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1. 'Miss Bashford', a Teacher's Tale, by Simon Shaw
2. 'Not Forgotten', the 1939 IRA bomb attack, by Simon Shaw
3. A brief history of Saint Osburg's, in pictures, by Damien Kimberley
4. A short history of Coventry's Theatres and Cinemas, by Bill Birch
5. Coventry Volunteer Fire Brigade - Illustrated London News, Jan 4th 1862
6. Coventry's Great Flood - London Daily Graphic, 2nd January 1901
7. Coventry's Rich Heritage, by Pete Walters
8. Coventry, the Home of the Cycle Trade - 1886 magazine article
9. Coventry, the Silk Trade and the Horsfall family, by Ian West
10. Edwin Brown, Victorian Animal Artist, by Stephen Catton
11. Henry Cave, and the 'Lady' Autocar of 1899, by Damien Kimberley
12. Let's talk about Rex, by Damien Kimberley
13. Motor Panels (Coventry) Ltd, by Damien Kimberley
14. New Drinking Fountain at Coventry - 17 Sep 1859
15. Proposal for St. Michael's Campanile c1890
16. Public Baths - The Building News, Jan 24th 1896
17. Sixty Years of Cycling - 1897 magazine article
18. Stoke Park School - Microcosm magazine, Summer 1949
19. The Arno Motor Company of Coventry 1908-1916, by Damien Kimberley
20. The Beech on Wheels, by Derek Robinson and forum member Foxcote
21. The Dragoon Cycle Company of Coventry, by Damien Kimberley
22. The First Tudor Feast, by Richard Ball
23. The Great Flood of December 1900, and the lost Bridges, by Damien Kimberley
24. The Lion Bicycle Company of Coventry & Wolverhampton 1877-1882, by Damien Kimberley
25. The New Bablake Schools - 1889 article
26. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 1
27. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 2
28. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 3
29. 1930s Austin's Monthly Magazine articles, by John Bailey Shelton MBE
30. Plan for the City Centre - The Architect and Building News, 21st March 1941
 

The Great Flood of December 1900, and the lost Bridges, by Damien Kimberley

Spon End Bridge
A view of Spon End Bridge from the messy bank of the Sherbourne facing Spon Street towards town. The bus, XVC 276 was registered in 1959 which helps date the image.
Spon Street
A very wet looking Spon Street looking towards Fleet Street. The man on the left is stood at the entrance to Court 50, his back against the premises of Harry Hopkins, hairdresser. Perhaps he IS harry Hopkins. The children upstairs may well be his, Florence and Syd.
(Click the image for a larger version.)
Larger image

If you were to walk to modern day Meadow Street in Spon End, Coventry, you will find the exact place that the River Sherbourne is culverted underneath the City Centre. If you then make your way to The Burges and head down Palmer Lane, to your right you will see a Dickensian view of a small section of the River to the rear of the Coventry Cross Pub. If you then continue on to Gosford Street, and enter the path by Gosford Bridge towards Gulson Road, you will see where the river reappears and flows out towards the Charterhouse on the London Road.

Queen Victoria Road
An equally wet Queen Victoria Road looking down towards the Spon Street/Fleet Street Junction. Further up on the Right is Garfield Road, with St. Johns in the background. The shop on the left belonged to W. H. Reading, butcher, on the corner of Croft Road. The house opposite was that of the Widow, Hannah Patrick.
(Click the image for a larger version.)
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This highly engineered work was largely undertaken in the 1960s, and in many ways put the river Sherbourne to bed after centuries of being an essential part of Coventry life. Thankfully, there are plans and schemes in place to rectify this over the coming years which will hopefully boost further tourism and add to the city centre townscape, but could opening up the river also create any potential environmental problems?

Like with the majority of rivers on the living planet, they are liable to flood, and when it comes to the Sherbourne, it's certainly had its fair share over the centuries. Recent major floods of the river had been recorded in the winter of 1794/95; November 1800; November 1852; July 1853, the winter of 1862/63, and another in 1875. However, perhaps its most notable and recorded flooding event, occurred very late on New Years' Eve, 1900, when the average rate of 3.77 inches of rain per hour were recorded over a 24 hour period, the worst downpour happening between midnight and 1am on New Year's Day.

Fleet Street
Fleet Street looking towards Spon Street, with West Orchard opening to the right, by the City Arms. The shop opposite belonged to Thomas Gibney, boot repairer, originally of Wolverhampton. Ram Bridge is behind the photographer.
(Click the image for a larger version.)
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People woke up to chaos but still many attempted to go about their usual business. The river had broken its banks at several locations across the town, with Godiva Street being described 'like a river', there being a 'lake in Hales Street', and 'Queen Victoria Road, one long canal'.

Garfield Road
This image was taken from an upper floor window of the Rover Co.'s Meteor Works, Garfield Road, towards the rear of properties on Queen Victoria Road. The Spire of St. Osburg can be seen in the distance. The house on the left with onlookers belonged to the hardware dealer Francis Smith.
(Click the image for a larger version.)
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A 68-year old widower named Joseph Sheward of 4 House, 1 court, Hill Street sadly drowned, whilst trying to escape through his ground floor window. Attempts were desperately made to rescue him but he was sadly swept away by the force of the torrent.

A relief fund was very quickly established, and a full investigation of the flood was readily undertaken by the City Engineer and Surveyor J. E. Swindlehurst, completed around six weeks later with various recommendations, proposals and estimated costs.

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Hales Street
A view up Hales Street taken from in front of the Fire Station, with Chauntry Place to the right and the cattle market on the left. The Hippodrome and Grammar School can be seen in the distance.
(Click the image for a larger version.)
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Of Particular historical interest today however, and the focus of this article, was the 18 bridges named in his report, stretching from Spon End, through the City centre, and back out to the London Road. Considering that most of these bridges are either now lost or unseen, Swindlehurst went into great detail in describing each of the aforementioned, of which I am pleased to share aspects of hopeful interest below:


Swindlehurst Report cover
The cover of the Swindlehurst Report of February 1901.
Ponding Map
Parts of the Sherbourne liable to flooding as showing "ponding" on the west side of Coventry. (Click image to see a large version.)
Longitudinal Map
And finally an illustration depicting the longitudinal section of the river from Spon End to London Road. (Click image to see a large version.)

So, next time you are taking a stroll through Coventry City Centre, perhaps attempt to (safely) track the route of the Sherbourne outlined above and see if you can detect any remnants on these lost Bridges.

Damien Kimberley, March 2022


 
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The First Tudor Feast, by Richard Ball
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The Great Flood of December 1900, and the lost Bridges, by Damien Kimberley
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Henry Cave, and the 'Lady' Autocar of 1899, by Damien Kimberley
 
 
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