This is first in a series of posts looking at evidence of BS(before suburbia) pasts within the housing estate, focusing on Leyfields, Tamworth the estate I grew up in. Travelling along Comberford road in direction to Elford, you´ll come across a drive to the left called Copes drive, it’s an unkept road at the start, full of potholes, the result of some sort of impasse probably between owners and local authorities. It’s the road that I used to use to travel to school as the shortest way to school from Leyfields. Its turns out that this shortcut has a long history. It’ s a remnant path or elusive road(fascinating description on Geoff´s BLDG blog), an anomaly remaining from another time, stubbornly refusing to go away. You can find these ´lost reminders of past built environments´throughout suburbia and I´ll post about other ones found.
This unassuming drive goes back to at least the late 1700´s(its lost in the mists of time before that, to me anyway), it’s called Copes drive in reference to the owner of the land in the late 18th century Alexander Cope. Later on it was the main thoroughfare to the Wigginton Lodge estate belonging to distinguished surgeons the Clarkes. After Leyfields housing estate was built in the1950´s/60´s it was begrudgingly incorporated into the housing estate .
Ordnance survey first series, 1834 clearly showing Copes drives connecting Wiggington lodge with Burton Turnpike road(now Comberford road)
The hedge on one side at the start, and the recently sawn down tree at the start are reminders of its age. This part of the drive with its pot holed surface , is an accidental nod to its ancient pre-tarmaced days.
1902 ordnance survey map, with the surviving Copes drive highlighted. Notice that it´s the first part of the entrance to Wigginton lodge
If you carry on down Copes drive, leave it and cross onto the green which heads to the famed Leyfields Chippy and former hangout of the defunct Leyfields Barmy Army gang of local legend, you´ll notice a line of horse- chestnut trees. After braving the long grass perfect for hiding dog shit, the trees magically line up in two rows revealing the remnants of the old tree-lined drive smack bang in the middle of the killing fields of Leyfields! I don´t know much about dating trees but I could imagine them being easily over a 100 years old. The fact that they are all horse-chestnut trees and all look around the same age, leads to think they were deliberately planted at the same time along the drive. Walking in the middle of the row you can see shallow holes where other chestnut trees once were. Theres no path between them now but the trees mark the spot and the walk to the shops will never be the same again.
the tree-lined remnant path.
extremely detailed 1902 ordnance map, with the tree-lined drive highlighted.
google satellite image with evidence of tree-lined drive highlighted in orange.