:

  • Germany — Erftstadt in Germany
  • France — Viry-Châtillon in France
  • The Wokingham Society. Wokingham: A Chronology, 1978.
  • Bell, J. "Memories of Wokingham Town Hall 1860 to 1946
  • Bell, J. "Wokingham and the Royal Jubilees"
  • Bell, J. "Former Mayors of Wokingham 1885 to 1946"
  • Bell, J. "Former Mayors of Wokingham 1947 to 1979"
  • Bell, J. "A Stroll Through St. Paul´s Churchyard"
  • Bell, J. "St. Paul´s Wokingham - Early 20th Century Parish Magazine Extracts"
  • Bell, J. "St. Paul´s Parish Wokingham at War 1939-1945"
  • Bell, J. "the Memorials Inside All Saints´ Parish Church"
  • Bell, J. "the Story of H.M.S. Garth"
  • Bell, J. "St. Paul´s Parish Church, Wokingham"
  • Bell, J. "Miss Winifred Spooner, Aviatrix"
  • Bell, J. "Wokingham Remembers the Second world War"
  • Bell, J. "High Stewards of Wokingham"
  • Bell, J. "Five Wokingham Families"
  • Bell, J. "Former Town Clerks of Wokingham"



Education

Secondary schools

Wokingham is served by five state secondary schools. The Emmbrook School is a mixed-sex comprehensive school, St Crispin's School is a mixed-sex comprehensive school. The Holt School, founded in 1931 in the Dower House of Beche's Manor, is a girls' school.

Private schools

  • Holme Grange School founded in 1945 for Girls and Boys aged 3–16 years
  • Luckley House School founded at Luckley House in 1918 for girls aged 11–18
  • White House Preparatory School, for girls aged 2–11, now closed

Junior School

Westende Junior School is a co-educational junior school established in 1974. The school caters for children from the ages of seven to eleven. The school is near the town centre in Seaford Road and is bordered by St Crispin's School and the King George V playing field. The majority of children at Westende come from the nearby Wescott Infant School, and the two schools share a joint Parent Teachers' Association. In September 1995 the school opened ‘The Acorns’, the first junior school resource in Berkshire for pupils with a diagnosis of Special Educational Need for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Notable people

  • Charlie Austin, Southampton striker
  • Luke Bedford, composer
  • Thomas Bradley, chaplain to King Charles I
  • Sir Richard Browne, 1st Baronet, of London, born in Wokingham sometime prior to 1616
  • Kate Bryan, arts broadcaster
  • The Cooper Temple Clause, post-hardcore punk band
  • Isaac Deutscher, Polish historian and political activist, lived in Wokingham from the late 1950s to 1963.
  • Claude Duval, highwayman, supposedly owned a house in the town
  • Dick Francis, writer
  • Thomas Godwin, Bishop of Bath and Wells, born and died in Wokingham
  • Nicholas Hoult, actor and model, best known for his roles in the films About a Boy (2002) portraying Marcus, X-Men: First Class (2011) portraying Hank McCoy and for portraying Tony Stonem in the E4 drama series Skins (2007–2008)
  • Daniel Howell, YouTuber, author and former BBC Radio 1 presenter
  • Stephen Hughes, footballer, born in Wokingham
  • Diane Kendal, makeup artist
  • Steven Lewington, professional wrestler formerly known as "The British Babe", now wrestling as "DJ Gabriel" with WWE
  • Frederick Lucas, founder of The Tablet
  • Henry Lucas, founder of the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge University
  • Leslie Sears, cricketer
  • Russell Slade, football manager
  • Anne Snelgrove, MP
  • Bill Stone, veteran of both World Wars; lived in Sindlesham
  • William Talman, architect and landscape designer
  • John Walter III, local benefactor and proprietor of The Times newspaper
  • Anna Watkins, gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics and bronze medallist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in the women's double sculls
  • Jason Watkins, actor
  • Will Young, singer and Pop Idol's Series 1 (2002) winner

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