THE Forbury Lion, Madejski Stadium and Reading Festival are just a few things that make Reading a special town to live in and give it a place on the map.

People from across the country and even world could recognise the town.

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But there are certain things that only people who live in Reading would know which we have listed below.

Can you think of anymore?

Smelly Alley

Union Street in Reading is known by many residents as Smelly Alley.

The street used to be home to a much-loved shop, Frost’s Fishmongers until it closed last July.

Kevin Little, 73, owned Frost’s Fishmongers, also known as The Smelly Alley Fish Company, for 46 years.

Speaking about the popularised name Smelly Alley to describe Union Street, where the fish mongers was based, Mr Little explained that, contrary to popular belief, the nickname may not have come from the distinctive odour of the fish shop.

He said that a historian had once come and spoken to him about how he had discovered the name for the street in documents as far back as the 1500s, where an open sewer used to be based.

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Mr Little said: “I never found out whether it was true or not, but it would make sense.”


In Reading, a woodlouse is referred to as a cheeselog.

It has even made its way into the online version of Collins dictionary where it is described as a “a regional name for a woodlouse” used in Reading.

Whitley whiff

Like Union Street, Whitley had its own unique smell.

Residents explain they remember smelling the sewage works in Whitley which they called the ‘Whitley whiff’.

A BBC article explained the 19th century works on Manor Farm Road had been the source of blame for the smell in South Reading over the years.

The BBC added the Island Road centre, which is still used today, began taking the waste from the old works in 2004.

Smell of beer on the M4

Sticking close to the theme of smells, one resident remembers the smell of beer on the M4 where there used to be a brewery.

According to the Reading Museum website, Courage had bought Reading brewery Simonds in 1960.

In 1973 the company announced that it was moving from its Bridge Street Brewery to a new 70 acre site at Worton Grange next to M4 at Reading.

The museum added brewing ended in Bridge Street in 1980 and the Worton Grange brewery closed in 2010.


Many people refer to John Lewis on Broad Street as Heelas – the side of the shop even has the name etched into the bricks.

According to the John Lewis Memorystore website, Heelas of Reading opened in May 1854.

The shop was very small specialising in linen and silk, carpet and furnishings.

The website explains by the end of the century, its departments contained both things to wear and things for the home.

It was the skeleton of the modern-day department store.