Memories of Lillington
We are always pleased to hear from anyone with a Lillington reminiscence, long or short, to contribute to this page. Please contact Margaret Rushton.
Sydney McGregor (1889 - 1970) who owned and lived at the Lillington Stud Farm along the end of Epsom Road, was an excellent judge of horses, and also dogs.
In the 1950s he had a golden labrador named Topper who had learnt to walk himself down to the Angel Hotel in Holly Walk, where he would be given a drink. When he had finished, he would walk on to the taxi rank at the end of Holly Walk where they also knew him, tap on the window of the first cab, and be given a ride home back up to the Stud Farm. (Andrew McGregor)
In the 1950s the Brownies met in the upstairs room over the parish room (now 1 - 3 Old School Mews, where the dormers are in the picture), which was next door to the Infants School. It was part of the Headmistress's office and had a rather less than clean floor for the Brownies to sit on.
I went to Milverton School as an Infant, and used to go by school bus which I caught at the top of Lime Avenue outside a greengrocer’s that I think was called “King’s”.
I used to love going shopping for my mum to Sensicles, a little supermarket at the corner of Lime Avenue and Cubbington Road. Just down Lime Avenue (on the same side) was a little tiny shop that sold knitting wool and haberdashery. I remember my mum buying me a bonnet there, to keep my ears warm. (Jane Knifton)
Lillington Men's Club began life in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year, 1897, founded by Mr W. Rench and others, following the first meeting in the school playground. It met in the School Room until it moved to new premises in Lime Avenue in October 1922, on a site given by Thomas Pratt, the builder.
After the club moved out, the old school room was converted for use as a parish room in November, 1922.
Two hundred old books found locked in a cupboard were made available by the club as a lending library in the new club. The borough librarian, Mr Ewar, added a further hundred, sixty fiction and forty non fiction, to be changed every two months. The library was later transferred to the Board Room in Pound Lane as a branch library, while Lillington was still 'the Village' (from a letter by Gerald Thompson to the Leamington Spa Courier 30th September, 1949).
On April 26, 1948 at the age of 10½, I moved to Leamington with my parents, sister and grandmother from Worcester. My father had gained promotion in the Fire Brigade along with George Cooper, Graham Cooper's father. Dad went to Cartwright’s Estate Agents in Regent Street where Mr Metherall was selling his house in Braemar Road. He gave dad the keys to view and that was the beginning of our story.
It was not long after the war and very few people had a telephone, but dad had to have one because of his work in the Fire Service. We had a telegraph pole in our garden with wires coming over from Highland Road and the GPO paid dad rental for having it there. We also had a concrete air raid shelter in the garden which had been built by Mrs Light, the first owner of the house.
There was a grass verge all round Braemar Road, and when dad was Duty Officer, he had to bring the Fire Brigade van home. This meant that the kerb outside the house had to be dropped to get the van off the road. I remember that it cost £12 10 shillings.
At the top of the road there were fields belonging to Mr [Edward] McGregor and there was also a waste area where local boys who called themselves “Lillington Cyclones” made a grass track and used to have competitions with other local boys. My mum was a qualified seamstress and she made them a flag. At the bottom of the road it was still farm fields, leading across to the Leicester Lane houses. There was a pond halfway down where we used to play and collect frogspawn.
I went to Lillington School from April to July 1948 and while I was there we won a country dance festival. Miss Luggar, the teacher, was so proud. I went to Miss Waddon's dancing school at the old school and I joined the guides in Robin Patrol. I was taught to play the piano by Miss Kibbler in Manor Road and was confirmed by Father Carter at St Mary Magdalene's Church. It was very high church in those days and we all used to sneeze at the incense.
The nearest bus stop to our house was at the top of Highland Road. It cost 4d to Warwick Street, or we could walk down to the "Fare Stage" stop opposite Lime Avenue and that cost three pence ha'penny.
Mr Hume had a post office counter in the shop on the corner of Lime Avenue and Cubbington Road which is now a wine shop, and Mr & Mrs Faulkner had the shop opposite where the carpet shop is now. Later on, until Crown Way was built, the post office was run by Mr & Mrs Griffin in a tin hut across the road. There were little cottages in front of the old school where there is now a car park. Mr Golby who had a market garden down Cubbington Road on the right, also had a small shop in the front room of the house just below Mr Aitkins the chemist, and there was also a little unit making crisps: I can still smell and taste the grease (horrible!) The Grange, further down Cubbington Road was demolished to build Pine Court.
Dad bought a plot in what had been the orchard of the Grange and had a house built. When my late husband Peter and I married in 1958 we bought Braemar Road from dad so I have many very happy memories of it, even when mum and dad invited Peter to meet them and watch the coronation on television! Our three children were born here and I would like to think that this is where I will end my days. (Wendy Shear)
I was at school in the old school building, when there was an underground air raid shelter in the playground with duckboards placed over the water on the ground. Miss Jones was the headmistress when I was there. We had a coke fire with a brass- topped fireguard.
