Willenhall

It is difficult to imagine how areas like Willenhall and Whitley 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.

Baginton Lane Willenhall Coventry Photographic History suburb 19351.Baginton Lane c1930 (Unknown)

These houses are still to be found beside the Volvo garage on the west side of London Road, approaching the Willenhall roundabout from Coventry. It was originally a road to Baginton beofre being cut by the A45 and Coventry Airport. The A45 dual carriageway passes across  just beyond the end house.

2. The Island, London Road c1London Road roundabout A45 Willenhall Coventry Photographic History 1957957 (Landscape)

This picture also testifies to the influence of the car on the landscape. When these houses were built, at the same time as those on the first picture, there was only one road at this spot, the London Road. By the Second World War the Coventry By-pass had joined it from the west. Before long it was necessary to build this roundabout to cope with the increasing traffic. Then by the late 1980’s the Eastern By-pass was built to join up with it and eight of these houses were demolished and the roundabout increased in size. In the centre of this picture can be seen the pillbox built in wartime to protect this imporant route to Coventry and Birmingham. There is now a plan to build a flyover at this location to ease the hold-ups at busy times.