The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has declined to comment on the progress of any sale of Reading Gaol.

Thames Tap asked the MoJ if a sale of the building, which closed in 2013,  had gone through. A spokesman said the department could not comment due to ‘confidentiality’.

However, the freehold of the site is still listed as for sale – with comprehensive details – on the JLL website. JLL also refused to comment as did Reading Borough Council. Friends of Reading Abbey (FORA) has said its position remains that any development must recognise its location within the Reading Abbey Scheduled Ancient Monument area. FORA wants to be consulted over any plans.

Thames Tap has tried to contact Theatre & Arts Reading (TAR) which had campaigned to ensure an arts centre was established at the Gaol but we have been unable to get a response and the TAR website appears to have gone.

The council reported in April it had been unsuccessful in its bid to buy the gaol but no news of any deal was announced. It continues to lie empty at a cost of £250,000 a year for security.

Meanwhile, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Julian Knight MP has written to the MoJ in support of the proposal to create an arts centre at the building.

In it he stated: “It is clear that Reading Gaol, with its heritage significance, ought to not only be preserved, but also continue to be accessible to the public.”

JLL’s listing of the site 1.41-hectare can be seen here.

© Thames Tap No 229 (powered by

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