Malthouse Lane – Then & Now

Malthouse Lane
Malthouse Lane

Malthouse Lane, which was known as Quarry Lane at the time of the 1861 census and then Malthouse Lane by 1874. To the extreme right of the image, behind the Malthouse, now lies the 1960s development including Amherst Road and Berkeley Road, on which lies two wooded hollows which were formerly quarries used during the building of Kenilworth Abbey in the mid-12th century. In the fields to the left of Malthouse Lane now lies De Montfort Road and Grange Avenue, on a site formerly occupied by the castle nurseries.

In the distance, Quarry Cottage at the far end of the lane is sited within a square trough which was once yet another quarry. The modern Quarry Road takes its name from its proximity to this.

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Forthcoming Events for 2016

Details of KHAS events for 2016

Festival of Archaeology 2016

On 31st July 2016 KHAS members will be hosting a free guided walk of  Kenilworth Abbey ruins in support of the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology 2016.

KHAS Events for 2016
Council for British Archaeology (CBA)

Take a walk back in time to when Kenilworth’s St. Mary’s Priory, later Abbey, was one of the wealthiest and most prestigious Augustinian houses in the Midlands. Hear about the men who lived here, what their lives were like and what happened to them and their beautiful buildings.

The Great Siege of Kenilworth 1266 - 2016 (750 years)
The Great Siege of Kenilworth 1266 – 2016 (750 years)

2016 is the 750th anniversary of the Great Siege of Kenilworth. In 1266 King Henry III (the Priory’s Royal patron) spent six months besieging Kenilworth Castle. Hear how this momentous event affected the Priory and its Canons.

The walk will commence at 3pm and lasts about one hour. We will meet outside the Abbey ‘Barn’ Museum and Heritage Centre on Abbey Fields, Kenilworth.

Jan Cooper
Chairman, KHAS.

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Almshouses, Warwick Road – Then & Now

These former almshouses on Warwick Road were demolished in 1963 to make way for the Talisman Square development on the site of the adjoining former tannery. Next door was Olive Aldridge’s haberdashery, now Warwick Estates and Kenilworth Weekly News offices. The ‘now’ pictures were taken in December 2015.

Warwick Road Almshouses 1963
Warwick Road Almshouses 1963

It was a time of change in Britain, when the austerity and rationing of the 1950s made way for the unbridled modernity of the 1960s. Town planners felt emboldened to sweep away the old world and embrace concrete and commercialism. The demolition often went beyond simply clearing bomb sites and swept away buildings which today may well have be protected.

Warwick Road Almshouse 1963 again
Warwick Road Almshouse 1963 again


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January 2016 Newsletter


Notice of the AGM next month. Barbara Platten will, sadly, be resigning from the Committee for personal reasons, so that there will be a vacancy. Tonight, self-explanatory nomination forms are available. Please take one and nominate someone you know who would be an asset to the Society’s functioning. Do be sure to obtain their permission, however. You are welcome to nominate more than just the one person needed to fill the current vacancy – an election to get all the right people is perfectly in order. Nominations to the Secretary at 26 Greville Road by 25th January, please.

» Last month was not quite what we had expected, because our speaker was not even a croaker, and Baldric had to take over at last minute, and do exactly what his master gestured to him, or wrote on his slate as instructions. As a result, we had an entertaining evening and learnt a lot about a 16th Christ Mass, as Baldric so correctly called it. It turned out that Baldric was Paul’s father, and he received resounding applause for his performance – quite rightly too! The food and drink supplied for the evening enabled a lot of ‘social networking’ to take place – people chatted to one another, something the normal evening’s structure does not easily allow.

» Tonight Dr Nat Alcock is talking about The Mediæval Peasant House in the Midlands.

» Next month February 8th The AGM, followed by Tom Garner on the History of Photography

» You were emailed about voting for the Society in the “Kenilworth Worthies” contest. If you failed to respond to the request for a vote, maybe that’s why the Society failed to appear among the finalists. Pity, really.

