The Zulu Queen

CovSoc member Peter James tells us the story of a Coventry heroine of the Salvation Army.

Charles Fardon was born in Coventry in 1863 the son of Charles and Charlotte Fardon. The 1881 Census showed Charles aged 18 living with his parents in King William Street. He and his father were both described as shoeing smiths. Charles married Hannah Haddon from Foleshill in the autumn of 1885, she was the daughter of a silk weaver. In 1896 he joined the Salvation Army and became an agent for the Salvation Army Assurance Society. In the following year he began work as an officer in Coventry. Charles had a number of postings including London, Worcester and Luton. After reaching the rank of Commandant he retired and returned home to Coventry with Hannah in 1927. During 1929 while living in Harefield Road he was taken ill and died on 30th September aged 66 in Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital.

Charles funeral was conducted by a Salvation Army Brigadier but probably the most interesting person who paid tribute to him was his cousin. She was Staff Captain Marianne Pawson nee Faulconbridge.

Charles & Hannah Fardon
   with daughter Hettie and grandchild

Marianne Faulconbridge was born in Long Compton Warwickshire on 2nd September 1859 the daughter of William and Anne. Her father was a police constable who left home and went abroad when Marianne was just two years old. Her mother struggled to bring her up on a very low income in Coventry. Anne was a devout Christian who attended a Baptist Chapel and also held prayer meetings in her own home for the old and infirmed. Marianne had a vision when she was aged 14 which her mother insisted was a message from God. A few years later when Marianne was 17 her mother Anne passed away.

On her way to a Baptist Church in Coventry one Sunday she passed the Theatre Royal and was approached by members of the Christian Mission. Although initially not impressed she later joined. On 17th February 1878 the Christian Mission became the Salvation Army and held its first meeting in Coventry.

William Booth the founder was there and invited Marianne and some other young women to join him for tea. Later that year in October, Marianne was appointed No. 2 Evangelist in Manchester, moving to Seaham Harbour just 4 months later having been promoted to No. 1 Evangelist. Not long after General Booth visited unannounced and told her he was transferring her to Salisbury along with an assistant.

Marianne Faulconbridge

Their success annoyed many publicans who saw a sharp decline in their customer numbers so they offered free drinks to people who could disrupt the meetings. At one meeting Marianne was dragged away from her followers and assaulted, only being rescued by the intervention of a policeman armed with a truncheon. This wasn’t an isolated incident, there were further attacks but the meetings continued.

In a court case in Salisbury the Salvationists were described as “worse than Zulus” by a prosecuting counsel. Pointing to Marianne he added that “there stands the Queen of the Zulus”.

So Marianne became the “ZULU QUEEN” a title bestowed upon her by the editor of War Cry in an article entitled “Salute to the Brave.” Following a number of attacks which left her severely injured Marianne was transferred to Ebbw Vale for a year.

Salvation Army under attack

By 1882 she had taken up an assignment in Chester where the army were faced with even more violent opposition. It was here one day when Marianne was struck on the head by a large sharp stone. She was seriously ill for 6 weeks. At one time her wound became infected and a doctor gave her only 24 hours to live.

After a posting in Rock Ferry she moved to Stockport where she met Staff Captain Thomas Pawson an auditor with the Salvation Army. They married there in October 1888. Shortly afterwards they settled in Buxton Derbyshire and had two sons Frederick and Ernest. Thomas retired and they moved to Weston Super Mare. Marianne lived there for over 40 years. During this time she was widowed and passed away on 15th January 1943 aged 83 years.

Colin Walker Awarded CovSoc Life Membership

CovSoc Chair, Peter Walers, presents Life Membership Award to Colin Walker

At Coventry Society’s AGM, held this year at the Anglican Chapel at London Road Cemetery, the Society awarded Life Membership to its long serving member and Treasurer Colin Walker. This is the commendation.

It isn’t difficult to find information about Colin, as he has written his autobiography and its available on the Internet on a site called “Colin’s Cornucopia”.

There are three things to say about Colin.

Firstly, he is a proud Coventrian

Secondly, he is an engineer through and through.

And thirdly he is a community activist.

Colin was born in Coventry three months after the start of the Second World War. He spent his early years in the city and when things got hot was taken to his mother’s family in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Colin’s family had owned a small engineering firm for several generations and from the age of 13 Colin would help out in at weekends and school holidays. Colin did his apprenticeship there and later worked for larger aerospace firms in and around the city. 

But Colin got itchy feet and decided to emigrate to Canada, where he worked on the development of a high-speed hydrofoil, solving the engineering problems associated with this. It was the fastest unarmed warship in the world at the time.

Colin enjoyed the business culture in Canada, which stood in stark contrast to the hierarchical approach in the UK.

After seven years in Canada, Colin decided to move back to Coventry and with his brother took over and rejuvenated his father’s ailing company. This was very productive for some time, but later suffered decline along with the rest of the city’s engineering firms.

One of Colin’s hobby projects was the restoration of his house in Spon End. He spent 40 years on this, doing most of the work himself.

Colin took up community work in Spon End where he lived at that time. Initially with a local resident’s group but he later became the Chair of the Spon End Forum, bringing together a wide range of community organisations in the area, working with the Council’s Area Co-ordination Team, where he was highly respected and valued.

