Wedgnock Lane in Warwick – the incredible history of our Warwick site

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Wedgnock Lane in Warwick – the incredible history of our Warwick site

The grounds where Adventure Sports in Warwick now operate were not always for teambuilding or an adventure sports playground. The fascinating history of our Wedgnock Lane grounds dates back to the 1800's. 

The land, which is just off Wedgnock Lane and north of the canal, was used a shooting range and training ground by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) before, during and after World War I and World War II.

Before that though, it was owned and rented to farmers by its owner, the 6th Earl of Warwick, Leopold Greville, and his Estate at Warwick Castle. The Warwick Castle Estate Office allowed the land to be mainly used for farming.

In 1898, the Earl of Warwick and the Warwick Castle Estate were approached by the War Office (now called the MOD). They wanted to use the land on the Wedgnock Park Estate as a shooting range and training ground for the nearby Budbrooke Barracks. This was during the second Boar War, in which the Earl of Warwick fought.

Wedgnock HistoryIt took almost three years for the deal to be done on the Wedgnock Park Estate and we suspect that the pending 1st World War may have been in the back of the Earl of Warwick’s mind when in 1901 it eventually moved over to the War Office to manage. 

One of the main reasons the deal took so long (apart from the lack of cloud computing and internet access) was the value of the rent and the serious income Wedgnock Park Estate generated for the castle. The rent was a significant amount and the lease needed to compensate the lost revenue for the Earl and his Estate. 

At one point, the Earl of Warwick even had a clause written in to the lease to allow his staff and dignitaries onto the land when it wasn’t in use by the War Office. He wanted to use the new rifle range to practice shooting - presumably to refine his skills for the battlefield rather than game shooting. 

Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's, health and safety wasn’t what it is today. The proposed shooting range was open to the public and unless a ‘flag was flying’ it would safe for them to access the land! It’s OK though, early signs of compensation can be found on the Castle Estate records to state that should someone die then compensation would ‘most likely’ be paid. Well that’s good to hear! 

The War Office wanted a 1000-yard shooting range with 4 feet high butts. The location of the nearby Budbrooke Barracks was the main reason for the War Office to move training to Wedgnock. The law passed to allow it as a shooting range still stands today and it’s this law that allows us and our guests to shoot here.Eagle Works Warwick Document

Colonel Nesbitt appears many times in the Warwick Castle Estate documents as the main correspondent at the War Office although many people were involved over the three-year deal. Aside from the Earl’s requests and the obvious monetary value, there were many geographical issues too. 

As the land was originally farmland, there were many requests for fencing, a smaller shooting range that didn’t upset pheasants, and one particular haystack also caused much delay (19th century problems!).

Wrought iron 4ft high fencing was erected on 19th January 1901 to keep in the cattle by a local Warwick firm W. Glover and Sons.W Glover and Son Catalogue

The road which you drive up to Adventure Sports today started being built on 21st January 1901 and used to be a through route all the way to Kites Nest Lane near Rouncil Lane (then called Rounds Hill Lane) in Kenilworth.

The responsibility of the grounds and its tenants eventually changed to the War Office on the Monday after 6th July 1901 after a long debate about the water supply, which needed a 500 gallon tank installed on the land. 

The land remained under the control of the MOD until it was bought by the King Henry VIII Charitable Trust, a local Warwick charitable trust. The King Henry VIII trust provides funding for the local parish, church and schools from money raised by its trust. They became our landlord as we took over the running of the land in 1990 and we’ve been here ever since. 

Adventure Sports  - a little history

Adventure Sports originally started back in 1987 when Steve (our founder) tried out some new activities on the farm he ran. The farm used to be on the land where the Warwickshire Golf Course is now. Steve bought some paintball guns form America from a franchise called ’The Survival Game’, and set up one of the UK’s first ever paintball sites in a stretch of woodland on the farm. (We really were one of the first to do this you know!)

In 1990 the farm was sold on to become the golf course that is still there and hugely popular. Adventure Sports needed a new home, but as luck would have it at the same time the Wedgnock Rifle Range came up for sale. 

In the summer of 1990 we started work on making the site safe. Having been used by the MOD for many years, the whole area was a potential disaster zone and it had to be swept for unexploded ammunitions! Many mortar bombs and grenades were found (and blown up) on site and still to this day you can see bullets and mortar shrapnel washing out of the hillside when it rains. This just shows how heavily the range was used over WWI and WWII.

Clay Shooting facilities at WedgnockWhen we started, Adventure Sports only offered Paintball in the 50 acres of woodland. But then we moved on to offer Clay Pigeon Shooting. As the site already had planning permission for shooting, war games, and driving activities (from its days as an MOD training area) it was perfect for our needs and we were able to quickly build on our offerings. 

The activities have expanded over the years to include the current wide range of adventure sports and thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie games. But it’s not hard to see where the land’s history lies. Aside from the bullet leaking hillsides and the vast woodland and bunkers, this is land that truly has a significant local history. 

Next time you’re here and you’re chasing down your friends or colleagues in a quad bike, or ducking a paintball, cast your mind back. People trained here to give us the privilege of freedom, and we’ll never forget the ones who are no longer here to tell the tale. 

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