Folkshill (G Cowley) – A history of Foleshill 1745-1945
The history of Foleshill from an inhabitant’s viewpoint.
I was born in a three-storey weaver’s top-shop at 618 Stoney Stanton Road, Paradise, Foleshill the former home of an old Foleshill weaver, Wm. Troughton. The house had a bootscraper beside the front door, as did many in Foleshill. The looms had been removed, long since, from the tall top storey room, and where the steam-engine had been housed stood a butcher’s shop.
Meanwhile, the sons of the 19th century ribbon weavers had turned their hands to making bicycles, motor-cars and aeroplanes. Their sisters wove name-tapes at Cash’s factory or handled the viscose rayon at Courtauld’s.
Only when, in 1991, I began to research my family history did I realise what momentous changes had occurred in this very ordinary district of Coventry – the coming of the weavers to this lonely heath, the prosperity and the despair, the growth of metal industries at the turn of the century, the double-edged blow of the two wars, which not only took men to fight in all parts of the world but brought harsh conditions to men and women workers.
So, after tracing my roots, if I may extend the metaphor, I progressed to sifting the soil from which my roots drew their sustenance. The image is not entirely inept, as the soil of Foleshill, alongside the many streams and in the ‘greens’ dotted around the countryside, was fertile, and men assiduously cultivated it in field and orchard, garden and allotment.
The words of my story are based very largely upon reminiscences and newspaper reports. I have tried to preserve the original turn of phrase, spelling and punctuation. “Lockhurst Lane” may be “Lockhouse lane” or ”Lockers lane”. “Folks Hill” is taken from Kitchin’s map of 1753.
“Edgwick” was without an “e” in the middle, until the school was opened, as Edgwick Road is still spelt.
I have not, however, been able to reproduce accurately the distinctive local accent. I was taught to say “five and twenty past” and “five and twenty to” in learning to tell the time, of dialect words I can recall only two – ‘donnies’, meaning ‘hands’. ‘Gordon, give me your donnies.’ my Mother would say, when she was washing my hands. And, of course, “canking”, referring to the idle chatter of women.
With this limitation I have endeavoured to let the Foleshillites speak for themselves, so that you can understand them – whether they be the rioting weavers of 1831 or the pious hard-working Victorians – by the standards of their own time.