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Coventry ( or ) is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in Englandmarker. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlandsmarker, after Birminghammarker, with a population of 300,848. The population of Coventry has risen to 309,800 as of 2008.

Coventry is situated 95 miles (153 km) northwest of London and 19 miles (30 km) east of Birmingham, and is farthest from the coast of any city in Britain. Although harbouring a population of almost a third of a million inhabitants, Coventry is not amongst the English Core Cities Group due to its proximity to Birmingham.

Coventry was also the world's first 'twin' city when it formed a twinning relationship with the Russian city of Stalingradmarker (now Volgogradmarker) during World War II. The relationship developed through ordinary people in Coventry who wanted to show their support for the Soviet Red Army during the Battle of Stalingradmarker. The city is now twinned with Dresdenmarker and with 27 other cities around the world.

Coventry Cathedralmarker is one of the newer cathedrals in the world, having been built following the World War II bombing of the ancient cathedral by the Luftwaffe. Coventry motor companies have contributed significantly to the British motor industry, and it has two universities, the city centre-based Coventry Universitymarker and the University of Warwickmarker on the southern outskirts.

History

Coventry is an ancient city, which predates many of the large cities around it including Birmingham and Leicester. It is likely that Coventry grew from a settlement of the Bronze Age near the town centre where Coventry's bowl shape and, at that time large flowing river and lakes, created the ideal settlement area, with mild weather and thick woods: food, water and shelter would have been easily provided.

The Romans settling in Baginton founded another settlement and another formed around a Saxon nunnery, founded ca. AD 700 by St Osburga, that was later left in ruins by King Canute's invading Danish army in 1016. Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his wife Lady Godiva built on the remains of the nunnery and founded a Benedictine monastery in 1043 dedicated to St Mary. In time, a market was established at the abbey gates and the settlement expanded.

By the 14th century, Coventry had become an important centre of the cloth trade, and throughout the Middle Ages was one of the largest and most important cities in England. The bishops of Lichfieldmarker were often referred to as bishops of Coventry and Lichfield, or Lichfield and Coventry (from 1102 to 1541). Coventry claimed the status of a city by ancient prescriptive usage, was granted a charter of incorporation in 1345, and in 1451 became a countymarker in its own right.

Hostile attitudes of the cityfolk towards Royalist prisoners held in Coventry during the English Civil War are believed to have been the origin of the phrase "sent to Coventry", which in Britain means "to be ostracised"; although their physical needs were catered for, the Royalist prisoners were literally never spoken to by anybody .

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Coventry became one of the three main UK centres of watch and clock manufacture and ranked alongside Prescotmarker, near Liverpoolmarker and Clerkenwellmarker in London. As the industry declined, due mainly to competition from Swiss made clock and watch manufacturers, the skilled pool of workers proved crucial to the setting up of bicycle manufacture and eventually the motorcycle, automobile, machine tool and aircraft industries.

In the late 19th century, Coventry became a major centre of bicycle manufacture, with the industry being pioneered by Rover. By the early 20th century, bicycle manufacture had evolved into motor manufacture, and Coventry became a major centre of the British motor industry. While over 100 different companies have produced motor vehicles in Coventry, car production came to an end in 2006 as the last car rolled off the lines at Peugeot's Ryton plant. Production was transferred to a new plant near Trnavamarker, Slovakia, with the help of EU grant aid to Peugeot: this made Peugeot deeply unpopular in the city. The design headquarters of Jaguar Cars is still in the city at their Whitley plantmarker and although they ceased vehicle assembly at their Browns Lane plantmarker in 2004, they still continue some operations from there.
Coventry precinct with spire of ruined cathedral in the background.


Coventry suffered severe bomb damage during World War II, most notoriously from a massive Nazi German Luftwaffe air raid (the "Coventry Blitz") on 14 November, 1940. This led to severe damage to large areas of the city centre and Coventry's historic cathedralmarker was ravaged by firebombs leaving only a shell and the spire. Aside from London, Hull and Plymouthmarker, Coventry suffered more damage than any other British city during the Luftwaffe attacks, with huge fires devastating most of the city centre. The city was probably targeted due to its high concentration of armaments, munitions, aircraft and aero-engine plants which contributed greatly to the British war effort, although there have been claims that Hitler launched the attack as revenge for the bombing of Munich by the RAF six days before the Coventry blitz and chose the Midlands city because its medieval heart was regarded as one of the finest in Europe. Following the raids, the majority of Coventry's historic buildings could not be saved as they were in ruinous states or were deemed unsafe for any future use, although several were later demolished simply to make way for modern developments.

In the postwar years Coventry was largely rebuilt under the general direction of the Gibson Plan, gaining a new pedestrianised shopping precinct (the first of its kind in Europe on such a scale) and in 1962 Sir Basil Spence's much-celebrated new St Michael's Cathedralmarker (incorporating one of the world's largest tapestries) was consecrated. Its pre-fabricated steel spire was lowered into place by helicopter. In 1967, the Eagle Street Mosque opened as Coventry's first mosque.