Where the car park is now in front of Old School Mews, there were cottages and a Mrs Shepherd lived there. Tesco's, on the old Walnut Tree site, used to be a large ivy-covered house where the Proctor family lived.
There used to be interesting photographs of old Lillington in the Lillington Club on Lime Avenue.
When the landmine fell on two houses in Kinross Road [14th November, 1940], we sheltered under the table in Highland Road.
Beyond Braemar Road was just farmland. We used to go on nature walks from school with Miss Luggar, picking rosehips to make into rosehip syrup. Mr Cuthbert ran the Sunday School at Saint Mary Magdalene's in the late 1940s. (Pam Crump)
I moved to 178 Buckley Road in 1952/1954 and the houses were still being built. Behind my house there was a cricket field where the locals would go mushroom picking. There used to be a cricket match every two weeks on a Sunday morning.
At the top of Wellington Road at the roundabout where the bus stop is now, there used to be a wooden hut which sold sweets cigarettes and groceries. I believe all the prefabs were built as temporary accommodation after the war. I think a businessman bought them at £100 each and moved them to a seaside resort. (DN Price)
We were married on 3rd April, 1961 and our reception was planned to be held at Lillington Community Centre, next to the Library in Mason Avenue. However, a week before, the building was severely damaged by fire and as it was too late to arrange another venue the reception was held in the foyer and another small room, not in the main hall. There was a pungent smell of burning! (Viv Owen)
We moved from St Mary’s Crescent in 1958 to 135 Cubbington Road. Our neighbour told us that 133 was the first of the modern houses to be built in Lillington, and that ours was the second, built in 1929. If true or not, I think that the houses between Highland Road and Lonsdale Road, 115 – 139 were the earliest, probably built by Lewis and Watters, who built many houses before the war. Bill Lewis lived at 186 Cubbington Road and Jack Watters at 143.
Before felt was laid under roof tiles, cement pointing was applied to the battens and when the bomb fell in Kinross Road a lot of it was shaken down in the blast, and the ceiling of the larger back bedroom was also damaged. When the houses were first built, the water pressure was very low, so each house had a very large storage tank in the roof space, about 6 x 3 x 3 feet.
The McGregor’s Stud Farm House was at the end of Epsom Road. I believe that the McGregors owned most of the Lillington land, hence the Scottish names: Highland, Lonsdale, Kinross, etc. (Kit Smith)
I went to Lillington School as a boy. I remember my school days very clearly.
I had a friend called Ian Tracy, whose grandfather was the gardener and caretaker at Riplingham [7 Lillington Avenue] in the days when it was a furniture store. I sometimes went home with him and we played in the grounds. To us boys they seemed to go on for ever and they were full of fruit trees. We were not the only ones who went scrumping for apples there. Ian used to say that they once counted the rooms in the house, and there were forty seven! It was certainly very large. Ian and his mother and grandparents lived in a flat on the ground floor. Later they lived in a flat in the house opposite, on the corner of Lillington Avenue.
Another memory is of a girl from my class who lived in the wooden buildings on the site of the P o W Camp in the field behind Cloister Crofts. When we all asked her about it, she invited us to go home with her to see what it was like, - so one day after school, off we went, down Cloister Crofts and up Kenilworth Road to a small gate. There were about six huts which each had one big room, and my friend’s father had divided it up into rooms with partitions to make it more like a proper home. He tacked tarpaulins on the outside in an attempt to stop the draughts. Eventually, the families living there were all rehoused and the huts were demolished, but there is still a trace of a gateway in the hedge along Kenilworth Road, just past The Gables.
I have never forgotten Miss Luggar, one of the teachers at Lillington. I used to see her out for a walk occasionally. THE Miss Luggar and her sister and brother lived in the house that was once a pub, on Lillington Road [no 67], next to what was Beatty’s Nursery and up to ten or so years ago the floors still used to have the pub flagstone floor in the kitchen. Once, when I was out on a walk, I met the Misses Luggar, and when I asked ‘Miss’ if she remembered me, and giving me a smacking, she said she did remember, and then she asked “Has it done you any harm?”
On Cubbington Road, by the school, there was the Chemist, a Newsagent which later moved up the road next to the Butcher’s, a Greengrocer’s in one half of Dovecote Villa, and a five-barred gate to the lane by the school. (Michael Wills)
Although as a youngster my mother had occasionally taken my sister and me on the Midland Red Bus from our home town of Coventry to Leamington Spa to visit the Jephson Gardens, I had never heard of Lillington until one day my father suddenly read out aloud, from the Coventry Evening Telegraph, that an amazingly high block of flats had been opened called Eden Court.
