A talk by John Prevc, Architect


Monday 14th January 2019 at 7.30 p.m. at the Shopfront Theatre, City Arcade, Coventry, CV1 3HW

John Prevc is an architect working with Make in London. Make is an employee owned international practice with offices in London, Hong Kong and Sydney.

John joined Make when it was founded in 2004 and has taken a leading role in projects across a range of sectors, from transport to arts and culture to higher education. He has a great deal of urban design experience, and has led some of Make’s key city regeneration projects, including their largescale masterplan for Elephant and Castle.

John is vice-chair of the Future Spaces Foundation, Make’s thought leadership arm, and a member of Design Council CABE as a Building Environment Expert. For the past three years he’s been an external examiner for Coventry University’s School of Art and Design.

Coventry Society meetings are open to the public, free for members, but we ask for a voluntary contribution of £2 from visitors to cover the cost of room hire and refreshments.

Add this meeting to your Google Calendar

Invite from the Tamworth and District Civic Society


Coventry Society members have been invited to attend the January and February meetings of the Tamworth and District Civic Society.

The January meeting is an organ recital and talk at the Grade 1 listed St. Editha’s Parish Church in Tamworth. The famous Harrison Organ will be played by Maurice Price, who will also give a talk about the inner workings, restoration and maintenance of the organ. This will take place on Thursday 24th January 2019 at 7 p.m.  A fee of £4 is payable and will include refreshments.

On Sunday 24th February the Tamworth and District Civic Society is hosting a lunch with Civic Voice Chairman Joan Humble as the guest speaker. Tickets are £28 each.

Anyone interested in attending either event should download and complete a booking form from the Tamworth and District Civic Society website and submit it with their payment. There is more information about these events on the booking form.

CovSoc will be visiting Tamworth, courtesy of the Civic Society, in August.



Drapers’ Hall Oral History Project

Drapers Hall

The Historic Coventry Trust is working with the Princes Foundation on the restoration of Drapers Hall. As part of this, they are running an oral history project, with recordings of people who remember working there when it was a magistrates court, or after.

If anyone would like to participate in this project please contact Stuart Daniel by email at stuart.j.daniel@talk21.com

CovSoc Supports Campaign to Improve the Design of new housing


At its meeting on Monday 10th December 2018, CovSoc Chairman Paul Maddocks handed over a cheque to Sarah James from Civic Voice to support the campaign to improve the quality of the design of new homes in England.

The Government has set up a Commission called the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission which is seeking to improve the quality of new housing design in England.

Our umbrella organisation, Civic Voice, is a planning a series of round-table events, parliamentary meetings and a conference, which will be held in the spring to ensure that communities are heard in the Government’s latest review into delivering the homes the nation needs. Civic Voice will be preparing a civic movement report to be submitted to the Commission and our contribution will contribute to the cost of all this work.

With so much new housing development planned for Coventry it is crucial that we secure the very best of design as this hasn’t always been the case in the past.

Listing the Paris!


The Coventry Society has put forward the former Paris Cinema in Far Gosford Street for local listing.

The Paris, formerly known at The Crown Theatre, opened on August Bank Holiday Monday 1912. The architect was JH Gilbert. It had a decorative facade topped by a centrally placed crown. On 1st June 1925 it was taken over by Oscar Deutsch (his first cinema) who later built up the Odeon Chain. It was modernised and re-opened on 1st March 1958 with Eva Bartok in “Her Crime was Love” with the film’s star appearing in person. It was then known as the Paris Luxury Continental Cinema, later shortened to Paris Cinema.

The building is in the Far Gosford Street Conservation Area, a fascinating combination of Medieval, Victorian and Early 20th Century buildings which give the street its unique character.

The building is a reminder of the era when cinemas were located all over Coventry.

The Paris finally closed as a cinema in 1981 and after a period lying derelict and suffering fire damage it saw a new lease of life with a number of other leisure uses, including the Laser Quest Centre and Riley’s American Pool and Snooker Club. Today it is a live music venue known as the Empire, part owned by Tom Clarke, the lead singer of the Coventry trio “The Enemy”. It is well used  by both local people and people who visit the city especially to enjoy the entertainment.

One Hundred and Seventy Three Newsletters!


When the Coventry Society was given a new lease of life 14 years ago we started a monthly newsletter for our members.

The first publication provided details of the newly announced Belgrade Plaza development by Coventry’s Deeley Properties. It was also the time when Pool Meadow had been isolated from the city centre by Millennium Place and we asked the question ‘will the Council change its mind?’

In September we set up shop in Drapers’ Hall for Heritage Weekend and the following month ran the second History Fair in the Panorama Suite of the Rootes Building at the University of Warwick in partnership with Coventry Family History Society.

The following year IKEA unveiled plans for its first city centre store. We quizzed directors in the Development Forum at the Council House. Yes, we had forums in those days for significant developments. As some will already be aware we are changing the manner in which we disseminate news to you through ‘Posts from Coventry Society News’.

So, after 173 issues this is the last newsletter in the format you have grown
accustomed to.

The Coventry Society would like to thank Keith Draper, our Vice Chairman, who has been editor of the newsletter for the whole of its life in this format.

For the future, our news will be published on this news blog and members will receive a weekly email with links to the stories published in the previous week. We will also send out direct emails to notify you of anything specific to the Society that we are not publishing, for example reminders about society meetings.

We still have a few members who are not on e-mail and we won’t be abandoning them. They will continue to receive a notification of forthcoming meetings by post and we will print out a summary of the past month’s news stories which we will make available at our monthly meetings.

As well as this news blog, the society also has a number of other online channels. You may not be aware of all of them:

Our main website is at: www.coventrysociety.org.uk 

You can also access it through the shorter name: www.covsoc.org.uk

Past editions of our newsletters and annual reports are available on our Issuu site: https://issuu.com/coventrysociety

We have a photograph site on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/coventrysociety

if you use Google Calendar you can add our meetings to your calendar.

We also promote our meetings through Eventbrite.

Of course we also have our Facebook and Twitter pages.

So whilst we will no longer have a monthly newsletter, we will continue to share with you our news of what is going on in Coventry.

Misinformation – The Word of the Year


Dictionary.com defines misinformation as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.” We have seen it raise its ugly head around the world, even close to home especially this year. To what are we specifically referring?

Recent planning applications to demolish the Coventry Cross and greatly change our Upper Precinct and Broadgate, are but two prime examples.

We tried hard to persuade Coventry City Council that the plans put forward by a London developer would dramatically harm our precious heritage but we didn’t stand a chance.

The Coventry Cross
As if our planners worked for the new restaurant in Cathedral Lanes, demolition and re-siting was passed without batting an eyelid. Council’s report claimed: Historic England had no objection—false claim; the plan would provide a better link between Broadgate and the Cathedral Quarter—false claim; the scheme will not create any significant impact upon the character and setting of the conservation area and surrounding listed buildings—false claim.

The Upper Precinct and Broadgate
The over-riding of Listing of one of our city’s most distinguished post-war heritage assets, with the developer allowed to rule the roost. The Council’s report claimed: Historic England had no objection –false claim; the alterations will better reflect the Donald Gibson design– false claim; changes will restore the views to the Cathedral Spire—false claim.

The use of these sort of statements to win the support of the planning committee devalues the democratic process. Forcing proposals through on a false premise goes against all the principles of good local government. What hope is there for the City Centre South Plan, future of the Canal Basin and Spon Street? The rest is dominated by high rise student accommodation. Not a happy picture for the city that so many of us love.

Keith Draper