Coventry's motor industry boomed during the 1950s and 1960s and Coventry enjoyed a 'golden age'. During this period the disposable income of Coventrians was one of the highest in the country and both the sports and the arts benefited. A new sports centre, with one of the few Olympic standard swimming pools in the UK, was constructed and Coventry City football club reached the First Division of English Football. The Belgrade Theatre was also constructed along with the Herbert Art Gallery. The 1970s, however, saw a decline in the British motor industry and Coventry suffered badly. By the early 1980s, Coventry had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In recent years, the city has recovered with newer industries locating there, although the motor industry continues to decline. In 2008, only one motor manufacturing plant is operational, that of LTI Ltd, producing the popular TX4 taxi cabs.

City boundaries

Unlike other major UK cities, Coventry does not have an extensive 'greater' urban area. This is partly because the city boundaries were drawn so as to include practically all of its suburbs, and partly because Coventry has comparatively little in the way of contiguous satellite towns and dormitory settlements.

The M6 motorway directly to the north of Coventry acts as an artificial boundary which precludes expansion into the Bedworthmarker-Nuneatonmarker urban area, as does the protected West Midlands Green Belt which surrounds the city on all sides. This has circumvented the expansion of the city into both the administrative county of Warwickshiremarker and the metropolitan borough of Solihullmarker, and has helped to prevent the coalescence of the city with surrounding settlements such as Kenilworthmarker, Leamington Spamarker, Warwickmarker, Rugbymarker, Meridenmarker and Balsall Commonmarker.

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Places of interest

Cathedrals

St. Michael's Cathedralmarker is Coventry's best-known landmark and visitor attraction. The original 14th century cathedral was largely destroyed by German bombing during World War II, leaving only the outer walls and spire. At the time of the bombing, the Spire of St. Michael's was the third tallest in Britain, Ely and Salford cathedrals being taller. Due to the architectural design (it was the tallest standing spire and not constructed as part of the roof, as is the case with the neighbouring Holy Trinity Churchmarker), it survived the destruction of the main Cathedral. The new Coventry Cathedral was opened in 1962 next to the ruins of the old. It was designed by Sir Basil Spence. The cathedral contains the tapestry Christ in Glory by Graham Sutherland. The bronze statue St Michael's Victory over the Devil by Jacob Epstein is mounted on the exterior of the new cathedral near the entrance. Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, regarded by some as his masterpiece, was written for the opening of the new Cathedral.

The spire of the ruined cathedral forms one of the Three Spires which have dominated the city skyline since the 14th century, the others being those of Christ Church (of which only the spire survives) and Holy Trinity Church (which is still in use).
Two of Coventry's "three spires"
Another major visitor attraction in Coventry city centre is the free-to-enter Coventry Transport Museummarker, which has the largest collection of British-made road vehicles in the world. The most notable exhibits are the world speed record-breaking cars, Thrust2 and ThrustSSC. The museum received a major refurbishment in 2004 which included the creation of a striking new entrance as part of the city's Phoenix Initiative project. The revamp saw the museum exceed its projected five-year visitor numbers within the first year alone, and it was a finalist for the 2005 Gulbenkian Prize.

Art gallery and museums

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museummarker is a major art gallery in the city centre. About four miles from the city centre and just outside Coventry in Bagintonmarker is the Lunt Fort, a reconstructed Roman fort. The Midland Air Museummarker is situated just within the perimeter of Coventry on land adjacent to Coventry Airportmarker and near Bagintonmarker.

Coventry was one of the main centres of watchmaking during the 18th and 19th centuries and as the industry declined the skilled workers were key to setting up the cycle trade. A group of local enthusiasts are in the process of setting up a museum in Spon Street.

The city's main police station in Little Park Street also hosts a museum of Coventry's Police Force. The museum, based underground, is split into two sections - one representing the history of the city's police force, and the other compiling some of the more unusual, interesting and grisly cases from the force's history. The museum is funded from charity donations - viewings can be made by appointment.

Coventry City Farm was a small farm in an urban setting. It was mainly to educate city children who might not get out to the countryside very often. The farm closed in 2008 due to funding problems.

Highfield Road stadium

Since 2005, Coventry City Football Club have been playing at their new home, the Ricoh Arenamarker, a 32,500 capacity stadium in Foleshillmarker in north Coventry. Their football academy is now based at The Alan Higgs Centremarker, a leisure centre in south-east Coventry opened in 2004. The Highfield Roadmarker stadium has been demolished, making way for new housing and a small green.

