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Prof
Gloucester
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1 of 24  Thu 4th Sep 2014 8:13am  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:325

In one of my early posts re eye tests at Gulson Road Hospital I was then unable to remember the name of the optician in the Drinkwater Arcade (Coventry's original pre-war arcade leading from Smithford St to the Barracks market). I've since remembered Salmon optician if I recall written in gold on the glass door and with a large brass handle. It was at the very end of the arcade from Smithford St on the right or first on the left from the Barracks market. The optician was a kindly man, perhaps specially selected for children. During the war all children seemed to be fitted with tortoiseshell frames with gold or silver wire 'ear-pieces' that took the contour of the ear to avoid the 'specs' being knocked off. After the raids there was no glass 'ceiling' to the arcade and the shops had boarded up windows with a reduced area of glass in the centre so they could display the wares. This is seen plainly in a picture of Hurrell's the pork butcher first shop on the right from Smithford St. Sorry no picture though I expect there is one somewhere on site here.
Drinkwater Arcade
Beesman
Cornwall
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2 of 24  Fri 5th Sep 2014 8:18am  
Member: Joined Mar 2012  Total posts:371

Salmon's Opticians other claim to fame is that A J Salmon (opticians on Ball Hill) was the name taken to be 'the pupil who never was' at King Henry VIII school for several years in the early 70's! Big grin Mods note: The fictitious AJ Salmon can be read about here
Drinkwater Arcade
Primrose
USA
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3 of 24  Fri 5th Sep 2014 10:05pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:192

I am very much enjoying your posts, Prof - I talked to my mother (aged 86) today about Drinkwater Arcade. I knew there had been an arcade prior to City Arcade but that's all. Mum remembered it clearly, including Salmon's the optician. Off the top of her head, she said she thinks it was named after an Alderman Drinkwater. Not sure if this is true or if anything else was named after him - I have never heard of him!
Drinkwater Arcade
TonyS
Coventry
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4 of 24  Sat 6th Sep 2014 8:00am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

Apologies as I may be way out hereā€¦. but is this the "Shambles" arcade?
Drinkwater Arcade
dutchman
Spon End
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5 of 24  Sat 6th Sep 2014 2:04pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3000

No Tony, "Shambles Arcade" was between Hales Street and Palmer Lane and has its own dedicated thread: Shambles Arcade
Drinkwater Arcade
TonyS
Coventry
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6 of 24  Sat 6th Sep 2014 5:17pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

Thanks Dutchman Thumbs up
Drinkwater Arcade
Prof
Gloucester
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Thread starter
7 of 24  Sun 7th Sep 2014 9:38am  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:325

Your mother is quite right. The arcade was named after Alderman Drinkwater (he came from Gloucester I believe) and you can read about him in the book by Kenneth Richardson "Twentieth Century Coventry". An excellent volume covering much of Coventry's more recent history. Edited by member, 7th Sep 2014 2:12 pm
Drinkwater Arcade
Prof
Gloucester
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8 of 24  Sun 7th Sep 2014 2:06pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:325

That's enormously kind of you Primrose. My interest in Local History began at Junior School (Folly Lane) where we were given Levi Fox's book "Coventry's Heritage" to read. I liked it so much my mother bought me a copy which I still have. I was so deadly keen that I took up the 'guided tours' at the back of the book and obliged any visitors we had to go on a tour of old Coventry and would read appropriate sections from the book at each 'station'. No wonder I was nick-named Prof at Tech, but it was mainly because I wore spectacles! Needless to say the adults talked all through my serious reading aloud from the book.
Drinkwater Arcade
Greg
Coventry
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9 of 24  Mon 6th Feb 2017 9:36pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:252

Does anyone know where, in the city centre, A Salmon re-located to when the city centre was redeveloped after the war, please?
Drinkwater Arcade
Blueleader
Coventry
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10 of 24  Mon 6th Feb 2017 10:33pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:39

Salmon's was opposite Woolworths down from the side of British Home Stores, towards Shelton Square. It was there in the sixties when cars were allowed to park in front of the shops. This was before centre point was built.
Ric Osborne

Drinkwater Arcade
Greg
Coventry
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11 of 24  Tue 7th Feb 2017 6:45pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:252

Thank you for that, Blueleader. I saw a picture on Fb and nobody could remember where it was.
Drinkwater Arcade
Prof
Gloucester
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12 of 24  Mon 24th Jul 2017 11:11pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:325

I stated earler that A Salmon, opticians where my first pair of spectacles as a six year old were bought, was in Drinkwater Arcade. Of course it was the City Arcade, Smithford St to the Barracks Market. Drinkwater Arcade was elsewhere pre-war but I don't know where this one was in Coventry centre.
Drinkwater Arcade
Midland Red
Cherwell
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13 of 24  Wed 7th Mar 2018 5:30pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4908

On 7th Sep 2014 9:38am, Prof said: Your mother is quite right. The arcade was named after Alderman Drinkwater (he came from Gloucester I believe) and you can read about him in the book by Kenneth Richardson "Twentieth Century Coventry". An excellent volume covering much of Coventry's more recent history. Edited by member, 7th Sep 2014 2:12 pm
Thanks to Prof for the heads-up, Alfred Henry Drinkwater has now been added to our list of "Famous Coventrians" (Earned Coventrian Status) Thumbs up
Drinkwater Arcade
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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14 of 24  Wed 7th Mar 2018 8:09pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1195

This is part of an article from the Coventry Evening Telegraph 17th March 1939 which describes where Drinkwater Arcade is situated. Hitler's intervention made it unnecessary! EARLY STEPS It is anticipated that the Corporation will expect to have vacant possession of the whole the properties that will be affected by the scheme by the end of June this year, and to be in a position to proceed with the scheme, subject to necessary approval, shortly afterwards. This scheme, which is self-contained, will almost complete the plan for the widening of Smithford Street between the White Lion Hotel and Market Street and the widening of Market Street. Provision for the widening of Smithford Street between the White Lion and the Home Stores is made in an agreement that the Corporation entered into with Cardigan Estates affecting the block of property extending from the White Lion to the Home Stores, which includes the Drinkwater Arcade and the Corn Exchange.
Drinkwater Arcade
Prof
Gloucester
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Thread starter
15 of 24  Wed 7th Mar 2018 9:26pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:325

Great Annewiggy! You have found a reference to the site of the Drinkwater Arcade. I remember the White Lion before demolition, and the completion of the Upper Precinct. I worked as a teenager for a time at John Manners shop on the opposite side from the White Lion which was near the present M & S store, but Manners was further up towards Broadgate. I was not so far out in thinking the Drinkwater was somewhere in the vicinity of the original West Orchard. I wonder are there any photos? Coventry History Centre presumably would have them if they survived.
Drinkwater Arcade

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