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Major route through Maidenhead, Reading, Newbury & Hungerford



   

  • Many of the towns of southern Berkshire were important stopping point on the main road west out of London to the West Country.
  • The route was a bit disjointed in medieval times. It began to improve in Tudor times when it became known as the 'Great Road to Bristol'.
  • In the 1650s, stage coaches started running from London to Reading, Newbury, Marlborough, Bath & Bristol.
  • By 1681, there was a daily service between the Black Horse Pub in London Street (Reading) & the Black Bear in Piccadilly.
  • People were terrified of Maidenhead Thicket, a wood where highwaymen roamed. The inns of Reading and Maidenhead on either side became rich because people stayed there rather than cross the dangerous Thicket at night.
    • The famous coaching inns of Maidenhead were the Bear, the Sun & the White Hart.
    • The famous coaching inns of Reading were the Crown, the Bear & the King's Arms.
  • The first 'turnpike' stretch of the road was created between Reading & Theale in 1714. Wealthy landowners paid to mend the highway, but travellers had to pay them a 'toll' to ride on a good road.
  • Queen Anne made Bath a popular destination for parties and healthy living. This continued through the 18th century.
  • The road became known as the 'Bath Road. It is now the A4.

 

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