Why more to Caversham?
PUBLISHED: 13:55 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013
A reputation for good schools, together with a pleasant and safe environment are reasons why this residential district is Reading's most desirable, says former resident Carol Evans...
Best described as a community within a community, Caversham is situated on the north bank of the Thames opposite Reading and was once a separate village. Now, however, it is totally absorbed into Reading's urban envelope but it's still managed to retain its own individual character.
The suburb is basically divided into three: Caversham, which includes the lively shopping centre, Lower Caversham with its Edwardian terraces and modern developments and, most prestigious of all, Caversham Heights.
And it is here, among the leafy thoroughfares of the area's upper reaches where properties command Reading's highest prices. Riverside mansions with lawns that sweep down to the Thames, substantial post-war detached houses and large Victorian bay-fronted semis, all on large plots, typify the area. The past decade has seen some infilling with small, private estates, and these are all tasteful and in keeping with their surroundings.
Similar to elsewhere in the UK, Caversham's housing market has seen a slight drop in prices. Nevertheless, you can still expect to pay £200,000 for a two-bedroomed terraced house in Lower Caversham and £500,000 for a four-bedroomed semi in the Heights.
"There are still people out there who are moving," says Damian Farmer of estate agents Farmer & Dyer. "It's not such a desperate scenario as we are led to believe. People should be sensible over prices and sensible about the offers that come in."
Caversham's strengths lie in its position: it is completely self-contained with shops and amenities, yet Reading's booming town centre and station with rail links to London is just a short bus ride away. There are pleasant parks, riverside walks and recreation areas. South Oxfordshire's open countryside is just a hop and skip away.
Historically, Caversham played an important part in the Second World War when Victorian mansion, Caversham Park, was used as a listening service by the BBC. It is now the base for the BBC's World Monitoring Service and the home of Radio Berkshire.
Out & About
Property prices: Expect to pay around £210,000 for a three-bedroom terrace in Lower Caversham and £325,000 for a 1950s three-bedroom semi in Hemdean Road. In Caversham Heights, prices are around £400,000 for a 1930s bay-fronted semi to around £600,000 for a four-bedroom post-war detached. Properties in The Warren and Upper Warren Avenue usually sell from £850,000 to £1 million-plus.
Ups: The best of all worlds: Reading town centre, the peaceful River Thames and the green belt of neighbouring south Oxfordshire are all just minutes away.
Downs: Traffic congestion over the two bridges into Reading which residents tend to dismiss as 'a minor irritation'.
Best areas: Anywhere in Caversham Heights, especially The Warren, Upper Warren Avenue and St Peter's Avenue.
Schools: Several state primary schools, including the highly-rated Caversham Primary School from where a high proportion of children transfer at 11 to Reading's top grammar schools: Kendrick (girls) or Reading School (boys). Otherwise there are good comprehensive schools in Emmer Green and Sonning Common. In the private sector, Queen Anne's is a public school for girls, and Reading Blue Coat is for senior boys, that takes girls in the sixth form.
Amenities: Caversham is self-contained, with doctors, dentists, opticians, library, physiotherapists, fitness centre, hairdressers, beauty salons, nail bars, coffee shops and restaurants. There is a Waitrose supermarket, Tesco Express, M&S Food, plus a number of independent retailers. There are two car parks and an excellent bus service into Reading.
Churches: Three C of E churches (St Peter's, St John's and St Andrew's), two Methodist (Caversham Heights and Gosbrook Road), Caversham Baptist Church, Our Lady of St Anne's Roman Catholic church, a Quaker Society of Friends and the evangelical New Testament Church of God. The Shrine to Our Lady of Caversham was an important pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages. A modern shrine can now be found in Our Lady of St Anne's Roman Catholic Church.
Where to eat: Indian at the Bina Tandoori and The Spice Oven, Chinese at the Peking Palace, Greek at Kyrenia, British-with-a-twist at Myalacarte and authentic Italian food at Nino's. Several pubs serving good food, too.
What the locals say: Des Stuckey has lived here for 29 years. "It's a community within a community. It's got most things that anyone would require and it's just a nice place to live," he says. "We've been extremely happy here and it's a move that we were delighted that we made."