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City of Coventry
Coventry city centre viewed from Baginton

Coat of arms of the city council
Coventry shown within England
Coordinates: 52°24′29″N 1°30′38″W
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region West Midlands
Ceremonial county West Midlands
Admin HQ Coventry city centre
Founded 1043
Founder Leofric, Earl of Mercia
 • Type Metropolitan borough
 • Governing body Coventry City Council
 • Executive: Labour
 • Total 38.09 sq mi (98.64 km2)
Population (2006 est)
 • Total 316,900 ([[List of English districts by population|Ranked 22nd]])
 • Density 8,050/sq mi (3,108/km2)
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time ( UTC+0)
 • Summer ( DST) British Summer Time ( UTC+1)
Postcode CV
Area code(s) 024
ISO 3166-2 GB-COV
ONS code 00CQ
OS grid reference SP335785
(2006 Est. )
80.5% White
11.9% South Asian
3.1% Black British
2.1% Mixed Race
2.4% East Asian and Other
Website Coventry

Coventry ( / ˈ k ʌ v ən t r i / or / ˈ k ɒ v ən t r i /) is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although both Leicester and Nottingham have larger urban areas. The population of Coventry has risen to 309,800 as of 2008.

Coventry is situated 95 miles (153 km) northwest of London and 19 miles (31 km) east of Birmingham, and is further from the coast than any other city in Britain. Although harbouring a population of almost a third of a million inhabitants, Coventry is not amongst the English Core Cities Group due to its proximity to Birmingham.

Coventry was the world's first 'twin city' when it formed a twinning relationship with the Russian city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) during World War II. The relationship developed through ordinary people in Coventry who wanted to show their support for the Soviet Red Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. The city is now also twinned with Dresden, Lidice and with 26 other cities around the world.

Coventry Cathedral is one of the newer cathedrals in the world, having been built following the World War II bombing of the ancient cathedral by the Luftwaffe. Coventry motor companies have contributed significantly to the British motor industry, and it has two universities, the city centre-based Coventry University and the University of Warwick on the southern outskirts.


Coventry is an ancient city which predates many of the large cities around it including Birmingham and Leicester. It is likely that Coventry grew from a settlement of the Bronze Age near the present-day city centre where Coventry's bowl shape and, at that time large flowing river and lakes, created the ideal settlement area, with mild weather and thick woods: food, water and shelter would have been easily provided. The people of the Coventry area may have been the Corieltauvi, a largely agricultural people who had few strongly defended sites and signs of centralised government.

The Romans settling in Baginton founded another settlement and another formed around a Saxon nunnery, founded ca. AD 700 by St Osburga, that was later left in ruins by King Canute's invading Danish army in 1016. Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his wife Lady Godiva built on the remains of the nunnery and founded a Benedictine monastery in 1043 dedicated to St Mary. In time, a market was established at the abbey gates and the settlement expanded.

By the 14th century, Coventry had become an important centre of the cloth trade, and throughout the Middle Ages was one of the largest and most important cities in England. The bishops of Lichfield were often referred to as bishops of Coventry and Lichfield, or Lichfield and Coventry (from 1102 to 1541). Coventry claimed the status of a city by ancient prescriptive usage, was granted a charter of incorporation in 1345, and in 1451 became a county in its own right.

Hostile attitudes of the cityfolk towards Royalist prisoners held in Coventry during the English Civil War are believed to have been the origin of the phrase " to be sent to Coventry", which in Britain means "to be ostracised"; although their physical needs were catered for, the Royalist prisoners were literally never spoken to by anybody.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Coventry became one of the three main British centres of watch and clock manufacture and ranked alongside Prescot, near Liverpool and Clerkenwell in London. As the industry declined, due mainly to competition from Swiss made clock and watch manufacturers, the skilled pool of workers proved crucial to the setting up of bicycle manufacture and eventually the motorbike, car, machine tool and aircraft industries.

In the late 19th century, Coventry became a major centre of bicycle manufacture. The industry being energised by the invention by James Starley and his nephew John Kemp Starley of the Rover Safety Bicycle, which was much safer and more popular than the pioneering Penny Farthing. The company later became Rover. By the early 20th century, bicycle manufacture had evolved into motor manufacture, and Coventry became a major centre of the British motor industry. The design headquarters of Jaguar Cars is still in the city at their Whitley plant and although they ceased vehicle assembly at their Browns Lane plant in 2004, they still continue some operations from there.

A 1972 Hillman Avenger Tiger, produced in Coventry by Chrysler Competitions Department.
Coventry precinct with spire of ruined cathedral in the background.

Coventry suffered severe bomb damage during World War II, most notoriously from a massive Luftwaffe air raid known as the " Coventry Blitz" on 14 November 1940. Firebombing on this date led to severe damage to large areas of the city centre and to Coventry's historic cathedral, leaving only a shell and the spire. More than 4,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, along with around three quarters of the city's factories and more than 500 people were killed and hundreds more injured. Thousands of people were left homeless. The Germans coined the term "Coventrate" to describe the tactics developed for the raid.

Aside from London, Hull and Plymouth, Coventry suffered more damage than any other British city during the Luftwaffe attacks, with huge fires devastating most of the city centre. The city was probably targeted due to its high concentration of armaments, munitions, aircraft and aero-engine plants which contributed greatly to the British war effort, although there have been claims that Hitler launched the attack as revenge for the bombing of Munich by the RAF six days before the Coventry blitz and chose the Midlands city because its medieval heart was regarded as one of the finest in Europe. Following the raids, the majority of Coventry's historic buildings could not be saved as they were in ruinous states or were deemed unsafe for any future use, although several were later demolished simply to make way for modern developments.

