Transition Town Reading AGM: Wednesday 19 May, 7:00pm via Zoom.

The TTR AGM is on Wednesday 19th May from 7pm, via Zoom. We will be celebrating the successful year we’ve had in Transition, despite the challenges of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

We will also be electing a new committee so if you would like to be more involved with Transition then this is great opportunity through becoming part of our Steering Group. More information about Steering Group roles can be found here If you’re interested or would like to find out more then contact the steering group on

The Reading Hydro project is approaching its crescendo, with the actual “screws” – the turbines themselves – being delivered and installed earlier this month. Tony Cowling has compiled a photo-journal of the development of this amazing project:

…more details to follow, in the next posting.

December 2020: In Transition


By Dhriti Dawda –

TTR Newsletter December 2020

🎅 Happy holidays! 🎅

Welcome to this month’s TTR Festive Newsletter!

Christmas Trees:

A Christmas doesn’t have to involve a ‘real’ Christmas tree! Why not try an alternative approach such as an artificial tree that can be re-used, a succulent Christmas tree, or reusable wooden trees.

For a more real Christmas tree feel, a potted Christmas tree can be taken care of and grown outside each year to brought inside during the festive season.

For those who cannot compromise on a real Christmas tree, try recycling your tree at various recycling or collection points such as the Re3 recycling centre in Reading, Bracknell and Wokingham.

Christmas decorations and gifts:

Whether you are throwing out old unwanted decorations,  starting a new Christmas decoration theme this year, or discarding broken or torn decorations,  here’s how to do it in a  safe and sustainable way. Does it really need to be thrown away, or can it be kept for future use? 

Insightful recycling Advent calendar created by Re3

34 Christmas Gifts for Her - Presents for the Women in Your Life

Christmas Dinner:

5 main tips to reduce food waste over the festive period:

  1. Buy only what is needed for the people being catered for
  2. Shop local produce to reduce food miles and packaging
  3. Using apps like OLIO and TooGoodToGo for leftover food
  4. Use vegetable peels to make stock or soup
  5. Store food properly in the refrigerator, to be enjoyed for a few extra days

🎅 Happy holidays! 🎅

September 2020: In Transition.


By Dhriti Dawda –

Reading Hydro: Reading Hydro CBS is pleased to announce that following the recent reopening of our Share Offer to new investment, we have been successful in reaching our revised target of £980,000 to build and operate a twin Archimedes turbines by Caversham Weir in Reading, UK.

Sustainability course: As we are still unfortunately stuck in COVID times, many have taken the opportunity of the large availability of online courses. One that is particularly interesting is Think Resilience – a course focusing on climate change and sustainability challenges. Consisting of twenty-two short videos, it is perfect to fit into busy schedules as people start going into work, or in a daily routine for those still at home. For joining the course, please send an email to

Sustainability podcast: Listening to a podcast is a great way to learn something new, whether it is while cooking a meal or taking a walk. The “Sustainable (ish)” podcast with Jen Gale covers some interesting topics ranging from food to fashion and many things in between.

Staying healthy: As everyone has no choice but to spend most of their time indoors lately, it can be beneficial to get out in nature for some light exercise, such as taking a health walk at Dinton Pastures Country Park. They are lead by trained volunteers and can be from 1-5 miles. Contact for information.

Volunteering: There is an opportunity to volunteer near Reading, in Henley. Volunteers can be involved with looking at theoretical work for land ownership of woodlands and agriculture land around Henley. This is part of a project focusing on tree planting – for trees that have been lost to disease and storms. Contact  for more information.



By Dhriti Dawda.

Reading Hydro update –

It has been a busy year for Reading Hydro CBS, the Community Benefit Society that has been set up to build a hydro electric plant north of Caversham Weir.   The twin Archimedean Screw system will generate 320,000 kWh of electricity per year, which is the equivalent of 90 homes at average consumption.

Our share raise, with a target of £700,000, ran from 30th December 2019 to 14th February 2020 and we were thrilled with the response, which attracted a total of £872,000.  We are very grateful to those applicants who have supported us so strongly.

Achieving the target meant that we could get further into the detail of the design and construction.  As we informed our members at the end of March, this has revealed that the project will cost more than the original budget and the directors are working hard on “value engineering” to bring the cost to the lowest possible level.

