Historically part of Warwickshire, Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 12th largest in the United Kingdom. It is the second largest city in the West Midlands region, after Birmingham, with a population of 345,385 in 2015.
Coventry is 19 miles (31 km) east-southeast of Birmingham, 24 miles (39 km) southwest of Leicester, 11 miles (18 km) north of Warwick and 95 miles (153 km) northwest of central London.
Coventry Cathedral was built after the destruction of the 14th century cathedral church of Saint Michael by the Luftwaffe in the Coventry Blitz of 14 November 1940. Coventry motor companies have contributed significantly to the British motor industry. The city has two universities, Coventry University in the city centre and the University of Warwick on the southern outskirts.
The Romans founded a settlement in Baginton, next to the River Sowe, and another formed around a Saxon nunnery, founded c. AD 700 by St Osburga, that was later left in ruins by King Canute's invading Danish army in 1016. Earl Leofric 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.
Coventry Castle was a motte and bailey castle in the city. It was built in the early 12th century by Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester. Its first known use was during The Anarchy when Robert Marmion, a supporter of King Stephen, expelled the monks from the adjacent priory of Saint Mary and converted it into a fortress from which he waged a battle against the Earl. Marmion perished in the battle. It was demolished in the late 12th century and St Mary's Guildhall was built on part of the site. It is assumed the name "Broadgate" comes from the area around the castle gates.
By the 14th century, Coventry was 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. The plays that William Shakespeare witnessed in Coventry during his boyhood or 'teens' may have influenced how his plays, such as Hamlet, came about.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Coventry became one of the three main British centres of watch and clock manufacture and ranked alongside Prescot, in Lancashire 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 energised by the invention by James Starley and his nephew John Kemp Starley of the Rover safety bicycle, which was safer and more popular than the pioneering penny-farthing. The company 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 in the city at their Whitley plant and although vehicle assembly ceased at the Browns Lane plant in 2004, Jaguar's head office returned to the city in 2011, and is also sited in Whitley. Jaguar is owned by the Indian company, Tata Motors.
With many of the city's older properties becoming increasingly unfit for habitation, the first council houses were let to their tenants in 1917. With Coventry's industrial base continuing to soar after the end of the Great War a year later, numerous private and council housing developments took place across the city in the 1920s and 1930s. The development of a southern by-pass around the city, starting in the 1930s and being completed in 1940, helped deliver more urban areas to the city on previously rural land.
Coventry suffered severe bomb damage during the Second World War. There was a massive Luftwaffe air raid that the Germans called operation moonlight sonata that was part of 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 industrial plants. More than 800 people were killed, with thousands injured and homeless.
Aside from London, Hull and Plymouth, Coventry suffered more damage than any other British city during the Luftwaffe attacks, with huge firestorms 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 Britain. 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. Several structures were demolished simply to make way for modern developments which saw the city centre's buildings and road infrastructure altered almost beyond recognition by 1970.
Further housing developments in the private and public sector took place after the Second World War, partly to accommodate the growing population of the city and also to replace condemned and bomb damaged properties, including a major prefabricated housing district in south Canley which exists to this day.
In the post-war 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 prefabricated steel spire (flèche) was lowered into place by helicopter.
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 amongst 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. Coventry's pedestrianised Precinct shopping area came into its own and was considered one of the finest retail experiences outside London. In 1965 the new University of Warwick campus was opened to students, and rapidly became one of the country's leading higher-education institutions.
Coventry's large industrial base made it attractive to the wave of Asian and Caribbean immigrants who arrived from Commonwealth colonies after 1948. In 1960, one of Britain's first mosques—and the very first in Coventry—was opened on Eagle Street to serve the city's growing Islamic community. The 1970s, however, saw a decline in the British motor industry and Coventry suffered particularly badly, especially towards the end of that decade. By the early 1980s, Coventry had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and crime rates rose well above the national average. Some 30 years later, Coventry is now considered as one of the UK's safer major cities and has gradually recovered economically with newer industries locating there, although the motor industry continues to decline. By 2008, only one motor manufacturing plant was 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 final assembly in Coventry.
