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Woodley Shopping Centre
Woodley shown within Berkshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Reading East|
Woodley is a town and civil parish in Berkshire, England. The Office for National Statistics places Woodley within the Reading Urban Area, but for purposes of local government it falls within the Borough of Wokingham, outside of the jurisdiction of Reading Borough Council. The name Woodley is derived from Old English words means 'a clearing in the wood'. Anciently, Woodley was a part of the ecclesiastical parish of Sonning.
The ecclesiastical parish of Woodley came into existence in 1881, following the earlier erection of the church of St. John the Evangelist by Robert Palmer in 1873.
Until the 1930s, Woodley was a very small village of no great significance. In that decade, an airfield and flying school was opened in the 100-acre (0.40 km2) field belonging to Sandford Farm. In 1932, F.G. Miles came to Woodley and joined forces 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 World War II. During the pre-war years many famous aviators visited at Woodley, including Charles Lindbergh and Amy Johnson; Douglas Bader lost his legs in a flying accident on the airfield in 1931. Just under 6,000 civil and military aircraft were built and first flown here from 1933-62 and notably, 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, much of Woodley's aviation heritage is commemorated by the Museum of Berkshire Aviation on the southern edge of the former airfield.
After World War II Woodley continued to grow, with industry relocating from Reading and new housing growing up. In the 1960s the airfield finally closed together with its last aircraft factory and a new town centre was created replacing old village shops. In the 1980s the airfield site was redeveloped as a major housing area, and Woodley is now largely indistinguishable from Reading to the casual visitor.
In the west of Woodley, Old Bulmershe Manor was the home of the Blagrave family and probable birthplace of the famous 17th century mathematician, John Blagrave. The adjoining large house of Bulmershe Court alias 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 frequently visited by other prominent figures of the age, including William Pitt the Younger and, it is said, King George III. During World War II, the house was used by the US Army. In the 1960s, it was demolished and replaced by a teacher training college that has subsequently become part of the University of Reading.
Woodley is a civil parish with town status (adopted in 1974) and an elected town council. It falls within the area of the unitary authority of Wokingham. Both the town council and the unitary authority are responsible for different aspects of local government.
Woodley is home to two secondary, comprehensive schools that have achieved specialist school status:
- Felix Bowness, comedy actor, best known for ex-jockey Fred Quilty in Hi De Hi
- James Henry, footballer
- Hamza Riazuddin, Hampshire cricketer
- Irwin Sparkes, vocalist, The Hoosiers
- Chris Tarrant, TV presenter, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
- Jamie Willcox, guitarist, Pure Reason Revolution
- Mark Taylor, Former Mexican Wrestling Champion / Guitarist for Zombiegeddon / Private Investigator
Woodley has also been the home of Woodley Town F.C.. The club can trace its roots back to 1904, and it is thought a team existed in Woodley in the nineteenth century. Today, 2009, Woodley Town run 3 teams in the Reading Football League. The 1st team won the Senior Division in 2008 - 09 (Step 7 of the FA National League System)and the BTC Senior Cup to complete the League and Cup double and is a FA Charter Standard Development Club. It has ambitious plans for a stadium and club house in the heart of Woodley so that the club can progress and it will be playing Step 6 football in 2009 - 10 in the Hellenic League thus bringing a better standard of non-league football to a thriving community. The club also runs a thriving youth section, Woodley Town Kestrels with boys and girls teams from u7 to u17 age groups. A link to the clubs website can be found further down this page.
Woodley is also home to Southlake Angling Society  who run the popular Southlake fishery close to Woodley Town Centre. Established in the early 1960s on the former estate lake it shares its name with. This club has gone on to become very popular with the local residents of not only Woodley but also the surrounding towns and villages. As the sport of angling has increased, Southlake Angling Society have thrived adding another local lake in Hurst called Redlands and a stretch of the River Loddon that flows close to the east of Woodley and Earley.
- List of places in Berkshire
- List of civil parishes in England
- Sonning Cutting on the Great Western Railway to the north of Woodley
- British History Online, Copyright 2003-2007 University of London & History of Parliament Trust, available at British History Online.
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