On May the 15th we secured all the required planning permissions for the final design which means we can now start the construction phase, being very mindful of the working arrangements necessary during the pandemic lockdown.

We have also agreed in principle to supply Thames Lido as our major commercial customer and any excess production will be sold to a wholesale electricity supplier.

The next steps are to fully finalise the project costs and if necessary seek further funds from investors and then issue the shares.  It is still our hope to build the project in 2020 but the pandemic may reduce the availability of contractors.  If this is the case we will delay the construction into 2021 and we will still qualify for the important feed in tariff.

We remain confident the plant will be built and provide zero carbon energy to be used in Reading.

Being sustainable during coronavirus –

With only a few relaxations on lockdown measures recently, there is still an opportunity to take part in sustainable activities.

During these tough times, taking on a new activity can boost mental health. Why not try gardening? A sustainable quarantine activity with delicious vegetables as the end product using compost and garden waste. Some easy to grow produce includes onions, herbs, and tomatoes. See this article on some more ideas.

How about donating food to a foodbank or to Reading’s community fridge. They are open on weekday evenings with social distancing measures. This is a great way to help those who are most affected by this crisis.

Food for thought –  learn from this informative article   on Transition Towns, relocalisation, COVID-19, and the global oil supply. There is high value in effectively and efficiently utilising resources, and how communities can build their resilience to cope with future challenges.

Increase your knowledge on permaculture – try reading one or more of these top 10 permaculture books as recommended by the Permaculture Association.



In the present highly uncertain and unsettling times, the embrace of the budding spring seems to feel even warmer than normal. Kinder communities have emerged, and any enforced distancing is merely physical, not “social”, as coping with the coronavirus crisis draws us more closely together in spirit. Through the power of modern technology we are still able to communicate, even though we may not be able to touch, hand to hand.

Transition is an ongoing process in which the present, fragile globalised society is transformed to a far more resilient version, based on re-localisation and strong local communities, and an overall curbing of resource use, particularly energy.

Most buildings in which people are currently housed, require a lot of energy to run them (and to build them in the first place), and a superlative example that huge energy savings can be made over current costs is provided by “Tony’s House”, designed and also mainly self-built by Dr Tony Cowling.

As it is about ten years since its first foundations were set, Tony has provided the following, highly informative and inspiring, overview of how the house has weathered the elements of the past decade.

External woodwork ten years on

Many people seem to think that wood should not be used on the outside of houses, especially for fascias, soffits and bargeboards. The track record of all the major house builders around the turn of the century gives them good reason to think this, with widespread failures of eaves, corner boxes and barge boards, especially when used in conjunction with under-cloaks.
When I built my house, one of the design rubrics was ‘low maintenance’; ‘sustainability’ was high up on the list of priorities too. So having completely precluded the use of uPVC, I chose cedar for both my facials and my barge boards, untreated softwood for the soffits and oak for the framing on the front of the house.
So let’s have a look and see if the ideas have worked out in practice and whether there have been any problems.

The house in early 2020

I am planning to re-lime-wash the render even though it looks exactly as it did ten years ago. It has become a little frayed around the edges and it didn’t look very good when I did it, but it has survived well and has the effect of making the house look older than it is.

Rear corner

I am a bit disappointed with the slightly open mitre on this rear corner, but there genuinely are no problems with the timber work or gutters. I was kind of expecting that the copper gutters and downpipes would gather a greenish patina, but am delighted that they are staying brown. There have been no leaks, no drips, no repairs and when I cleaned them out for the second time this year, there was very little to clear, just a few clumps of maple leaves and keys. I have leaf extractors just above the rainwater gullies at the bottom of the down pipes to stop leaves getting into the underground rainwater recycling tank.

Rear soffit

The untreated softwood soffits have darkened beautifully and tone really nicely with the cedar fascias. The soffits never get any weather and are well protected – I can see them lasting a hundred years or more. Note how there are knots in the
soffits, whereas there are none in the cedar fascias or bargeboards, nicely defining the different species of wood utilised.

Looking up main gable
Bottom of main gable

The fascia boards are well protected behind the gutters so they rarely if ever get wet. I am wondering if I could have got away with softwood fascias. but the risk would be high were they to fail, and the place where they meet barge boards would have been a weak point. Had I gone for this I would have tucked the square cut ends of the fascia boards behind the bottom end of the barge boards and over-sailed the ends of the barge boards by 15mm to protect the fascias.