On the sporting scene, Coventry Rugby Football Club was consistently among the nation's leading rugby football sides from the early 20th century, peaking in the 1970s and 1980s with a host of major honours and international players. Association football, on the other hand, was scarcely a claim to fame until 1967, when Coventry City F.C. finally won promotion to the top flight of English football as champions of the Football League Second Division. They would stay among the elite for the next 34 years, reaching their pinnacle with FA Cup glory in 1987—the first and to date only major trophy in the club's history. Their long stay in the top flight of English football ended in relegation in 2001, and in 2012 they were relegated again to the third tier of English football. Highfield Road, to the east of the city centre, was Coventry City's home for 106 years from 1899. They finally departed from the stadium in 2005 on their relocation to the 32,600-seat Ricoh Arena some three miles (4.8 kilometres)to the north of the city centre, in the Rowleys Green district. Since 2000, the city has also been home to one of the most successful Ice Hockey teams in the country, the Coventry Blaze who are four time Elite League champions.
Coventry forms the largest part of the Coventry and Bedworth Urban Area.
The protected West Midlands Green Belt, which surrounds the city on all sides, has prevented the expansion of the city into both the administrative county of Warwickshire and the metropolitan borough of Solihull (the Meriden Gap), and has helped to prevent the coalescence of the city with surrounding towns such as Kenilworth, Nuneaton, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Rugby and Balsall Common.
Panoramic views of Coventry City Centre from the Cathedral Tower
St. Michael's Cathedral is Coventry's best-known landmark and visitor attraction. The 14th century church was largely destroyed by German bombing during the Second World War, leaving only the outer walls and spire. At 300 feet (91 metres) 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 cathedral was featured in the 2009 film Nativity!.
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).
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum is one of the largest cultural institutions in Coventry. Another visitor attraction in the city centre is the free-to-enter Coventry Transport Museum, which has the largest collection of British-made road vehicles in the world. The most notable exhibits are the world speed record-breaking cars, Thrust2 and ThrustSSC The museum received a refurbishment in 2004 which included the creation of a new entrance as part of the city's Phoenix Initiative project. It was a finalist for the 2005 Gulbenkian Prize.
About four miles (6.4 kilometres) from the city centre and just outside Coventry in Baginton is the Lunt Fort, a reconstructed Roman fort on its original site. The Midland Air Museum is situated just within the perimeter of Coventry on land adjacent to Coventry Airport and near Baginton.
Coventry was one of the main centres of watchmaking during the 18th and 19th centuries and as the industry declined, the skilled workers were key to setting up the cycle trade. A group of local enthusiasts founded a museum in Spon Street.
The city's main police station in Little Park Street also hosts a museum of Coventry's police force. The museum, based underground, is split into two sections—one representing the history of the city's police force, and the other compiling some of the more unusual, interesting and grisly cases from the force's history. The museum is funded from charity donations—viewings can be made by appointment.
Coventry City Farm was a small farm in an urban setting. It was mainly to educate city children who might not get out to the countryside very often. The farm closed in 2008 due to funding problems.
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. On 16 December 2007, IKEA's first city centre store in the UK was opened, in Coventry.
The River Sherbourne runs under Coventry's city centre; the river was paved over during the rebuilding after the Second World War and is not commonly known. When the new rebuild of Coventry city centre takes place from 2017 onwards, it is planned that river will be re-opened, and a river walk way will be placed alongside it in parts of the city centre. In April 2012, the pedestrianisation of Broadgate was completed.
Coventry and Stalingrad (now Volgograd) were the world's first 'twin' cities when they established a twinning relationship during the Second World War. 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 the Second World 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:
Coventry Cathedral is notable for being one of the newest cathedrals in the world, having been built following the Second World War 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 on its cathedral, and holds an annual Peace Month. John Lennon and Yoko Ono planted two acorns outside the cathedral in June 1968 to thank the city for making friends with others.
As with the rest of the British Isles and the Midlands, Coventry experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest Met Office weather station is Coundon/Coventry Bablake. Temperature extremes recorded in Coventry range from −18.2 °C (−0.8 °F) in February 1947, to 35.1 °C (95.2 °F) in August 1990. The lowest temperature reading of recent years was −10.8 °C (12.6 °F) during December 2010.
Coventry has two universities; Coventry University is situated on a modern city centre campus while the University of Warwick lies 3 1⁄2 miles (5.6 kilometres) to the south of the city centre, mostly within Coventry and straddling 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 in the Coventry School of Art and Design
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. Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School and Language College specialises in languages. 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 Community Academy, 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 2005–07. 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 Community College.
Coventry has a variety of schools: Two of the oldest secondary schools being President Kennedy School and Community College founded in 1966 and located in the north-west of Coventry (currently undergoing rebuilding work) and Sidney Stringer Academy which is located in the centre of the city. It is a co-educational school and has moved into a larger building costing £28 million.
