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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
These are my photos from Coventry, in the UK, a city of around 340,000 people. It's about 80+ miles North of London, and traditionally in the county of Warwickshire (Which includes Stratford upon Avon) but was a County in its own right for centuries - the County of the City of Coventry.

The City originates from the Anglo Saxon period, and was possibly the site of an Abbey that was founded by Lady Godiva and her husband, the Earl of Mercia. The site was a Nunnery before that, and sacked by the Danish in the 10th century. Coventry is one of around 20 UK cities that have never been formally given 'City' status, but are cities due to 'ancient prescriptive rights' (Because they were called 'cities' before 1189).

The city grew around the Abbey, which became the city's first Cathedral, and a Castle built by the Norman Earls of Mercia. During the civil war of 1139-1154, Coventry was the site of battles between the Earls of Mercia and King Stephen. Shortly after this the castle was left to fall into ruin.

In 1459 the English parliament was held in the Cathedral (The parliament of devils: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Devils).

The city was home to a number of religious houses: the Benedictines, Carthusians, Greyfriars and Whitefriars and became on the largest cities in Medieval England with a city wall that had 12 gates.

During the reformation, the city lost its Cathedral (It was demolished) and the other religious houses. Fragments exist of all of them.

The city's main industries were dying and weaving, and the saying 'True Blue' is a Coventry term. The blue dye made in the city would never run, so people used to say 'True as a Coventry Blue' which eventually got shortened to True Blue.

After the medieval period, the city's fortunes declined and it stagnated economically. Cottage of industries of weaving and watchmaking thrived, though, and suburbs were built purely for watchmakers and weavers, fragments of which still exist. Perhaps due to the watchmaking the bicycle industry set up here, and the modern bicycle was invented in the city. This lead to the automotive industry and a sudden growth in size to 250,000 people by the time of World War 2, where the city was heavily involved in the arms and aircraft industry.

The economic stagnation meant the city had changed little over the years and was still pretty much the same it the medieval city, but totally unsuitable for a growing population and the motor car. Pre-war redevelopments saw a lot of medieval streets demolished, and then the wartime raids (Around 40?) saw much of the medieval core destroyed. The city's 2nd Cathedral (A church that made into a Cathedral in the early 20th century) was bombed and the ruin was linked to a new building. So there are 3 Cathedrals in the same area!

After the war, the city boomed again briefly, and much of the surviving buildings were demolished to make way for new social facilities and a shopping precinct. The boom came to an end in the sixties and by the seventies the city's industry was failing. This lead to massive social problems in the 1980s from which came the 2-Tone musical scene (Specials!). The post war reconstruction didn't age well and much of it fell into decay and since the seventies many of the city's big companies (GEC, Courtaulds, Herberts, Wickman and Massey) either closed down or were bought out and the work shifted overseas.

The city has two universities (Warwick and Coventry) and is home to the global HQ of Jaguar Landrover. The city is now mainly service oriented with high-tech automotive jobs and other service industries. In recent years a lot of regeneration work has taken place and there are new high rise buildings going up everywhere!

The city is generally derided and called a 'concrete jungle', but in reality there is very little concrete and most of the post-war buildings are made of brick, stone and slate. Thankfully they are now being looked after and restored.

The post-war ring road around the city centre is probably why it gets called a 'concrete jungle', as it consists of a lot of pedestrian tunnels and flyovers and has not aged well.

This is a view of the bombed Cathedral spire from inside the Herbert Art Gallery:

PA241650 by Bodgecity, on Flickr

The city's motor museum:

P6190431 by Bodgecity, on Flickr

The city centre is surrounded by a ring road. Recent attempts have been made to brighten it up!

Untitled by Bodgecity, on Flickr

The new Cathedral:

IMG_2945 by Bodgecity, on Flickr

A recent addition to the city's skyline:

City village by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #2
Some decorated columns on a 1950s department store building:

Untitled by Bodgecity, on Flickr

University halls (The tower is currently being demolished)

P6190439 by Bodgecity, on Flickr

A fragment of medieval city wall underneath a flyover:

City Walls. by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #5
Moon inside the New Cathedral (Some sort of art installation.)

