CREATIVE minds behind new plans for a well-known Reading landmark that has sat unused for a decade have revealed fresh details.

The Cemetery Junction Arch is a gatehouse at the entrance to the old cemetery in East Reading which was established in 1842.

A group called Junction Arch Heritage & Arts (JAHA) has intentions to buy the arch and bring it into use as a local heritage and arts destination.

But in order to do that, the group needs to bid for funding to revitalise the building, which it is seeking from National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Following advice from the National Lottery Heritage Fund that a bid focused more on increasing access to heritage would stand a better chance of success, the JAHA team has adapted its phase 1 plan.

The key elements of the project would be restoration, accessibility, interpretation and community engagement.

READ MORE: Future of iconic Cemetery Junction arch in Reading up for discussion

The restoration involves carrying out essential repairs to the Bath stone arch and refurbishing its interior to create an exhibition space and café with outdoor seating, affordable workspace and space for community meetings and activities.

To improve accessibility, JAHA would resurface some of the paths in the Old Cemetery so that access can be provided to the memorials for wheelchair and mobility scooter users, people with impaired vision and those who are less steady on their feet.

Furthermore, interpretation boards would be created to enable visitors to learn about the monuments and wildlife that occupy the cemetery.

Reading Chronicle: The Cemetery Junction arch in East Reading, taken using drone footage. Credit: Laurence FarmerThe Cemetery Junction arch in East Reading, taken using drone footage. Credit: Laurence Farmer

The group also wants to run an arts-based heritage project with five nearby schools, focusing on the history and wildlife of the site.

Nick Cooksey JAHA project co-ordinator said: “We are really excited about our project and are hopeful that our application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund will be successful.

“We are very aware of how fierce the competition for grants is at the moment, but we hope the support of an experienced heritage consultant will help with our application.”

In order for the group’s plans to go ahead, the arch would need to be bought from Reading Borough Council.

Mr Cooksey explained: “JAHA is in contractual negotiations with Reading Borough Council to purchase the Arch for £40,000.

“The success of the bid will be dependent on us securing the funding to restore the building and bring it into use.”

The arch will be opened for an exhibition of pictures by photographer Matt Emmett.

The exhibition will display pictures of ruins and forgotten heritage across the UK and Europe, and will be open from 10am to 5pm on Sunday, September 10 as part of the Heritage Open Days multi-venue event.

Reading Chronicle: A photo of a ruined chateau for the Rediscovering Our Lost Heritage event at the Reading Cemetery Junction Arch.A photo of a ruined chateau for the Rediscovering Our Lost Heritage event at the Reading Cemetery Junction Arch. (Image: Matt Emmett, Forgotten Heritage)

A separate group, Reading Old Cemetery: History, Heritage & Education will also be hosting an open day at Reading Old Cemetery called Around the Cemetery in 80 minutes: An interactive Victorian family adventure. This will take place from 1.30pm to 4pm on Sunday,  September 17.

With support from the University of Reading, the group has been researching the history of people buried in Reading Old Cemetery since 2021. At the event visitors will hear about the fascinating history of the cemetery and the lives of people buried there and will be able to see an exhibition about the work of ROCuP (Reading Old Cemetery undertaking Project) in the Arch.

Details of both Heritage Open Day events can be found on the Heritage Open Days website by searching for ‘Reading cemetery’.