The Horse with Many Names


On Greyfriar’s Green there is a black painted metal horse sculpture. Its creator, Simon Evans, was an Art student at the Coventry Art College in 1985/86. He was working on a sculpture of Alexander the Great’s horse ‘Bucephalus’ , a legendary beautiful black horse which stood taller than normal steeds but was considered too wild and unmanageable, rearing up against anyone who came near him. Alexander was the only one able to ride him.

Image of Alexander the Great and Bucephalus

Simon’s sculpture was made from bits of steel plate, off cuts and scrap pieces. Using their unusual shapes he welded them together to create a rearing horse a bit like the Ferrari prancing horse. It stands at 4 metres high and 4 metres wide and is painted black.


While he was working on the sculpture in the Art College his tutor Dr. Tim Threelfall heard that the City Council were having a competition for Coventry students of all ages to make a work of art to mark ‘Industry Year 1986’. He felt that the steel horse would fit in well with the competition. The horse was a winner along with three other sculptures.

Each were to receive the prize of a £25 book token. This did not go down very well as the horse had cost £600 to make. An agreement was made and the Steel Horse was displayed on a brick plinth on the roundabout on the Ring Road opposite the railway station. This was quite apt as the native Americans called early trains ‘iron horses’ and cars were known as ‘steel horses’.

The City Council have the sculpture listed in their acquisition records as being called the ‘Steel Horse’ as has the book ‘Public sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull by George T. Noszlopy.

In 1998 it had to have some restoration as people had been climbing on it and bits had been knocked off. It was then painted in anti-vandal paint and had a Do Not Climb plaque attached.


Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 13.03.44Coventry citizens have always affectionately call the horse ‘Trigger’ after Roy Rogers an early film & TV cowboy star who’s horse Trigger was always rearing up.

Recently when the horse was removed the local press said “A steel plate horse sculpture which has been restored to its former glory has been officially unveiled at its new home in Coventry. The 12 ft tall public piece of artwork of a black horse once ridden by Alexander the Great was located at the island at Greyfriars Green from 1985 until work began to change junction 6 of the Ring Road.

“The horse called Bucephalus, affectionately known by Coventry residents as Trigger, was created by Coventry University student, sculptor and resident of Coventry, Simon Evans, from scrap materials.

“Trigger has been lovingly restored by specialist fabricator and installer of metal sculpture and artwork, Andrew Langley, from Art Fabrications in Fenny Drayton, Nuneaton. Andrew was a close friend of Simon Evans, who sadly died in 2010.”

Cabinet Member Jayne Innis at the re-launch of the statue on Greyfriars Green

I am sure Simon Evans’s wish was the horse to be known as Bucephalus which symbolises strength and hope. Like Coventry, it resolutely rears up to face all challenges ahead.

Paul Maddocks

For So Long As The World Shall Endure.

Ford’s Hospital

It could be said that the story of Coventry lacks continuity, too often forgotten in the desperate scramble to find something new to replace the ruins of the old. And because of that, the city can feel like a place with a very short memory.

But Bond’s and Ford’s Hospitals are the exception that proves the rule. The Battle of Bosworth Field, climax of the Wars of the Roses, was still within living memory when Coventry merchants Thomas Bond and William Ford gave real meaning to their charitable instincts by founding these two almshouses in the first decade of the sixteenth century.

Yet today, half a millennium later, the buildings would be immediately recognisable to those who knew them 500 years ago. What’s more, they are still fulfilling the function envisaged for them all those centuries ago – providing safe and comfortable accommodation to elderly folk.

Michael Orton’s new book, For So long As The World Shall Endure, admirably captures their slow, steady progress from the end of the medieval world into the third decade of the 21st century.

Dr Orton, an academic in the University of Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research, first tackled the history of Bond’s and Ford’s back in 1991. His new book – its title drawn directly from Thomas Bond’s instructions in his will – benefits from new evidence that has come to light since, principally at least one ‘lost’ minute book from the beginning of the 20th century.

Thus armed, he weaves a clear thread through all the complexities of finance and income, administration and the changes in society over those 500 years, telling a remarkable story of how Ford’s and Bond’s adapted to changing times and maintained their purpose and function.

Bond’s Hospital

As Michael Orton shows, it hasn’t always been an easy ride. The almshouses have come close to dereliction, been deprived of desperately needed funds by a corrupt Corporation and faced the threat of extinction from first Henry VIII’s attack on the monasteries and then from a grandson of Thomas Bond, who clearly wanted the income from their supporting estates but did not want the responsibility and cost of looking after their residents.

There are elements of tragedy in the story too. On 14 October 1940, a month before Coventry’s infamous November Blitz, six residents and two members of staff were killed when Ford’s Hospital took a direct hit during an early bombing raid.

And then there is the tale of John Johnson, a resident who in 1619 was said to have murdered six his companions so that he could become the most senior among them.