As a young lad I had regularly climbed up the steps of Coventry Cathedral spire and loved heights. So when I read the article, which I believe said you could see up to five counties from the top of Eden Court, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be marvellous to go to the top and get the view’ knowing I would never have the opportunity to do so. Little did I know what the future would be.
Surprisingly, a short time after I made my first visit to Lillington when my father took me on the back of my brother’s motorbike to Buckley Road, Lillington, where he bought a car for the grand sum of £4 10s 0d. From there I was able to see Eden Court. The car was a 1933 Lanchester 10 four-door open tourer, and once he got it back in Coventry, although I was still under the age to drive, I would drive it with a school friend up and down the back entry of our road in Stoke. It was a lovely car with a bright yellow body, black wings and running boards, of course pre-selector gearbox and a very flat battery so we had to use the starting handle. Annoyingly, before I was able to drive it legally (with ’L‘ plates), my father sold it for £25 and two days later my brother saw it at a garage in Ansty for £95 – if only I had that car today.
From school I went to Edinburgh University, but unfortunately dropped out after two years, partly because I more enjoyed my love of heights, climbing Arthur’s Seat and local Munros, rather than swotting academic subjects. I needed to earn some money and got a job as a van driver in Leith for Radio Rentals, taken on because I had A-Level Physics and would be a suitable employee to be trained to repair the latest type of television – the colour set. I was sent to Pendleton in Manchester on the Company’s training course which was brilliant compared with University. I wasn’t keen to go back to Edinburgh and asked if I could be sent down to the Midlands to be near my family and old school friends. They sent me to this place called Leamington Spa – it could not have been better.
I was a Field Service Engineer and they gave me the area between Leamington and Coventry which mainly included Lillington and Kenilworth and then the outlying villages.
I will always remember visiting customers in the Lillington prefabs and how happy they were in the prefabs, but they knew their days were numbered and they might have to move into – yes – Eden Court (which they were not very happy about). Well, we did have quite a few customers in Eden Court, so at last I was able to go up the tower and peer out of the windows with great enjoyment, although the lift was sometimes best avoided as its cleanliness would not comply with current European regulations. I was quite happy using the stairway and looking out of the windows on my way up and down.
A colleague of mine from Radio Rentals actually lived there for a while, but sadly only on the second floor. He has now moved to Kenilworth. (Richard Hammon)
My first contacts were through the PPA Playgroup at the Old Library [Pound Lane], run by Ave Hall, for two mornings per week. Its popularity led to expansion to cover all weekday mornings, and the setting up of a Mother and Toddler group in the afternoons. We took advice on this from Miss Moore, the formidable Health Visitor at Crown Way Clinic, who had seen several generations of Lillington families at the Clinic and was aware of the needs, social problems and pressures on young families in the area.
Next came the school, whose Head, Miss Williams was another pillar of the community, but a dragon on her own territory. We received a letter from Miss Williams just before our daughter was due to start school in September. Brief and to the point: the uniform is listed below; bring your child to the playground on the first day; you may wait outside the fence backing on to the Greenways; do not come into the school unless by prearranged appointment with the Head Teacher, or by invitation, to a concert for example.
Fortunately for our daughter, although parents were not welcome to trespass on school property, the playgroup leader was invited to take small groups of starters on successive mornings in the summer term before they were due to begin.
The Rev Joe Humble used to go into school on Fridays to take assembly, and Susannah used to come home with some strange stories, - when it rained, she learned, God had turned his tap on. Susannah was very taken with a lot of it, - for a while she considered being a nun when she grew up. Then she swapped to being a hairdresser, - she isn’t either of those things now.
Old School Mews was then “The Top School”, with classrooms in the newer double height brick building, a small cloakroom linking them to The Parish Room (the original Victorian Schoolroom) with the original Headmistress's accommodation above. Top School assembly was held in the Parish Room. The toilet block was out in the yard, alongside the path from Cubbington Road, and the whole block sometimes froze in winter, - and children were sent home, much to the indignation of smaller brothers and sisters who were taught in the modern buildings.
The Middle School was also run by a formidable female Head, - Mrs Enoch. At that time, it was the biggest Middle School in the Central Area, with around 400 children in 12 classes, four of which were accommodated in huts on the perimeter of the north Playground, - where the staff car park and the green fence are now.
