St John’s – Then & Now

St John's
St John’s

This sedate looking scene of the St John’s end of town shows a horse and cart heading towards the direction of Warwick, watched over by an elderly gentleman in a top hat. A lady in fine attire and an elegant hat walks alongside on the pavement. A child in a smock is ambling along in the middle of the road, a pursuit which wouldn’t be encouraged today! A gas lamp stands at the centre of the cross roads. Then, as now, the railway runs past the rear of the church but when the ‘then’ photo was taken there were fields between the railway and Windy Arbour.

According to the St John’s church website, the foundation stone for the church itself was laid in August 1851 and the church was consecrated in 1854. The website adds that the church was built “for the princely sum of £5,000 to cater for a growing class of artisans, who may not have been overly welcome elsewhere”, which perhaps provides a little glimpse into the social history of the area at the time compared to the much older parish of St Nicholas to the north.

On the extreme left of the photo is the Forge Cottage at number 200 Warwick Road, once farrier William Beck’s premises, which has been Grade II listed since November 1971. The listing describes it as “Early C19. Whitewashed brick, tiles. Cottage 2 storeys with corbelled cornice, 2 windows, ground floor sash and casement, both under cambered arches, 1st floor casements, all with glazing bars. Forge one storey, sash with glazing bars.”

Some recommended reading regarding the St John’s area must include Paul Byron Norris and Arthur Frodsham’s book Jackender (Odibourne Press, 1995), so named after the nickname ascribed to the people of the parish, as opposed to Jackdaws (castle area) and Moorhens (Mill Enders).

Similarly, Peter Ashley and Graham Gould’s book Another One is Born (published by Peter J Ashley and © Graham Gould, 2011) gives a vivid account of the unique community of St John’s from 1930 to 1960.

The area was not short of a pub or two. Out of shot to the right of the photo, in what is today Camden House conference centre, was once the Horse & Jockey. Just behind the smithy was the old Malt Shovel, which closed in 1923 and is today a residential cottage displaying the name on a plaque beside the front door. A little further on, of course, is the Green Man which today operates under the Ember Inns brand in a somewhat tamer incarnation of its former self.

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Lord Leycester’s Lodge – Then & Now

Lord Leycester's Lodge
Lord Leycester’s Lodge

Possibly the saddest casualty of the November 1941 Luftwaffe parachute mine, after the tragic loss of life itself of course, was the wonderful property at 1 Borrowell Lane known as Lord Leycester’s Lodge, shown here in an early 20th century postcard view.

The origins of Lord Leycester’s Lodge are somewhat lost in the mists of time. There are some unverified suggestions that it acted as a hunting lodge to the castle itself, but it’s far from clear if this was the case and indeed whether Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (circa 1533 to 1588) had any actual connection to it.

Nevertheless, the lodge was an elegant timber framed construction with a long history. Stephen Wallsgrove’s wonderfully researched book Kenilworth 1086 – 1756 (published by the author, 1991) contains records of deeds of ownership right back to 1581 by a John Brabande. Over the years Stephen records that it was conveyed to new owners along with the Eagle & Child pub situated next door on The Square and subsequently the Green Dragon at Abbey End. Later still the nearby school house on Borrowell Lane and Edwards Charity was set up within grounds owned by the lodge. Also, during its long history it had a malthouse and timber yard within its grounds.

A very sorry looking photograph of the shattered remains of the lodge can be seen on Robin Leach’s WWII website, taken through the gutted remnants of the chemist’s shop on the opposite side of the road. John Drew recorded in Kenilworth – A Manor of the King (Pleasaunce Press, 1971) “The middle of Leicester’s Lodge fell in while the writer was standing in front of it. Its walls were still standing and the magnificent porch remained complete”. Eventually it was pulled down altogether.

After the war the lodge was replaced in a similar 1950s dark brick, flat roofed style to match the rest of Abbey End. The line of the old driveway seems to have been preserved as vehicular access to the rear of the shops.

Several of the premises directly behind the clock tower in the ‘then’ photo survived in a dilapidated state for over a decade before being demolished.

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Poundland – Then & Now

18-24 The Square, Poundland
18-24 The Square, Poundland

The chipping away of pre-20th Century buildings on Warwick Road during the last 75 years has left us with numerous Then & Now examples such as this one. Listed building status didn’t exist until the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and even then it only really applied to exceptional historic properties. Local conservation pressure groups only really started springing up in the mid 1960s when old buildings not covered by the listing process started regularly becoming targets of developers and town planners, who were not overly concerned with character and aesthetics. Even then they were often powerless to intervene or simply resigned to picking their battles over the more alarming demolition schemes.

The body that is today KHAS started out in 1962 as the Kenilworth Society Historical Study Group, an offshoot of the Kenilworth Society whose founding aim was to organise talks and open meetings about local matters. However, a historical society staffed by volunteers has to choose carefully which schemes to lend its objections to so it can focus its efforts on the most deserving cases. A search through the society’s early newsletters from the 1960s and 1970s does not reveal any documented objections raised to developments like those shown here. The Society was gearing up for a fight to preserve Little Virginia in 1973 which took precedence.

Later on, members of the Society were at least able to inspect the fabric of buildings before they were demolished to discover whether they contained remnants of timber frames or sandstone walls, suggesting the building was older than its facade might suggest. The adjoining property Over The Moon (16 The Square, extreme right of the ‘now’ image) was recently found to have an ancient sandstone interior wall, as detailed in Norman Stevens’ article in Kenilworth History 2017. Another example; the facade of The Lion pub is not dissimilar to that of the Kenilworth General Supplies building shown here. However, The Lion is in fact a listed building containing timber framing and sandstone walls, showing that its is in fact a much older building with a later facade.

So, unless some enlightened individual took it upon themselves to survey such buildings and raise objections to their demolition where warranted, or at the very least record what was to be destroyed, all we are left with is old photographs and unanswered questions over the nature of the buildings we have lost.

The site is numbered as 18-24 The Square. In the 1970s the Keymarket supermarket chain opened a store on this site, built in a what might be described as a brutalist style. Keymarket was in turn bought out by Gateway which was itself bought out by Somerfield, during the course of which the site was rebuilt largely as we see it today before becoming a branch of Co-Operative Food. However, since the arrival of the likes of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose chains such as these have been pushed out of the town. Discount stores now rule the roost and the site was first taken over by The 99p Stores and is currently occupied by the Poundland discount store.

Thanks to Chris Lillington from the Kenilworth Weekly News for permission to reprint this image and also to Robin Leach for providing it to KHAS.

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The Clock Tower – Then & Now

The Clock Tower, 1906
The Clock Tower, 1906

This unusual postcard, dated 1906, shows the clock tower in The Square during its construction. The scaffolding and hoardings are still in place, the stonework appears to have been completed but the clock faces and weather vane are yet to be added.

In the background we can see the buildings of Abbey End as they appeared before they were destroyed in the blitz of November 1941. According to the 1939 Kelly’s Directory listings quoted by Robin Leach’s WWII website these included A & F Hanson, Music dealers; Daniels, Trustam and Ward, Dentists, Gilbert Morgan, Wine & spirit merchant and Arthur J Cooke, Grocer just shortly before their destruction.

Robin Leach’s book Kenilworth People & Places vol 1 (Rookfield Publications, 2011) contains a detailed account of how George Marshall Turner, a wealthy local owner of a successful Birmingham based drapery business, became a benefactor to the town. He funded the construction of the clock tower in memory of his late wife.  The finished clock tower was unveiled in January 1907.

Following the destruction caused by the Luftwaffe parachute mine in November 1941 the crown of the clock tower was deemed unsafe, and was pulled down using the local fire ladder.

In its damaged form, the continued existence of the clock tower was by no means assured, despite its status as a local landmark from which buses would leave and under which meetings would be arranged. KHAS newsletter no. 26 from 1967 records how even the Society was split over its future: “Firstly, the Clock Tower. Before it was decided to defer the decision with regard to its future, the matter was discussed by the Committee. It was thought that the view of the Society was unlikely to be unanimous. This was tested at the next meeting, July 17th , when without prior discussion, I asked for a show of hands. Of those who voted, 14 were in favour of the Clock staying, and 7 in favour of it going. Unless there is a later change of heart either way, we will not be able to present a united view. I should add that there is no special reason why we should.”

Thankfully, the clock tower was restored. In 1973 the stone crown was reinstated and in 1974 a local blacksmith constructed a replacement weather vane.

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Talisman Square Plans – Then & Now

Talisman Square Billboard, 1965
Talisman Square Billboard, 1965

The ‘then’ image above shows a photo of the somewhat tattered billboard that stood at the entrance to Talisman Square as it was being built in 1965. It can clearly be seen in this previous Then & Now pairing showing the building of the square from Warwick Road.

The text of the billboard proclaimed the forthcoming pedestrian shopping precinct and car park, indicating that some shops were by 1965 already open. Talisman Square replaced the old tannery buildings and almshouses which fronted onto Warwick Road, both of which can be made out on this aerial Then & Now comparison.

The ‘now’ photo is taken from Google Maps, showing the equivalent aerial view, taken in 2016. The south and east sides remain true to the original plan, albeit revamped. The north side has been demolished altogether, awaiting rebuilding of larger shop units that will narrow the square to approximately a road width. The West side remains as Boots, extended southwards to form a larger store footprint, and the new greengrocer building has been built into the Warwick Road entrance to the square.

The lesser used Bing Maps view of the scene (below) shows Talisman Square before the revamp, still true to the original design. In the Bing aerial view the preparation and demolition work for the building of Waitrose has begun, with the site fenced off and the excavations commenced for the underground car park.

Talisman Square, Bing Maps
Talisman Square, Bing Maps
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Hyde Road – Then & Now

Hyde Road
Hyde Road

This Then & Now pairing shows the open land now occupied by Hyde Road. The ‘then’ photo shows what looks like an idyllic view across the fields, over the mill brook at the bottom end of School Lane and across to Lower Ladyes Hills and the Common in the distance.

At the bottom of the valley can be seen the mansard roof of Noah’s Ark which stood just to the left of the lower entrance from Hyde Road onto School Lane, where the mill brook curved round sharply to follow the line of School Lane down to the weir by the bridge at Manor Road. The hillside shown slopes gently down from Upper Rosemary Hill towards the junction of School Lane and Manor Road.

According to Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton in A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names (Third Edition, Rookfield Publications, 2015) Hyde Road was built on what was known as Noah’s Ark Allotments, named after the Noah’s Ark house mentioned above. It was build as part of the ‘Houses for Heroes’ campaign to house WWI veterans and opened in 1921, becoming fully occupied by 1923.

Hyde Road was so-named in honour of the Hyde Earls of Clarendon, the Villiers family, who had held the castle since Charles II granted it to Laurence Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon in 1665. The authoritative account on this, and other ‘Houses for Heroes’ developments, can be found in Robin Leach’s book Kenilworth People and Places – Volume 2 (Rookfield Publications, 2013).

