The borough of Warwick: Warwick from 1835

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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'The borough of Warwick: Warwick from 1835', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick, (London, 1969), pp. 515-521. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "The borough of Warwick: Warwick from 1835", in A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick, (London, 1969) 515-521. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "The borough of Warwick: Warwick from 1835", A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick, (London, 1969). 515-521. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,


THE Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 (fn. 1) at one stroke changed the governing body of Warwick, as of many other towns, from an exclusive, selfperpetuating corporation, to an elected town council. In place of the mayor and twelve aldermen, and the twelve assistant burgesses whom they elected, the whole body thought to be under the influence of the Earl of Warwick, the Act provided for the establishment of a town council of six aldermen and eighteen councillors, chosen from two wards by ratepayers. (fn. 2) This arrangement remained until 1883, although the town was divided into four polling districts in 1872. (fn. 3) In 1883 three wards were created, each returning six councillors. (fn. 4) A stake in town government was thereby given to a group of inhabitants, numbering over 1,000 in 1849, (fn. 5) whose exclusion up to the time of the Act had been a point of remark by the commissioner of inquiry in 1835. (fn. 6) Two changes in particular were noticeable after this metamorphosis of Warwick's governing body - the political and social composition of the town council, and its changed financial position.

After local agitation on behalf of the Whigs in the years before reform, the election to the new council of a majority with such views was not surprising. All the aldermen chosen in 1835 were Whigs, and there were only three Tory councillors. (fn. 7) Gradually such distinctions tended to disappear, but the social composition of the council was less stable. In 1835 the members were mostly professional men and only about a third were tradesmen. Twenty years later more than half were shopkeepers, small farmers, and artisans. (fn. 8) By 1900 nearly half were tradesmen, a quarter professional men, and a quarter private residents. (fn. 9) These changes may be seen reflected in a lack of sympathy between the council and the trustees of King Henry VIII's Estate and other financial bodies in the town, (fn. 10) and also a certain hostility evident for many years in the annual presentments of the court leet. (fn. 11)

The changed political and financial position of the new council may be gauged by its activities in its early years. The changeover was remarkably smooth considering the animosity which had prevailed a few years earlier. Initial difficulties were inevitable: a court of quarter session was at first refused because so few cases had hitherto been heard. It was granted however, in August 1836 provided that the recorder's salary was raised, and that borough prisoners were kept in the county gaol. Warwick continued to enjoy a court of quarter session until 1951. (fn. 12) Almost as soon as this matter was settled James Tibbits, the town clerk, produced his claim for compensation for removal from the office of clerk of the peace and clerk to the magistrates, to which he had been appointed for life by the old corporation. (fn. 13) At the following meeting of the council he was dismissed because his conduct had 'been calculated to frustrate and impede the resolution of the council'. (fn. 14) He then claimed compensation for loss of this office in addition. The first action was settled in September 1837, the latter not until November 1840. Meanwhile, in November 1837, G. C. Greenway demanded similar recompense for his removal from the borough treasureship. (fn. 15)

Legal fees and sums agreed in compensation aggravated an already difficult financial situation. The profits from King Henry VIII's Estate, upon which the old régime had depended for carrying out its programme of public works were, after 1835, vested in the new corporation; but initial difficulties were experienced when the council found itself unable to obtain from the estate trustees any indication of the size of their income. For a body which needed to plan ahead, such information was essential, but as a result the council could only plan ahead in terms of its limited income from market rents and tolls. (fn. 16) The council sought remedy by applying to the Lord Chancellor for complete control of the estate. The Attorney General gave as his opinion that the council could only receive rents and profits after all stipends had been paid, and that it could not otherwise interfere with the management of the property. (fn. 17) This situation was regulated by a Chancery Order in January 1839, when management was transferred to new trustees, a majority of whom were members of the town council. By 1844, however, changes in the personnel of the council had produced a situation where it was wholly unrepresented among the trustees. Two lists were drawn up to fill vacancies, one, by the mayor, containing the names of councillors, the other consisting wholly of outsiders. This second list was adopted by a Master in Chancery in 1847, despite opposition from the council. (fn. 18)

The council's evident apprehension that its income might be seriously curtailed in the hands of strangers was, in the event, groundless. At Lady Day 1837 the balance of income from King Henry VIII's Estate transferred to the Borough Fund amounted to £1,750. (fn. 19) Expenditure for a new borough gaol and engine house in the next financial year led, however, to the imposition of the town's first borough rate, of 1½d. in the £, in 1838. (fn. 20) The surplus income from the estate continued to be paid into the Borough Fund, a contribution rising, with the value of the estate, from £750 in 1843 (fn. 21) to over £2,364 between November 1872 and December 1874. (fn. 22) Increasingly, however, the council relied on the borough rate, collected by the churchwardens and overseers. The size of the rate varied, and actual income was uneven due to inefficiency of collection. (fn. 23) From 1882 this aspect improved. As a general indication of the increase in public expenditure in the first thirty years of the life of the new régime the rate, fluctuating to absorb the effect of slow collection, rose from 1½d. in 1838 to 1s. 2d. for 1885-6, yielding in the former year over £235 and in the latter over £2,844. (fn. 24) By 1911 the rate had risen to 5s. 6½d., divided between a general district rate of 3s. 7d., water rate (6d.), Borough Fund (8d.), highways (8d.), library (1d.), and higher education (½d.). (fn. 25)