In this photo we can see the oak frame, the cedar
bargeboards and the softwood soffits. The cedar is well weathered but does not rot and I am very happy that it has stayed fairly dark, rather than going the more commonly seen silvery colour. The cloaked verge protects the bargeboards so well that they will never need replacing. These also have untreated softwood soffits but they are well recessed.

nice little lead detail that I incorporated above the horizontal oak frame members has protected them beautifully. These were cut with a fifteen degree chamfers top and bottom so that water is shed nicely from the top and drips away from the render along the bottom edges. The corner posts that appear to be 150x150mm are in fact corner pieces made from 150×150 posts with 100×100 cut out from their backs. I was worried that they might split but thankfully they haven’t and now won’t until the house is demolished and even then may not.  The bottoms of the posts wee also  given the fifteen degree undercut chamfers. I screwed the oak to the recycled aggregate blockwork and plugged the holes with home made oak pellets glued in so that the grain matched, these pellets are now extremely difficult to find. The corner posts, which appear to be 150x150mm, are in fact corner pieces made from 150×150 posts with 100×100 cut out from their backs. I was worried that they might split but thankfully they haven’t, and now won’t until the house is demolished – even then they may not. The bottoms of the posts were also given the fifteen degree undercut chamfers. I screwed the oak to the recycled aggregate blockwork and plugged the holes with homemade oak pellets, glued in so
that the grain matched. These pellets are now extremely difficult to find.

Porch – seemingly suspended over thin air

The porch

The porch continues the theme of cedar for the fascias and barge boards, but as the ceiling of the porch is entirely made of cedar, this simply extends to the back of the fascia.

There is some watermark staining Just visible to the front of the porch ceiling and to the bottom oak rail. These do not seem to be a problem and I am loving the condition of the bottom ends of all the barge boards, no fraying, no rot nor any decay.

None of the exposed wood has had any treatment or cleaning of any kind and does not look like it will ever need any.  By the time you add in the cost of preparation, filling, priming, paint/staining and labour it works out cheaper to use cedar than other less durable wood. Further there are ongoing maintenance costs.

Tony March 2020 Author Tony CCategories The House

My House, My Wife and Cold Weather

The first three years in our new home were the coldest three in living memory for me with recorded temperatures as low as -11°C & -6°C during those winters. I had designed to go to just below freezing with no heating so we had to put a small electric heater on, it used about 60W when the temperature was -3°C and 300W when we had -6°C. It was a simple electric convector heater connected to a plug in thermostat.

Continue reading My House, My Wife and Cold Weather Author TonyCategories The House

Energy Use

The energy use of my house was calculated by Paul using Hot 2000 a free thermal model used in Canada and by Mike using TAS software, both produced similar results.

The house uses 42kWh/m2/y about a third of the maximum allowed by Passive house. Heating is less than 6kWh/m2/y

The calculated heat loss for October is 100W average but we never need any heating before Christmas.

Continue reading Energy Use Author Tony CCategories The House

Maintaining the external timber

No treatment is necessary for the oak frame as oak is very resistant to decay, it was green oak so some joints have shrunk to leave a crack this is part of its beauty. If it must be treated then use one coat of boiled linseed oil every five years, having started with two coats the first time round. I have no intention of treating my oak. The eagle eyed among you will have seen that I used tiny lead cover flashings to protect the top fully chamfered edges of the horizontal members.

Continue reading Maintaining the external timber Author TonyCategories The House

Solar Systems

The solar panels are working and collecting heat very well. My solar control software is controlling three panels, two tanks, three pumps, several solenoid valves, and dumping excess heat to my interseasonal thermal store.

Continue reading Solar Systems Author TonyCategories The House

Heating The Ground

I used to live in a house with a solid uninsulated floor, I have measured the temperature under my floor at various depths and found that they are a lot warmer than is generally believed. This is because I lived in the house and it had been heating the soils under my floors, the heat lost to the ground had warmed up the sub strata and immediately under the floor it had assumed the average temperature of the house (this should in my opinion also apply to insulated floors as insulation slows the passage of heat but does not stop the flow of heat completely).