When there was the 11+, all the children in Mrs Enoch’s class regularly won places at the grammar schools, - their lives changed for ever by the opportunities on offer there. Such was the reputation of the school that when the new University of Warwick was founded, many staff came to live in the area, sending their children to the school in preference to any other. Its 70's alumni include doctors, high-flying research scientists, an England rugby player (Lawrence Boyle), Warwickshire county athletics champions, an international opera singer (Emma Bell), and the leader of the world-famous Takacs Quartet (Edward Dusinberre). It had sports teams that could beat Warwick prep, at rugby, table tennis and chess, encouraged by the enthusiastic young male staff. ‘Banger’ Walsh was a parent helper, running fitness sessions on the playground. I served on the PTA, became a parent governor, and remained a governor until the amalgamation of the two schools , - the teens of years. I helped at Friday night fund-raising discos for more years that I care to mention, sweeping the sweaty floor at the end, and ferried teams around to sports, music and chess sessions with other schools. I also helped to develop the first courtyard garden between what was then the art room and the main hall. (Margaret Rushton)
I was brought up in a terraced house at 4 Farm Road, later to become no 14 when two new houses were erected at the end of the road. My Aunt lived at Farm Cottage which is now 24 Farm Road. Major Dom lived in the Farmhouse at the top of Farm Road and Lime Avenue. He occupied the whole of the house, which is now Manor Farm House and Rheams Plumbing & Heating.
There was a Polio outbreak in November 1948 when my brother contracted the disease at the age of seven months, and a boy from The Holt unfortunately died. I was born six months later. I remember we always went for our Polio jabs at the clinic which is now the Bowling Club.
There were no houses at the bottom of Lime Avenue, just fields, and one of our neighbours, Mr Allibone, used to tell amazing stories of Lillington in the olden days.
We used to ride on our bikes to a place we called the Log (where North Leamington School is now situated). It was only a tree stump but we thought it was fantastic and used to use it as a table to have picnics on.
Our friends lived at The Holt and we used to spend endless hours playing in the undergrowth where the present Lillington Free Church stands. There was always a Club where the present Lillington Club is now but it was a Working Men’s Club (no women allowed). My Dad and Uncle were in the Snooker Team and we were always invited to the children’s Christmas parties.
We attended Lillington Free Church as children, in the room where we now hold the History Society. It was also used as a classroom when I attended Lillington Infants School.
My Mum and Aunt attended St Mary Magdalene’s Church and we used to play for hours around the church yard. I remember going to the fetes held at the Vicarage. We also attended Lillington School where Old School Mews is now and later Lillington Junior School, where my brother later became a teacher.
I remember Aitkens the Chemist on Cubbington Road. I had a friend called Wendy Wickes who used to live in the house attached to the shop. She was from a large family and we often wondered how they all fitted in there. My Mum used to say that Mr Aitken was better than any doctor.
There was another shop run by two sisters, the Misses Lambert that sold almost everything. I also used to shop at Sensicles on the corner of Lime Avenue, and the shop opposite where the carpet shop is now which was called Faulkner’s. A bit further down [Lime Avenue] from Sensicles was a shop in a converted garage run by Mrs Clarke, selling wool and sewing materials. (Linda Reidy nee John)
This is James Collins, Mary Kelly's Dad, on duty as Schools Crossings Officer (Lollipop Man) for Park Road/Lillington Avenue, in about 1986.
Josef Kalaś and Joan Garrett met whilst Josef was billeted with a large contingent of Czech soldiers in Leamington during WW2, and married at the end of it, and although Joan tried hard to learn Czech, she struggled, and found it difficult to settle in Josef’s home country, so far from home and her extended family. They came back to where she felt most at home, first to 24 Chandos Street, then 7 Park Street, eventually buying 90 Cubbington Road from Joan’s brother in 1952. Their two sons and one daughter grew up there, and over time, saw a number of significant improvements to both house and garden, including selling a strip of the garden to the school for widening the school drive, and getting planning permission to build a garage. Mike has vivid memories of his bedroom under the steeply sloping roof, where apples from their garden were stored for the winter under his bed, - and eating his way through a lot of them!
By 1961, the house was under threat of demolition for road widening and improvements to access to Lillington School. Further improvements to the property were put on hold. As Joan said in an interview with The Morning News, “We are very loth to spend any more money until the future of the cottage is definitely decided.” Much to the family’s relief, in August that year a clamp-down on local government expenditure allowed a stay of execution. It was however only a stay, and when the cottages were demolished, the family moved to 82 Kinross Road, where Joan and Josef saw out the rest of their lives. Mike now lives in Dunblane Drive, not too far away from where he and his siblings grew up. (Michael Kalaś)
I was born in Milverton, Leamington Spa in 1944 and my first awareness of Lillington came with attendance at Lillington Junior School(1952-1955), where I moved from Milverton Infants. I was taken to and from school by school bus, which picked me up in Rugby Road.
On Cubbington Road near the entrance to Lillington Junior School there was a little shop owned by Dorothy and Rosa Lambert, who became our neighbour's when my wife and I moved to Lillington in 1970.