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Drovers Inn – Then & Now

The former Drovers Inn, Clinton Lane
The former Drovers Inn, Clinton Lane

This property, which hugs the bend of Clinton Lane opposite the entrance to Avenue Road, was once an inn. As Robin Leach records on his Victorian Kenilworth website it was once known as the Drovers Inn, having been used by Welsh drovers, although further dates and details of the pub itself are hard to come by. According to the Local Drove Roads website, it doubled as a turnpike and hence drovers are said to have dodged behind the row of buildings to avoid the tolls.

Clinton Lane once formed a link in the great chain that was The Welsh Road; a drovers road used to drive cattle from as far away as the rich soils of Anglesey over 250 miles to wealthy customers at market in the South East. Drovers and their herds would follow the line of Watling Street from Shrewsbury and over Cannock Chase to Brownhills, from where the Welsh Road ran through Stonnall, Castle Bromwich, Stonebridge, Kenilworth, Cubbington, Offchurch, Southam, Priors Hardwick, Boddington, Culworth, Sulgrave, Syresham, Biddlesden, and Buckingham.

This means that the Welsh Road followed the line of the modern A452 as it departed from the A5 Watling Street near Brownhills, along a stretch known today as the Chester Road, before entering Kenilworth down Clinton Lane and passing out the other side over Chesford Bridge, where a ford has existed since ancient times with probable Roman connotations, and up Bericote Road.

References to the name Welsh Road can still be found along the way. South of Kenilworth, the 20 mile stretch between Cubbington and the bridge over the River Cherwell near Culworth is still called Welsh Road and Welsh Road East. Further north, a modern development in Balsall Common has also assumed the name Welsh Road.

According to the Our Warwickshire website the Welsh Road’s usage as a drover’s road would have dated to way back before the Elizabethan era, when the castle was very much still occupied. So, the question of which route it took through Kenilworth is an interesting one. The direct route from the Drovers Inn on Clinton lane would be straight through the castle’s gatehouse and through outer ward of Kenilworth Castle, out through Mortimer’s Tower over the Tiltyard, via the The Brays and then onwards down Warwick Road towards Chesford Bridge. The modern route through Castle Road via the ford wouldn’t have existed for much of the period when the Welsh Road was in operation as the area was flooded as part of the castle moat. But if the route through the castle’s outer ward itself wasn’t permitted, then which route did the drovers and their cattle take? Perhaps drovers went via the long since lost pack horse bridge that once stood next to the modern day swimming pool? Alternatively, resistivity work in the Abbey Fields shows that there was almost certainly a ford immediately west of Town Bridge, which would have been an ancient route. Fieldgate Lane/Beehive Hill linked the northern Welsh Road to this ford and its southern continuation.

The 250 mile journey down the Welsh Road had to be undertaken in stages of 12-15 miles a day, taking three weeks to complete. By 1810 number of cattle being driven out of Anglesey had risen to over 14,000, so just imagine for a moment having potentially thousands of cattle wending their way through the very centre of Kenilworth every year!

Behind the Inn in the mid 1960s ‘then’ photo can be seen the old timber-framed and sandstone cottages of 81 – 83 Clinton Lane before their demolition, presumably for a road widening scheme that evidently never happened. The former Drovers Inn somehow escaped this fate.

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Little Chase Cottage – Then & Now

Little Chase Cottage
Little Chase Cottage

Little Chase Cottage, and its partner Chase Cottage (out of shot, left) are welcome survivors from the pre-conservation era of demolition and modernisation in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that swept away several historic properties in the area. They stand on Clinton Lane, which forms the approach to the Castle for travellers coming from the Birmingham and Balsall Common direction.

According to Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton in A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names (Third Edition, Rookfield Publications, 2015) Clinton Lane was known as Ram Lane or Cripplegate Lane, where a cripplegate is a gate that allows sheep through but not larger animals.

The name Clinton Lane today relates to Geoffrey de Clinton, chamberlain of Henry I of England  who founded the Castle and the Abbey, and his son who founded the later borough of Kenilworth clustered around Warwick Road. The Clinton family name relates to a bastardised version of the name of Geoffrey’s seat at Glympton, a village and civil parish on the River Glyme about 3 miles (5 km) north of Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

The Chase reference in the names of these cottages relates to Robert Dudley’s 740 acre hunting chase which swept across the fields behind these cottages, including Chase Lane of course, which is visible in the background of both images.

The ‘then’ picture captures the after effects of the demolition of some adjacent brick properties to the north of Little Chase Cottage. The following excerpt from the  OS 25 inch map, 1892 – 1905 shows the demolished properties in red:

Clinton Lane OS Map 1892 - 1905
Clinton Lane Map 1892 – 1905

For reference, the surviving former Drovers Inn is the inverted L shaped building just south of the ‘170’ map marking. The properties north of the ‘170’ marking have also since disappeared, with their successors set back from the road. Presumably all of this demolition related to road widening schemes which never came to fruition, as cars passing through this stretch of Clinton Lane still have to stop and wait for vehicles coming in the opposite direction to overtake parked cars today. Little Chase Cottage and is neighbour presumably survived because they were set a little further back from the road than those around them that were demolished.

Sadly, our intrepid 1960s photographer was too late to capture the demolished properties on film before they were reduced to rubble. The plot is now occupied for garages serving the Kenilcourt flats on the right hand side of the ‘now’ image which, as shown in the map above, were built on the site of former allotment gardens.

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The Old Cottage, Clinton Lane – Then & Now

The Old Cottage, 81 to 83 Clinton Lane
The Old Cottage, 81 to 83 Clinton Lane

Time and time again in these Then & Now images, we see how the push for modernity in the 1950s, 60s and 70s swept away old properties of historic value and local character. A nation confident of a better future, with a buoyant economy for the first time since WWII, sought to clear away the old and bring in the new. In the days before the conservation movement came onto the scene, it was all too easy to demolish a damp, draughty old cottage and build functional modern houses in its place. Mutters of disaffection over this loss of character and heritage usually fell on the deaf ears of the town planners.

You might imagine that a timber framed and sandstone cottage within spitting distance of the Castle would survive such a push for modernity, but you’d be wrong. The cottages at 81 – 83 Clinton Lane, shown here in the mid 1960’s ‘then’ photo, stood on Clinton Lane less than a quarter of a mile from the Castle. Both photos are taken from the mouth of Avenue Road looking back towards Clinton Lane.

Harry Sunley records in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odiborne Press, 1989) that a timber-framed and sandstone building he refers to as The Old Cottage was demolished in 1965. Today the plot is occupied by properties numbered 85 and 87 Clinton Lane.

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Bridge Street from Kenilworth Hall – Then & Now

Bridge Street from Kenilworth Hall
Bridge Street from Kenilworth Hall

This slightly sinister looking scene shows Bridge Street, presumably taken from Kenilworth Hall. The ‘then’ photo shows what might conceivably be a local bobby peering suspiciously round a gas lamp at the photographer. Warwickshire, like all counties nationally, had been forced to provide a constabulary by Act of Parliament since 1858.

Kenilworth Hall was owned by William Thomson Pears who, as was covered in the Kenilworth History 2016 article ‘Mythbusters’ had no connection to the family that owned Pears Soap, despite a widely held misconception to the contrary. Our Pears made his money as a solicitor.

Behind the ‘constable’ can be seen the area of Abbey Fields now occupied by the Bridge Street car park and the avenue of lime trees running up to St Nicholas’ church. As per the recent St Nicholas Church Then & Now, the absence of this avenue of trees helps date our ‘then’ picture to no later than the turn of the century. The car park wall was apparently rebuilt in about 1925 when the Abbey excavations were completed and there was a lot of loose stone about, which might explain why it’s difficult to match up the wall exactly between the two photos.

The Friends of Abbey Fields website details how the land bordering Bridge Street shown here was, just like the parcel of land in the Bridge Street from Abbey Fields Then & Now, donated in 1884 to William Evans and Joseph Roberts in their capacity as Churchwardens of the Parish of Kenilworth, as trustees, by Henry Street, George Marshall Turner and others.

In the distance, on the horizon of the ‘then’ photo, can be seen the distinctive three-gabled sandstone house on Abbey Hill near the War Memorial (top, centre). Also visible on the horizon is the 220ft tannery chimney (top, left). It fell in 1894 and  was replaced by a shorter one, thus our ‘then’ photo must pre-date 1894.

Strictly speaking, if the ‘now’ photo was taken from the correct vantage point from up in Kenilworth Hall that it may be that the correct match for the position of the ‘policeman’ would actually be a bit further back than shown here, about where the air raid shelter is today. The location of the car park steps does not assist us to align the two images, unfortunately, since they were not inserted into the wall until 1984.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional dating information for this article.

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Abbey Fields & St Nicholas’ Church – Then & Now

St Nicholas' from across Finham Brook
St Nicholas’ from across Finham Brook

One thing that is apparent when trying to recreate Then & Now pictures is how much leafier today’s scenes are than those of yesteryear. Sometimes it’s difficult to match the exact vantage point for the ‘now’ photo because it would result in a photo containing a wall of foliage that obscures the scene to be captured! This is definitely the case with the Then & Now pairing above.

The ‘then’ photo shows a late Victorian long shot of St Nicholas’ Church and the Abbey Fields with an equivalent modern image taken from the top of the grassy embankment on Rosemary Hill. Today there is a line of trees along Finham Brook which would completely obscure this view in mid-summer, so the ‘now’ photo was taken in early February 2017 to at least get a line of sight to the church spire. In the foreground of both photos the line of Finham Brook can be seen.

The ‘then’ photo can be dated to before the turn of the century, purely based on the absence of the avenue of lime trees which now runs from Bridge Street up to St Nicholas’ church, bordering the car park today. A picture of these lime trees as saplings can be seen in A Kenilworth Collection (Odibourne Press, 1986) by Helen Scott and Richard Storey in a postcard which is dated at 1911, so that narrows the date down to around this period.

In fact, Robin Leach has helped out with dating our ‘then’ photo a bit more accurately. He points out that the churchyard wall is partly built but incomplete so so the image must be post 1885 but there is a hedge across the middle so it is pre-1897. Also, he observes that the photo was taken before Abbotsfield House was built in 1895, which today looks imposingly over Abbey Fields. The big tree visible at the top of the hill was famously taken down in the 1990s too, he adds.

Given the elevation of the church spire against the horizon it can be deduced that the ‘then’ image photographer was situated up in a high window of the newly built Abbey Hotel, built between 1885 and 1886, situated immediately behind the ‘now’ image’s vantage point. Initially named the Bowling Green Hotel after the hotel it replaced when Priory Road was knocked through the site, it was renamed Abbey Hotel in January 1887.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional information for this article.

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Bridge Street from Abbey Fields – Then & Now

Bridge Street from Abbey Fields
Bridge Street from Abbey Fields

This postcard scene shows Bridge Street and Rosemary Hill from the Abbey Fields. The ‘then’ postcard must date to about 1905 or 1906, as the the avenue of trees along the path between Bridge Street and Abbey Hill is newly planted.

