Coventry facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
City of Coventry
City and Metropolitan borough
Skyline of Coventry city centre
Skyline of Coventry city centre
Official logo of City of Coventry
Coat of arms
Coventry shown within the West Midlands county and England
Coventry shown within the West Midlands county and England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region West Midlands
Ceremonial county West Midlands
Historic county Warwickshire
Admin HQ Coventry city centre
Founded 1043
Founded by Leofric, Earl of Mercia
Area
 • City and Metropolitan borough 38.09 sq mi (98.64 km2)
Population (ONS mid-year estimates)
 • City and Metropolitan borough (Ranked )
 • Density 8,050/sq mi (3,108/km2)
 • Metro 651,600
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) British Summer Time (UTC+1)
Postcode CV
Area code(s) 024
ISO 3166-2 GB-COV
ONS code 00CQ (ONS)
E08000026 (GSS)
OS grid reference SP335785
NUTS 3 UKG33
2015 mid-year estimate 345,385
Ethnicity
(2011 Census)
73.8% White (66.6% White British)
16.3% Asian
5.5% Black
2.7% Mixed Race
1.6% Other
Website Coventry

Coventry (Listeni/ˈkɒvəntri/) is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England.

Historically part of Warwickshire, Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 12th largest in the United Kingdom. It is the second largest city in the West Midlands region, after Birmingham, with a population of 345,385 in 2015.

Coventry is 95 miles (153 km) northwest of central London, 19 miles (31 km) east-south-east of Birmingham, 24 miles (39 km) southwest of Leicester and 11 miles (18 km) north of Warwick.

Coventry Cathedral was built after the destruction of the 14th century cathedral church of Saint Michael by the German Luftwaffe in the Coventry Blitz of 14 November 1940. Coventry motor companies have contributed significantly to the British motor industry. The city has two universities, Coventry University in the city centre and the University of Warwick on the southern outskirts.

History

Holy Trinity Church, Coventry - Coventry symbols detail in stained glass
The coat of arms of Coventry in stained glass in Holy Trinity Church

The Romans founded a settlement in Baginton, next to the River Sowe, and another formed around a Saxon nunnery, founded c.  AD 700 by St Osburga, that was later left in ruins by King Canute's invading Danish army in 1016. Earl Leofric 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 was 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 Lichfield 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 county in its own right. The plays that William Shakespeare witnessed in Coventry during his boyhood or 'teens' may have influenced how his plays, such as Hamlet, came about.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Coventry became one of the three main British centres of watch and clock manufacture and ranked alongside Prescot, in Lancashire and Clerkenwell 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 motorbike, car, machine tool and aircraft industries.

In the late 19th century, Coventry became a major centre of bicycle manufacture. The industry energised by the invention by James Starley and his nephew John Kemp Starley of the Rover safety bicycle, which was safer and more popular than the pioneering penny-farthing. The company became Rover. By the early 20th century, bicycle manufacture had evolved into motor manufacture, and Coventry became a major centre of the British motor industry. The design headquarters of Jaguar Cars is in the city at their Whitley plant and although vehicle assembly ceased at the Browns Lane plant in 2004, Jaguar's head office returned to the city in 2011, and is also sited in Whitley. Jaguar is owned by the Indian company, Tata Motors.

ORW424M (650 x 488)
A 1972 Hillman Avenger Tiger, produced in Coventry by Chrysler Competitions Department
Coventry precinct and spire
Coventry precinct with spire of ruined cathedral in the background

With many of the city's older properties becoming increasingly unfit for habitation, the first council houses were let to their tenants in 1917. With Coventry's industrial base continuing to soar after the end of the Great War a year later, numerous private and council housing developments took place across the city in the 1920s and 1930s. The development of a southern by-pass around the city, starting in the 1930s and being completed in 1940, helped deliver more urban areas to the city on previously rural land.

