John McSparron's Coventry News

Some recent noteworthy news from the Coventry area for anyone who's been away for a while.

7th December 2017
   It is announced that Coventry is to become the UK City of Culture 2021, following Hull which previously won the award in 2017. Coventry beat off competition from Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea. It is hoped that the award will lead to increased tourism and a boost to the local economy.
5th April 2017
   Plans have been approved to demolish a Coventry University student residency tower block and partial demolition of another. The blocks in Fairfax Street and Priory Street were built in the 1960s and have been found to be structurally unsafe. The area will be replaced by landscaping until a decision on further development is made. However, a number of student accommodation projects are underway in the city centre.
   The Royal Mail building in Bishop Street, now demolished is shortly to become Bishopgate, 1200 student bedrooms in five towers up to 18 storeys high. The car park in Fairfax St opposite the central swimming pool will soon become a student complex of four towers between 6 and 21 storeys high with another 1000 bedrooms. The nearby Alexandra/Theatre One cinema site is to become a 5 storey apartment block with 50 bedrooms. Another development in Paradise St just outside the ring road comprises 922 bedrooms in three towers of 3, 12 and 14 storeys. The AXA building in Corporation Street, formerly the site of the Gas Showrooms is to be a 97 room student village and the 8 storey AXA tower adjoining, in Well St will have a further 210 rooms. A site in Hales Street once occupied by the Thorntons Chocolate Kabin and the Smithfield Tavern is now Millennium View, an 11 storey 390 room student tower. Other completed student apartment projects include the former Leofric Hotel with 120 flats, Belgrave Plaza in Bond Street with 20 storeys and 385 rooms, and Burgess House on Ironmonger Row with 67 rooms.
22nd March 2017
   The London Taxi Company (LTI) is officialy opening its new factory at Ansty to produce the TX5 model, the electric version of its taxi. The 300 million investment will see vehicles rolling off the production line later this year, with a potential capacity of 20,000 taxis annually. In 2013, LTI were in severe financial difficulties but were rescued by the Chinese car manufacturer, Geely. The new factory is the first in the UK dedicated to electric vehicle production.
24th October 2015
   The Co-op store in Corporation Street closed today. The building dates from 1956 but the company's first store in the city opened in 1867. The closure is blamed on the challenging retail environment. Plans to redevelop the site are said to retain the existing building.
29th January 2014
   A significant chapter of Coventry's history has closed with the end of production at Cash's ribbon manufacturers. The world famous company which started in 1846 is the last survivor of the historic local weaving industry, and has gone into administration with 47 workers losing their jobs.

28th January 2014
   Nissan are to use a Coventry company for the final assembly of their new Taxi for London. ADV Manufacturing plan to extend their premises at Exhall to enable the new vehicle to be launched later this year. The basic vehicle will be shipped from Barcelona and extensively modified here. At the same time an all-electic version is under development.

4th October 2012
   A Swiss company is to manufacture a limited number of 250 sports cars in Coventry. The Lyonheart K is available as a coupe or convertible with retro styling reminiscent of the E type Jaguar. With a 5 litre V8, a top speed limited to 186 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds, the car is expected to cost 650,000 US dollars before taxes.
20th September 2011
   The former Jaguar site at Browns Lane may soon be making cars again. The Healey Sports Car company based in Switzerland is negotiating with CPP of Coventry and has purchased 23 acres at Browns Lane to develop and build a new version of the Jensen Interceptor sports car. Production is expected to begin in 2014.

9th June 2011
   A company in Exall has been chosen to manufacture the torch to be used in the 2012 London Olympic games. In fact 8000 of the torches will be made, one each for the torch bearers who will carry the flame on its 10 week tour of the country. The torch is due to pass Coventry on July 1st.

24th June 2010
   Coventry catholics were disappointed to hear that Pope Benedict will not be holding a mass at Baginton during his visit in September. The event has now been switched to Birmingham where the beatification of Cardinal John Newman will take place. In 1982 a crowd of over 250,000 attended a mass at the aiprport during the visit of Pope John Paul III. The airport was bought in April by businessman Sir Peter Rigby but commercial flights have yet to resume.

3rd June 2010
   The Ricoh arena has been named as one of the stadiums to host the football matches of the 2012 London Olympics. The 32,000 seat venue was chosen due to building work planned for Villa Park. The Ricoh will be renamed the Coventry Stadium during the events.

9th February 2010
   At last a story that is not another business failing. Amazingly, car production has returned to Coventry. Spyker, the company which recently reached a deal to buy Saab from GM, has begun making cars at the new CPP plant in Whitley. The C8 Aileron model was previously assembled in Holland from parts produced by CPP but now five of the £170,000 supercars will be built each week in Coventry. The move creates about 40 new jobs.