The broadening of council activity indicated by increased expenditure was organized administratively by the development of committees of the council. At its first meeting, in December 1835, a watch committee was formed to supervise the police force, (fn. 26) the fire service, street lighting, and the maintenance of prisoners. A finance committee was appointed at the beginning of 1836. Both became committees of the whole council soon afterwards, but were made smaller in the following year. (fn. 27) In August 1840 the trustees of King Henry VIII's Estate declared that they would no longer be responsible for the payments for gas and police. This seems to have produced a crisis in the watch committee, which was enlarged again to embrace the whole council. (fn. 28) The problem was resolved at the beginning of the next year by the appointment of thirteen members of the council to form part of the administration of Oken's Charity, which subsequently contributed to the maintenance of the watch. (fn. 29)

What at first appears to have been a sub-committee of the finance committee became responsible for market rents and tolls in 1836. (fn. 30) By the middle of the century two further committees had been formed, one to prepare a waterworks scheme (1843), and a public health committee, formed on an ad hoc basis in 1847 and sitting continuously from 1849. (fn. 31) The activities of the latter were widened in 1850 to cover highways, drainage, and sanitation. To these were added an education committee in 1876 and a sewage farm committee in 1878. (fn. 32) By 1884 committees had been formed for general purposes, contagious diseases (animals), fire engines and appliances, private works and wages, and the sanatorium. (fn. 33) By 1919 there were eleven committees, additional ones covering buildings and gardens, housing, the free library, and old age pensioners. (fn. 34)

Politics in the borough in terms of Parliamentary returns after 1835 continued to follow the pattern set earlier in the 19th century. Until the middle of the century the Independent party continued to share the seats with the castle interest, though as the result of a by-election in March 1837, two local Whigs, Edward Bolton King and William Collins, represented the town for a short time together. (fn. 35) King failed to regain his seat in the following September, Collins and Sir Charles Douglas being returned. Collins was the first mayor of the town after the Municipal Corporations Act. These two remained Warwick's representatives until 1852. Douglas, originally a Conservative, followed Peel over the Corn Laws, and after 1852 stood as a Liberal at Durham. (fn. 36) In 1852 G. W. T. Repton and Edward Greaves, both Conservatives, were returned. Greaves lived at Barford and was a partner of Greenway's Bank. Both were returned in 1857 and 1859 but Greaves was unseated in 1865 by Arthur Wellesley Peel, a Liberal, who remained member until his elevation to the peerage on his retirement from the Speakership in 1895. Until 1885 the second seat was held once by Greaves and twice by Repton, in a period which witnessed a growing interest in politics. The Redistribution of Seats Act in 1885 joined Warwick with Leamington as one constituency, returning one member. In that year Peel was opposed by Mr. E. M. Nelson, of Warwick, standing as a Liberal, but in 1886 and 1892 was returned unopposed. On Peel's retirement the Hon. Alfred Lyttleton was returned as a Liberal Unionist. Lyttleton became Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1903, but was defeated by the Liberal, T. H. D. Berridge, in 1906. Berridge, in turn, was defeated by E. M. (afterwards Sir Ernest) Pollock (created Baron Hanworth, 1926) in 1910, and the latter continued to sit for the constituency until 1923 when he was succeeded by Capt. (later Sir) Anthony Eden (created Earl of Avon, 1957), who held the seat until his elevation to the peerage. In that year he was succeeded by another Conservative, Mr. (now Sir) John Hobson. The seat was first contested for Labour (by the Countess of Warwick) in 1923.

During the first years of its life, the new town council paid little attention to matters of public health, yet the large increase in the town's population during the early part of the century had not, apparently, been accompanied by any schemes for improved water supplies or drainage. Streets were regularly watered and the Market Place cleansed, (fn. 37) but not until 1843 was any attempt made to improve the water supply. A scheme for a reservoir suggested then was dropped as being not practicable and too costly. (fn. 38) In 1845 the council went so far as to say that the provisions of the Earl of Lincoln's Bill on the Health of Towns 'are uncalled for as regards this town' since the water supply was considered satisfactory. (fn. 39) In 1847 a committee was formed to enquire into the general sanitary conditions in the town, but the council decided to make no financial outlay for the time being. (fn. 40) Evidently much discussion followed in the next year. (fn. 41) Under the related Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act (fn. 42) the council was enabled to tackle part of the problem by appointing the officer of nuisances of the local Board of Guardians as their agent to carry out inquiries. (fn. 43) His report made the point that overcrowding was one of the worst evils in the town, and this could not effectively be overcome, cases of non-removal having to be taken to the justices, thus causing delay. (fn. 44) Three months after his report 46 lodging houses were still said to be overcrowded, but some progress was clearly made. At the beginning of 1849 the inspector had reported over 400 nuisances, including 59 cesspools, 71 open privies, 64 filthy houses, and 49 offensive drains. More than half of these had been removed within three months. (fn. 45)

