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It is difficult to imagine how areas like Whitley and Willenhall were regarded at the turn of the century. Both had a reasonably clear identity but this would appear to be based on the grand homes of their respective principal inhabitants; ‘Whitley Abbey’ and ‘The Chase’. Normal centres of activity such as the pub, the school or the church were missing in either one or the other or both. Neither had suffered particularly from the Edwardian expansion of Coventry and the early 1920s were not much different from earlier decades. The inter-war years, however, saw the sale and dereliction of Whitley Abbey, the conversion of The Chase into a hotel and the widening of the London Road. This latter act was as sad as any of the changes as it meant the destruction of an avenue of trees providing an entrance to Coventry that rivalled the Kenilworth Road. It is not easy to find saving graces in the changes wrought to this sector of Coventry. It has become the servant of the city with the city doing virtually nothing to preserve any aspect of its original character. Roads, housing, sewage works, hostels, an incinerator, a depot and an airfield have swept away the few links with the past in a more comprehensive way than almost anywhere else in Coventry apart from Radford.
Unless you are a resident of the Abbey Road area today, this view would be unknown to you. Now it has ceased to be a through road, ending just out of the picture to the right, at the rear of the Racquet Centre. However, historically, Abbey Road has always played a very important part. Before Thomas Telford built the present London Road, Abbey Road was the main coaching road from London to Holyhead. The bridge in the above picture, which still exists carried the road over the river Sherbourne. The mill seen to the left was demolished in the 1950’s although it had been out of use since the end of the last century. On the other side of the bridge, up the hill, on the right was the entrance into Whitley Abbey .