The world’s oldest popular music festival got its name when it moved to Reading in 1971 after Reading Borough Council (RBC) granted permission to the festival by the Thames as part of the town’s Festival of Arts.

In recent years, RBC has approved capacity increases, which it says reflects its confidence in the festival.

But the council has not always had a harmonious relationship with Reading Festival.

In 1984, the Conservative-run council reclaimed the Richfield Avenue festival site and refused to grant licences for any alternative site in Reading.

Reading Rock, as it was then known, was effectively banned in both 1984 and 1985.

The 1984 festival was rearranged at Lilford Park in Northamptonshire, but, despite a full line-up being booked, the local council refused the licence ‘at the eleventh hour’.

Attempts to hold the festival in 1985 were also unsuccessful.

The Labour Party regained control of the council in 1986, with one of its manifesto commitments to bring back the festival.

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Marian Hall, who was mayor of Reading in 1980-81 and a councillor at the council, played a big role in the return of the festival.

She said: “It was stopped I believe because of the noise levels and the amount of times it went over the curfew.

“I helped to persuade the council to restart it because it was so good for the town.

“Harold and Barbara Pendleton were quite grateful and gave me a lifetime pass into the event. That held through until it changed to Mean Fiddler.

“People in Caversham said it was too noisy; they couldn’t sleep.

“It was going on too late. They weren’t sticking to cut off times.

“They had to do a lot of work on the noise levels and stick to cut off times. That placated people and it was allowed to go on."

The council gave permission for fields adjacent to the original festival site to be used and a line-up was put together in 1986 at just three months’ notice, headlined by Killing Joke, Saxon and Hawkwind.

Rivermead Leisure Complex was opened at the original site a few years later.

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Reg Sealey, 57, who attended the festival for many years before and after the ban, said the festival “got a new lease of life” after the ban.

He said: “There was rumour that the actual reason was people from Caversham heights complaining a lot about it. We were annoyed.

“People were pretty upset. People didn’t think it would come back to Reading.

“They were thinking we will have to get a train and won’t be able to come home for a shower.

“After it returned, the acts they put on were a lot better and less mainstream.”

Fast forwarding to the 21st century, the council approved capacity increases of 5,000 in 2018 and 2019, taking the total capacity to 105,000 this year.

This year’s lineup is headlined by The 1975, Post Malone and the Foo Fighters.

Did you know?

The first ever Reading Festival (in Reading) took place in June 1971 and a weekend ticket cost just £2 for a line-up that included Genesis, Status Quo and Rory Gallagher.

That’s about £30 after inflation is considered.

This year, weekend tickets – which sold out in July – cost a whopping £205 plus a £16.40 booking fee.

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