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[15 SEP 00] HERITAGE OPEN DAYS NEWS
Memories Of The City Recorded

Some more examples from the Coventry Writing Competition. 19 works will be recited at 2pm in the old Cathedral.

Bombs fell heavily to the ground, our spirit carried us through
To celebrate victory, freedom found, new hopes, new dreams come true.
From blackouts, bombings bravely born, a city to renew.
The new cathedral standing tall, the old one at its side, the cross of nails to remind us all of brave ones that have died.
But now itís time to change again to bring us up to date, the baubles the millennium clock, no more memory lane.
Weíll leave it to the young ones to decide out cityís fate,
They have their hopes and dreams too as we did yesterday.
So letís have trust and faith in everything they do, then Coventry will once again be built, this time The Phoenix way.

Elizabeth Holmes

 

COVENTRY, PAST AND PRESENT

Holding a small bottle in the school playground, I remember sucking a flat straw, hoping the milk hadnít gone sour standing in the sunshine. I heard a gentle clicking sound as boys in grey short-legged trousers rolled colour marbles into a convenient hollow. Other bows played football. Girls were either sitting on the steps playing five stones, or chanting rhymes, as they dashed in and out of the long swinging rope.

In those early post war days of Coventry, improvisation due to a lack of facilities led to use practising the breaststroke lying on stools or boxes in the playground.

Our days out were special. Once the entire school walked to Coundon Road Station, where we boarded a steam train and were transported to the delights of Windsor Castle followed by a boat trip on the Thames. The only river that we had seen previously was the Sherbourne, as we sailed our little paper boats on the part now hidden under the tarmac of Four Pounds Avenue

After the Coronation, I can remember the whole school being marched to the Savoy cinema to see the colour film of the event. A rare treat indeed! Few of us had televisions in those days, even if we had; the pictures were all black and white.

I remember cycling up Bishop Street and wondering if the policeman would wave me on. Those days are gone, and a ring road circles the centre of the town. It was controversial then, but it is difficult not to include it in most of our journeys around Coventry.

During the years of the fifties, the citizens watched Coventry being transformed. It was proposed to build a modern Cathedral, not rebuild and restore the original.

I often climbed the steps of the spire and looked down, gauging the progress of this controversial piece of architecture. I stood and watched, holding my breath as the helicopter hovered over the roof, before finally lowering the metal spire into place. The building was almost finished. However, before the consecration in 1963, I was one of the few privileged to be confirmed in the crypt of this new Cathedral.

In those years, shops still closed on a Thursday afternoon for a half-day, an ideal time to drive around the centre of town, or to take the driving test!

Now the town centre is bustling most days as stores open on a Sunday.

Cathedral Lanes was built to replace the little prefab shops, in which assistants opened and closed drawers, endeavouring to find the colour and size of gloves that you wanted. No self-service then!

Lady Godiva sat proudly in the centre of Broadgate, now she hides under a canopy.

I recall sitting feeding my new daughters at Keresley Hospital, admiring the blossom on the trees. Now Walsgrave is to be superseded by a new super hospital.

Yes, Coventry has been remodelled, and the city will continue to evolve keeping pace with modern ideas. We have never been afraid of change; it just takes a little while for it to be accepted.

June Barby
 

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