READING SLIPWAY

Crowne Plaza, Reading
RIGHT bank immediately above bridge; was Holiday Inn

Thames Promenade Slipway

Left bank, above Caversham Bridge and the hotel, and below Rowing Club.
By road approach from Richfield Avenue
2004: Thames Parks Plan: This slipway may be discontinued -

9.8 Slipways
There are two slipways available for free public use in Reading, one at the Thames Prom Gateway, and one at Scours Lane by the chandlery. There are also several landing stages.
The Thames Promenade site is on the scouring side of the river, and frequently a step occurs when the river washes away sediment from the tail of the slipway. This causes serious problems for people attempting to tow out boats out of the water on to trailers, as the trailer wheels are below the step. The presence of swans exacerbates the difficulties, as vehicle wheels are unable to find grip on the wet swans’ mess on slipway.
The mere presence of the slipway at this point creates other problems. Trailers and cars contribute to the parking problem here, and there is user conflict with pedestrians, especially children, buggies and wheelchairs. The slipway at Thames Promenade will be retained but gated, for use only in emergencies.
The Scours Lane slipway will be retained, with gated public access. Although at present the Scours Lane slipway is locked, it is possible to launch a boat from here simply by asking at the chandlery for a key. There is currently very limited space here for car and trailer parking. It is intended that a parking area be created, and that RBC work in partnership with the chandlery owners to manage the slipway and car parking. Once established, the slipway at the Thames Promenade may be closed.
Possible initial objections from boat owners are likely to be of short duration if the new location is made as convenient as possible. In particular, the provision of trailer storage will be a significant improvement for launch owners.
The problem with Scours Lane is the height restriction imposed by the railway bridge. This necessitates the building of at least one alternative slipway. It is proposed that new slipways be created at Cow Lane – associated with the development of the outdoor education centre – and at King’s Meadow road. The King’s Meadow road slipway could be gated with access by arrangement. This will make provision for launching craft too large to take under the Scours Lane bridge.

Swans at Reading, Ashley Bryant
Swans at Caversham Bridge, Ashley Bryant

Caversham Bridge Slipway
Caversham Bridge Slipway, obscured by swans

You have two problems!
Swans:  The swans at Reading are greedy.  They have been trained to be greedy by generations of trippers.  They will take it as a personal affront if you do not feed them and as an invitation to pester you if you do.  DO NOT FEED THEM.  Do not so much as think about food in their sight.  It is cruel to swans to make them reliant on human food - think of the way in which they are so territorial in normal circumstances and then think about the "social" dynamics of that great flock milling about waiting for handouts.
 
Onlookers.  … on canals the word is "gongoozlers" … and to compound the problem they feed the swans!

Reading Rowing Club, Right Bank

Caversham Bridge
Caversham Bridge with the Rowing Club hiding the slipway to the right.

You may encounter oarsmen at Olympic standard, but then also beginners.  Both need to be respected in their different ways.  Be aware that racing boats go much faster than other boats so keep a lookout behind you and allow them right of way.  Last time I coxed an eight here we had trouble avoiding canoes paddled by beginners.

1889: Jerome K Jerome -

The river is dirty and dismal here.  One does not linger in the neighbourhood of Reading.

1891: The Stream of Pleasure, Joseph & Elizabeth Robins Pennell -

From [Purley] to Caversham is the stupid stretch of which guide and other books give fair warning. But at the hour of sunset the ugliest country is glorified, and nowhere is the river really ugly.
The "Dictionary of the Thames" for 1888 recommended as "snug and unpretentious" the White Hart Inn on the Left bank by Caversham Bridge. Accordingly to the Left bank we drew up, but behold! we found a large hotel, a steam launch bringing in its passengers, waiters in dress-coats, a remarkably good supper, and a very attentive Signor Bona to add the pleasure of an Italian kitchen to the clean comfort of the English Inn.

[ The river aspect of Reading has improved no end since Victorian times. It now compares very favourably with Oxford - though that is not as great a claim as it should be. ]