In the postwar years Coventry was largely rebuilt under the general direction of the Gibson Plan, gaining a new pedestrianised shopping precinct (the first of its kind in Europe on such a scale) and in 1962 Sir Basil Spence's much-celebrated new St Michael's Cathedral (incorporating one of the world's largest tapestries) was consecrated. Its pre-fabricated steel spire was lowered into place by helicopter. In 1967, the Eagle Street Mosque opened as Coventry's first mosque.

Major expansion to Coventry had taken place previously, in the 1920s and 1930s, to provide housing for the large influx of workers who came to work in the city's booming factories. The areas which were expanded or created in this development included Radford, Coundon, Canley, Cheylesmore and Stoke Heath.

Coventry's motor industry boomed during the 1950s and 1960s and Coventry enjoyed a 'golden age'. During this period the disposable income of Coventrians was one of the highest in the country and both the sports and the arts benefited. A new sports centre, with one of the few Olympic standard swimming pools in the UK, was constructed and Coventry City Football Club reached the First Division of English Football. The Belgrade Theatre was also constructed along with the Herbert Art Gallery. The 1970s, however, saw a decline in the British motor industry and Coventry suffered badly. By the early 1980s, Coventry had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In recent years, the city has recovered with newer industries locating there, although the motor industry continues to decline. In 2008, only one motor manufacturing plant is operational, that of LTI Ltd, producing the popular TX4 taxi cabs. On 17 March 2010 LTI announced they would no longer be producing bodies and chassis in Coventry, instead producing them in China and shipping them in for assembly in Coventry.

City boundaries

Unlike other major UK cities, Coventry does not have an extensive 'greater' urban area. This is partly because the city boundaries were drawn so as to include practically all of its suburbs, and partly because Coventry has comparatively little in the way of contiguous satellite towns and dormitory settlements.

The M6 motorway directly to the north of Coventry acts as an artificial boundary which precludes expansion into the Bedworth- Nuneaton urban area, as does the protected West Midlands Green Belt which surrounds the city on all sides. This has circumvented the expansion of the city into both the administrative county of Warwickshire and the metropolitan borough of Solihull, and has helped to prevent the coalescence of the city with surrounding settlements such as Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Rugby, Meriden and Balsall Common.

Suburbs or areas


  • Alderman's Green
  • Allesley
  • Allesley Green
  • Allesley Park
  • Ash Green


  • Ball Hill
  • Bannerbrook Park
  • Bell Green
  • Binley
  • Bishopsgate Green
  • Brownshill Green


  • Canley
  • Cannon Park
  • Chapelfields
  • Cheylesmore
  • Clifford Park
  • Copsewood
  • Coundon
  • Courthouse Green


  • Daimler Green


  • Earlsdon
  • Eastern Green
  • Edgwick
  • Ernesford (or Ernsford) Grange


  • Finham
  • Fenside
  • Foleshill


  • Green Lane
  • Gibbet Hill
  • Gosford Green
  • Great Heath


  • Hearsall Common
  • Henley Green
  • Hillfields
  • Holbrooks




  • Keresley


  • Little Heath
  • Longford


  • Mount Nod


  • Nailcote Grange



  • Pinley
  • Potters Green



  • Radford


  • Spon End
  • Stoke
  • Stoke Heath
  • Stoke Aldermoor
  • Stivichall/ Styvechale


  • Tanyard Farm
  • Tile Hill
  • Toll Bar End



  • Victoria Farm


  • Walsgrave-on-Sowe
  • Westwood Heath
  • Whitley
  • Whitmore Park
  • Whoberley
  • Willenhall
  • Wood End
  • Woodway Park
  • Wyken

Places of interest


The ruins of the old cathedral

St. Michael's Cathedral is Coventry's best-known landmark and visitor attraction. The 14th century church was largely destroyed by German bombing during World War II, leaving only the outer walls and spire. At 303 feet high, the spire of St. Michael's is claimed to be the third tallest cathedral spire in England, after Salisbury and Norwich. Due to the architectural design (in 1940 the tower had no internal wooden floors and a stone vault below the belfry) it survived the destruction of the rest of the cathedral. The new Coventry Cathedral was opened in 1962 next to the ruins of the old. It was designed by Sir Basil Spence. The cathedral contains the tapestry Christ in Glory by Graham Sutherland. The bronze statue St Michael's Victory over the Devil by Jacob Epstein is mounted on the exterior of the new cathedral near the entrance. Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, regarded by some as his masterpiece, was written for the opening of the new cathedral.

The spire of the ruined cathedral forms one of the "three spires" which have dominated the city skyline since the 14th century, the others being those of Christ Church (of which only the spire survives) and Holy Trinity Church (which is still in use).

Two of Coventry's "three spires"

Football stadia

Since 2005, Coventry City F.C. have been playing at their new home, the Ricoh Arena, a 32,500 capacity stadium in Foleshill in north Coventry. Their football academy is now based at the Alan Higgs Centre, a leisure centre in south-east Coventry opened in 2004.

The Highfield Road stadium has been demolished, making way for new housing and a small green.


