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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. The Arno Motor Company of Coventry 1908-1916, by Damien Kimberley
19. The Beech on Wheels, by Derek Robinson and forum member Foxcote
20. The Dragoon Cycle Company of Coventry, by Damien Kimberley
21. The First Tudor Feast, by Richard Ball
22. The Great Flood of December 1900, and the lost Bridges, by Damien Kimberley
23. The Lion Bicycle Company of Coventry & Wolverhampton 1877-1882, by Damien Kimberley
24. The New Bablake Schools - 1889 article
25. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 1
26. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 2
27. The Saint Joseph the Worker parish in Coventry, by Terence Richards - Part 3
28. 1930s Austin's Monthly Magazine articles, by John Bailey Shelton MBE
29. Plan for the City Centre - The Architect and Building News, 21st March 1941
 

A brief history of Saint Osburg's, in pictures, by Damien Kimberley

St. Osburg's in 1847
Drawing of the church in 1847, before the spire was later added to the tower.

Oil painting of St. Osburg's
This old oil painting of about 1850 shows the church and Priory/Presbytery on the right hand side from Abbots lane looking down Hill Street.

The Catholic Church of St. Osburg's, situated on Upper Hill Street, Coventry, turned 176 years old back in June this year. It's gone through a number of subtle changes during that time, and survived (sort of) the Coventry Blitz and subsequent post-War redevelopments, notably, the Ring-Road. Here, I hope to provide you with a brief coverage of its history through images and photographs from the Coventry Archives Collection.


St. Osburg's circa 1860
The church of circa 1860, this time showing the completed spire.
St. Osburg's circa 1860
Another view of about the same period, but interesting to compare the artistic license used in the depiction of the Priory to that of the previous image.

To set the scene then, on a no-doubt cold Wednesday evening of the 19th December 1849, one Mr. John Sibree Jnr., MA, delivered a lecture at the Mechanics Institute on Hertford Street, entitled 'Coventry, as it was, as it is, and as it may be'. In a packed room the talk lasted around an hour and a half, but significantly in this case, when Sibree was talking about the very early origins of Coventry, he stated "the first piece of clear history respecting Coventry, is the destruction of St. Osburg's Saxon Convent in 1016".

Early photograph of St. Osburg's
An early photograph of the church taken from Barras lane towards town. Fields covered the land behind the photographer.

At that time, the location of the Convent was more central in relation to where St. Osburg's church is situated today, in fact it was positioned just North of Holy Trinity, exactly where Leofric and Godiva were to erect their Benedictine Monastery some 30 years later. On that basis, when it comes to the history of Coventry, the name of Saint Osburg is associated just about as far back as it goes - but what about the current site and buildings at Upper Hill Street and Barras Lane?

Some of the church's servicemen in 1915
An interesting image capturing some of the church's servicemen in 1915.

Dedicated in fact in honour of the 'Most Holy Sacrament and St. Osburg', the present church was begun in 1843 and completed two years later to a design provided by the City Surveyor Charles Hansom. Although the style is supposed to have been inspired by churches in Belgium and Germany, it is not so different from the Gothic Revival specimens being built all over England at the time for the Anglicans and has a spire which would not look out of place on the Northamptonshire Heights.

St. Osburg's in 1929


This lovely view of 1929 (right) would have been taken from the upper floor of one of the fine Victorian terraced houses on Upper Hill Street.


Hill Street c1930s
This view, probably from the 1930s, is taken on Hill Street towards Coundon Road, and shows the original school buildings on the middle left hand side.
Original Priory building


This image (right) shows the original Priory building which was home to the resident priests. Sadly it was completely destroyed during the Blitz and later built in a far less aesthetic style.

View from the Gas Works after November 1940
Image taken from an entrance to the Gas Works, showing some of the damage sustained in November 1940.

On the 29th of May 1943, the foundation stone was laid and drew quite a crowd. Joseph Jenkins and John Brewer, both of nearby Spon Street, attempted to obtain a superior view of the event by climbing to the summit of Stivichall Farmer Thomas Carter's rick of hay. Unfortunately for them, Carter deemed they had damaged the hay and they were both subsequently fined 3s each and 9d costs!

St. Osburg's fire damaged


I thought this was another Blitz image on the right, but it looks like damage from a fire during the 1950s? Can anyone shed any further insight?

The Nave of the Church opened the following June, and the entire building was completed in late 1845. The building was very badly damaged during the 14th-15th November 1940 bombing, so much so that the church was not re-opened until April 1944, and not fully restored until 1952. The original St. Osburg Priory was completely destroyed in the Blitz, and rebuilt to a contemporary style in 1960 and still stands.

So, here's to the next 176 years - enjoy the images!

Damien Kimberley 2021.



 
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The Beech on Wheels, by Derek Robinson and forum member Foxcote
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A brief history of Saint Osburg's, in pictures, by Damien Kimberley
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Coventry Volunteer Fire Brigade - Illustrated London News, Jan 4th 1862
 
 
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