» Kenilworth Family History Society 13 Jan. Richard III & DNA by Dr. Turi King University of Leicester, Dept.of Genetics & Archaeology. SCC 7.30pm 10 February Julie Crawshaw Shakespeare’s New Place: “The House Wherein I Dwell”

» Warwickshire Local History Society Tuesday 16 February: Dr Kat Iles, ‘The Birmingham Assay Office’ 8.00pm, preceded by coffee at 7.30pm, in The Friends’ Meeting House, 39 High Street, Warwick, CV34 4AX

» Kineton Local History Soc. Friday 15 January – Stratford upon Avon’s Historic Spine – Dr Robert Bearman All meetings at 7.30pm at Kineton Village Hall

» Warwickshire Geology: 20 January: Prof. David Siveter (Leicester): Exceptionally preserved Cambrian fossils of the Chengjiang Lagerstatte, China: the flowering of early animal life.  All meetings take place at S. Francis’ Church Hall, Warwick Road (Kenilworth main street), Kenilworth CV8 1HL, with coffee at 7pm before a 7.30pm start.

» CADAS: All meetings are held at the Friends’ Meeting House, Hill Street, Coventry, at 19:30 (see

  • 12th January Title: Roman Woman: a Costumed Food Demonstration. Lecturer: Jane Arnold.
  • 9th February Title: Hoards, Hounds and Helmets: The story of the Hallaton Treasure Lecturer: Vicky Score.

» Miscellaneous guide books to places all over the country and of various dates are available for sale at the back of the room – 5p each, to the Society’s funds.

What’s Under Your Feet?

A galaxy of rocks, fossils and minerals comes to Kenilworth on Saturday 20 February at the Senior Citizens’ Club 10am until 3pm
Come and see Stunning specimens; Great displays; Learn something about how our Earth has evolved Why is the Warwickshire landscape like it is Rocks under the microscope; Meet a Geologist & ….. have your rocks, fossils & minerals identified!

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

wishes to draw our attention to its Spring Programme. Please contact:


  • Chairman – 01676 532654
  • Secretary – 01926 858670
  • Treasurer – 01926 852655
  • Vice Chairman & Editor – 01926 858090


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The Square, Abbey End – Then & Now

Pre-war postcard of The Square, Abbey End
Pre-war postcard of The Square, Abbey End

Pre-war postcard of The Square, Abbey End, taken from the War Memorial end looking towards the clock tower. Following the landmine on 21st November 1940, all the buildings on the left were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The rubble was later cleared to make way for a temporary carpark until the Square was redeveloped in the 1960s.

In the centre of the ‘then’ image, it’s evident just how narrow the road at Abbey End was until road widening in 1932 swept the property north-east of the clock tower away to enable traffic to pass more easily.

According to Rob Steward’s “The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth” (Odibourne Press, 2000) the property on the far right known as ‘The Firs’ was formerly the site of the Green Dragon Inn.

The ‘now’ scene includes the modern Almanack bar / restaurant (left) and the Holiday Inn (formerly the De Montfort Hotel) out of frame (right).

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The Tannery, Warwick Road – Then & Now

This remarkable colour photograph shows the Tannery, Warwick Road, on the site now occupied by Talisman Square, prior to its demolition in 1965.

The Tannery, Warwick Road 1965 and today in 2015
The Tannery, Warwick Road 1965 and today in December 2015

According to the Our Warwickshire website, the tannery was operated by Thomas Day & Co in the late nineteenth century, but was owned by Samuel Barrow after whom Barrow road is named. It later changed name to the Kenilworth Tannery Ltd, run by Charlie Randall, after whom Randall Road is named. The nearby Tannery Court owes its name to the site, having been built on land belonging to the tannery company.

Harry Sunley provides some interesting snippets in “A Kenilworth Chronology” (Odibourne Press, 1989). Firstly, that on the 26th October 1942 the Rover Players set up a production of ‘The Children to Bless Us’ in a hut behind the tannery. They would go on to become The Talisman Theatre Company, and the square would eventually adopt the Talisman name. The company moved the theatre to its present Barrow Road site in February 1969.