The "Whittle Arch" outside the Transport Museum, named after Sir Frank Whittle
Millennium Square by night, showing the Time Zone Clock designed by Francoise Schein with the Whittle Arch soaring above

Major improvements continue to regenerate the city centre. The Phoenix Initiative, which was designed by MJP Architects, reached the final shortlist for the 2004 RIBA Stirling Prize and has now won a total of 16 separate awards. It was published in the book 'Phoenix : Architecture/Art/Regeneration' in 2004. Further major developments are potentially afoot, particularly the Swanswell Project, which is intended to deepen Swanswell Pool and link it to Coventry Canal Basin, coupled with the creation of an urban marina and a wide Parisian-style boulevard. A possible second phase of the Phoenix Initiative is also in the offing, although both of these plans are still on the drawing-board. The redevelopment of the Belgrade Theatre is currently in progress, and the building of IKEA's first city centre multi-storey store has recently been completed and was opened to the public on 16 December 2007.

The River Sherbourne runs under Coventry's city centre; the river was paved over during the rebuilding after World War II and is not commonly known. When the new rebuild of Coventry city centre takes place 2009 onwards, it is planned that river will be re-opened, and a river walk way will be placed along side it in parts of the city centre.

Twinning with other cities; "city of peace and reconciliation"

Coventry and Stalingrad (now Volgograd) were the world's first 'twin' cities when they established a twinning relationship during World War II. The relationship developed through ordinary people in Coventry who wanted to show their support for the Soviet Red Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. The city was also subsequently twinned with Dresden, as a gesture of peace and reconciliation following World War II. Coventry is now twinned with 27 other cities around the world.

Coventry Cathedral is notable for being one of the newest cathedrals in the world, having been built following the World War II bombing of the ancient cathedral by the Luftwaffe. Coventry has since developed an international reputation as one of Europe's major cities of peace and reconciliation, centred around its cathedral, and holds an annual Peace Month.


The Alan Berry building, Coventry University.

Coventry has two universities; Coventry University is situated on a modern city centre campus while the University of Warwick lies 3½ miles (5.5 km) to the south of the city centre within Coventry near the border with Warwickshire. The University of Warwick is one of only five universities never to have been rated outside the top ten in terms of teaching excellence and research and is a member of the prestigious Russell Group. A team from the University won the BBC TV University Challenge trophy in April 2007. Coventry University is one of only a handful of universities to run a degree course in automotive design (it is second only to the Royal College of Art course in prestige).

Coventry also has three further education colleges within city boundaries, City College, Henley College and Hereward College.

Many of the secondary schools in and around Coventry are specialist colleges, such as Finham Park School, which is a Mathematics and IT college, a teacher training school and the only school in Coventry to offer studying the International Baccalaureate, and Coventry Blue Coat Church of England School which has recently become a specialist college of Music, one of only a few in the country. Bishop Ullathorne RC School became a specialist college in Humanities in 2006. Woodlands School in Coventry is now also a sports college, which has a newly built sport centre. Ernesford Grange School, in the south east, is a specialist science college. Coundon Court School is a Technology College. Pattison College, a private school opened in 1949, specialises in the performing arts. There is also Caludon Castle School, a business and enterprise school, which has been rebuilt over 2005–2007. Exhall Grange School and Science College is in the north of the city, although, its catchment area is north Warwickshire. There is also Cardinal Newman Catholic School and specialist arts college.

The Coventry School Foundation comprises the independent schools King Henry VIII School and Bablake School together with Coventry Preparatory School.

The Woodlands School, which is an all-boys' school, and Tile Hill Wood School are the only single-sex schools left in Coventry. However, their sixth forms have merged to form the "West Coventry 6th Form", whose lessons take place in mixed classes on both sites.

The Westwood School, which is a Technology College, is close to the University of Warwick. It is the only school in Coventry that is a CISCO Academy and prides itself on its links with other educational establishment, industry and the local community.

Sherbourne Fields School is an educational special needs school for young people with physical disabilities and is located in the Coundon area. It opened in the 1960s and there is now discussions as to whether to close this school.

Arts and culture

Godiva Festival, a major event on the Coventry arts and culture calendar

Literature and drama

  • During the early 19th century, Coventry was well-known due to author George Eliot who was born near Nuneaton. The city was the model for her famous novel Middlemarch (1871).
  • The Coventry Carol is named after the city of Coventry. It was a carol performed in the play The Pageant of The Shearman and Tailors, written in the 15th century as one of the Coventry Cycle Mystery Plays. These plays depicted the nativity story, the lyrics of the Coventry Carol referring to the Annunciation to the Massacre of the Innocents, which was the basis of the Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. These plays were traditionally performed on the steps of the (old) cathedral, and the plays are believed to have been performed for both Richard III in 1484 and Henry VII in 1584. The Belgrade Theatre brought back the Coventry Mystery Plays in 2000 to mark the city's millennium celebrations: the theatre now produces the Mystery Plays every three years.
  • The Belgrade Theatre was Britain's first purpose-built civic theatre, opened in 1958. In 1965 the world's first Theatre-in-Education (TiE) company was formed to develop theatre as a way of inspiring learning in schools. The TiE movement spread worldwide, the theatre still offers a number of programmes for young people across Coventry and has been widely recognised as a leader in the field.
  • The poet Philip Larkin was born and brought up in Coventry, where his father was the City Treasurer.