Next year, when the new Hill Street development of Bond’s Court is completed, the almshouses will be providing safe and comfortable accommodation for 150 people.

That figure would surprise many and would surely truly astonish the founders. I’ve a notion that they’d be delighted as well.

Peter Walters

For So Long As The World Shall Endure, by Michael Orton, is available for sale at Bond’s Hospital in Hill Street, Coventry, price £20.

Sorting the Waste!


Currently the blue-lidded bin recycling is sent to sorting facilities in Leeds & Nottingham which is very costly. Coventry City Council has proposed the idea of building a recycling facility to deal with waste from the blue-lidded bins at Whitley, Coventry. To help build this new plant local councils in the region are going to be partners. Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Walsall Council are all planning on investing in the scheme and will use it once operational. It is proposed that the facility will be powered by renewable energy from the adjoining Waste to Energy Unit and possibly solar panels. All the trucks will offload their waste inside the new building.

There will be no combustion or organic waste inside this new building. After sorting, all items will be bundled before they go on to be used in new products.

How many trucks will be entering the site daily? About 43. Coventry’s current ‘blue-bin’ dust carts will be delivering to the site. However the other Councils recyclable-waste will be delivered in much larger trucks.

How many staff will be employed? Initially about 30 with a potential of 50 if the volume of recycling increases.

How many routes are there into the site? Only one – the current entrance to the Whitley Depot from the London Road.

Why can’t there be a road link between the current Waste Disposal Plant & the new Recycling building? Currently this is believed to be too difficult.

What are the planned hours of Operation? Currently 8am to 6pm with 1 shift.

There is a wide range of services and facilities to recycle domestic waste. As well as reducing the volume of waste going to landfill sites, recycling and composting your domestic waste helps to minimise charges for waste collection. Many of the items used in the home can be recycled.

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 21.58.19

It’s all very well sorting out the waste but do we require so much packaging? Years ago if you went to the shops you would get potatoes weighed and then tipped into your string bag of basket, fruit would be popped in a plain brown paper bag, veg mainly would be sold loose. Meat and cheese would be wrapped in grease proof paper then plain paper. Hot chips and fish would be served the same but with a final wrapping of old newspapers to keep them warm.

Milk would come in bottles delivered every day to your door and the empties would be taken back to be washed and refilled. The same with pop, cider and beer bottles – you paid a deposit and you would get this returned when the bottle was returned.

But over the years we have been sold the idea that we need everything wrapped two, three or four times. And who pays for all this wrapping? It seems bad management if we have to take everything and reduce it back to its original material then using very expensive energy to remake the item! It would be like a pub where every time they sell you a drink the used glass gets smashed into a bin then it goes to be melted and a new glass is made from the bits so they can serve the next drink. Or a restaurant where after you have had your food all the plates are smashed and the knives and forks are crushed and melted to form new knives and forks – its the madness of a Greek wedding. But we are doing very similar things to this. To really make a difference we must change the way we sell items and use less packaging.

This story was first published in the Coventry Action for Neighbourhoods newsletter. Our thanks for their permission to republish it.

The Future of Coventry’s Past.


The Coventry Society’s first Heritage Conference took place on Saturday 19th October 2019 at the Old Grammar School in Bishop Street. It was attended by representatives of more than twenty Coventry historical, preservation, amenity and local interest groups and organisations.

Coventry Society Chairman, Paul Maddocks, welcomed Councilor Jim O’Boyle, City Council Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration who gave the Keynote Address, “New City Old Faces”, describing how many of our much-loved City Centre buildings and facades have been saved by creatively re-purposing them to be fit for the requirements of the twenty first century.

Next Ian Harrabin, Chairman of Historic Coventry Trust, gave an overview of the future of Coventry Buildings in the care of the Trust. He explained that the trust began with The Charterhouse and had expanded to include a number of other historic buildings in the City. He informed the conference that all of the buildings in the care of the Trust must be self-sustaining with any income that they generated needing to be enough to cover staff salary and maintenance etc. His presentation included an insight into plans and work being carried out to enhance and bring back into use many of our historic buildings and environments.

Cheneine Bhathena, Creative Director of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, was the last speaker before lunch and her presentation was entitled “The Role of Heritage in the City of Culture”. She introduced the theme, City of Spires, City of Industry, City of Dreams. She pointed out that 40 million people live within a two hour drive of Coventry and the aim was to inform people form all over the country, and the World, about the identity of the City and its people.

After Lunch, Paul Maddocks talked about the role and some of the history of The Coventry Society as we approach our fiftieth anniversary. He explained that the Society is not only about the preservation of historic buildings but is also very much involved in trying to influence the quality of planning within the City and stimulating public interest in the built environment.

The day concluded with a range of presentations from some of the local groups and individuals involved in heritage work. Victor Riley of the famous Coventry Car manufacturer talked about the importance of establishing a Coventry Motor archive as he feared much material of historical interest could be discarded into skips.

