This page is about the area I
used to live, Lawford Heath, Rugby, Warwickshire in the United Kingdom.
was called The Circle before I moved there, presumably because the shape of the
road running through the estate closely resembled a circle. I would then presume
that calling it a circle wasn't all that accurate so it was changed to The
Ryelands. I don't know where this name came from. The spelling of the name then
changed a number of years later to Rylands (omitting the e). I believe this was
because it was spelt that way on the national database of addresses but the
signs at the end of the street were spelt with the e. This would cause an issue
for example when trying to order something by telephone or credit card because
of a "wrong" spelling. In the end I guess the easiest solution was for
the council to change the signs!
● The Park and Beyond
The park at
the time consisted of a set of swings, a football pitch with goal
"boards" made from old railway sleepers (from the old railway line
that used to run close by), two wooden climbing frames
made from old telegraph poles, a large mound of mud and a small stone ramp for
riding bikes up. In later years actual goal posts were put in front of the
boards (I remember climbing and swinging on them as they weren't too firmly in
the ground), a slide was added next to the swings and then a "wiggly"
climbing frame added later still. The mound was a great place to ride bikes up
and down, play with toy vehicles, dig and ride sledged down when we had snow,
but it was later shaped and turfed. A number of years later some kids managed to
set fire to one of the wooden climbing frames, these were then taken down and
the area flattened, then foundations were begun to put in place for a
"community hut" and the top soil was added to the back of the turfed
mound. The building never materialised and the now larger mound was used to fill
in the foundation hole and a tarmac basketball court was erected. It was used
occasionally (I whizzed round it on a skateboard every once in a while) but it
suffered some of the vandalism that had become more frequent over the years. A assault
course-style metal climbing frame was also erected around this time.
Looking back at how the park was developed or "councilefied" over the years, its additions would be there to suppress such youthfulness. We were always looking for things to do, if I was ever bored during the summer holidays I would always be told to go and find something to do. That something was supposed to be riding bikes on the park, playing football, or playing on the swings and slide. This would never do for us, we wanted adventure and that's what we created. Nowadays parks have to be safe, meet legislation this, avoid red-tape that. What you end up with is cotton wool-rapped children who most likely lack imagination and ingenuity and probably something else less definable. Playing as we did taught us our limits. Sure we occasionally got a little bruised or grazed, but nothing serious and nothing I would consider doing more damage to ourselves that not being able to play as we did in the first place.
I don't want to get into the whole "children of today" argument, but at this time I never smoked, drank, played with fireworks or threatened anyone with a knife. It wasn't in our nature. I remember one parent of another child who was younger than me, getting cross with me for getting up to no good... her son later grew up to get into far more trouble than me, drink and smoke from an early age.
There used to be (before I moved there) some buildings on the park, possibly garages from what I was told, but all that were left when I moved there were the flat concrete bases. There were possibly dug up or covered over when the basketball court was built. There were also similar concrete foundations in the Back Field and one in the Wildlife Park that were probably once stables as that was what the patch was called.
vaguely remember back to when I first move to the Ryelands and the bus shelter
was a metal structure, this was taken down and later replaced with a brick hut.
This was gradually vandalised - mainly suffering broken roof tiles but this has
been mostly patched up now.
*update* Below is how the control tower looks as of 2013/14. Much of the rail surrounding the top and balcony is missing, the windows are mostly unbricked it seems, and ivy has climbed the walls to the roof. The picture was provided with kind permission from a Dutch photographer, Theo Barten, in May 2014, who had contacted me regarding directions to the site. The site and picture will be featured along with others in a book titled All Along the Control Tower, which should be available in 2015. Further details are available at www.narwal.eu
Here are a couple more pictures and
further technical details:
A major and "mystical" structure much talked about during my childhood is/was the Bunker - once known as Area 9.2. This area is now owned and has been greatly developed by Satellite Media Services - the intriguing mound has been flattened but the bunker is still there, with the grounds dotted with large satellite dishes. There was a rumour during my childhood that one of the residents at The Ryelands who's garden backed onto the Back Field, had discovered an entrance to an underground tunnel that led to the bunker - the tunnel apparently had some old hospital beds in. As a child my imagination jumped up a gear or two and I looked all around for such an entrance but sadly had no luck.
There is some additional information on the history of the bunker at the following site. It mentions that the bunker was used for illegal raves but I never heard of this, although there was some talk around the time of it being turned into a night club but due to the lack of (a) fire exit(s) this wasn't possible:
are some photographs of the Satellite Media Services facilities. They were taken
by myself back in 1998/1999 and at the time the site was being developed with new dishes
being installed. Sadly the old structure was torn down and the mound flattened.
As far as I'm aware the bunker still remains.
Whilst doing a bit of Googling, I discovered a document which appears to outline planning approvals and objections (raised at a meeting) for developments at the site during 1996 - 2000. The developments include the addition of new satellite dishes as photographed above, pergola walkway, entrance porch, landscaping and wildlife pond (I believe these developments have now been completed). Local residents raised a number of objections/concerns including the release of harmful radiation from such a site, but the Chief Environmental Heath Office "confirmed that the development will result in local residents being exposed to radio frequencies well below the accepted maximum levels of exposure. These exposures have been calculated and confirmed by site testing. Given this evidence the proposed development is not considered to be a health risk to local residents and complies with current guidance." Click here to view/download the document. Pages 28 - 30 contain the related information.
reminders of the war history are the numerous craters dotted around the
landscape, most of which are now ponds/lakes and as such some are used for fishing.
Some stories still crop up about the history of the air field, from people who were stationed at the site. One time during my childhood whilst playing in the old buildings, my friends and I met a gentleman who had been stationed at the air field and he told us that the air strips were rarely used and to pass the time there were motorcycle races round the air field (it is surrounded by a narrow lane) - we found in one of the buildings a sign which could have been used for such a race.
I discovered The Dropzone, a magazine/newsletter by Harrington Aviation Museum, in which Volume 5, Issue 1, February 2007, John Harding mentions his transfer as Leading Observer (Post instructor) of the R.O.C. (Royal Observer Corps) to Lawford Heath in 1953:
The base was known during one period
as Area 9.2. Also on the topic of plotting aircraft, at one time the base
tracked an unidentified object. This was mentioned in UFO Magazine - I will have
to see if I still have that issue.