Music and cinema

  • During the late-1970s and early-1980s, Coventry was the centre of the Two Tone musical phenomenon, with bands such as the Specials and the Selecter coming from the city, spawning several major hit singles and albums. The Specials achieved two UK #1 hit singles between 1979–1981, namely Too Much Too Young and Ghost Town. Notable singles by the Selecter included On My Radio and Three Minute Hero.
  • Today Coventry is recognised for its range of music events including one of the UK's foremost international jazz programmes, the Coventry Jazz Festival, and the award-winning Godiva Festival. On the Saturday of the Godiva Festival, a carnival parade also starts in the city centre and makes its way to War Memorial Park where the festival is held.
  • In the film The Italian Job, the famous scene of Mini Coopers being driven at speed through Turin's sewers was actually filmed in Coventry, using what were then the country's biggest sewer pipes, that were accessible because they were being installed. More recently various locations in Coventry have been used in the BAFTA nominated film Bouncer starring Ray Winstone, All in the Game, also starring Ray Winstone (Ricoh Arena), the medical TV series Angels (Walsgrave Hospital), the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances (Stoke Aldermoor and Binley Woods districts) and in August 2006 scenes from " The Shakespeare Code", an episode of the third series of Doctor Who, were filmed in the grounds of Ford's Hospital.


Warwick Arts Centre in Warwick University Campus

Theatre, art and music venues in Coventry include:

  • The Warwick Arts Centre: situated at the University of Warwick, Warwick Arts Centre includes an art gallery, a theatre, a concert hall and a cinema. It is the second largest arts centre in the UK, after London's Barbican.
  • The College Theatre: the city's main community theatre, housed at the Butts Centre of City College Coventry. It's a fully functioning theatre with flying scenery, full sound and lighting boxes.
  • The Belgrade Theatre: one of the largest producing theatres in Britain, the 858-seat Belgrade was the first civic theatre to be opened in the UK following World War II. The theatre underwent a huge redevelopment and reopened in September 2007; in addition to refurbishing the existing theatre the redevelopment included a new 250-seat studio auditorium known as B2, a variety of rehearsal spaces and an exhibition space that traces the history of theatre in Coventry.
  • Also currently being built is the Belgrade Plaza.
  • The Ricoh Arena: located 3½ miles (5.6 km) north of the city centre, the 32,600 capacity Coventry City F.C. stadium is also used to hold major rock concerts for some of the world's biggest acts, including Oasis, Bon Jovi and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is also one of the venues chosen for the footballing events at the 2012 Olympic Games. The adjacent Ricoh Exhibition Hall is a 6,000-seat events venue for hosting a multitude of other acts.
  • The SkyDome Arena, which is a 3,000 capacity sports auditorium, and has played host to artists such as Girls Aloud, Paul Oakenfold, Judge Jules and Paul Morrell. It is the home ground for Coventry Blaze ice hockey club, and has also hosted professional wrestling events from WWE, TNA and Pro Wrestling Noah
  • War Memorial Park, which holds various festivals including the Godiva Festival and the Coventry Caribbean Festival, every year.
  • The Butts Park Arena, home of Coventry Rugby Football Club, holds music concerts occasionally.
  • The Kasbah nightclub, Hillfields. It was renamed after refurbishment in 2007, but is still often referred to by its previous name, 'Colosseum'. By older Coventrians, it is still remembered as the Orchid Ballroom.
  • The Criterion Theatre, a small theatre, in Earlsdon.
  • Coombe Country Park, although outside the city boundary, Coventry City Council's only country park.


The Ricoh Arena

Sporting teams include: Coventry City (football)); Coventry Bees ( speedway); Coventry Rugby Club (Rugby Union) ; Coventry Bears (Rugby League); Coventry Godiva Harriers (athletics); Coventry Crusaders (basketball); Coventry Cassidy Jets (American football); Coventry Sphinx (football); Coventry Copsewood (football); City of Coventry Swimming Club (swimming); Coventry Blaze (ice hockey); Four Masters GAA Club ( Gaelic football).

In football, Coventry City have been in existence since the late 19th century, but did not reach the top flight of the Football League until 1967, when they were promoted as Second Division champions. Their highest league position so far is sixth place in the First Division in 1970, when they qualified for the European Fairs Cup (later the UEFA Cup, now The Europa League) in 1970–71. Their only major trophy to date is the FA Cup which was won in 1987 with a 3–2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

Coventry City were founder members of the Premier League in 1992, but currently play in the Football League Championship, the second tier of English football, where they have been since 2001, following relegation after 34 successive seasons of top flight football. Their current stadium is the 32,600 capacity Ricoh Arena, which opened at Foleshill in the north of the city in 2005, replacing 106-year-old Highfield Road to the east of the city centre.

Notable former players include Reg Matthews, Clarrie Bourton, George Hudson, Willie Carr, Dion Dublin, Stuart Pearce, Gerry Francis, Kevin Gallacher, Terry Gibson, Mark Hateley, Ian Wallace, Tommy Hutchison, Robbie Keane, Gary McAllister, David Speedie, Steve Ogrizovic, Colin Stein and Terry Yorath.

Amongst their former managers are Jimmy Hill, Noel Cantwell, Dave Sexton, John Sillett, Bobby Gould, Phil Neal, Ron Atkinson, Gordon Strachan, Peter Reid, Gary McAllister, Micky Adams, Iain Dowie and Chris Coleman.

The Coventry Bees are based at Coventry Stadium (formerly Brandon Stadium) to the east of the city. The stadium has operated both sides of World War II. The Bees started in 1948 and have operated continuously ever since. They started out in the National League Division Three before moving up to the Second Division and, later to the top flight. They have operated at this level ever since.