8th December 2009
   Coventry Airport closed today after running into financial problems. The last scheduled passenger flights from the airport were in November 2008 after planning permission for a permanent passenger terminal was refused. However the airport has continued with freight flights since then.

1st December 2009
   Coventry Rugby Club has gone into administration with debts of over £500,000. It is the second time in a year that the club has had financial problems. It is hoped to find an investor to save the club but temporarily games will be played at the Ricoh Arena.

3rd January 2009
   All the Woolworths stores in the city have now closed following the bankruptcy of the famous High Street name. Since the first store opened in 1909, selling everything for sixpence, the business has expanded to over 800 stores, all of which will be closed next week with the loss of 27,000 jobs. The city centre store opened in 1954 as one of the first in the new Precinct development.

19th December 2009
   The Butts college closed it's doors to students for the last time today. Classes next year will resume at the new City College campus in Swanswell. The landmark frontage of the building which opened 73 years ago, will be retained and refurbished in the new development. The theatre will also be restored. The scheme includes over 500 apartments with office and leisure facilities.

8th August 2008
   Coventry Working Mens Club has closed after running into financial problems. The club, which opened in 1862, is reputed to be the oldest in the country. Located in Cox Street since 1903, it was visited by the Queen in 1977, and moved to it's present site in Whitefriars Street in 2000. It is one of many clubs around the UK that have closed in recent years due to declining membership.

14th May 2008
   Coventry, the ninth most populous town in England, no longer has a head post office. The building in Herford Street, open since 1902, closed today. Despite widespread public outrage, cutbacks mean the city centre will now be served by a branch located inside the W H Smith store in the precinct.

26th March 2008
   The Jaguar car company was finally sold today to the Indian automotive giant, Tata. After months of negotiations, Ford, the previous owners, sold the company along with Land Rover for over one billion pounds, hoping to offset it's loss making US business. As part of the deal, Tata also acquired the Daimler, Lanchester and Rover names.

28th March 2007
   The Browns Lane plant which was the headquarters of Jaguar Cars for over 50 years was sold today. The 100 acre size has been bought by an Australian developer who aims to turn it into a business park. The last vehicles were produced in 2005, but the wood veneering operation will remain on the site for the time being.
12th December 2006
   The last car to be produced at the Peugeot plant at Ryton rolled off the production line today. The huge plant, covering over 140 acres, produced it's first car in 1946. It has made vehicles under a variety of names, Humber, Sunbeam, Talbot, Hillman and Chrysler as well as Peugeot. About 2000 jobs will be lost. As recently as 1999, Peugeot introduced 7 day working to cope with demand for the 206 model, but the french owners, PSA Peugeot Citroen, say that it's not economical to produce a new model at the site. Production has been moved to Slovakia. So after a 110 year history of car production in the Coventry area, now only LTI, makers of the famous London taxi, remain.

11th July 2006
   The first patients were transfered from Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital into the new hospital at Walsgrave today. The transfer of patients will continue for several days and then patients will be transferred from the old Walsgrave hospital. Both the old sites will then be redeveloped. The new building is built on ground at the rear of the old Walsgrave hospital and is nearly half a kilometre long and 5 stories high. It has been named the University Hospital and has over 1200 beds, 27 operating theatres, 7,000 staff and a helicopter pad. All services should be consolidated at the new hospital by the end of the month.

29th April 2006
   H E Phillips, the hardware store in King William St, Hillfields closes after over 90 years supplying specialist products to customers in Coventry and beyond. The store opened in 1915 and numbered Winston Churchill amongst it's customers. It blames the fall in trade on competition from DIY superstores.

20th August 2005
   The first game to be played at the new Ricoh Arena, saw the Sky Blues beat QPR 3-0. Despite having a capacity of 32,000, a crowd of 23,000 watched the game, numbers being limited as safety checks have yet to be fully completed. The first game at the stadium was originally arranged for August 6th but had to be re-scheduled when it became apparent the building work would not be completed. The stadium facilities include an events hall with a concert capacity of 8,000, a banqueting hall capable of seating 1,000, a restaurant for 100 diners and a hotel with 67 rooms, some of which overlook the pitch. Hopes of a railway station to service the Arena are now abandoned, but plans to get three quarters of fans to arrive by public transport seem to have worked well.

18th July 2005
   The 110 year history of car production in Coventry came to an end today as the final Jaguar came off the production line at Browns Lane. Ford have transfered Jaguar production to the plant in Castle Bromwich and although jobs have been moved both to there and to Aston Martin at Gaydon, over 1000 jobs have been lost. The Browns Lane site has produced Jaguars since 1951 and at one time was the city's largest employer. It will however continue as the company headquarters.