Redevelopment

Millennium Square by night, showing the Time Zone Clock designed by Francoise Schein with the Whittle Arch soaring above


Major improvements continue to regenerate the city centre. The Phoenix Initiative, which was designed by MJP Architects, reached the final shortlist for the 2004 RIBA Stirling Prize and has now won a total of 16 separate awards. It was published in the book 'Phoenix : Architecture/Art/Regeneration' in 2004. Further major developments are potentially afoot, particularly the Swanswell Project, which is intended to deepen Swanswell Pool and link it to Coventry Canal Basin, coupled with the creation of an urban marina and a wide Parisian-style boulevard. A possible second phase of the Phoenix Initiative is also in the offing, although both of these plans are still on the drawing-board. The redevelopment of the Belgrade Theatre is currently in progress, and the building of IKEA's first city centre multi-storey store has recently been completed and was opened to the public on 16 December 2007.

The River Sherbourne runs under Coventry's city centre; the river was paved over during the rebuilding after World War II and is not commonly known. When the new rebuild of Coventry city centre takes place 2009 onwards, it is planned that river will be re-opened, and a river walk way will be placed along side it in parts of the city centre.

Twinning with other cities; "city of peace and reconciliation"

Coventry and Stalingradmarker (now Volgogradmarker) were the world's first 'twin' cities when they established a twinning relationship during World War II. The relationship developed through ordinary people in Coventry who wanted to show their support for the Soviet Red Army during the Battle of Stalingradmarker. The city was also subsequently twinned with Dresdenmarker, as a gesture of peace and reconciliation following World War II. Coventry is now twinned with 27 other cities around the world.

Coventry Cathedralmarker is notable for being one of the newest cathedrals in the world, having been built following the World War II bombing of the ancient cathedral by the Luftwaffe. Coventry has since developed an international reputation as one of Europe's major cities of peace and reconciliation, centred around its Cathedral, and holds an annual Peace Month.

Education

The Alan Berry building, Coventry University.
Coventry has two universities; Coventry Universitymarker is situated on a modern city centre campus while the University of Warwickmarker lies 3.5 miles (5.5 km) to the south of the city centre within Coventry near the border with Warwickshiremarker. The University of Warwick is one of only five universities never to have been rated outside the top ten in terms of teaching excellence and research and is a member of the prestigious Russell Group. A team from the University won the BBC TV University Challenge trophy in April 2007. Coventry University is one of only a handful of universities to run a degree course in automotive design (it is second only to the Royal College of Artmarker course in prestige).

Coventry also has three further education colleges within city boundaries, City Collegemarker, Henley College and Hereward College.

Many of the secondary schools in and around Coventry are specialist colleges, such as Finham Park Schoolmarker, which is a Mathematics and IT college, a teacher training school and the only school in Coventry to offer studying the International Baccalaureate, and Coventry Blue Coat Church of England Schoolmarker which has recently become a specialist college of Music, one of only a few in the country. Bishop Ullathorne RC Schoolmarker became a specialist college in Humanities in 2006. Woodlands Schoolmarker in Coventry is now also a sports college, which has a newly built sport centre. Ernesford Grange Schoolmarker, in the South East, is a specialist science college. Coundon Court Schoolmarker is a Technology college. Pattison Collegemarker, a private school opened in 1949, specialises in the performing arts. There is also Caludon Castle School, a business and enterprise school, which has been rebuilt over 2005-2007. Exhall Grange School and Science Collegemarker is in the North of the City, although, its catchment area is north Warwickshire. There is also Cardinal Newman Catholic School and specialist arts college.

The Coventry School Foundation comprises the independent schools King Henry VIII Schoolmarker and Bablake Schoolmarker together with Coventry Preparatory Schoolmarker.

The Woodlands School, which is an all-boys' school, and Tile Hill Wood Schoolmarker are the only single-sex schools left in Coventry. However, their sixth forms have merged to form the "West Coventry 6th Form", whose lessons take place in mixed classes on both sites.

The Westwood School, which is a Technology College, close to The University of Warwick. It is the only school in Coventry that is a CISCO Academy and prides itself on its links with other educational establishment, industry and the local community.

Arts and culture

Literature and drama

  • During the early 19th century, Coventry was well-known due to author George Eliot who was born near Nuneatonmarker. The city was the model for her famous novel Middlemarch (1871).
  • The Coventry Carol is named after the city of Coventry. It was a carol performed in the play The Pageant of The Shearman and Tailors, written in the 15th century as one of the Coventry Cycle Mystery Plays. These plays depicted the nativity story, the lyrics of the Coventry Carol referring to the Annunciation to the Massacre of the Innocents, which was the basis of the Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. These plays were traditionally performed on the steps of the (old) Cathedral, and the plays are believed to have been performed for both Richard III in 1484 and Henry VII in 1584. The Belgrade Theatre brought back the Coventry Mystery Plays in 2000 to mark the city's millennium celebrations: the theatre now produces the Mystery Plays every three years.
  • The Belgrade Theatremarker was Britain's first purpose-built civic theatre, opened in 1958. In 1965 the world's first Theatre-in-Education (TiE) company was formed to develop theatre as a way of inspiring learning in schools. The TiE movement spread worldwide, the theatre still offers a number of programmes for young people across Coventry and has been widely recognised as a leader in the field.


