In 1900 Binley had less time than most of Coventry’s satellite villages to enjoy its rural, almost feudal way of life. By 1907 a colliery was being constructed that would dominate village life until its closure in 1963. This change was more notable than in most other surrounding settlements as it ended a period of stability, under the patronage of the owners of Coombe Abbey that had lasted for 750 years. The Cravens of Coombe who had been lords of the manor for more than 300 years of that time sold up in 1922, though they had long given up using the Abbey as their principal residence in preference to their seat in Berkshire. Many farms and cottages now had owner occupiers for the first time ever, one example of a positive development brought by the twentieth century. Today Binley is very much a part of Coventry with much development on all open land encouraged by the building of the Eastern By-pass and the development of Binley Park School playing fields since the school was closed in July 1990
This meet of the Atherstone Hunt was held on March 13th 1914. It is a scene unlikely to be acted out on this spot again. At the time the Cravens of Coombe Abbey owned all the land around and would not need to seek permission to hold a wide ranging hunt. It is also likely that in this picture is represented most of the wealthy tenants and neighbours of the Cravens upon whose land they were most likely to chase any foxes. The Craven Arms in the background would be a most appropriate place to pass round a warming stirrup cup as can be seen on the right.
2. Brinklow Road c1927 (Teesee)
One element of this view still exists and that is the thatched building on the right that was the village school up to 1913. It has had a chequered history losing its thatched roof along the way. It is now a restaurant. The thatched cottages on the left have also gone, though they were revived after this picture and re-thatched. The cottage on the left is also advertising the sale of sweets and drinks, which is not just meant for the villagers but for those from Coventry who made this part of a popular route for week-end walks out of town. The road on the left is Clifford Bridge Road and the one on the right is Brinklow Road.
Just round the corner from the Craven Arms is the garage which replaced the smithy and, continues to function today as a petrol station. Over the same period these four shops were built to serve the demands of the growing community. Despite their apparent specialism a whole range of services and products could be supplied such as meat, haberdashery, hairdressing, film processing, holidays etc. The newspaper hoardings provide fascinating information, announcing the new Triumph models for 1937, that Foreign Minister Eden ordered to rest by doctors and rather enigmatically, in the Daily Mirror, “Women Jeer Girl Saved In Triple Drowning”.
This charming photograph of the pub with the carthorse eating from its nose bag shows the view looking east toward Binley village along Willenhall Lane. Only recently opened at the time of the picture, the first landlord, William Farley, had been appointed licensee in March 1926. It was a shrewd move by Marstons, the owners, as all those thirsty miners over the road had at least a mile to go to the nearest pub. The only surprising fact is that no one had opened a pub earlier as the colliery had been open almost twenty years. The building remains substantially unaltered today, (though now named “The Binley”), yet the details of modern street furniture and decoration, not to say the ever present motor car mean that this still records a scene of the Coventry we have lost.
Housing for the miners of Binley colliery was originally based around the pithead on Willenhall Lane, but later accommodation was built alongside Clifford Bridge Road. These still flank the road from Mill Lane to the bridge over the Sowe. At this time the road was the responsibility of Warwickshire County Council and it seems clear that the normal standards of drainage and verging were not to be applied to this development yet!
For a fairly quiet Warwickshire backwater Brandon Road has made up for its sleepy past in postwar developments. The construction of houses on the left, pre-war, did bring a suburban touch to the area but some of the ex-Coombe Abbey estate workers cottages opposite date back almost a couple of centuries earlier. By 1960 Binley Park Comprehensive School had been built on 44 acres behind these cottages. A few years earlier agricultural land nearby had begun to be developed as an industrial estate, which grew further on the site of the local redundant colliery. Today Binley Park has also closed and the whole area between this scene and the newly opened Eastern By-pass is to be devoted to commercial and industrial use.