Located in Cemetery Junction, an instantly recognisable part of Reading, the area is one of the most culturally diverse in the UK. The Arch, built in 1840, was originally a grand ornamental gatehouse to Reading Old Cemetery and today it’s a Grade II listed landmark which is currently vacant.
In 2019, the Arch was advertised for sale by Reading Borough Council. Keen to protect their local heritage, a Community Interest Company called ‘Junction Arch Heritage and Arts’ (JAHA) was formed by volunteering locals. The group is currently trying to secure funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) with the goal of repurposing the Arch as a community use Heritage and Arts Hub.
The plans include making the arch a central point for the community to meet, adding a non-profit making coffee shop which makes the most of the tranquil environment of the cemetery itself; a local art exhibition space; a herb garden; and space for the community to tell stories of the parts they have played throughout the history of the Cemetery Junction area, i.e. recorded interviews, pictures through the years etc.
In May 2019, on hearing of the community’s plans to apply for National Lottery Heritage funding, Reading Council withdrew the property from auction and is allowing the local community to develop and progress its bid.
Here, we aim to keep you updated on the community group’s progress.