Woodley, Berkshire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Woodley Shopping Centre - geograph.org.uk - 2778.jpg
Woodley Shopping Centre
Woodley is located in Berkshire
Location within Berkshire
Population35,470 (2011 Census[citation needed])
OS grid referenceSU7673
• London35 mi (56 km) E
Civil parish
  • Woodley
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townReading
Postcode districtRG5
Dialling code0118
PoliceThames Valley
FireRoyal Berkshire
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
List of places
51°27′11″N 0°54′07″W / 51.453°N 0.902°W / 51.453; -0.902Coordinates: 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, four miles (6.4 km) east of Reading and joined to the neighbouring town of Earley, two miles (3.2 km) to the west, and five miles (8 km) from 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".[1] Anciently, Woodley was part of the ecclesiastical parish of Sonning.[1]

In the west of Woodley, Old Bulmershe Manor once belonged to the Abbey of Reading but was later the home of the Blagrave family[1] 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.[1] 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,[by whom?] 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 in 1989. The area was sold in 2013/2014 and is now a new housing estate of houses, flats and a care home.[2]

Woodley Aerodrome[edit]

Until the 1930s Woodley was a village of little significance. In 1929, Woodley Aerodrome was opened in a 100-acre (40 ha) field belonging to Sandford Farm.[1] 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.[1] In the years before the war numerous aviators visited Woodley, including Charles Lindbergh and Amy Johnson;[1] Douglas Bader lost his legs in a flying accident on the airfield in 1931.[1] From 1935 a civilian flying school was operated by the Philips and Powis company, where trainees were prepared for service in the RAF.[3]

Just under 6,000 civil and military aircraft were built and first flown here from 1933 to 1962 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.


The Office for National Statistics places Woodley within the Reading Urban Area, but for purposes of local government it is in the area of the unitary authority of Wokingham, and outside the area of Reading Borough Council.

Woodley is a civil parish with town status (adopted in 1974) and an elected town council. The town council and unitary authority are responsible for different aspects of local government.

Woodley is divided between the Reading East and Maidenhead parliamentary constituencies.


Woodley Congregational church is a Gothic Revival building completed in 1834.[4] It became a United Reformed Church and is now offices.[1]

The Church of St John the Evangelist was designed by Henry Woodyer,[4] paid for by Robert Palmer of Holme Park and built in 1873. Woodley was made separate ecclesiastical parish in 1881.


Woodley has two secondary comprehensive schools that have achieved specialist school status, Waingels College (Mathematics and Computing), and The Bulmershe School (Sports). Primary schools include ones at Highwood, Beechwood, St Dominic's Roman Catholic, Rivermead, Woodley Church of England, Southlake and Willow Bank.


Woodley has a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) just to the east of the town, called Lodge Wood and Sandford Mill[5]

The town has three local nature reserves, and they are called Alder Moors, Highwood and Lavells Lake.[6][7][8]


Woodley is home to the Kingfisher Table Tennis Club, who play in the Reading & District League and the Bracknell, Wokingham & District League. Kingfisher TTC also participate in the British League. In 2019 Maria Tsaptsinos of Kingfisher won the England championship title.

Woodley football team is Woodley United F.C. The club was formed in 1904, and it is thought[according to whom?] that a team existed in Woodley in the nineteenth century. In 2009 Woodley Town ran three 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. The club runs a youth section, Woodley Town Kestrels, with boys and girls teams from under-7 to under-17 age groups.

Southlake Angling Society[9] runs the Southlake fishery near Woodley town centre. It was established in the early 1960s on the former estate lake with which it shares its name. The Society has added Redlands, a local lake in Hurst, and a stretch of the River Loddon that flows close to the east of Woodley and Earley.

There is a parkrun in Woodford park every Saturday, and a junior parkrun every Sunday.

Notable people[edit]


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ford, David Nash (2020). Mid-Berkshire Town and Village Histories. Wokingham: Nash Ford Publishing. pp. 296–301. ISBN 9781905191024.
  2. ^ "Plans lodged for 300 homes at Reading university's Bulmershe campus". geatreading.co.uk. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Expansion Unlimited - A visit to Phillips and Powis' Civil Training School at Woodley". Flight magazine. 8 October 1936. pp. 366–368. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Pevsner 1966, p. 311.
  5. ^ "Magic Map Application - sssi". Magic.defra.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Magic Map Application - Highwood". Magic.defra.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Magic Map Application - Local Nature reserves". Magic.defra.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Natural England - Special Sites". Lnr.naturalengland.org.uk. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  9. ^ Southlake Angling Society
  10. ^ "Interview: The Hoosiers". BBC. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2008.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]