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New life for the old Tech A recent visit to the old Technical College in The Butts revealed some extensive refurbishment in progress by Oxfordshire firm Leadbitters. The current contract will see the creation of a hotel and restaurant for Premier Inns. We also saw the College Theatre which has been mothballed and on which no work will be undertaken during this phase of the project. Apparently the theatre will be made ready for use in 2014. The three storey Atrium, once the glory of the College, is being restored with loving care and the 1970’s infill floors completely removed. High up is the magnificent leaded light feature remounted in Coventry with a few technical improvements to protect it from sunlight. It’s now safe and sparkles like new. All of the remaining leaded windows are being restored, some of them showing technical pictures that were difficult to interpret. There lies an interesting project for someone. Doric columns are being cleaned and made good where necessary and marble

stair treads are being repaired, sanded and polished. The marble floor had been covered in glue to lay carpets but this is being removed and the original stone revealed. New railings have been manufactured to match the existing banisters that are constructed of wrought iron with a polished bronze rail. Glass partitions which characterised the college have all been removed although the external windows have been retained and restored. The hotel rooms looked comfortable and large, conforming to Premier Inns’ styling. Unfortunately the original four-metre-high ceilings have been largely reduced to less than three metres which has tended to block light from some windows. The new rooms on the roof were built as pods, almost completely off-site, and joined together into a comfortable mix. They have not detracted from the generally pleasing front aspect of the College. The whole Art Deco style will no doubt look very good once completed. The two large cast bronze plaques that adorned the entrance are being moved just a few feet into the atrium. They commemorate a visit by Edward Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Albany who opened the College in 1935. Colin Walker

Ambitious Plans for the Old Hall and the more recent extensions added in the 1990s will be demolished. The historic agricultural courtyard buildings will be retained and restored. Its tower and cottage will be retained and restored also for use as staff accommodation. The Design and Heritage Statement (link below) makes for a fascinating read as to the development of the Old Hall since construction in the mid 19th century. Originally known as Coundon Villa, the A planning application has been submitted Old Hall was first used as a farmhouse. by KEP Developments for the Subsequently it was occupied by a Stephen development of the Old Hall site at Barnwell, a Ribbon and Trimming Tamworth Road in Keresley. Manufacturer. The Old Hall remained in Designed by Howl Associates Architects residential use until 1947 when it was of Kidderminster, it combines restoration purchased by the Northampton Brewery of the Grade II listed building with Company with the intention of turning it contemporary extensions and an into a hotel. innovative ‘subterranean development’. In the 1960s the Old Hall underwent The aim is to provide a 50 bedroom hotel significant alteration when the owner with spa and a range of function room changed the building to a steakhouse and facilities including a large banqueting hall. bar. Most of the period features were lost There’s a sunken courtyard with sandduring this time as internal walls were stone facings dug into the surrounding removed, floor levels were changed, the landscape. Grass roofs are feature here. original staircase was removed and the The main building itself will be refurbished original entrance lobby was demolished.

October 2011

Next meeting: 

Protection   by Occupation  The work of international  organisation Ad Hoc that  recently installed              guardians to protect  Charterhouse 

presented by                     Darren Tubb  Monday, October 10  At 7.30 pm  Holy Trinity Centre   Priory Row  Howl Associates’ scheme proposes the reintroduction of an original style staircase and a more appropriately designed entrance lobby / porch. Throughout the building interiors will be reinstated in a style more in keeping with the original Old Hall. Raised floor areas inserted in the 1960s will be removed. Other improvements to the landscape will be made including restoration and enhancement of the two existing ponds. The former walled kitchen garden will be reinstated with new pyramid glass structures introduced to allow natural light into the function room below and create illuminated features at night. Overall this looks to be an impressive scheme which the Coventry Society supports. The combination of restoration of historic building and innovative new build to compliment the existing is certainly a model that we would like to see adopted throughout the city. servlets/AttachmentShowServlet? ImageName=923503 Stuart Daniel

The legacy of JKS

Buttercup ‘hub’

The campaign to celebrate the life of John Kemp Starley and the Rover Safety Cycle gathers pace as a website goes live. In an age that encourages sustainability and aware of fitness and health what better cause than championing the world’s first modern cycle and the man that made it possible. Among the aims listed are: A competition to design a piece of public art (see the illustration below by Paul Maddocks) depicting the safety cycle. The construction of a replica cycle for use at local and national cycle events. The promotion of the positive healthy benefits of cycling. Behind the campaign is the Coventry Transport Museum and Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

Far Gosford Street

The latest Coventry University building was finished just in time for the fresh intake of students. In the shape of a letter L, the Student Union building called the 'hub' starts at one end opposite the Ellen Terry building (Odeon cinema), wraps around the back of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and finishes face onto the Cathedral and University Square. Among its features are a new special exhibition gallery to show off students’ work, a supermarket plus various coffee shops and food outlets. These are on the ground floor and most of them are open to the general public. The other floors, all in bright yellow décor, are specially for student meeting and relaxing areas. Bars, clubs and other rooms are designed to entice students to use this building as the main meeting place on the campus. Paul Maddocks

Hanging around

Another piece in the jigsaw that is regenerating the historic Far Gosford Street has been revealed as hoardings are taken down. Once the home of the Reptile Centre both shops have a door to a court at the rear of the building where there are living quarters and flats. The latest restoration by Ian Harrabin takes the street nearer to completion as a creative quarter with natural links to Coventry University with its large student population. Coventry Society 123 Upper Spon Street, Coventry CV1 3BQ Tel: 07855 113973 Email:

A new youth space was officially opened at the end of September in Cope Street behind the Central Swimming Pool. It is dedicated to young people as a place to meet up. The development was spearheaded by Cllr Jim O’Boyle who is Cabinet member for Children and Young People. Students from nearby Sidney Stringer Academy have involved themselves in designing street furniture for the new area. Provision of the facility follows concerns about anti-social behaviour and reports of young people hanging around areas such as Pool Meadow, Priory Place, Lady Herbert’s Garden and Broadgate.

More news and views on our website:

07 - October 2011  

October 2011 Colin Walker Ambitious Plans for the Old Hall New life for the old Tech Buttercup ‘hub’ More news and views on our website: www...

07 - October 2011  

October 2011 Colin Walker Ambitious Plans for the Old Hall New life for the old Tech Buttercup ‘hub’ More news and views on our website: www...