I remember regularly walking from Milverton to Lillington in the mid to late 1950s, with my mother, to visit my uncle, aunt and cousin who lived in Briar Close. They had been moved there from Brook Street.
In 1959, my family moved from Milverton to Crown Way. My Grandad also moved up the hill from Milverton to a prefab on Gresham Avenue. I began to attend St Mary Magdalene's and joined the Church Youth Club. They met on Sunday evenings in the hall of the old Lillington School on Cubbington Road. In 1961/2, they moved to the Community Centre on Mason Avenue. Local pop groups were sometimes hired - I have vivid memories of Woody Allen and The Challengers.
I used to go to square dancing about this time, back in the old school hall, where the caller was a well-known colourful local figure, Major Domoney. A generation later, in 1974, my son used to go to Cubs Meetings in the same hall.
In the 1970s, the Crown Way Post Office had an archway through to the shop next door, where they sold haberdashery items and knitting wool. It's now an Indian take-away. The Crown Way Chemist's was run by Mr Neale, who was a chemist and an optician used by most local families, including mine. (David Goulding)
The French House Company who built some of the houses formed the English branch of a French company, La Maison Familiale, who were hoping to break into the English house building scene. In the later 1970s we had looked at the few houses they had completed in Monks Kirby and Marton, - the Chaumiere ( Cottage ) VIII design. Thirty eight French Houses were built on Lillington Stud land and all are either Camerica VII or Camerica VIII design. Both houses are of the same dimensions but the integral garage of the VII becomes a separate dining room in the VIII, with either a double or tandem garage built alongside.
All the houses have either one or two sets of French doors at the front of the property, and a further set at the rear. The original staircases had 'lyre' boards top and bottom, removable to enable bulky items of furniture to be carried upstairs.
In France, many houses are built of breeze blocks on raised plots, subsequently clad. As termites can be a significant problem, floors, including upper floors, are often made of concrete. Another 'French' feature is shutters.
Many of the Lillington Stud houses are built raised well above road level, and those of Camerica design are clad. The plots for England, are generous, and as a concession to the English mania for bricks, the Camerica VIIs are unclad at ground floor level. They also have functional shutters.
The steeply sloping roof timbers were constructed offsite and transported to the plots on low loaders. A crane then lifted the roof timbers down on to the waiting ground floor structures.
In Lillington the colour preference was for white rather than the creamier colour of the French Chaumiere, followed through in all the external paintwork, except the front doors which were stained wood.
As time elapsed, many of the original wooden features have been replaced by UPVC, and the curved ends of the roof a have also often been squared off, removing one of the houses' most distinctive features. Most families have retained the shutters, often stripped and stained for ease of maintenance.
On completion of Sandown Close, Redcar Close, Aintree Drive and a short section of Valley Road, vehicle access from Cubbington Road via Epsom Road was permanently closed and the pavement realigned, as agreed at an earlier date with Mr McGregor.
Many of the original French Houses were taken by IBM employees, and by 1981 were fetching between £43,950 and £47,950, depending on size and position and fetch almost ten times that in 2016.
Although today Groupe Maison Familiale still build over a wide area in France, the English 'arm' ceased trading in Britain in 1982. (Dearne Jackson)
I was born in 1946 in Kent and I understand not long afterwards moved to Leamington Spa. My father had been demobbed from the Royal Engineers and had enlisted as a police constable with the Royal Borough of Leamington Spa, whose headquarters were then in the old Town Hall in High Street.
Initially we lived in rooms with Mrs Reeve at 32 Leicester Street, but I am not sure how long we lived there. Our next house was a rented police house at 32 George Street, and my local school was up along Radford Road at Clapham Terrace with Mr Baxter as headmaster. Eventually we moved to a new police house, one of a pair at 26 Cromer Road Lillington. We must have been there by the summer of 1952, as my name appears on the admissions register for Lillington Mixed and Infant School at that date. So it was that I was walked by my mother through the passage off Valley Road through to Cubbington Road for my first day on 8 September 1952. I was there a relatively short time as by 23 December 1953 I had left to be transferred to the recently built Lillington Junior School. I can't remember much detail but two teachers' names do come to mind: Miss Luggar and Miss Morgan and I think Mr Alan was headmaster.
We lived happily at 26 Cromer Road. The adjoining police house was occupied by Vic Sandel who I think was in CID whereas my dad was in uniform and on motor patrol. Dad worked a shift pattern which meant that sometimes he would have gone on 'early turn' before I got up, and sometimes on 'lates', he left before I went to bed.