Music and cinema

  • During the late-1970s and early-1980s, Coventry was the centre of the Two Tone musical phenomenon, with bands such as The Specials and The Selecter coming from the city, spawning several major hit singles and albums. The Specials achieved two UK #1 hit singles between 1979–1981, namely "Too Much Too Young" and "Ghost Town". Notable singles by The Selecter included "On My Radio" and "Three Minute Hero".
  • Today Coventry is recognised for its range of music events including one of the UK's foremost international jazz programmes, the Coventry Jazz Festival, and the award-winning Godiva Festival. On the Saturday of the Godiva Festival, a carnival parade also starts in the city centre and makes its way to the War Memorial Parkmarker where the festival is held.
  • In the film The Italian Job, the famous scene of Mini Coopers being driven at speed through Turinmarker's sewers was actually filmed in Coventry, using what were then the country's biggest sewer pipes, that were accessible because they were being installed. More recently various locations in Coventry have been used in the BAFTA nominated film "Bouncer" starring Ray Winstone, All in the Game, also starring Ray Winstone (Ricoh Arena), the medical TV series Angels (Walsgrave Hospital), the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances (Stoke Aldermoor and Binley Woods districts) and in August 2006 scenes from "The Shakespeare Code", an episode of the third series of Doctor Who, were filmed in the grounds of Ford's Hospital.


Venues

Warwick Arts Centre in Warwick University Campus
Theatre, art and music venues in Coventry include:
  • The Warwick Arts Centremarker: situated at the University of Warwickmarker, Warwick Arts Centre includes an art gallery, a theatre, a concert hall and a cinema. It is the second largest arts centre in the UK, after London's Barbicanmarker.
  • The College Theatre: the city's main community theatre, housed at the Butts Centre of City College Coventrymarker. It's a fully functioning theatre with flying scenery, full sound and lighting boxes.
  • The Belgrade Theatremarker: one of the largest producing theatres in Britain, the 866-seat Belgrade was the first civic theatre to be opened in the UK following World War II. The theatre underwent a huge redevelopment and reopened in September 2007; in addition to refurbishing the existing theatre the redevelopment included a new 250-seat studio auditorium known as B2, a variety of rehearsal spaces and an exhibition space that traces the history of theatre in Coventry.
  • Also currently being built is the Belgrade Plazamarker.
  • The Ricoh Arenamarker: located north of the city centre, the 32,000 capacity Coventry City FC stadium is also used to hold major rock concerts for some of the world's biggest acts, including Oasis and Bon Jovi. The adjacent Ricoh Exhibition Hall is a 6,000-seat events venue for hosting a multitude of other acts.
  • The SkyDome Arenamarker, which is a 3,000 capacity sports auditorium, and has played host to artists such as Girls Aloud, Paul Oakenfold, Judge Jules and Paul Morrell. It is the home ground for Coventry Blaze ice hockey club, and has also hosted professional wrestling events such as International Showdown.
  • The War Memorial Parkmarker, which holds various festivals including the Godiva Festival and the Coventry Caribbean Festival, every year.
  • The Butts Park Arenamarker, home of Coventry Rugby Football Club, holds music concerts occasionally.
  • The Kasbah Nightclub, Hillfieldsmarker. It was renamed after refurbishment in 2007, but is still often referred to by its previous name, 'Colosseum'. By older Coventrians, it is still remembered as The Orchid Ballroom.
  • The Criterion Theatremarker, a small theatre, in Earlsdon.


Sport

The Ricoh Arena
Sporting teams include:Coventry City (football)); Coventry Bees (speedway); Coventry Rugby Club (Rugby Union) ; Coventry Bearsmarker (rugby league); Coventry Godiva Harriers (athletics); Coventry Crusaders (basketball); Coventry Cassidy Jets (American football); Coventry Sphinx (football); Coventry Copsewoodmarker (football); City of Coventry Swimming Club (swimming); Coventry Blaze (ice hockey); Four Masters GAA Club (Gaelic football).

In football, Coventry City have been in existence since the late 19th century, but did not reach the top flight of the Football League until 1967, when they were promoted as Second Division champions. Their highest league position so far is sixth place in the First Division in 1970, when they qualified for the European Fairs Cup (now the UEFA Cup) in 1970-71. Their only major trophy to date is the FA Cup which was won in 1987 with a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembleymarker. Coventry were founder members of the Premier League in 1992, but currently play in the Football League Championship, the second tier of English football, where they have been since 2001, following relegation after 34 successive seasons of top flight football. Their current stadium is the 32,600 capacity Ricoh Arenamarker, which opened at Foleshillmarker in the north of the city in 2005, replacing 106-year-old Highfield Roadmarker to the east of the city centre. Notable former players include Willie Carr, Dion Dublin, Stuart Pearce, Gerry Francis, Kevin Gallacher, Terry Gibson, Mark Hateley, Ian Wallace, Tommy Hutchison, Robbie Keane, Gary McAllister, Reg Matthews, David Speedie, Steve Ogrizovic, Colin Stein and Terry Yorath. Notable former managers include Jimmy Hill, Noel Cantwell, Dave Sexton, John Sillett, Bobby Gould, Phil Neal, Ron Atkinson, Gordon Strachan, Peter Reid, Gary McAllister, Micky Adams and Iain Dowie.

