We spoke to people in Caversham about it being named one of the best places to live in Berkshire

Whilst there are many nice areas of Berkshire to live in there are a few that stand out from the rest. Muddy Stilettos has published its list of the ‘best places to live in Berkshire’ in 2022.

In the mix are small hamlets like Sonning, busy market towns like Newbury, and lovely little villages like Sunninghill. Another village that ranks one of the best in Berkshire is Caversham.

The bustling village is a mere 10-minute walk away from Reading Station making it the perfect area to live in if you’re a commuter. It’s also a great location for amenities and activities.

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Not only does Caversham boast some splendid eateries and shops, but there’s a lot of green space in the area as well. People who live in Caversham like to relax by the Thames at Christchurch Gardens or have a picnic at Caversham Court Gardens.

Its selection of independent shops, however, is what makes it really stand out from the rest. In its article about life in Caversham, Muddy Stilettos says the the village boasts “a good selection of indie retailers, leaving the high street giants to Reading town centre.”

It goes on: “The Live Well is a new lifestyle shop selling seriously chic homewares, The Collective also has a small selection of gifts to grab with your latté. Nood Stores is a luxury eco-lifestyle shop, Griggs & Mackay offers stylish furniture and interiors store.”

BerkshireLive spoke to some of the independent and charity shops in the town to gauge what makes Caversham such a great place to live and work.

Griggs and Mackay

Inside Griggs and Mackay in Caversham.
Inside Griggs and Mackay in Caversham.
(Image: Hannah Roberts)

Griggs and Mackay is located on Church Road, which is a busy street that runs right through the centre of Caversham. A staff member at the shop, who has worked there for 29 years, says that its location has various positives and negatives attached to it.

She said: “It depends on the traffic, the thing is the parking’s not great in Caversham and so I think that puts people off, there’s always road works so I don’t think that helps. Once people leave because they can’t park it’s a job to get them to come back. So that is a problem, I think that does need to be sorted.”

Caversham does have its positives, however, such as a great sense of community. Most of the indie shops are a part of the Caversham Traders Association.

Griggs and Mackay is also in the unique position of having customers that travel far and wide to visit the shop. The staff member at the shop said: “We have such a big following now […] we have people who come down from London too to shop with us, so we’re quite unique, we’re a unique shop.

“You can get the whole house […] It started off with the odd lamp and now it’s grown. There are no other shops like this really. That’s why we have such a good following.”

Thames Hospice

(Image: Hannah Roberts)

Karina McCarthy is the retail assistant manager at Thames Hospice. She’s only been in the job for a month and lives near Cemetery Junction in Reading, but said that she’s enjoyed working in Caversham so far.

The shop gets donations every day and usually consists of clothes that are of quite a high quality. Karina said: “We’ve got a lot of regular customers, customers that come in daily, customers that come in weekly, ones that I’m becoming familiar with. Caversham is really nice. It seems to be a really community-type village with a busy road running right through it, kind of like Pangbourne.”

Art Jam Studio

Staff member Priya Sandhu at Art Jam Studio.
Staff member Priya Sandhu at Art Jam Studio.
(Image: Hannah Roberts)

Art Jam Studio is owned by Sherrie Tuhy, who used to be an art teacher before she was made redundant. Staff member Priya Sandhu was one of her old students and has been working at the studio ever since it opened in 2017.

The shop mainly focuses on pottery painting, which tends to attract families, but there are also Monday prosecco sip and paint classes, which means that the shop has plenty of adult customers as well. Priya lives just around the corner from the shop and really enjoys working there.

Priya said that the shop has “lovely” and “loyal” returning customers, which instills a sense of community. She said: “A lot of the people that we get are returning customers, they’re lovely, we get to know them quite well they are generally just really lovely families. We are located in a nice area as well”.

Nathan’s Nibbles

Nathan's Nibbles in Caversham has just relocated.
Nathan’s Nibbles in Caversham has just relocated.
(Image: Hannah Roberts)

Nathan’s Nibbles re-opened last Tuesday after it moved from its prior location on Church Street. Liza Smith owns the cafe and she named it Nathan’s Nibbles, after her brother Nathan who passed away from muscular dystrophy aged 23. Her mum also owns a farm named Nathan’s Farm and her sister owns a florist, which is also named after him.

Liza used to own another takeaway ‘Nathan’s Nibbles’ on London Street in Reading but it closed down as Covid meant that it wasn’t getting a lot of footfall. This new location, however, seems to be ideal as staff member Kae says that it’s been incredibly busy ever since the cafe re-opened at its new location on Prospect Street.

Kae said: “I’ve been friends with Liza for a long time. I love my job, there’s a lot of footfall in Caversham, I’ve lived here all my life. All the customers are friendly, we’ve never had a bad customer.”

Shea Butter Cottage

Akua Wood with one of the products she sells in Shea Butter Cottage.
Akua Wood with one of the products she sells in Shea Butter Cottage.
(Image: BerkshireLive – Grahame Larter)

Shea Butter Cottage is owned by Akua Wood who moved to Caversham from Ghana over 24 years ago. Her shop is based on Henley Road, which doesn’t have as much footfall as the main thoroughfare, but Akua still likes the location.

One issue with living and working in the area is the traffic, but this doesn’t bother Akua too much. She said: “I know that traffic builds up a lot and when we have roadworks then it’s mayhem really to get through, but I love Caversham and I love living here. It’s almost like living in the city, but it feels like it’s between a city and the countryside.”

Some of the independent businesses in Caversham:

  • Nood stores
  • Nathan’s Nibbles
  • The Collective
  • Griggs and Mackay
  • Fourbears Books
  • Carousel Clothing
  • Vegivores
  • The Live Well
  • Caversham Emporium
  • Walton Jewellers and Goldsmiths
  • V and I Hardware
  • Geo Cafe
  • Fox-Beckett Independent Estate Agents
  • Shea Butter Cottage

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