The Coventry School Foundation comprises the independent schools King Henry VIII School and Bablake School together with King Henry VIII 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". The Westwood Academy joined in 2013 and lessons take place in mixed classes on all three sites.
The Westwood Academy, 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 has links with other educational establishments, 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 are now discussions as to whether to close this school.The poet Philip Larkin was born and brought up in Coventry, where his father was the City Treasurer.
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. It was reopened in 2007 following a period of refurbishment.
Novelist Graham Joyce, winner of the O Henry Award is from Keresley. His World Fantasy Award-winning novel "The Facts Of Life" is set in Coventry during the blitz and in the post-war rebuilding period.
The playwright Alan Pollock was brought up in Coventry. Other playwrights associated with the city include Nick Walker and Chris O'Connell - founder of the city's Theatre Absolute.
During the late-1970s and early 80s, 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 number 1 hit singles between 1979–81, namely "Too Much Too Young" and "Ghost Town".
Coventry has a range of music events including an international jazz programme, the Coventry Jazz Festival, and the Godiva Festival. On the Saturday of the Godiva Festival, a carnival parade 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 The 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. The 2013 ITV comedy-drama Love and Marriage was also set in the city. Coventry is home to three major feature films the Nativity! franchise which are all shot and set in the city. These Christmas films have all reached top box office spots on their release in UK cinemas. Their writer and director the Bafta award-winning Debbie Isitt is resident in the city.
Coventry Godcakes are a regional delicacy, originating from the 14th century and still baked today.
Theatre, art and music venues in Coventry include:Warwick Arts Centre: situated at the University of Warwick, Warwick Arts Centre includes an art gallery, a theatre, a concert hall and a cinema. Warwick Art Centre is the largest art centre in the Midlands, and it is the second largest arts centre in the UK, after London's Barbican.
Albany Theatre: is the city's main community theatre. It is housed at what used to be the Butts Centre of City College Coventry. Known as the Butts or College Theatre, it closed in 2009 with the sale of the college to private developers. The theatre re-opened in 2013 as the Albany Theatre, as part of the Premier Inn hotel on the site of the former Butts Technical College and is run as a charitable trust with support from the Council.
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 the Second World War. 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.
Ricoh Arena: located 3 1⁄2 miles (5.6 kilometres) north of the city centre, the 32,600 capacity Wasps RFC and 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, Lady Gaga, Rod Stewart, Kings of Leon and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was also one of the venues chosen for the footballing events at the 2012 Olympic Games. The adjacent Jaguar Exhibition Hall is a 6,000-seat events venue for hosting a multitude of other acts.
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—known by locals simply as the Memorial Park—which holds various festivals including the Godiva Festival and the Coventry Caribbean Festival, every year.
Butts Park Arena, home of Coventry Rugby Football Club, holds music concerts occasionally.
Kasbah nightclub, Hillfields. It was renamed after refurbishment in 2007, but is sometimes referred to by its previous name, 'Colosseum'. By older Coventrians, it is still remembered as the Orchid Ballroom.
Criterion Theatre, a small theatre, in Earlsdon.
Coombe Country Park, although outside the city boundary, Coventry City Council's only country park.
The local radio stations include:BBC Coventry & Warwickshire: 94.8FM
The New Touch FM 96.2
Free Radio Coventry and Warwickshire (formally known as Mercia Sound and Mercia FM): 97.0FM
Free Radio 80s: 1359am
The Hillz FM: 98.6FM
Radio Plus: 101.5FM
Coventry Hospital Radio serves the patients and visitors of University Hospital Coventry.
RadioPunj, Asian Radio 1521AM
The main local newspapers are:Coventry Telegraph: a paid for newspaper printed Monday to Saturday, owned by Trinity Mirror.
The city is covered on regional TV News by:BBC Midlands Today
ITV News Central
The only professional football team representing the city are Coventry City F.C., formed in 1883 as "Singers F.C.". Nicknamed the Sky Blues, the club competes in Football League Two (fourth tier of English football), but spent 34 years from 1967 to 2001 in the top tier of English football, winning the FA Cup in 1987. They were founder members of the Premier League in 1992. Their stadium is the 32,600 capacity Ricoh Arena, which opened in the Foleshill district of the city in 2005. The 2013–14 season saw the football club begin a ground share with Northampton Town F.C. at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton, which lasted until their return to the Ricoh Arena in September 2014.
