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Page 7

The Way We Were

Broadgate image

If you need to be cheered up after that, here's a beautiful photo kindly sent to me by Colin Barnes. It's a view taken from St. Michael's spire around 1982 and allows us to remember how lovely and green Broadgate used to be.

On the left, the banks of Martins and Nat West are visible. Also, behind the trees where the temporary shops had previously been can still be seen the orignal route of the ancient street Derby Lane. The roofs in the foreground are part of the old County Hall and to its left is Pepper Lane.

And now let's finish off with some gratuitous nostalgia! These two postcard views show the Broadgate that most Coventrians over 30 years old or so would like to remember. The first view shows the temporary shops, which places the photo at before 1974, which was when these were demolished. (See this photo.) My own earliest memories of town involve eating with my parents at Lyon's Cafe, which was located in one of those shops.... and how many more of your memories are tied in with these places? It makes the modern "development" all the more difficult to swallow.

Broadgate before 1974 Broadgate after 1974

Moving on a few years, we can compare the scene from the same standpoint after the removal of those shops. Broadgate was no longer an island, but I don't think anyone complained about these changes, which added more pleasant greenery to our town centre. Judging by the maturity of the trees and shrubs, I'd guess this photo was taken at a similar period in time to Colin's first photo on this page.

I'm very grateful to Trevor Pring for supplying two more wonderful vistas of our town's centrepiece. A garden in full bloom is not something that the current 2017 generation have ever been used to seeing - most will have no idea what they missed! The far right of the first photograph also reveals the entrance to a still driveable Hertford Street, dating this picture to before 1968. As it happens, Trevor took these shots in the 1950s. In the second image Owen Owen overlooks a Christmas scene, with a little more attention lavished upon it than we're used to today. Thank you Trevor for providing another nostalgic glimpse of our not too distant past.

Broadgate, by Trevor Pring
Broadgate, by Trevor Pring

Interestingly, and just to lament the loss of our garden once more, I recently found an article in a 1985 copy of the "Coventry Society" magazine regarding the planned city centre redevelopment around Broadgate. The quote read; "Another major project is to replace the old Gulson Library and the Festival Cafe with a row of specialist shops designed to cater for tourists, to be called Cathedral Lanes".
I'll leave it up to you to decide if those plans were adhered to!

If the modern mess made of Broadgate in the aerial view of the Precinct depresses you, then come back here and indulge in these nicer views for a while!

For more information about the redevelopment of Broadgate after the war, try my Post-War pages.

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