Following the dissolution of the Abbey of St Mary, Kenilworth in 1538, the land formerly belonging to the Abbey fell into private hands.  It remained largely undeveloped, being used variously for farmland and private ownership. Between 1884 and 1974 the various parcels of land that constitute the Abbey Fields today were donated by these private owners for recreation and pleasure purposes and are maintained by Warwick District Council under the control of English Heritage.

The Friends of Abbey Fields website details how the section shown here, situated bordering Abbey Hill and Rosemary Hill, “was donated in 1884 to William Evans and Joseph Roberts in their capacity as Churchwardens of the Parish of Kenilworth, as trustees, by Henry Street, George Marshall Turner and others”.

In the distance in the ‘then’ image we can see the buildings of Bridge Street and Rosemary Hill, somewhat obscured by mature trees in the ‘now’ photos. On the extreme left is J.C. Clarke’s Wheelwrights, long since demolished for now private residences. The remaining buildings remain largely unchanged up as far as the white gables of the former millinery shop that once stood at the entrance to School Lane, since demolished for road widening (right of centre). On the extreme right of the ‘then’ image we can see the rose window of the former Rosemary Hill Chapel, built in 1816, which was converted in 1945 and since heavily modified to become the the Priory Theatre.

On the horizon of the ‘then’ image we can see the former windmill and later water tower on Tainter’s Hill, which is now a private residence, now obscured by trees. In the foreground of the ‘then’ image, a hedge line can be seen relating to the former agricultural usage of the land, the lower portion of which still exists in the clump of trees behind the dog walkers in the ‘now’ image.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional dating information for this article.

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Rosemary Hill – Then & Now

Rosemary Hill and the Milliners
Rosemary Hill and the Milliners

This then and now view shows Rosemary Hill looking towards Bridge Street.

According to Helen Scott & Richard Storey in ‘A Second Kenilworth Collection’ (Odibourne Press, 1988) the elegantly gabled building shown (centre) was a millinery shop that once stood at the corner of School Lane and Rosemary Hill.  It was demolished for road widening to improve access to School Lane. Harry Sunley records in ‘A Kenilworth Chronology’ (Odibourne Press, 1989) that numbers 58 – 60 Rosemary Hill were demolished around 1920, which presumably relates to the demolished millinery shop.

This map from 1906 shows the extent to which the millinery shop narrowed the entrance to School Lane.

Map of School Lane and Rosemary Hill, 1906
Map of School Lane and Rosemary Hill, 1906

Directly behind the millinery shop, on the other side of the entrance to School Lane, is the sandstone Number 2, Bridge Street which has at various times been used as a market house and town gaol, before becoming the private residence it is today.

It is noticeable that the left hand side of the two pictures differ quite substantially. As this poem relating to Kenilworth at the turn of the century describes, Rosemary Hill was narrow and dark. This helps us date the ‘then’ picture as having been taken prior to road widening works carried out to the upper portions of the hill. Robin Leach tells us in Kenilworth People & Places – Volume 1 (Rookfield Publications, 2011) that this road widening work was embarked upon following a couple of small land slips from the embankment at the top of the hill in late 1912 and early 1913. Also, in the distance, the avenue of lime trees leading up to St Nicholas’ church has been planted, which means that it must be post 1904.

The gate on the extreme right of the images leads to 6a and 6b Rosemary Hill, next door to the former Rosemary Hill Chapel (now Priory Theatre) which, since the 19th Century, have been known as the Chapel Yard. For a fuller account of the history of this area, see Val Millman’s book Chapel Yard: Cottages and Gardens, Owners and Occupants, 1780 – 2015 (Dr V.E Millman, 2015).

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional dating information for the ‘then’ photo.

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Rosemary Mews, School Lane – Then & Now

Rosemary Mews
Rosemary Mews

This pair of Then & Now photos shows a small factory on the south side of School Lane, where Rosemary Mews is now situated.

According to A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names – Third Edition by Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton (Rookfield Publications, 2015) Rosemary Mews was developed in 1987 on the site of 1880s workshops, later used for light industry.

Robin Leach’s book Kenilworth’s  Engineering  Age (Rookfield Publications, 1995) informs us that the site used to be Dunn’s comb factory in the early-mid Victorian years. Rosemary Mews incorporates part of the former light industrial buildings.

The corner plot behind became vacant following the demolition of a former millinery shop on the corner of School Lane and Rosemary Hill to widen the entrance into School Lane itself.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo. Thanks also to Robin Leach for additional information for this article.

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Empty Plot of Liggins Bakery – Then & Now

Liggins' Bakery Demolished
Liggins’ Bakery Demolished

This somewhat forlorn picture shows the final stages of clearing the plot of the former Liggins’ Bakery site at the junction of Park Hill and Stoneleigh Road. A Midland Red bus turns from Park Hill into Albion Street and a Renault 5 starts the steep climb up the hill.

Behind can be seen the 1970s housing estate on Redfern Avenue and Stoneleigh Avenue. These houses were built to replace a batch of 50 prefabs built after WWII for returning servicemen and their families.

The former Liggins site is now occupied by flats built by the Orbit Housing Association, which manages properties for families, couples, single and older people living in a mixture of rented, leasehold, supported and home ownership properties.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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Demolition of Prefabs – Then & Now

Demolition of the Prefabs
Demolition of the Prefabs

This pair of Then & Now images shows the demolition of the estate of post-war prefabricated houses (or ‘prefabs’), just off Stoneleigh Road in the mid 1970s and the housing estate that replaced them, shot in 2016.

In case you are struggling to place the scene, the modern day vantage point is at the junction of Stoneleigh Avenue and Redfern Avenue. In the distance can be seen the backs of the houses on Stoneleigh Avenue and on the horizon is the windmill on Tainter’s Hill.

The prefab site was sandwiched in between the embankment of Park Hill as it rises up to cross the railway line to the south, the railway itself to the east, Mill End to the north and Stoneleigh Road to the west.

According to A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names – Third Edition by Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton (Rookfield Publications, 2015) the Stoneleigh Avenue site, which had originally been set aside for industry, was instead used to build prefabs at the end of WWII. Fifty prefabs were built on the site and allocated to ex-servicemen and their families. Prefabs, or pre-fabricated houses, were deployed up and down the country by the government as part of measures to alleviate the post-WWII housing crisis following widespread damage to the country’s housing stock in the Blitz.

Kenilworth was one of the last places in England to get rid of its prefabs. The prefab site was eventually redeveloped in 1976 when Stoneleigh Avenue, Glendale Avenue, Redfern Avenue and the suitably patriotic Churchill Avenue were built in its place.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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Demolition of Liggins’ Bakery – Then & Now

The Demolition of Liggins’ Bakery
The Demolition of Liggins’ Bakery

This Then & Now pairing shows the demolition of Joseph Liggins’ bakery buildings which stood at the corner of Park Hill and Stoneleigh Road, opposite the Wyandote pub.

The Victorian buildings of the Albion Street area have suffered badly over the last 50 years, culminating in the recent demolition of the Albion Tavern. The Victorian Liggins’ bakery building was seemingly somewhat needlessly demolished in the late 1980s having stood empty for some time. The sites is now occupied by flats built in an ill-matched red brick approximation of the surrounding building styles.

Helen Scott and Richard Storey record in A Third Kenilworth Collection (Odiborne Press, 1989) that the bakery’s demolition and redevelopment was courtesy of the Orbit Housing Association. A picture accompanying the piece shows the yard to the rear of the premises shortly before its demolition in the late 1980s, having latterly been used as the depot of a removals firm

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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Tainters Hill – Then & Now

Tainters Hill windmill, later water tower, 1963 and 2016
Tainters Hill windmill, later water tower, 1963 and 2016

This then and now shows the windmill on Tainters Hill, built in 1778. Rob Steward records in Kenilworth History 2000 – 2001 that “this mill battled on, driven by the wind, grinding com for the inhabitants of Kenilworth for seventy-six years until it succumbed to the power of steam”.

Rob also speculates, that whilst the “Balsall Common tower windmill has [a] 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”. Regarding the ownership of the windmill, Rob goes on to say that  “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.”

The windmill was converted to a steam powered mill in 1854. It is shown in the 1963 ‘then’ photo as it appeared having been converted to a water tower in 1885 / 85, which was used to supply Kenilworth’s water, pumped from an adit which collected water from various springs around the Common.

Robin Leach tells us in Kenilworth History 2013 (in a piece extracted from Kenilworth People and Places, Volume 2) that “The initial water supply was from an adit, 280ft long, 5ft wide and 16ft deep, cut in the rock to collect water from a large number of springs, in particular one known as ‘top spring’, on the Common. The adit ran roughly parallel to the brook at a distance of about 5ft from it at the western end and 3ft at the eastern end. It was estimated that 5,000 gallons an hour in the dry season, and 8,000 in the wet, could be pumped to the water tower situated in the formerly wind- and subsequently steam- mill on Tainters Hill.”

The water tower was later converted to a residence by Michael & Ann Hill in 1973.

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Liggins’ Bakery, Park Hill – Then & Now

Joseph Liggins’ Bakery, Park Hill
Joseph Liggins’ Bakery, Park Hill

Joseph Liggins’ Bakery stood at the corner of Park Hill and Stoneleigh Road, opposite St Barnabas’ church and the Wyandotte pub. The bakery premises was formerly Parkhill House.

Robin Leach records some details of Joseph Liggins in his book Kenilworth People & Places Volume 2 (Rookfield Publications, 2013). In the census of 1871, Liggins was living in retirement in Thornby House on Windy Arbour. He had achieved master baker status and employed people as far afield as Bedworth and at a mill on the outskirts of Coventry. By 1881 he had come out of retirement and was running the bakery on Park Hill.

The bakery was demolished in the late 1980s.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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The Brethren Meeting Rooms – Then & Now

The Brethren Meeting Rooms, The Close
The Brethren Meeting Rooms, The Close

This Then & Now pairing shows the site of the Brethren Meeting Rooms near the junction of The Close and Park Road. It was one of a spate of ‘tin tabernacle’ constructions built during the mid 19th century as a result of the development of corrugated galvanised iron for the use of constructing prefabricated buildings. A similar example locally of an Iron Room is St Barnabas Church, built in 1885, which still sits at the junction of Park Hill and Albion Street. Many such Iron Rooms are now listed.

Richard Storey and Helen Scott’s book A Kenilworth Collection (Odibourne Press, 1986) contains another pair of images of the Brethren Meeting Rooms and records that there is a mention in the 1883 directory of “The Iron Room, near the Washbrook, occupied by the Brethren providing accommodation for 150 people”.

