Located between the Kennet and the Thames, our local community gains its rich diversity from being the springboard for many young families and for people newly arrived in Reading, as well as the established home of elderly residents who can still remember the factories and the gas works that used to thrive here. Our local schools thus provide an important community and opportunity-building role, as does Reading College which is also on our doorstep.
St John’s School
St John & St Stephen’s Parish Centre shares its site and buildings with St John’s CE Primary School. The Centre was built in 1978, when parts of Newtown were being demolished and redeveloped by Reading Borough Council to form the present modern estate. The old school buildings on Queens Road and the two church buildings in Watlington Street and Rupert Street were replaced by a complex of new shared buildings in the heart of the parish.
New Town School
Not far away, in School Terrace, New Town Primary School stands amongst Victorian terraced houses that were originally built for the biscuit factory workers. In recent years Newtown Primary has built a close working partnership with St John’s School and in 2018 the two schools founded an academy trust together. Our church aims to partner and support both schools, for example in producing NEWT magazine together and with the Café that opens after school drop-off for parents to meet and support one another.
Our newest housing, on the north side of the Kennet, establishes fresh communities on formerly industrial land. Close both to the town centre and to the natural landscapes along the river banks, it’s a pleasant and popular location, and only a stone’s throw from our oldest houses in ‘St John’s Village’, where the old St John’s church building – now a thriving Catholic church for the Polish community – is located, as well as long-established pubs and local businesses. The Royal Berkshire Hospital and Thames Valley Park offer employment to many in our community.
Other faith communities
Other community and faith centres serving our parish include: the Sun Street Community Centre, the Pakistan Community Centre on the edge of Palmer Park, Watlington House on the corner of South Street, Wycliffe Baptist Church on Cemetery Junction, the Gurdwara in Cumberland Road, an Islamic prayer room on the corner of Norwood Road and the Aisha Masjid on Sutton’s roundabout just under the railway bridge, The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, and Wesley Methodist Church in Watlington Street.