Coventry suffered severe bomb damage during the Second World War. There was a massive Luftwaffe air raid, part of the "Coventry Blitz", on 14 November 1940. Firebombing on this date led to severe damage to large areas of the city centre and to Coventry's historic cathedral, leaving only a shell and the spire. More than 4,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, along with around three quarters of the city's industrial plants. More than 800 people were killed, with thousands injured and homeless.

Aside from London, Hull and Plymouth, Coventry suffered more damage than any other British city during the Luftwaffe attacks, with huge firestorms 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 Britain. 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. Several structures were demolished simply to make way for modern developments which saw the city centre's buildings and road infrastructure altered almost beyond recognition by 1970.

Further housing developments in the private and public sector took place after the Second World War, partly to accommodate the growing population of the city and also to replace condemned and bomb damaged properties, including a major prefabricated housing district in south Canley which exists to this day.

In the post-war 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 Cathedral (incorporating one of the world's largest tapestries) was consecrated. Its prefabricated steel spire (flèche) was lowered into place by helicopter.

Major expansion to Coventry had taken place previously, in the 1920s and 1930s, to provide housing for the large influx of workers who came to work in the city's booming factories. The areas which were expanded or created in this development included Radford, Coundon, Canley, Cheylesmore and Stoke Heath.

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 amongst 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. Coventry's pedestrianised Precinct shopping area came into its own and was considered one of the finest retail experiences outside London. In 1965 the new University of Warwick campus was opened to students, and rapidly became one of the country's leading higher-education institutions.

Coventry's large industrial base made it attractive to the wave of Asian and Caribbean immigrants who arrived from Commonwealth colonies after 1948. In 1960, one of Britain's first mosques—and the very first in Coventry—was opened on Eagle Street to serve the city's growing Islamic community. The 1970s, however, saw a decline in the British motor industry and Coventry suffered particularly badly, especially towards the end of that decade. By the early 1980s, Coventry had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and crime rates rose well above the national average. Some 30 years later, Coventry is now considered as one of the UK's safer major cities and has gradually recovered economically with newer industries locating there, although the motor industry continues to decline. By 2008, only one motor manufacturing plant was operational, that of LTI Ltd, producing the popular TX4 taxi cabs. On 17 March 2010 LTI announced they would no longer be producing bodies and chassis in Coventry, instead producing them in China and shipping them in for final assembly in Coventry.

On the sporting scene, Coventry Rugby Football Club was consistently among the nation's leading rugby football sides from the early 20th century, peaking in the 1970s and 1980s with a host of major honours and international players.to the north of the city centre, in the Rowleys Green district. Since 2000, the city has also been home to one of the most successful Ice Hockey teams in the country, the Coventry Blaze who are four time Elite League champions.

City boundaries

Coventry forms the largest part of the Coventry and Bedworth Urban Area.

The protected West Midlands Green Belt, which surrounds the city on all sides, has prevented the expansion of the city into both the administrative county of Warwickshire and the metropolitan borough of Solihull (the Meriden Gap), and has helped to prevent the coalescence of the city with surrounding towns such as Kenilworth, Nuneaton, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Rugby and Balsall Common.

Panoramic views of Coventry City Centre from the Cathedral Tower

Coventry Cathedral Tower North Panorama
North
Coventry Cathedral Tower South Panorama
South
Coventry Cathedral Tower East Panorama
East
Coventry Cathedral Tower West Panorama
West

Suburbs or areas

Places of interest

Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral Ruins with Rainbow edit
The ruins of the old cathedral

St. Michael's Cathedral is Coventry's best-known landmark and visitor attraction. The 14th century church was largely destroyed by German bombing during the Second World War, leaving only the outer walls and spire. At 300 feet (91 metres) high, the spire of St. Michael's is claimed to be the third tallest cathedral spire in England, after Salisbury and Norwich. Due to the architectural design (in 1940 the tower had no internal wooden floors and a stone vault below the belfry) it survived the destruction of the rest of the 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 cathedral was featured in the 2009 film Nativity!.