Continue reading Heating The Ground Author TonyCategories The House

Good Things Bad Things

Good Things

  • Warm, Quiet, Nice, Family like it
  • Uses about one third of the maximum energy allowed by Passivehaus
  • Ground warmed up,
  • No condensation anywhere or any signs of it

Bad Things

  • Green oak shrank and pinged off some edges of the lime render,
  • Lost some logged data,
  • Problems with auto shutter controls,
  • Heat exchanger tries to keep house warm in the summer!
  • The house is so well sound insulated that the easiest way in for noise is through the ceiling and even with 450mm of glass fibre quilt it is noticeable and I wish that I had double tacked the ceilings.
  • There was an unusual problem with condensation forming on the basement window lintels in the cavity and running down the outside of the window glass.
  • Front door lock broke several times in the first four years now it is fine.
  • even more remarkably I am on my sixth porch light

Author Tony CCategories The House


The house was designed to be very low on maintainance but as with all building things need to be done

Regular maintenance:-

Filter changes to MVHR, cleaning windows and frames, service window ironmongery – clean and silicone lube, I had relay patio near house due to settlement of soil fill near house sinking into the excavation batters.

Unexpected maintenance:-

Six new porch lights (remarkable misfortune), replace recessed LED strip lights to elliptical ceiling (too cheapo ones used initially), replace electric curtain motor, replace electric front door lock, three popped nail heads in plasterboard ceilings, one in basement two in front bedroom- filled with “onetime” filler and touched up invisibly with the original natural calico paint used on most ceilings.

December 2019: In Transition.


Written by Dhriti Dawda.

Welcome to Transition Town Reading’s bi-monthly Newsletter! Here you’ll find relevant news about being more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The dark side of winter: If you find yourself eyeing the thermostat with thoughts of turning it up this winter or would like to save on energy bill costs, then it’s time to think about draught-proofing your home. This uncontrolled ventilation can cause heat loss and spaces to be colder, meaning more energy waste. The good news is that an amazing team of volunteers can help to fix this problem. Draught busters is an amazing team of volunteers that can analyse how your home can be more energy efficient and draught proof it for you. You can also see their website here for tips on how to draught proof your home on your own so you can avoid unnecessary heat loss and can also help your neighbours be more energy efficient.

Renewable energy: Reading hydro is a leading community scheme focused on just this.  The focus is on building a hydro-electric scheme on the Thames in Reading that generates energy from the power of the river. It is a community project where local people can volunteer and get involved in different roles as well as attend events which can be found on the Facebook page, as well as invest their money and later get a return on their investments. The current phase is progressing with funding to order parts for construction.

Surplus fruit in your back garden? Unable to pick it all yourself? The Abundance Reading project will harvest it for you, leave you with as much as you want and donate the rest to local communities and groups, including Reading Town Meal. Picking is done by volunteers who collect fruit from back gardens and trees in Reading. Joining in with picking is a great way to help those around you and contribute to the community, who love to receive the local abundance of fruit.  Become a volunteer or get in touch for further picking and opportunities in 2020, as the season for 2019 is now complete.

The Transition Apple Press is used to transform apples, pears and grapes into delicious juice. You can see the kit in use every year at Reading Town Meal. It is available for community and school events, and can be hired for personal use too.

Super buses in Reading? These bio-methane run buses produce 84% less Carbon Dioxide than a regular double decker bus. Food waste and cattle slurry is used in producing the bio-methane, giving it better use than to simply let it biodegrade. It’s a trial run for now so do watch this space!

May 2019 in Transition


TTR is looking for a volunteer Communication Officer to run the bimonthly newsletter. It’s a great opportunity to connect with the local community and share your passion for permaculture and sustainability with really nice people! Please get in touch at

by Marta Rossato

People and ideas need the right space to thrive. Open, inclusive,  beautiful and affordable. This was the challenge that triggered the Oxford based project MakeSpace, a community – led working space where individuals and organizations can operate and connect to ignite social or environmental change. With a focus on sustainability, both the renovation of the building and the activities taking place at MakeSpace demonstrate how powerful can community action be. How a handful of individuals can join ideas, skills and resources to address something seen as a fundamental need for the community itself.

We are featuring their story hoping to inspire other socially – driven people and organizations living and working in different places but facing the same challenges.