The term “Brethren” is fairly ambiguous, as it was a name adopted by a wide range of mainly Christian religious groups throughout history. A loose, overlapping group of like-minded independent church assemblies known as The Plymouth Brethren, which can trace its roots to 1820s Dublin, spawned a number of offshoot organisations such as the Open and Exclusive Brethren, the Exclusive Brethren and the Open (and Closed) Brethren. An offshoot from this network of church assemblies may been the congregation responsible for building this assembly hall in Kenilworth in the mid 19th century.

An extract from A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred (Victoria County History, London, 1951) on the British History Online website records that as of that date the building was occupied by what it refers to as The Free Brethren.

The ever reliable A Kenilworth Chronology by Harry Sunley (Odiborne Press, 1989) records that The Brethren Meeting Rooms were demolished for flats in 1982.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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The Common – Then & Now

Forge Road from the Common
Forge Road from the Common

Harry Sunley tells us in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odiborne Press, 1989) that various of the common lands of Kenilworth were enclosed by act of Parliament in 1755, with the exception of “forty acres of Hilly Wast Ground [which] are to remain as unenclosed and common land so that the poor of the parish should from time to time for ever hereafter use, exercise and enjoy a free and constant right to get Furse Goss or Fern off the same…”. In 1882 a strip of this land was sold for £20 for building the Berkswell railway line.

The Common was later conveyed free of charge to the Kenilworth Urban District Council (KUDC) in 1932 by the Earl of Clarendon, the lord of the manor, with the KUDC paying £200 to cover his legal costs.

In the same book, Harry Sunley also records that the “The mill was fed from Finham Brook via a channel that ran alongside School Lane and The Close. It was last run just after World War II.” It was leased by JG Eagles.

As per previous T&N posts, Forge Road was established in 1965 following the demolition of the Mill at Mill End in April 1964. It was so named because of the blacksmith’s forge which fronted onto Stoneleigh Road. The forge site is occupied by Just Tyres at the time of writing.

The route shown in these pictures through the Common was a well-used route – past the mill, ford the brook, up over the common and on to Coventry. Robin Leach’s book Victorian Kenilworth and its People (Rookfield Publications, 2006) contains tales of accidents there including a horse and cart swept away in a flood, and a young girl likewise who was rescued further downstream in the fellmongers.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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The Square from the Clock Tower – Then & Now

The Square, Kenilworth
The Square, Kenilworth

The Square must have been established along with the building of the new Castle End borough on lands granted to the de Clintons as lords of the castle manor in the early 12th Century as a result of a charter issued by the pope on land issued to them by Henry I.

Residents of the Castle End borough owed rent to the lords resident in the castle as lord of the manor, as opposed to the older Abbey Manor district whose residents owed rent to the canon of the Abbey as lord of their manor.

According to Stephen Wallsgrove’s book Kenilworth 1086 – 1756 (published by S.G Wallsgrove, 1991) by 1268 the Castle End borough had been sufficiently established to be awarded a market charter and fair by Henry III. This stretch of road is still known as The Square from Abbey End as far down as Station Road.

A market cross once stood at the spot where the clock tower now stands (behind the camera). The clock tower was unveiled in 1906, having been presented by Birmingham draper George Marshall Turner, who lived in Montpellier House on Abbey Hill, as a memorial to his late wife.

From this angle, the ‘now’ photo of the square looks relatively unchanged from the ‘then’ shot. However, the buildings on the extreme left replaced those destroyed in the Abbey End landmine of November 1940. Many of the buildings in the distance on the right hand side of the road were demolished in the 1960s and 1970s, but the foreground at least retains much of the character of the old market square.

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Building of Talisman Square – Then & Now

The building of Talisman Square
The building of Talisman Square

This remarkable street scene, dated 28th November 1965, shows the building of Talisman Square in progress.

In the ‘then’ photo, both the Almshouses that used to front onto Warwick Road and the Tannery buildings behind have been demolished and building the new shopping precinct is already well under way. A sign proclaims the forthcoming pedestrian shopping precinct and car park, indicating that some shops were by this stage already open.

As per a recent then & now pairing, the original Talisman Square was double its current width, and the ‘now’ photo shows that the addition of the greengrocer’s premises onto the north side of the square (the white building with the round tower, extreme left) has eaten into some of the original plaza space.

In the ‘then’ photo two cars are parked on an otherwise quiet Warwick Road. In the 2016 photo, double yellow lines can be seen which now prevent parking in order to keep the more or less constant traffic moving more smoothly.

In the foreground of the ‘now’ image is a revamped Barclays Bank sign in exactly the same spot as its earlier ‘then’ counterpart providing some pleasing continuity between the two images.

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Noah’s Ark – Then & Now

Noah's Ark, School Lane
Noah’s Ark, School Lane

This characterful property, known locally as Noah’s Ark, was situated at 95 – 99 School Lane. It was an 18th century building with a distinctive mansard roof; a roof with sloping sides, each of which becomes steeper halfway down.

This row of houses sat at ninety degrees to School Lane, with the lower end butting up against the Mill Brook. This evidently caused the cellars to be very damp and to flood every spring as described by a KWN reader whose grandmother lived in the property up until 1964. The following map shows the course of the mill brook, now filled in, the proximity of which to Noah’s Ark (circled in red) which explains the flooding!:

Map of School Lane showing Noah's Ark (ringed)
Map of School Lane showing Noah’s Ark (ringed)

Noah’s Ark gave its name to Noah’s Ark allotments across the road between School Lane and Albion Street and later the 1920s Noah’s Ark housing scheme that became Hyde Road and its surrounding areas, built for ex-servicemen returning from WWI.

The club shown on the map above was the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers (NFDDSS) club that became first British Legion Club. It was made from army huts, convenient for all the ex-servicemen in Hyde Road.

Noah’s Ark was demolished in 1965 for the housing shown here. Had it survived today, the School Lane Fish & Chip Shop would have stood to its immediate right as viewed from the road.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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The Vaults – Then & Now

The Vaults, Station Road
The Vaults, Station Road

The Vaults, which fronts onto Station Road behind The Kings Arms & Castle. This building has a long and varied history to it.

The first incarnation of this structure was on a completely different site, originally as the town’s station opened in 1844. An engraving of this can be found on the Windows on Warwickshire website taken from the London Illustrated News on the day of the railway opening, in which the arches are immediately recognisable.

Robin Leach tells us in his book Kenilworth’s Railway Age (Odiborne Press, 1985) that in 1880 it was decided to replace the single track with a double track to alleviate bottlenecks at Coventry. A larger replacement station was completed in 1883, and the stones from the old building were acquired by the proprietor of the Kings Arms & Castle hotel and repurposed for use as refreshment rooms in their current location at the opposite end of Station Road.

It is thought that the stone provided a façade for an existing building on the site, and that the two sides of the station’s stonework were erected one on top of the other to form a structure with two floors. On the lintel it is still possible to read “Kenilworth Railway….”, this continued as ‘……Station refreshment rooms’ and quite possibly dated back to when it first opened at the rear of the Kings in the 1880s.

But that wasn’t the end of the story, by any means. The upper floor of the repurposed station building was being utilised as an assembly room. In 1912 the assembly rooms were taken over by the Royal Electric Theatre Company and opened as a cinema seating around 100, accessible from an arched doorway into a newly built vestibule next door, on the site of what is now the Wilko’s store. A 1912 showing took £3 from seats prices 1/- to 6d so it must have seated between 60 and 120. A vivid testimony of what it was like to attend “the pitchers” here can be found on the Our Warwickshire website and further reading about this phase of the building’s lifetime can be found in Robin Leach’s book Kenilworth People & Places Volume 1 (Rookfield Publications, 2011).

Following damage from the landmine in November 1940, the upper floor used for the cinema was removed. It is at this time that the corrugated iron roof pictured in our previous Then & Now image was added.

When the Kings Arms & Castle site was renovated in 1985 / 86 as the Drummonds pub complex the vault found a new lease of life and the façade of the vaults is the only bit of the site that wasn’t flattened and replaced by a replica during this renovation work. A new upper floor was added in sandstone, the difference between old and new stonework is visible in our then and now photos above.

However, by 2005 Drummonds had itself become somewhat shabby and soon closed down. After yet another revamp of the King’s Arms & Castle site in 2007, the vault building was repurposed yet again and at the time of writing it is trading as Pomeroy’s bistro.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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The Kings Arms & Castle From the Rear – Then & Now

The rear of the King's Arms & Castle
The rear of the King’s Arms & Castle

This shot of the rear of the Kings Arms & Castle shows just how much it was altered during the 1985 demolition and rebuilding. The original building, also used as the Abbey Courts Leet in the 16th century, was later extended by the addition of gables to the rear of the building which can be seen on the ‘then’ photo. However, as the 2016 ‘now’ photo shows, the 1985 rebuild completely remodelled the rear of the property, which nowadays contains flats.

Similarly, the old Vaults building out the in rear of the King’s Arms, which was by this stage almost derelict, was substantially renovated in 1985 and a missing upper floor was reinstated. When the ‘then’ photo was taken it was capped with a very temporary looking corrugated iron roof put there as part of wartime repairs. It now contains the restaurant Pomeroy’s. The rather tatty brick remains of the old Assembly Rooms vestibule extension on the extreme right of the photo was demolished for access to these flats as part of the same redevelopment. The rest of the Assembly Rooms had already been demolished in the run up to building what is now Wilko’s, formerly Bishops and then Budgens.

On the extreme left of the ‘then’ photo, a sign on the access road to the rear of the Talisman Square development states that it is a no parking zone. By 2016 this road was being used by cars to access a temporary carpark instated on the site of the demolished north side of Talisman Square, on which parking is very much permitted at the time of writing.

In the distance, Midland Bank has been rebranded as HSBC as a result of a 1992 takeover, although it appears that Midland Bank may yet return to our streets as a high street brand once more.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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Fancott’s Bakery – Then & Now

Fancott's Bakery
Fancott’s Bakery

Harry Sunley tells us in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odiborne Press, 1989) that DS Fancott established Fancott’s Bakery in the high street in 1825. It remained in the Fancott family until 1979.

The D.S. in question was David Soden Fancott, who became a master baker and a well-established figure in the town. Robin Leach’s excellent book Victorian Kenilworth and its People (Rookfield Publications, 2006) records some episode’s from his life including an application to become one of the town’s constables, providing the use of his field to the town fire brigade to test their new equipment and an unfortunate incident when his horse became started by a marching band causing it to plough into the band breaking several limbs and damaging instruments! He was sued for “wilful, careless or neglectful driving” and paid a fine of 26 shillings.

In 1969 Joan Fancott went onto be the founder president of Soroptimist International, Kenilworth & District, the local chapter of a worldwide volunteer service organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls.

The Grade-II listed building is nowadays trading as The Old Bakery, a 14-room hotel with a bar on the ground floor. It was recognised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as being one of the best pubs in Coventry and Warwickshire in 2016. The Fancott name lives on in the shape of nearby Fancott Drive, which was named as such in 1987.

Thanks to Robin Leach for additional details provided in this article.

