Then & Now

Lower Ladyes Hills and Allotments – Then & Now

Lower Ladyes Hills and Allotments

This image of Lower Ladyes Hills and allotments was provided to KHAS from the collection of the late Reg Palmer. The images were both taken from the Manor Road bridge, looking towards Lower Ladyes Hills. The allotments shown here sit on the former site of the Woodmill Pool, a mill pond used to feed the Oatmill where Forge Road is now situated (out of site, right). The excellent book Powering the Kenilworth Woodmill (Graham Gould and Peter James, 2017) states that “When the mill went electric in 1942, the leat and Mill Dam were allowed to become dry”. 

There have been various allotment sites around Kenilworth. Harry Sunley tells us in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odibourne Press, 1989) that allotments had existed where Hyde Road now lies prior to WWI, subsequently built on for houses for returning soldiers in 1919, and that in 1918 a four acre field near Queens Road was acquired by the Council for allotments to be established. Harry then lists that by 1941, as part of the war efforts for WWII, the list of allotments had expanded to Odibourne, the Cemetery, Spring Lane, Watling Road, Priory Road, Common Lane, Borrowell Lane and even the planting of wheat in the Abbey Fields. 

Stephen Wallsgrove documented in Kenilworth History in 1988 that ‘allotments’ had existed nearby at at Odibourne (sometimes spelled Adibarne) since the enclosure awards of 1756,  but this is meant in the sense of common land accessible to members of the public, rather than the modern sense of an allotment garden: “The Enclosure Award of 1756 divided both Little Adibarne (which had already been partly enclosed and was called Odibarn Common) and Great Adibarne (by then called Tainters Hill Common) into various allotments, including some to John Bird adjoining his land at Spring House. One allotment was given for the use of the poor where they could collect furze, goss or fern for fuel. This is now called simply ‘The Common’. Another allotment, on Tainters Hill, was awarded as a public gravel pit”. However, the modern garden allotments shown in the images above are situated on former millpool land directly between the 1756 Great Adibarne and Little Adibarne allotments that Steven refers to, so today’s allotments are a much more modern affair, only possible after the draining of the former woodmill pool.

Map of the Odibournes by Steven Wallsgrove from Kenilworth History 1988, with the Manor Road allotment site annotated in green

Robin Leach has supplied some dates for the creation of these allotments, stating that they became allotments soon after WWI. They replaced the Noah’s Ark allotments (on which the Hyde Road estate was built) and were laid out in late 1919, celebrating their centenary this year (more details can be found in Kenilworth people & Places, Vol 2 (Rookfield Publications, 2013) in the ‘Houses for Heroes’ chapter, around page 108. Allotments existed in the Victorian years at Noah Ark, St Johns, Leamington Rd (on the Bullimore Grove site) and others not yet identified for certain. Abbey Fields had some during WW1 and is shown on OS maps – see The Abbey Fields (Rookfield Publications, 2017) p.58. The site is formally known as the Odibourne and Spring Lane Allotments.

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