In this interview Emma Gordon, co-ordinator at Makespace Oxford, tells us the whole story, explaining how different groups started collaborating to make it happen and the impact it is achieving for the different local communities in Oxford.

  MS is a physical space but most of all is a hub, a “catalyst” for community – led and socially innovative projects. How did it all started and what triggered it?

Makespace came about because of the need for socially affordable work space. It started with this need and then formed into four founder organisations: Transition by Design (T/D), Community Action Group (CAG), Broken Spoke Bike Co-op (BSB.) and Aspire, coming to gather to search in earnest for affordable space. Makespace Oxford was formed as a result. An organisation that could broker and manage meanwhile spaces to offer below market rate rent to organisations trying to affect positive change. From the first meeting to acquiring 1. Aristotle Lane took four years.
  Finding an available building and refurbishing it, as well as building a strong partnership must have been quite challenging. Can you tell us a bit more about these aspects and how you addressed them?

There were many forms before we came to what is now our hub in Aristotle Lane. First there was a meanwhile space on the opposite side of Oxford. Ideal, but precarious due to a two week notice period. There was excitement and effort put into a warehouse space in Cowley that did not come to fruition and a number of small nibbles elsewhere, before finally Wadham College got wind of what Makespace was trying to achieve and gave us the possibility of our current building.  Often buildings that are standing empty are in need of some work in order to make them safe and with the expertise of Transition by Design (an Architectural firm) Makespace were well placed to assess and make good these improvements. But they do cost money, and Makespace applied for grants and loans to make the project work. Amazingly it took only two months, from signing the tenancy to 80% occupancy in the case of Aristotle House, and Makespace are working toward being able to do rapid retrofit and turnarounds, as this is imperative for buildings in which there is a limited time in which to occupy them.   MS is definitely a champion of a successful partnership project: being presented the Innovation Award by Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action and being shortlisted for the Working Together Award acknowledge this. Can you share the story of this partnership and the process of building it?

As mentioned above it was a group effort between numerous organizations, and a long road. There were surveys done, meetings with various interested parties, regular strategy meetings etc.. which all paved the way for the brilliant project we have today. And the collaboration still continues. Our current space is a hive of activity with lots of collaborative projects happening as a result.

  MS is a co-working space open to social enterprises, workers cooperatives, small charities and creative individuals. How did you make this project financially viable?

Initially this was grant and loan money, however as time goes by the revenue from the residents will start to make the project self sustaining.
  North Oxford building owned by Wadham College is awaiting redevelopment. What happens next?

We have three prospective buildings in our sites. We are working on the feasibility of converting these to be fit for purpose and creating a strategy for how we start to manage multiple small sites and fill them in the fairest and most inclusive way possible. It is exciting times in Oxford as there is allot of energy and enthusiasm about what is happening with Oxford’s empty shops. We are in the thick of the conversation and trying to establish ourselves as the go to safe pair of hands for landlords who have meanwhile spaces they want to put to good use and then to have the right links within the community to be able to fill them with organizations who are makings roads towards improving society for all.

Good luck!

More about MakeSpace Oxford here C O M M U N I T Y   G R O W S Do you have has some spare garden space? You could be part of the “growing team” to grow some vegetables for the Reading Town Meal (Saturday 28th September – Forbury Gardens)
All seeds provided free!

In the last few decades we became used to see urban ares as major cause of irresponsible consumption of soil, air and water, with much of the discussion rightly focusing on the distortion caused by all that. But cities and towns are also places where people meet, connect, get inspired and innovate. There is an urgent need to highlight ideas and projects creating a positive impact to help them connect and create a critical mass, globally and locally.

This is what RESOURCEFUL READING does, showcasing ideas and initiatives that people and communities in Reading are already doing to make life more sustainable.

The display, featuring pioneering projects and more recent initiatives, is in Reading Museum’s community cabinet in the welcome area of the new ‘Story of Reading’ permanent gallery. Resourceful Reading is put together by The Reading Sustainability Centre and Reading Museum. Until end of May.

More info. My toaster has a lever which no longer holds toast down. The fan in my laptop is not working so it gets overheated. My leather case needs stitching. My hairdryer is broken. 