The whole problem was treated much more comprehensively in a report by a Public Health Inspector published later in 1849. (fn. 46) Bad drainage, overcrowding, and poor water supplies were demonstrated as the sources of an increasing mortality rate which had risen considerably in the previous two years. Thus the ditch flowing through St. John's meadow was foul and the mill-pool a source of fever; a large withy bed between the castle and the bridge took sewage from the town, and was offensive in summer; courts in several parts of the town were variously described as 'close, dirty, undrained, and damp' and 'very filthy'; drains in the streets were too small and shallow to be of much use. Overcrowding aggravated the situation. There was an average of 4.48 people to every house in the town, but some of the lodging houses had eight people in every room. Six houses in Woodward's Court contained from 29 to 200 inhabitants, the larger number at race and fair times when 'the influx of beggars' was 'considerable and in every respect injurious to the town'. Brookhouse Buildings, consisting of 42 houses with between 200 and 300 inhabitants, were provided with eight pigstyes, two pumps, and two privies. There were at least twelve 'low lodging houses' in the town, providing 132 beds for 264 people; one house had three beds shared by three married couples and eight children. Water, obtained from wells, from the Priory Pools, and from the river, was very hard and often impure. Streets in the centre of the town were in 'moderate' condition, most footways were flagged and some carriage ways were pitched or macadamized. Others were of pebbles set in pitch, difficult to keep clean. There were six surveyors of highways in the town, 'not acting in concert, and working upon no fixed system'. The work was thought to be badly, and probably expensively done.

Despite such a depressing situation, the inspector confidently stated that all could be remedied by better water, drains for each house, and more water closets. The cost was estimated at 1½ d. each week for houses of the lowest class. As a result of the report, the council was constituted a Local Board of Health under the Public Health Act in 1850. (fn. 47) Shortly afterwards plans were invited for improvements to the town's water supply. A firm of engineers in 1852 recommended the construction of a reservoir at Hatton, but this was abandoned because of difficulties with the railway company. A scheme to obtain a supply from Haseley was also dropped, and a bore hole near the workhouse in Packmore Lane also failed. (fn. 48) In 1853 tenders were invited for a scheme to take water from the Avon at Portobello Bridge. This was completed in 1857 at a cost of nearly £15,000. While this provided increased supplies, the quality of the water was poor. Reporting in 1870, Dr. Buchanan, medical officer of the Privy Council, graphically described its condition as 'scandalously filthy'. (fn. 49) This was partly because towns higher up the river, particularly Leamington and Coventry, allowed their sewerage to enter the river. Legal action was successfully taken against Kenilworth in 1883 and Leamington in 1884, (fn. 50) but less progress was made against Coventry in 1885. (fn. 51) Meanwhile Warwick's supply was considerably improved by the construction of works at Haseley, completed in 1876. (fn. 52) By 1878 the daily supply from this source was about 240,000 gallons. (fn. 53) This improvement was accompanied by the construction of a sewerage works in 1885.

Closely allied to these measures for the improvement of public health were developments in hospital facilities. The 'Warwick Dispensary for the sick and poor of Warwick and its neighbourhood' had been founded in 1826. It relied on public subscription and the proceeds of an annual charity ball. (fn. 54) The Warwick Provident Sick Association was founded in addition in 1857, probably by the Revd. E. T. Smith, Vicar of St. Paul's, and was known after 1859 as the Warwick Provident Dispensary. It was originally a scheme for working people in St. Paul's parish; workers with an annual income of less than £8 paid 1d. each week, but the fund also relied on larger subscriptions from the more opulent. A branch was formed in Emscote in 1864. (fn. 55) These two organizations were amalgamated in 1871, and a limited number of beds was made available in the Castle Street premises. By 1900 there were five beds and a crib, and the average number of in-patients was about 50. (fn. 56) The Dispensary ceased to function in 1948 on the introduction of the National Health Service.

The Guardians of the Poor Law Union erected what is now the General Hospital in 1849. The Nurses' Home was built in 1902, and the main treatment wards and the medical staff quarters in 1940, in connexion with wartime emergency services. (fn. 57) Proposals in 1880 to enlarge this hospital to house patients with infectious diseases were strenuously and successfully opposed by the court leet. (fn. 58) Similarly the first site for an isolation hospital, at the junction of the Tachbrook and Whitnash roads, was rigorously opposed for amenity reasons. (fn. 59) The present site for the Heathcote Hospital was acquired in 1886 (fn. 60) and the building was opened in the following year. The Nurses' Home was added in 1937. The use of the hospital was changed from isolation cases to tuberculosis in 1952, and from tuberculosis to geriatric work in 1959. (fn. 61) In 1900 a home for crippled children named the 'Countess of Warwick Home', was functioning in Emscote Road. (fn. 62)

