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Work begins on waterways that carry the Holy Brook under Reading town centre; The council has begun a project to reinforce the culverts that take the stream under the town centre.

Byline: James Aldridge

Work has begun on repairs to a waterway carrying the Holy Brook under Reading town centre.

The water of the Holy Brook is carried underground by a culvert, which are tunnels that carry a stream or open drain under a road or railway.

To enable the strengthening works, the exit of Abbey Square onto Kings Road has been closed until Monday, July 15.

The one way system in Abbey Square has been suspended so that all vehicles are able to exit via Abbey Street.

The culvert sits beneath Abbey Square above the Holy Brook river in Reading, Berkshire.

It is thought to be more than 100 years old and the steel deck beams used in the initial construction have corroded.

This means additional steel deck beams are now needed to support the road above.

Repairs are also being carried out on the brick arch and brick supports which form part of the culvert.

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The culvert in Abbey Square, which is directly outside Reading Central Library, is one section of a longer culvert that runs between Kings Road and Duke Street.

Other section also require strengthening work and work on these sections will take place later this year.

The strengthening project is being undertaken by contractors on behalf ofReading Borough Council.

Councillor Tony Page, the council's Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport got a closer look at the repair works.

Cllr Page said: "The Council has now begun work to repair the Abbey Square culvert, which has unsurprisingly deteriorated over a 100 year period.

"These strengthening works are now essential to ensure there is sufficient capacity in the structure to carry traffic above for decades to come.

"Other sections of the culvert, along nearby Kings Road and Duke Street, also require repair and further strengthening work will take place later in this financial year."

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The Holy Brook is a channel of the River Kennet that flows throughReading.

It is thought that while some parts of the channel are natural, other parts were created in the medieval period by the monks of Reading Abbey to supply its water mills and fish ponds.

The channel is nearly 10km in length, with approximately 600 metres being culverted underground.

InReading town centre, the Holy Brook is culverted in several stretches, and can only be seen by the public in random places.

The channel can be seen where it flows under one of the entrances toThe Oracle, where it has given its name to the 'Holy Brook Mall'.

After it passes under the Central Library, the Holy Brook re-emerges at a point where it once formed the southern boundary of Reading Abbey, where the flowing water was used to power the Abbey's mill.


Credit: Callum Cromwell

Steel beams that are used to support the road above the tunnel at the Abbey Square Culvert in Reading

Credit: Reading Borough Council

Councillor Tony Page inspecting the culvert repair works in Reading

Credit: Callum Cromwell

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Publication:Get Reading (Reading, England)
Date:May 18, 2019
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