Derek, 93, gets award of merit

Kenilworth has a number of significant residents who contribute to the wealth of the town's assets.

And ask anyone who is anyone in the town and they will tell you that Derek Jones deserved is Award of Merit, which was presented to him by former mayor Coun Michael Coker.

Now a notable 93-years-old, he was one of the original members of the Kenilworth Society, which was formed in May 1961 as a result of the destruction of a group of 17th century listed cottages in Bridge Street. He became a committee member and in the mid 1960s was involved in the 'Angry Young Men's' objections to the plans for the development of Abbey End with the proposal for the large roundabout by the clock.

Derek was chairman of the Kenilworth Society for many years. He kept it going through times when interest seemed to be dropping and he led it to many successes that have greatly benefited this town.

Send us your views on this story by clicking here

In the 1960s Derek began a campaign for a bypass for Kenilworth. Leaflets were hand-delivered to most houses in the town and a formal petition was presented to Parliament in October 1962.

He also organised many traffic surveys, which involved him in getting people to sit for a whole day and record accurately the lorries and cars entering Kenilworth, recording from Clinton Lane, Warwick and Leamington. These checks were carried out annually and helped to bring about the opening of the bypass (now the A46) in June 1974.

Derek has always sought to promote Kenilworth's heritage and its sense of civic pride. He was involved in the design of the Coat of Arms for Kenilworth and in the presentation of a Civic Trust Award following the redevelopment of Little Virginia. He and the Kenilworth Society were instrumental in securing the rebuilding of the cottages at Castle Green after a lorry had demolished the end building.

The Tantara Gatehouse of Kenilworth Abbey became a recurring interest, and he organised working groups to remove trees growing on the gate to prevent further erosion of this historic building. He personally repainted the doors of St Nicholas church with preservative and organised regular clearing of the paths around the church.

Derek kept a watchful eye on all planning applications in the Kenilworth area. The proposal to build houses off School Lane was one of his particular concerns. When this application went to appeal he attended the public hearing and spoke against the development.

Together with Gordon Holmes, Derek prepared a volume of facts and information against the development of the coalmine at Berkswell. They attended everyday at the public inquiry and made a major contribution to the case for refusal of planning permission. Their arguments prevailed. If they had not, we would today be looking at slagheaps in the fields near Kenilworth Castle.

Derek's researches on Abbey Fields have been of great value to everyone who seeks to preserve the beauty and tranquillity of this unique part of Kenilworth. He has built a comprehensive history of the purchases, gifts and covenants relating to the public ownership and management of the fields.

This has been useful in countering pressure for unsuitable development. Derek has also campaigned over many years for a proper surface on the Abbey Fields car park. It is apt that the car park should be resurfaced in the same year that he receives this award.