The Coventry Bees are based at Coventry Stadium (formerly Brandon Stadium) to the east of the city. The stadium has operated both sides of World War II. The Bees started in 1948 and have operated continuously ever since. They started out in the National League Division three before moving up to the Second Division and, later to the top flight. They have operated at this level ever since. Amongst the top speedway riders who have represented Coventry teams are Tom Farndon, Jack Parker, Nigel Boocock, Kelvin Tatum, Chris Harris and three World Champions, Ole Olsen, Hans Nielsen and Jack Young. Between 1998 and 2000, Coventry hosted the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain at Brandon Stadium.

In 2007, the Bees won the domestic speedway treble of Elite League, Knock-out Cup and Craven Shield, whilst Chris Harris won both the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain and the British Championship.

The Bees retained the Craven Shield in 2008.

Before World War II speedway also operated for a short time at Foleshill Stadium, off Lythalls Lane in the City.

In 2003, Coventry Blaze won the British National League and Playoffs. In 2007, Coventry Blaze won the Elite League and the British Challenge cup and narrowly missed out on the treble by losing in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Coventry Bearsmarker are the major rugby league team in the city now playing in the Rugby League Conference. In 2002 they won the Rugby League Conference, and took the step up to the national leagues. In 2004 they won the National Division 3 title and have appeared in the Challenge Cup.

2005 was a good year for sport in Coventry. Not only did it become the first city in the UK to host the International Children's Games, but three of the city sports teams won significant honours. The Blaze won the treble consisting of Elite League, playoff and Challenge Cup; the Jets won the BAFL Division 2 championship and were undefeated all season; and the Bees won the Elite League playoffs.

Major sports teams in Coventry
Club Sport Founded League Venue
Coventry R.F.C. Rugby union 1874 National Division One Butts Park Arenamarker
Coventry City Football 1883 Football League Championship Ricoh Arenamarker
Coventry Bees Speedway 1928 Elite League Brandon Stadium
Coventry Crusaders Basketball 1987 English Basketball League Coventry Sports Centre
Coventry Bearsmarker Rugby League 1998 Rugby League Conference OC's Stadium
Coventry Blaze Ice hockey 2000 Elite Ice Hockey League SkyDome Arenamarker


Notable Coventrians

History and politics

Coventry is well-known for the legendary 11th century exploits of Lady Godiva who, according to legend, rode through the city naked on horseback in protest at high taxes being waged on the cityfolk by her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia. According to the legend the residents of the city were commanded to look away as she rode, but one man didn't and was allegedly struck blind. He became known as Peeping Tom thus originating a new idiom, or metonym, in English. There is a Grade II* listed statue of her in the city centre, which for 18 years had been underneath a much-maligned Cathedral Lanes shopping centre canopy, removed in October 2008. There is also a bust of Peeping Tom looking out from a bridge that crosses one branch of the shopping precinct, and across the road from the statue of Godiva there is a clock where, at every hour, Lady Godiva appears on her horse while being watched by Peeping Tom.

The Labour politician Mo Mowlam was educated in Coventry; trade union organiser Tom Mann and National Socialist Movement leader Colin Jordan also came from the city.

Science and technology

Coventry has been the home to several pioneers in science and engineering. Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, was from the city, as was the inventor James Starley, instrumental in the development of the bicycle and his nephew J.K. Starley, who worked alongside his uncle and went on to found car company Rover. Cyborg scientist Kevin Warwick is also a Coventrian. George Singer, manufacturer of Singer bicycles also lived in Coventry, his Victorian home has now been converted into Coundon Court School and Community Collegemarker. Coventrians who established successful businesses from very humble beginnings were known as "Coventry Kids".

The arts

Coventrians in the arts include the highly acclaimed poet Philip Larkinmarker, actors Nigel Hawthorne and Clive Owen, the actress Lisa Dillon and the author Lee Child. Many notable musicians originated in Coventry, including Delia Derbyshire, Jerry Dammers, Terry Hall, Neville Staple, Hazel O'Connor, Clint Mansell, Julianne Regan, Lee Dorrian, Jen Ledger and Panjabi MC. 2 Tone music developed in and around Coventry in the 1970s and two of the genre's most notable bands, The Specials and The Selecter are both from the city. Other Coventry bands include The Primitives, Adorable, Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, King, Jigsaw, The Sorrows, and The Enemy. Record producer Pete Waterman is also from the city and is president of Coventry Bearsmarker. Broadcasters Brian Matthew and Richard Keys, theatre producer Dominic Madden, and pornographic actress Debee Ashby are also Coventrians.

