Abbey End Casualties


1936_360       1936_casualties_360

The plan on the left shows the addresses of Abbey End (blue) and The Square (red). The plan on the right shows the location of the victims, the number in brackets are the two unknown souls who were located between numbers 1 & 5, Abbey End.


Abbey End, west side

            There are no known photographs showing the west side of Abbey End either prior or post the attack. As the photographer concentrated on the east side, it can be assumed that west-side damage was less severe, however the number of casualties here would suggest it was still considerable.

10 & 8             ‘The Firs’. In the late 1920’s Abbey End was widened, largely to accommodate passing buses. This resulted in the frontage of ‘The Firs’ being cut back, and subsequently the estate began to be redeveloped. The house itself was split into two creating the new No 8 ‘Lladnar’, the home Charles Randall’s widow. Neither house is recorded post war; it is assumed that damage caused them to be demolished.

6          Number 6 was a new house built in the grounds of ‘The Firs’ and was occupied by Mr & Mrs Redwood; Mrs Redwood died in the attack. Number 6 is not recorded after the war and it is presumed it was demolished due to damage.

4          Number 4 was originally stables and outbuildings for ‘The Firs’ and was occupied by JH Reeves, corn merchant. I believe that this was a business address and that it was unlikely to have had any residents. The business at the same address continued after the war. Between Numbers 4 & 6 was a vacant plot of land, it was once the forecourt of the stables.

2          Number 2 was occupied by George Davis in 1939. It was almost directly opposite the centre of the explosion. Resident Annie Lee and Tom Bristow of Lincoln died here. It is not recorded after the war and is presumed to have been demolished due to damage.      

East side:

11        ‘Bendower’, had been the home to surgeons since at least 1884, in the days that a surgeon’s home was also his surgery. It was first occupied by T S Bourne. In 1939, it was the home of surgeon and Physician Colin Harper. A photograph of it appears on page 42 of ‘Remember Kenilworth’ by J H Drew. It was severely damaged and demolished; a surgery was built nearby in the 1960s, but this has since moved.

9          In 1939, ‘Roseary’ was occupied by Alec Robertson, still trading his father’s business ‘Robertson & Son printers’, one-time publisher of the Kenilworth Advertiser. ‘Roseary’ was severely damaged and Grace Halls of Coventry died there. It was demolished.

7          ‘Salumin’ was built at the same time as ‘Roseary’ and in 1939 was occupied  by Jonathon Morris. He survived but guests Mr & Mrs Saunderson of Coventry did not. Number 7 was almost totally destroyed.

3 & 5   was occupied by Smith & Millar, drapers. This address was probably the centre of the explosion and was totally destroyed. Guests for the night, Mr & Mrs Glennie, Mr & Mrs Snape and their nephew, all from Coventry, and residents George and Nellie Webb died; proprietress and host Isabella Smith was badly injured and died a week later at Warneford hospital. It was the building with the largest loss of life, eight.

1          was the premises of Oscar Lancelotte, tearooms and confectioner. (The buildings can be seen in 'The Inns and Roads of Kenilworth', by Rob Steward, Published by the Odibourne Pres, 2000). The building was totally destroyed; Oscar lost his wife Winifred, and guests Mr & Mrs Lucas and Mr & Mrs Allen, all from Coventry, died.

The Square, east side:

3          ‘The Globe’ is often the focal point when the disaster is recalled, simply because it is the easiest building to identify. “The luftwaffe destroyed Isabella Smith’s drapery” is much less evocative than “destroyed The Globe”; however, the former is true, the latter is not. Photographs show that, although badly damaged, a great deal of ‘The Globe’ survived. There have been claims of between 30 and 50 occupants of the inn and its clubroom that night but ‘just’ three died. Contrary to popular belief that it was destroyed with great loss of life, the structure of ‘The Globe’ appears to have been robust enough to have saved the lives of dozens. It also appears to have given a degree of protection to neighbouring buildings, as there were no fatalities south of ‘The Globe’. However, its remains were demolished.

H         The 1939 directory has Hansons Music Shop, on the south of the side entrance to ‘The Globe’, unnumbered, but it was an old building that appeared in many photographs. It went back some way from the road, and also housed a dentist. Photographs show that ‘The Globe’ protected it from the worst of the blast but the roof was badly damaged, as was part of the rear of the building. As far as is known, it was demolished during the site clearance.

5          Gilbert & Morgan, Wine Merchant. This building had been a wine merchant since 1860s when it was in the name of Mander & Co. It was damaged but not demolished and photographs show that 20 years later it was trading as Johnson & Mason Ltd, with a corrugated roof and boarded up windows. It has since been demolished.

7          A J Cooke, grocer. Number 7 was a long established grocery business, dating back to at least to the 1860s. Number 9 is not listed in 1939 and it is thought that the address was absorbed by number 7. Photographs show that ‘Cooke’s’ had its windows blown out and its roof, that included dormer windows, damaged. Twenty years later the dormer windows were gone and it had corrugated iron roof and boarded up upper floor windows. It has since been demolished.

11        In 1939 number 11 was Jonathon Haycock the butcher. Photographs show its windows were blown out but the roof, slightly lower than that of neighbour A J Cooke, appears to be comparatively undamaged. It has since been demolished.

13 & 15           Known as ‘Carter’s’, in 1939 it was a drapers in the name of B H Bennett. Surviving photographs are not clear enough to judge the damage this building received, but it is the closest building to the explosion to still survive on the east side.


West side:

2          This was the building that formed the backdrop to so many pre-war photographs of the clock tower. It was built as two dwellings, each having a pair of bay-windows with the front door in between. The end bay-window area, and a little more, was removed in the late 1920s when Abbey End was widened. The remaining part of this dwelling was restructured and became the ‘Clock Tower Tea House”, the other part was by now Alfred Glasspool, the chemist. In 1933, Glasspool is recorded at Number 1, and the teahouse at number 2. However, in 1939 Glasspool is recorded as being at number 2 and no number 1 is mentioned.

            Mrs Astle and her daughter died at number 1, a dwelling that is not listed. I believe the teahouse was (or had become) number 1, and that part of the building is known to have been severely damaged in the explosion and was later demolished.

4          4 The Square was the very old Leycester’s Lodge, which some believe to have been built as a lodge on the approach to the castle, perhaps the beginning of a driveway. In 1939 it was occupied by Mrs Arnold. A photograph shows that it sustained a great deal of damage and one would suppose it was demolished.

            However, number 4 The Square is recorded in 1953 as ‘Honeycote’. I regret my knowledge is lacking here; maybe part of Leycester’s Lodge survived sufficiently to be resurrected, or a cottage on the property survived, or perhaps even a new small dwelling was erected. Whichever is the case, it only survived until the site was rebuilt with the current row of shops.

6, 8 & 10         There are no photographs that show the damage to these properties although it is safe to assume there was some. Windows would have been blown out and debris may have caused other damage. However, these properties all remain today and (with the exception of shop fronts) retain there pre-war appearance. It is possible to see odd bits of damage to the brickwork but such is there age that it cannot be said with certainty that this is due to the explosion.