Reading Black History Mural

The Reading Central Club mural is a distinctive 36 metre long depiction illustrating local aspects of Black History with global icons like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Bob Marley.

Black History Mural - Central Club Reading
Reading Central Club. Black History Mural

The venue attracted a wider audience at weekend reggae events featuring a range of top quality artists including Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott, Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond and Twinkle Brothers. Sound system DJs Coxsone, Mikey Dread and Jah Shaka played regularly at the Reading based venue.

Opened by Reading Borough Council as Central Reading Youth Provision in 1978 the popular Central Club became the heart of Reading’s Black community.

Central Club Black History Mural Reading
The Reading Central Club building with the Black History Mural

During the day Central Youth Provision offered cultural activities for young people including computer studies, spelling bees and workshops. With Perry’s Caribbean Cuisine providing hot food, a domino club for the elders and RASPO’s PanYard upstairs, Central was the place to be for Black culture and music.

The building is distinctive for its colourful mural depicting local and global aspects of Black History.

Central Mural plaque - Get Reading 2017
Central Mural plaque – Get Reading 2017

Commissioned in 1988 by Reading Borough Council, artist Alan Howard embarked on a project to create images of Reading’s African Caribbean people involved in founding Central Club including David Archibald, Jeff Allamby and Cleo Lee alongside positive historical Black role models Harriet Tubman, Olaudah Equiano, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Toussaint L’Ouverture and Bob Marley.

Reading Black History Mural protest rally with speeches from artist Alan Howard 2017
Reading Black History Mural protest rally with speeches from artist Alan Howard 2017

The final panel of the mural and the various symbols look to the future and depicts a number of tools that people use to shape the future.

In 2020 campaigners moved to preserve the 30 year old mural by applying for it to be nationally listed with Historic England for and cultural significance. Read more.