think I was fortunate to have such a lovely, partly rural, twenty minute walk to school along Coat of Arms Bridge road to Stivichall Primary School. I wonder how many youngsters walk that far now. The school, actually separate infant and junior establishments, was on a huge site. There was what we called a dell, quite a deep hollow, where in the summer we would sit in the shade to listen to a story. It was commonly known as Green Lane School, as an entrance was off that road too, as well as the one we used. The infant school was a prefab looking style, probably built in a hurry to accommodate us "Baby Boomers" who were by now attending school in the mid fifties. I was at the school from 1955 to 1962.
A 1912 postcard showing the beautiful rural setting of the Coat of Arms Bridge under which Pauline walked on her way to school.
Before we had our pastoral walk we had to cross the Leamington Road where it forms a cross road with Baginton Road. There was a lovely crossing man, who not being encumbered with a lollipop as they are now, used to open out his arms as we ran toward him and he would gather us up and twirl us round when we were very little. He seemed a very large man to me, partly due to his white oilskin coat. Once safely over the main road we continued down Baginton Road to a miniature wooded area, the spinney, through which we walked over tree roots until a tarmac path was laid. Bluebells flowered in the spring and in the autumn the horse chestnut trees were a rich source of conkers. Many a boy lingered on the way home throwing sticks up into the branches.
We emerged on to Coat of Arms Bridge Road passing a small monument, surrounded by low railings, to Sir Gregory Hood. (Who was he? Lord of the Manor? There is a Gregory Hood Road I believe, named after him I presume.) We really were in rural surroundings now. No signs of any houses except, I think, a couple of cottages on the opposite side of the road. The bridge came in to view. As the pavement was so narrow under the bridge quite early on in my school life a path was made under one of the arches of the bridge for the crocodiles of children who daily wended their way to school. Just before the bridge was a lovely cottage at an angle to the road and beside this cottage a pond. I owe the fact that I can recognise a moorhen from the family of them that swam on the pond.
Then one winter's day there was great excitement as the pond had flooded all over the path and into the road. Big junior school boys helped us little ones over the flood. I think they literally carried us, passing us from one big boy to another on the other side of the water. Today this pond is much reduced in size and I wonder if there are any waterfowl there. There was a tiny cottage the other side of the bridge set back a long way into the trees so that it was hardly visible. We used to say that a witch lived there!
The far side of the Memorial Park marked out into football pitches was on our right now and an area of trees & bushes etc. beside us. There was a huge plain tree outside the school entrance. Did I climb it? I know some children did. On reflection I think I was lucky to have such a pleasant walk to primary school. Things changed when I went to Coundon Court, two bus journeys away and, in my first year, during the very bad winter of '62 / '63.
Today, the scene is still a pleasant one as shown in this photo taken by Steven Orland, aged 6.
Another person who well remembers this beautiful part of the city, but from an earlier time, is Norman Cohen, who cycled this way many times when returning from the Green Lane outdoor swimming pool, which opened about 1935. You can read Norman's memories from the 1930s on this page.
For more photographs and history about the bridge, click here to see it in the Now and Then section.
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