• Phil

Social Clubs, Street Names and the Price of Coal

Whilst trying to get my “Godiva’s Footsteps” enterprise established as my route to a sustainable lifestyle I still need to look out for opportunities for additional employment to tide me over.

Over the next few days I’ll be delivering the Council Electoral Register returns to households in the Binley and Willenhall area. I started this task yesterday and one of the first streets that I delivered to was Binley Avenue off Willenhall Lane.

Binley Avenue leads down to the site of the former Binley Colliery and the old social club building still remains (albeit as a bar and banqueting suite).

In posts to come I shall be looking at the role played by works social clubs in the City – very often the hub of employee’s social lives providing a huge range of sports teams, functions for all of the family such as dances and children’s parties (I used to attend those at Dunlop and GEC during my childhood) and day trips.

My Grandmother worked at the Humber factory as a 13 year old girl (working on the WW1 war effort) and continued to work there until her marriage in the 1920s. Her wedding photo shows a “guard of honour” with hockey sticks being held aloft. She not only played hockey for the Humber but also tug o ‘ war and participated in cycle rides to the South coast. Such activities were the norm for workers in the city in the first three decades of the twentieth century and beyond.

Getting back to the Binley Colliery..... In my post a couple of days ago I mentioned how there can be clues in an area’s history by looking at street names. My deliveries over the last couple of days took me along roads named after the Welsh towns of Abergavenny, Pontypool and Penarth – a throwback to times when there were an influx of miners from areas such as the Welsh valleys and the English North East into Coventry to work at the local collieries.

A feature of those roads named after the Welsh towns is that they do not contain houses with the number 13. This may seem like taking extreme measures to avoid misfortune but a look at nearby street names reflects the fact that disaster was a constant threat for the mining communities.

Other roads that I delivered to today in the area included James Galloway Close and George Robertson Close – Binley Pit workers. The nature reserve on part of the pit site is named “Claybrookes Marsh” – this is in memory of Jack Clay and James Brookes, Binley miners killed after a roof collapsed at the colliery in 1947. Another victim, William Thomas is commemorated through the naming of a boardwalk at the site.

As my ramble goes on I shall be continuing the “what’s in a name” theme in future posts.....

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