18th July 2017
The collapse of a chalk mine in west Reading forced the immediate evacuation of dozens of residents. These residents then suffered for years due to the extensive and drawn out remediation of the affected area, but eventually had their patience rewarded after the works finished 12 years later and the area has been declared safe once again.
Berkshire is predominantly resting upon chalk and clays: two materials mined extensively in the county from Medieval times to as late as World War 2. There was abundant chalk mining during the Victorian era, concentrated around Reading leaving it with the largest populous of sub-surface chalk mines anywhere in England and as such, one of the areas with greatest mining-related risk. The chalk mines beneath Field Road and Coley Road were of this Victorian era and it is believed leaky pipes led to the weakening and eventual collapse of these cavities. This is a prime example of the hazards associated with mining-related subsidence, but also of the ability of local authorities to remediate sites. This part of Reading is now one of the safest areas to live now that the mines have been infilled and stabilised, and life has returned to normal, albeit after a dozen years of site works and disruption.