Picture if you will Valley Road on the route of Midland Red buses L56, L57 and L58. Dad one day brought home a lice- and flea-ridden ginger tomcat. It was in a very bad state but thanks to the tender care of my mum he grew into a stunning long-haired specimen. Where is this leading? Sandy, as he was called, could be found on occasions washing himself as only cats do, in the middle of Valley Road. More than once, as Sandy remained unmoved by the red bus, we witnessed the driver leave his cab and place him safely on the grass verge out of harm's way before driving on.
I recall a Coronation Party on wet day in June 1953 in the unmade road, getting our shoes stained by the red clay extracted for brick-making in the area. I was reminded recently that my father assisted in the road closure for that event.
I seem to remember playing up in the remnants of the clay pits at the back of Mason Avenue where frogs and newts could be found in the old pools. I clearly remember the off-licence at the Far end of Cromer Road next door to the allotments. It was here, parked in a gateway that I had one of my earliest sightings of a steam roller which then belonged to the Leamington Spa Corporation. Little did I know that this would lead to a lifelong obsession with steam!
Opposite Cromer Road was Valley Road, where a number of my school friends lived. There was a lad called Graham Sexton who went on to become a jockey, but who tragically later took his own life. Further up from the Pound Lane end was Peter Fairley, whose father Sydney was a sub-editor for the Coventry Evening Telegraph. Most days Sydney would cycle from Lillington to work, either on a bicycle or more often than not, on a tricycle. Just beyond the Fairleys lived Chris Coggins, whose father Charles was then Clerk to the South Warwickshire Water Board. He provided me with a reference for my first job in Birmingham, which set me on my forty-year career in local government.
Closer to home at 24 Cromer Road lived Bill Lawrence who drove road sweepers for the Royal Borough of Leamington Spa and occasionally at weekends he drove for Priory Coaches. Our back garden joined with 50 Taylor Avenue, the home of 'Tom' Payne who ran a cafe in Church Street and who provided teas, coffee, crisps and biscuits on a Saturday night for the Youth Club and Community Centre on Mason Avenue. My mum helped out in the cafe and on Saturday nights at the Youth Club.
Having passed the 11+ I left Lillington Junior School to go to Leamington College for Boys. I lived in Lillington until August 1960, when on my father's promotion to Sergeant we moved to Stratford upon Avon, and I transferred to King Edward's School.
I returned with my wife Janet to live in Lillington in 1975, after I had taken a post with the Royal Borough of Leamington Spa in 1973. The Borough disappeared in 1974 after the reorganisation of local government, but we have lived here ever since. (Peter Coulls)
I recall Braemar Road in 1950, terminating at the field gate leading to a meadow beyond. Living almost at the end of Kenilworth Road, I rarely came to Lillington, but was aware of the quaint half-timbered house on Cubbington Road and the Midland Oak on its mound, projecting into the carriageway at Lillington Road. It was sad when the Midland Oak was felled in 1967, but my family managed to acquire a souvenir cross-section of one of its boughs for the payment of half a crown to the tree fellers.
From Kenilworth Road it was often possible to hear Lillington church bells when conditions were right.
It used to be a common sight to see horses grazing in the field at the junction of Cubbington and Lillington Roads. The traffic roundabout now there used to be planted annually, but these days it is covered in mown grass, almost certainly for financial reasons. (Graham Cooper)
At Easter time in 1960 we were allocated a new, and it was new, house in Burbury Close Lillington. My dad arranged a van to take the furniture, but two of my sisters and I had to walk as there wasn’t room in the van. Walking up Leicester Street hill pushing my pink dolls pushchair with my sisters Linda and Marie is my first memory.
Marie was really excited about the new house as we had a bathroom, something we had never had before. It was decorated with white tiles and blue fish. It seems strange now to think that so much excitement could be had from just having a bathroom.
The house had four bedrooms, and as you might guess I was given the smallest bedroom, which was over the entry to the back gate and garden. There was no central heating and it was the coldest room in the house. To start with we had a coal fire in the living room which everyone would huddle around to keep warm. A short while later we had a two-bar electric heater, and then a Flavel Debonair gas fire was installed in the living room which was luxury, heat at the press of a button, and of course my dad no longer had to bring in the coal and make up the fire first thing in the morning or get rid of the ashes. Flavel’s started making the Debonair in August 1961 and it was very successful, if I remember correctly they had the contract to fit one in every council house in the area. On the top of the stairs we had a paraffin heater which wasn’t very good. It had a very distinctive smell and the paraffin had to be fetched from the garage or the hardware shop. I don’t have a photo of the house when we moved in - this one was taken on 17th April 1999, some years after we moved out and 39 years after we moved in. Satellite dishes weren’t around then and we had a green door.