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Lower Ladyes Hills – Then & Now

Lower Ladyes Hills
Lower Ladyes Hills

Rob Steward’s book The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth (Odiborne Press, 2000) records that the ancient brook side trackway that would later become Lower Ladyes Hills was improved by the Enclosure Award of 1756, where it is referred to the be description “One other footway leading from the North side of Odiborne Bridge along the… to the Poor’s Plot near the Wood Mill of the breadth of four feet”.

According to A Portrait of Kenilworth Street Names (Rookfield Publications, third edition in 2015) by Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton, Lower Ladyes Hills (initially called Lower Ladyes Walk) became a private road in 1866. The area was a sun trap used for the growing of strawberries. The mid-sixties ‘then’ photo shown here shows the infilling of some of those strawberry fields with new housing. The ‘now’ photo was taken in approximately the same location in September 2016.

Harry Sunley tells us in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odiborne Press, 1989) that the development of Upper Ladyes Hills commenced in 1848. This included the filling in of a thermal spring, the cause of many a damp cellar in the area, no doubt. The area along the hillside to the Common, where Lower Ladyes Hills was later established, had been used for horse racing.

As an aside, the 1960s ‘then’ picture was developed as a mirror image of the actual scene for some reason, causing much trouble for myself to try to match the corresponding ‘now’ scene vantage point. After much traipsing around the hillside trying to find the location of the houses in the background it took the eagle eyes of Robin Leach to point out that if the ‘then’ image was flipped then all would become clear! 

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Preparing to Repair the Breach in the Tiltyard, 1964 – Then & Now

The Tiltyard near Mortimer's Tower, 1964
The Tiltyard near Mortimer’s Tower, 1964

Here’s a view which is almost impossible to recreate today – a view through the breach in the tiltyard beneath Mortimer’s Tower, taken in 1964.

The ‘then’ photograph probably shows the end of the stone bridge eastern side wall in the bottom left. In which case the camera was about three metres below the general level of the ‘tiltyard’, hence why it’s not possible to perfectly match the two locations.

As per previous Then & Now postings, it’s unclear when this particular breach dates from. It could date from when Parliament ordered Colonel Hawkesworth to put the castle’s defences beyond repair in 1649, or it could date from a later collapse caused by flood waters.

The ‘then’ photo shows the truncated tiltyard mound in front of Mortimer’s Tower, which is once again the main entrance to the castle today, following the Tiltyard’s repair in 1965 when the Ministry of Public Building and Works completed filling it in again. The ‘then’ photo shows the mound stripped of grass, presumably as preparation for the repairs.

Many thanks to David Brock for his assistance in putting the accompanying text together. His work on this subject is too extensive to summarise here, but readers can find further contributions by David in the society’s annual Kenilworth History publication, such as his article “Development of the Fourth Side of the Castle” in KH2015.

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Laying the Pipes Under the Tiltyard, 1964 – Then & Now

Building the tunnels under the Tiltyard, 1964
Building the tunnels under the Tiltyard, 1964

It was widely assumed that Colonel Hawkesworth drained the mere and breached the Tiltyard dam to render the former royalist stronghold indefensible. However an article on page 32 in Kenilworth History 2015:

“The question has often been asked when the breach in the dam was made? This is not known. Hawkesworth may have just opened the sluice under the dam on a permanent basis. Then a hundred years of floods weakened the masonry and caused cavitation around the barrel vault which finally collapsed – before 1821”.

In the 1964 picture we can see the concrete pipes have been laid to culvert Finham Brook so that the breach can be filled in at last.

Many thanks to David Brock for his assistance in putting the accompanying text together. His work on this subject is too extensive to summarise here, but readers can find further contributions by David in the society’s annual Kenilworth History publication, such as his article “Development of the Fourth Side of the Castle” in KH2015.

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Filling in the Gap in the Tiltyard, 1964 – Then & Now

The Tiltyard from Mortimer's Tower, 1964
The Tiltyard from Mortimer’s Tower, 1964

The ‘then’ photo shows the preparations for filling in a gap in the castle’s Tiltyard by the Ministry of Public Building and Works in 1964 . The restored Tiltyard entrance opened in 1967, replacing the lower walkway which sits beside the Tiltyard.

The dam was probably constructed in three phases; initially circa 1125, then subsequently raised by King John and lastly the western lane and bridge possibly 17th century. It is not known when the castle’s great defensive lake, created by the dam, was first called a Mere nor when the breach, shown here being repaired in 1964, was first called Hawkesworth’s Gap.

At the end of the Civil War in 1649, Cromwell’s Parliamentarians were determined to ensure that the former Royalist strongholds would never again provide a safe haven for those who opposed the new republican parliament’s powers. So, Colonel Joseph Hawkesworth, MP was appointed to ‘slight’ or damage the castle beyond repair and it is said he breached the Tiltyard to drain the mere as part of the slighting.

Two former breaches through the dam can now be seen, the first at the lowest point where the Brook now flows and the second at the spillway location. The latter was shown in an earlier T&N photo of John Drew & Charles Blick on the stonework of the possible Tiltyard Mill Leat. It is not known when either breach was formed. However, the general ground level at the Spillway was about four metres above the Brook so the Mere could not have been fully drained and returned to farmland use by this breach.

Hawkesworth took possession of the remainder of the castle, converting and living in the gatehouse, having also slighted the keep and sold off much of the fixtures and fittings of the palatial state rooms. He was ousted from the castle following the restoration of Charles II.

Many thanks to David Brock for his assistance in putting the accompanying text together. His work on this subject is too extensive to summarise here, but readers can find further contributions by David in the society’s annual Kenilworth History publication, such as his article “Development of the Fourth Side of the Castle” in KH2015.

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St Nicholas Church – Then & Now

St.Nicholas Church from south-west. 1963. (photo J.Tarver)
St.Nicholas Church from south-west. 1963. (photo J.Tarver)

Another shot attributed to J. Tarver from 1963, this time of St Nicholas Church taken from within the Abbey ruins, with matching a 2016 counterpart shot.

It is not known when St Nicholas’ Church was established. The nearby Priory (later Abbey) of St Mary was established by Geoffrey de Clinton in 1122 and we do know that there was a church on this site in the patronage of the Priory as of 1291.

The monks would be expected to have sole use of the abbey itself and local worshippers would be expected to attend a separate parish church nearby.

Parts of the church are Norman, including the base of the tower and the west door. Later alterations include the fashioning of the square tower into a pointed steeple, plus the addition of transepts in the 19th century. The West Door is made up of Norman sculpture, and was created, probably in the 16th Century, from pieces rescued from the recently demolished Abbey. Pevsner’s Warwickshire and the revised edition of that work describe it as the ‘most sumptuous Norman doorway in Warwickshire’, the new edition acknowledging that it is a later composite. Visitors should compare it with the entrance to Leicester’s Gatehouse in the Castle.

Little has changed in between the 1960s and 2016 shots however, save for the growth of a few trees and the loss of a stone cross atop the gravestone in the foreground. A flag pole can be seen in the background of the 1963 shot. Individual stones can be matched between the two photos in the wall in the foreground.

More on the history of the church can be read on the St Nicholas and St Barnabas website.

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Garden of Rest Stonework part 2 – Then & Now

This Then & Now set is part 2 to the earlier part 1 posting here: http://www.khas.co.uk/garden-rest-stonework-pt1-now/

Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey stonework - part 3
Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey stonework – part 3

According to The Abbey of St Mary guidebook by E. Carey-Hill (Odiboure Press, 1985) “What is now known as the Lapidarum Wall was completely rebuilt from its foundations, including the bench, in 1984. The work was carried out by Messrs. A. C. Lloyd (Builders) Ltd of Leamington Spa for Warwick District Council, with advice from the Inspectorate of Historic Buildings & Monuments Commission for England. The Lapidarum Wall was designed by Dr Richard Morris of the University of Warwick, who was assisted by members of the Kenilworth History & Archaeology Society in the arranging of material prior to rebuilding”.

Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey stonework - part 4
Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey stonework – part 4

Messrs. A. C. Lloyd (Builders) Ltd of Leamington Spa for Warwick District Council, with advice from the Inspectorate of Historic Buildings & Monuments Commission for England. The Lapidarum Wall was designed by Dr Richard Morris of the University of Warwick, who was assisted by members of the Kenilworth History & Archaeology Society in the arranging of material prior to rebuilding”.

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Garden of Rest Stonework part 1 – Then & Now

Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework - part 1
Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework – part 1

According to The Abbey of St Mary guidebook by E. Carey-Hill (Odiboure Press, 1985) “When the north cloister wall of 1890 was rebuilt in 1984, the carved stones were grouped according to architectural type”.

Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework - part 2
Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework – part 2

He goes on to say “Not all examples of each type have been exposed, as some are buried in the wall for better preservation. The majority of stones are from the Decorated period, c1280 – 1370, and from the Priory Church, which was given an extensive facelift at this time, including new windows. The length of the wall is approximately 95 feet.”

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The Tannery, Warwick Road Updated – Then & Now

Today’s Then & Now pairing is an updated version of an earlier post showing the Tannery, Warwick Road. Thanks to Robin Leach for pointing out that the original ‘now’ photo was taken from the wrong angle. The updated ‘now’ photo is taken from as close to the original spot as today’s buildings will allow, as can be seen by the distant buildings on Station Road in the bottom left of the picture. The original post can be found here: khas.co.uk/the-tannery-warwick-road-then-now/

The Tannery, Warwick Road 1965 and today in 2016
The Tannery, Warwick Road 1965 and today in 2016

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

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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St. Nicholas Church from South-West, 1963 – Then & Now

St.Nicholas Church from the South-West,1963
St.Nicholas Church from the South-West,1963

This pair of pictures from 1963 and 2016 shows the Abbey’s Tantara Gatehouse with St Nicholas’ Church in the background. The 1963 shot is labelled as having been taken by a J. Tarver.

As can clearly be seen from the ‘then’ picture, the gatehouse had become overgrown and it was later designated as dangerous and fenced off altogether in 1967. That same year the abbey ruins were finally reburied to prevent deterioration. The gatehouse was later extensively consolidated and repaired in 1977, at a cost of £20,000 raised by the Abbey Advisory Committee.

The ‘now’ photo shows that the graveyard is much more neatly trimmed than in 1963. A few gravestones have developed a lean and the cross in the foreground has lost its head, as seems to be the case in many of these now and then photo pairings.

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The Mill in 1964 from Forge Road – Then & Now

The Mill in 1964, taken from what is now called Forge Road
The Mill in 1964, taken from what is now called Forge Road

This black and white photo from 1964 shows the mill taken from what is now Forge Road, Mill End, shortly before its demolition. Originally built as a mill for bread flour, it was later used as an oat mill for cattle feed.

According to Harry Sunley in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odibourne Press, 1989) the mill was demolished in April 1964:

April 1964: The Oatcake Mill is demolished, to be replaced by Forge Road. The mill was fed from Finham Brook via a channel that ran alongside School Lane and The Close. It was last run just after World War II. Between 1899 and 1929, it was owned by J. G. Eagles for the production of cattle cake.”