What can I do? Toss them? No way, take it to the REPAIR CAFE’ where you will find experts in fixing pretty much anything. Out of passion and great know how. W H E R E   &   W H E N

SUNDAY 16th JUNE @ READING HACKSPACE rLab, Unit C1, Weldale St, RG1 7BX
12:00 – 4:30 pm |
Tea&coffee&cakes offered.
Find out more on our FB page Reading Repair Café S I G N U P !

Reading Community Energy Society.


Share Offer 2019

Our 2019 share offer is now live!

Would you like to see more renewable energy in and around Reading? Would you like to make a return on your investment while supporting local sustainability initiatives?

Then our new share offer could be for you!

Building on the success of our 2016 solar panel scheme, we are pleased to launch our new share offer, providing the opportunity for you to invest in the installation of solar panels in the Reading area.

The scheme will help deliver cost-effective, low carbon energy to local organisations and businesses. We plan to install free solar panels on at least 8 buildings this spring, with 2 further opportunities also in discussion. The building occupants will receive fixed price electricity for the 20 year life of the project, with surplus funds ring-fenced to support further sustainability initiatives in the local community.

Applications are now open for individuals, organisations and businesses to invest in the scheme, with priority given to local investors (defined as having an RG postcode) and existing investors of the Society. We are looking to raise up to £363,000, with investments from £200 to £20,000 being invited. We are targeting 4.5% returns in years 1 to 3 and 5% returns from years 4 to 20.

Download the Share Offer Document

Applications can be made using the application form at the end of the share offer, online or you can download an application form.

Online Application Form

Download an Application Form

We anticipate closing the share offer on Friday 29 March 2019 at the Directors’ discretion, or sooner if fully subscribed.



Transition Town Reading, “Christmas Party.”

Wednesday 19 December, 7:30pm in RISC Room 3.

The Transition Town Reading Christmas Party will be taking place on Wednesday 19th December in Room 3 at RISC, London Street from 7.30 – 9.30pm. Come help us celebrate another successful year in Transition!

The event will begin by showing a 35 minute film about permaculture: “Surviving Collapse, Designing your Way to Abundance”, followed by party.

We’ll be joined by Reading Friends of the Earth, Berkshire Greenpeace, and other local groups. Please bring along food to share.

September/October 2018: In Transition.

Tell a friend! Join Trish Whitham from Brazier Park in a fun workshop where you will learn how Permaculture principles and design systems can help you successfully grow your own food with least effort. Learn to plan a food garden – or any project – using permaculture principles to solve problems and create abundance working with nature.
More on Thrish Whitham & Permaculture here
Reading Town Meal is a real community gathering, a “pic – nic in the park” celebrating  home grown and locally produced food. Students from Reading College will cook a free meal for over 1000 people, entirely made from produces donated by local growers and allotment holders.

The event is also a great chance to connect with the sustainable groups active in Reading: community groups and  local food & drink producers, will be showcasing local produce and activities, and three workshops will give the chance to get hands on with Permaculture principles and design systems, making the most of your home grown harvest and…baking Pizza!
Live music all day and family activities area, complete the program alongside a Town Meal treasure hunt.

This year’s menu includes  roasted Vegetable Allotment Ragout with salad and bread and Fruit Compote with granola topping. All veg!

For information on  workshops see:

A C T I O N    R E Q U I R E D
R E C Y C L E    W E E K
24 – 30 SEPTEMBER Recycling. We do. Because it matters.
The recycle week is part of a wider campaign that will run until 2019 to inspire people to change their recycling behaviours by demonstrating the benefits of recycling everyday items from all around the home. A downloadable toolkit here. Do something great this recycle week!
Not sure what you can do  with everyday items? Get inspired!
R E P A I R     C A F E’
My toaster has a lever which no longer holds toast down. The fan in my laptop is not working so it gets overheated. My leather case needs stitching. My hairdryer is broken.
What can I do? Toss them? No way, take it to the REPAIR CAFE’ where you will find experts in fixing pretty much anything. Out of passion and great know how. The Oasis is SO kids friendly, it’s a great family fun too!
W H E R E   &   W H E N

SUNDAY 21st  OCTOBER @ THE OASIS, 21 Baker St 12:30 – 4:30 pm | Tea&coffee&cakes offered.
Find out more on our FB page Reading Repair Café

S I G N U P !