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).

Coventry spires-2Aug2005-2rc
Two of Coventry's "three spires"

Cultural institutions

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is one of the largest cultural institutions in Coventry. Another visitor attraction in the city centre is the free-to-enter Coventry Transport Museum, 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 refurbishment in 2004 which included the creation of a new entrance as part of the city's Phoenix Initiative project. It was a finalist for the 2005 Gulbenkian Prize.

About four miles (6.4 kilometres) from the city centre and just outside Coventry in Baginton is the Lunt Fort, a reconstructed Roman fort on its original site. The Midland Air Museum is situated just within the perimeter of Coventry on land adjacent to Coventry Airport and near Baginton.

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 founded a museum in Spon Street.

West Midlands Police - Coventry Museum
Exhibits in Coventry Police Museum

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.

Redevelopment

Whittle arches coventry 12u07
The "Whittle Arch" outside the Transport Museum, named after Sir Frank Whittle
MillenniumSquareCov
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. On 16 December 2007, IKEA's first city centre store in the UK was opened, in Coventry.

The River Sherbourne runs under Coventry's city centre; the river was paved over during the rebuilding after the Second World War and is not commonly known. When the new rebuild of Coventry city centre takes place from 2017 onwards, it is planned that river will be re-opened, and a river walk way will be placed alongside it in parts of the city centre. In April 2012, the pedestrianisation of Broadgate was completed.

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

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom

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

City Country Year twinned Ward
Graz Austria 1957 Binley & Willenhall
Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina 1957 Cheylesmore
Pernik Bulgaria 1990 Canley
Cornwall, Ontario Canada 1972 Earlsdon
Granby, Quebec 1963
Windsor, Ontario 1963
Jinan China 1983 Foleshill
Lidice Czech Republic 1947 Henley
Ostrava 1959
Caen France 1957 Longford
Saint-Étienne 1955
Dresden Germany 1959 Lower Stoke
Kiel 1947
Dunaújváros Hungary 1962 Radford
Kecskemét 1962
Bologna Italy 1960 Sherbourne
Kingston Jamaica 1962 St Michael's
Arnhem Netherlands 1958 Upper Stoke
Warsaw Poland 1957 Wainbody
Cork Ireland 1958 Holbrooks
Galați Romania 1962 Westwood
Volgograd/Stalingrad Russia 1944 Whoberley
Belgrade Serbia 1957 Woodlands
Coventry, Connecticut United States 1962 Wyken
Coventry, New York 1972
Coventry, Rhode Island 1971

Coventry Cathedral is notable for being one of the newest cathedrals in the world, having been built following the Second World War 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 on its cathedral, and holds an annual Peace Month. John Lennon and Yoko Ono planted two acorns outside the cathedral in June 1968 to thank the city for making friends with others.

Climate

As with the rest of the British Isles and the Midlands, Coventry experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest Met Office weather station is Coundon/Coventry Bablake. Temperature extremes recorded in Coventry range from −18.2 °C (−0.8 °F) in February 1947, to 35.1 °C (95.2 °F) in August 1990. The lowest temperature reading of recent years was −10.8 °C (12.6 °F) during December 2010.

