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Civic Centre Plans 1939

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Midland Red
Cherwell
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1 of 3  Thu 26th Nov 2015 11:18am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4294

Thought that this article was interesting, including the mention of inner and outer ring roads - in 1939! Oh my Coventry Herald - Saturday 11 March 1939 CIVIC CENTRE IDEALS City Engineer’s Views BUILDING TRADE EMPLOYERS’ DINNER Some important considerations in the planning of a civic centre for Coventry were outlined by the City Engineer (Mr. E. H. Ford) in a speech at the annual dinner of Coventry and District Association of Building Trade Employers in St. Mary’s Hall on Friday last. The main principles were, he said, that though vehicular traffic must pass around and not through the crowded central streets of the shopping and business areas, inner and outer ring roads must be devised. The civic area must be quiet. Civic buildings in their architectural designs and atmosphere must be in harmony with the existing structures to be preserved. There must be ample open spaces for quiet and to add spaciousness to the aspect of the buildings. Ample car park facilities must be provided, and the main approach into the chief council building must be dignified and used to limited degree only. The traditions of the city - its past blended with its future - must be expressed in the type of buildings used for civic purposes. One could not lead up to an architectural climax such as was exemplified in Coventry Cathedral with a modernistic building of dead straight lines designed with no imagination. Chief areas for various purposes, marketing, shopping, banks, amusements, etc., must be defined. A Green Belt Referring to the question of a green belt, Mr. Ford described it as a matter of vital importance to Coventry and the County of Warwickshire generally. Coventry was alive to the necessity for its provision, and the County Surveyor, the Birmingham City Engineer and he had been busy lately investigating the problem providing a green belt around Coventry and Birmingham and in the neighbourhood of those cities. Referring to a point made by a previous speaker, Mr. Ford said a draft incorporating suggested amendments to the building by-laws had been submitted by the Town Planning and Buildings Committee to the Ministry. This had been returned with the Minister’s comments and would shortly be considered by the Committee. He noticed that the Minister was not prepared to agree to many of the proposed amendments to the model by-laws and it was clear that a very strong case would have to be made out for any substantial variation of the model by-laws as printed. “We builders do not relish the necessity of providing catacombs for the living. Is this the best that Western civilisation of the present can devise?” asked Mr. G. B. Gray, senior Vice President of the Association when proposing the toast of “The Guests.” But Mr. Gray went on to say that whatever emergency might come about, the nation would find the building industry ready to play its part to the uttermost. Mr. Gray revealed that members of the Association would shortly be asked to recruit sixty gangs of men, numbering 650 to 700 in all, for demolition work in connection with A.R.P. Replying to the toast, the Mayor said was not his place to enter into controversial arguments, but he would like put before them some of the difficulties which faced municipal legislators. He recapitulated Coventry’s amazing growth and showed how the provision of amenities of which the city would rightly be proud meant great expenditure. “As years roll on, it is going to grow more and more difficult to stabilise the rate if we are to keep Coventry in its rightful place in the forefront of municipal affairs.” Mr. H. I. Garlick, the local President, proposing the toast of the “National and Midland Federation,” said the building industry employed over a million men, and it was important that the relations with operatives were based on fair dealing and mutual respect. In reply, Mr. A. F. Matts, President the Midland Federation, referring to holidays with pay, said the Federation felt it was impossible at the moment further to burden the industry with financial obligations, but they could rest assured that, before 1941, when Government compulsion would be enforced, the Federation would provide its own scheme.
Civic Centre Plans 1939
Roger Turner
Torksey
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2 of 3  Thu 26th Nov 2015 11:52am  
Member: Joined Aug 2014  Total posts:459

"modernistic buildings of dead straight lines designed with no imagination" Anybody care to comment on what actually turned out? Concrete jungle? No "heart"? "Catacombs for the living"????????
Civic Centre Plans 1939
flapdoodle
Coventry
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3 of 3  Thu 26th Nov 2015 1:33pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2010  Total posts:826

Well, Gibson's first plan for Coventry was pre-war. That included a lot of boring buildings arranged in back to front precincts and a ring road. Although the original ring road plan was surface level. Don't think Ford liked that approach as much, as he proposed reconstructing around the city's original street plan by filling in gaps left by the bombing. Gibson's original plan had the area around the cathedral totally destroyed to make way for a civic centre. Edited by member, 26th Nov 2015 1:34 pm
Civic Centre Plans 1939

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