Also, Harry Sunley records the ultimate reason for the tannery’s closure, namely that “the need for leather had fallen from 1500 hides a week in 1950 to 500 a week in 1957 due to the plastic boom”.

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From the Archives: Kenilworth Windmills

The following article was first published in Kenilworth History 2000 – 2001 by Rob Steward. If you were of the understanding that there was but one windmill in Kenilworth, then this may very well be the article for you.

Kenilworth Windmills

Rob Steward

I have written in the past, in these pages, about water and its power to drive the watermills of Kenilworth; now let me turn to that other natural power, the force of the wind.

Over the centuries there have been a number of windmills in Kenilworth and close by. The earliest reference to a windmill I can find is in a document dated 22nd July 1549 listing property acquired by Andrew Flammock. It is Wyndmyllfeld which lies to the west of Dunn’s Pits farm. A short green lane to the south off Hollis Lane, called ‘Pebble Lane’ in 1756, probably led to the mill. In William Dugdale’s ‘Antiquities of Warwickshire’ there is a panoramic view, dated 1723, seen from Honiley showing Kenilworth Castle on the right, Balsall Common windmill on the extreme left with another windmill on the horizon, which appears to be the one on Wyndmyllfeld, between the two. Coventry is also depicted on the horizon further to the right but left of Kenilworth Castle.

Unfortunately the positions of Coventry and the windmill on Wyndmyllfeld are shown transposed, but the positions of Kenilworth Castle, Balsall Common windmill and Chase Wood are very accurate. There is artistic license, however, regarding the orientation of Kenilworth Castle. None of the Kenilworth windmills is shown; they were built later in the century. As a point of observation, on the above mentioned panoramic view and on contemporary maps, even the later Ordnance Survey map of 1834, all windmills are shown as post mills. This is purely to indicate the position of a windmill. Balsall Common windmill, for instance, is a tower mill built of brick.

In 1787 two post-mills were built in Kenilworth, one on Knowle Hill, MR SP 299727, and the other one on the common, MR SP295731. William Yates’ map of 1793 shows these two mills. They are also indicated on the O.S. map of 1834.

A post-mill, for the uninitiated, consists of a large diameter vertical timber post supported on two horizontal cross timbers, called cross-trees, the ends of which are supported on low brick or stone pillars. Balanced on top of the post is the mill, which can be rotated to face the wind or ‘winded’. The sails are of course at the front, and a tail pole protrudes at the back down to about two or three feet above the ground, so the miller can push it round to face the wind, or ‘wind’ the mill. Very often the cross-tree supports are enclosed in a round-house with a conical shaped roof to make a store place; this is an eighteen century addition to old mills.

The two Kenilworth post-mills both ceased operating shortly after 1834, most probably due to steam power and the coming of the railway in 1844 bringing cheap power to this area. As they were post-mills it was impossible to convert them to steam.

Kenilworth Windmills Map 1793
Extract from Thomas Yates’ map of 1793, redrawn by M. G. Sayer, 1966 (from the cover of Kenilworth History 1998)

Nine years before the two post-mills were constructed, a brick tower-mill was built on Tainters Hill, SP290721. This mill battled on, driven by the wind, grinding corn for the inhabitants of Kenilworth for seventy-six years until it succumbed to the power of steam. Unlike its fellow post-mills, conversion was possible. In 1854 the conversion was implemented.

A black and white sketch of this mill exists. It shows it with ‘common’ or canvas sails, a pitched roof type cap but without any method of turning the cap into the wind. It seems to be purely an artist’s impression, and one from memory. Quite probably it had canvas sails, not the ‘Patent’ sails as the Lincolnshire and Norfolk windmills later had; they were an invention in 1807 of William Cubit, later Sir William. The cap would have had curved rafters; as it is shown, there would have hardly have been enough room for the large brake wheel under it. In Lincolnshire the caps were usually ‘ogee’ shaped, while in Norfolk they were upturned ‘transom’ boat shaped with the wind shaft projecting out of the transom end. Warwickshire windmills were usually similar to the Norfolk type.

