Purple Turtle, 9 Gun Street, Reading, RG1 2JR.
Imagine you’re not in Reading. You’re talking to someone you’ve just met. The subject of where you both live comes up. They tell you where they’re from (Gloucester, say – who gives a shit? You’re not listening anyway). Now it’s your turn. “Reading,” you say. Because that’s where you live, right? “Oh, yeah?” They say. I’ve been there,” they say. “Went to the festival once,” they say. Or “went to a work thing there once,” they say. “It’s alright,” they say. “That Purple Turtle’s good,” they say. Then they kind of stare off into the middle distance, mumble something about the M4 and then wander off.
The point is – the place is known. It has almost legendary status here in town. True – the same can be said of a bloke that wanders about the place waving an old Elvis LP. But there you are. We take what we can get.
Everyone reading this has been to the Turtle. You’ve all been, you’ve all got your memories of the place. We’re going to sprinkle in a few of our own throughout this write-up. Why not leave a comment below – or on our Facebook page – with some funny Turtle-based anecdotes of your own? Go on, do it. DO IT. PLEASE. MAKE US LOOK POPULAR. HELP EXTEND OUR ONLINE REACH. WE NEED ADVERTISING. WE’VE GOT BILLS TO PAY. MOUTHS TO FEED. PLEASE.
Location: It’s on Gun Street, off St. Mary’s Butts. But you already know that. In fact, you probably tell people where nearby things are using the Turtle as the landmark, don’t you?
Where’s that stupid bloody ping pong bar again?” “Smash? Couple of doors down from the Turtle. Why? You wanna go there?” “No.”
Where’s that stupid bloody games bar again?” “Public? Castle Street. Not far from the Turtle. Why? You wanna go there?” “No.”
Drink Selection: Let’s be honest, it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s 1am and you’re seven pints pissed. You’ll drink anything. Which is how they managed to get away with serving McEwan’s in there for so long. But to dismiss the booze selection is a shame, since they’ve snazzed the place up there’s loads more choice and some surprisingly decent offerings. Sam Adams and Blue Moon, for instance. They’ve also got some boozy cocktails on the go. ‘Zombie Nation’ has three types of rum in it (just a quick heads up for you impatient alcoholics out there in Readerland).
But yeah – there’s a surprisingly good draughts and bottles choice in there now. Spirits too. Have a look at the fluids on offer HERE.
Opening Times: UPDATE FROM TURTLE MANAGEMENT AS OF MAY 2022: “We’re now open from 2pm every day, closing at 3am Sunday to Thursday and 3:30am on Fridays and Saturdays.” 💜 🐢
What we’re saying is, it’s the number one late night drinking hole in the centre of town. Unless you don’t like crowds, then that weird Smokin’ Marvin Monroe’s Spicy Sports Bar Rib Rack Shack place is maybe more your thing. Or you’re eastwards and then it’s Up The Junction.
Or, y’know, maybe you should just go home, eh? Come on. You’re too old to be out this bloody late, anyway.
IT DON’T LOOK LIKE WHAT IT USED TO LOOK LIKE, THOUGH. WHASS GOIN’ ON?! You’re right, it doesn’t look like what it used to. They gutted the place the other year and jazzed it the ruddy Hell up. Which is just as well as it was starting to look a bit old and tired. Like it had been thoroughly well used by an entire town for twenty years. With pissed-up teenagers in and out of it every weekend. Basically, it was becoming your mum.
But now? It’s actually pretty bloody impressive in there. They spent some real money and put some actual thought into the refit. Everything got rejigged, but it still kept its sense of character. The outside especially benefited from the overhaul. Gone are those weird long communal benches (so gone are the days of weird old pervy blokes having such an easy excuse to harass fellow bench ladies). Also gone? Those enormostairs that took you outside (or inside – depending on how you tackled them).
We once had a rib fractured by an enthusiastic bouncer at the foot of those stairs after ‘a mix up’.
Punterwatch: Bevvy’d up folk who are too pissed to give up at pub closing time and go home, but not pissed enough to just give up and toddle off to bed.
Toilets: Thankfully, when they sassed the place up, they sorted the bogs out too. Now, they’re pretty swish. They used to be pretty bloody skanky, though. And covered in graffiti. Years ago, STiR received a phone call late one night asking him if he was ‘an emotionally stunted cunt’. “Yes”, he replied. “Why do you ask? Oh, and who are you?” He asked. “Ha ha ha! Your number and description’s written in big letters on the girl’s toilet wall in the Turtle!” came the reply. Kudos to the staff – they got rid of it for us the very next day.
