A Brief History of Binley Woods
Binley Woods had been part of the estate of the Lord Cravens of Coombe Abbey since the seventeenth century After the death of the fourth Earl in 1921, the whole estate was bought by local businessmen then re-purchased by John Todd, a retired auctioneer from Yorkshire for £213,000. In August 1923 he sold the estate off in 166 lots, much to outsiders. The majority of the land around Coombe Abbey itself was sold to John Gray, a Coventry builder and developer. The site had been wood and heath land for at least two centuries, the remnants of Binley Common taking in its western edge, The woodland boundaries remained unchanged into the early twentieth century. Heavy clay soil held any surface water and made for almost boggy conditions in places
Within a year John Gray felled the ancient woodland and offered building plots for sale. All the large trees had been cut down leaving the trunks in the ground together with the immature trees and undergrowth. For those wishing to build there was substantial clearance to be done first. The first application for building permission was lodged in August 1924 for a large timber bungalow to be built on the south side of Rugby Road, mid-way along the development site.
Development virtually ceased in 1932 with the introduction of new planning legislation. Only five separate building applications were made in the next seven years, all for the side roads. Development in Binley Woods came under both Coventry City Council and Rugby R D C. Rugby was the normal authority for planning permission, but both were in partnership over a town planning scheme that included Binley Woods. Rugby could still give planning consent under the old criteria but this could be overruled later by the provisions of the town planning scheme. Despite refusals from Coventry City Council after 1932, some people were prepared to risk building under the Rugby by-laws approval. One wished to move from the timber bungalow on his land to a barely more substantial building alongside. He pleaded that 'the old bungalow is damp and not fit to live in', and his children, 'had lost 6 months schooling in the last year through illness from the damp'.
A bus service, twice a day, had operated from the very beginning because of the important links between Rugby and Coventry. Most people still cycled to work. Nearby Binley Colliery, Blumells Cement Works at Wolston and the Coventry engineering factories provided work for many residents.