The leader of Reading Borough Council has welcomed the news Banksy has made a £10 million offer for Reading Gaol in an effort to make the arts centre dream come true.

The Sunday Times has reported that the Bristol-based graffiti artist has pledged to sell the stencil he used to create the mural on the outer wall of the prison which appeared in March, to fund his bid.

He told the paper he had had little interest in the town until he passed through on a rail replacement bus service and saw the outer wall.

He went on: “I promised myself I’d paint the wall even before I knew what it was. I’m passionate about it now, though.

“Oscar Wilde is the patron saint of smashing two contrasting ideas together to create magic. Converting the place that destroyed him into a refuge for art feels so perfect we have to do it.”

Banksy has, through his representatives, made contact with Reading Borough Council which unsuccessfully bid £2.6m for the site earlier this year.

Council leader Cllr Brock said: “We very much welcome the attention that Banksy’s interest in Reading Gaol has placed on both the MoJ’s sale of the vacant prison and on the council’s ambition to transform it into a hub of arts, heritage and culture of local and national significance.

“The council has had only informal approaches from representatives of Banksy to date, but no detailed discussions.

“Our bid remains firmly on the table and has widespread support – both from within the community here in Reading and from the wider arts, heritage and cultural community – all of whom recognise the prison’s huge historical and cultural value.

“Our position has always been that we want to work with the MoJ to ensure the historical and cultural value of this important site is given rightful prominence in any future development. We would additionally welcome and encourage any alternative bids to the MoJ which seek to achieve that, whether from community organisations or from members of the wider arts and cultural community.

“The strength of feeling to transform the prison into something truly special for Reading and beyond is clear to see and we very much hope this is taken into account by the MoJ as it comes to a decision on the sale.”


© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap newsletter here.