Amongst the top speedway riders who have represented Coventry teams are Tom Farndon, Jack Parker, Arthur Forrest, Nigel Boocock, Kelvin Tatum, Chris Harris and World Champions Ole Olsen, Hans Nielsen, Greg Hancock, Billy Hamill and Jack Young.

Between 1998 and 2000, Coventry Stadium hosted the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain.

In 2007, the Bees won the domestic speedway treble of Elite League, Knock-out Cup and Craven Shield, whilst Chris Harris won both the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain and the British Championship. The Bees retained the Craven Shield in 2008, and Chris Harris added further British Championship victories in both 2009 and 2010. The Elite League Championship Trophy returned to Brandon in 2010 when the Bees convincingly beat Poole Pirates in the play-off finals.

Before World War II speedway also operated for a short time at Foleshill Stadium, off Lythalls Lane in the city.

In 2003, Coventry Blaze won the British National League and Playoffs. In 2007, Coventry Blaze won the Elite League and the British Challenge cup and narrowly missed out on the treble by losing in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Coventry Bears are the major rugby league team in the city now playing in the Rugby League Conference. In 2002 they won the Rugby League Conference, and took the step up to the national leagues. In 2004 they won the National Division 3 title and have appeared in the Challenge Cup.

2005 was a good year for sport in Coventry. Not only did it become the first city in the UK to host the International Children's Games, but three of the city sports teams won significant honours. The Blaze won the treble consisting of Elite League, playoff and Challenge Cup; the Jets won the BAFL Division 2 championship and were undefeated all season; and the Bees won the Elite League playoffs.

Major sports teams in Coventry
Club Sport Founded League Venue
Coventry R.F.C. Rugby union 1874 National Division One Butts Park Arena
Coventry City Football 1883 Football League Championship Ricoh Arena
Coventry Bees Speedway 1928 Elite League Brandon Stadium
Coventry Crusaders Basketball 1987 English Basketball League Coventry Sports Centre
Coventry Bears Rugby League 1998 Rugby League Conference OC's Stadium
Coventry Blaze Ice hockey 2000 Elite Ice Hockey League SkyDome Arena


Statue of Lady Godiva
Statue commemorating James Starley

History and politics

Coventry is well-known for the legendary 11th century exploits of Lady Godiva who, according to legend, rode through the city naked on horseback in protest at high taxes being levied on the cityfolk by her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia. According to the legend the residents of the city were commanded to look away as she rode, but one man didn't and was allegedly struck blind. He became known as Peeping Tom thus originating a new idiom, or metonym, in English. There is a Grade II* listed statue of her in the city centre, which for 18 years had been underneath a much-maligned Cathedral Lanes shopping centre canopy, removed in October 2008. There is also a bust of Peeping Tom looking out from a bridge that crosses one branch of the shopping precinct, and across the road from the statue of Godiva there is a clock where, at every hour, Lady Godiva appears on her horse while being watched by Peeping Tom.

The Labour politician Mo Mowlam was educated in Coventry; trade union organiser Tom Mann and National Socialist Movement leader Colin Jordan also came from the city.

The statesman and founder of modern Australia, Sir Henry Parkes, was born in Canley in 1815.

Science and technology

Coventry has been the home to several pioneers in science and engineering.

Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, was from the city, as was the inventor James Starley, instrumental in the development of the bicycle and his nephew J.K. Starley, who worked alongside his uncle and went on to found car company Rover.

Cyborg scientist Kevin Warwick is also a Coventrian.

George Singer, manufacturer of Singer bicycles also lived in Coventry, his Victorian home has now been converted into Coundon Court School and Community College.

Frederick Gibberd, architect and designer, was born in Coventry, and amongst the buildings for which he is best known are Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Didcot Power Station.

Coventrians who established successful businesses from very humble beginnings were known as "Coventry Kids".

The arts

Dame Ellen Terry, one of the greatest Shakespearian actors, was born in Coventry in 1847.

Other Coventrians in the arts include the highly acclaimed poet Philip Larkin, actors Billie Whitelaw, Nigel Hawthorne and Clive Owen, and the author Lee Child.

Many notable musicians originated in Coventry, including Frank Ifield, Vince Hill, Delia Derbyshire, Jerry Dammers, Terry Hall, Neville Staple, Hazel O'Connor, Clint Mansell, Julianne Regan, Lee Dorrian, Jen Ledger of Skillet (band), Taz (lead singer of the band Stereo Nation), and Panjabi MC.

2 Tone music developed in and around Coventry in the 1970s and two of the genre's most notable bands, The Specials and The Selecter are both from the city. Other Coventry bands include The Primitives, Adorable, Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, King, Jigsaw, The Sorrows, and The Enemy.

Record producer Pete Waterman is also from the city and is president of Coventry Bears.

Broadcasters Brian Matthew and Richard Keys, theatre producer Dominic Madden, comedian and writer Emma Fryer and adult model Debee Ashby are also Coventrians, as were comedian Reg Dixon and ventriloquist Dennis Spicer.


Notable Coventrian sportsmen include speedway rider Tom Farndon; footballer Reg Matthews; cricketers Tom Cartwright and Ian Bell; rugby union players Ivor Preece, David Duckham, Neil Back, Danny Grewcock, Geoff Evans and Andy Goode; boxer Errol Christie; golfer Laura Davies; sprinter Marlon Devonish; distance runners Brian Kilby and David Moorcroft; darts player Steve Beaton; show jumper Nick Skelton; professional wrestler Adam Windsor (Adam Bryniarski) and fencer Kevin Reilly.


