The whole of Reading’s Harris Arcade has now been listed Grade II, recognising its national importance and place in Reading’s early twentieth century retail heritage.
15 Friar Street was already a listed building (1113486) but now the description has been expanded with specific inclusion of Harris Arcade units 1 & 26. There is a completely new listing entry (1473816) for 8-10 Station Road and Harris Arcade units 2-25.
Development of the arcade began at the end of the 1920s and it seems probable that it was named after John Harris who ran the motor dealership and garage on Station Road, John Harris (Reading) Ltd. The premises had previously been run by Great Western Motors and in 1931 they again took it over.
The Friar Street entrance building dates from the eighteenth century. The Station Road entrance dates from the early 1920s when Great Western Motors first established their dealership. Originally the entrance was a single storey, as 14 Station Road is today, to which additional floors were added.
Early occupiers of Harris Arcade were: The Cranford Tea House; Furrier, Harry Goldcrown; Chiropodist, Madame Maude and Mrs Scott-Wilson who practised electrolysis. By the 1930s the number of traders had expanded and among them were a tailor and a typewriter dealer and repairer.
In recent times the arcade has been home to an eclectic mix of independent retailers and businesses who, pre-Covid, have thrived in its unique atmosphere.
The reasons for designation of 15 Friar Street and Harris Arcade units 1 & 26 are given as:
- Architectural interest: the façade to Friar Street includes the upper storeys of a Georgian house of four bays with refined architectural detailing; the building also incorporates part of a well-designed and notably well-preserved example of an early-C20 shopping arcade, in a consistent neo-classical style.
- Historic interest: as an example of a prestigious C18 house at the centre of Reading which was later transformed to include part of a C20 shopping arcade, reflecting the morphology of the town.
- Group value: 12, 13 and 14 Friar Street and 147, 154 and 155 Friar Street (all Grade II).
The reasons for designation of 8-10 Station Road and Harris Arcade units 2-25 are given as:
- Architectural interest: a well-designed and notably well-preserved example of an early-C20 shopping arcade, in a consistent neo-classical style.
- Historic interest: as a C20 shopping arcade, which includes some of the best features of C19 arcades.
- Group value: with 13 and 15, Station Road and Great Western House, Station Road (both Grade II).
Reading CAAC are very pleased to have played a part in researching the history of the Harris Arcade and were consulted during the listing process.
Harris Arcade is within the boundary extension that Reading CAAC has proposed in our review of the Market Place/London Street Conservation Area appraisal.