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Coventry blue

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joeturner
Eastern Green, Cov
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1 of 9  Fri 11th Jun 2010 5:59pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2010  Total posts:1

I am a bit of a novice at this, but I am really interested in uncovering more about 'Coventry blue'. I understand that it was a really big part of the Coventry economy at one point, yet neither the Herbert or the Victoria and Albert museum have any idea what it might have looked like, much less own a sample which could be described as being in Coventry blue. It seems likely that it was dyed with indigo made from woad and that the recipe was passed down the generations by word of mouth by the dyers. Anyway, I'd really like to uncover something which is in Coventry blue and/or establish what shade it was (if there was a shade, I'm guessing it was more about a process than the actual colour). Suggestions as to how to proceed welcome!
Coventry blue
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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2 of 9  Tue 22nd Jun 2010 7:51pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:907

I'm afraid I can't shed any further light on this Joe, but like you I'd also like to know more about it. My thinking is much like yours about its process, and I've always liked to think that it was a rich Royal Blue sort of shade - but maybe that's just because I like that colour! I've never heard an actual description of it though, so if anyone out there knows how we can define "Coventry Blue", there are at least two of us that would love to know....
Coventry blue
BrotherJoybert
Coventry
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3 of 9  Wed 23rd Jun 2010 12:21am  
Member: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:120

Joe, do you have any connection to the Spon End Building Preservation Trust? I went to an open day at the Weaver's House earlier in the year and am pretty sure they are trying to do the same thing so might be worth getting in touch with them.
Coventry blue
JohnnieWalker
Canberra, Australia
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4 of 9  Mon 5th Sep 2011 11:20am  
Member: Joined Jul 2011  Total posts:204

Living in Australia (with regular trips back to Cov) for the past 35 years, it's not hard to detect that the phrase "true blue" means a lot to Aussies. They think that it is a genuine Aussie phrase, meaning "genuine", "reliable" and so on. If you don't know how "special" the phrase is to Aussies, just listen to John Williamson singing the song he wrote - "Hey True Blue" - it could be an anthem - link. They haven't a clue that it all began as "true as Coventry blue". I know it relates to the non-fading dye that Coventry weavers used, but why was it so special? I understand it was a vegetable or a mineral dye, as they all were in those days. Was it the result of something in the local water (lots of sandstone around Cov??). Can anyone shed any light on this? It would be great to be able to sound knowledgable around the barbie.
True Blue Coventry Kid

Coventry blue
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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5 of 9  Mon 5th Sep 2011 12:01pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:3853

Hello, I can't at this point do a chemical analysis of the dye used, but I have always understood that the full statement which was 'RUNNING as true as Coventry blue' referred to the colour of the river Sherbourne after the dye waste was emptied into it. Hope that's a start for you. Wave
Coventry blue
dutchman
Spon End
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6 of 9  Mon 5th Sep 2011 1:14pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3082

On 5th Sep 2011 11:20am, JohnnieWalker said: They haven't a clue that it all began as "true as Coventry blue". I know it relates to the non-fading dye that Coventry weavers used, but why was it so special? I understand it was a vegetable or a mineral dye, as they all were in those days. Was it the result of something in the local water (lots of sandstone around Cov??).
My understanding is it was because there were fewer impurities in the dye used in Coventry due to an elaborate and hazardous dyeing process involving prolonged boiling with carbolic acid.
Coventry blue
dougie
from Wigan
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7 of 9  Mon 5th Sep 2011 1:16pm  
Member: Joined Dec 2010  Total posts:239

'True blue' is supposed to derive from the blue cloth that was made at Coventry in the late middle ages. The town's dyers had a reputation for producing material that didn't fade with washing, i.e. it remained 'fast' or 'true'. The phrase 'as true as Coventry blue' originated then and is still used (in Coventry at least). The town's standing was recorded in 1670 by John Ray in the first edition of A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs: "Coventry had formerly the reputation for dying of blues; insomuch that true blue became a Proverb to signifie one that was always the same and like himself."
Coventry blue
rojwhittle
derbyshire
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8 of 9  Mon 5th Sep 2011 1:26pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2011  Total posts:57

I have, I think, read that during the 16th century, Coventry had become famous for the production of blue thread. A kind of protectionist governing body, "The Leet", then tried to set standards for the production of cloth. I think the idea of a 'true blue' came from this time.
Coventry blue
Disorganised1
Coventry
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9 of 9  Sun 18th Aug 2013 1:34pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2012  Total posts:215

The formula for Coventry Blue was a guild secret and passed down by word of mouth from master to apprentice. So successful were they at keeping this secret that today nobody knows how it was made or even what shade it was.
Coventry blue

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