What’s Camp Hill’s Story
Camp Hill derives it’s name from a Roman Camp that once stood on a raised escarpment providing an advantageous lookout over the surrounding countryside.
Up until the Victorian era Camp Hill was a relatively unspoilt area of woods, cottages and farms. It’s hard to imagine now as we view the modern buildings just how tranquil this part of Nuneaton used to be. For example Hollystitches Road gets it’s name from what was once a wooded valley called Hollow Sticks.
In the Georgian era a small estate was built by William Craddock, whose name is immortalised in Camp Hill’s Craddock Drive. William was a cheese and corn merchant, which enabled him to amass a considerable fortune selling his products to the people of the district. He later went into property speculation and founded the Craddock and Bull Bank, which later combined with other banks to form the beginings of what would later become Barclays Bank. Willain died in 1833 a very rich man, his estate was valued at £120,000, a massive amount at the time.
Camp Hill also boasted it’s own Elizabethan style mansion, commisisioned in 1838 by John Craddock, William Craddock’s son, which was later known as Camp Hill Hall. The architect was the famous Thomas Larkins Walker, pupil of the famous Victorian architect Pugin. Walker is also known for designing Hartshill’s Holy Trinity Church It is thought that there was an earlier building on the site of the mansion dating from around 1776.
The Hall was situated roughly at the end of the cul de sac Hornbeam Close, behind St Mary and St John’s Church. It had a long drive that led from Camp Hill Road, part of which exists today as Camp Hill Drive. There was also a small man made ornamental pool in the grounds, which was formed by damming a stream. This is known today as, yes you’ve guessed it, Stubbs’ Pool, the name Stubbs being the surname of a former estate owner.
After William died, his family continued to live at the Hall, however by the 1870s it was owned by Richard Ramsden of Ramsden Avenue fame. Richard later sold the Hall to Henry Stubbs.
Henry was the director of a brewery company and for many years he was a Justice of the Peace for Warwickshhire County Council. He was also very keen on the theatre, going on to found the Prince of Wales Theatre, (later known as the Hippodrome) in 1900. The Hippodrome stood where the Hollybush House buildings stand today.
The grounds and surrounding areas of Camp Hill Hall were brought from Henry Stubbs by the Borough Council for council housing in 1912. Henry died in 1916 but his wife continued to live at the Hall until her death in 1926. After Mrs Stubbs death the entire contents of the Hall including paintings, antique china and furnitre were sold by public auction in April 1928. The Hall was later demolished without any further use. The extensive gardens and wooded grounds became the large Camp Hill housing estate.
Another prominent feature in Camp Hill, at the top of Tuttle Hill, was the five sail windmill known as Tuttle Hill Windmill, which was the last working mill in Warwickshire. The mill tower is still there but the sails were removed in 1936 due to storm damage. When the miller died a short time later an electric motor was fitted to grind the corn. Today the windmill tower stands on private land and is only visibe from a perimeter footpath through a wire fence. Click here for more information on the windmill and click here for a map showing its location.
Other dominant features in Camp Hill for many years were the enormous holes excavated in the Tuttle Hill hillside to remove vast quantities of hard stone for civil engineering purposes. The Tuttle Hill hard denise stone was considered ideal for road making, railway ballast, concrete making and other building purposes. The stone had a history of being utilised, with the Romans thought to be the first people to work with it.
By early Victorian times a man called Wiliam Cropper had started working the Tuttle Hill Quarries. His business partner, William Judkin, imported the quality stone to Northamptonshire where roads and railways were being built. The quarry was rented from the Aston Family, but when William became sole owner of the business in 1864 he bought the quarry and land outright for £500. It is today known as Judkins Quarry.
There was also another small quarry in the area, Windmill Hill Quarry, that was used by the town council for many years to obtain stone for local roads and streets. This quarry has long been abandoned and is now the Windmill Hill Nature Reserve. The 8 acre site was once a council tree nursery and was turned into a nature reserve in 1991. Members of a local bird watching club helped to transform the area with coppicing, tree planting and scrub clearance. A large area was evacuated for a pool but unfortunately was never completed, the grassy banked hole remaining there to this today.
The entrance to Windmill Hill Nature Reserve can be found 400 yards from the junction of Tuttle Hill and Mancetter Road. The Reserve is well known for it’s variety of wildlife and unusual trees.
The Camp Hill Housing Estate was built by the local authority and the National Coal Board during the 1950’s and 1960’s to provide social housing and accommodation for local mine workers. Most ofthe Coal Board properties were built on the steeply sloping area between Edinburgh Road and Queen Elizabeth Road. The council housing was built on the plateau between Edinburgh Road and Cedar Road.
Unfortunately, the demise of the coal mining industry combined with the decline of manufacturing in the West Midlands led to social and economic problems for people living in the area. These problems over the long term led to a decrease in property values.
In response to these problems a major transformation of Camp Hill was planned. A master plan was produced by Taylor Young and GVA Grimley in 1990. The plan was produced on behalf of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Warwickshire County Council, English Partnerships (whose role was later taken over by Advantage West Midlands and the Urban Villages Forum (which later became the Prince’s Foundation. This masterplan proposed the redevelopment of large areas of Camp Hill in a phased manner. For the rest of the story of the regeneration scheme go to our About Us Page.