Sport

Notable Coventrian sportsmen include speedway rider Tom Farndon; footballer Reg Matthews; cricketers Tom Cartwright and Ian Bell; rugby union players Neil Back, Danny Grewcock and Geoff Evans; boxer Errol Christie; sprinter Marlon Devonish; distance runner David Moorcroft; show jumper Nick Skelton and fencer Kevin Reilly.

Economy

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Coventry at current basic prices by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling:
Year Regional Gross Value Added 1 Agriculture 2 Industry 3 Services 4
1995 3,407 3 1,530 1,874
2000 4,590 3 1,873 2,714
2003 5,103 2 1,529 3,572
Notes:
  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. Includes hunting and forestry
  3. Includes energy and construction
  4. Includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


Coventry has long been a centre of motor and cycle manufacturing, dating from 1896. Starting out with some less familiar names such as Coventry Motette, Great Horseless Carriage Co, Swift Motor Company and more familiar names like Humbermarker, Riley, Francis-Barnett and Daimler and the Triumph motorcycle having its origins in 1902 in a Coventry factory. The Massey-Ferguson tractor factory was situated on Banner Lane, Tile Hill, until it closed in the late 1990s. Although the motor industry has declined almost to the point of extinction, the Jaguarcompany has retained its corporate and research headquarters in the city (at Allesley and Whitley), and Peugeot still have a large parts centre in Humber Road. The famous London black cab taxis are produced in Coventry by LTI and these are now the only vehicles still wholly built in Coventry.

The manufacture of machine tools was once a major industry in Coventry. Alfred Herbert Ltd became one of the largest machine tool companies in the world. Unfortunately in later years the company faced tough competition from foreign machine tool builders and ceased trading in 1983. Another famous Coventry machine tool manufacturer was the A. C. Wickman company. The last Coventry machine tool manufacturer was Matrix Churchill which was forced to close in the wake of the Iraqi Supergun scandal. It had been owned by the Saddam Hussein government, via front companies, and closed amidst much controversy and bad feeling.

Coventry's main industries include: cars, electronic equipment, machine tools, agricultural machinery, man-made fibres, aerospace components and telecommunications equipment. In recent years, the city has moved away from manufacturing industries towards business services, finance, research, design and development, creative industries as well as logistics and leisure.

Coventry motor companies once contributed significantly to the British motor industry but that role is now much diminished.

Transport

Coventry Canal Basin
Coventry is near the M6, M69, M45 and M40 motorways. It is also served by the A45 and A46 dual carriageways. Coventry has a much used inner ring road opened in the 1960s (approx.). Phoenix Way, a dual carriageway running north – south opened 1998 (approx.), has improved traffic flows through the city.

For rail, Coventry railway stationmarker is served by the West Coast Main Linemarker, and has regular rail services between London and Birmingham (and stations beyond). It is also served by railway lines to Nuneatonmarker via Bedworthmarker. There is a line linking it to Leamington Spamarker and onwards to the south coast. Coventry also has two Suburban Rail stations in Canleymarker and in Tile Hillmarker.

Bus service operators in Coventry include National Express Coventry, Travel de Courcey and Stagecoach in Warwickshire. Pool Meadow Bus Stationmarker is the main bus and coach interchange in the city centre. Two park and ride sites exist in the city, one at War Memorial Park and one at Courthouse Green.

The nearest major airports are Birmingham International Airportmarker, some 17 km (11 miles) to the west of the city and Coventry Airportmarker in Bagintonmarker, located 8 km (5 miles) south of the city centre.

The Coventry Canal terminates near the city centre at Coventry Canal Basin and is navigable for 61 km (38 miles) to Fradley Junctionmarker in Staffordshire.

Waste management

Incineration plant, Coventry
Coventry has a large incineration plant which burns rubbish from both Coventry and Solihullmarker, producing electricity for the National Grid and some hot water that is used locally. Some rubbish is still put into landfill.

Coventry City Council is assisting recycling as part of their waste management strategy in line with national trends:
  • many areas of Coventry have kerb-side plastic, metal (tins and cans), and paper recycling. Garden-green rubbish is also collected and composted.
  • a wide range of waste materials can be taken by car to the recycling depot, which is adjacent to the incineration unit.
  • there are many recycling points throughout the City for paper, glass recycling and metal / tin can recycling.


In October 2006, Coventry City Council signed the Nottingham Declaration, joining 130 other UK councils in committing to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the council and to help the local community do the same.

In November 2009, out of the biggest 20 cities in Britain the Forum for the Future ranked Coventry in 11th place based on environmental performance, quality of life, and readiness for the future. Coventry was ranked 14th in 2008, and 17th in 2009.