Gabrielle Edmonds-Baker of the Stoney Road Gardens Project showed just how much work, and money, is needed to conserve a unique collection of buildings on a historical allotment in the heart of Coventry.

Other equally fascinating and informative presentations were given by representatives from The Willenhall History Group Photography Project, The Medieval Coventry Project, Coventry Archives, St John’s and the Allesley Park Walled Garden.

Commenting on the Conference, Paul Maddocks said that he felt that by bringing together such a number and range of groups, the Coventry Society was able to provide a conduit for shared knowledge, experience and support and he is looking forward to future similar events.

Where Light Falls – Coventry Cathedral Blitz Commemoration


Where Light Falls, a spectacular installation of light, history and poetry.

14th – 16th November 2019, 5pm-9pm

The event is free. No need to book – just turn up!

Using the Coventry Cathedral as a canvas, over three evenings leading creatives ‘Double Take Projections’ will project powerful poetry, visuals and photography to tell the story of the Cathedral, the city and its people.

It’s a tale of destruction, recovery and resilience: from the medieval period — when culture, learning and trade flourished — through the destruction of the old cathedral during the Blitz, finishing with peace, reconciliation and the building of a modern city.

Historic England commissioned two new poets Jane Commane and Keith Jarrett for ‘Where Light Falls’, facilitated by The Poetry Society and in collaboration with community groups.

Jane Commane worked with local Coventry school children, older writers, refugees and migrants with lived experience of conflict, inviting them to respond to contemporary photographs from Coventry Archives and accounts of the Coventry Blitz, and the heroic efforts of many individuals who fought to keep the city from destruction, in workshops led by the poets. Their thoughts and creative responses steered the poets’ approach to the commission and fed into their finished work ‘In A New Light’.

Keith Jarrett did similar work in London and is called ‘From the Log Book’

Jane Commane’s ‘In A New Light’ will be seen projected on to Coventry Cathedral and Keith Jarrett’s ‘From the Log Book’ will be projected at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Their words will be brought to life through cutting-edge projections, incorporating innovative graphics and archive photography in Double Take Projections’ unique style.

The event is part of Coventry 2021 UK City of Culture.


George Demidowicz – What Lies Beneath


You are invited to attend the November meeting of the Coventry Society. We have renowned archaeologist and historian George Demidowicz talking about the finds from the excavation at the Cathedral in 2015. George tells a fascinating story about what what has been learned about the development of the Cathedral from its earliest beginnings.

Fig 56 WAR_HERB_52

Monday 11th November 2019 at 7.00 pm. at The Shopfront Theatre, 38 City Arcade.

This is a free members meeting but guests and visitors are welcome and asked to make a £2 donation towards refreshments and room hire.

Please note the earlier start time – 7.00 p.m.



November at St. John’s


Mike Polanyk reports on the activities this month at St John the Baptist Church in Fleet Street.

November is the month of Remembrance, when we remember those who have fallen in war, and our own departed loved ones. St John’s will once again host a Peace Festival between 1 November and 14 November. A Peace Garden will be in place and there will be the opportunity for people to leave prayers for peace and for the needs of the world.

The church will be open at all the usual times during the Peace Festival, and refreshments will be available in the cafe in the hall between 10.00am and 12.00noon on Saturdays as normal. There will be some special services to pray for the departed during the festival. We will offer a Requiem Mass for all the Faithful Departed on All Souls’ Day, Saturday 2 November, at 9.15am. On Remembrance Sunday, 10 November, we will hold a Requiem Mass for those who have fallen in war at 10.00am, and a Service of Remembrance at 4.30pm when we will remember, give thanks, and pray for our departed loved ones. On Armistice Day, 11 November, we will hold the traditional two-minutes’ silence and prayers for peace at 11.00am. On Wednesday 13 November, we will offer all the prayers that have been left in the Peace Garden at our regular lunchtime Mass at 1.00pm. All are welcome to join us for any of these services.

As we reported last month we have a Sunday evening Mass on some Sundays throughout the autumn to suit those who cannot make Sunday mornings. This month, these will take place on 17 November and 24 November at 6.00pm.

We are currently considering the time of our Sunday morning service, as some have suggested that 10.00am is too early. We are considering moving it to 11.00am, and would be happy to hear people’s thoughts about that. Would a Sunday morning service at 11.00am make it easier for you to attend worship? Do let our Rector, Fr Dexter Bracey, know on 024 7671 1687.

November ends with our Christmas Fayre on Saturday 30 November between 10.00am and 2.00pm. We will have a host of stalls provided by various groups selling a variety of goods and crafts, including jams & preserves, glass gifts including personalised items, jewellery, knitwear, wooden gifts, handmade craft items, St John’s merchandise, handmade cards, homemade cakes, community stalls, raffle, tombola and festive music. Food and refreshments will be on sale in the church hall. Free admission.

For more information visit, Facebook:  St.John the Baptist.Coventry. Twitter: @StJohnCoventry.

Mike Polanyk