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Butts - A Potted History 1423-1940

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Malvern
Somerset
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1 of 2  Thu 6th Jan 2022 3:41pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2016  Total posts:65

Over the Christmas period I've been putting together this potted history of Butts Lane/Butts - further information welcomed! Until the mid 15th century the city's main archery location (butts) was in Little Park Street. In 1441 the Mayor, John Warrant, banned shooting in this location "W. Oxton to remove the under-mentioned butts, situated at the muck-hill in Little Park Street without challenge of anyone, by the mayor's command, and those now being made to be made in another place, provided that no one shoot in the cock-fighting place." It seems that from then on that butts were held on the Lammas Lands on the South side of the river Sherbourne. The Lammas lands were where freemen had the right to graze animals over the summer months (Summerland). Somerlesow Lane is first mentioned in 1423 and the earliest reference to Summerland Butts Lane is from 1635. The lane would have provided an alternative route to the butts via Warwick Lane, which avoided going all the way to Spon End to cross the river. It appears there was little development along Butts Lane until the mid 18th century when a few large houses were built on the north side of the lane, backing onto the river together with a few small cottages. These included Summerland House and Sherbourne House (which became the home of Joseph Cash). In the early 19th century, as the population of Coventry expanded rapidly, new housing and infilling began. The gardens of the existing houses in Spon Street started being converted into courts which extended down to the north side of the river. Along Butts Lane development started with the building of Hertford Terrace around Hertford House and Broomfield Place and Summerland Place at the other end. To the North, Union Place and Thomas Street (et al) were added. The south side remained largely undeveloped as these were the Lammas lands, however in 1836 the London and Birmingham Railway line was cut through and a few years later the Leamington to Nuneaton (Coundon) line was added, with the Spon End arches (another story) and the Chapelfields development was also begun in the later part of the century. In 1849 St Thomas's Church opened to serve the fast growing area. The church was constructed with stone provided by Lord Leigh from one of his quarries along Kenilworth Road. In 1860 the freeman gave up their rights over the Lammas lands in return for significant compensation which provided the endowment for the Freemen's Seniority Fund (still going to this day as part of the City's General Charities). As well as financial compensation the freemen were also allocated allotment gardens, which were set up on Poddycroft, behind Broomfield Place, and either side of the railway towards Earlsdon. Work also started on the "gentrification" of Greyfriars Green and led to the building of Stoneleigh Terrace and the eastern end of Butts Lane, which was renamed Queens Road (also Grosvenor Road, Grosvenor Street and Regent Street). Between 1860 and 1900 this vicinity became the No.1 residential area in the city. The Lammas lands (which included Six Fields, High Field, Bull Field, Pit Field) were gradually developed. In the mid 1870s Coventry (Rugby) Football Club played their first matches on Bull Field (this also doubled as a grass cycle track) behind Grosvenor Street, before moving to the cricket ground where a cinder cycle track was built in the early 1880s. At one time this was claimed to be the fastest cycle track in the country. In the 1890s the tiny lane which linked the Butts and Earlsdon with the allotment gardens was widened and Albany Road was created. Spencer Park was also established in the 1880s. as well as King Henry VIII School moving to Stivichall Hill in 1885. The goods station marshalling yards and coal wharf took over Six Fields and the Bull Field (now Central 6 retail park). The cattle market was also situated in the area as well as Coles and Matthews, boiler and engine manufacturers, where Alfred Herbert became a manager, before taking over the firm and creating Alfred Herbert Limited. The firm expanded considerably, even buying up the allotment gardens behind Broomfield Place on the other side of the sports ground, however in the late 1920s they realized that the site was still not large enough and moved to Edgwick. Some of the engineering departments remained at the Butts, but another engineering firm, Winfray Limited, took over in the 1930s. The mid-1930s also saw the building of the new Coventry Technical College, which was officially opened by the Duke of York in December 1935. The land at Bloomfield Place commonly known as "The Black Pad" was donated to the city and renamed the Alfred Herbert Recreation Ground. When the Council came back to say they could not afford to landscape the park, Sir Alfred personally paid for this and also for a pavilion to be built. The park is now known as Broomfield Park as there was another recreation ground built for the employees at Edgwick also known as the Alfred Herbert Recreation Ground and so the name was changed to avoid confusion.
Malvern

Butts - A Potted History 1423-1940
Helen F
Warrington
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2 of 2  Thu 6th Jan 2022 7:42pm  
Moderator: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:2945

Smashing. I was trying to get my head around the Lammas and other seasonal lands last weekend. Gave myself a headache. I'll try to add them to a map. Here is a good one of Rob’s to be going on with.
Butts - A Potted History 1423-1940

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