The Reading Festival originates from the National Jazz Festival, which was conceived by Harold Pendleton (founder of the Marquee Club in London) and was first held at Richmond Athletic Ground in 1961. This festival, in turn, took inspiration from events held in America.
Throughout its first decade the festival changed names and moved around sites several times, being held at Windsor Racecourse, Kempton Park and Plumpton, before reaching its permanent home at Reading in 1971. The late 80s and early 90s saw yet more changes in the contemporary music scene with indie sounds and dance cross-over acts becoming ever more popular. Reading Festival did what it always does – it changed and adapted and in 1988 Mean Fiddler came on board, with that the future of the festival was assured. Reading got itself a ‘little baby’ in 1999 with Leeds becoming the Northern half and both festivals taking place simultaneously.
Little John’s Farm is situated between the Thames and the tracks of the Great Western Railway in an area that is now a well-known venue for outdoor concerts, most famously the annual Reading Festival.
On O.S. maps of the area published in 1882, 1897 and 1899, the locality is indicated as “Little John’s” tout court. The EPNS volume on this part of Berkshire also lists it under that short form but refers as its source to John Snare’s c. 1846 map of Reading and environs on which the name is cited as “Little Johns Farm”