Monday, April 16 at 7.30pm Holy Trinity Centre (please note 3rd Monday) (Old Bluecoat School), Priory Row.
Reports on 2011‐12. Was the last year’s business a success or failure? Followed by a presentation on a way forward for the Society by David Tittle and Adam Mottershead
Methodist Central Hall This is a prominent landmark that should be retained and would readily enhance In response to plans unveiled for the of the problems with Market Way, Shelton any new scheme surrounding it. This redevelopment of the southern section of Square, Bull Yard etc. at present is that handsome building benefits from an the city centre and following consultation many of the buildings are uniform and excellent central location and could serve with its members, the Society has monotonous. There is little architectural as a first class music venue, civic hall, submitted its comments to the City variety and consequently the area appears independent departmental store should it Council. This is an extract from the full dull and boring. It is essential that no longer be required as a place of Coventry does not repeat the mistakes of worship. New public realm improvements response submitted by our Secretary: We are largely in support of current the past by again creating vast new could follow. proposals for City Centre South and monotonous blocks of development. Fords Hospital welcome the reconfiguration and ‘opening Hertford Street There is an opportunity to vastly improve up’ of areas including Market Way, Shelton We believe that particular consideration the setting of Grade 1 listed Fords Square and the Bull Yard that are tired and needs to be given to the design of Hospital. Every effort should be made to in urgent need of regeneration. Hertford Street. At the upper end a remove the (dark and narrow) tunnel that We view the decision to retain and build number of key heritage buildings exist currently links Greyfriars Road to Hertford upon the existing Precinct Cross created by including the NatWest bank and the Street and create an open space to the former Post Office. A commitment should front of the historic building. the Gibson plan as a positive one. The consensus among our members is that Mix of Uses the opening up of the ‘bridge’ into We support the broad range of uses Broadgate from Hertford Street and the proposed, and consider a greater volume better access to/from IKEA would greatly of residential and non retail uses should be improve the flow of people around the incorporated, especially in Market Way. central shopping area. Some of our members expressed concern about the viability of a new cinema We also support a mix of uses other than complex in such close proximity to the retail (specifically including leisure and residential) to ensure that the Precinct Odeon Cinema at the SkyDome. The area has life 24 hours a day—sorely scheme should compliment SkyDome and lacking from the area concerned at Spon Street areas, not detract from them. present. The Society also welcomes the One possible alternative use for the cin‐ be given to the preservation and reuse of ema complex proposed in the Precinct decision to demolish Coventry Point. these buildings which easily lend area is a bowling alley. Design and Architecture Small Independent Traders We would like to see quality buildings with themselves to mixed use conversion. New buildings which surround the upper end of While we do not necessarily challenge the a commitment to the highest levels of design and architecture. Serious Hertford Street should respect the height, proposed demolition of the current City consideration should be given to the Arcade / Greyfriars Walk buildings, we are scale and material palette of the former creation of a Design Brief for the area with Post Office and NatWest bank. concerned about the loss of small The lower end of Hertford Street also Hertford Street quite different from the independent traders from the city centre needs particular consideration. Single Market Way area. area. We see the loss of smaller units at storey buildings (Northern Rock, Game The aspiration for quality architecture lower rents as a backward step. Station, Eat 4 Less, etc) have little A successful urban centre contains a mix of should extend equally to the flag ship ‘anchor’ store as well as the general street architectural merit. The height and scale of retail as evidenced by popular shopping destinations such as Leicester, Leamington pattern that is to be reinstated. The these buildings is considered to be design of specific buildings/areas might inappropriate and opportunities to Spa and Birmingham. come through competitions. increase the height and re‐use of these We believe therefore that every effort We understand that the various ‘blocks’ of buildings should be explored. should be made to both retain the existing We would like to see greater residential development would be developer led. small independent traders in the City use in Hertford Street. The recent Centre South area and also attract new However, Coventry’s primary shopping conversion of the upper levels of the small independent businesses. More area is in desperate need of high quality architecture and we take the view that the former Post Office buildings serves as an imaginative schemes should be considered including a ‘premise / rent sharing’ example. We would also like to see the frontages of the new blocks (if not the skeletal structures of the blocks removal of the split level arrangement and complex similar to Afflecks Palace in themselves) should be architect led. One reinstatement of the single level incline. Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