The effect of the railway in Warwick was much less than that of the canal. Interest in the subject was expressed as early as 1842, (fn. 63) and the Earl of Warwick suggested that St. Nicholas Meadow might be a suitable site for a terminal station, an idea opposed by coach owners. (fn. 64) Trade needed a stimulus if business was not to flow to Leamington, and a petition signed by three hundred people was presented to the earl, requesting that he obtain Parliamentary authority for the construction of a branch from Hampton in Arden. Two years later a further move in favour of railways was led by John Mollady, the hatter, who objected that Warwick should be treated as a mere village, and stressed the acute need to be linked to the railway centre at Rugby. (fn. 65) Earlier in the previous year the council was described as 'neuter' in regard to an application from a railway company, (fn. 66) and a year later there was still a minority which opposed the idea. (fn. 67) Later in 1847 the council gave its assent to the plans for the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway. (fn. 68) The construction of the line to the north of the town proceeded in 1851, and by the end of that year the position of the station was being discussed, the council having sent a deputation to Mr. Brunel. (fn. 69) Evidently the train service was a disappointment; no expresses stopped at Warwick, and in 1853 the company refused to put on specials even for mail. (fn. 70) Passengers wanting fast trains, as before and since, had to travel to Leamington.

Despite this disappointment, between 1850 and 1874 the railway certainly forced coaches out of business in Warwick as elsewhere. In 1850 there were daily services to Cheltenham, Oxford, Stratford, and Alcester, and less frequent journeys to Henley-in-Arden, Shipston, and Worcester. There were also 62 carriers serving the surrounding area. (fn. 71) By 1874 all the coach services had disappeared, and the number of carriers was reduced to 36. Omnibuses from the 'Warwick Arms' and the 'Woolpack' met all trains at Warwick and Milverton stations and nine omnibuses ran each day to Leamington. (fn. 72) In 1881 the Leamington and Warwick Tramway began to provide a service by means of horse-drawn trams, running from High Street through Smith Street and Coten End to Leamington. In 1905 electricity displaced the horse, and the service continued until 1930. (fn. 73) For a short time afterwards the tramway company operated with motor buses, but the service was subsequently taken over by the Midland Red Omnibus Company. (fn. 74) The regular Birmingham Motor Service was licensed in 1914, leaving the Market Place for Birmingham via Knowle and Solihull. (fn. 75)

Postal communications, traceable from the end of the 17th century when Warwick benefited from a change of route, receiving mail via Banbury instead of Coventry, (fn. 76) were frequently an object of complaint during the 19th century. (fn. 77) A post office was established in 1716 and by 1830 it was in the Market Place; (fn. 78) it was removed to its present (1965) position in Old Square in 1886. (fn. 79) By 1852 Warwick was in telegraphic communication with Coventry and Rugby, and a line from Birmingham to Buckingham through the town was under construction. (fn. 80) The Electric Telegraph Company received permission to extend its lines into Warwick in 1864. (fn. 81) The Post Office took control in 1870. A request by the Long Distance Telephone Company to extend its lines into the town in 1883 proved abortive after legal action against the company over patents. (fn. 82) The National Telephone Company opened an exchange in the Market Place in 1891, and its assets were taken over by the Post Office in 1912. (fn. 83)

Improved communications and public services were not paralleled in the economic sphere by an expansion of trade and industry. Very little trade, it was said in 1850, was carried on 'beyond what is necessary for the supply of the inhabitants', the cotton, worsted, and lace manufactories having 'totally declined'. (fn. 84) The chief industries in 1850 were Mollady's hat factory in the Saltisford, Roberts's Iron Foundry in Coventry Road, and the 'stained glass and decorative painting establishment' of William Holland at St. John's, 'where every description of design for monumental and baronial windows, enamelled and encaustic painting, gilding, imitations of wood' was executed. (fn. 85) For the rest, Warwick's industry seems largely to have been of the domestic kind, malting being the most common occupation until the 1880s when it declined. (fn. 86) Cabinet making and boot and shoe manufacturing were popular in the middle of the 19th century, but textiles of all kinds employed comparatively few people. (fn. 87) The closure of Mollady's hat factory soon after 1850 was a contributory factor in the decline of population between 1851 and 1861. (fn. 88) Rope and twine makers, brick and tile works, and agricultural implement manufacturers accounted for most of the minor industrial activities in the town.

By the beginning of the 20th century the position had not changed substantially, though a broadening of interest is discernible. The firm of William Glover and Sons in the Saltisford and Packmores offered a wide range of vans, wagons, and carts, including the vehicle awarded a prize by the London County Council for the best dust van. The firm's engineering department produced roller mill plants, cementmaking machinery, and constructional ironwork for barns and churches. (fn. 89) In 1911, on the initiative of the local chamber of trade, a town development committee produced a booklet, with text in French and English, setting out the advantages of establishing factories in the town. (fn. 90) The principal manufactures already established were listed, headed by gelatine and isinglass (Geo. Nelson, Dale & Co.), photographic film and plate, agricultural and general engineering, building, cabinet making, furniture cream and polish, cigars, stained glass, milling, malting, and general printing. A plan accompanying this survey showed various suitable industrial and residential sites available for development in the borough. The official town guide of 1935 singled out engineering, confectionary and gelatine production, motor-body building, and agricultural implement manufacture as the principal industrial activities in the town. (fn. 91)

The main development in this sphere took place after the Second World War. In 1931 about 1,300 people were employed in manufactures, a large proportion of whom worked in Leamington, Coventry, or even further afield. By 1946 more than twice this number were employed in 32 factories in the town, almost half of whom were in the motor, aircraft, and allied industries, showing the degree of link with Coventry. (fn. 92) About half the industries established in the town in 1961 had been founded since 1945; a number of these were allied to various types of engineering.

