This undated postcard shows a view of Warwick Road looking north. The image is taken from beside the Bear & Ragged Staff public house, looking up Warwick Road towards the clock tower. To the left of the ‘then’ image can be seen the access to the rear of the pub and to the Bear Field at the rear. Just out of sight, left, would be the row of cottages known as Fairview, which stood at 90 degrees to Warwick Road until their demolition in 1966, which today is the entrance to Sainsbury’s car park.
It’s difficult to date the ‘then’ image for sure, but it looks like the old Dudley Taylor’s Chemist building behind the clock tower in the distance is in its much reduced post-War two storey size, as opposed to its pre-War three-storey manifestation. Also, the car on the right of the image looks suspiciously post war, so perhaps the image was taken some time in the 1950s or early 1960s? The De Montfort Hotel (now the Holiday Inn) would not appear until 1967.
Much of the foreground buildings remain unchanged, but between the protruding gable of the Bear & Ragged Staff and the blue frontage of what is the Cancer Research UK charity shop, a number of buildings were cleared when Sainsbury’s was built in 1997. These included the original premises of the Headquarters barbers, who moved to new premises further north up Warwick Road.
The Bear & Ragged Staff is a heraldic emblem or badge associated with the Earldom of Warwick. According to Rob Steward’s The Inns and Road of Kenilworth (Odibourne Press, 2000) the earliest landlord recorded was Joseph Betty in 1753. During its lifetime it has been variously known as The Bear, The Bear Inn and, for a time in the early 1990s, it was rebranded as The Tut ‘N Shive, before reverting to its original name.
Thanks to Robin Leach for adding his observations.