Whittleford’s Industrial Heritage
Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company was founded in 1870 by entrepreneur James Knox. The Company went on to make a contribution to Nuneaton’s rich industrial past as one of the areas biggest and best know employers. Its products helped to influence architecture, buildings and decor throughout Britain and many different parts of the world.
The picture above shows the Works in the area which is today known as Whittleford Park. In the middle left of the picture you can see the first created clay hole filled with water, which is today aptly named the Clay Pool (known previously as Clay Hole No 1.) Clay holes were formed when the clay for making the bricks was extracted from the ground and the resulting hole flooded with water.
The blue bricks that the clay produced were renowned for their quality and were widely used throughout Britain and abroad.
The edge of Camp Hill Estate can be seen in the top left hand corner of the picture. The left foreground shows Whittleford Road joining Haunchwood Road at the junction with Church Road (wide road leading off the picture.) The Birmingham to Leicester railway track can be seen running through the centre bottom left to top right.
The clay used for making Haunchwood bricks was extracted from the clay pool from around 1894, creating the deep pit we can see in the picture, which later flooded. The works ceased operating in 1970 and the buildings were demolished the following year. In the mid 1980’s during a Derelict Land Reclamation Scheme the deep and murky looking water in Clay Pool was drained and partly infilled to form a shallow pool which was then left to fill naturally. The Clay Pool is today the only one of the four Works clay holes that has not been infilled completely and provides a pleasant natural area for ramblers and picnickers.
The Pool has a wide variety of wild creatures and birds as it’s residents. If you take time out to enjoy walking round the pool you will no doubt be surprised by the many different birds and creatures you see and hear. One year the pool paid hose to a mallard raising a brood, one of which was a lively white duckling. On a different year a shoveller duck spent a year living amongst the mallard ducks.
The clay pool is so well known locally that one of the new roads off Queen Elizabeth Road has been named Clay Pool Lane.
If you would like to see one of the trams that were used by Haunchwood Brick and Tile Works to transport the clay from the clay pit to the brickworks and some of the ware produced by the workers visit Nuneaton Heritage Centre on Avenue Road, Nuneaton. For more information on the Heritage Centre visit their website.
When Nature took over
When the original deep Clay Hole No 1 was drained of water and landscaped as part of the Derelict Land Reclamation Scheme in 1980 the resulting shallow hole slowly filled up with rainwater and became a haven for wildlife. As time went on a reed bed began to form at the edge of the pool in front of the trees and the path that went around the pool disappeared underwater as the water level began to rise. Local residents think the rising water began when a drain from Clay Hole into Barpool Brook was blocked off as part of the capping of nearly mine entrances.
Additional trees were planted on disused colliery land immediately behind the trees bordering the Clay Hole. Older visitors may remember that well used pathway that ran through this area which ran from Spinney Lane, over Barpool Brook and straight onto Queen Elizabeth Road. As time went on nature took over and formed a unique area of flowers and wildlife. Unfortunately this magical place was lost when houses were built on the land.
Unfortunately the loss of valuable wildlife areas in Whittleford continues today with the soil around the old oak trees in ancient Haunchwoood being eroded by motor cyclists.