The Heart Of The Community

In East Reading we are a proud, tightly integrated, multi-cultural and ethnically diverse community of thousands, who work, socialise, school and play together. At the very heart of our community is Reading Old Cemetery and the Grade 2 listed gate house, (“Arch”) that has marked its entrance since 1840.

If it could speak it could tell tales of an area that has grown, thrived and become enriched by the settlement of people with differing ideas, beliefs, rituals, customs and traditions. And it acts as a gateway between the hustle, bustle and congestion of modern life, and the tranquil cemetery on the other side.

East Reading, and specifically the area that is Cemetery Junction, isn’t unique to Britain in terms of its cultural and ethnical diversity, but it’s a fine example of a modern community in a modern town and perhaps we should take more time out from our busy lives to recognise and celebrate it.

The austerity measures of the past 10 years have been a big threat to community. We have lost children’s centres, leisure centres (Arthur Hill Swimming Pool) and community meeting places. It is in these challenging times that people can support each other the most. In Reading, we’re exceptional at working together, using social media as the vehicle for communication. Taking advantage of various online community group boards, we share, swap, and complain but take care of each other. However, the lessening public amenities mean community interaction, in person, is under threat and this leads us to just one of the reasons for trying to secure Cemetery Junction Gatehouse as a resource for everyone.

Now vacant, its central location offers opportunity to create a space where everyone could come together. A space where we can share stories of the past, share a problem, share art and culture, share a coffee and cake. We could slow down the Junction, take some time out to get to know each other better, protect a historical part of our town and continue to build the bridges that make our community special.

JAHA Community Group, June 2019

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