Climate data for Coundon/Bablake 89 metres (292 feet) asl, 1971-2000, Extremes 1890-
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.4
(65.1)
18.1
(64.6)
24.0
(75.2)
26.7
(80.1)
30.9
(87.6)
32.4
(90.3)
34.4
(93.9)
35.1
(95.2)
34.2
(93.6)
28.2
(82.8)
20.6
(69.1)
18.9
(66)
35.1
(95.2)
Average high °C (°F) 6.9
(44.4)
7.2
(45)
9.9
(49.8)
12.4
(54.3)
16.2
(61.2)
19.1
(66.4)
21.8
(71.2)
21.4
(70.5)
18.1
(64.6)
13.9
(57)
9.7
(49.5)
7.6
(45.7)
13.7
(56.7)
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
(34.5)
1.0
(33.8)
2.9
(37.2)
4.0
(39.2)
7.0
(44.6)
9.9
(49.8)
12.2
(54)
11.8
(53.2)
9.7
(49.5)
6.7
(44.1)
3.7
(38.7)
2.3
(36.1)
6.1
(43)
Record low °C (°F) -16.7
(1.9)
−18.2
(-0.8)
−15.6
(3.9)
−6.1
(21)
-5.0
(23)
-0.6
(30.9)
3.4
(38.1)
0.8
(33.4)
-1.1
(30)
-4.9
(23.2)
−8.9
(16)
−16.1
(3)
−18.2
(-0.8)
Precipitation mm (inches) 61.2
(2.409)
44.3
(1.744)
50.6
(1.992)
49.3
(1.941)
50.8
(2)
56.9
(2.24)
49.5
(1.949)
66.3
(2.61)
59.0
(2.323)
59.4
(2.339)
58.0
(2.283)
62.3
(2.453)
667.6
(26.283)
Sunshine hours 55.1 68.2 100.3 138.1 193.6 176.5 200.1 186.6 135.9 103.7 66.9 48.2 1,473.2
Source: Bablake weather station

Arts and culture

Godiva Festival -Electric Main Stage-3July2009
Godiva Festival, a major event on the Coventry arts and culture calendar

Literature and drama

  • The poet Philip Larkin was born and brought up in Coventry, where his father was the City Treasurer.
  • During the early 19th century, Coventry was well-known due to author George Eliot who was born near Nuneaton. 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 Theatre 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. It was reopened in 2007 following a period of refurbishment.
  • Novelist Graham Joyce, winner of the O Henry Award is from Keresley. His World Fantasy Award-winning novel "The Facts Of Life" is set in Coventry during the blitz and in the post-war rebuilding period.
  • The playwright Alan Pollock was brought up in Coventry. Other playwrights associated with the city include Nick Walker and Chris O'Connell - founder of the city's Theatre Absolute.

Music and cinema

During the late-1970s and early 80s, 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 number 1 hit singles between 1979–81, namely "Too Much Too Young" and "Ghost Town".

Coventry has a range of music events including an international jazz programme, the Coventry Jazz Festival, and the Godiva Festival. On the Saturday of the Godiva Festival, a carnival parade starts in the city centre and makes its way to War Memorial Park where the festival is held.

In the film The Italian Job, the famous scene of Mini Coopers being driven at speed through Turin'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 The 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. The 2013 ITV comedy-drama Love and Marriage was also set in the city. Coventry is home to three major feature films the Nativity! franchise which are all shot and set in the city. These Christmas films have all reached top box office spots on their release in UK cinemas. Their writer and director the Bafta award-winning Debbie Isitt is resident in the city,

Venues

Warwick Arts Centre 2003
Warwick Arts Centre in Warwick University Campus

Theatre, art and music venues in Coventry include:

  • Warwick Arts Centre: situated at the University of Warwick, Warwick Arts Centre includes an art gallery, a theatre, a concert hall and a cinema. Warwick Art Centre is the largest art centre in the Midlands, and it is the second largest arts centre in the UK, after London's Barbican.
  • Albany Theatre: is the city's main community theatre. It is housed at what used to be the Butts Centre of City College Coventry. Known as the Butts or College Theatre, it closed in 2009 with the sale of the college to private developers. The theatre re-opened in 2013 as the Albany Theatre, as part of the Premier Inn hotel on the site of the former Butts Technical College and is run as a charitable trust with support from the Council.
  • Belgrade Theatre: one of the largest producing theatres in Britain, the 858-seat Belgrade was the first civic theatre to be opened in the UK following the Second World War. 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 Plaza.
  • Ricoh Arena: located 3 12 miles (5.6 kilometres) north of the city centre, the 32,600 capacity Coventry City F.C. stadium is also used to hold major rock concerts for some of the world's biggest acts, including Oasis, Bon Jovi, Lady Gaga, Rod Stewart, Kings of Leon and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was also one of the venues chosen for the footballing events at the 2012 Olympic Games. The adjacent Jaguar Exhibition Hall is a 6,000-seat events venue for hosting a multitude of other acts.
  • SkyDome Arena, 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 from WWE, TNA and Pro Wrestling Noah
  • War Memorial Park—known by locals simply as the Memorial Park—which holds various festivals including the Godiva Festival and the Coventry Caribbean Festival, every year.
  • Butts Park Arena, home of Coventry Rugby Football Club, holds music concerts occasionally.
  • Kasbah nightclub, Hillfields. 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.
  • Criterion Theatre, a small theatre, in Earlsdon.
  • Coombe Country Park, although outside the city boundary, Coventry City Council's only country park.