Note how the bottom of the pillars are thin, indicating that they are not load bearing. The original design was to have the pillars resting on glass balls, but it had to altered due to lack of funds.

Moon in a Cathedral. by Bodgecity, on Flickr

The new Cathedral (Designed by Sir Basil Spence) has some interesting features, such as this 'sawtooth' row of windows that apparently came to him when he was in a dentist's chair!

Sawtooth by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #7
These ruins are the footings of the Benedictine Abbey that may have been on the site of an earlier building founded by Lady Godiva and Leofric, Earl of Mercia in 1043.

The Abbey became the Cathedral Priory of Saint Mary's in 1095 and remained so until it was destroyed in the 16th century.

The building at the back of this photo is a former school (Bluecoats) and is built on top of the remains of the Cathedral tower.

IMG_2935 by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #9
After the war, there were over a hundred timber framed buildings in the city centre. Most of these were demolished, but a few were saved and put into storage. They were later rebuilt on Spon Street, which is one of the city's oldest suburbs as it was just outside the city wall.

Spon Street by Bodgecity, on Flickr

It's not been a huge success. The street is a dead end thanks to the ring road, and there are still gaps in it. It never really took off as a destination.
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #11
The canal basin. This is the end of the Coventry Canal. It was originally constructed in 1769 and regenerated in the 1990s. Unfortunately, it's physically separated from the rest of the city by the ring road and a lot of people don't realise it exists!

IMG_4253 by Bodgecity, on Flickr

A few miles into the Foleshill are are the remains of houses built for weavers. These are known locally as 'Top Shops' as people would live in them and work on the upper floors. Each attic would have looms powered by an engine at the end of the block. Most of the 'Top shops' were demolished during post-war regeneration.

CashConv.jpg by Bodgecity, on Flickr

Not far from the Top Shops is the former HQ of the Courtaulds company. The company (Formed in the 18th century) opened the site in 1904. In the 1990s it was split up and sold off and no longer exists. The company had labs and manufactured Nylon in the city (It also had sites elsewhere.)

Courtaulds.JPG by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #12
An office block built in the 1970s by the John Madin Group. It's two towers linked together, and has never been fully let. It was also built straddling a shopping street for some reason and the concrete has not aged well.

This is going to be demolished next year.

Untitled by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The interior of the Cathedral that was bombed on the 14th November, 1940. It was originally a large parish church dating from the 14th century, and may have originally been a chapel inside Coventry Castle.

In 1918 it was elevated to Cathedral status when the diocese of Coventry was created, making it the city's 2nd Cathedral. (The former Priory Cathedral was part of a Diocese shared between Lichfield and had two cathedrals, one in Coventry run by monks, the other in Lichfield run by secular Canons.)
Coventry cathedral by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #15
What a loss the 'top shops' were. They look fabulous. Just the sort of urbanism that people like & try to recreate today.
Yes, the inner city area of Hillfields was filled with them, as was Spon End, but they are pretty much all gone now. There were large rows in the city centre.

All that's left are a few fragments of weaver's topshops. There are more Watchmaker's top shops left. There's a street in an area called Chapelfields that is fairly intact, although the large windows (Used to let in light) have gone.

It was in the 'Top Shops' of Chapelfields that a watchmaker called Bonniksen invented the speedometer!

The area I live in (Earlsdon) was built as a watchmaking suburb and there are still a few topshops surviving. Due to the restrictions of common land, it was no possible to built around the city centre, so Hillfields, Earlsdon and Chapelfields were built as separate villages for watchmaking and weaving.

They would have made superb urban dwellings, with their large windows.
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #18
The city's Belgrade Theatre (Named after Belgrade because the city supplied the wood used in the theatre's construction.) was one of the first civic theatres to be constructed after the war.

Belgrade is one of Coventy's twin cities.

Untitled by Bodgecity, on Flickr


The theatre was extended in 2007:

Untitled by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 

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Concerto Grosso
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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
The Coventry Evening Telegraph used to be based in a purpose build HQ in the city centre. A few years ago they downsized and moved to the canal basin. The office (And a large complex of print halls behind it) is now open as a museum. It will be redeveloped as a hotel next year. It's another fine post-war building:

Untitled by Bodgecity, on Flickr
 
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