Aside from Coventry City F.C. there are several other clubs in the city playing non-league football. Coventry Sphinx, Alvis Sporting Club, Coventry Copsewood and Coventry United all play in the Midland Football League.
Both Coventry University and the University of Warwick compete in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) football competitions. For the 2014–15 season, the Coventry University men's 1st team compete in BUCS Midlands 1a, while the University of Warwick men's 1st team compete in BUCS Midlands 2a. Both institutions' women's 1st teams both play in BUCS Midlands 2a.
At the beginning of the 2014–15 season, there were 13 clubs based in Coventry, playing at various levels of the English rugby union system. However, on 21 December 2014, this rose to 14, when Aviva Premiership club Wasps played their first home game at the Ricoh Arena, completing their relocation to the city. This followed Wasps' purchase of Arena Coventry Limited (the company which runs the Ricoh Arena). The club announced that they will build a new 'state of the art' training complex in the area by 2016.
Coventry Rugby Football Club play in National League 1, the third tier of the English rugby union system. The club enjoyed national success during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with many of its players playing for their countries, notable players include Ivor Preece, Peter Jackson, David Duckham, Fran Cotton and Danny Grewcock. From 1921 to 2004 the club played at Coundon Road Stadium. Their current home ground is the Butts Park Arena, which was opened in 2004.
Broadstreet R.F.C are the only other club to play in a 'National league', currently playing in National Division 2 North.
There are a further 11 clubs playing in the Midland divisions of the English Rugby Union system. As of April 2015, they will include Barkers Butts RFC, Dunlop RFC, Earlsdon RFC, Pinley, Old Coventrians, Coventrians, Coventry Welsh, Stoke Old Boys RFC, Copsewood RFC, Keresley RFC, and Trinity Guild RFC.
Both Coventry University and the University of Warwick compete in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Rugby competitions.
Coventry Bears are the major rugby league team in the city. As of the 2015 season, the Bears will compete in the Kingstone Press League 1, as a fully professional team in the third tier of Rugby League. They play their matches at the Butts Park Arena
In 2002, the Bears 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. In 2015 the Bears entered their reserve team into the Conference League South league, a level below the first team under the name Coventry Bears Reserves playing home games at the Xcel Leisure Centre
Both Coventry University and the University of Warwick compete in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Midlands 1a competition.
The Coventry Bees are based at Brandon Stadium (also known as Coventry Stadium). The stadium is located just outside the city in the village of Brandon, Warwickshire (6 miles (9.7 kilometres) to the east of the city). The stadium has operated both sides of the Second World War. Before the Second World War speedway also operated for a short time at Foleshill Stadium, off Lythalls Lane in the city. Between 1998 and 2000, Coventry Stadium hosted the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain. 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 (currently known as the SGB Premiership). The Bees have been crowned League Champions on 9 occasions (1953, 1968, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1988, 2005, 2007 and 2010).
Amongst the top speedway riders who have represented Coventry teams are Tom Farndon, Jack Parker, Arthur Forrest, Nigel Boocock, Kelvin Tatum, Chris Harris, Emil Sayfutdinov and World Champions Ole Olsen, Hans Nielsen, Greg Hancock, Billy Hamill and Jack Young.
In 2007, the Bees won the domestic speedway treble of Elite League, Knock-out Cup and Craven Shield, while 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.
The Coventry Storm, an offshoot of the senior team, currently compete in the National League.
The Coventry Blaze (currently known as the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze, for sponsorship reasons) are one of the founding team of the Elite Ice Hockey League. They compete in the Erhardt Conference and play their matches at the SkyDome Arena. In 2002–2003, they won the British National League and Playoffs. They have won the Elite League Championship four times (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010). The team has twice won the British Challenge Cup, in 2005 & 2007. The 2004–05 EIHL season saw the club win the Grandslam (namely the Championship, the Challenge Cup and the Playoffs). To date, they remain the only team since the formation of the Elite League to achieve this feat. The club remains the most successful club in the Elite League era. The club also run a successful academy system, developing the young players of Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond.
The NIHL Coventry Blaze, an offshoot of the senior team and official affiliate of the Blaze, currently compete in the National Ice Hockey League.
The Coventry Phoenix are the city's only women's team; currently competing in Division One (North) of the British Women's Leagues. There are also several recreational ice hockey teams (male and female) that play in the city.