Coventrians

Godiva Statue Coventry 1
Statue of Lady Godiva
Starley 14g06
Statue commemorating James Starley

History and politics

Coventry is well known for the legendary 11th century exploits of Lady Godiva who rode through the city naked on horseback in protest at high taxes being levied on the cityfolk by her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia. The residents of the city were commanded to look away as she rode, but one man did not 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 Cathedral Lanes shopping centre canopy, removed in October 2008. There is also a bust of Peeping Tom looking out across Hertford Street shopping precinct, and overlooking Broadgate and the statue of Godiva 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. The statesman and founder of modern Australia, Sir Henry Parkes, was born in Canley in 1815.

Science, technology and business

Coventry has been the home to several pioneers in science and engineering. Samuel Courtauld and Co Ltd's director H.G.Tetley chose Foleshill in Coventry in 1904 as the site of the world's first man-made fibre factory which produced an "artificial silk" later known as viscose rayon. In 1987, also in Foleshill, Courtaulds Research produced the world's first solvent-spun cellulose fibres Tencel.

Sir 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, as is Sir John Egan, industrialist and former Chief Executive of Jaguar Cars. Sir Frederick Gibberd, architect and designer, was born in Coventry, and amongst the buildings for which he is best known are Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Didcot Power Station. Donald Trelford, journalist and academic, was born in Coventry and attended Bablake School. He was editor of The Observer newspaper from 1975 to 1993. Born in Coventry, former King Henry VIII Grammar School pupil Paul Connew became editor of the Sunday Mirror and deputy editor of the Daily Mirror and News of The World – he is now Director of Communications at the children's charity Sparks.

The arts

Dame Ellen Terry, one of the greatest Shakespearian actors, was born in Coventry in 1847. Other Coventrians in the arts include the poet Philip Larkin, actors Charles Kay, Billie Whitelaw, Nigel Hawthorne, Brendan Price and Clive Owen, authors Cyril Connolly, Graham Joyce, Lee Child and Mark Barrowcliffe, and playwrights Chris O'Connell and Alan Pollock and The Inbetweeners actress Tamla Kari

Notable musicians originated in Coventry, including Frank Ifield, Vince Hill, Delia Derbyshire, Jerry Dammers, Terry Hall, Neville Staple, Hazel O'Connor, Clint Mansell, Julianne Regan, Lee Dorrian, Jen Ledger of Skillet, VJ Paul King, Taz (lead singer of the band Stereo Nation), 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 Bolt Thrower, Coventry Automatics, The Primitives, Adorable, Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, King, Jigsaw, The Sorrows, and The Enemy.

Record producer Pete Waterman is from the city and is president of Coventry Bears. Broadcaster Brian Matthew, theatre producer Dominic Madden, comedian and writer Emma Fryer and adult model Debee Ashby are Coventrians, as were comedian Reg Dixon and ventriloquist Dennis Spicer. Former Sky Sports broadcaster Richard Keys is a Coventrian, a product of Whitley Abbey School.

The fashion model Neelam Gill is also from Coventry.