In fact, Robin Leach points out that the mill was operated by not owned by J G Eagles, who had a similar but larger concern in Leamington. He was renting the mill from at least 1891. Robin also points out that strictly speaking the mill building extended further into the modern day roadway than is shown here, so a little artistic license has been shown to get a good ‘now’ picture!

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The Mill, Mill End, from the yard 1964 – Then & Now

The Mill, Mill End, from the yard,1964
The Mill, Mill End, from the yard,1964

The mill was powered by water wheel, fed from a pool called Woodmill Pool, located over the modern day allotments between Manor Road and Lower Laydes Hills. The pool was created by damming Finham brook at the spot where the mill stood (off screen, to the right of the photos above).

According to Rob Steward in Kenilworth History 1997 – 1998: “At the Dissolution in 1538 and shown on the 1628 Harding map are two pools from Townpool Bridge to the ‘Woodmill’ at Mill End separated at Park Street. The upper one presumably called ‘Townpool’ and the other ‘Wood-mill Pool’. The Townpool seems, then, to have flooded out the brook. A leat has been dug at some time or other to the north of the original brook down to Park Road, it can still be seen as it is now the course of Finham Brook. Though the original brook is shown on the 1885 OS map, by the 1955 map it had gone, but can be traced by following the fence line at the end of the back gardens to the houses in School Lane. Houses have now been built over it at the lower end.”

Robin Leach offers a slightly different explanation, in that the brook course would follow the low lying ground at the bottom of the valley and the excavated mill race was higher up alongside School Lane and the gardens. However, the original course was altered at some time, hence the zig-zag in the middle of the school lane section.

A curious piece of graffiti is visible in the ‘then’ photo from 1964, reading simply “Wells Fargo”. Either the US bank of the same name had some stake in the mill, or more likely this relates in some way to the Tales of Wells Fargo western which was being broadcast on the BBC in 1964!

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Mill End from The Common – Then & Now

Mill End from the Common
Mill End from the Common

For readers under the age of 60 or so, this ‘then’ image will present a completely unfamiliar scene. It shows the mill buildings which once stood on the edge of the Common at Mill End, to which it gave its name.

According to Rob Steward in Kenilworth History 1997 – 1998:

“Townpool and Woodmill Pool powered the wood-mill at Mill End built to the west of the ford there. This mill seems to have existed during the time of the Abbey. Later on it was replaced by a cattle-feed mill which was working during the first half of the twentieth century. John Drew says his father could remember the Oil and Cake Mill working under water power. There was a sluice at Park Road which let in water to the pool to fill it. This was enough to run the mill for two and a half hours. After that the sluice was opened again to refill the pool”.

The following map extract from 1906 shows the natural course of Finham Brook and the man made Mill Brook respectively, both coloured blue. The Mill Brook once ran alongside School Lane and the along the course of the road now known as The Close, to power the mill at Mill End, shown in green:

The Mill Brook coloured - Mill End
The Mill Brook 1906, coloured – Mill End

Harry Sunley, in his book A Kenilworth Chronology (Odibourne Press, 1989) records the date of the mill’s demolition as April 1964, clearing way for the creation of the housing on what is now Forge Road.

Rob Steward informs us in the Inns and Roads of Kenilworth (Odibourne Press, 2000) that the new road was named in reference to the forge which occupied the building currently occupied by Just Tyres, although it has apparently been much altered over the years. It can be seen marked as “Smy” for Smithy on the 1906 map above.

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The Castle from the Air – Then & Now

This remarkable pair of aerial photos shows the castle from the air, taken from the west. The ‘then’ photo dates from before the Elizabethan garden had first been restored in the 1970s. The ‘now photo’ dates from 2016 showing the Elizabethan garden, now bedding in nicely following an archaeological dig in 2006 and the completion of its restoration in 2009.

The Castle from the Air
The Castle from the Air

Elsewhere in the castle’s outer bailey we can see that numerous shrubs and encroaching vegetation have been removed from the grounds and walls. The addition of stairs and walkways into Leicester’s Building is not visible at all from this angle, which is testament to the sensitivity of the work that was carried out.

In the distance of the ‘now’ photo, Oxpen Meadow in the Abbey Fields, the site of the Priory Pool, has been permanently re-flooded since the ‘then’ photo was taken. The meadow had regularly been flooded for skating in winter since Victorian times. The ford is also in flood in the ‘now’ photo.

A special thank you to Creeves Aerial Photography (formerly Coventry & Warwickshire Aerial Photography) who carried out a special commission to produce the ‘now’ photo. Readers with a Facebook account can follow the Creeves page which contains an album of Kenilworth aerial photos as well as photos from all over the local area. Without him this Then & Now would not have been possible!

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‘Clappergate’ Stile – Then & Now

Copy of old post card of 'Tumbledown stile' or 'Clappergate Stile’
Copy of old post card of ‘Tumbledown stile’ or ‘Clappergate Stile’

In the days when the Abbey Fields was a patchwork of farmers’ fields, the ‘tumbledown’ or ‘clappergate’ stile shown in this old postcard was situated in the Abbey’s Tantara Gatehouse to prevent cattle straying out of the fields. A larger field gate was situated in the main archway.

In June 1973 it was destroyed by vandals. Cyril Hobbins collected the remaining bits together and restored it. The restored clapper-gate is now situated in the ‘barn’ museum.

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Abbey Ruins 1960s – Then & Now

Today there is comparatively little to see above ground of the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in the Abbey Fields. Following the Abbey Excavations in 1840, in the 1880s and in the 1920s, in which the ruins were steadily uncovered for the first time since their destruction following the Reformation, the ruins have long since been covered up.

But, as these photos show, they weren’t covered up until as recently as 1967, by which time this series of remarkable colour photos from July 1963 had been taken.

The pair of shots below show the ruins of the quire and presbytery with St Nicholas’ Church in the background. In 1967 the area was covered and landscaped by the council to protect the ruins from the elements and from damage by vegetation:

Overgrown area of Chancel, July 1963
Overgrown area of Chancel, July 1963

In the then & now pairing below we can see the chapter house wall, now fenced off to protect it. As the ‘then’ photo from 1963 shows, the excavated remains around it were fenced off and still visible, if somewhat overgrown:

The Chapter House wall, July 1963.
The Chapter House wall, July 1963.

And finally, here’s another shot facing downhill towards Bridge Street. In the July 1965 shot, the overgrown remains of the south transept and slype can be seen, surrounded by railings, two years prior to their re-burial. Once again, in the 2016 the remains have long since been landscaped over.

Overgrown area of Chancel, July 1963
Overgrown area of Chancel, July 1963

 

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The Abbey ‘Barn’ – Then & Now

The Abbey 'Barn' 1963 and 2016
The Abbey ‘Barn’ 1963 and 2016

This shot from 1963 shows the Abbey building known as the ‘barn’, clad in ivy and bathed in the July sun. There appears to be a rickety fence and style between the barn and the stone wall opposite. Other than that, and the loss of a stone cross grave stone head, the scene is relatively timeless and unchanged.

Whilst it is known colloquially as the ‘barn’, we are in fact unsure of what its original purpose was. There have been numerous articles in Kenilworth History over the years debating its construction, whether the upper floor was a later addition and documenting masons marks and the dating by dendrochronology of the roof. The late Harry Sunley wrote a fascinating article in Kenilworth History 2011 entitled “The Barn – A Guest House, a Fish House or what?” in which competing theories of its original purpose were examined.

One such theory was that it was used for drying, salting and storing fish as per a similar known as ‘Fish House’ at Meare in Somerset, a part of Glastonbury Abbey. Harry Sunley summarised that it was probably built by the Prior, Thomas Warmington between 1312 and 1343: “There is a strong case for concluding that the upper floor of the Barn was created in the first instance as a prior’s dining facility, and hence that the lower level was used as a buttery, larder and pantry. Both these were connected to an external kitchen annexe by means of a covered way.”

Whatever its original purpose, the ‘barn’ is now used as the Barn Museum and Heritage Centre to showcase the history of the abbey and the town as well as numerous artefacts and finds.

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Warwick Road Aerial Photo – Then & Now

Warwick Road Aerial Photo, May 1920 and 2016
Warwick Road Aerial Photo, May 1920 and 2016

This fascinating aerial view of Kenilworth is dated May 1920, and was obtained from the absorbing Britain From Above website. To the modern eye this scene is notable for the amount of green space that surrounded the now very much built-up Warwick Road area.

In fact, it takes a while to familiarise yourself with some recognisable landmarks. Running diagonally from top to bottom (north west to south east) is of course Warwick Road with The Square at the top and the clock tower picked out against the dark of the buildings behind it. Running parallel to it on the right is Southbank Road with only a small cluster of properties at the Abbey Hill end, followed by a gap until the Victorian properties on the corner of Station Road. To the right of that is Priory Road with almost no properties on its northern end built at all, although its southern stretch off camera to the right was already well built up by this stage.

Back on Warwick Road, the scene was dominated by the enormous Tannery complex, the site of which today is occupied by Talisman Square. Opposite was Barrow Road running off to the left of the image, again with very few properties yet built on it, which stopped abruptly after 180 yards at the alley way which ran parallel to Warwick Road. Further south, was an open field where Randall Road was as yet to still be built. Right at the bottom of the image the turning for Queens Road can just be seen which, like Barrow Road, ran only for 180 yards to the alley way.

Just visible in the blur in the bottom right of the image was the roof of a building on Waverley Road, leading to the only stretch of Bertie Road that had by then been built. At the time, Bertie Road had yet to be joined up with Station Road and stopped approximately where the Waitrose Carpark now begins, until 1960 when it was completed in length, in the run up to the Talisman Square development completed in 1965.

The half white building just visible above the tannery in Station Road was at this time the town’s cinema, part of which survives as Pomeroy’s. You can read a personal account of a visit to this cinema here: A Visit to Kenilworth Cinema in the Early 20th Century

It’s possible to put some dates to when these roads all appeared. According to Stephen Wallsgrove’s Kenilworth 1086 – 1756 the Warwick Road was laid out in the 12th century as an estate of properties whose tenants owed rent to the lord resident in the Castle, hence it is known as Castle End as opposed to Abbey End.

A number of books can be drawn upon (see sources below) to provide some dates for the other roads listed here. Station Road was built to link the town to the new station built in 1844, and the green fields between the two were still evident even by the time our ‘then’ photo was taken in 1920. Priory Road was built in 1885, necessitating the demolition of the part of the Bowling Green Hotel on Abbey Hill as a result, the remainder being demolished when the Abbey Hoel was built in 1892. Southbank Road was built in 1873, although the northern part is earlier. Waverley Road was built between 1885, the Bertie Road cul-de-sac in 1886, Barrow Road was a new road adopted in September 1900 and Queens Road in October 1900. Randall Road was simply a development of the ancient Monks Path and was built up in the early 20th Century.

