This Then & Now comparison is one which, at first glance, appears to be little changed, due perhaps to the relatively small timescale between the two images, but on closer inspection the differences begin to appear. The undated ‘then’ image may perhaps have been taken some time in the late nineties or early noughties, the indoor swimming pool shown here having opened in 1986. The ‘now’ image was taken in August 2018.
The most obvious difference between the two is the disappearance of the hedgerow on the left and the bowling green behind it, which was replaced by the toddlers’ playground (visible, left, in the ‘now’ image) which opened in 2013 after a £120,000 project. Funding for the new playground was provided via a £100,000 grant from Warwick District Council with the remaining £20,000 from the Round Table and £4,000 from the Friends of Abbey Fields.
Those who can remember the playground as it appeared from the early 1950s to the early 1980s will recall the swings shown here but may also notice that the ‘big slide’ from that era has already been removed by the time the photo was taken. The patch where the big slide stood is still visible to the left of the central tree but it contains only a small, red single-seater sprung see-saw from the mid-1980s playground refit.
Other small differences are visible, including the removal of the chainlink fence in the foreground which used to sit in front of the Abbey ‘barn’ museum. Today an information board showing the layout of the Abbey stands in this location. The area nearest the ‘barn’ is now occupied by picnic tables rather than playground equipment.
Robin Leach points out that 2020 is the centenary of the first Abbey Fields play equipment being installed- see The Abbey Fields (Rookfield Publications, 2017) p.64.