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Woodley, Berkshire facts for kids

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Woodley Shopping Centre - - 2778.jpg
Woodley Shopping Centre
Population 35,470 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SU7673
• London 35 mi (56 km) E
Civil parish
  • Woodley
Unitary authority
  • Wokingham
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Reading
Postcode district RG5
Dialling code 0118
Police Thames Valley
Fire Royal Berkshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
List of places
BerkshireCoordinates: 51°27′11″N 0°54′07″W / 51.453°N 0.902°W / 51.453; -0.902

Woodley is a town and civil parish in Berkshire, England. It is a suburb of Reading, situated 4 miles (6.4 km) east of the town centre and is joined to the neighbouring suburb of Earley, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the west, and 4 miles (6.4 km) from the market town of Wokingham. Nearby are the villages of Sonning, Twyford, Winnersh, Hurst and Charvil.


The toponym Woodley is derived from Old English words meaning "a clearing in the wood". Anciently, Woodley was part of the ecclesiastical parish of Sonning.

In the west of Woodley, Old Bulmershe Manor was the home of the Blagrave family and probable birthplace of the 17th-century mathematician, John Blagrave. The adjoining house of Bulmershe Court, otherwise Woodley Lodge, was built in 1777 by James Wheble. The house was subsequently bought by Henry Addington, at that time Speaker of the House of Commons and later Prime Minister. He lived there when not in London and was visited by prominent figures of the age, including William Pitt the Younger and, it is said, King George III. In the Second World War the house was used by the US Army. In the 1960s it was demolished and replaced by a teacher training college that subsequently become part of the University of Reading. The area was sold in 2013/2014 and is now a new housing estate of houses, flats and a care home.

Until the 1930s Woodley was a village of little significance. In that decade, Woodley Aerodrome was opened in a 100-acre (40 ha) field belonging to Sandford Farm. In 1932 F.G. Miles came to Woodley and joined with Philips and Powis in the production of the Miles Hawk aeroplane, leading to the formation of Miles Aircraft Ltd which continued producing aircraft in Woodley until after the Second World War. In the years before the war numerous aviators visited Woodley, including Charles Lindbergh and Amy Johnson; Douglas Bader lost his legs in a flying accident on the airfield in 1931. From 1935 a civilian flying school was operated by the Philips and Powis company, where trainees were prepared for service in the RAF.

Just under 6,000 civil and military aircraft were built and first flown here from 1933–62 and, in 1939, the Phillips & Powis factory installed Britain's first moving track assembly line for aircraft production, to build the Miles Master advanced training aeroplane. Today, Woodley's aviation heritage is commemorated by the Museum of Berkshire Aviation on the southern edge of the former airfield.

After the Second World War, Woodley continued to grow, with industry relocating from Reading, and new housing. In the 1960s the airfield was closed together with its last aircraft factory and a new town centre was created replacing old village shops. The former airfield was redeveloped for housing by Adwest Properties Ltd in the 1980s and Woodley is now largely indistinguishable from Reading.


Woodley Congregational church is a Gothic Revival building completed in 1834. It is now a United Reformed Church.

The Church of St John the Evangelist was designed by Henry Woodyer, paid for by Robert Palmer of Holme Park and built in 1873. Woodley was made separate ecclesiastical parish in 1881.

The Museum of Berkshire Aviation is located in Woodley on the southern boundary of the former Woodley Aerodrome. The Museum is run by volunteers and is largely reliant on admission charges and donations.


Woodley has a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) just to the east of the town, called Lodge Wood and Sandford Mill


Woodley is a location mentioned in the short ghost story The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance by M.R. James first published in A thin ghost and Others in 1919

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