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Midland Red
Cherwell
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1 of 51  Tue 4th Jan 2011 5:45pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4825

Once again there are reports of suspected arson attacks on Copsewood Grange : A Victorian mansion which is part of Coventry's industrial heritage faces demolition after it was ravaged by a blaze in a suspected arson attack. Copsewood Grange house was engulfed by flames and huge plumes of smoke billowed from the building yesterday. Last used as a social club, the empty building dates back to the 1870s when it was the home of the wealthy ribbon manufacturer James Hart. The GEC bought the house and its parkland as part of its huge telephone works factory in 1921 and used the Grange as a staff clubhouse, which was once recognised as one of the finest staff clubs in the entire country. Unfortunately its proud history has been overshadowed by its reputation as a target for arsonists in recent years. Four fire engines from Binley, Radford and Foleshill were sent to the three-storey building near Brindle Avenue, off the Binley Road, at about 8.30am. It was the latest incident in a catalogue of suspected arsons at the site, and it was last ablaze in September last year.Fire chiefs are now calling for the Victorian manor house to be demolished and are planning talks with the current owners. They say it is a regular target for arsonists and it is time the building was pulled down. Photo taken from outside the perimeter fence today: This is how it looked when I first photographed it four years ago : Very sad that this fine old building has been allowed to end up in this condition
Copsewood Grange
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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2 of 51  Fri 7th Jan 2011 8:43pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:1259

As always Cliff, great photos! A very sad sight though, especially as I used to work for the GEC, albeit mostly at Spon Street. I did see inside that place when it was still used and loved though, and it was a cut above the rest.
Copsewood Grange
flapdoodle
Coventry
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3 of 51  Mon 10th Jan 2011 9:04pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2010  Total posts:844

What a shame. I worked there for 3 years and got drunk a few times in the grange! They should save it, not let the developers destroy it.
Copsewood Grange
NeilsYard
Coventry
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4 of 51  Fri 14th Jan 2011 4:52pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:1704

All - fascinating! I'm embarassed to say I've never seen or heard of this place before despite driving very close to it for over 20 years to the Mother-In-Laws! As mentioned thats terrible - its such a fine looking building.....
Copsewood Grange
GlynD
Exmouth
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5 of 51  Sat 5th Feb 2011 9:36pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2010  Total posts:8

Saddened to see the place in this state, I lived there for several months when I first joined GEC in 1972. At that time the downstairs was used partly as club with bar and billiard room etc as already mentioned, and partly as mess hall for us student apprentices who were housed on the two upper floors. Many of us put in some hard and dirty work clearing out the coal cellar and fitting it out as a bar for the students where they occasionally had live folk music. I used to enjoy looking around some of the original bits of the structure and imagining what previous wealthy owners must have been thinking when they were standing where I was - kind of playing at being Lord of The Manor! The running of the place was then overseen by a chap who lived in the lodge at the entrance drive.
Copsewood Grange
Midland Red
Cherwell
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Thread starter
6 of 51  Tue 8th Feb 2011 12:56pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4825

Sad indeed My collection of images can be viewed here Thumbs up
Copsewood Grange
GlynD
Exmouth
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7 of 51  Thu 10th Feb 2011 8:18pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2010  Total posts:8

Thank you so much for the photo link. I had not realised that the lodge was of such high quality construction - I can't think of any others as nice - it would be a desirable residence on its own. A pity you can't get any internal views, for me the most interesting parts were the servants areas, particularly the internal bell system. So the house didn't have very long, as houses go, as a family residence, reaching its heyday round the turn of the century, and downhill afterwards? Any links to further reading anyone?
Copsewood Grange
heritage
Bedworth
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8 of 51  Sun 16th Oct 2011 11:14am  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:374

I developed an interest in Copsewood House whilst carrying out research into the Coventry/Bedworth silk ribbon weaving industry for the Parsonage Heritage Centre in Bedworth. Having played the GEC golf course many years ago I knew of the house but until four years ago knew nothing of its history. I discovered that at one time it was the home of one of the areas most controversial ribbon manufacturers, James (Paddy) Hart. The life of Paddy Hart is a story in its own right. Apart from the Rowbothams at Bedworth Mill, Collycroft, James Hart was the largest of the Bedworth Ribbon Manufacturers. At one time he employed over 400 people in the town, probably a combination of outworkers and those working in the factory in Bulkington Lane, now the site of Hatter's Court. This was in addition to a workforce of over 500 in Coventry. If we turn the clock back about 150 years, 'Paddy' Hart as he was better known, was probably the most hated man amongst the ribbon weaving manufacturers of Coventry and North Warwickshire. Hart had been born in County Down, Ireland in 1829 and came to Coventry as a young man. We can find him on the 1851 Census in Earl Street, Coventry (where the Council House is today), listed as a Ribbon Manufacturer employing 340 people. His wife was Martha who had been born in Bedworth, they had one son and one daughter and were being looked after by four 'live in' servants. Whilst Hart was to prove to be a most unforgiving employer, as a businessman he was very capable and was the only local ribbon manufacturer to send samples to a large international exhibition in Paris. He also exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, interesting that he was highlighting his low production costs. As far as we know Hart's first ribbon weaving factory was in St. Agnes Lane in the centre of Coventry, where the Museum of Transport is today. St. Agnes Lane ran between Hales Street and Cook Street and is the postal address of the museum. Technological change was very rapid in the 1850s and the new factories were much more productive than the old home weavers. Most efficient of all was James Hart's Victoria Works (sometimes called 'Paddy's Folly') at St. John's Bridge, West Orchard in the centre of Coventry which opened in 1857. This was more or less where cars enter the current Debenhams car park from Corporation Street. The factory was 127 feet long and on its five storeys it had 250 power looms and employed hundreds of workers. Paddy's Folly was to continue in use until the late 1950s when it was demolished. I went into the building in 1956 when it was being used as a toy warehouse for the new Co-op Departmental which had just been built in Corporation Street. Tracing Hart and his family on his upwardly mobile way around Coventry has been interesting. All were good addresses, many of Coventry's biggest names in the mid 1800s lived in Earl Street and Much Park Street. If we look at the census returns we find him: 1851 Earl Street 1861 126, Much Park Street, Coventry 1871 8, The Quadrant (where Rotherhams Solicitors are today) 1870 Copsewood House sold at auction and demolished. 1872 James Hart builds Copsewood Grange In June 1881 Copsewood Grange and Estate of 100 acres was sold by Hart to Mr (later Sir) Richard Moon, Chairman of the London and North Western Railway. 1881 31, Clarendon Square, Leamington Spa 1891 Hertford House, Queens Road, Coventry Described as a 'substantial stucco residence in its own grounds which had an entrance flanked by Doric pilasters and a garden front with a central pediment and a trellis verandah'. James Hart continued in business until 1882 when he was declared bankrupt. The contents of the Bedworth factory were sold by auction in September 1882. The factory in Bulkington Lane was taken over by Wootton and Forge who moved their hat making business from Leicester Street. His Coventry factory was taken over by the Rover and Centaur Cycle companies. I don't want to bore but if James Hart is of interest the story continues after he was declared bankrupt.
Copsewood Grange
heritage
Bedworth
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9 of 51  Sun 16th Oct 2011 12:31pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:374

