The John Sykes Foundation was established on 10th April 2014 with the aim of helping to transform the lives of people in and around Reading.

Real Estate entrepreneur John Sykes was born and raised in the borough, he lived at Cemetery Junction and attended Alfred Sutton School before going on to conceive his businesses.

John has had a vision to establish a local charity for a number of years with the aim of helping anyone in the town who can demonstrate a need for support. Now, the multi-millionaire has set up the John Sykes Foundation, which will provide grants and support to people living in Reading.

The Foundation aims to support people from all walks of life in areas including education, health, disability, sport, arts and culture, science, and any other charitable purpose. There are four levels of grants that can be applied for ranging from smaller grants under £500 to larger grants up to £10,000.

The charity is being personally supported by John Sykes who will meet the costs of the organisation, so that 100% of the funds raised are distributed back to the people of Reading.

Reading is a thriving town but there are still those that are forgotten and as a local charity the Foundation aims to reach people that national organisations are unable to support.

The charity gives the people of Reading a chance to reach their goals, live their dreams, or get a helping hand when they are vulnerable or alone.


6th Century

Saxon leader Reada settled in Reading, originally calling the town Reada Ingas.

Reada Ingas



Medieval Reading

Middle Ages

Medieval Reading prospered as it was on the main road between London and the West of England. Making cloth was the mainstay of Reading’s economy. Wool from Berkshire flocks was brought to Reading by boat. Before 1125, the King owned the town.


Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, and tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth.

1525 Reading



17th Century Reading

17th Century

Reading underwent a major change in the 17th century. For hundreds of years, the wool trade had been the main industry. In the 17th century it declined and by the early 18th century was no longer a major industry in the town.


A merchant named James Kendrick left money in his Will to erect a building where the poor could be employed in making cloth. This building, the Oracle, was erected.

1628 Reading



The Reading Mercury


Reading gained its first newspaper: the Reading Mercury.

18th Century

Much of Reading was rebuilt and its buildings became more elegant.

18th Century Reading



Simmonds Brewery

18th Century

The cloth industry in Reading was dead but new industries were growing to replace it. In 1785 Simmonds Brewery opened in Broad Street (brewing became a major industry in the 19th century).


At the time of the first census in 1801 Reading had a population of just fewer than 10,000.

1801 Census



Bulbs, Biscuits, and Breweries

19th Century

In 1807, John Sutton, a corn and seed merchant, founded Suttons seeds. In 1822, Joseph Huntley opened a biscuit bakery. Huntley and Palmer later became an important employer in the town, with more than 5,000 employees. Another large industry was brewing. Reading became known as the town of three Bs: bulbs, biscuits, and breweries.

1839 - 1882

The Royal Berkshire hospital opened in 1839. A Public Board of Health was established in 1850. There were many other improvements in Victorian Reading. In 1862, Forbury was laid out as a formal garden and new municipal buildings opened in 1876. A public library opened in Reading in 1884. An art school opened in 1860. A science school opened in 1870. In 1882 these two schools merged. Meanwhile in 1877, Kendrick boys and girls schools opened.

19th Century Reading



20th Century Reading

20th Century

In 1909 Reading gained its first cinema. In 1911 the town's boundaries were extended again to include Caversham and Tilehurst. In 1920 the first council houses were built in Shinfield Road. The University of Reading opened in 1926. An aerodrome opened in Woodley in 1931.


Broad Street Mall opened and Friars Walk shopping centre was built. The M4 also opened in 1971.

1971 Reading



20th Century Reading

1976 - 1999

Reading gained its first commercial radio station in 1976. The same year, a new civic office was built. A new Central Library was built in 1985 and a new railway station in 1989. Rivermead Leisure Centre opened in 1988. The Oracle Shopping Centre opened in 1999.

2000 - now

John Sykes conceived his business in 2000 and now becomes part of the successful history of Reading as he launched his Foundation for the people in 2014.

Reading Now