The Coventry and Warwick Panthers are members of the British Universities Ice Hockey Association. The 'A' team compete in "Checking 1 South", 'B' in "Non-Checking 1 South" and 'C' in "Non-Checking 2 South".
Coventry Stadium has held BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Cars since 1954, the longest serving track in the UK to race continuously. The first meeting was held on 30 June 1954, the first heat being won by Percy 'Hellcat' Brine, he also won the meeting Final. Up to the end of 2013 the stadium had held 483 BriSCA F1 meetings. It has held the BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Cars World Championship many times since 1960.
The city's current leading cricket club is Coventry and North Warwickshire Cricket Club. Its 1st and 2nd cricket XIs were, as of 2014, in the Birmingham and District Premier League 2nd and 1st Divisions respectively. The cricket teams play their home games at the club's ground in Binley Road, Coventry.
Historically, First class county games were played by Warwickshire at the Courtaulds Ground from 1949 up to 1982. After Courtaulds ground was closed, Warwickshire played several games at Coventry and North Warwickshire Cricket Club at Binley Road.
The Coventry Godiva Harriers, established in 1879 are the leading athletics club in the area. The club has numerous athletes competing for championships both nationally and internationally. Notable members (past and present) include:Basil Heatley; former world record holder for the Marathon and Silver medalist in the 1964 Summer Olympics.
David Moorcroft; Gold medalist in the 1500m at the 1978 Commonwealth Games and in the 5000m at the 1982 Commonwealth Games. He is the former World 5000m record holder and still holds the British 3000m record.
Marlon Devonish; individually in his senior career, he won Gold for the 200m at the 2003 World Indoor Championship and silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. However, he has had great success as a relay runner in the 4 × 100 m, winning Gold medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics, 1998 Commonwealth Games, 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He also won bronze at World and European level at both his distances.
A field hockey club in the city is Coventry & North Warwickshire Hockey Club, which was established in 1895. Based at the Coventry University Sports Ground, the club runs 4 men's and two ladies' sides, as well as a junior section.
The men's first XI currently compete in Midlands Division 1 of the Midland Regional Hockey Association (MHRA), while the ladies' first XI compete in Warwickshire Women's Hockey League Division 1.
Other teams in the city include:Sikh Union: Men's 1st XI - (MHRA West Midlands Premier)
Berkswell & Balsall Common Men's 1st XI - (MHRA East Midlands 1); Women's 1st XI - (Warwickshire Women's Hockey League Division 2)
The University of Warwick field men's teams both in the MHRA and the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) hockey competitions. They compete in MHRA Midlands 2 and in BUCS Midlands 2b. The women's first XI compete in BUCS Midlands 3a. Coventry University men's first XI play in BUCS Midlands 3b, while the women's first XI compete in BUCS Midlands 2a.
In 2005, Coventry became the first city in the UK to host the International Children's Games and 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.
Coventry is well known for the legendary 11th century exploits of Lady Godiva who rode through the city naked on horseback in protest at high taxes being levied on the cityfolk by her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia. The residents of the city were commanded to look away as she rode, but one man did not 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 Cathedral Lanes shopping centre canopy, removed in October 2008. There is also a bust of Peeping Tom looking out across Hertford Street shopping precinct, and overlooking Broadgate and the statue of Godiva 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.
Coventry has been the home to several pioneers in science and engineering. Samuel Courtauld and Co Ltd's director H.G.Tetley chose Foleshill in Coventry in 1904 as the site of the world's first man-made fibre factory which produced an "artificial silk" later known as viscose rayon. In 1987, also in Foleshill, Courtaulds Research produced the world's first solvent-spun cellulose fibres Tencel.
Sir 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, as is Sir John Egan, industrialist and former Chief Executive of Jaguar Cars. Sir 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. Donald Trelford, journalist and academic, was born in Coventry and attended Bablake School. He was editor of The Observer newspaper from 1975 to 1993. Born in Coventry, former King Henry VIII Grammar School pupil Paul Connew became editor of the Sunday Mirror and deputy editor of the Daily Mirror and News of The World – he is now Director of Communications at the children's charity Sparks.
