Readda the Saxon was tired. His people had travelled a long way in seach of a place to settle, but they had not yet found the right place. They had been travelling through the thick forest that covered Southern England, following what is now known as the River Thames for several weeks, when they chanced accross a natural ford in the stream, just downstream from the mouth of what is now the River Kennet. A small mound nearby the river, combined with the large valley surrounding it made this an ideal place to defend should the need arise. The ford meant that trade would flow quickly. He sensed that this would be a good place to live.
Hundreds of years later, a large market town had grown from this settlement, due to the trade routes that ran along the Thames and Kennet. It was named Reading, after its founder, (which is pronounced Redding due to his red hair). Henry I recognised its importance, and started to build an Abbey in 1121. In 1164, Thomas A'Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated the Abbey, which quickly became a pilgrimage point. The abbey has also been a setting for the British Parliament on several separate occasions.
Through the latter part of the Second Millennium, Reading because best known for the Three B's: Beer, Biscuits and Bulbs (as in plant seeds, not lights). Thomas Huntley took over the running of a bakery in 1822, making money by selling biscuits to passing travellers. In 1841, George Palmer joined the bakery, which became Huntley and Palmers. William Blackall Simonds founded the Simonds Brewery in 1785, and in 1960 it was taken over by Courage. Suttons Seeds was started in St Mary's Marketplace in 1802.
Today, Courage still have a brewery in the town, the largest in Europe. Huntley and Palmer left the town at the end of the 1980s, and the Suttons Seeds building is now occupied by Natwest Bank.
Reading's big attraction still is transport links. The M4 motorway runs alongside the town, Paddington Station in London is only 30 minutes away by train, and Heathrow Airport is less than half an hour's drive away. For this reason, Reading and the surrounding area is home to the UK offices of many large technology companies, including Oracle and Microsoft. The recently opened multi-million pound Oracle Shopping center (no relation to the database company) has livened up the town center, especially in the evening where there is a bar or club to suit every taste, from the alternative (Purple Turtle and Rising Sun), to the mainstream (Utopia, Brannigans, and Bar Med). The town is also home to the Reading Rock Festival, held every year on the fields by the River Thames. Reading University is known for its agricultural studies, as well as being the employer of cybernetics "expert" Kevin Warwick.
All in all, just another English Market Town