Our Christmas Meeting with Peter Walters talking about his latest book: Coventry Remembering—1914-18 Two quizzes with photos that will fascinate Seasonal refreshments Monday, December 12 at 7.30pm Shop Front Theatre, City Arcade
Arguably the best delicatessen in Coventry One of the largest independent jewellers in the country The Christian Bookshop part of a network in 50 countries Locally sourced meat and pies at Walter Smith the butcher Drop in the Ocean independent health food store
A recent announcement in the media appears to say that the long awaited £150 million City Centre South development might well have a named developer very soon. When the scheme was first announced several years ago the Society broadly supported the plans, although we expressed concern that small traders wouldn’t have suitable premises within the scheme. With the possibility of City Centre now going ahead we have to ask the question: “Are the small traders in the area to be ousted in favour of multi-national stores?” Seventeen years ago small traders in the Pool Meadow area were pushed out to build the Phoenix Initiative. Relocation isn’t easy for traders who have invested heavily in their own business. That is often forgotten about in the grand order of running a city centre. Coventry Society urges the Council to keep that in mind. Sadly we have already seen the demise of the City Arcade. Maintenance, especially decoration, is very poor and some traders that have been in the city centre for years have left probably because of the uncertainty of tenure. We know all too well that rents in the centre are very high and with other overheads it’s hard to see how they could fit into a new grandiose redevelopment. However, the small speciality business is the cornerstone of a shopping experience. You only have to visit a town like Royal Leamington Spa to see how successful its Parade and streets off are, with their attractive window displays and personal service. Given the will, surely our Council can work with our small traders to ensure they have a future in our city centre.
The City Arcade -once an attractive shopping experience
What a fascinating book, Peter. There have been many publications relating to the First World War but COVENTRY Remembering 1914-18 is the best read yet. It’s personal and engaging and your comment in the chapter on the Good War is pertinent: ‘The furious pace and scale of Coventry’s war work never failed to astonish outsiders’. Readers will be equally astonished by the length and breadth of the five years of conflict described in these pages. Preparations at home: recruiting at the Masonic Hall; the new magneto factory replicating the German machine; a caring face: Christmas parcels for the troops; a friendly billet: burgeoning friendships. More aplenty. Profusely illustrated with pictures from the History Centre and others who loaned rare images from their personal collections. Peter has a special offering at the December meeting! Don’t miss it.
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Our November Meeting was truly a tour de force when Professor Jeremy Gould provided us with a colourful and informative perspective on the city’s post-war buildings. It was based on the comprehensive account in the book ‘Coventry. The Making of a Modern City 1939 -73’, he coauthored with Caroline Gould. Even before the Blitz the planning of a new city was underway with the innovative appointment of Donald Gibson, City Architect and Planning Officer. These plans were then developed after the war to produce a world class and human scale city centre, which was built with consistent materials and detailing.
The tapestry that commemorates the 1,000th anniversary of the birth of Coventry was created and inspired by hundreds of people. This hand crafted work of art, incorporates multi-faith intergenerational work by schools and communities. It was recently put on display again at St John’s Church.
He told us how the designs themselves drew inspiration from continental developments, illustrated in many instances with a fascinating series of pictures. Coventry became internationally recognised as a leading centre in urban design with the most innovative of buildings produced by our own team in the City Council’s Architect’s Department. While much of this work is being steadily eroded with modernisation to fit the whims of multi-nationals, Jeremy clearly wants to work with us to conserve as much as possible and promote our post-war building heritage. On the following Saturday he returned to lead a tour of the city centre for the 20th Century Society.
An appeal from Aiden Ramsey, Student Community Co-ordinator at Coventry University: “About to kick off is one of our big Christmas projects—a collection in aid of the Cyrenians charity. What we need is help with door to door collections and the identifying of community hubs/ centres where donations can be collected at weekends in the run up to Christmas.” Anyone able to help? Contact Aiden on 02477 655224
We hear that work on Copsewood Grange has now started. Les Fawcett noticed a tall crane on site and went to look. The site manager explained that they are lowering men down in a cradle to work on the interior because it is too dangerous from ground level. Great news. We now look forward to seeing positive progress after many years of campaigning.
We hear that JP Morgan asset Management has bought the Upper Precinct from Aviva. The investment firm is understood to have exchanged contracts to buy the 122-year leasehold to the 81,500 sq.ft complex. The Precinct comes with vacant space above the shops suitable (we hardly dare say it) for student accommodation. There were the opportunities here to make something of the original concept of two-tier shopping, yet the vision was never properly carried through. Sadly the possibility of bringing life to the upper shopping floor now seems as far away as ever.
To friends, members & supporters : ‘The Compliments of the Season’