The Rise and Fall of James Hart cont. Until recently it was thought that this was the last reference found about James Hart and ribbon weaving. However trawling through 19th Century newspapers revealed the following Extract from Reynold's Newspaper June 11th 1893 Yesterday, at Coventry, James Hart, managing director of Hart and Co., ribbon manufacturers, was arrested on a charge of having falsified the stock book. Yesterday an application was made for winding-up the company, it being stated that the directors had ascertained the company was insolvent, and that by falsification of the books this had been hidden. Further research reveals that after being made bankrupt, Hart went back into the silk ribbon trade, possibly on the same site in Bulkington Lane, Bedworth, an 1884 directory lists him at Bulkington Lane. Hart and Company (Limited) was formed in 1882 with James Hart as manager. There were three directors - Mr. Joseph Cash, Mr. W.F. Wyley, and Mr. Lees Kelsey. Mr. Lees Kelsey died, and was replaced by another Mr. Cash. Hart was paid a salary of £500 a year, and one-third of the net profits after 10 percent had been paid on the ordinary shares; therefore it was seen at once that he was directly interested in the profits appearing on the books, because if he could increase the apparent profits he would be entitled to draw one-third of the extra profits over and above the 10 percent. Until September 1892 the company was thought to be going on as a sound commercial concern. Hart and his youngest son William, who was a clerk in the company, carried out a complicated fraud involving changes to stock books. At a police interview Hart admitted that the falsifications were about £20,000, being £2,000 in 1890, £13,800 in 1891, £3,400 in 1892 and said they would be about £6,000 for 1893. William Frederick Hart (30), clerk on bail, was indicted for wilfully falsifying the sales ledger of Hart and Co. (Limited), ribbon manufacturers, Coventry, on January 10, with intent to defraud. He was sentenced to six months hard labour. James Hart was sentenced to twelve months hard labour for fraud. This seems to be the last mention of James Hart apart from the 1901 census when the family is recorded as living in London, near to Lords Cricket Ground 43, Acacia Avenue, Marylebone, London (Living on own means with two sons and a daughter). If anyone fancies continuing research into the Hart family these sons was James Denis HART, a Theatrical Manager born in Coventry in 1852 and Arthur R HART, Theatrical Manager born in Coventry in 1857. 1911 finds them both staying at a hotel in Sandown, IOW presumably with a theatre company. Interesting list of guests, reads rather like a Brian Rix farce.
Copsewood Grange
Midland Red
Cherwell
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Thread starter
10 of 51  Sun 16th Oct 2011 6:26pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4825

It doesn't look any better in the sun today
Copsewood Grange
heritage
Bedworth
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11 of 51  Tue 17th Jan 2012 7:45pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:374

Sometimes research never stops. Found this ealier in the Tamworth Times.
Copsewood Grange
K
Somewhere
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12 of 51  Wed 18th Jan 2012 11:10am  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:567

Both my wife and I worked at GEC in the 60s, and have fond memories of the Grange. A sad sight, indeed. And yet more heritage set to go, no doubt.
Copsewood Grange
Tricia
Bedworth
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13 of 51  Wed 18th Jan 2012 6:36pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2011  Total posts:541

Thank you heritage for the write up on the Rise and Fall of James Hart. I found it very very interesting, especially the links between Bedworth (where I live now) with Coventry (my home town). Thumbs up
Copsewood Grange
Midland Red
Cherwell
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Thread starter
14 of 51  Wed 18th Jan 2012 7:04pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4825

Yes, thanks Heritage - I've become somewhat "fond" of Copsewood Grange and this extra information is really appreciated - thanks Cheers
Copsewood Grange
ColinS
London
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15 of 51  Tue 24th Jan 2012 9:04pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:1

Shame, the Grange has burnt down. I lived there as a sponsored student while working at GEC/GPT. Many happy memories from the place and playing Rugby at the GEC sports ground.
Copsewood Grange

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