The history of smaller, distributive trades in the town is less spectacular. In 1946 it was remarked that although the number of people engaged in trade was comparable with the national average, the number of shops was greatly in excess. Part of this was due to the needs of surrounding local communities. Such a situation seems to have obtained also in the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 93)

The highlight in the history of banking since 1835 was the failure of the bank of Greenway, Smith and Greenway in 1887. This caused much local distress in Warwick and Leamington. (fn. 94) After protracted examination and trial, reported in detail in the local press, Mr. G. C. Greenway, formerly town clerk of Warwick, was sentenced to five years penal servitude, and Mr. Kelynge Greenway to one year hard labour. (fn. 95)

Increasing awareness of public health problems produced opposition to the town's fairs in the 19th century. The inhabitants of Cow Lane in 1811 objected to the showing of horses there. (fn. 96) In 1827 the leet recommended the removal of the sheep fair from Sheep Street (now Northgate Street) to the Butts, because of complaints by the county justices. (fn. 97) At the same time they suggested that cattle, hitherto sold near the centre of the town, should be removed to Castle Hill, Gerrard Street, St. Nicholas Church Street, Smith Street, and Mill Street. In 1844 the November cheese fair was removed from Jury Street to the Market Place and the wool fair was held there by 1850. (fn. 98) Despite the reorganization of fairs in 1844-45 (fn. 99) the leet jury, by virtue of the Nuisances Removal Act, again drew attention to the problem in 1848 by asking that the cattle, horse, and sheep fairs should at least be confined to Brook Street, and not overflow into the corn market and other streets. (fn. 100) The area below St. James's Chapel was still known as the Horse Fair in 1851 (fn. 101) and the leet repeated its request two years later. (fn. 102) This gave rise to a decision by the town council to forbid the auction of cattle and sheep (except rams) at all fairs. (fn. 103) Four years later the October cattle and sheep fair was abolished. (fn. 104) The heart of the problem was touched in 1849 when the council was asked to provide a proper site for a market, and a corn exchange. (fn. 105) This matter was not mentioned in council meetings until 1851, and nothing was achieved until 1855, when a committee favoured the idea of a covered exchange but had no money to build one. (fn. 106) A company was formed in that year which bought the Castle Hotel, demolished it, and on the site erected a Corn Exchange, which was opened in 1856. (fn. 107) By 1888, monthly stock sales had been established by Messrs. Gibson and Jackson of Alcester, in a yard off West Street, (fn. 108) and Messrs. John Margetts and Sons held sales at Coten End twice each month. (fn. 109) By 1916 Messrs. Hutton, Thompson and Colbourne (later R. B. Colbourne) were holding sales there on alternate Mondays. (fn. 110) Now (1965) the market is held each Wednesday. (fn. 111)

By 1900 the only fair to survive was the annual Statute or Mop Fair. Originally a hiring fair, it had become only a source of pleasure and an object of attack. In 1901 the court leet recommended that it should be removed from the centre of the town or, failing this, that at least the livery vans should not be allowed and that entertainment should cease by 11 o'clock at night. (fn. 112) In 1912 there was an attempt to confine it to the Saturday after Stratford Mop, and to prohibit such nuisances as the sale of toy whisks and confetti. (fn. 113) During the 1920s several further restrictions were proposed by the leet, and criticisms still continue, largely because of the disruption of traffic caused by the virtual blockage of the Market Place and adjoining streets. (fn. 114) In 1965 the Mop was held on 16 October, followed by a 'Charity Mop' on 22 October and the second, or 'Runaway Mop', on the following day.

Immigrant labour, upon which the town had depended for its short-lived industrial revolution at the beginning of the 19th century, had become a social, as well as public-health problem by the middle of the century. Overcrowding, particularly in lodging houses, (fn. 115) increased sickness, and the virtual stagnation of Warwick's industry during the second half of the century led inevitably to unemployment and poverty. By 1881 a relief committee had been set up in the parishes of St. Mary and St. Paul, which established a soup kitchen in the neighbourhood. (fn. 116) In 1886 the attention of the town council was drawn to the increase of beggars. (fn. 117) By 1890 halfpenny dinners were being served to the poor. (fn. 118) The problem increased during and after the First World War. A national soup kitchen had been set up in the borough, (fn. 119) and in 1921 and 1922 acute unemployment was experienced. In January 1921 the council found work for 55 men on three days a week on roads and housing schemes, and still had 67 more on the waiting list. (fn. 120) The population of the town fell between 1891 and 1911, and there was evidently some emigration abroad, since by 1900 two agencies for the purpose had been established, by H. T. Cooke and Sons and R. M. Ivens. (fn. 121)

