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Coventry's military history

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argon
new milton
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1 of 10  Wed 23rd Nov 2011 5:14pm  
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I think this is for Rob. Did the city have a military barracks before the Great War and how long was it established. To go further back than that, was there some military presence, for example, militia during the Napoleonic wars?
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
morgana
the secret garden
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2 of 10  Wed 23rd Nov 2011 5:38pm  
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If this is any help to you I do know Radford was a Roman settlement hence where it got its name from Smile
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
TonyS
Coventry
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3 of 10  Wed 23rd Nov 2011 6:28pm  
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I believe there has been a barracks in Smithford Street, Coventry since at least the 1840's (on the site of The Barracks car park in the city centre) 1840's - 4th Dragoon Guards 1850's - 6th Dragoon Guards 1860's - It was home to a Company of Lancers 1870/80/90's - The Royal Artillery Maybe others can fill in the gaps.
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
K
Somewhere
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4 of 10  Wed 23rd Nov 2011 6:31pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

I should have thought there would be a militia for a longer period than the Napoleonic Wars, because the militia was often used as an instrument of maintaining public order, as with the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1817. Militias were a normal part of society before the police were formed. I'm not sure about a garrison though before 1914. However the 7th Battalion Royal Warwicks used Coventry's Drill Hall before WWI; and it was a volunteer battalion. The drill hall was used by the TA in later times, which would have included the 1930s. See: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=520
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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5 of 10  Wed 23rd Nov 2011 10:17pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:1354

On 23rd Nov 2011 5:14pm, argon said: Did the city have a military barracks before the Great War and how long was it established.
Glad I can be of some use! Wink Yes, Coventry's Barracks were first established in 1793 on the rear grounds of the old Bull Inn in Smithford Street, and were out of use some time between 1906 and 1908. (See my 1807, 1851 & 1900 maps for the location.) They were indeed built to cater for the extra militia required for the Napoleonic wars, but Coventry had housed soldiers here for almost as long as the place has existed - certainly since early medieval 'feudal' times when the earls of Chester held the town and a number of men were required to give service to the king whenever he demanded. The building of the barracks greatly relieved the burden of so many rowdy men being housed all around the city in Inns and private homes. As you probably know, through the middle ages all able bodied men and boys were required to regularly practice with a bow for the defence of the city - the targets, of course, being set up on "Butt's" (raised mounds) in a safe area. Our appropriately named main road near Spon End now marks the spot where there once were. By the time of the Civil War (1640s) the soldiery here was more organised, although still housed ad-hoc. This time, of course, Coventry's army, with much help from nearby Birmingham, held the town against the king! After failing to take Coventry he was promptly sent to Nottingham.... but somehow that phrase never caught on!!! Big grin But I digress....
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
argon
new milton
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6 of 10  Thu 24th Nov 2011 2:26pm  
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Thanks for the information everyone. Very comprehensive Rob, can you say when the barracks were demolished? I saw a photo of soldiers being recruited in 1914 in front of a building but I suppose that could have been the Drill Hall. To deviate, a mental association to soldiers made me think of rifles. This leads me to ask, probably Dutchman or KeithLesle a question. As youngsters living in Chapelfields we used to play on the rifle fields. (now Allesley Park) does anyone know why they were called that?
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
K
Somewhere
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7 of 10  Thu 24th Nov 2011 3:44pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

Hi argon Wave First time I've heard them called that! I should imagine it was where shooting practice was carried out. Now if they were called "rifle" fields, that would preclude militia, since they had smoothbore muskets. There were riflemen from the Napoleonic period on in the regular army, but they were fairly few in number (high cost of rifles, I guess) and rifles didn't become normal kit until probably close to mid 19th century at least. I'm more inclined to think this dates from late Victorian times, maybe even WWI, when the volunteer battalions appeared on the scene. Also, of course, the TA, between the wars and since. Maybe dutchman has some more definitive info.
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
dutchman
Spon End
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8 of 10  Fri 25th Nov 2011 11:22pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:2999

Here is an article archived from the Evening Telegraph confirming it was once the name for the area: Rifle Fields gang back together; EVENING TELEGRAPH PHOTOGRAPH LEADS TO REUNION AFTER 60 YEARS. The term apparently dates back to Saxon times (Allesley was once a Saxon stronghold) and has nothing to do with the modern weapon. I think it refers to farmland from which an income was earned but was not farmed by the owner himself.
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
argon
new milton
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9 of 10  Sat 26th Nov 2011 5:28pm  
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Thanks Dutchmam. Just looked up etymology of word rifle, means to scrape or rub and so it may have been to scrape (plough) a piece of land. New one on me. Smile
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history
K
Somewhere
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10 of 10  Sat 26th Nov 2011 8:09pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

Would never have guessed that!! Cheers Thumbs up
Local History and Heritage - Coventry's military history

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