COVENTRY, UK CITY OF CULTURE 2021
By Ann Evans
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
As a Coventry Kid, Ann Evans is delighted that her home city has won the bid to become UK City of Culture 2021. Today is part one of a series of articles about this great city.
My home city of Coventry is celebrating winning the bid to become the UK City of Culture 2021. Coventry beat off strong competition from Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea – and couldn’t be happier about it. The title is awarded every four years and Coventry will be the third UK City of Culture. Londonderry being the first in 2013, and Hull which currently holds the title.
Coventry is already famous for many things: Lady Godiva who it’s said rode naked through the streets of Coventry to help citizens remove the hated ‘Heregeld’ tax. There’s a bronze statue of her in the city centre at Broadgate. The city is famous also for having two cathedrals: St Michaels which was reduced to ruins in the Blitz of WW2 and the incredible new cathedral that stands adjacent to it. St Michael’s is also one of the city’s famous three spires that once dominated the skyline. Today, as time marches on, The three spires still stand proud amid the towering glass and concrete modern structures.
And then there’s the industries which Coventry was famous for. The first car was built in Coventry by Daimler in 1897. The industry continued to grow, reaching its peak in the 1950s and 60s. It was once the second largest car manufacturing city in the world. It led the way with machine tools. Alfred Herbert Ltd was once the largest machine tools manufacturing business in the world. Today the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is named after him.
Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine was born in Coventry. There’s a centre in honour of his work based within the Midlands Air Museum at Baginton just outside Coventry; and a statue of him alongside the futuristic-looking Whittle Arch in Millennium Place in the city centre.
But even earlier, Coventry pioneered many industries – bicycles, clocks and watches, ribbons. In very early Medieval times it was a thriving market town. Today, the city’s museums, buildings and monuments remind people of its wonderful industrious past. While looking to the future, investment is being made in the city’s people and industries. Universities are flourishing, bringing young people into the city from all over the world. It’s a ‘City of Peace and Reconciliation’, having ‘risen from the ashes’ on more than one occasion. It’s proud of its heritage, proud to be the UK City of Culture 2021 and is looking excitedly to the future.
More about Coventry next week. Meanwhile here’s 5 things that you may not have known about the City of Coventry.
- Coventry’s Registry Office was once a part of Cheylesmore Manor – Coventry’s Royal Palace where Queen Isabella lived. Later, her grandson Edward the Black prince inherited it.
- The Coventry Blitz of November 1940 was code named by the Germans as Moonlight Sonata.
- England’s patron saint, St George, who legendary slew the dragon, is thought to have been born in Coventry. Some believe that his home was at Caludon Castle, the ruins of which are still standing.
- The expression ‘true blue’ originates from Coventry’s cloth trade in Medieval times. They had a secret recipe for producing blue dye that didn’t wash out. The recipe was never written down but passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.
- The saying ‘Sent to Coventry’ meaning to shun someone, is thought to have originated from the time of the Civil War (1642), when Royalist soldiers were imprisoned in Coventry’s St John’s Church.