30th April 2005
   A capacity crowd of 22,700 saw the Sky Blues play their last game at the Highfield Road stadium and were treated to a goal bonanza when Derby were beaten 6-2. The first game to be played at the ground was in September 1899, and since then the statistics read:
Played Won DrawnLostGoals forGoals against
22811172 541 568 4363 2664
The new stadium at Foleshill, now renamed the Ricoh Arena, will be the club's home from next season.

26th August 2004
   The first game at the new Rugby club stadium at the Butts took place today. The match, a pre-season friendly, enabled fans to experience the new facilities of the Butts Park Arena. The old Coundon Road stadium was home to the club for over 80 years.

15th April 2004
   Greyhound racing returned to Brandon today after a £2 million reburbishment of the stadium facilities. Racing last took place there in 1986 and is scheduled to resume on four days each week. Speedway racing at the stadium continues.

25th July 2003
   The Massey Ferguson works in Banner Lane, once amongst the largest tractor factories in the world, closed it's gates for the final time today. The plant, now owned by the American company Agco, has produced tractors since 1946 and at it's height employed 8000 workers. It produced the last of over three million tractors last December. In recent years a fall in demand and the strong pound have affected production and manufacturing will be moved to factories in France and Brazil.

13th April 2003
   The poorly regarded White Street coach station closed today. For 30 years the area under the ring road has served passengers entering or leaving the city, but it's lack of facilities has long been a criticism. Coaches will in future use the Pool Meadow bus station.

9th June 2002
   Progress towards the creation of a new public square, Millennium Place at the foot of Trinity Street has necessitated the redesign of the road junction with Hales/Fairfax Streets, thus affecting nearly all the city's bus services. Many that formerly used Pool Meadow have now been moved to other points around the city. Demolition of the Bingo Hall that was formerly the Hippodrome Theatre is also now nearly complete. In 1997 the Millennium Commission awarded 10 million pounds towards the redevelopment. Further contributions from the Council and the private sector will transform the area between Holy Trinity church and the motor museum, and should be completed later this year.

17th January 2002
   The Royal Navy frigate HMS Coventry has today been decomissioned. The ship was completed in 1987 but is now considered to be out of date. It is the sixth ship bearing the name in a line that goes back to 1658. The previous HMS Coventry was lost in the Falkland Islands conflict. The warship is one of five type 22 frigates that will be sold to a 'friendly' country.

10th September 2001
   The Thrust SSC record breaking supersonic car was shown for the first time today in it's new home, the city's Museum of British Road Transport. The car set a new world land speed record of 763 mph (1225 kph or Mach 1.02) in October 1997, and later that year thousands of people lined the streets as it was paraded through the city on a giant trailer as a tribute to the many local firms that helped in it's construction. The acquisition by the museum has been aided by a grant of 500,000 pounds from the heritage lottery fund. The 17 metre long vehicle joins it's predecessor, Thrust 2, which has been a star attraction at the museum.

August 2001
   The first new double-decker buses for over 12 years have entered service on the city's routes. All recent buses have been single-deckers and so the new vehicles in their smart red, white and blue livery dispel fears that double-deckers might soon disappear from the city. The vehicles are manufactured by Dennis, part of the Mayflower Corporation which has a plant in Coventry.

27th February 2001
   The new Cathedral was damaged by a serious fire this morning. A cleaner first spotted the blaze at 8am in the basement and the building was soon evacuated. Over 70 firefighters tackled the blaze and kept it from spreading beyond the undercroft. However there is concern that the smoke that filled the main building may have damaged the Sutherland tapestry. The building was not protected by fire alarms and a public appeal has been made to rectify this situation.

27th January 2001
   The C&A store in the lower precinct closed it's doors for the last time today. The chain is closing all it's stores in the UK due to falling profits. It is hoped that another retailer will fill the premises before the completion of the lower precinct reburbishment in October.

13th July 2000
   The first phase of the controversial Phoenix Initiative plan to transform the area at the junction of Trinity Street and Hales Street has opened. The Garden of International Friendship adjacent to the Lady Herbert's Garden was unveiled by the Lord Mayor at a ceremony today.

22nd April 2000
   The Coventry area now has 8 digit phone numbers. The city is one of several regions including London to be given new area codes. The former 01203 code has become 024 and the old 6-figure numbers are prefixed with 76.

18th April 2000
   Coventry's ice skaters had the opportunity to show their skills at the city's new ice rink which opened today. Skaters have waited many years since the plan for an ice rink in the city was first proposed. The 4200 seater Arena which is part of the recently opened SkyDome leisure complex is designed to be used as a part time rink. It opened to the public on April 15th for a basketball event and the site has been chosen for a series of matches by the English Basketball Association. It is also hoped that pop bands will also be booked to appear at the venue in future.

