In the centre of Reading, stands a prominent stone obelisk supporting three bright lamps. It was built in 1804 at the expense of Edward Simeon, a director of the Bank of England, and designed by the great locally-born architect John Soane. It caused controversy and attracted criticism at first, and stood neglected and unlit in scruffy surroundings for many years, but after a full restoration it once again stands proudly and usefully in a worthy setting. Adam Sowan’s fifth local book traces the origins of the obelisk, the development of its design, and changes to its structure and surroundings over the last 200 years. It also chronicles Soane’s other Reading projects – some mooted, some built, some demolished and some mythical. The architect’s own drawings are complemented by newspaper photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Adam Sowan. Paperback, 210 x 135 mm, 32 pages, May 2007.