The ‘now’ photo is dominated by the 1967 Holiday Inn at the clock tower end, the Talisman Square development which replaced the tannery and opened in 1965 and Waitrose which opened in 2008.

A special thank you to Creeves Aerial Photography (formerly Coventry & Warwickshire Aerial Photography) who very kindly carried out a special commission to produce the ‘now’ photo. Readers with a Facebook account can follow the Creeves page which contains an album of Kenilworth aerial photos as well as photos from all over the local area. Without him this Then & Now would not have been possible! Thanks also to Robin Leach and Graham Gould for some of the additional dates and details in this accompanying text.

Sources:

  • Kenilworth 1086 – 1756 (Published by S. Wallsgrove, 1991) by Stephen Wallsgrove
  • A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street-Names (Rookfield Publications, 2015) by Geoff Hilton & Robin Leach
  • The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth (Odiboure Press, 2000) by Rob Steward
  • Victorian Kenilworth and its People (Rookfield Publications, 2006) by Robin Leach
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Talisman Square, mid 1960s – Then & Now

Talisman Square, mid-1960s
Talisman Square, mid-1960s

Talisman square, mid 1960s and again in May 2016. The ‘then’ picture shows the footbridge being built between the offices built above the north and south sides of the square as part of the ‘walkway in the sky’ concept that developers of the 1950s were so fond of. The bridge was removed in the early 2000s.

In the ‘then’ image we can also see Bishops supermarket, prior to its relocation to Station Road, which would in turn be replaced by Budgens and then Wilkos. The former Bishops plot in Talisman Square subsequently became occupied by Boots the Chemist.

In the ‘now’ picture, phase 1 of Talisman Square’s modernisation has been completed by extending forward the Boots store to give it a larger retail footprint. To achieve this, a red brick extension was added to the front of the Boots store. A new white Joe Richards greengrocer’s store was built out into the middle of the square at around the same time.

Phase 2 of the square’s redevelopment was delayed following the economic slowdown of 2004. When completed, it will add extra retail units on the right of the picture in line with the wooden fence which currently marks out a temporary car park, utilising the space left by the demolished 1960s north side of Talisman Square. The final Talisman ‘Square’ will be more of a corridor arrangement, which has met with a mixed reception from local commentators.

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De Montfort Hotel – Then & Now

De Montfort
The De Montfort hotel nearing completion in 1967

The De Montfort Hotel (now the Holiday Inn) opened in 1967, occupying part of the site destroyed by the landmine of the 21st November 1940.  Historically,  the Square had been more of an intimate affair, comprising a cozy triangular area enclosed by low rise buildings on all sides. The ‘then’ picture shows that at this time the clock tower was enclosed in a triangular traffic island, with a larger circular roundabout behind where previously Number 2 The Square, which survived the 1940 landmine, had stood.

The clock tower dates from 1906 and was presented to the town by George Marshall Turner, the proprietor of a large drapery emporium in Birmingham. The crown on top of the clock tower, which was declared unsafe and dismantled following the devastation caused by the 1940 landmine, was replaced in 1973.

James Fish’s 1692 map of Kenilworth show the remains of a market cross at this spot.

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The Clock Tower Post-War – Then & Now

Clock Tower, early 1960s
Clock Tower, early 1960s

The Square, early 1960s and in December 2015. At first glance, little has changed between the two images. However, a handful of the buildings on the left of the clock tower survived the landmine of November 1940 before being cleared for the post-war Abbey End redevelopment, as shown in the modern image.

Up until the early 1960s, The Square still comprised a triangular arrangement closely huddled around the Clock Tower, but in the extreme left of the ‘then’ image we can see that the wall surrounding the plot that then contained Number 2  The Square, which has since been cleared in favour of a roundabout, thereby losing much of the original close knit feel of the original Square.

On the right, a clump of trees which once flanked Lord Leycester’s Lodge are still very much in evidence in the 1950s scene, but gone from the modern picture. An eerie photo of the bomb damaged Square, including the lodge prior to its collapse and demolition, can be found here.

Thankfully, the crown of the clock tower, rendered unsafe by the 1940 landmine and removed, was restored to its former glory in 1973.

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High Street / Castle Hill Cottage – Then & Now

High St Thatched Cottage
Cottage at the junction of Malthouse Lane, with High Street in the distance and Castle Hill behind the camera

A timber framed cottage at the junction of Malthouse Lane, with High Street in the distance and Castle Hill behind the camera.

As Rob Steward explains in Kenilworth History 2001 – 2002, this cottage is “…probably early 17th century and of ‘cruck’ construction. Cruck construction consists of two purpose-grown curved tree branches cut longways down the middle and then the two halves placed together to form an ‘A’ frame and a cross beam fixed at ground floor ceiling level. Two frames are made, one for each of the gables, with a ridge beam joining the two apexes. They were ‘purpose-grown’ many years before, with future generations in mind, especially for the ribs in shipbuilding. Very often these ‘crucks’ were second-hand from old ships”.

Very little has changed between the 1960s and 2015 scene except the model of car parked beyond the cottage and the appearance of double yellow lines.

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Talisman Square – Then & Now

The ‘then’ photo below shows Talisman Square, largely as had been initially conceived in the post war planning of the late 1950s. The ‘now’ counterpart photo was taken in December 2015. Talisman Square replaced the Tannery and Warwick Road almshouses, which were demolished in 1965 and 1963 respectively.

Talisman Square
Talisman square 1960s and 2015

Talisman Square was so named following a competition in which the name of the Talisman Theatre group, which originally occupied part of the old tannery site, was adopted for the square that replaced it. The theatre group had adopted the name after the novel The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott in the same Waverley series of novels as his famous work Kenilworth. The square was originally designed as a wide open space surrounded by a covered cloister-like walkway.

In 2003 the square was bought out by Cobalt Estates, who announced plans to modernise the tired looking post-war shopping precinct.

Phase 1 of the square’s modernisation, originally due to be completed by 2008, began by extending the shop units on the right forwards and adding a glass canopy to the front of the structure to provide some cover from the elements for shoppers.

Phase 2 of the scheme will result in narrowing of the square by developing new shop units on the left, up to the line of the wooden fence pictured. At the time of writing in December 2015, this has been delayed and is due to recommence shortly.

In 2010 it was decided to create a temporary carpark, marked out by the wooden fence shown in the ‘now’ image, as a stop-gap whilst finances to build the remaining shops could be sought.

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April Fools – Bridge Street Viaduct – Then & Now

As I’m sure you are by now aware, yesterday’s Then & Now post Bridge Street Viaduct – Then & Now was in fact an April Fools prank. No such viaduct ever existed alongside Bridge Street. We hope a few legs were pulled gently and no harm was done!

Some astute folks amongst our social media readership have pointed out that this picture of a viaduct that was supposedly demolished in the 1850s contained a car in the background. So unless time travel was available in 1850s Kenilworth, this picture was indeed a hoax.

Here’s some reaction from our Facebook readership, with the names obscured to protect the innocent:

Facebook April Fools
Facebook April Fools

As this is meant to be a website that promotes information rather than disinformation, you may be interested to know that the ‘then’ photo was in fact of the old Eastville Viaduct in Bristol in 1968, not long before its demolition. The view is at the bottom of M32 Eastgate junction with the Tesco Eastville carpark to the left. The water course in question is in fact the River Frome and not Finham Brook as stated in the article.

Eastville Viaduct, Bristol
Eastville Viaduct, Bristol – Then & Now

The Kenilworth History & Archaeology Society will now return to the realms of the purely factual, although we hope you remain entertained.

Did we fool you? Email us to let us know:  ku.o1493067401c.sah1493067401k@nim1493067401da1493067401

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Bridge Street Viaduct – Then & Now


EDIT 02/04/2016: Yes, this posting was an April Fools prank. Did we fool you? Read more here.


 

Bridge Street Railway Viaduct
Bridge Street Railway Viaduct

The Bridge Street railway viaduct was built by the London & Birmingham Railway Company (L&B), later the London North Western Railway Company (LNWR), during the railway building boom of the 1840s. It formed part of a branch line that linked Balsall Common to the line that still runs today between Coventry and Leamington Spa.

Its 14 stout brick arches spanned the Finham Brook valley before cutting through a short length of tunnel near the top of Rosemary Hill and joining the current stretch of track just up the line from the station. Its lifespan was short lived, as it became superseded by an upgrade to the track between Coventry and Milverton, and the viaduct was demolished by the mid 1850s. Very little evidence remains of its existence in the Abbey Fields today apart from one of the bridge abutments being used for the wooden footbridge that crosses the brook down by Bridge Street.

In the ‘then’ photo you can just about make out the frontages of J.C. Clarke, Wheelwrights on Bridge Street between the spans of the third and fourth arches.

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The King’s Arms & Castle – Then & Now

King's Arms & Castle
King’s Arms & Castle 1960s and 2015

The King’s Arms & Castle, 1960s. According to Rob Steward’s “The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth” (Odibourne Press, 2000) the “King’s Arms Inn” was the venue of the Abbey Courts Leet in 1563 and remained so until the nineteenth century.

By the nineteenth century, Coaches used to call in at the King’s Arms ‘from a quarter past seven until ten at night’ and later ‘omnibuses and cars’ from the King’s Arms & Castle would meet every train from the station.

Sir Walter Scott stayed at the inn in 1815 and commenced writing his famous novel Kenilworth published in 1821. It is also though that Charles Dickens stayed at the inn during preparations for writing Dombey and Son which was published in 1848 and featuring the line “A stroll among the haunted ruins of Kenilworth”.

During renovations in 1985, it was found that the facade of the building was erected around an earlier timber framed structure, which was now perilously unsafe. It remained in scaffolding whilst developers deliberated about how to resolve the situation.

Ultimately, it was decided to completely demolish the building in 1986 and rebuild the facade from scratch. Close examination of the two image shows discrepancies in the roof line, wings at the rear have been omitted from the new design and windows are not aligned with their predecessors. The interiors have been completely altered, with features like the bed which Sir Walter Scott is said to have stayed in having been long since taken elsewhere.

The rebuilt Kings Arms was repurposed as a nightclub named Drummonds, with residential flats to the rear. In 2005 it closed and became neglected, before eventually reopening in 2007 as separate restaurant units named now named Zizi, and Ego.

Further reading online:

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The Square, Early 1960s – Then & Now

The Square, early 1960s
The Square, early 1960s

The Square, early 1960s. Where the roundabout now stands once stood an elegant building with grand bay-windows, which can be seen on many a postcard of the Square from before the turn of the century. The ‘then’ image above shows its somewhat truncated state in the early late 1960s, following a number of enforced reductions in its size as explained below, shortly before its final demolition.