Phil Dunn, the Area Co-ordinator at the time, says “I have great respect for the work he did and the energy and personal commitment he invested, against his “better judgement”, in trying to secure a “renaissance” for Soon End based on far sighted environment; principles and incredible knowledge and insight to the history of the area.”

Colin was instrumental in bringing the Cooperative Development Agency into the area and was responsible for recreating the historic Spon End Wakes Festival.

His work with the Spon End Building Preservation Trust, now known as the Weaver’s House and Moira’s Wet Fish Shop was perhaps his lasting legacy for the city. Colin was Trust Secretary and Project Manager for Phase I and Phase II of the restoration and a remarkable success it has been.

Colin was recruited to the Coventry Society by Keith Draper after he re-founded the organisation. Keith tells us that he happened by chance to meet Colin at the Earlsdon Festival in the early 2000s. At the time Colin was very involved with the Spon End Neighbourhood group.

Colin was Vice Chair of the Society and in about 2007 he also took over as Treasurer as well – using his organisational skills as an engineer to create one of the most complicated Excel spreadsheets known to man – but amazingly it worked! Keith says that Colin was always ready to pitch in and help on projects!

Keith tells us that Colin has shown himself to be a verbose letter writer, taking up a number of local and national causes.  In recent years has become something of an expert in building off the grid electrics in the walled garden at Allesley Park.

So, we are extremely grateful for the contribution that Colin Walker has made to the Coventry Society and in acknowledgement of this and Colin’s contribution to engineering and his local community, we wish to acknowledge that contribution in the only way available to us, which is to award Colin Life Membership of the Coventry Society.

Parklet to be installed on High Street

A Parklet in Birmingham

A new parklet – a wooden seating area designed for use by the community, featuring plants and greenery – is set to be installed on High Street.

The parklet will be located near Virgin Money at 7 High Street, providing a space for people to sit down, relax and enjoy the space. There will be tables and benches too, making it an ideal spot for people to sit and eat.

Councillor Patricia Hetherton, cabinet member for city services, said: “High Street has been closed to traffic for some time now and a lot of the work we’ve done in the city centre has been about making it a more inviting place to be.

“These parklets are used in lots of other cities and we know how much people enjoy them, as they can make spaces feel more pedestrian and cycle-friendly. It will provide a great spot for people to rest as it’s just outside of Broadgate. There will also be plants incorporated as part of the design, so we’ll be seeing more greenery too, which is always good news!”

Installation is set to begin in the coming weeks. The funding for the parklet is provided by the European Regional Development Fund.

Epstein: Stories in Stone

Jacob and the Angel

We reported on the plans for this exhibition at the Cathedral back in February. The exhibition is now open and we would encourage you to visit it.

In addition to the three permanent Epstein sculptures (St. Michael and the Devil, Ecco Homo and the Angel Doorknobs) there are eleven additional sculptures on loan from various galleries around the country. These are displayed around the Cathedral in a way that demonstrates 20th Century art in a 20th Century environment.

The exhibition is part of the celebration of the Cathedral’s Diamond Jubilee and is also part of City of Culture. The exhibition includes a very helpful and readable free guide.

The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon – 3 p.m. until 31st May 2022. Free. No need to book – just turn up.

New Railway Station Opens

The £82 million transformation of Coventry Railway Station has been officially completed and looks very fine.

The major project at one of the fastest growing stations outside London has involved creating a purpose-built station building and striking entrance featuring public art whilst retaining the previous Grade II listed building.

The opening of the new station building coincides with the 60-year anniversary of the opening of the existing Grade II listed station in 1962. A celebration event is being planned later in the spring to mark the occasion.

Passengers can also now use a new footbridge to reach platforms one, two, three and four which is connected to the new multi-storey 629-space car-park.

Passengers are able to access the station directly from Station Square, alongside new entrances on Warwick Road which will enable access to the new cycle hub, footbridge and station building plus an additional entrance point under Warwick Road where a direct access tunnel has been built, linking the station to the new transport interchange that will be opening next weekend.

The so called “tunnel” under Warwick Road has been designed so beautifully that you do not know that you are in an underpass and its quite a surprise to arrive at the bus station. Contrary to the original plans for the bus station, which we objected to, it has been designed so that buses can drive forward and do not have to reverse out of any bus stops.

The concourse areas feature five retail units, waiting rooms and toilets. There are new lifts for passengers to use while a secure cycle hub has been installed along with electric vehicle charging points.

An embroidered ‘Welcome to Coventry’ sign from local artists Charis Esther and Luisa Freitas which has involved dozens of community groups, charities and schools producing embroidery work has formed a mural at the station, and further artwork will be unveiled later in the year.

There are also improved public realm works outside the station including a new pedestrian boulevard and a visitor information pod to help visitors arriving in the city.

The windows of the original station building have been decorated by artist Tipping, who was kind enough to consult the Society on his plans. They look fabulous.

A new vehicle drop-off area for passengers has been created in Station Square while there will be 20 minutes free parking in the new multi-storey car park to pick-up passengers. The new station car-park is accessed off Eaton Road. The new taxi loop, which opened last year, is next to the boulevard in front of the existing station building.

Coventry City Council has worked in partnership with Network Rail, Avanti West Coast and other rail operators, Transport for West Midlands, Friargate JV Project Ltd and other stakeholders on the regeneration programme.

The Coventry Station Masterplan project has been funded by £39.4 million from the West Midlands Combined Authority Devolution Deal and £27.5 million from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and funds from Coventry City Council.