The photo above comes once again from the aerial imagery snapped by the late John Webster, kindly provided to us by his son Steve Webster, now living in New Zealand. This fantastic image, taken very close to the previous aerial image of School Lane , shows many seldom photographed features which have now been lost, or substantially altered, since the ‘then’ image was taken. The ‘now’ image is taken once again from the 3D photogrammetry view on Google Maps.
In the foreground, we can see the junction of Rosemary Hill, Abbey Hill, Priory Road and Upper Rosemary Hill, overlooked by the crenelated tower of the old Abbey Hotel. The hotel’s generous car park on Priory Road is today occupied by the residential block Field House (bottom right of the ‘now’ image).
Proceeding up Upper Rosemary Hill, we can see the cul-de-sac now called Richards Close, formerly the site of the town’s first fire station. Next door is Montague House, now known as Kenilworth Sports & Social Club, which in the ‘then’ image is yet to be extended to create the frontage we are familiar with today.
If we carry on up Albion Street we can see that the old Victorian terrace houses are all intact in the ‘then’ image, but according to Robin Leach’s Kenilworth People & Places vol. 3 (Rookfield Publications, 2018) these were demolished in 1964. On the corner of Albion Street and Park Hill you can just about make out the old Liggins Bakery, demolished in the late 1980s. Behind that is a wonderful view of the old 1946 estate of post-war Prefabs clustered around Stoneleigh Avenue, developed in 1976. Robin Leach points out that “it was all Stoneleigh Avenue then (numbers 1-50); today it is also Churchill, Redfern and Glendale Avenues”.
As we reach the junction with Forge Road you can see the chimney of the old Oil & Cake Mill at Mill End, demolished in 1964.
Elsewhere in the image, at the top of Park Hill (top right of the ‘then’ image), you can just about make out the white shape of Park Hill House (AKA The Towers) which, according to Robin Leach’s Kenilworth People & Places vol. 1 (Rookfield Publications, 2011), was demolished in 1972. The site is now occupied by Webster Avenue. Also you can see the water tower on Tainter’s Hill still has its water tank intact (top left of the ‘then’ image).
Robin Leach also adds some further observations: “The ‘Tin school’ from behind the Parochial Hall was moved to the School Lane school, reported in the Leamington Courier, 19th January 1912. I have so far been unable to find its origins; the Parish Room in High Street existed by the mid-1880s, demolished in May 1911, foundation stone of new Parochial Hall laid on 17th June 1911, Hall opened in October (didn’t muck about then did they!) replacing stables as well as the parish room. So was it the actual Parish Room, or an extension to its facilities? Either way, the new Hall made it superfluous, hence its move a few months later”.
We’d like to thank Steve Webster for providing this image, and many others, for us to use. Also, thanks to Robin Leach for adding his observations.