History of the Greenway – continued

Industrial BridgeInteresting connecting brick bridges can still be seen, the shallowness of the curve uprights as the line itself was a narrow gauge. The branch line was noted as having a pretty vista looking across the woods and the fields.

Not everything went smoothly during construction during 1882 to 1884, for example the line cut through the water supply in Burton Green and polluted all local wells causing cases of typhoid.
About ¼ of a mile from the Church of St Johns in Kenilworth, where the Coventry and Leamington Branch of the old L.N.W Railway used to be, the Kenilworth to Berkswell line starts. It is round the railway that most of the building in the late 19th Century took place in both Burton Green and Kenilworth.
The water tower on Cromwell Lane also known as the Tile Hill Water tower was built by a German company in 1932 and suffered no damage from the bombing raids of the Second World War.
There is another water tower at Hob Lane which used to supply both Hob and Red lanes. This ceased to function when the reservoir was built in 1966. The reservoir has the capacity to supply Kenilworth and Warwick.
Perhaps it was these water towers that the Germans were trying to destroy during a bombing raid during the Blitz.
During the Second World War and the German bombing raids of Coventry, Coventrians came and sheltered in Westwood Heath and Burton Green with some deciding to stay in the village. In the 1960’s and 1970’s a pattern emerged with more professional people came to Burton Green not only for its quick links to elsewhere but also its pleasant Green surroundings.
Burton Green played a small part during the Second World War with the RAF having an air strip off Cromwell Lane. Later this was used by the Electricity Board as playing fields. You can still see the poles for the wind socks used by the RAF pilots.
Other historic industry within Burton Green is agriculture, which continues to this day and brick making.
For a long time agriculture was the main industry in Kenilworth, however, in the first half of the 19th century, the manufacture of horn combs started, reaching its production height in 1830. There was a chemical works for making sal-ammoniac and Prussian blue, market garden produce, and a tannery and brickworks coming to the fore in the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th century.  With the close proximity to the railway line this allowed products to go to both Birmingham and London for sale. The sandstone quarries became a thing of the past with brick being used. A few small factories for the manufacturing of engineering parts and machine tools also started up in Kenilworth.
Coal was the fuel used at the time and had to be freighted into Kenilworth to the coal-yard sidings at Mill End.
With the coming of the railway, the branch line from Coventry to Leamington Spa via Kenilworth was completed in 1843 and the Kenilworth railway station was built in 1844 on Station Road.
The station was rebuilt and enlarged in 1883 with a new goods yard and a new signal box built in the triangular space between the old and new lines at the Common Lane junction.
In steam engines water had to be used to prevent the engine from overheating. The signal box at Common Lane did not have its own water supply and when a southward train stopped at Kenilworth station, they took in the cans, they were handed over, filled up, and returned to the signal box on the next northward train.
The track and station was owned and operated by the London and Birmingham Railway Company, who subsequently merged with other companies to form the London and North-Western Railway.
The bridge over the line at Common Lane was constructed from sandstone extracted from the cutting dug for the track with the initial cost was £175,000. The line was extended in 1846 to the centre of Leamington with additional cost being incurred. The line proved successful and another branch line linking directly to the Coventry – Birmingham line was constructed. Subsequently, Kenilworth became a popular home for rich industrialists from Birmingham and Coventry who developed the residential area around the railway station. Their mansions however, were subsequently demolished to build housing estates after the First and Second World Wars.
Victorian railway builders used the railway to transport ballast used in building the railway from one site to another. Under the current surface of the Greenway, the ballast for the base held Blue John stone brought down from Derbyshire, old bricks probably fired locally, chunks of sandstone scavenged from old derelict buildings or taken from local disused quarries. Darkened areas showed where spoil was disgorged.
In 1882 work began on a short-cut route from Leamington to Berkswell, using the existing line up to a point on the northern outskirts of Kenilworth and then branching off to the north-west.  The bridge taking Common Lane over the track was extended but the brick did not match the existing stone. The branch line from Berkswell to Kenilworth opened in 1884, providing a shortcut for freight trains to Coventry.
The line was also opened to passenger traffic in the same year.  In 1884 there were 13 trains per day, 7 going northwards, and 6 going southwards. The busiest times were early morning and late afternoon.
By 1910 six trains used the line each week day. Over time an increased amount of freight was shipped along the line because it avoided Coventry and WCML at Rugby which continued until the line was closed.
In 1940 it briefly became the main line when air raids closed Coventry station and most other lines, and all passengers were routed from Birmingham to Kenilworth, Leamington and Rugby.
In the 1940s and 1950s commuting increased with the two most important train services being the 8.05am Leamington to Liverpool express, stopping at Birmingham, and the 5.45pm service home from Birmingham.
In 1960 the railway authorities began a comprehensive survey of the entire line and rail infrastructure. The report stated that the Common Lane Bridge was as safe as when it was originally built despite carrying far heavier engines and carriages beyond what it had been intended for.  However widespread car ownership meant less demand for the passenger service and fewer trains operated on the Kenilworth to Berkswell line.
Kenilworth station was closed in January 1965, by which time the Berkswell line was no longer in use. The track from the Kenilworth to Berkswell line was lifted in 1966. The Common Lane signal box remained to control the line to Coventry but was abandoned in the 1970s.
With the closure of the line and with the Warwickshire County Council taking control over the Greenway in the 1970’s, it was left to be used by the community.