MALCOLM COWTAN returns to a route from his youth, retracing the path of Thames Valley services A and B between Reading and London

Beer, biscuits, and seeds. Simonds, Huntley & Palmers, and Suttons were names associated with Reading. Anyone in the town centre 50 years ago on a windless winter’s day would find the aroma of hops hung heavily over the town. These names are a reminder of the town’s past. Now the principal economic activity is IT, and more commuters come into Reading to work at these companies, and other employers, than leave to work in London and elsewhere.

I went to school in Reading in the 60’s, but in the past 30 years, this is only my second visit. The other was in 2018 to commemorate 50 years since the end of trolleybus operation.

This time I am in the town to retrace the routes of the erstwhile Thames Valley Traction Company’s services A and B. Both services ran to London’s Victoria Coach Station. It is many years since they ran, and there is no present-day equivalent, although by using three of Reading Buses’ services, I can get to London Victoria by a route which will be a hybrid of both the Thames Valley services.

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