History of the Weir & Reading Hydro

It all began before Doomsday…

There has been evidence of people using the power of the River Thames going back over a thousand years. One of the earliest examples is of people damming and diverting some of the Thames flow to power a water mill on the river, just beyond View Island in Caversham. That mill is recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086.

Over the subsequent centuries, the weirs and lock at Caversham built up as the surrounding area grew and the river became increasingly managed. Many of these features can still be found there today.

A sustainable idea forms

The Reading Sustainability Centre project were the ones who realised the potential for generating hydro power at the weir.

They applied for our initial planning permission in September 2015. You can view the full application here.

Reading Hydro Community Benefit Society formed from the Centre to drive this project forward. The goal? To deliver hydroelectricity on the Thames for the benefit of the local community.

The full technical and financial plan for the project are currently underway. This has culminated in both our Pioneer and Main Share Offers. By doing this, we have been able to finalise the most appropriate technology and design, and to raise the funds required to start building.

The Project obtained Planning Permission in Summer 2015 from Reading Borough Council. The Environment Agency granted the licences required to operate a hydro project on Caversham Weir in February 2016. Final planning approval was given in May 2017 by the Council, and the project met the remaining aspects of EA requirements by Summer 2019.

As such, Reading Hydro has now moved into the fundraising and build phase of the project.

EA requirements for licensing included producing a contaminated land risk assessment. This involved a significant amount of research of the local history and geology of the site. The report, accepted by the EA, will be made available in due course.