Politics

The Council House, Coventry
Traditionally a part of Warwickshiremarker (although it was a county in its own rightmarker for 400 years), Coventry became an independent county borough in 1889. It later became a metropolitan district of the West Midlands county under the Local Government Act (1974), even though it was entirely separate to the Birmingham conurbation area (this is why Coventry appears to unnaturally "jut out" into Warwickshire on political maps of the UK). In 1986, the West Midlands County Council was abolished and Coventry became administered as an effective unitary authority in its own right.

Coventry is still strongly associated with its traditional county, Warwickshire. This may be because of its geographical location, forming a large protrusion into the county.

Coventry is administered by Coventry City Council. The city is divided up into 18 Wards each with three councillors. Coventry has usually been controlled by the Labour Party over the past few decades, and at times they appeared to be in safe control. However the Conservative held control for a short time in the 1970s, and they have also been in control since June 2004. (For a time they held control on the casting vote of the Lord Mayor, but they won clear control at the local elections of 4 May 2006).

The leader of the controlling Conservative group is Ken Taylor, who has held the post of Leader of the Council since 2004. The leader of the opposition Labour group is John Mutton.

A notable politician serving with Coventry City Council is former Militant Tendency Labour MP Dave Nellist who now represents the Socialist Party .

Certain local services are provided by West Midlands wide agencies including the West Midlands Police, the West Midlands Fire Service and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (Centro) which is responsible for public transport.

In 2006, Coventry and Warwickshire Ambulance Service was merged with the West Midlands Ambulance Service. The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance service is based at Coventry Airportmarker in Baginton.

Coventry is represented in Parliamentmarker by three MPs all of whom are Labour. These are:

Up until 1997, Coventry was represented by four Members of Parliament, whereupon the Coventry South West and Coventry South East constituencies were merged to form Coventry South.

At the Annual Meeting of the City Council on 20 May 2009, Councillor Jack Harrison was elected as the new Lord Mayor of Coventry. Councillor Harrison has been a Labour councillor for 13 years representing the Lower Stoke Ward. Councillor Harrison's wife, Jill, is Lady Mayoress. The Deputy Lord Mayor is Councillor Brian Kelsey. He has been a Conservative councillor in Bablake Ward since 1999.

The Bishop of Coventry since April 1998 has been the Rt Revd. Colin Bennetts, who retired from the post on 1 December 2007. The Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Cocksworth was nominated Bishop of Coventry on 3 March 2008.

Demographics

Like most major Britishmarker cities, Coventry has a large ethnic minority population, making up 25.2% of the population as of 2006 estimates. The ethnic minority population is concentrated in the Foleshillmarker and the St. Michael's wards.

The composition of the ethnic minority population is not typical of the UK. Sikhs are the largest non-Christian religion, with significant numbers of other South Asians. The Black population is 3.1%, only slightly above the British average, and lower than some other cities.

8.2% of the population identify as ethnically Indian, 2.2% as Pakistani, 0.8% as being from other South Asian groups, and 0.7% as Bangladeshi.

White Irish people constitute 2.8%, and 2.9% of the city's population identify as "White Other" (non-Irish, non-British white groups).

1.7% of the population are Black African, 1.2% Black Caribbean, and 0.2% from other black groups.

1.5% are ethnically Chinese and the remaining 0.9% is mainly composed of East Asians.

People reporting two or more ethnicities make up 2.1% of the population.

Year and Current Total Population
  • 1801 -  21,853
  • 1851  - 48,120
  • 1901  - 88,107
  • 1911  - 117,958
  • 1921  - 144,197
  • 1931  - 176,303
  • 1941  - 214,380
  • 1951  - 260,685
  • 1961  - 296,016
  • 1971  - 336,136
  • 1981  - 310,223
  • 1991  - 305,342
  • 2001  - 300,844
  • 2007  - 306,700
  • 2009  - 309,800


Closest cities, towns and villages

Cities (within 80 km/50 miles)

Towns (within 32 km/20 miles)

Villages

Postcodes

Postal districts CV1marker to CV6 inclusive cover the city of Coventry and its immediate suburbs. Postal districts CV7 to CV47 cover almost all of the surrounding administrative county of Warwickshiremarker, with the exception of those areas around Coleshillmarker, Polesworthmarker, Alcestermarker and Studleymarker in western Warwickshire, which have Birmingham postcodesmarker instead. However, Coventry remains the post town for settlements within the CV7 postcode, even though they do not form part of the city.

Twin cities

Coventry was the first city to "twin" with another city (Volgogradmarker, Russia) and hence began the now common worldwide practice of twinning. It continued after World War II when Coventry twinned with Dresdenmarker as an act of peace and reconciliation, both cities having been very heavily bombed during the war. Each twin city country is represented in a specific ward of the city and in each ward has a peace garden dedicated to that twin city.