Sportsmen

Notable Coventrian sportsmen include speedway rider Tom Farndon; Davis Cup tennis player Tony Mottram; footballers Kenneth Hegan, Reg Matthews, Bobby Gould, Graham Alexander, Gary McSheffrey and Callum Wilson; cricketers Tom Cartwright and Ian Bell MBE; rugby union players Ivor Preece, Keith Fairbrother, David Duckham MBE, Neil Back MBE, Danny Grewcock MBE, Geoff Evans, Andy Goode, Shane Geraghty and Tom Wood; motor-cyclist Cal Crutchlow; golfer Dame Laura Davies DBE; sprinter Marlon Devonish MBE; distance runners Brian Kilby and David Moorcroft OBE; darts player Steve Beaton.

Transport

Cov railway station 18s07
Coventry railway station
Coventry Canal basin - southern end of canal 19n06
Coventry Canal Basin

Coventry is near the M6, M69, M45 and M40 motorways.

The M45, which is situated a few miles to the south-east of the city, was opened in 1959 as a spur to the original section of the M1 motorway, which linked London with the midlands. This was in effect the first motorway to serve Coventry, as the section of the M6 north of the city did not open until 1971, and the M69 between Coventry and Leicester opened five years after that. The M40 is more than 10 miles (16 kilometres) south of the city centre, south of Warwick, and gives the city's residents an alternate dual carriageway and motorway route to London.

It is served by the A45 and A46 dual carriageways. The A45 originally passed through the centre of the city, but was re-routed in the 1930s on the completion of the Coventry Southern Bypass, with west-bound traffic heading in the direction of Birmingham and east-bound traffic in the direction of Northampton. The A46 was re-routed to the east of the city in 1989 on the completion of the Coventry Eastern Bypass, which directly leads to the M6/M69 interchange. To the south, it gives a direct link to the M40, making use of the existing Warwick and Kenilworth Bypasses.

Coventry has an inner ring road which was completed in the early 1970s and Phoenix Way, a dual-carriageway running north–south completed in 1995, linking the city centre with the M6 motorway.

Coventry railway station is served by the West Coast Main Line, with services provide by Virgin Trains, London Midland and CrossCountry. It has rail services between London and Birmingham (and stations beyond). It is also served by railway lines to Nuneaton via Bedworth. There is a line linking it to Leamington Spa and onwards to the south coast. Coventry has two suburban railway stations in Canley and in Tile Hill. A new rail station serving the north of city on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line) opened in January 2016.

Bus operators in Coventry include National Express Coventry, Travel de Courcey and Stagecoach in Warwickshire. Pool Meadow Bus Station is the main bus and coach interchange in the city centre. Coventry has a single Park and Ride service from War Memorial Park served by Stagecoach in Warwickshire.

The nearest major airports are Birmingham International Airport, some 11 miles (18 km) to the west of the city and Coventry Airport in Baginton, located 5 miles (8 km) south of the city centre.

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

Demography



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Racial structure, according to the 2011 census      White (73.8%)     Asian (16.3%)     Black (5.5%)     Mixed (2.7%)     Arab (0.6%)     Other (1.0%)

Coventry ethnicity demographics from the 2011 census
Ethnicity Population
White
(British, Irish, Other)
234,029
Asian
(Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other)
51,598
Black
(African, Caribbean, Other)
17,764
Mixed
(White & Asian, White & Black African, White & Black Caribbean, Other)
8,230
Arab 2,020
Other 3,319

Coventry has an ethnic minority population which represented 33.4% of the population at the 2011 census. The ethnic minority population is concentrated in the Foleshill and the St. Michael's wards. Islam is the largest non-Christian religion, but the composition of the ethnic minority population is not typical of the UK with significant numbers of other South Asians. Both Sikh and Hindu religions are represented significantly higher than in the rest of the West Midlands in general.

  • 66.6% identify as White British, compared to 79.2% in the West Midlands Region and 79.8% in England.
  • 33.4% identify as non-White British, compared to 20.8% in the West Midlands Region and 20.2% in England.

