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  • Writer's picturePhil

Stray bombs, tunnels and rambling....

After a varied week of delivering and attending guided walks and historic talks it is time to catch up on here! Research into varying walks and talks and discussions with interesting people attending them have led to many questions and links that I'll be discussing on here in the coming weeks.

After delivering a talk on the history of Coombe Abbey, the Gunpowder Plot and the Dunchurch area on Tuesday I had a few interesting discussions with some of the attendees (members of the angling club based at Draycote Water). Part of the talk was about the Craven family (former custodians of the Coombe Estate and prominent landowners both nationally and locally). One of the family's properties was a hunting lodge next to the Thames which was frequented by royalty. The lodge was located on the site which is now occupied by Fulham F.C - the football ground retains the name "Craven Cottage".

After the talk I was approached by John. His family had bought some of the Craven family's Coventry property (the area around Wyken Slough) before the Second World War. The Craven family had substantial mining interests in the area and the lake at the Slough is the result of subsidence resulting from colliery operations. John himself was an engineer working in colleries and quarries around the country and has maintained a keen interest in the lost collieries and associated industries of Coventry and Warwickshire. This is an interest that I share and I'm hoping to talk to John and relay some of his knowledge and experiences on here in the coming weeks.

Last Friday I delivered my walk "The Blitz, the Bard and the Tudors" in Coventry City Centre. I followed this up on Saturday by joining Jo Phillip's walk themed around the "forgotten" raids on Coventry of April 1941 (further offerings of these and other local history walks can be found by visiting Whilst at Dunchurch on Tuesday I also spoke to Tony (I believe he is Steward of the Dunchurch Social Club and very knowledgable about the history of that village). Tony had recounted how his mother would shelter in underground tunnels linking Guy Fawkes House, the local church, The Dun Cow and the Green Man (very handy to have clandestine links between pubs was my first thought!) when there was risk of air raids. He also told the story of how two young men from Coventry had gone across to the social club in Dunchurch on the evening of the November 14th 1940 blitz to play billiards. It was their misfortune to lose their lives as a stray bomber released its payload onto the village resulting in a direct hit on the club. The story has inspired me to do a bit of research into the impact of the bombings on the wider Warwickshire area.

A look at my website will show that apart from my historic walks and talks I also offer other "on foot" services such as dog walking and leaflet drops for local businesses (pretty much an "another day, another dollar attitude" to get by financially whilst exploring the city as I go!) Whilst on my rounds on Monday morning I stopped tom look at the plaque on Earlsdon Library detailing the area's historic trail. Despite having lived in the area in the past I am relatively ignorant about some of its history. The trail lists a nail factory, weavers cottages, a tubular bells factory and a ragged school amongst its former features. Whilst looking at the plaque I was approached by an old resident of the area who started filling in a lot of the details and we started discussing family links in the area going back to the early twentieth century. There is a wealth of knowledge and interest from Coventry's citizens which doesn't always shine through and which I am trying to tap into for my "Coventry Ramble" project. This evening I shall be back in Earlsdon to attend an event at the Criterion Theatre. I'm intending getting over there early enough for a bit of a stroll around the trail (more to come on this!).

I'm also looking forward to attending an event on the history of the Sowe Valley Walk tomorrow evening which I'm sure will add some food for thought along one of my regular venues for outings with my dog, Spike, as my ramble goes on.......

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