Coventry's skyline (view from the footbridge over the railway by Central 6 shopping centre). The three spires are: Holy Trinity (left), remaining spire of the ruined (bombed) cathedral and the remaining spire of the ruined Christ Church (right).

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Coventry at current basic prices by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling:

Year Regional Gross Value Added 1 Agriculture 2 Industry 3 Services 4
1995 3,407 3 1,530 1,874
2000 4,590 3 1,873 2,714
2003 5,103 2 1,529 3,572


  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. Includes hunting and forestry
  3. Includes energy and construction
  4. Includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Coventry has long been a centre of motor and cycle manufacturing, dating from 1896. Starting out with some less familiar names such as Coventry Motette, Great Horseless Carriage Co, Swift Motor Company and more familiar names like Humber, Riley, Francis-Barnett and Daimler and the Triumph motorcycle having its origins in 1902 in a Coventry factory. The Massey-Ferguson tractor factory was situated on Banner Lane, Tile Hill, until it closed in the late 1990s. Although the motor industry has declined almost to the point of extinction, the Jaguar company has retained its corporate and research headquarters in the city (at Allesley and Whitley), and Peugeot still have a large parts centre in Humber Road. The famous London black cab taxis are produced in Coventry by LTI and these are now the only vehicles still wholly built in Coventry.

The manufacture of machine tools was once a major industry in Coventry. Alfred Herbert Ltd became one of the largest machine tool companies in the world. Unfortunately in later years the company faced tough competition from foreign machine tool builders and ceased trading in 1983. Another famous Coventry machine tool manufacturer was the A. C. Wickman company. The last Coventry machine tool manufacturer was Matrix Churchill which was forced to close in the wake of the Iraqi Supergun (Project Babylon) scandal. It had been owned by the Saddam Hussein government, via front companies, and closed amidst much controversy and bad feeling.

Coventry's main industries include: cars, electronic equipment, machine tools, agricultural machinery, man-made fibres, aerospace components and telecommunications equipment. In recent years, the city has moved away from manufacturing industries towards business services, finance, research, design and development, creative industries as well as logistics and leisure.

Coventry motor companies once contributed significantly to the British motor industry but that role is now much diminished.


Coventry railway station
Coventry Canal Basin

Coventry is near the M6, M69, M45 and M40 motorways. It is also served by the A45 and A46 dual carriageways. Coventry has a much used inner ring road opened in the 1960s (approx.). Phoenix Way, a dual carriageway running north – south opened 1998 (approx.), has improved traffic flows through the city.

For rail, Coventry railway station is served by the West Coast Main Line, and has regular rail services between London and Birmingham (and stations beyond). It is also served by railway lines to Nuneaton via Bedworth. There is a line linking it to Leamington Spa and onwards to the south coast. Coventry also has two Suburban Rail stations in Canley and in Tile Hill.

Bus service operators in Coventry include National Express Coventry, Travel de Courcey and Stagecoach in Warwickshire. Pool Meadow Bus Station is the main bus and coach interchange in the city centre. Two park and ride sites exist in the city, one at War Memorial Park and one at Courthouse Green.

The nearest major airports are Birmingham International Airport, some 17 km (11 miles) to the west of the city and Coventry Airport in Baginton, located 8 km (5 miles) south of the city centre.

The Coventry Canal terminates near the city centre at Coventry Canal Basin and is navigable for 61 km (38 miles) to Fradley Junction in Staffordshire.

Waste management

Incineration plant, Coventry

Coventry has a large incineration plant which burns rubbish from both Coventry and Solihull, producing electricity for the National Grid and some hot water that is used locally. Some rubbish is still put into landfill.

Coventry City Council is assisting recycling as part of their waste management strategy in line with national trends:

  • many areas of Coventry have kerb-side plastic, metal (tins and cans), and paper recycling. Garden-green rubbish is also collected and composted.
  • a wide range of waste materials can be taken by car to the recycling depot, which is adjacent to the incineration unit.
  • there are many recycling points throughout the City for paper, glass recycling and metal / tin can recycling.

In October 2006, Coventry City Council signed the Nottingham Declaration, joining 130 other UK councils in committing to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the council and to help the local community do the same.


The Council House, Coventry

Traditionally a part of Warwickshire (although it was a county in its own right for 400 years), Coventry became an independent county borough in 1889. It later became a metropolitan district of the West Midlands county under the Local Government Act (1974), even though it was entirely separate to the Birmingham conurbation area (this is why Coventry appears to unnaturally "jut out" into Warwickshire on political maps of the UK). In 1986, the West Midlands County Council was abolished and Coventry became administered as an effective unitary authority in its own right.

Coventry is still strongly associated with its traditional county, Warwickshire. This may be because of its geographical location, forming a large protrusion into the county.

Coventry is administered by Coventry City Council. The city is divided up into 18 Wards each with three councillors. Coventry has usually been controlled by the Labour Party over the past few decades, and at times they appeared to be in safe control. However the Conservatives held control for a short time in the 1970s, and they have also been in control since June 2004. (For a time they held control on the casting vote of the Lord Mayor, but they won clear control at the local elections of 4 May 2006). However in 2010 the Conservatives lost control of Coventry City Council when Labour gained enough seats to have overall control.

