Wensley Road and the high-rise flats
Coley Park shown within Berkshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Reading West|
Coley Park is an area of south-west Reading, bounded to the north by the Berkeley Avenue and the east by the older district of Coley, to the south and east by the Holy Brook and the water meadows of the Kennet Valley, and to the west by the railway line from Reading to Basingstoke and the suburb of Southcote.
The suburb of Coley Park was built largely on the lands of the Coley Park estate. The original manor house, known as Vachel House, was built c. 1555 by Thomas Vachell (1537–1610) on the banks of the Holy Brook rivulet (located where Coley Park Farm remains today). It was restored after the English Civil War c. 1651 by Tanfield Vachell (1602–1658).
Eventually Vachel House once again fell into disrepair and a new mansion, Coley House, was built on higher ground by the new owner, John McConnell in 1802.
Between 1882 and 1889, Reading Football Club played their games at Coley Park, on the site now known as Coley Park Recreation Ground.
During the First World War two fields in Coley Park were used as an airfield for the Royal Flying Corps' No 1 School of Military Aeronautics and No.1 School of Technical Training, based nearby. However, flying was disrupted by river fogs and by the end of the war the airfield fell into disuse. Amongst the pilots trained at Coley Park was W. E. Johns, who went on to create the Biggles series of aviation based adventure stories.
After the Second World War, the Ministry of Agriculture occupied Coley House and the garden areas in the northern part of the estate. Two blocks of offices were built for the ministry in these grounds, the more recent in 1968. Coley House subsequently became semi-derelict.
In 1956 the then Reading Corporation purchased the southern section of Coley Park estate for a future council housing estate. By 1958 new residents were arriving and by 1960 a set of three high-rise 15-storey flats were under construction. By the end of the 1960s a row of five shops, a pub, a church and a school had been built on the Coley Park estate. New roads built at this stage included Wensley Road and Lesford Road.
In 1993 the Berkshire Independent Hospital run by Ramsay Health Care UK was purpose built on a site (part of the ministry site) adjacent to Coley House. This involved constructing a new access road (known as Swallows Croft) parallel to Wensley Road and between that road and Coley House. Subsequently Coley House itself underwent major restoration works, including the construction of new buildings to the rear and a complete facelift of the roof areas. Today this Grade II Heritage listed building contains consulting rooms and other outpatient facilities for the hospital.
Two new housing developments on the site of Coley House's former gardens followed. One, at the end of Swallows Croft, replaced the later of the ministry office blocks. The other, accessed by the new Rembrandt Way, was situated to the north of the hospital. The earlier ministry office block remains occupied by what is now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and has recently been refurbished and reroofed.
- "RBC Wards 2004 A4" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "All Saints, Reading". Church of England - A Church Near You. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "S Giles, Reading". Church of England - A Church Near You. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "The Coley Park Aerodrome and CWS Jam Works". Coley Park & Beyond (Kevin Rosier). Retrieved 2008-02-15.
- "Modern Times". Coley Park & Beyond (Kevin Rosier). Retrieved 2008-02-15.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Coley Park.|
- Coley Park and Beyond (local history website)