Reading has been transformed in the last century or so. It has gone from being a Victorian manufacturing town to a major centre for service industries and cutting-edge technology. It was, and still is, an important railway town, but both its appearance and its operation have been dramatically changed by the motorcar and the aeroplane. Most of the High Street names that would have been familiar to Edwardian residents have now disappeared, and many of its retail opportunities are now to be found indoors. New suburbs have popped up around its traditional boundaries, and the neighbouring settlement of Caversham became (with varying degrees of enthusiasm from its citizens) part of the borough.
Reading 1800 to The Present Day: The Making of Modern Reading is a fresh look at the town's history, focusing on the factors that make the town what it is today: how it grew, how it faced the challenges of the twentieth century, how the leisure and shopping habits of its residents have changed, the emergence of key institutions like the university, its changing physical appearance and the impact of major events of the last century, such as the First and Second World Wars and the General Strike.
Stuart Hylton grew up in Windsor, studied at Manchester University and has written over twenty books on historical subjects, local and national, including From Rationing to Rock, Their Darkest Hour, an alternative view of the Home Front during the Second World War, A History of Manchester, The Grand Experiment and The Horseless Carriage. He is a member of the Education Team at the Great Western Society's Didcot Railway Centre.