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The Oracle is a large indoor shopping and leisure mall, located right in Reading Town Centre. It comprises 90 shops, with 'anchor' department stores of Debenhams and House of Frazer. The riverside area of restaurants and bars spans the River Kennet, and an attractive open area allows for outdoor seating. The development is complemented by a ten-screen Vue cinema.
The area was previously occupied by Simond's Brewery, which moved to a site near the M4 motorway in the 1980s, and by Reading Transport's bus depot, which moved to Great Knolly's Street in 1998. The first phases of the development opened in 1999 and the final phase - including the all-important link to Broad Street which ties the development in with Reading's established town centre - was opened by the Princess Royal in May 2000.
Although the Oracle was controversial when first built, it has pursued a policy of enhancing Reading's existing shopping opportunites and has attracted a number of retailers who might not otherwise have come to Reading. This has substantially improved the town's status as a shopping destination.
The Oracle takes its name from a 17th-century workhouse that stood on part of the site, established by local man James Kendrick.