Balsall Common tower windmill has this boat type cap, with a transom at the back as well to accommodate a large wheel and chain which enabled the cap to be turned by hand from the ground. The tower-mill on Tainters Hill most likely had a cap of this type, with a wheel and chain. If it had a ‘fantail’, a small six or more bladed fan at right angles to the main sails, the artist would certainly have remembered this feature and shown it on his sketch.

There is the wonderful tale of the early eighteen hundreds when this old tower mill driven by the wind still ground flour for local bread making, of Gerry O’Hea who, as a youth, nearly lost his life showing off his pluck and lack of fear to his friends by catching hold of a passing revolving sail. Unfortunately for Gerry, when releasing his hold he became caught up and revolved with the sail until the miller, hearing his cries for help, stopped the mill and rescued the lad.

In 1883 the Kenilworth Water Company was formed. The old mill, having ceased working, was seen to be an ideal structure on which to fit a water tank. In 1884 the cap was removed, the tower raised from about forty feet to about fifty feet and a 26,000 gallon tank was placed on the top.

The Kenilworth U.D.C., in 1922, purchased the water undertaking. Electric pumps replaced the steam driven ones and in 1925, because of the increased demand for water by the growing population of Kenilworth, the original tank was replaced by a new 500,000 gallon tank. By 1963 the Council’s responsibility for the water supply was passed to the South Warwickshire Water Board. The ‘water tower’ by that time had gone out of use and was sold and turned into a residence in 1973.

In 1935 a half full-size model of the smock-mill at Dyke, Lincolnshire, was built on the site of the old Crackley post-mill on the Common for the late Lord Kenilworth by Messrs. Hunts of Soham, Cambs. The director of operations was the late Mr. Rex Wailes, a pioneer of industrial archaeology and president of the Newcomen Society from 1953 to 1955. This large model remained there until it was demolished in 1964.

Smock Mill Replica on the Common
Drawing by Rob Steward of the half-size model of the smock mill at Dyke, Lincolnshire, which stood on Kenilworth Common between 1935 and 1964

Again for the uninitiated, a ‘smock’ mill is like a tower mill, but instead of the tower being built of brickwork it is made of timber and usually octagonal in plan. The whole was clad with lapped weatherboarding and more often than not painted white, giving the appearance of a miller’s ‘smock’.

Research has failed to find out who the millers of the post mills were between 1778 and 1880. A will, dated 15th June 1793, shows that at that time, the windmill on Tainters Common and a malt-house in New Way (later New Street) belonged to William Parker of Kenilworth, a baker, and was left to his mother Susannah Parker. His mother died 15th April 1796 and the ownership seems to have passed to his brother John Parker, a baker of Birmingham, and his sister Susannah, wife of John Gee. Although one gets the impression that William Parker died in middle age, he was possibly the first owner, building the mill when he was, perhaps, about the age of thirty-five. Three other names appear to be likely candidates for Tainters Hill tower-mill. The first is William Homan who lived in New Street in 1835, the second is Mark Sturley, a corn miller in 1850, who also lived in New Street, the third is James Grant whose address, in 1866, was Gravel Pits, Coventry Road, a miller. Was it Mark Sturley who converted the mill to steam power in 1854, or did James Grant take it over in 1854 and convert it? John Boddington was also a miller living at Mill End in 1841. But he worked at the watermill. He later took over the ‘Engine’ pub from Edward Boddington.

In 1969 the K.H.A.S. had the opportunity to visit the ‘water tower’ and made a very quick survey.

Part of Rouncil Lane was once called Millfield Lane. The name Millfield suggests that there may have been a windmill here at some time. To the north of this part of the lane is a slight knoll, rising about 15 metres (50 feet) above the stream which is four or five fields away further north. It is not the ideal place for a windmill but not out of the question. There was also a ‘Miller’s Field’. But in 1756 there was a John Miller.

Some of our readers may have further information about these old windmills which they may like to tell us so it can be added to our knowledge of the subject.

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