21st October 1999
   The SkyDome leisure centre in Croft Road opened it's doors today. The complex is built on the site of the old Spon Street GEC works and includes an indoor arena, nightclub and restaurants. There is also a nine-screen Odeon cinema.

23rd April 1999
   At a protracted meeting of the Coventry Health Authority it was decided that the new unified hospital for the city will be built at Walsgrave. This was chosen because of possible difficulties in developing a city centre site, which was the preferred option of the City Council. The 200 million pound project is not expected to be completed for at least five years.

15th December 1998
   The secondary school for girls, Lyng Hall, has been officially reopened following a 3.5 million pound rebuild. The new school, designed to accommodate 780 pupils, has been rebuilt on a site next to the old school.

4th October 1998
   City Centre stores have got together to launch seven day trading from this Sunday. More than 80 shops have agreed to the plan in an effort to compete with out-of-town shopping parks.

26th September 1998
   Jimmy Hill returned to Coventry today to vist a bookshop in the city centre. Crowds gathered at Waterstones (formerly Dillons) to catch a glimpse of the former Sky Blues manager who was signing copies of his autobiography "The Jimmy Hill Story". Earlier this year, Jimmy left the BBC to take up a new job with Sky TV at the age of 70.

7th September 1998
   Councillors have relaxed their rules which insist that the City's black cabs should be black. Any colour will be permitted and cabs will also be able to carry advertisments. In many cities other colours have been allowed for some years but the favourite remains black.

7th July 1998
   Parcelforce, part of the British Post Office, announces plans to build a pair of giant distribution hubs at Coventry Airport. They will cover about 400,000 square feet and be capable of handling 40,000 items an hour. The project, planned to be completed by the end of 1999, is said to be the largest distribution depot in Europe.

24th June 1998
   One of Coventry's largest employers, GPT, formerly GEC Plessey Telecommunications, is to become part of Marconi Communications. The company is a world leader in digital telecommunications and employs over 3000 staff at it's plants in the city.

18th June 1998
   The demolition of the landmark Gulson Hospital chimney completes the preparation for the building of a new library for Coventry University (formerly the Lanchester College). The new high-tech building is expected to be dubbed 'Coventry Castle' with it's array of turrets which form part of the ventilation system. The library is expected to open in 2000. The main building of the Victorian Hospital remains.

16th April 1998
   The famous bronze statue of Lady Godiva on horseback in Broadgate has been given Grade II listed status by the Heritage Minister. The ruling prevents any change to the monument which affects it's character. Last December the central swimming baths which date from 1966 were also surprisingly listed as Grade II status for their "architectural merit", a move opposed by the City Council who had planned to redevelop the sports centre.

Gone but not forgotten:
2015 Beryl Houghton photography After 60 years in the city
2015 Co-op store, Corporation St. Declining trade
2010 Royal Mail building, Bishop St. Demolished for student housing
2009 Gibberd's men's outfitters After 125 years in the family
2008 Belgrave Theatre fountain Site to be re-developed
2008 Leofric Hotel, Broadgate became Travelodge, now student flats
2005 Highfield Road stadium Site re-developed for housing
2003 Massey Ferguson, Banner Lane Site now housing
2001 Former Coventry Theatre Demolished due to the Millennium Square development
2000 Fishy Moore's restaurant Closed due to the Millennium Square development
1999 Odeon cinema, Jordan Well Formerly the Gaumont, closed;
building bought by Coventry University
1999 Lynes rambling & camping store Declining trade
1998 Davies sports shop Closed due to declining trade
1998 Akzo Nobel, Lockhurst Lane Formerly Courtaulds Fibres, closed;
work transfered to Derbyshire
1997 Matterson's department store Closed; premises became part of the Motor Museum
1996 Owen Owen department store Became Allders, closed 2005, now Primark
1993 Wickman's, Banner Lane Bankruptcy
1992 Coventry Gauge and Tool Became Matrix Churchill then bankruptcy
1990 Alvis works, Holyhead Road Now retail shopping park
1983 Alfred Herbert, Edgewick Bankruptcy
1982 Morris Engines, Courthouse Green Now Sainsburys store
1980 Standard Triumph works, Canley Now Sainsburys store
  GEC works, Spon Street Now SkyDome entertainment centre

My other Coventry interest pages:
  Car makers     Corporation buses     Cinemas  

Some other City related links:

Historic Coventry

Coventry Telegraph

BBC Radio Coventry & Warkwickshire

Coventry and Warwickshire

Coventry City FC

Coventry Transport Museum

Webcams:   City skyline from Bablake school towerWarwick University Piazza (live)Friargate progress (20min update),

E-mail me at john@mcsparron·net     My home page

John W McSparron, Coventry, UK.