Coventry is now twinned with 26 places across the world:
Flag City Country Year Twinned Ward
Parkes, New South Walesmarker Australia 1956
Grazmarker Austria 1957 Binley & Willenhall
Sarajevomarker Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker 1957
Cornwall, Ontariomarker Canada 1972
Granby, Quebecmarker 1963
Windsor, Ontariomarker 1963
Jinanmarker China 1983
Lidicemarker Czech Republicmarker 1947
Ostravamarker 1959
Caenmarker France 1957
Saint-Etiennemarker 1955
Dresdenmarker Germany 1959 Lower Stoke
Kielmarker 1947
Dunaújvárosmarker Hungarymarker 1962
Kecskemétmarker 1962
Bolognamarker Italy 1960
Kingstonmarker Jamaicamarker 1962
Arnhemmarker Netherlands 1958
Warsawmarker Polandmarker 1957
Corkmarker Irelandmarker 1958
Galaţimarker Romaniamarker 1962
Volgogradmarker/Stalingradmarker Russia 1944
Belgrademarker Serbiamarker 1957
Coventry, Connecticutmarker United States 1962
Coventry, New Yorkmarker 1972
Coventry, Rhode Islandmarker 1971


Accent

Coventry in a linguistic sense looks both ways, towards both the 'West' and 'East' Midlands. One thousand years ago, the extreme west of Warwickshire, what today we would designate Birmingham and the Black Country was then separated from Coventry and east Warwickshire by the forest of Arden, with resulting inferior means of communication. The west Warwickshire settlements too were smaller in comparison to Coventry which, by the 14th century, was England's third city. Even as far back as Anglo-Saxon times Coventry, situated as it was along Watling Streetmarker was a trading and market post between King Alfred's Saxon Mercia and Danelawmarker England with a consequent merging of dialects. Phonetically the accent of Coventry is similar to Northern English in that it eliminates the long a /ɑː/, so cast is pronounced [kæst] rather than [kɑːst]. Yet the clipped, flatter vowels in the accent also contain traces of Estuary English, increasingly so amongst the young since 1950. One notable feature which television producers have been apt to overlook is the distinction between Coventry and Birmingham accents. In Birmingham and the Black Country 'Old' and 'cold' may be pronounced as "owd" and "cowd", this linguistic feature stops starkly as one moves beyond Solihull in the general direction of Coventry, a possible approximation of the 'Arden Forest' divide perhaps. The prosody in the voice has none of the see-saw of traditional 'Brummie', being more 'flat' in its terminal sentence tags. The common Birmingham inflection of the phonetic feature 'ɒɪ' in words such as 'price'-becoming similar in sound to the word 'choice' is absent in Coventry. Yet accents alter briskly in this particular part of the Midlands, North Warwickshire (Bedworth & Nuneaton) for instance display increased East Midlands dialect features. Then again, just to the south, the general Southern English feature of the longer 'a' in words such as "bath" and "path" (becoming "barth" and "parth") starts to occur across an east to west band of settlements somewhere between Southam and Banbury, positioning Coventry right at the edge of England's phonetic crossroads.

Dramatic representations on film have been very uneven down the years, ranging from Yorkshire sounding builders visiting the Queen Vic in Eastenders [1987] to Black Country sounding factory workers in the Jeffrey Archer adaptation 'First Among Equals' (1984). The BBC's 2009 documentary 'The Bombing of Coventry' contained useful phonetic data on the 'Coventry Accent' in the form of interviews with Coventrians. A recent performance from the actress Becci Gemmell, playing Coventry character Joyce in the BBC drama Land Girls, also gave a more accurate phonetic representation of the accent.

Honours

A minor planet 3009 Coventry discovered by Sovietmarker astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1973 is named after the city.

2008 bomb scare

On 12 March 2008 an unexploded World War II Luftwaffe bomb was discovered at 12 noon on a building site in Coventry's city centre, a British Army bomb disposal unit was called in and subsequently called in experts from Cambridge. A controlled explosion was conducted at approximately 02:40 GMT on the morning of March 13.

At first areas in close range of the bomb were evacuated (including a school and a hospital), however, as the day progressed larger parts of the city were closed off. Later, a cordon of 500 metres was enforced. The event attracted mass media coverage throughout the West Midlands region.

See also



Further reading

  • Smith, Albert & Fry, (1991) The Coventry We Have Lost. 2 vols. Berkswell: Simanda Press, 1991, 1993 ISBN 0-9513867-1-9; ISBN 0-9513867-2-7


References

  • Coventry's Heritage, by Levi Fox (1957)
  • Coventry: History and Guide, by David McGrory (1993) ISBN 0-7509-0194-2
  • A History of Warwickshire, by Terry Slater (1981) ISBN 0-85033-416-0
  • The Bombing of Coventry BBC Television (2009)


External links




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