I started at the school on 26th April 1960 and can remember Mrs Woodward and Miss Luggar in the Infant school and Mrs Reaves and Mrs Enoch in the Junior School. Miss Williams was Head of the Infants School and Mr Saunders was Head of the Juniors. At that time we all had a small bottle of milk each morning and when I was in the Juniors I was one of the milk monitors. Our desks had ink wells and we would write with ‘scratchy’ pens which would make a mess of our work if we weren’t careful - a good job there was blotting paper!
At the end of Burbury Close was a high brick wall close to a number of garages. The local children would climb over the wall as a short cut to Black Lane and the farm. We would often be playing around there. (Glynis Jennings April 2016)
In about 1958 when I was thirteen we used to play over what we called “The Cliffs”, near the brickworks. The Cliffs were created by quarrying the hillside for clay for the bricks, near what is now Leicester Street. The clay was then taken to the kilns in trucks running on a light railway there. We used to work there on a Sunday, - we got about 10 shillings (50p now) for a day's work. My brother Michael remembers unloading bricks from the kilns when they were still quite warm, and barrowing them across the site in a wheelbarrow without any sides. A tricky job, over uneven ground, even for a grown up. It was very busy and noisy, what with the clanging of the small railway and the squealing of pigs on the allotments close by, and of course the noise from the sawmills.
School holidays then always seemed to be great. One of the things we did was to go potato picking, or as we called it, "Spud picking". We used to wait at the end of Black Lane at about 7:30 in the morning, and one of the farm workers from Red House Farm came and picked us up on the tractor and trailer. There were about twenty of us piling into the trailer, clutching our sandwiches for our dinner. Mr Butlin owned the Red House Farm. He was quite a posh-talking gentleman whose mother owned the other farm on Newbold Comyn, which is now the golf club. Spud-picking was backbreaking work: no sooner had the tractor been round ploughing up the potatoes for us to pick up and put into sacks than it was round again. And so on, all day. At the end of the day, at about 4 o'clock, we went to the farmhouse where Mr Butlin paid us our wages for the day. Then it was back on the trailer along Black Lane and a weary walk home.
Another favourite pastime of ours was to go scrumping at Miss Newcombe’s. She had riding stables and an orchard and we used to climb over the wall into the orchard where she had apples, pears and all sorts of fruit trees. When we finally thought we had had enough apples, we took some home for our mothers to make apple pies.
Near to Miss Newcombe’s orchard was a large house, Newbold Beeches, built in 1861. It had been a 12-bedroom mansion situated between Newbold Comyn and Campion Hills, owned by a Mr Smythe. We used to explore the big garden out the back, where we found the graves of the family's pets. The house was sold at auction in 1927, and became a training Centre and Cookery School for women and then the Ministry of Pensions office for social security. By 1973 it was in ruins and was finally demolished in 1975.
If we weren't exploring The Cliffs, we were playing football and cricket with our mates on the Campion Hills, named after a 19th century farmer. When we played cricket, I don't think any of us had a full set of wickets, bat or ball, but one of us usually managed to provide a bat, one a ball, and so on. We were happy.
In the summer holidays we used to pitch a tent on our front lawn. Tents weren't so waterproof then and if you touched the side when it had been raining it immediately leaked on you! The only way to ease the situation was to painstakingly run your finger down the inside from every spot you touched so that the water would run down the inside of the tent and not on to you. About five or six of us would camp out. We usually took jam or cheese sandwiches and were okay until about 9 o'clock when it started to get colder, - then we all went home!
With spud-picking, working at the brickyard, blackberry-picking and scrumping, we had some great times. - I'm talking about the times when we were about thirteen or fourteen years old, when many of us used to do a paper round which also paid about 10 shillings for a whole week's work. (Terry Wills)
Lillington Pre-School Playgroup was based at the Old Library at the corner of Pound Lane and Cubbington Road. (It is now a Nursery School).
Playgroup was just that, - a place to play and learn through play, alongside other children. It was affiliated to the Pre-School Playgroups Association, whose motto (and we still have it, writ large on a kite, somewhere) was "Playing is Learning for Living". Children had to be three years old and 'clean and dry' in order to start. They were free to choose an early morning activity, from painting, drawing, glueing, construction games, cars, dressing up, and sometimes, water play, using an old baby bath set on a plastic picnic cloth on the floor. Two grannies took turns to come and read with the children in the reading corner.
Mrs Hall (aka Mrs 'All) became an institution in her own right, and a very difficult act to follow. Once she retired, and children began to start school at four, Playgroup changed character. It became Playdays Nursery School, with a different management structure, but to many who grew up in Lillington in the seventies and eighties, it will always be "Mrs 'All's."
I moved into Braemar Road (no 14, next to Mrs and Mrs Hodgetts, who I believe are still there!) in 1954 or ‘55 when I was four or five, with my parents. Before that, we lived in a caravan in a field off Hampton Road, near Hampton on the Hill (where the by-pass is now I think). We had no running water or electricity there, so a new three-bedroomed house was amazing! My parents brought the caravan with them, I think towed in through the fields at the bottom of the garden, and it remained at no 14 for many years becoming increasingly derelict.
