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City of Culture 2021

Coventry is the City of Culture for 2021.  This prestigious title runs from  May 2021 to May 2022 and it follows on from Derry/Londonderry in 2013 and Hull in 2017.  Taking my first train for over a year, I set off from Leamington to Coventry.  So let’s be brutal, Coventry is not a place you would first associate with culture but do a little digging and you will be pleasantly surprised.  The home of the Specials and Ska music offers up several delights.  Autumn 2020 was my last visit to the City.  Then my pictures were taken around the two Cathedrals and a brief stroll around town.  This visit began at the train station and we moved through the city to the Canal Basin.  The train station is sixties architecture which has seen better days.  Leaving the station area we moved into the Plaza towards the much loved Trigger statue.  Trigger, a metal horse, was put together by Coventry University student Simon Evans in the 1980s using scrap materials.  Lots of photo opportunities around Trigger whether it is close up details or the interaction of people around it.

Trigger
Trigger, the metal horse
City of Culture 2021
Bustling Street Scene

Moving on through towards the shopping centre, next stop the rainbow street or better known as Hertford Street.  Here the Coventry City of Culture offices are situated.  I asked the volunteers if they did not mind having their photograph taken to which they were a bit taken aback.  I love their jackets!  The street is colourful and a haven for Streetphotography as you will see from my photographs. I had my polariser filter on the wide angled Canon 5D which brought out the colours as people wandered past.  We could have spent hours there but we moved on into the central shopping area. 

City of Culture 2021
City of Culture 2021
City of Culture 2021
Rainbow colours

We took a look at Pepper Lane that had been spruced up with colourful paint.  The street art mural by @mattchuuk dominates the far end.  The mural is a past, present and future dreamlike composition representing the spirit of Coventry.

City of Culture 2021
Pepper Lane with the mural by Matt Chu
City of Culture 2021
Matt Chu’s mural representing the past, present and future looks onto the Holy Trinity Church

Moving on to, through and past the Cathedral Square. We hit upon the tired and brutal architecture of the Britannia Hotel and moved swiftly onto the Whittle arches around Hale Street.  Their imposing shapes fits in well with the surrounding area.  Everything is blue including the buses and the spiral overpass into Lady Herbert’s Gardens and Volgograd place.  So good to take pictures and another place where you could spend a great deal of time people watching and taking pictures. 

City of Culture 2021
Reminder of Brutal Coventry
City of Culture 2021
Blue bridge and cyclist
City of Culture 2021
Old and new of Coventry
City of Culture 2021
On the bridge

Moving on our next destination was the Coventry Canal basin.  I warned my photo buddy not to expect much as at my last visit, there was not much to see.  I was glad to be proved wrong as there was activity around the basin and a few long boats were moored up.  By chance I noticed people sitting outside a café near the canal bridge.  Playwright’s café turned out to be a hidden gem.  Scones were lovely and the coffee just right.  Great service from the owner as well.  So my opinion of the area is changed now! 

City of Culture 2021
on the way to the Canal Basin
City of Culture 2021
Coventry Canal Basin

Time to make our way back through the City to the train station.  So lots to like about Coventry in its new clothes as City of Culture.  There is still the awful Brutalist buildings, the bad architecture but there is also a sense of optimism around the place.  The Specials sang in 1981  “This town is coming like a ghost town”, to which I would have agreed a few years ago.  Now “the good old days before the ghost town” are slowly returning.  I really hope so!

City of Culture 2021
No Ghost Town on the left but maybe on the right

Here are some more pictures from our walk

City of Culture 2021
My good friend and photo companion, John Bray

University Square

It was a beautiful Autumn day when I visited Coventry for a photowalk.  I chose Coventry as I had not been there for a while and I wanted to see the old and new cathedrals.  The other monument that I wanted to see was the steel structure that was dedicated to Frank Whittle the inventor of the jet engine.  Coventry was severely bombed during the second world war and unfortunately the town planners have made a mess of the ring road.  The entry and exits happen too fast and you need to be alert for the traffic even on a Sunday. 

Ruins of the old Cathedral
Ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral
Around the old Cathedral
Around the old Cathedral, Bayley Lane
Looking up at the old Cathedral
Looking up at the old Cathedral
Entrance to the old cathedral
Entrance to the old cathedral
Lychgate Cottages & Priory Row
Lychgate Cottages on Priory Row

The cathedrals are situated around the University area and therefore I parked on the roads around the campus and made my way to Cathedral Square.  The old cathedral ruins stand out against the sky and provide lots of details for photography.  I wandered by Bayley lane and then the quadrangle boarded by St Michael’s Avenue and Cockoo Lane.  Then I went into the Cathedral ruins.  As you will see from my photographs, there is much to take in and there is the old versus the new Cathedral with its distinctive modern architecture. 

Classic view of the statue of St Micheal, the archangel over Lucifer
Classic view of the statue of St Micheal, the archangel over Lucifer
Detail of Coventry Cathedral
Detail of Coventry Cathedral
The stained glass window
The stained glass window
Socially distanced arrangements
Socially distanced arrangements

Moving away from the square to the sixties shopping area and the Frank Whittle monument, the mood changes.  I moved on from the square and passed by the Britannia Inn. The sixties architecture strikes you straightaway especially as you make you way past the bus station down to the square where the Motor museum is situated.

Frank Whittle blows clouds onto the monument
Frank Whittle blows clouds onto the monument
Looking past the Britannia Hotel to the Frank Whittle monument
Looking past the Britannia Hotel to the Frank Whittle monument

The city is a mixture of vibrant activity around the University with the students to a feeling of listlessness as people move around the other parts of the city in an aimless way.  Hales street which is the centre of the statue and monument is outside the transport museum.  After a few pictures here, I then walked through the shopping area and I eventually came to Fords Hospital Alms House which is an old 500 year building. It is a lodging place for retired women in the City.  A place to come back to and explore especially when it is open during Heritage week.  I enjoyed my visit to Coventry.

Fords Hospital Alms House
Fords Hospital Alms House
Courtyard, Fords Hospital Alms House
Courtyard, Fords Hospital Alms House

Many of the pictures are a mixture of iPhone and Canon 5D. I took a low down picture of the cathedrals from behind a fountain on the University Square. The picture featured on the next day weather forecast as shown.

Shefali Oza with my weather photograph
Shefali Oza with my weather photograph

Finally I found some Graffiti artwork by Lucy McLaughlan around Cathedral Square. I find her monochrome style fascinating.

Lucy McLaughlan Artwork around Cathedral Square
Lucy McLaughlan Artwork around Cathedral Square