A small group of people, including some members of the Coventry Society’s Committee, had the opportunity to view the magnificent mural at the former St. Mark’s Church on Stoney Stanton Road at a special viewing in March. The mural, which has been locked away for many years, is now recognised as a major work by German refugee artist Hans Feibusch. Feibusch, who was Jewish, was awarded the German State Prize for painters in the 1930’s. But a few years later he had to flee the Nazi regime when his name was included on Goebel’s list of “degenerate artists”. He moved to Britain and built a reputation painting murals on churches and public buildings around Those who know Rob Gill’s bookshop in Gosford Street the country. The mural at St. Mark’s will be interested in the discovery of a 14th century was painted in 1963 and was one of sandstone pit beneath his old kitchen/washhouse. his last works as his eyesight The Victorian single‐storey had always suffered deteriorated. subsidence and now Rob knows the reason why, as The Coventry Society is working with excavations for a new extension progressed. Coventry Diocese’s Divine Inspiration Development along this row in Gosford Street dates from Project to secure the mural for the at least the mid‐14th century when the nearby Whitefriars benefit of future generations. Carmelite friary was founded. The building next door—a St. Mark’s Church is a Grade II listed building, but is currently vacant butcher’s for at least a century and a half, but since 2000 following the relocation of the Outpatients Unit to the new hospital a pub, has some smoke‐blackened 14th century timbers in in Walsgrave. The mural will be open for wider public viewing during Heritage its roof structure and is listed II*. Rob’s shop is entirely Open Days on September 8-9. We have also been fortunate in Victorian including the cellar, and replaced an earlier securing the support of well known lecturer and Feibusch authority building in the 1850’s. Former City Conservation Officer George Demidowicz established from documentary Gaynor Williams to give a talk about the artist and his work. There will be more details in the Heritage Open Days programme. evidence that on the site stood the Mercers’ Company John Payne Pageant House, described in a lease of 1602 as “lately being a pageant house.” Here would have been stored the pageant vehicle which served as a stage, costumes, and properties for the company’s part in Coventry’s We have it on good authority that the original bricks were saved after Mystery Plays. demolition of the historic wing to 31 Allesley Old Road and Rob’s kitchen had been built over two large medieval pits, reconstruction will take place in the near future. one lined with sandstone blocks That’s very good news for one of Coventry’s most historical buildings and roughly eight feet by 12 feet as the three‐storey range was equipped to manufacture high‐class internally. The site has been rich in watches and represents the inauguration of the Chapelfields small finds, including roof tile watchmaking district in early Victorian times. fragments in quantity, animal Originally known as Russell House, it was built by W.H.Hill one of the bones, teeth and horn cores; and leading lights of the trade, who was twice Mayor of the city. His firm, pottery shards. There was much registered as ’Talbott and Talbott, gained awards for its watches in evidence of small‐scale international competition. metalworking—slag, crucible Despite efforts on our part fragments and wire. to have the building listed Thanks to Rob Gill for this English Heritage were fascinating insight into Gosford unimpressed and soon the Street’s medieval scene. building fell into disrepair and became the target of arsonists. Contacts 123 Upper Spon Street, Coventry CV1 3BQ The Society has always been Tel: 07855 113973 puzzled that it should not be Email: firstname.lastname@example.org on the National List, but is If Twitter is your thing, you can follow us at pleased to know that our https://twitter.com/#!/CovSoc Three-storey: The top shops at the rear persistence has paid off and We also have our own page on Facebook. a full restoration and You can also follow us there at of Russell House in 2005 http://www.facebook.com/CoventrySociety Picture by Colin Walker rebuild should start soon.
Several members have yet to renew their subscription for 2012‐13 and we enclose renewal details again for your convenience. We do need your support especially when your committee has put such effort into influencing a wide range of planning matters. We often manage to bring the professionals from a number of fields to meet you at our monthly meetings. But we can only do all of these things so long as we continue to have the support of the membership. If you cannot make the AGM please return the enclosed Keith Draper form with your cheque.
14th century finds
More news and views on our website: www.coventrysociety.org.uk