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John Drew & Miss Hollick

The following are my notes on a tape-recorded interview by John H. Drew with Miss Mabel Hollick in 1965.  Miss Hollick was then living at Dale House, Kenilworth (SP 309734).  Here are her words, with some omissions and emendations:

“When I was a child my father used to send cattle to market by road – the drovers used to start off for Warwick & Leamington Market at about 5.30 [picking the beasts up at Ashow (312705) according to Miss H.].  The drover always brought his own helpers.  You would say to old Tommy Prescott, ‘I want you Friday morning to take so many cattle to Warwick.’  ‘Right, I’ll be there,’ and he’d have three helpers with him…   He was a Coventry man.  He’d got no money.  He just lived on what he earned, droving & that sort of thing… always had breakfast ready for him.

“Cattle all sorted out the night before…went via Wes[t]ley Bridge (318736) to Stoneleigh crossroads and by Chesford [Bridge] and Guy’s Cliff to Warwick.  [In other words, northwards, then 2 right hand turns, then south – to avoid going through Kenilworth, as Miss H. said.]  

“Leamington [Market] very good one; held on alternate Wednesdays with Warwick.  How they got them into Leamington, I don’t know…Adelaide Road?... Mostly cattle.  Sheep in a float, I think…

“The old drove road…came off the A5 at Brownhills…and straight up to Priors Marston, an old cattle drove road.  They used to sell them as they went…heard from friends who farmed in Warwickshire who used to go and buy these cattle off the drovers on the Welsh Road as they came down… They would see them coming.  That is why the road is wide in places, because that is where they would stop for a night or two.  [Local farmers] would sort them over & pick out the cattle they want.

“…They went down to Priors Marston, but you lose it a bit after that.  Goes up the hill at Priors Marston [Marston Hill 495 577] and not to Byfield.”  [Probably to Northampton according to Alan Flint; see OS Explorer map 206.]  See also Stratford to Northampton Rd on this site

Miss H. also mentioned the noises made by the plates and the long distance the sound travelled.  Also of (I quote John Drew’s précis of Miss H.’s words now) ‘ a heated dispute at an inn, the Roebuck at Priors Marston, between some drovers & local inhabitants, and a group of robbers from Priors Hardwick who robbed homeward-bound drovers of their money.  Their HQ appears to have been known locally as Rogues’ Hall.’ 

Drew adds a footnote: "see also Burgess, Warwickshire (London 1950) p.45"