A number of tradesmen in business in Warwick by 1850 indicate the growth of demand for luxury articles and of leisure time activity. There were, for example, two bird and animal preservers (one of whom also made artificial eyes), seven booksellers, binders, printers and stationers, two of whom had lending libraries, and four of whom were also music dealers, and three coffee and dining rooms. A Mr. Wilcox was the proprietor of a 'Cabinet of Elizabethan Gems', and Mr. Redfern of Jury Street had a shop 'full of antiquities and ancient Bijoterie . . . and all those odds and ends which wealthy persons are apt to fancy when time and money hang heavy on hand'. (fn. 122) By the end of the century fancy drapers and antique furniture dealers were established in the town and refreshment rooms had increased in number, including the tea gardens at the Portobello Hotel, Emscote, where pleasure boats could be hired for trips on the river. (fn. 123)

This last phenomenon, in particular, reflects Warwick's growing importance as a tourist attraction. The castle had been open to individual visitors at least from the end of the 17th century, (fn. 124) but by the end of the 19th century tourism was becoming important to the town as an economic factor. The most distinguished visitor during the period was Queen Victoria, in whose honour the town council spent over £300 in 1858 in providing triumphal arches, platforms, bands, and feasts for school children. (fn. 125) In 1885 Lord Warwick temporarily closed the castle, causing consternation in the town. It was said to be 'quite a calamity . . . One day last week eight American visitors who were staying at one of the principal hotels left somewhat hurriedly in consequence of their being unable to gain admission to the castle'. (fn. 126) This was only one of many similar instances. The castle was evidently soon reopened, and a delegation of colonial and Indian visitors was fêted in the town after a visit there in 1886. (fn. 127) By 1900 a ticket office for admission to the castle had been established in Mill Street, and a permanent guide was employed. (fn. 128)

The races still continued to be an important attraction, accompanied usually by the opening of the theatre, firework displays, and a Race Ball. (fn. 129) By 1900 there were four annual meetings, which were 'much frequented'. (fn. 130) The race stand was enlarged in 1852. (fn. 131) St. Mary's Common was also used for military reviews, and the Royal Agricultural Show was held there in 1859 and 1892. (fn. 132) The theatre was opened during the assizes as well as on race days until the 1850s. (fn. 133) Subsequently plays were staged at the Corn Exchange and the Shire Hall. (fn. 134) In September 1910 the Albert Hall in Edward Street became the first licensed cinema in the town, and in the following month a similar licence was granted for the Corn Exchange. (fn. 135) In 1914 the Albert Hall was reconstructed and became the Hippodrome Cinematograph Theatre, (fn. 136) but it was closed by 1928. (fn. 137) The County Theatre at St. John's was built by 1924, but was closed in the early 1950s. (fn. 138) Warwick Cinema at Coten End was closed during the early 1960s.

A number of clubs and societies formed in the town during the 19th century give some idea of the intellectual and recreational interests of the inhabitants. By 1836 the Warwick and Leamington Mechanics' Institute was in existence, but in the following year was considering a break with Leamington, calling itself instead the Warwick Institute for Readings and Lectures. (fn. 139) The Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society was founded in 1836, and established a small museum at the Market Hall. (fn. 140) The Warwick and Warwickshire Horticultural Society appeared in 1839, and a Glee Club about 1846. (fn. 141) In 1844 a News and Billiard Club was opened in New Street, and two years later the Athenaeum was established in Church Street, affording 'facilities for moral and intellectual improvement, by the aid of a library, reading, and news room'. (fn. 142) Similar clubs were opened later in the century, the Nelson Club House in Wharf Street in 1883 and the Borough Club in Swan Street in 1886. (fn. 143) By 1850, apart from the public subscription library, there were two private circulating libraries in the town, (fn. 144) which were supplemented in 1866 by the Free Public Library established by the town council. (fn. 145) One of the town's seven booksellers in 1850 was Henry T. Cooke who, between 1860 and 1905, issued historical books and guides of the town and county of considerable value. (fn. 146) His contribution to the history of the town provided material for the historical pageants organized in the town in the early years of the 20th century. The annual Warwick Dog Show, established by 1886, was said to be the largest in the provinces. (fn. 147)

During the 19th century golf and cricket seem to have been the most popular sports in the town. The Warwickshire Golf Club used St. Mary's Common from 1886, (fn. 148) and a town club was using the Pigwells by 1911. (fn. 149) The Warwick Old Cricket Club was founded in 1841, and the Warwick New Club and the Cape Club were playing regularly by 1849. (fn. 150) Polo was played on St. Mary's Common by 1885. (fn. 151) Playing fields were laid out in Hampton Road by 1904. A swimming bath had been constructed in St. Nicholas Meadow by 1875, drawing water directly from the river. (fn. 152)