The leader of the Conservative group is Ken Taylor, who held the post of Leader of the Council between 2004 and 2010. The leader of the controlling Labour group is John Mutton, he has held the post of Leader of the Council since the 2010 Local Elections.

A notable politician serving with Coventry City Council is former Militant Tendency Labour MP Dave Nellist who now represents the Socialist Party (England and Wales).

Certain local services are provided by West Midlands wide agencies including the West Midlands Police, the West Midlands Fire Service and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (Centro) which is responsible for public transport.

In 2006, Coventry and Warwickshire Ambulance Service was merged with the West Midlands Ambulance Service. The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance service is based at Coventry Airport in Baginton.

Coventry is represented in Parliament by three MPs all of whom are Labour. These are:

  • Bob Ainsworth – ( Coventry North East)
  • Jim Cunningham – ( Coventry South)
  • Geoffrey Robinson – ( Coventry North West)

Up until 1997, Coventry was represented by four Members of Parliament, whereupon the Coventry South West and Coventry South East constituencies were merged to form Coventry South.

At the Annual Meeting of the City Council on 20 May 2009, Councillor Jack Harrison was elected as the new Lord Mayor of Coventry. Councillor Harrison has been a Labour councillor for 13 years representing the Lower Stoke Ward. Councillor Harrison's wife, Jill, is Lady Mayoress. The Deputy Lord Mayor is Councillor Brian Kelsey. He has been a Conservative councillor in Bablake Ward since 1999.

The Bishop of Coventry since April 1998 has been the Rt Revd. Colin James Bennetts, who retired from the post on 31 January 2008. The Reverend Canon Dr Christopher John Cocksworth BA, PhD, PGCE was nominated Bishop of Coventry on 3 March 2008 and HM The Queen then approved the nomination.


Like most major British cities, Coventry has a large ethnic minority population, making up 25.2% of the population as of 2006 estimates. The ethnic minority population is concentrated in the Foleshill and the St. Michael's wards.

The composition of the ethnic minority population is not typical of the UK. Sikhs are the largest non-Christian religion, with significant numbers of other South Asians. The Black population is just 3.1%, only slightly above the British average, and lower than many other cities.

8.2% of the population identify as ethnically Indian, 2.2% as Pakistani, 0.8% as being from other South Asian groups, and 0.7% as Bangladeshi.

White Irish people constitute 2.8%, and 2.9% of the city's population identify as " White Other" (non-Irish, non-British white groups).

1.7% of the population are Black African, 1.2% Black Caribbean, and 0.2% from other black groups.

1.5% are ethnically Chinese and the remaining 0.9% is mainly composed of East Asians.

People reporting two or more ethnicities make up 2.1% of the population.

Year and Current Total Population

  • 1801 – 21,853
  • 1851 – 48,120
  • 1901 – 88,107
  • 1911 – 117,958
  • 1921 – 144,197
  • 1931 – 176,303
  • 1941 – 214,380
  • 1951 – 260,685
  • 1961 – 296,016
  • 1971 – 336,136
  • 1981 – 310,223
  • 1991 – 305,342
  • 2001 – 300,844
  • 2007 – 306,700
  • 2009 – 309,800
  • 2010 – 310,500

Closest cities, towns and villages

Cities (within 80 km/50 miles)

  • Birmingham (30 km/19 miles)
  • Leicester (38 km/24 miles)
  • Lichfield (48 km/30 miles)
  • Wolverhampton (59 km/37 miles)
  • Worcester (69 km/43 miles)
  • Derby (80 km/50 miles)
  • Nottingham (80 km/50 miles)
  • Oxford (80 km/50 miles)

Towns (within 32 km/20 miles)

  • Bedworth (10 km/6 miles)
  • Kenilworth (10 km/6 miles)
  • Nuneaton (14.5 km/9 miles)
  • Leamington Spa (16 km/10 miles)
  • Warwick (19 km/12 miles)
  • Rugby (19 km/12 miles)
  • Hinckley (19 km/12 miles)
  • Atherstone (21 km/13 miles)
  • Solihull (21 km/13 miles)
  • Southam (21 km/13 miles)
  • Redditch (29 km/18 miles)
  • Stratford-upon-Avon (30 km/19 miles)
  • Sutton Coldfield (32 km/20 miles)
  • Tamworth (32 km/20 miles)


  • Arley, Warwickshire Distance unknown.
  • Baginton, about 4 miles south
  • Neal's Green/ Ash Green – about 4 miles north
  • Burton Green, about 4 miles west
  • Binley Woods, about 5 miles southeast
  • Stoneleigh, 5 miles south
  • Ryton-on-Dunsmore, about 5.5 miles southeast
  • Hawkesbury, about 5.5 miles north
  • Ansty, about 6 miles north east
  • Corley, about 6 miles northwest
  • Bulkington, about 6 miles northeast
  • Brandon, about 6 miles southeast
  • Shilton, about 7 miles northheast
  • Berkswell, about 7 miles west
  • Balsall Common, about 7 miles west
  • Fillongley, about 7 miles north
  • Wolston, about 7 miles southeast
  • Brinklow, about 7 miles east
  • Bubbenhall, about 7 miles southeast
  • Meriden, about 8 miles west
  • Bramcote, about 8 miles northeast
  • Princethorpe, about 10 miles southeast
  • Stretton-on-Dunsmore, about 10 miles southeast
  • Wolvey, about 10 miles northeast


Postal districts CV1 to CV6 inclusive cover the city of Coventry and its immediate suburbs. Postal districts CV7 to CV47 cover almost all of the surrounding administrative county of Warwickshire, with the exception of those areas around Coleshill, Polesworth, Alcester and Studley in western Warwickshire, which have Birmingham (B) postcodes instead. However, Coventry remains the post town for settlements within the CV7 postcode (e.g., Balsall Common and Berkswell etc.), even though they do not form part of the city.

