Other people's Coventry memories...
(In surname alphabetical order)
moved to Coventry with my parents and sister in 1946 at the age of 3. We lived in Arnold Avenue near the corner of Woodcock Avenue in Styvechale. Half way down Woodcock Avenue was a bomb crater. The road was soon renamed Dawlish Drive but the crater wasn't filled in for many years.
At Christmas we used to go out with our dad to find a suitable holly bush growing wild near the marshes of Fenside which he would cut for a Christmas tree.
We had gas lamps in our road. When we were young we liked to watch the lamps come on gradually at dusk.
One of my early memories of the centre of Coventry was a store at the bottom of Trinity Street on the left hand side going down just past Sainsburys. It had a centralised cashier with a series of wires running from each assistant's counter. The assistant would take your money from your purchase, put it in a tin with the bill, and send it on the wire to the cashier. A few minutes later your change and receipt would arrive back the same way.
On Saturday mornings our mother took us to town shopping. We always liked to go on the roundabout which was on a bit of waste ground somewhere near West Orchard.
In 1954 I started at Bablake, so used to travel through the city centre every day. I caught the bus to Broadgate and then walked down Smithford Street as it was being transformed into The Precinct.
Later that year the new Owen Owen store opened. I think it was the first store in Coventry with escalators, so as 11 year-olds we had great fun walking up the down escalator.
My father worked for Matterson, Huxley & Watson in the Grates & Ranges department, which moved to an old building called the ML building which was accessed from the Burgess but which was set well back towards Corporation Street.
In the summer a lot of us teenagers used to meet in the Memorial Park. Some were Teddy Boys. I remember Billy Walker and Tone Shortland, who everyone seemed to know.
I was in the 40th Coventry cubs at St. James' Styvechale. Every year in the summer we joined with all the Scouts, Guides and Brownies for a church parade in the cathedral. It seemed strange to me to be sitting on the grass inside a cathedral.
In 1959 I started going to jazz clubs:
There was The Weary City Jazz Club at The Mercer's Arms in Highfield Rd. They had visiting bands including Chris Barber and his band.
There was the Monday night club at The Pilot in Radford. The bar closed at 10pm during the interval. We had to drink up by 10 past. The band didn't start again until we had done so. It ended at 11pm in time for the last bus.
On Sunday there was a trad jazz club in the Leofric where I first saw the Back O' Town Syncopators from Scotland.
Also on Sundays there was a modern jazz club at the White Lion at the back of the Leofric. Whenever I went there I didn't tell my trad jazz friends.
There was another modern jazz venue - Yates Wine Lodge on the corner of The Burges and Corporation Street. I saw Tubby Hayes quintet there and also Phil Seaman.
On a Saturday morning a popular meeting place was Jill Hanson's record shop in Market Way.
In the evenings one of the places we met was the circular cafe in the Lower Precinct. The waitresses got very upset if you moved tables between ordering and receiving your coffee.
But I spent New Year's Eve 1959 in the El Cabana in Gosford Street. This was where they played the juke box illegally after 10pm, and people under 16 would smoke cigarettes. So to a 16 year-old like me it really felt like a den of iniquity. I stayed past midnight although I had to work on New Year's Day (as did most people).
Another coffee bar was the GiGi in Gosford Street, which I think was somewhere near the Paris cinema.
When I left school I went to work as a Clerical Officer at the Ministry of Pensions & National Insurance at 94 Gosford Street. The offices were in a former Morris car factory which had been condemned as unsafe for heavy machinery. It was a bleak place inside with painted brick walls, no curtains or carpets. On some winter days we had to work in coat and gloves as it was so cold.
I left there in 1963 and went to work in Birmingham. On 15th June 1964 I was driving back along the Meriden bypass when I saw a large cloud of smoke rising from the centre of Coventry. When I got home I discovered that the MPNI building was on fire. The fire had started at the back in the Ministry of Works (Supply division) where there were stored enough blankets for the whole of the city. The fire burned for several days.
And finally, Mike has presented us with some photographic puzzles to solve....
Were you right? See this page to find out if you recognised these places correctly.
Early Coventry memories of Lizzie Tomlinson
Post-war decades remembered, by Mike Tyzack
Fireman Frank Walduck, remembered by Peter Walduck