- YESTERDAY'S VIEWS
Woodway Lane, Walsgrave, Coventry
BY DAVID FRY
When writing the first Coventry
We have Lost book we used a 1906 version of this view which in many ways
was not much different to this 1930 view if only the same could be said today.
WOODWAY LANE, WALSGRAVE ON SOWE c1930
It would be almost impossible to place the picture below
without the large house remaining on the left. Although it is still as derelict today as
it was in 1990 it is a significant link with the rural past of Walsgrave.
WOODWAY LANE, WALSGRAVE ON SOWE c1999
But far from being cherished and restored the old farmhouse
is now to be demolished. It should be valued as part of the village identity in the same
way that the church might be.
It is understandable that locals do not want to continue to
live with a building that has been unoccupied since the 1970s but with so few older
buildings left in the village surely it is better to be retained in a restored condition -
perhaps converted to flats.
It is a situation that has been repeated throughout
Coventry this century but I had hoped that sensitivity to the past would prevent such
planned vandalism. At least the demolition was not supported by the planning department,
but amazingly it was by the local councillor who you would have imagined might have shown
The Victoria County History for
Coventry describes the demolition of many of the most significant buildings in the village
as happening as late as the 1960s. Many of the cottages in the top view above went in 1963
with the widening of the Hinkley Road.
However, they proudly describe the survival of two medieval
houses. One of which is shown on the right of the first picture Village Farm. This
house contained blackened roof timbers, the sign of an open hearth used before the
introduction of chimneys.
However, since the publication of the County
History in 1969 even this building has been demolished. Why this happened
is not clear as the site is simply waste ground. At least new housing is planned for the
site of the coming demolition.
So much of what gave Walsgrave people a sense of place and
continuity with the past has gone. The buildings missing from the modern picture have
their counterparts in other views of the village.
For those familiar with the village today a glimpse at the
6" Ordnance Survey map of 1920 will indicate how much has been destroyed.
SIX INCH ORDNANCE SURVEY MAP OF 1920
How many pre 1920s buildings do survive?
Certainly you will not find the Hall, the Mill, the Manor
House or hardly any of the larger Walsgrave buildings. A few more can be found along
Woodway Lane, but only a handful on the southern side of the main road.
I will be featuring more of these
missing buildings in future articles.