Keresley shares much of its history with Coundon, as it did its church, but the past 150 years have created some rather peculiar internal changes of their own. For centuries Keresley was a village of two halves, Keresley Green to the north and Keresley Heath to the south. The former was of the greatest antiquity but the latter became the most prosperous and it was at Keresley Heath that the church and schools were built in the last century. Then in 1911 a colliery was built near Keresley Green and the centre of prosperity moved northwards. Boundary changes and the expansion of suburban Coventry maintained the split character of the area until in 1974 Keresley was reunited within the boundary of Coventry. The original rural nature is still evident in some of the western parts of the district but the steady expansion of housing and the creation of a large industrial estate on the site of the Colliery/Homefire Plant mean it is very much another suburb of Coventry. The suburban character of this area will be reinforced even more if the plans for many new homes on greenfield sites in the village come to fruition.
Though more a view of the road than a view of St Thomas’s, the caption would be even less appropriate today as the church is almost completely hidden by trees. This route out of Coventry has been considered important since medieval times and was turnpiked in 1762, but it has attracted less ribbon development, until this century, than its parish twin, Bennetts Road. The photographer is standing in the entrance to Coundon Hall. By 1948 this private house was now a hotel, shown in the second picture, and although the postcard caption has the house in Keresley it is in fact in Coundon, the boundary between the two running along the Tamworth Road. The rural setting of this view has been preserved by the creation of Coundon Hall Park. The house itself has recently had a rather uncertain commercial existence, no longer in its last incarnation as a steakhouse.
After demolishing his old house in Stoke to make way ior the Humber factory, William Hillman had this house built as Keresley Hall, just off the east side of the Tamworth Road. After his death the house was bought and converted into a convalescent hospital with the money left from a bequest by a local man, John Alcock. At its opening in 1929 by Countess Haig pride was expressed in the minimal alterations that had been made to the grandeur of the building – if only the same could be said today! In 1968 the hospital closed and became the Royal Court Hotel.
4. Main Road c1927 (Teesee)
The spire of St Thomas’s just showing in the centre of the picture tells us that Main Road is in fact the Tamworth Road looking north out of Coventry, near its junction with Bennetts Road South. Only the cottage seen above the car the other side of High Street, has gone today having been demolished in the 1960’s. The terrace on the left has been renovated and the furthest dwelling no longer acts as the police house. The policeman is in fact one of the customers standing by the baker’s van. The smart chauffeur, no doubt from one of the large houses in Keresley, stands by a Humber car. He would probably approve of the untidy roadside being tidied up by the pavement and kerbs that stretch along both sides of the road today.
5. The Jetty c1927 (Teesee)
Remarkably no buildings survive from this compact street scene and would take some discovering today. It is in fact the west end of High Street, near the junction of Bennetts Road South and Tamworth Road, looking towards the latter. The first cottage on the right was at one time the local bakehouse; it together with the rest of the cottages on that side of the road were demolished after the war to be replaced by more spacious housing. Those buildings on the left were demolished in the 1930’s around about the time that the street changed its name.
Known more commonly as Spingfield Hill at the time, this group of houses is located on Bennett’s Road South by the junction with Penny Park Lane. For the moment, the onward march of Coventry’s suburbs ends at this point, most old village houses flanking the road south of here have been demolished, but this group remains. None are of a great age, the first cottage on the left was built in the mid nineteenth century for the coachman at Keresley House. Dominating the immediate area would have been Springhill House and farm which was on the right hand side of the road, south of the Penny Park Lane junction. All remnants were cleared away by the 1960’s