Dame Ellen Terry, one of the greatest Shakespearian actors, was born in Coventry in 1847. Other Coventrians in the arts include the poet Philip Larkin, actors Charles Kay, Billie Whitelaw, Nigel Hawthorne, Brendan Price and Clive Owen, authors Cyril Connolly, Graham Joyce, Lee Child and Mark Barrowcliffe, and playwrights Chris O'Connell and Alan Pollock and The Inbetweeners actress Tamla Kari
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, VJ Paul King, 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 Bolt Thrower, Coventry Automatics, The Primitives, Adorable, Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, King, Jigsaw, The Sorrows, and The Enemy.
Record producer Pete Waterman is from the city and is president of Coventry Bears. Broadcaster Brian Matthew, theatre producer Dominic Madden, comedian and writer Emma Fryer and adult model Debee Ashby are Coventrians, as were comedian Reg Dixon and ventriloquist Dennis Spicer. Former Sky Sports broadcaster Richard Keys is a Coventrian, a product of Whitley Abbey School.
The fashion model Neelam Gill is also from Coventry.
Notable Coventrian in sports include speedway rider Tom Farndon; Davis Cup tennis player Tony Mottram; footballers Kenneth Hegan, Reg Matthews, Bobby Gould, Graham Alexander, Gary McSheffrey and Callum Wilson; cricketers Tom Cartwright and Ian Bell MBE; rugby union players Ivor Preece, Keith Fairbrother, David Duckham MBE, Neil Back MBE, Danny Grewcock MBE, Geoff Evans, Andy Goode, Shane Geraghty and Tom Wood; motor-cyclist Cal Crutchlow; golfer Dame Laura Davies DBE; sprinter Marlon Devonish MBE; distance runners Brian Kilby and David Moorcroft OBE; darts player Steve Beaton; Boxer Errol Christie grew up in Coventry.
Historically Coventry was the most important seat of ribbon-making in the UK. In this industry it competed locally with Norwich and Leicester and internationally with St Etienne in France.
Coventry has been a centre of motor and cycle manufacturing from 1896. Starting with Coventry Motette, The Great Horseless Carriage Company, Swift Motor Company, Humber, Hillman, 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 headquarters in the city (at Whitley) and an Advanced R&D team at the University of Warwick, 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. In later years the company faced competition from foreign machine tool builders and ceased trading in 1983. Other Coventry machine tool manufacturers included A. C. Wickman, and Webster & Bennett. The last Coventry machine tool manufacturer was Matrix Churchill which was forced to close in the wake of the Iraqi Supergun (Project Babylon) scandal.
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.
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:
- Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
- Includes hunting and forestry
- Includes energy and construction
- Includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
Coventry is near the M6, M69, M45 and M40 motorways.
The M45, which is situated a few miles to the south-east of the city, was opened in 1959 as a spur to the original section of the M1 motorway, which linked London with the midlands. This was in effect the first motorway to serve Coventry, as the section of the M6 north of the city did not open until 1971, and the M69 between Coventry and Leicester opened five years after that. The M40 is more than 10 miles (16 kilometres) south of the city centre, south of Warwick, and gives the city's residents an alternate dual carriageway and motorway route to London.
It is served by the A45 and A46 dual carriageways. The A45 originally passed through the centre of the city, but was re-routed in the 1930s on the completion of the Coventry Southern Bypass, with west-bound traffic heading in the direction of Birmingham and east-bound traffic in the direction of Northampton. The A46 was re-routed to the east of the city in 1989 on the completion of the Coventry Eastern Bypass, which directly leads to the M6/M69 interchange. To the south, it gives a direct link to the M40, making use of the existing Warwick and Kenilworth Bypasses.
Coventry has an inner ring road which was completed in the early 1970s and Phoenix Way, a dual-carriageway running north–south completed in 1995, linking the city centre with the M6 motorway.
Coventry railway station is served by the West Coast Main Line, with services provide by Virgin Trains, London Midland and CrossCountry. It has 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 has two suburban railway stations in Canley and in Tile Hill. A new rail station serving the north of city on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line) opened in January 2016.
Bus 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. Coventry has a single Park and Ride service from War Memorial Park served by Stagecoach in Warwickshire.
The nearest major airports are Birmingham International Airport, some 11 miles (18 km) to the west of the city and Coventry Airport in Baginton, located 5 miles (8 km) south of the city centre.
The Coventry Canal terminates near the city centre at Coventry Canal Basin and is navigable for 38 miles (61 km) to Fradley Junction in Staffordshire.