Warwick's position on the route between the west of England and Coventry made the problem of traffic in the town acute, particularly after the Second World War. (fn. 153) The interest of the court leet and the town council was focussed on this from the late 19th century, ranging from measures against the reckless riding of bicycles in 1894, and suggestions for a speed limit of ten miles per hour in 1909, (fn. 154) to suggestions for road improvements in the 1920s and the provision of a pedestrian crossing in 1965. The construction of a by-pass to the west of the town, commenced in 1965, and the redevelopment of the central area as a shopping precinct are designed to preserve the historic centre of the town and give stimulus to further industrial and commercial development. (fn. 155)


  • 1. 5 & 6 Wm. IV, c. 76.
  • 2. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 461-4.
  • 3. Council minute Sept. 1872.
  • 4. Lond. Gaz. 1883, pp. 5296-7.
  • 5. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 464.
  • 6. App. Rep. Munic. Corps. H.C. 116, pp. 2057-72 (1835), xxv.
  • 7. P. A. Cross, 'The Corporation of Warwick, 1835-85' (Birm. Univ. B.A. thesis, 1946), 4.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900).
  • 10. See below.
  • 11. The leet remained active until 1937, and was revived after the Second World War.
  • 12. WA 12/19; council minutes Jan., Mar., May 1836; Justices of the Peace Act 1949, 12, 13 & 14 Geo. VI, c. 101.
  • 13. Council minute Sept. 1836.
  • 14. Ibid. Oct. 1836.
  • 15. Ibid. Jan., Mar., Sept., and Nov. 1837, Oct. 1839, Nov. 1840.
  • 16. Ibid. Jan. 1836.
  • 17. Cross, op. cit. 7.
  • 18. Council minute Dec. 1847.
  • 19. Ibid. Jan. 1837.
  • 20. Ibid. 9 and 20 Feb. 1838.
  • 21. Accts. King Henry VIII's Estate, drafts (WA 12/18).
  • 22. Accts. King Henry VIII's Estate, drafts (WA 12/18).
  • 23. Cross, op. cit.
  • 24. Ibid. 17-18.
  • 25. Gen. Purposes Cttee. minute Mar. 1911.
  • 26. Until merged with the county force in 1875: Warw. Advertiser, 17 Apr. and 15 May 1875. For the police force under the court leet, see p. 495.
  • 27. Council minute Nov. 1837.
  • 28. Ibid. Nov. 1840.
  • 29. Ibid. Jan 1841.
  • 30. Ibid. Sept. 1836.
  • 31. Ibid. Sept. 1847, Sept. 1849.
  • 32. Cross, op. cit. 16.
  • 33. Council minute Nov. 1884.
  • 34. General Purposes Cttee. minute Nov. 1919.
  • 35. T. Kemp and A. B. Beaven, List of Members of Parl for Warwick, 29.
  • 36. Ibid. 30.
  • 37. Council minutes May, Aug. 1838.
  • 38. Ibid. May, June 1843.
  • 39. Ibid. Nov. 1845.
  • 40. Ibid. Sept., Dec. 1847.
  • 41. Ibid. May, Oct. 1848.
  • 42. 11 & 12 Vic., c. 123.
  • 43. Council minute Mar. 1849.
  • 44. Ibid. May 1849; Warw. Advertiser, 26 May 1849.
  • 45. Warw. Advertiser, 26 May 1849.
  • 46. Ibid. 16 June 1849.
  • 47. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 90.
  • 48. Ibid.; Edward Pritchard, 'Warwick Water Supply', Procs. Assoc. Municipal and Sanitary Engineers and Surveyors, iii. 177-89.
  • 49. Pritchard, op. cit. 180.
  • 50. Council minutes Oct. 1883, Aug. 1884.
  • 51. Warw. Advertiser, 13 June 1885; Coventry City Council Minutes A. 14(dd), 142, 194; see p. 279.
  • 52. Pritchard, op. cit.
  • 53. Urban Water Supply, H.C. 265, pp. 82-83 (1878-9), lxi.
  • 54. Char. Com. file 143540 (notes by Mr. E. G. Tibbits).
  • 55. Ibid.
  • 56. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900), 261.
  • 57. Ex inf. Group Secretary, South Warws. Hospital Group.
  • 58. Court leet presentment bk. (WA 1/top of box 22).
  • 59. WA 1/24; Warw. Advertiser, 14 Feb. 1885.
  • 60. Warw. Advertiser, 15 May 1886.
  • 61. Ex inf. Group Secretary, South Warws. Hospital Group.
  • 62. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900), 269.
  • 63. Warw. Advertiser, 15 Jan. 1842.
  • 64. Ibid. 12 Apr. 1845.
  • 65. Ibid. 24 Apr. 1847.
  • 66. Council minute Jan. 1846; plans of the projected line are in Warw. Boro. Recs., maps and plans.
  • 67. Council minute Jan. 1847.
  • 68. Ibid. Dec. 1847.
  • 69. Ibid. Nov., Dec. 1851.
  • 70. Ibid. Jan., Feb., Apr. 1853.
  • 71. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 540-1.
  • 72. White, Dir. Warws. (1874), 418.
  • 73. Ex inf. Dr. H. S. Tibbits.
  • 74. Ibid.
  • 75. Gen. Purposes Cttee. minute 1 Sept. 1914.
  • 76. H. Robinson, The British Post Office, a History, 81; Herbert Joyce, History of the Post Office, 82.