Like many of your correspondents, I briefly attended Lillington Infants School (and Pound Lane nursery before that, to which I think mother brought me over from the caravan on her bicycle), and then as soon as it opened, Telford School. I can remember having a holiday on the first day of term, as it wasn't quite ready!
I also have fond memories of Sensicles, the old Post Office where the Walnut Tree was built, Keith Road, where we were frightened to go because someone caught polio there, Crown Way and the new library, the arrival of the L58 bus service, gas lights on Lonsdale Road, collecting wood for bonfire night, Planks the Bakers, the mobile fish and chip shop etc etc. Funnily enough I don't think we ever knew anyone from the other, original, part of Braemar Road - presumably we newcomers didn't mix!
My brother was born in 1955 and my sister in 1957, and we all grew up and had loads of friends in Lillington. My father helped build the original swimming pool at Telford.
As my parents always had a desire to live in 'the country', we moved to Claverdon in about 1964 (I remember because I had Harold Wilson posters all over my bedroom window at No 14 during the election!) and I've lost touch with everyone I knew - except for Andrew Laugharne, who lived on Leicester Lane. My brother and I did go back to Telford School three years ago (it was the 1000th anniversary of Warwick School, which we both got scholarships to, and we met Geoffrey Binks, ex Telford teacher and also an OW), which was fun. (April 2017)
My first experience of Lillington was living in 21 Compton Close. I moved there at six months old from the bottom of town. We were living in Bury Road, and my late father came home one day to 102 Bury Road to find a new family (the Herlihys) living there. My Mother had arranged an exchange with Mrs Herlihy privately as she knew my father would not agree with the move.
My earliest memory is a little later in my life so I would guess around the years 1976/77. I remember the two massive trees at the bottom of Compton Close (long gone now). I and others used to play in and around them. I also used to play marbles in the dried dirt at the base. I once recall falling off the wall close by and running home in tears with cuts, grazes and bumps. Those years in Compton Close are full of happy memories, - along with the two massive trees, the green in front of the houses is also gone, to provide parking for cars.
There were always some fun activities going on with the many children and young people who lived in the close, - the Timlins, O’Rourkes, O’Connells, Coopers, Halls, McLoughlins, and the Hunts. My sister Annie seemed always to be the organiser. We had running races, rin tin tin (or kick the can, - in fact it was a football), hide and seek and football are ones I can recall. There were also some other great families in the immediate area - the Barrys, Dorgans (Lillian, Queen of Lillington), Bloods, Stanbridges, Finns, Reynolds, Ruddlesdins and Collins to mention not a few.
I remember a fuss being made one day when there was a magpie on a roof top in the close. Apparently, this was a rare sight then, but isn’t any more. Other memories I have are of the Corona pop man coming round, and getting 10p for returning the glass bottle.
I went on to Lillington Middle School and represented the school at football and athletics getting to the county finals in the sprint relay at Edmondscote track. I was in the green of Greville, one of the four school houses. We finally won the school sports relay in the 4th year after trying the previous three years.
Some of the influential teaching staff for me were Mrs Smith, Mrs Burns, Mr Coope, Mr Simon Rogers and Mr Alan Franks who was the Head. He was a nice man, years later helping a group of local lads and men form an adult football team in which I played (Lillington FC) to use the school as our home pitch and redevelop the changing rooms to meet with league rules. The team was run by the late Anthony Smith and Tony Smith who was then caretaker of the school. Someone everyone loved at school was Mrs Edwina Hartley. Years later I became her neighbour in Crown Way and we became good friends.
A memory I share to this day with my own family is the visit to Leamington of Diana, Princess of Wales. All North Leamington School were lined up along Lillington Road waving and cheering. For one split second in time, the Princess of Hearts looked me right in the eye as she passed by on July 8th 1989.
The many alleys in and around the estate were always good for exploring. Now they are gated for residents only to use. Further afield from Compton Close I remember the Jack and Jill pub (now houses), Mason Avenue Park beyond the tree line, a grassed area where many played football behind Winston Crescent (now Wackrill drive and Fell Close.) Going to Mason Avenue Park was easier then, one could walk through the spaces between the flats that were on Mason Avenue. (pictured) These were knocked down in the 80’s to make way for houses and maisonettes.
I also greatly enjoyed being an active member of Lillington Youth Centre with my school friends. The centre was always lively and fun; it gave one a sense of independence, responsibility and the confidence to explore the changing years to come. Those changing years have led me to become a Youth & Community worker at Lillington Youth Centre, where I have been based since December 1st 2008.
(Gary Timlin, April 2017.)