This year we shall be setting up our displays for the annual Heritage Open Days in the Urban Room pop-up exhibition area at the former Coventry Evening Telegraph building in Corporation Street. On display will be our visual presentations developed over the last years and it will be another opportunity to meet the public and explain our ambitions for the city. The event takes place on Friday and Saturday, September 9-10 and we need one or two members to volunteer for the rota we shall work during the weekend. Please contact John Payne on firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
With yet more applications for student accommodation in residential areas announced this week we ask the question: How much longer do we have to wait before measures are put in place to control the numbers of houses in multiple occupation. It’s plain to see the lack of clear policy has led to something of a free for all. The main push is profit. Landlords can make more out of letting to four, eight, nine or ten people all in the same building than one family. We appreciate that without HMOs, many people, especially students, would find it hard to find affordable accommodation. However the growth in HMOs in some areas has led people to see their communities become unbalanced, because the number of short-term tenants with less established community ties has grown far too large. So what do we suggest as an answer to this thorny problem?
It’s been asked for before and make no apology for asking again. We understand that the use of Article 4 directions would help. It works in many other cities around the country. An article 4 direction is made by the local planning authority and restricts the scope of permitted development rights either in relation to a particular area or site, or a particular type of development anywhere across the authority’s area. Where an article 4 direction is in effect, a planning application may be required for development that would otherwise have been permitted development. Article 4 directions are used to control works that could threaten the character of an area of acknowledged importance. This balance is being eroded so fast now with family homes disappearing at an alarming rate that we ask Coventry City Council to review its policy for HMOs with due haste. •Even public houses are now fair game for conversion to HMOs. Currently there is an application to turn the Coombe Abbey pub in Craven Street into a 14 bedroom HIMO. The reference is FUL/2017/1321.
Britain's first black theatre manager was commemorated with a blue plaque on the site of the theatre he once ran in Coventry’s Smithford Street. Ira Aldridge, who was also the first black actor to play Othello and whose life is dramatised in the play Red Velvet, was remembered at an event in The Precinct, when the plaque was unveiled on the frontage of the former BHS store. The blue plaque is the result of a campaign to recognise Aldridge's contribution to theatre and to the city, with support from the Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Warwick University. Aldridge, who died 150 years ago this year, became manager of Coventry Theatre in 1828 and was the first black person to run a British theatre. Born in America, he came to England to escape slavery, where as an actor his performances and the plays he presented contributed to our Parliament abolishing slavery. Pictured is Coventry’s Lord Mayor, Tony Skipper, unveiling the plaque.
Monday, August 14. Meet at 6.30pm on the road through the industrial estate under Spon End Arches We shall see the very few remains of the Spon End Corn mills, the mill stream and the remnants of Conduit Spring Brook. The tour will follow the mill stream through the Sherbourne Valley Allotments with its wildlife potential. We shall see the course of the original river and a hill formed with rubble from the blitz of Coventry. We will pass the site of a former barrage balloon anchor and AA gun. The trek back will be through the original public footpath known for many years as the Chain Gardens after the Coventry Chain Company nearby. Stout footwear is advised and wellingtons or boots if wet.
Last month’s visit to Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter was something of a revelation. Members met at St Paul’s Square where the church itself is a copy of a Wren design. Business partners Matthew Boulton and James Watt, were once members of the congregation. Of course they were front-runners in the race to energise Britain’s industry with steam and later gas. The Birmingham ’toy’ industry ruled the world for fifty years, toys being a generic name of any manufacture of metal at which Birmingham’s engineers excelled. Significant remnants are related to jewellery, the tin-bashing companies having long since grown up and moved or died out. We saw the pen museum and a crystal manufacturer and many factories making every sort of small manufactured produce imaginable. We are very proud of the industrial record of Coventry but Brum lead the world for many years. An excellent evening for those of us who love our industrial past. Thanks to Angus Kaye who organised the tour. Colin Walker
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The fo e Sa d La e us depot is up fo sale a d its a ious o upa ts a e o o i g out. The site has a i dust ial past ith a a al u i g alo g o e of its ou da ies. Ho seless a iages a d ea l Dai le a s e e ade he e; it as o e a ga age fo Co e t ’s fleet of uses a d ea s ago Cli a fo k lifts t u ks e e o st u ted. I late ea s it as used as a sto e the Co e t T a spo t Museu , Jagua he itage olle tio a d the Belg ade
theat e p ops depa t e t. We a iousl ait to see ho it ill e ede eloped ei g i lose p o i it to the Ca al Basi . Su el the e a e oppo tu ities fo i ed use ith the a al f o tage as a featu e. Cou il poli used to e ui e o e thi d of su h a site to e e-used fo i dust a d o e e. Hopefull the Cou il ill o side this poli app op iate he e. The fo e a d e t a e to the us ga age ha e su i ed. The e a e i te esti g all tiles a d a pla ue e o di g the ope i g of the us ga age ith a list of dig ita ies; a ed li e d a i gs of uses, t a s a d oa hes a e pi ked out i gold o a displa .
Pi tu ed a o e a e t o of the li e d a i gs eated Paul Maddo ks fo Ci i Da i Ju e. The e e p odu ed fo hild e to olou i a d sho s e es at the Old G a a S hool ge e atio s ago.
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The monthly newsletter of the Coventry Society UK; the civic organisation for the city of Coventry.