Reading in the World
Since the foundation of its Abbey in 1121, Reading had a significant role in western European politics. However, its position in the world developed greatly after 1800. Like many other places in England industrialisation and the arrival of the railways had a massive impact on growing businesses. The town became world famous for its '3Bs': beer, bulbs and biscuits. Huntley & Palmers had become the world’s largest biscuit company by 1900, winning awards in Paris and supplying Scott’s trip to the South Pole. Simonds the brewers won contracts supplying beer to the British Army and Suttons Seeds were purchased by Kings and Emperors around the world.
The post-war period saw Reading create links with communities around the world. Recognition of the suffering caused by the Second World War encouraged Reading's Mayor, Phoebe Cusden, to form links with Düsseldorf. There was also an influx of immigrants to Reading, particularly from the Caribbean. They helped develop the town into one of Britain's most diverse places after London. By the late 1970s Reading had one of the largest carnivals outside Notting Hill.
Today the town has a prestigious university that is ranked among the top 1% in the world. It is also home to the Reading Festival, a major summer event that features the world’s biggest bands.