The non-White British population identifies as follows:

  • 7.2% as Other White (White Irish, Irish Traveller and White Other, including mostly other Europeans), compared to 3.6% in the West Midlands Region and 5.7% in England.
  • 2.7% identify as Mixed/Multiple-ethnic group, compared to 2.4% in the West Midlands Region and 2.2% in England.
  • 16.3% identify as Asian/Asian British (including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and other South Asian groups), compared to 10.8% in the West Midlands Region and 7.7% in England;.
  • 5.5% identify as Black/Black British (including Black African, Black Caribbean and other black), compared to 3.2% in the West Midlands Region and 3.4% in England.
  • 1.6% identify as Other (including Arab and others), compared to 0.9% in the West Midlands Region and 1.0% in England.

Coventry has a large student population (approximately 15,000 are non-UK) who are in the UK for 12 months or longer that are included in these figures. Figures from the Coventry Inspires Image Group state 'Ethnic Minorities' at 13 per cent.

Religion in Coventry (2011 census)
Religion Percent(%)
Christian
  
53.7%
No religion
  
23.0%
Muslim
  
7.5%
Undeclared
  
6.4%
Sikh
  
5.0%
Hindu
  
3.5%
Buddhist
  
0.3%
Jewish
  
0.1%
Other
  
0.5%
Year 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
2010 310,500
2011 316,960
2013 329,810
2014 337,428
2015 345,385
Coventry religious demographics from the 2011 census
Religion Population
Christian 170,090
No Religion 72,896
Muslim 23,665
Undeclared 20,327
Sikh 15,912
Hindu 11,152
Buddhist 1,067
Jewish 210
Other 1,641

According to the 2011 Census, 53.7% (170,090) of residents identified themselves as Christian making Christianity the largest followed religion in the city.

Islam was the second most followed religion with 7.5% (23,665) of residents identifying with the religion.

5.0% (15,912) of Coventry's population were Sikh, disproportionately larger than the national average in England of 0.8%.

Hindus made up 3.5% (11,152) of the resident population followed by Buddhists at 0.3% (1,067) and Jews at 0.1% (210) respectively. The adherents of other religions made up 0.5% (1,641) of the city's population.

Almost a quarter of Coventry residents, 23.0% (72,896), identified themselves as having no religion and 6.4% did not declare any religion.

Closest places

Accent

Origins: 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, close to Watling Street—was a trading and market post between King Alfred's Saxon Mercia and Danelaw England with a consequent merging of dialects.

Coventry and Birmingham accents: Phonetically the accent of Coventry is similar to Northern English in that it does not have the trap-bath split, so cast is pronounced /kæst/ rather than /kɑːst/. Yet the clipped, flatter vowels in the accent also contain traces of Estuary English (T-glottaling), 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. Yet accents alter briskly in this particular part of the Midlands, North Warwickshire (Bedworth & Nuneaton) displays 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 like the nonce words "barth" and "parth" as pronounced in a non-rhotic accent) starts to occur regardless of class or geodemographic grouping across an east to west band of settlements somewhere between Southam and Banbury, positioning Coventry right at the edge of England's phonetic crossroads.

Coventry accent on television: 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 Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1973 is named after the city.

2008 bomb scare

The city was bombed many times during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe. These bombs were often abandoned if they fell in areas of little significant importance to the war effort, and continue to be found during construction work to this day. Many old bombs were found to still be viable explosive devices. On 12 March 2008, an unexploded Second World War Luftwaffe bomb was discovered in Coventry's city centre. Police said the device seemed genuine but it was not clear if it was live. A cordon of 500 metres (1,600 feet) was enforced. In an ironic coincidence the finding of the bomb led to a performance of "One Night in November", a play about the Blitz, being cancelled. A Royal Engineers bomb disposal team conducted a controlled explosion early on the morning of 13 March 2008.

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