Lost Coventry by David McGrory

Our founder member Paul Maddocks writes….

I have been very lucky to be able to have a special preview of the latest book by David McGrory, it’s the twenty seventh book he has written on Coventry. This new book is called ‘Lost Coventry’ and will be published later this month.

The ‘Lost Coventry’ book is 96 pages and contains 160 images in total, each with an extensive and descriptive caption.

As David said in his Introduction, “Producing a book on ‘Lost Coventry’ should be easy, but it wasn’t because so much has been lost here”.

He started with over 600 images but had to cut them down to suit the parameters of the book. It is based almost entirely on the last 120 years, so we see little of the city before the twentieth century.

In the past the city was packed with timbered buildings – practically all now lost. In many ways Coventry itself is a lost city, afflicted not only by demolition but also bombing. Luckily, despite all this, most of the non-domestic, large, historic buildings within the centre have survived.

What makes old pictures important is that the past survives within them – even scenes of people can show us parts of a lost landscape. We have reached a period where fewer people remember what the old city looked like.

Building work has not stopped since the Second World War, so even those familiar with mid-twentieth Coventry are losing track with its many changes and proposed developments, such as City Centre South, which will see a large part of the city centre disappear over the next few years. The modifications in the city are now getting so constant that even ‘Then and Now’ books published in recent times are outdated within a year – in fact, the upper precinct has changed since starting this book.

The book is laid out in sections – People, Buildings, Sport and Entertainment, Streets, Industry and the last is Moments in Time. A lot of the pictures have never been seen before and cover subjects that don’t usually get written about, like the smallest house in the city, which was in St John’s Street. It was demolished in 1951 to make way for the new Little Park Street, Police station.

The book also has photographs of the many interesting building from Toll-gate houses around the city to some very grand houses and halls which no longer exist.

The largest loss of past Coventry’s industries is an eye opener. It shows how much manufacturing there was here from weaving, textiles, watch and clock making, tool making, cycle, motorcycle, car, tractor, electric products and aircraft manufacturing which have all gone.

A more current subject is a very interesting photograph of the kitchen of St. Mary’s Guildhall taken around 1910. This medieval kitchen has recently been restored and should be open to the public in the next few weeks.

Lost Coventry presents a portrait of this corner of the midlands over the last century, showing not only industries and buildings that have gone but also people and street scenes, many popular places of entertainment and much more. This fascinating photographic history of lost Coventry will appeal to all those who live in the area or know it well, as well as those who remember it from previous decades.

Lost Coventry is published by Amberley-books and is published on 15th March. It can be pre-ordered from all good bookshops and online. The price is £15.99 but you may be able to find a discount on this price.  

ISBN 978 1 3981 1033 5

One thought on “Lost Coventry by David McGrory

  1. Any chance David McGrory can bring his book to the society next meeeting and sign them for us please


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