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Reading’s Hidden Histories Come To Life With New Audio Trails

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TWO NEW audio trails launch on 21 June, offering to take listeners on an exciting journey of discovery into Reading’s past.

Reading’s Hidden Histories

Reading Borough Council’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) team is working in partnership with Sound UK to create two self-guided audio trails around the town centre’s heritage sites.

Created by local artists Aundre Goddard, Fiona Talkington and Richard Bentley, each trail will take listeners on a journey celebrating Reading’s heritage and revealing hidden histories along the two routes.

The new audio trails include:

  • No ifs, No buts, Only Gingernuts: Huntley & Palmers Journey
    Market Place & London Street:
    Huntley & Palmers themed trail – take a journey through time and the world of biscuits with this fascinating audio trail from Market Place to London Street by Aundre Goddard and Richard Bentley. Inspired by women workers and tour guides from Huntley and Palmers, listen to the stories of those who gave this world-famous biscuit factory its sense of family. Learn about the people, its history and processes that went into creating and distributing biscuits worldwide to make Huntley & Palmers of Reading’s London Street the company we all know and love.
  • Pies, pints and protest – the hidden worlds of Castle Street & St Mary’s Butts: Join BBC presenter and long-term Reading resident Fiona Talkington and sound artist Richard Bentley on an engaging audio walk that brings the rich history of St Mary’s Butts and Castle Street to life. This self-guided journey reveals often hidden histories from up to 500 years ago and celebrates iconic local buildings, people and even animals.
Reading’s Hidden Histories

The audio trails are free and will be available to listen from 21 June onwards and members of the public will be able to walk the trail using their smartphones and personal headphones:

Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Leisure and Culture, said: “With the summer on its way there is no better way to spend an afternoon than having a wander around Reading’s historic streets, discovering fascinating hidden histories of our town centre. The Huntley & Palmers-themed trail is timely as the world-renowned biscuit maker marks its 200-year anniversary. Both tours offer an engaging and atmospheric historical feast for your ears and I encourage everyone to have a listen. These free audio tours are the perfect complement to the other exciting art projects we’ve launched along the Oxford Road in west Reading as part of our wider High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) cultural programme. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Historic England – without their generous funding, these wonderful projects could not happen.”

 Maija Handover, Director, Sound UK, said: “Aundre Goddard, Fiona Talkington and Richard Bentley are three amazing local artists that have done Reading proud in creating two wonderfully engaging new experiences accessible to all. These two audio trails give local people the chance to see their town in a new light, discovering the magic behind the everyday, for free and whenever they want. I urge everyone to grab their smartphones and headphones and venture out to enjoy them!”

 Aundre Goddard, Artist said: “Although Huntley & Palmers were world-renowned, they still had a local air about them. The company was known for its sense of community and speaking to employees and their family members. I got to feel that sense of community first-hand; that is a real privilege. My grandma worked for Huntley & Palmers, and she loved a ginger nut biscuit, therefore, I would like to dedicate this piece to her and all workers of this amazing company.”

Fiona Talkington, Artist, said: “Castle Street and St Mary’s Butts are busy traffic routes today, but swap the cars, lorries and buses for the sounds of horses, carts and wagons and you step into an area which was right at the heart of a constantly evolving Reading over hundreds of years. Although I’m Reading born and bred, I have learned so much more and am so grateful to the people who shared their stories with me and brought this area alive in so many more ways.”

 Richard Bentley, Artist, said “It’s easy to take Reading’s soundscapes for granted, particularly when you’ve lived here all of your life. Working on the recording and sound design for this project has reminded me to pay attention to the many intricate layers of sound that make up, even seemingly simple, soundscapes. I hope that as you are being guided by Fiona and Aundre’s fascinating tours, you’ll also take a moment to listen beyond the words and let yourself get lost in Reading’s soundscapes, letting the familiar become unfamiliar again.”

Reading’s Hidden Histories Audio Trails Produced By

The audio trails are produced by Sound UK in association with local arts organisations Readipop and Berserk Productions, commissioned by Reading Council and funded by Historic England as part of the wider national High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project. These new audio trails add to the London Street audio trail produced in 2021 by Aundre Goddard and Richard Bentley with Sound UK: HistoricEngland.org.uk/ReadingSoundWalk