Halfway down Goodrest Farm Drive is Bannerhill Camp, a Second World War anti-aircraft battery and prisoner-of-war unit. The name derives from the fact that the officers were billeted in the neighbouring Bannerhill Farm. Four out of the five original gun placements survive plus a single, partly sunken, control room. The camp was built in 1940 as part of the anti-aircraft defences for Coventry and Birmingham. It was a mixed battery (rather controversial at the time) where young Auxiliary Territorial Service girls were recruited and trained in spotting, predicting and aiming while the regular soldiers did the actual firing of the 3.7 anti-aircraft guns. The battery had some success in shooting down enemy aircraft.
The camp also housed about 80 POWs. Security was rather relaxed and prisoners did useful work. One ex-POW recalls that he was employed emptying waste buckets from homes in Leek Wootton with outside lavatories. He also drove a dust cart for the council. Prisoners were paid for the work in tokens rather than currency. Football matches were played between the prisoners and locals who were generally reported to be ‘friendly’. A reunion of some of the prisoners who could be traced, has been held on the site. Plans have been mooted for some restoration and to open the site as a visitor’s centre. At present it has no protection.
The large ex-farmhouse at the bottom of the drive was used for a time during the war to house families fleeing from the Coventry blitz.
AA SITE Artist's Impression by CYRIL HOBBINS
A moated house was first built nearby in 1374 by Thomas Beauchamp the 13th Earl of Warwick who used it as a hunting lodge. It was also a useful resting place for journeys between the two castles and used as a lying-in retreat for Warwick ladies. A new house on the current site was built in 1784 and demolished in the 19th century in favour of the current building, then Goodrest Farmhouse. All that remains now of the mediaeval establishment are ‘earthworks, standing and buried remains of a dam, two associated watermill sites, a Holloway and bridge across Cuttle Brook’, all now a national monument.