Blitzed and blasted, this town has been revived

Blitzed and blasted, this town has been revived

Wandering round Coventry, the UK’s latest City of Culture, Ghost Town, the eerie 1981 hit by The Specials, retains trumpeting by way of my head. That’s no reflection on Coventry itself. An hour by rail from London, this multicultural Midlands metropolis has a palpable spring in its step. But Ghost Town stays probably the most well-known tune to emerge from this one-time motoring powerhouse, with The Specials singing not about Coventry per se, however Britain’s decaying, riot-riddled post-industrial cities and cities typically.

The wheel of fortune has spun once more, nevertheless, and regenerating city centres like Coventry are on the up as soon as extra, with tradition driving their renewal. Beating 11 different candidates (amongst them Perth, Swansea and Portsmouth), it assumed the City of Culture mantle in May 2021, kicking off a 12-month program of occasions, from exhibitions and road installations to immersive theatre and stay music – together with gigs by ex-Specials Terry Hall and Neville Staple.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, and it’s all about creating a legacy,” says Roger Bailey, a neighborhood tour information who chronicles tales of Coventry’s previous, current and future potential as we navigate the busy core of this self-proclaimed “Phoenix City”, which was closely rebuilt after World War II and boasts an interesting architectural mish-mash.

Gothic landmarks, cobbled lanes and timber-beamed pubs hark again to the Middle Ages, when Coventry was a affluent textile town. Recently brightened with road artwork, pocket parks, water options and liberal splashes of paint are brooding post-war concrete buying precincts and lined markets and malls. On Broadgate Square, vibrant bunting hangs above a statue of Lady Godiva, who apparently rode bare on horseback by way of Coventry within the eleventh century. You’ll uncover her story on the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, a stone’s throw from the skeletal ruins of Coventry’s medieval cathedral. Blitzed by Nazi bombers, the cathedral doubles as an atmospheric venue, staging drama, classical and up to date concert events through the summer season months and an ice-skating rink in winter. Adjoining the ruins is a Sixties-built modernist cathedral with dazzling stained-glass home windows.

For extra leisure – and stalls promoting palate-pleasing fare from native producers – enter close by Assembly Festival Garden, reverse the Council House, a Tudor Revival-style civic palace fronted by fairly floral lawns.

Walking or pedalling (utilizing town’s new bike-hire scheme) east alongside Sky Blue Way, previous Coventry’s fast-growing college campus, brings you to a different tradition hub, FarGo Village. Here independents promote hand-crafted fashions, books, artwork, vinyls, flat whites, vegan “soul” meals and microbrews in repurposed transport containers and mural-doused items. A bit of additional east, Coventry Music Museum faucets into the varied skills to return from town, together with Frank Ifield, born right here in 1937. There’s additionally a concentrate on 2-tone, the style that blossomed within the Nineteen Seventies and 80s, when native bands like The Specials and The Selecter fused Jamaican ska and punk with messages of anti-racism and social justice.

A brand new 2-tone mosaic decorates the city-centre bus station reverse the excellent Coventry Transport Museum, which displays the biggest publicly-owned assortment of British automobiles on the planet, together with classic bicycles, motorbikes, Rovers and Triumphs hewn in Coventry’s factories. It was, by the way, town’s manufacturing prowess – and expertise in making planes, tanks and munitions – that attracted the Luftwaffe in 1940.

Reviving Coventry’s former night newspaper places of work, The Telegraph Hotel is a brilliant new base for guests. Choose from 88 generously-sized rooms, together with the 72-square-metre Lord Iliffe Suite, named after the outdated proprietor and with its personal scorching tub and terrace. A Mad Men-esque aura permeates The Telegraph’s indoor public areas, with velvet sofas, restored terrazzo flooring, brass fittings, marble pillars and varnished timber. Beside the foyer, the Forme & Chase restaurant offers British classics a contemporary twist – I really like the curry-spiced lamb Scotch egg – whereas the Generators rooftop bar serves tapas and cocktails and seems to be throughout to the Belgrade Theatre, which opened in 1958 as a part of Coventry’s post-war reconstruction. And about quarter-hour on foot from the lodge, Coventry’s practice station is the gateway for rewarding day journeys, from the romantic castles of Warwick and Kenilworth, to the big-city buzz of Birmingham, which is gearing as much as host the 2022 Commonwealth Games from July 28-August 8.



Emirates are among the many airways that fly to London and Birmingham from Sydney and Melbourne. See


Roger Bailey leads guided excursions of Coventry and different locations in central England. See


Rooms at The Telegraph Hotel are priced from round £50 ($93). See


Steve McKenna was a visitor of Visit Britain, Visit Coventry and the Telegraph Hotel.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *