Woodley

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Woodley is a town and civil parish in Berkshire, England. The Office for National Statistics places Woodley within the Reading Urban Area, but for purposes of local government it falls within the Borough of Wokingham, outside of the jurisdiction of Reading Borough Council. The name Woodley is derived from Old English words means ‘a clearing in the wood’. Anciently, Woodley was a part of the ecclesiastical parish of Sonning.

The ecclesiastical parish of Woodley came into existence in 1881, following the earlier erection of the church of St. John the Evangelist by Robert Palmer in 1873.

Until the 1930s, Woodley was a very small village of no great significance. In that decade, an airfield and flying school was opened in the 100-acre (0.40 km2) field belonging to Sandford Farm. In 1932, F.G. Miles came to Woodley and joined forces with Philips and Powis in the production of the Miles Hawk aeroplane, leading to the foundation of Miles Aircraft Ltd which continued producing aircraft in Woodley until after World War II. During the pre-war years many famous aviators landed at Woodley, including Charles Lindbergh and Amy Johnson; Douglas Bader lost his legs in an accident on the airfield. The aviation tradition of Woodley is still carried on by the presence of the Museum of Berkshire Aviation.

After World War II Woodley continued to grow, with industry relocating from Reading and new housing growing up. In the 1960s a new town centre was created, replacing the old village shops. In the 1980s the airfield site was redeveloped as a major housing area, and Woodley is now largely indistinguishable from Reading to the casual visitor.

In the west of Woodley, Old Bulmershe Manor was the home of the Blagrave family and probable birthplace of the famous 17th century mathematician, John Blagrave. The adjoining large house of Bulmershe Court alias 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. He lived there when not in London and was frequently visited by other prominent figures of the age, including William Pitt the Younger and, it is said, King George III. During World War II, the house was used by the US Army. In the 1960s, it was demolished and replaced by a teacher training college that has subsequently become part of the University of Reading.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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