Barrs Hill House was once a large residential property situated in the Radford area of Coventry, close to the city centre.

The site itself and surrounding area are possibly the oldest parts of Coventry. Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686), the prominent antiquary wrote in 1856 ‘the most ancient part of Coventry stood on the bank without Bishop-gate’ which as F. Smith describes in his book 'Coventry – Six Hundred Years of Municipal Life', ‘is situated on the ridge north of Coventry, where Barrs Hill School now stands’.

As Coventry expanded during the 18th and 19th centuries, wealthier businessmen chose to build large houses outside central Coventry, away from the noise and grime. Radford offered a pleasant rural setting, and many such properties were built here, including Barrs Hill House.

Its not known when the house was first built, but it first appeared on a map of the Parish of Holy Trinity in 1851. It was once known to have been the property of John Bill (b. 1837), a wealthy importer of Silk and mill owner, and in the 1880s, Luke Dresser, an Inland Revenue Distributor of Stamps. In 1890 John Bill leased the house to J K Starley, the nephew of James Starley at a rate of £140 per year.

J K Starley made the move to Coventry in the early 1870s, and started out making Ariel cycles for his Uncle with Haynes and Jefferis of Spon End. J K Starley went on to form his own business, and became famous when he released the ‘Rover’ safety cycle in the mid 1880s. At some point during the 1890s he purchased the house from the Bill family.

Starley died suddenly in 1901, and the property put on the market by his wife Abigail two years later. The Auction catalogue describes a property ‘as a superior family residence standing in extensive and charming pleasure grounds’. Yet for some reason the house was not sold, and Abigail Starley remained there until 1907 when the property and grounds were purchased by the City of Coventry, becoming a secondary school soon after.

This move dictated the purpose of the property and grounds for the rest of its working life, the house being adapted and other buildings being added. Barrs Hill House served its newfound purpose for the next 70 years and beyond, until, despite huge local objection and support, was demolished and erased from history in 1982.

The school itself still remains as Barrs Hill School & Community College.









Culture Coventry Limited; Registered in Cardiff, Wales, No. 8359113; Registered under the Charities Act 1960, Registration No. 1152899
Culture Coventry Ventures Limited - Registered in Cardiff, Wales, No. 5263892
Culture Coventry Events Limited – Registered in Cardiff, Wales, No. 8108478
Registered Offices – Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP

Cookie Policy  || Copyright 2012 || Designed by LightMedia