The cubicles have plenty of leg room too, look:
Sports: There’s a fuck off big screen out back, but it only gets sport during big events (your World Cups, Euros, Wimbledon, etc.). There’s no Sky or BT.
Outside Area: This is what’s it’s all about. The inside bar is good now. They’ve got plenty of decent free gigs on in there now. The downstairs club-y bit is alright too. But it’s the outside you head to when you’re steaming and fancy chain-smoking a pack a fags at half one in the morning.
Some of it gets a bit weird. Like the mock-up seventies living room bit. A cool idea, but when pissed (as you will be), it kind of feels like you’ve found yourself Quaaluded at Dennis Nilsen’s house.
Has That Fucking Bellend From Oasis Ever Been In There? Yeah, look. What a fucking bellend.
I’m Not Entirely Sure I Remember, But Isn’t There Some Weird Sweaty Downstairs Bit? Yes. It’s alright, n’all. Shitty pictures of Brandon Lee in The Crow aside – the gothic theme works quite nicely down there. There are even little dungeony jail cell things too, which are a fun/disturbing touch.
We once saw a girl suck off a fella on the dancefloor down there once. That was slightly depressing. Feel free to share your memories of witnessing explicit sexual acts in the Purple Turtle below in the comments!
Events: Since the refurb, the onus is very much on turning the place into a legit live music venue. And they have. Reading doesn’t really have an out and out live music venue. Facebar, The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Sub89, The Oakford, South Street… They all do their bit, but for up and coming bands (who mostly play for free), the Purple Turtle’s your place.
There’s also plenty of DJs, club night and film nights (if they’re your thing). Though who pays to watch Sister Act 2 on DVD outside in the cold with a bunch of strangers though, we’ve no bloody idea.
Do They Have Drums As Lights At The Bar? Yes, they do. You’re in luck!
We love it, you love it, everyone loves it. This Get Reading type particularly loves it. Still – ‘The Purple Turtle’. Shit name though, eh?
Anyway, we’ll leave you with this. If you can watch this without getting a lump in your throat then you don’t have RG1 in your heart…
Rarely go in the new Turtle, but have plenty of fond memories of the tiny sweatbox that was the old Turtle and all the cracking bands I saw there.
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Mind you… the bogs in the old Turtle were an adventure. Or were they a terrifying ordeal? it’s all gone a bit hazy.
It wasn’t you that wrote that message on the ladies’ wall, was it…?
was the Ladies the one with or without a door??
On a recent visit we were making use of the punch bag machine in the smoking pit, as you do. We encountered a crusty fellow with approximately 4 teeth and 4 dreadlocks (was it you?) and suggested we try and get a good score with his head. He was even more enthusiastic about this than we were, so we picked him up and pile drove him into it, getting our highest score of the night! We were about to try again and film it when the bouncer came over and said “You’ve done it once mate, that’s enough”. I love this place.
It wasn’t us, no. We’ve got fucking loads of teeth. Too many, if anything.
You forgot the freaky sex chair in the basement.
You can’t forget the freaky sex chair in the basement!
We just thought that was a normal chair. We were sat on that most of the night… We did wonder why there was a dildo up our arse.
It is there to make sure you are securely seated, and don’t slip out of your seat whilst pissed.
Health and safety gone mad!
There’s karaoke and cheese now on in the basement on a Monday 🙂 I started to go here when I began being the DJ with The Scarlet Vixens burlesque troupe (look ’em up on FB!) as I’m genderfluid it’s one of the few places that are non judgemental and I feel safe there. The staff are great and always make you feel welcome.
Nonsense. Get yourself down The Bugle – you’ll be FINE.
Old Turtle? You need to mention the way back history. It used to be where London Street Brasserie is now. It was way more rotten then. I hope these kind of independent venues can thrive and survive. Hard times.
We would have done if we were old enough to remember that far back.
I saw Frank Sidebottom do stand up in there. I am ancient. It had character.
Frank Sidebottom played the Turtle…?
I was one of the girls who stacked it down those stairs. In a mini dress, with no knickers. Even the bouncer couldn’t save me.
No, but we did get some excellent photographs.
Was good in the 90’s before all the pretentious cunts and ‘stuudents’ frequented it
One of my fondest memories was chatting to an exceptionally pretty lady off my head on a blue speckled mitsubishi and getting on famously but fucked it up when I going into some kind of vortex and being sick in front of her which made her run away
Ahh the 90’s
If the young lady is reading this I’m sorry
Don’t do drugs kids
Monday night £ a pint of Snakey-Bs followed by mosher fest in The Turtle