Warwickshire county links

Our county has many 'links' of various kinds, some are old , others of more recent origin. There are various links in our county and beyond, the earliest made by animals and the feet of men upon the ground, then technology , once along water was used, latterly engines of various kinds .

In pre historic times much of our county was covered by a great forest, known as the Wealden area, the less forested was to the south called the Feldon. The Wealden became known as the Forest of Arden.

Before the Romans arrived our county was occupied by a British tribe known as the Cornoviii, the area around Warwick was home to a small group called the Hwicci.

Initially the small human habitations were linked through the forest by trackways, one such came into the county in the south from Gloucestershire. Now many narrow lanes meander through our county to charming villages. Some routes had a special purpose carrying important commodities. Salt in the past was a very important item for use in daily life to preserve meat and fish so the salt way crossed our county from the mines in such as Droitwich. Part of the Saltway near to us is on the slopes of Ufton Hill. Another important route of the past crossing our county is of course the drovers road from Wales to London and markets of the Eastern Counties. The drovers' road passed through Southam giving us Welsh Roads East and West. Parts of the Welsh road also go near Kenilworth and Napton. The Ridgeway too in parts of Warwickshire was also another trackway of the past.

As our county is the centre of England the earliest road builders in our land, the Romans passed through our area. Two of the most important Roman roads meet in Warwickshire, the Fosse Way and Watling Street. Although no major Roman villas have been found in Warwickshire there are many finds in the county, Alcester and the Lunt Fort near Coventry were both major Roma2 military sites. There were also Roman sites at Mancetter, near Atherstone, iron works at Alveston. Stratford gets it's name from Strata on the ford, the road from Banbury to Alcester crossing there.

Roman remains have been found at Atherston(Watling St) Hartshill, Monks Kirkby, Catthorpe, Borough Hill, Whilton, Willoghby, Offchurch Sawbridge, Snowford Bridge, Lighthorne, Roman roads distinctive by their construction have been discovered between Leamington Hastings and Stockton Hill and Flecknoe to Grandborough Fields. Near Bidford on Avon is the Icknield Way and also at Alcester.

Another county 'link' was by water, there are fourteen rivers in Warwickshire. The principal rivers in our county are the Anker, Sowe, Tam, Avon, Stour, Arrow, Alne, Leam, Stowe and Dene. The most important river in Warwickshire is the Avon, from the thirteenth century to the sixteenth it was navigable from Stratford to Tewkesbury. The Leam is also used for boating still whilst nearer to home the residents of Stoneythorpe Hall used to punt down the Stowe to Southam.

The rivers in Warwickshire were crossed by some lovely old bridges, Thorpe Bridge near the deserted village of Thorpe, being the oldest near Stoneythorpe Hall and the Old Bridge at Stoneleigh. Other ancient Bridges were at Marton, Halford, Warwick, Bidford on Avon and of course the Clopton Bridge at Stratford.

In the eigteenth century many new bridges linked areas of our county with the development of the canal system and this also connected us to other parts of the country. This development also changed the appearance of many cities, towns and villages as at Birminghham, Coventry and Stratford with the Canal basins with the legacy at the latter of the Bancroft Gardens. The latter were constructed where the wharves were situated for unloading coal etc. The reconstruction of many towns after disastrous fires in the eighteenth century as also influenced by the canal system, it was much safer to transport slate from Wales by water, so many houes of the period were constructed with slate roofs instead of the flammable thatch, this was so in Southam after the fires of the 1740's, Stratford and Warwick also.

In the eighteenth century another 'County Link'was developed when the railways began to cross our land, causing yet more bridges in Southam the landowners were not too keen on the construction,¬ of canals and railways so although we are surrounded by these transport links there are neither in the town.

However for hundreds of years Southam has been an important place with links to all parts of the country. The drover's roads were an early link route to other areas, and Southam was also on the route for Banbury Oxford then London. Shakespeare mentioned troops passing through Southam en route to Coventry prior to the battle of Barnet. Royalist supporters met Parliamentarians in Southam before the battle of Edgehill in 1642,; returned here after that event at the start of the Civil war. Communication increased a great deal in the seventeenth century with the development of the stagecoach routes and postal services. Our town grew in size and importance as a connection between traffic both north and south, east to west. In fact England was much easier : passing through Southam than it is with the many changes now. Many inns and businesses benefitted from the stagecoaches. Toll roads also developed at this time for road maintenance. Names in Southam recall this time, Toll Gate Road, and Sovereign Court called after one of the stagecoaches.

Ironically we now have the Stagecoach buses linking Southam with other towns and smaller villages also the green and yellow County Links buses.

Other links of our county are the nearby Birmingham and Coventry airports, not forgetting the small one at Wellesbourne.

We must not forget another transport link, used for shorter journeys the taxi service.

Now we no longer have to rely on Shank's Pony' or four legged types of transport. Both goods and people are transported by various types of technology, using petrol or diesel, what will be resposible for our next County Link?

This article has been kindly written by Mary Rock

> Return to articles

Previous Articles Published before 2010
Article Name Author
> Twentieth Century Defences in Warwickshire Nimrod
> Warwickshire Murders District Advertisers
> Clerical activities Mary Rock
> The bake house oven Bill Griff
> Warwickshire county links Mary Rock
> Hot Oil, the drive that followed steam Bill Griff
> How can I get a quality tenant in the shortest possible time Jordans Rentals
> The fifty five rung ladder Bill Griff
> The poor are always with us Mary Rock
> Ensure the garden can cope with the heat of summer Farnborough Garden Centre
> It can be very pleasant to walk along the towpath Mary Rock
> With muscle power and a big hammer Bill Griffin
> July, a time to relax and enjoy your garden. Farnborough Garden Centre
> Most peoples daily transport was the bicycle Bill Griffin
> Not a Liberty Mary Rock
> May: the garden approaching its most exciting period Farnborough Garden Centre
> Farms in Southam in the 1900's Irene Cardali
> A few facts about Southam’s past Mary Rock
> April is one of the most exciting months for gardeners Farnborough Garden Centre
> Remembering the Warneford Irene Cardall
> Notable events in our vacinity during the last war Bill Griff
> Where is Southam or the Country Heading? Peter Crosby
> Christmas seems top fly past so quickly District Advertisers
> Christmas has changed little since the pre-war days Bill Griff
> Midwinter in the garden: January Farnborough Garden Centre
> Going to the post Irene Cardall

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