Coventry has an energy from waste incinerator which burns rubbish from both Coventry and Solihull, producing electricity for the National Grid and some hot water that is used locally through the Heatline project. Rubbish is still put into landfill.Many areas of Coventry have kerb-side plastic, metal (tins and cans), and paper recycling. Garden-green rubbish is collected and composted.
Waste materials can be taken to the recycling depot, which is adjacent to the incineration unit.
There are 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.
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 administered by Coventry City Council, controlled since 2010 by the Labour Party, led since May 2016 by George Duggins. The city is divided up into 18 Wards each with three councillors. The chairman of the council is the Lord Mayor, who has a casting vote.
Certain local services are provided by West Midlands wide agencies including the West Midlands Police, the West Midlands Fire Service and Transport for West Midlands (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:Colleen Fletcher – (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.
On Thursday 19 May 2016, Councillor Lindsley Harvard was inaugurated Lord Mayor of Coventry for 2016 - 2017 as Coventry’s 65th Lord Mayor. Councillor Lindsley Harvard has been a Labour Councillor serving on the Council for 14 years, for Earlsdon Ward (1996-2000) and for Longford Ward since 2006. On Thursday 19 May 2016, Councillor Tony Skipper was inaugurated as the Deputy Lord Mayor of Coventry for 2016 - 2017. He has been a Labour councillor since 1995; representing Earlsdon Ward between 1995-2001 and then Radford Ward since 2001.
The Bishop of Coventry is Christopher John Cocksworth, who was consecrated on 3 July 2008.
In May 2016, it was as follows
Coventry has an ethnic minority population which represented 33.4% of the population at the 2011 census. The ethnic minority population is concentrated in the Foleshill and the St. Michael's wards. Islam is the largest non-Christian religion, but the composition of the ethnic minority population is not typical of the UK with significant numbers of other South Asians. Both Sikh and Hindu religions are represented significantly higher than in the rest of the West Midlands in general.66.6% identify as White British, compared to 79.2% in the West Midlands Region and 79.8% in England.
33.4% identify as non-White British, compared to 20.8% in the West Midlands Region and 20.2% in England.
The non-White British population identifies as follows:7.2% as Other White (White Irish, Irish Traveller and White Other, including mostly other Europeans), compared to 3.6% in the West Midlands Region and 5.7% in England.
2.7% identify as Mixed/Multiple-ethnic group, compared to 2.4% in the West Midlands Region and 2.2% in England.
16.3% identify as Asian/Asian British (including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and other South Asian groups), compared to 10.8% in the West Midlands Region and 7.7% in England;.
5.5% identify as Black/Black British (including Black African, Black Caribbean and other black), compared to 3.2% in the West Midlands Region and 3.4% in England.
1.6% identify as Other (including Arab and others), compared to 0.9% in the West Midlands Region and 1.0% in England.
Coventry has a large student population (approximately 15,000 are non-UK) who are in the UK for 12 months or longer that are included in these figures. Figures from the Coventry Inspires Image Group state 'Ethnic Minorities' at 13 per cent.
According to the 2011 Census, 53.7% (170,090) of residents identified themselves as Christian making Christianity the largest followed religion in the city.
Islam was the second most followed religion with 7.5% (23,665) of residents identifying with the religion.
5.0% (15,912) of Coventry's population were Sikh, disproportionately larger than the national average in England of 0.8%.
Hindus made up 3.5% (11,152) of the resident population followed by Buddhists at 0.3% (1,067) and Jews at 0.1% (210) respectively. The adherents of other religions made up 0.5% (1,641) of the city's population.
Almost a quarter of Coventry residents, 23.0% (72,896), identified themselves as having no religion and 6.4% did not declare any religion.
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, close to Watling Street—was a trading and market post between King Alfred's Saxon Mercia and Danelaw England with a consequent merging of dialects.
Phonetically the accent of Coventry is similar to Northern English in that it does not have the trap-bath split, 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. 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 like the nonce words "barth" and "parth" as pronounced in a non-rhotic accent) 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.
Dramatic representations on film have been very uneven down the years, ranging from Yorkshire sounding builders visiting the Queen Vic in EastEnders  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.
The city was bombed many times during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe. These 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 were found to still be viable explosive devices. On 12 March 2008, an unexploded Second World War Luftwaffe bomb was discovered in Coventry's city centre. Police said the device seemed genuine but it was not clear if it was live. A cordon of 500 metres (1,600 feet) was enforced. 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. A Royal Engineers bomb disposal team conducted a controlled explosion early on the morning of 13 March 2008.