  • 77. e.g. Council minute Nov. 1852.
  • 78. Ex inf. Post Office Departmental Record Officer; the Postmaster was John Bradshaw: West, Dir. Warws. (1830), 671.
  • 79. Warw. Advertiser, 28 Nov., 12 Dec. 1885.
  • 80. C. Maybury Archer, Guide to the Electric Telegraph, map.
  • 81. Warw. Advertiser, 14 May 1864.
  • 82. F. G. C. Baldwin, The History of the Telephone in the United Kingdom, 475.
  • 83. Ex inf. Post Office Departmental Record Officer.
  • 84. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 460.
  • 85. Ibid.
  • 86. Directory, Local Year Bk. and Annual Advertiser (1881); Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900).
  • 87. White, Dir. Warws. (1850).
  • 88. Census.
  • 89. See pl. facing p. 515.
  • 90. Warwick as a trading, residential and educational centre.
  • 91. Warwick, Past, Present, and Future.
  • 92. P. Abercrombie and R. Nickson, Warwick, its preservation and redevelopment, 36-38.
  • 93. Ibid. 38.
  • 94. V.C.H. Warws. vi. 157.
  • 95. Warw. Advertiser, 4 Aug. 1888.
  • 96. WA 1/23.
  • 97. Court leet presentments, 1798-1836 (WA 1/22).
  • 98. Council minute Feb. 1844; White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 460.
  • 99. Council minutes Feb., June 1844, Mar., Aug. 1845.
  • 100. Court leet presentment bk. (WA 1/top of box 22).
  • 101. 1851 map.
  • 102. Court leet presentment bk.
  • 103. Council minute Apr. 1853.
  • 104. Ibid. Dec. 1857.
  • 105. Court leet presentment bk.
  • 106. Council minutes Dec. 1851, Feb. 1855.
  • 107. Corn Exchange Co. minute bk. (WA 16/16).
  • 108. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1888), 224.
  • 109. Ibid.
  • 110. Ibid. (1916), 299.
  • 111. Warw. Official Guide.
  • 112. Court leet presentment bk.
  • 113. Ibid.
  • 114. e.g. P. Abercrombie and R. Nickson, Warwick, its preservation and redevelopment, 102-3.
  • 115. See p. 517.
  • 116. Council minute Dec. 1881.
  • 117. Ibid. Sept. 1886.
  • 118. Gen. Purposes Cttee. minute 2 Dec. 1890.
  • 119. Ibid. 4 June 1918.
  • 120. Ibid. 4, 27 Jan., 8 Apr. 1921, 11 Sept. 1922.
  • 121. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900), 269.
  • 122. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 458-9, 536-7, 539.
  • 123. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900).
  • 124. Journeys of Celia Fiennes, ed. C. Morris, 116-17.
  • 125. Council minute June 1858.
  • 126. Warw. Advertiser, 18 July 1885.
  • 127. Council minute June 1886.
  • 128. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900). 269.
  • 129. e.g Warw. Advertiser, 10 Sept. 1836.
  • 130. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1900), 261.
  • 131. Court leet presentment bk.
  • 132. Ibid.; Kemp. Hist. Warw. 91, 96.
  • 133. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 76; Warw. Advertiser, e.g. 27 July 1839; Robert Walton, Random Recollections of the Midland Circuit, 182.
  • 134. Council minute Sept. 1889; Gen. Purposes Cttee. minute 4 May 1897.
  • 135. Gen. Purposes Cttee. 16 Sept., 4 Oct. 1910.
  • 136. Ibid. 3 Feb. 1914.
  • 137. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1928).
  • 138. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1924, 1950, 1953).
  • 139. Warw. Advertiser, 31 Dec. 1836, 7 Jan. 1837.
  • 140. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 458.
  • 141. Warw. Advertiser, 9 Mar. 1839, 28 Apr. 1849.
  • 142. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 458.
  • 143. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1888), 224-5.
  • 144. White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 539.
  • 145. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1888), 225.
  • 146. R. B. Wilson, 'The evolution of local history writing in Warwickshire', T.B.A.S. lxxi. 64-65.
  • 147. Kelly's Dir. Warws. (1888), 224; Warw. Advertiser, 5 May 1888.
  • 148. V.C.H. Warws. ii. 412.
  • 149. Court leet presentment bk.
  • 150. Warw. Advertiser, 12 May, 9 June 1849.
  • 151. Court leet presentment bk.
  • 152. Warw. Advertiser, 12 June 1875.
  • 153. P. Abercrombie and R. Nickson, op. cit.; this was a survey commissioned by the town council and published in 1947.
  • 154. Gen. Purposes Cttee. minutes 3 July 1894, 2 Feb. 1909; court leet presentment bk.
  • 155. Central Area Redevelopment Plan, ex inf. borough surveyor.