Rugby News Reel - Archive

This page is an archive of items giving the historic perspective on developments that have occurred in Rugby since 1996.

North Steet Car Park

The rebuilding of the toilets at the North Street entrance to the car park may not be noteworthy. But the Council has decided to install a relief pannel facing North Street.

The sculpture is in carved brick and being made by John McKenna from Art for Architecture. The subject is the industrial history of Rugby - so is worth a mention here.

A temporary painting of the design is on the building. The final sculpture is due to arrive in the spring. The carving has been finished and John has put some photos of it on his web site. Go to Art 4 Arch and follow the links to New Projects and then Rugby.

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Great Central Railway Goods Yard

Demolition of the ex Travis and Perkins woodyard commenced in late Feb 1998. The site is to be cleared and developed for housing.

The woodyard buildings included the former Great Central Goods Shed, still clearly displaying a sign as such. The shed was built in 1898 by J.Parnell & Son of Rugby, who built all the stations between Whetstone and Woodford Halse. The goods yard closed in 1966.

The shed provided a covered area for transferring and sorting packages between railway and road wagons. The railway wagons ran on a siding in the west part of the building, through the end doors. Road vehicles used the large doors on the east side, the inside of the shed being raised to platform height.

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Drury Lane Archaeological Evaluation

As plans to redevelop the Chapel Street area have come alive again Warwick Museum has carried out an archaeological evaluation of the area as part of the planning process.

In November 1997 four trial trenches have been dug in the Chapel Street car park adjacent to Drury Lane. If significant archaeological remains are found the developer can be required to pay for a full scale investigation as part of the planning permission.

Drury Lane is believed to have been the original western edge of the Market Place but it is not known if there were ever houses along that side. By the 19th Century the area contained yards and barns. From the manorial records it is known that there were houses along the eastern side of the market, and their property boundaries still survive between High Street and Little Church Street.

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William Webb Ellis Statue

The towns first public commemoration of the game of Rugby was unveiled by Jeremy Guscott on 26th September 1997. The bronze statue of a boy running with a Rugby ball now stands at the junction of Lawrence Sheriff Street and Dunchurch Road, beside the school and opposite Gilberts museum. The statue, by Graham Ibbeson, cost £40000 which was raised by a public appeal.

There is no contemporary evidence for Webb Ellis running with the ball in 1823, he is named in an article written by M.H. Bloxam in 1880. Bloxam's brother was at the school at the same time as Webb Ellis so could have remembered the event. In the 1880's a number of old pupils confirmed that running forward with the ball was an accepted, but rare, part of the game in the early 1830's. It only became a major feature of play towards the end of that decade. William had died in France in 1872.

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Public Library

The keys for the new building were handed over to the Council in November 1999, about 6 months later than planed due to some materials being delayed. The Library and Museum staff are now starting to organise the fitting out of the shelves and displays. The opening is now expected about Easter 2000.

The original building of Rugby Public Library closed at the beginning of June 1997. It will be demolished and a new library and gallery built on the same site.

The buildings were given to the town in 1890 by R.H.Wood and opened in 1891 as the Wood Institute, Free Library and Art School. The buildings had been the house and prep-school owned by Thomas L. Bloxam. His brother, M.H. Bloxam, lived in what is now the Percival Guild House. The site of both buildings had been bought by their father R.R. Bloxam who was a master at Rugby School and had started the prep school.

In 1995 some trial excavations were carried out by Warwickshire Museum to evaluate the archaeology on the site. A medieval ditch was identified but nothing to suggest the site was built on before the 19th Century.

Demolition commenced week ending 22nd February 1998, the site having expanded to include some of the outbuildings behind the Prince of Wales Pub.

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Sir Frank Whittle

Sir Frank Whittle died of lung cancer at the age of 89 on 8th August 1996, at his home in Columbia, Maryland, U.S.A. He came to the B.T.H. works in Rugby for the first time on 24th October 1930 to talk about his ideas but the company declined to get involved then.

Following the formation of Power Jets Ltd in March 1936 work started on the design of the test engine. Detail design work and construction was done by B.T.H. under contract with testing done by Power Jets in the B.T.H. works. Combustion tests started in October 1936.

On 12th April 1937 the first engine ran on a gallery in the main Turbine factory in the Mill Road works. The engine speed ran away, as did most of the spectators. The next day B.T.H. banned further testing for safety reasons and asked Whittle to move to an old foundry at Lutterworth. That first unit was used for testing until 22nd Feb 1941 when its turbine failed.

Contact with Rugby was not lost on the move to Leicestershire. By July 1940 Power Jets were short of office space and rented some rooms in Brownsover Hall ( now Brownsover Hotel ). This remained the main design office and company headquarters for the rest of its existence.

The first jet aircraft with a Whittle design engine flew on 15th May 1941.That engine was built by B.T.H for Power Jets. Eventually Rolls-Royce took over the production development and built the Welland engines for the six Meteor fighters that went operational with 616 Squadron at Manston on 27th July 1944.

In December 1943 the Government had nationalised Power Jets and combined it with the Royal Aircraft Establishment Gas Turbine Section at Pyestock. When in January 1946 it became clear that Power Jets was not going to be allowed to manufacture engines Whittle and 16 of his original team resigned.

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1904 Police Station

The Police Station on the corner of Railway Terrace and Market Street was built by Warwickshire County Council in 1904. The building also contained the Magistrates Court and was extended to the rear later. It replaced a station in Plowman Street which continued in use for several years. The Police and Court moved to the present site in Newbold Road in 1962.

The building was divided up and used for shops and offices by many organisations and companies until emptied for redevelopment in the early 1990's.

The new building on the site is part occupied by the Manna Project, a hostel for homeless young people. This opened in April 1997, replacing an earlier men only hostel in Manor Road.

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GEC Car Park, Boughton Road

The main carpark for the GEC Mill Road site was for many years on the north side of the River Avon. With the contraction of the site in the late 1980's the car park became redundant and the river bridge was demolished.

Work on developing the site and an adjacent field for housing has now started. A major part of the site clearance has been the removal of 3 air raid shelters under the carpark. These were tunnels of reinforced concrete with access steps at the south end and emergency escape manholes at the other.

House building on the northern part of the site was almost complete by the end of 1997, the first families having moved in during the summer. A new planning application had been made for the southern part.

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Jolly and Barber

The Jolly and Barber fine art print works was off the Hillmorton Road behind the Central Parade shops. The works was built in the late 1950's to complement a cardboard box business in Manor Road.

The printworks outlasted the packaging business but finally closed in the early 1990's. The site is now being developed for houses.

Rugby had a large number of printing businesses in the past and several have closed in the recent recession.

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© 2004 Rugby Local History Research Group
[ Version F1 05/02/04 ]