Twin cities

Coventry first twinned with ( Volgograd, Russia). After World War II Coventry twinned with Dresden as an act of peace and reconciliation, both cities having been very heavily bombed during the war. Each twin city country is represented in a specific ward of the city and in each ward has a peace garden dedicated to that twin city.

Coventry is now twinned with 26 places across the world:

Flag City Country Year Twinned Ward
Australia Parkes, New South Wales Australia 1956
Austria Graz Austria 1957 Binley & Willenhall
Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina 1957
Canada Cornwall, Ontario Canada 1972
Granby, Quebec 1963
Windsor, Ontario 1963
China Jinan China 1983
Czech Republic Lidice Czech Republic 1947
Ostrava 1959
France Caen France 1957
Saint-Étienne 1955
Germany Dresden Germany 1959 Lower Stoke
Kiel 1947
Hungary Dunaújváros Hungary 1962
Kecskemét 1962
Italy Bologna Italy 1960
Jamaica Kingston Jamaica 1962
Netherlands Arnhem Netherlands 1958
Poland Warsaw Poland 1957
Republic of Ireland Cork Ireland 1958
Romania Galaţi Romania 1962
Russia Volgograd/ Stalingrad Russia 1944
Serbia Belgrade Serbia 1957
United States Coventry, Connecticut United States 1962
Coventry, New York 1972
Coventry, Rhode Island 1971


Origins: Coventry in a linguistic sense looks both ways, towards both the 'West' and 'East' Midlands. One thousand years ago, the extreme west of Warwickshire, what today we would designate Birmingham and the Black Country was then separated from Coventry and east Warwickshire by the forest of Arden, with resulting inferior means of communication. The west Warwickshire settlements too were smaller in comparison to Coventry which, by the 14th century, was England's third city. Even as far back as Anglo-Saxon times Coventry, situated as it was along Watling Street was a trading and market post between King Alfred's Saxon Mercia and Danelaw England with a consequent merging of dialects.

Coventry & Birmingham accents: Phonetically the accent of Coventry is similar to Northern English in that it eliminates the long a /ɑː/, so cast is pronounced [kæst] rather than [kɑːst]. Yet the clipped, flatter vowels in the accent also contain traces of Estuary English (T-glottaling), increasingly so amongst the young since 1950. One notable feature which television producers have been apt to overlook is the distinction between Coventry and Birmingham accents. In Birmingham and the Black Country 'Old' and 'cold' may be pronounced as "owd" and "cowd", this linguistic feature stops starkly as one moves beyond Solihull in the general direction of Coventry, a possible approximation of the 'Arden Forest' divide perhaps. The prosody in the voice has none of the see-saw of traditional 'Brummie', being more 'flat' in its terminal sentence tags. The common Birmingham inflection of the phonetic feature 'ɒɪ' in words such as 'price'-becoming similar in sound to the word 'choice' is almost absent in Coventry. Yet accents alter briskly in this particular part of the Midlands, North Warwickshire (Bedworth & Nuneaton) displays increased East Midlands dialect features. Then again, just to the south, the general Southern English feature of the longer 'a' in words such as "bath" and "path" (becoming "barth" and "parth") starts to occur regardless of class or geodemographic grouping across an east to west band of settlements somewhere between Southam and Banbury, positioning Coventry right at the edge of England's phonetic crossroads.

Coventry accent on television: Dramatic representations on film have been very uneven down the years, ranging from Yorkshire sounding builders visiting the Queen Vic in Eastenders [1987] to Black Country sounding factory workers in the Jeffrey Archer adaptation 'First Among Equals' (1984). The BBC's 2009 documentary The Bombing of Coventry contained useful phonetic data on the 'Coventry Accent' in the form of interviews with Coventrians. A recent performance from the actress Becci Gemmell, playing Coventry character Joyce in the BBC drama Land Girls, also gave a more accurate phonetic representation of the accent.


A minor planet 3009 Coventry discovered by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1973 is named after the city.

2008 bomb scare

The city was bombed many times during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe). Second World War bombs were often abandoned if they fell in areas of little significant importance to the war effort and continue to be found during construction work to this day. Many old bombs have been found to still be viable explosive devices.

On 12 March 2008 an unexploded World War II Luftwaffe bomb was discovered at 12 noon. It was found at the Belgrade Plaza development in Upper Well Street in Coventry's city centre. Police said the device seemed genuine but it was not clear if it was live.

A Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal team was deployed from 33 Engineer Regiment ( Explosive Ordnance Disposal) near Cambridge. A controlled explosion was conducted at approximately 02:40 GMT on the morning of 13 March.

At first areas in close range of the bomb were evacuated (including a school and a hospital), however, as the day progressed larger parts of the city were closed off. Later, a cordon of 500 metres was enforced. The event attracted mass media coverage throughout the West Midlands region. In an ironic coincidence the finding of the bomb led to a performance of "One night in November", a play about The Blitz being cancelled.

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