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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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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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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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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