Then & Now

The High Street – Then & Now

The High Street - Then & Now
The High Street – Then & Now

This Then & Now scene of the High Street looks familiar to the modern eye. Mercifully spared the modernisations inflicted upon Warwick Road and elsewhere, the High Street retains its old world charm. Still there are one or two alterations evident between the two scenes worth noting.

Firstly though, we might be able to determine some dating evidence for the undated ‘now’ image, from the cars parked beside the road. Firstly, the iconic Mini, a car with an under-appreciated Kenilworth connection. The prototype ‘Issigonis Lightweight Special’ designs, which later evolved into the Mini, were sketched by Alec Issigonis while living in his mother’s house on Rouncil Lane, Kenilworth. The Mark I Mini was introduced in 1959, which gives us a useful dating baseline, given the two examples shown in the image. It’s difficult to tell from the partially obscured minis on show, but if they were Mark II Minis that would date the image later to 1967. The front mini certainly seems to have rounded rear lights typical of the Mark I Mini anyway.

The Minis seem to provide better dating evidence than the Jaguar in the foreground. There will be many better skilled experts in Jags than myself but assuming it’s a Jaguar MkI then it dates the image as no earlier than 1955, whereas if it’s a Jaguar MkII then it’s no earlier than 1959. Probably the best dating evidence comes from what looks like a Ford Cortina MkI on the left, which dates from 1962 onwards. Feedback is welcome on this speculation from the car buffs amongst our readership!

Back to the historic buildings to the rear. From left to right, we start with number 14 High Street which has had some dormer windows sympathetically added since the ‘then’ photo was taken. Likewise, the Grade II listed 16 High Street next door has had an upstairs window extended into the roofline, to give a bit of extra headroom, which perhaps explains why its 1971 listing states “C17 and C18, altered C19 and recently”.

Number 16’s roofline continues into Grade II listed numbers 12 and 14 High Street, now The Old Bakery, whose 1971 listing text states “C18 front to timber framed earlier building. 2 storeys. 2 windows. Redbrick. Tiled roof. Casement windows. Modern shop window” where the modern shop window in question has since been changed again when the premises was converted from what was once Fancott’s Bakery into The Old Bakery pub.

In the distance, numbers 10 High Street, 6 and 8 High Street (the old Clarendon House Hotel) and 2 High Street are all Grade II listed, as is the grand house Fieldgate on the extreme right.

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