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History

This article is taken from the old Hockley Heath Parish Council site and copied word-for-word. We would like to ask the permission of the author and to credit them for their work but have been unable to establish who it is. Do you know? If so please Contact Us

Hockley Heath Village is located in the south east corner of the Parish of Hockley Heath. It has had a separate identity from the 13th Century, when it was referred to as Huckeloweth. It was on the main road or track which ran across the heath, and through the Forest of Arden. The Village is as it is today has evolved over a considerable length of time and as a consequence is a mixture of old and new, traditional and modern. Its houses are of varying types and designs, with established businesses set amongst them.

The Village owes its existence and development to two main factors. Firstly its position on the main route between Birmingham and London via Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford: and secondly its position on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.

The Stratford Road has always been a major highway, and with the development of coaches as a form of travel, a network of coaching Inns became established with regular distances between them in order to provide fresh horses, rest, food and refreshment for the passengers (the Motorway Service Stations of their day). By 1788, there were four post coaches and one mail coach passing through Hockley Heath each day, taking passengers between Birmingham, Oxford and on to London.

Hockley House was a major coaching house, having as many as 25 rooms, besides dining areas, baths, kitchens etc. Coachmen and guards were accommodated at the house next door, a substantial coaching inn called The Tap House.

War Memorial and Wharf Tavern


Hockley Heath War Memorial with the Wharf Tavern in the background

The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal reached Hockley Heath in 1798 and the construction of a wharf area soon followed. The construction of the remaining link to Stratford was delayed until 1816. This meant that during the intervening years, as the Village was at the end of the canal, all goods for the surrounding area and beyond had to be unloaded there and alternative means of transport arranged for the onward journey. A considerable quantity of goods passed through Hockley Heath. The area around the Wharf was at one time called Hockley Port, which reflects the fact that it must have been a hive of activity. There was even a Hockley Port Association for the Prosecution of Felons, the local security force to guard against goods being stolen.

Hockley Heath also was one of the first places locally to become a part of the Penny Post system. In 1839 the Stratford-upon-Avon Penny Post was extended to Hockley Heath where an office was set up to serve Packwood, Umberslade and Lapworth.

Shopping Centre

The shopping centre of Hockley Heath Village

Passing through the Village one could be excused for thinking that Hockley Heath is a straggle of shops, houses and public houses lining both sides of the Stratford Road by a canal bridge. It is, however, a village providing homes for over 1,800 people, most of which are located off the main road in a peaceful, quiet, residential atmosphere. Properties range from old cottage-style residences to modern detached dwellings. There are also bungalows and semi-detached houses. The Village has an extensive Recreation Ground which contains a cricket square, two football pitches, a children’s play area and a Pavilion/Village Hall built by the Parish Council in the 1980s.

St Thomas’s Church, built in 1880, and adjacent Vicarage, built in 1896 serve only part of the Village as there is an ecclesiastical divide in Hockley Heath. Most of the Village is served by St Patrick’s Church at Salter Street. Besides this there also is located in the Village a beautiful Baptist Church called Christ Church.

Spring Lane and St Thomas's Church

Spring Lane Hockley Heath St Thomas’s Church in the background
Hockley Heath Primary School was opened in 1913 and enlarged in 1935. Prior to this the Old Church of England school building (now an Estate Agents) on the corner of Stratford Road and School Road was used as the Village school.

The Nag's Head

The Nag’s Head Hockley Heath with shops beyond

The Village has a number of fine hostelries, The Barn Restaurant/Motel, The Nag’s Head and the Wharf Tavern. The King George VI Memorial Hall, otherwise known as ‘The Institute’, was built in 1892 by George Frederick Muntz, considered to be the ‘hub’ of the Village, is used for many local social functions and has a fine Bowling Green at the rear.

There are a few long-standing families who have lived in the Village for generations and many who have moved away and then returned later in their lives.

Memorial Hall

The King George VI Memorial Hall Hockley Heath, known as ‘The Institute

More Childhood Memories

Two years ago when I last wrote in “The Hooter” I recalled all the shops we used to have in the village. In addition to these there was a fairly extensive delivery service from the butchers, grocers, bakers and milkman. There was also the “oilman” who, as well as selling paraffin for lamps and heaters, also sold items of hardware.

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