Coventry

8 Feb

I love living in London but it’s also good to explore other places so whenever the railway companies have cheap deals I often take advantage. London Midland currently have a deal where you can get a ticket to take you across their entire (enormous!) network for a day for just £15.

I have been to Coventry but it was many years ago and I didn’t really look round so I felt that it would be a good place to start. The station is pretty grim and you emerge into an unattractive part of town (although a lot of work is going on to make it look smarter). There is a blue line painted on the pavement which you can follow to get you into the city centre and, once there, it’s easy to find the cathedral.

The cathedral is pretty special. It was bombed in November 1940 and pretty much destroyed. Sadly, work had been done not many years previously and steel girders had been used to reinforce the timber beams. When the incendiary bombs set fire to the timbers the heat caused the steel girders to twist and that helped to destroy the cathedral.

A decision was made almost immediately to build a new cathedral rather than try to repair the damage – it was felt that repairing it would hide the fact that it had been destroyed whereas building a new cathedral alongside the ruins would allow them to act as a memorial. I think this works and it reminds me of St Luke’s church in Liverpool. This is known locally as “the bombed out church” and also stands as a kind of war memorial.

I suppose it takes a while to organise building something on the scale of a cathedral so it wasn’t until 1956 that the building started and it was completed in 1962. I read that the intention was to keep the building fairly simple so that its contents would stand out and I think this has worked. It also reminds me of the Catholic cathedral in Liverpool which was built in the 1960s so I suppose that’s not surprising.

Just across the road from the cathedral is The Herbert gallery. When I visited there was a large exhibition of work by George Shaw who paints rather interesting pictures using Humbrol enamel. I’m not sure how long it’s there but I really enjoyed it (and it was free which makes it even better!)

If you’re interested in motor transport then the transport museum is an absolute must. It’s only a short walk from the cathedral and you could easily spend half a day going round – there’s a huge amount to see and do.

The weather was bitterly cold while I was there and a train derailment at Bletchley the day before meant that my journey took longer than I expected but I was pleased I went. It costs £7 to get into the cathedral but the ticket is valid for a year so if I find myself in the area I’d call back in.

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