Reading Gaol, built in 1844, is an important heritage site. It is an early example of a prison designed to support the harsh 'separate system' intended to prevent prisoners from communicating with each other. Following his incarceration there for homosexuality, Oscar Wilde campaigned for prison reform. He described the brutal treatment of prisoners, including young children, in letters and in his famous poem the “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”.
The Gaol is built on the archaeologically important site of Reading Abbey.
The Ministry of Justice want to sell Reading Gaol off to the highest bidder, probably for luxury housing.
Many feel it should become an arts and cultural centre, accessible to all. This could include performance spaces, an art gallery, maker space and museum, and provide a place where people meet for arts, crafts and cultural activities.
This is a unique opportunity for Reading to develop an arts and cultural centre to be proud of and with worldwide recognition.
On October 13th we plan to surround Reading Gaol in a mass Hug to demonstrate support for this wider vision for the Gaol. This is a community-led initiative being managed and run on a voluntary basis. There are costs involved in organising such an event such as insurance, provision of toilet facilities, medical cover, promotion, signage, barriers and other as yet unidentified contingencies. We also wish to make a permanent video record of the event and continue to campaign to Save Reading Gaol.
We are looking for a small number of corporate sponsors/donations to assist in covering these costs to ensure a successful Hug Event and enable us to maximise the publicity to further the Save Reading Gaol campaign cause.
If you want to participate in the Hug, please register on eventbrite.co.uk - search for "Reading Gaol Hug".