The right hand side of the building was demolished in 1932 as part of the Abbey End road widening scheme, leaving only the left hand side, minus the upper floor, which survived the war and became Dudley Taylor’s chemist’s shop. Ultimately it gave way to the utilitarian traffic management schemes of the 1960s and now the Square is a somewhat windswept and characterless shadow of its former self, dominated by the towering Holiday Inn.

More information on the tragic fate of The Square and Abbey End can, as ever, be found on Robin Leach’s excellent WWII website:

 

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Building the De Montfort – Then & Now

Building the De Montfort
Building the De Montfort

The ‘then’ picture above shows the tower crane in place used for building the De Montfort Hotel, as heralded by an advertising board, which was to open in 1967.

The vacant plot shown right of centre here was once occupied by a house known as ‘The Firs’ which was in itself formerly the site of the Green Dragon inn. This was amongst the cluster of properties destroyed by the November 1940 landmine.

In the foreground of the ‘then’ picture we can see that the bombed out site of properties 1-11 (odd) in Abbey End, including the Globe Inn, which had by the time the photo was taken been cleared for use as a temporary car park. Nowadays, it is used as a lay-by for busses, with the modern rank of Abbey End shops set back from the road behind the camera.

The house just visible behind the trees in the ‘then’ image is called Redwood House on Mulberry Court, and it still stands today. There is a suggestion that the present day structure now contains some timbers salvaged from blitzed buildings in Coventry. Robin Leach points out that its structure does not appear on map from 1925 but is shown on the 1936 map, so its original construction pre-dates the war. 

Thanks: to Norman Stevens and Robin Leach for additional information provided in this text.

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Postcard of The Square – Then & Now

Warwick Road Postcard
Postcard of The Square

 

UPDATED 19/02/2016: I am very much indebted to the incomparable Robin Leach for correcting the inaccuracies in the previous version of this text.

The ‘then’ image above shows an early 20th Century postcard of The Square, taken from the junction with Station Road and Warwick Road with its equivalent image from December 2015. On the extreme left is a quirky and ramshackle timber framed frontage which had gone by the time later postcards of the scene were produced.

By the 2015 picture much of the left hand side of the picture had been swept away for modern buildings. This stretch is often referred to as being part of Warwick Road but strictly speaking The Square starts at the junction with Station Road. 

Similarly, the three story Kings Head, which is sometimes erroneously listed as having been amongst the buildings on the left of the ‘then’ image that was swept away, is very much alive and kicking. This information came to light in 1974 when a sign painted on the side of a wall “Kings Head, Charles Gill” was uncovered when the building next door was demolished (and the now £1 shop building was put up covering it up again). It was painted on the side of a shop ‘Sew-n-’Sew’, today it is ‘Nails 4  U’. The upper floors of the building is MDM Music. Unfortunately, virtually nothing is known about the inn, and is part of Robin Leach’s as yet unpublished work ‘Former Kenilworth pubs that now have different Uses’ .

In the distance of the ‘then’ image can be seen the ivy clad double bay-windowed buildings which formed the rear side of The Square, before it was destroyed by a combination of road widening in 1932, the November 1940 Luftwaffe parachute mine and the resulting post-war redevelopment. The ‘then’ image can thus be approximately dated by the fact that it shows the clock tower, which was built in 1906, as well as the pre-1932 buildings in The Square.

Today the clock tower is overlooked by the Holiday Inn, which opened in 1967 as the De Montfort Hotel.

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Old Farmhouse on School Lane – Then & Now

Old House School Lane 1964
Old farmhouse on School Lane, 1964

By the mid-1960s the demolition of what were seen as damp and draughty old half-timbered buildings was in full swing. A nation only recently emerging from rationing and austerity was embracing modernity with an alarming disregard for heritage. This then and now pairing shows a ramshackle old farmhouse on School Lane which was swept away in May 1966 in favour of a residential apartment block called Prescelly Court.

According to John Drew in A Manor of the King (The Pleasaunce Press, 1971) “the left hand portion of the house, with its refaced front, was an earlier farm house. The joint building was L-shaped and the rear walls contained a considerable amount of timber framing”.

 

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Kenilworth Castle Aerial View – Then & Now

This pair of aerial photos, from 1947 and 2016 respectively, shows a rare mid-twentieth century aerial view of Kenilworth Castle and its modern day equivalent:

Kenilworth Castle Aerial Photo
Kenilworth Castle Aerial Photo, 1947 and 2016

The ‘then’ photo shows the end cottage on Castle Green before its demolition and behind it stretches a sparsely populated Clinton Lane with very little in the way of modern development in evidence. The rows of Victorian terraced houses down the southern end of Clinton Lane and the cul-de-sac at Avenue Road can be seen but beyond that in 1947 there were mostly open fields all the way up to the junction with Beehive Hill.

East of Avenue Road could be seen the glasshouses of the Castle Nurseries, the site of which is now occupied by Denton Close and De Montfort Road. Beyond lay the open land which is believed to have belonged to the Prior of St Mary’s Priory, hence the modern names of Priorsfield Road and Priorsfield School, the latter of which can just be made out two thirds of the way down Clinton Lane in the modern image. This belief is based on the fact that the name ‘Priorsfield’ appears on James Fish’s estate survey map of 1692 (WRO, CR0143A) which is sufficiently recently after the Dissolution for it to be authentic.

James Fish Map 1692
Section of the James Fish estate map of 1692

In the foreground, of course, is Kenilworth Castle itself. In the 1947 photo it remains relatively un-landscaped. The Elizabethan gardens were not replanted until 1975, and then again in 2009 for their eventual faithful restoration based on more rigorous archæological evidence of the original Tudor layout. The keep looks to have been undergoing repairs, which is an ongoing battle with a 900 year old structure.

Image Credits:

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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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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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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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J.C. Clarke, Wheelwrights, Bridge Street – Then & Now

J.C. Clarke, Wheelwrights
J.C. Clarke, Wheelwrights, Bridge Street

Another shot of the timber framed tannery buildings that later housed J.C. Clarke, Wheelwrights up until 1952, which stood on Bridge Street until it was demolished in May 1961. The Ministry of Housing had endorsed the Council surveyor’s view that the buildings had become dangerous, despite them having been listed as having architectural or historic interest since July 1949.

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Tilt Yard Mill, 1964 – Then & Now

Castle Mill Sluice
Charles Blick and John Drew at Tilt Yard Mill site, 1964

1964 – Charles Blick and John Drew at Tilt Yard Mill site. Now obscured by the more recent 1960s bridge and undergrowth, this 1964 picture shows the excavation of one of a number of watermills surrounding the castle and abbey.

As Rob Steward put it in Kenilworth History 1997/98 “To control the water of the new ‘Mere’, a sluice and mill were built at the south end of the ‘Dam’ at ‘Floodgate Tower’ discharging into a channel on the south side of the ‘Lower Pool’, where it picked up the outflow from the Brays mill.”

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The Castle from the Brays, 1907 – Then & Now

Mortimer's Tower
Mortimer’s Tower

The Castle from the Brays. – Old post card postmarked 1907. Mortimer’s Tower was originally a Norman stone gatehouse, extended in the late 13th and 16th centuries. Following the slighting of the castle by Colonel Hawkesworth at the end of the Civil War, the Tiltyard became impassable and thus in the ‘then’ picture it is shown as fenced off, with access to the castle via other entrances.

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The End Cottage, Castle Green – Then & Now

Castle Green End Cottage
Castle Green End Cottage

The End Cottage, Castle Green met with a sorry fate, having been struck on more than one occasion by passing motor vehicles. It was eventually demolished in the 1960s. The remaining end cottage now bears a plaque above the door stating “These eight cottages were restored & improved by Kenilworth Urban District Council with financial help from the 1966 commemorative committee & many private subscribers”.

Another shot of Castle Green End Cottage
Another shot of Castle Green End Cottage

Another shot of the end cottage of Castle Green in a dilapidated state, having been struck on more than one occasion by passing motor vehicles.

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Queen & Castle – Then & Now

Queen & Castle
Queen & Castle

The Queen & Castle, Castle Green, Kenilworth. According to Rob Steward’s book ‘The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth’ (Odiborne Press, 2000) the first mention of this establishment was when it was known as The Castle Inn in 1835.

It was once a hotel with fine oak panelled corridors, with some panelling rumoured to be taken from the castle itself, ghosts and all. In 1985 it was sold to the Beefeater chain, who gutted the building, losing much of its character. It has been refitted since then and now provides a more salubrious venue befitting its enviable location.

The ‘then’ photo is from the 1960s, which remains largely unchanged today apart from some 1970s additions to Little Virginia.

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The Priory, The High Street – Then & Now

The Priory, High Street
The Priory, High Street

The High Street, Kenilworth, looking largely unchanged with the exception of the house on the extreme right hand side. This house, known as The Priory, was the subject of the book ‘A House in the High Street’ by Joyce Powell (Odibourne Press, 1987).

The Priory was built in 1770, replacing some older ‘messuages’ of about 1700.

By 1855 the house had become unfashionable to the sort of owner who could afford such a property and in too poor a state of repair to be let. It was bought by the Leamington Priors Bank who pulled its frontage down, along with number 11, to build a grand Jacobean style combined bank and post office.

It remained in similar usage up until the 1980s, where it finished up being a Midland Bank. Finally, it was broken up into small commercial units known as the Bank Gallery, which it remains today.

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Manticora – Then & Now

John Drew Manticora
John Drew points to the Manticore

March 1966 – John Drew indicating position of ‘the Manticora’ carved on the wall which sits opposite the castle’s modern gift shop. A manticore is a Persian legendary creature similar to the Egyptian sphinx. It has the body of a red lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth, sometimes bat-like wings, and a trumpet-like voice.

The picture below, also taken in 1966, shows a close-up of the manticore with a ruler for scale:

The Manticora
The Manticore

More details on the origins of the manticore and is use in English heraldry can be found on Wikipedia.

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Widow’s Charity Houses – Then & Now

Widow’s Charity Houses, High Street
Widow’s Charity Houses, High Street

Widow’s Charity Houses, High Street, founded in 1644, rebuilt 1840s.
To the right of the ‘then’ photo can be seen a single storey, windowless brick building which was demolished much later providing an alleyway through to the 1960s Elmbank Road, as well as the entry to the slaughterhouse behind the butchers owned by John Bausor.
Since the closure of the butchers, the slaughterhouse outbuildings were demolished to make way for the modern Monmouth Close development, built sympathetically in a Victorian style.

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Bridge Street – Then & Now

Bridge Street
Bridge Street

Bridge Street, Kenilworth. The old timber framed houses to the left of the ‘then’ photo were demolished in May 1961, despite having been listed as having architectural or historic interest since July 1949.

Harry Sunley in his book ‘A Kenilworth Chronology’ (Odibourne Press, 1989) tells us that these buildings had housed J.C. Clarke, Wheelwrights, up until 1952 and that the Ministry of Housing had endorsed the Council surveyor’s view that the buildings had become dangerous.

The Kenilworth Society was formed in the same month as their demolition due to concerns about destructive development around the town.

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