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Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers

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NeilsYard
Coventry
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46 of 58  Tue 5th Nov 2019 2:57pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2665

Yes Prof I can see that on a 1937 map by Palace Yard opposite St Mary St but who owned the land where the Tech College Sports grounds were and the pavilion? Looking at images of that by the bridge it was a large building. Edited by member, 5th Nov 2019 2:57 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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47 of 58  Tue 5th Nov 2019 4:06pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:218

The 'sports' pavilion pre-dates WWI as it was used for changing rooms for cross country races and receptions for the various regiments which were billeted in Coventry before being sent to the front. Presumably it was built by the council when the Coventry Cricket Club Company [sometimes referred to as the Coventry Cricket Ground Company] folded in the mid 1880s and the facilities were bought by the council and leased to the Rover Cycle Company on a long lease - the CCCC may also have leased the land if it was in Council ownership already. The company (the CCCC) had built the cycle track in response to the Midland Cycle and Athletic Company which had operated the first cinder banked cycle track in Earlsdon in late 1878 and made a good few bob staging cycle meetings [with a very occasional running race on the grass inside the cinder path]. When the lease ran out about 1932, the Council took charge again and improved the facilities which the Rover had let deteriorate. I have some photos of the council laying the first tarmac surface at this time. The large stand on the home straight was multi purpose eventually replacing the stand on the left in a recent NeilsYard photograph of the start of a cycle race, the 'home' straight for the cyclists was also switched at the same time. A representative rugby match was the first event staged at the newly opened facility in 1880, the stand was built soon afterwards along with the slightly banked cinder cycle path. The Butts opened in April 1881. The stand also provided shelter for the cricket officials (scorers etc) [it was by the Cricket Company in charge]. In those days the stand had windows (seen in the aerial shot at the back of the stand) which overlooked the cricket square which was relocated nearer the rail line (as in the photo) when the Technical College was proposed, releasing a chunk of land for building. I featured the pavilion in 2012 (27th Nov post 21/25 when British Restaurants => Civic Restaurants post 1946 were discussed). Godiva Harriers used the building in the interwar years for changing / refreshments when sports meetings were held on the grass track. Post WWII, the club used the facilities for the Annual Club Dinner and Prize Presentation, so presumably the cooking kitchen was functioning efficiently to cater for over a hundred guests. Documents suggest we hired it from the Council at the time of WWI. As a substantial building its use must have been for other uses than just cricket? Much confusion surrounds the dates of the 'Butts' opening, local historians quoting different months and years, the confusion arising because of determining what each historian refers to as the Butts. The first rugby ground? the stand? the cycle track? the running track? the whole green area fronting Albany Road, with the Bullfield and the Earlsdon track thrown into the melting pot for good measure.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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48 of 58  Wed 6th Nov 2019 9:14am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2665

Brilliant information, Harrier - thanks. That Sports pavilion amazes me as it was so big! Wonder why it never lasted as it looked a wonderful building to leave neglected - maybe its size was the reason why. If OK I'll pass that information on to the True Coventrian FB page as a friend asked me about it - I will credit you of course. Think I mentioned before, I remember what remained of the stand on the cycling home straight from the early 80's as my brother-in-law at the time raced there frequently. It was mainly wooden in construction - would probably not meet any modern safety requirements as I recall looking through the wooden slatted steps underneath and there was always a collection of rubbish and fag-ends piled up! I have added this before to the Coventry Music / 2-Tone threads but there is a great site recording the Coventry Music scene, called thisisthen hosted by Mark Osborne (so credit to him). His section in there from The Specials shows a selection of images from the Rock against Racism gig at The Butts in June 1981. I rode in to it unchallenged for 10 minutes before I got bored as my grandparents lived in Newcombe Road. Anyway thought you might like this one Harrier if not seen already - Edited by member, 6th Nov 2019 9:21 am
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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49 of 58  Tue 10th Dec 2019 10:04am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2665

Harrier - just came across these two from the Stilltime Collection. I'm not totally sure on the issue of copyright with that site, so adding the links here. Interesting to see the topshops on Butts in the background here. I have seen this one before (in case you hadn’t). Edited by member, 10th Dec 2019 10:05 am
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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50 of 58  Tue 10th Dec 2019 11:13am  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:218

Thanks for those NeilsYard. In fact I have about half a dozen original photographs of this activity. The resurfacing was taking place following complaints from top riders that the track was unsuitable and in places actually dangerous. With a threatened boycott of good national and international riders, action was taken because the income from several thousand spectators from upwards of several meetings per season could not be dismissed lightly. The 'stadium' on the right is where the original grandstand was built when the Butts was constructed with the start line for the cycle races in front. Note there is no running track, athletics being a poor second best to cycling. For athletics races a temporary track was marked out on the grass, but of course, only measured 360 yards which was unacceptable for championship racing. The cycle path was 440 yards, the standard distance for a track - both cycling and athletics. The part of the stand nearest the camera, is where the entrance to the tunnel under the track was built (see my previous posting)
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Prof
Gloucester
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51 of 58  Tue 16th Jun 2020 10:59am  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:1426

Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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52 of 58  Tue 16th Jun 2020 1:59pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:218

I suppose the view was from the early '20s'? No technical college yet. The substantial building on the corner near the front was used as a British Restaurant. Any one got any ideas as to why such a substantial building was built there, when and for what function? The white stand next to the track had rear windows which was used by the cricket scorers and the athletes and rugby players had the track changing rooms just off picture to the left so that seems to rule out those three sports - the bowling green also had its own little hut and the tennis came later. I am assuming the building was sports related.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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53 of 58  Tue 16th Jun 2020 3:01pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1751

Looking through the newspapers the British Restaurant was in Butts Pavilion. It must have been quite a large building as dances were held there. Looking at the old maps the building is not there in 1912 but appears on 1923 maps. It is then called Rover Club House and the cycle track is shown as a football ground. An article in 1919 says the Rover Company had acquired the land 1914. In the 1930's they were known as the Rover Recreation Rooms, Albany Road Edited by member, 16th Jun 2020 3:41 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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54 of 58  Tue 30th Jun 2020 11:23am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2665

Hi Colin Wave My friend Dean Nelson passed this one on - could've gone in a Carnival thread but thought you might be interested. 70's possibly? Dean has already shown Dave Moorcroft so you may have already seen it yourself but interesting nonetheless. Edited by member, 30th Jun 2020 11:23 am
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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55 of 58  Tue 30th Jun 2020 11:58am  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:218

Interesting! I wonder what the theme of the procession was that year - if there was a theme? That might help determine the year. Obviously a castle on the back of the lorry but I cannot make out any characters. Is it possible to sharpen the two adults to try to identify them? Or the two sat on the back of the lorry, one in a club vest perhaps? Can you tell what company the lorry belongs to? I have a few carnival shots from the 1920's when taking part was part of the Godiva social life. I have some from about 20 years ago when we started the parade outside the cathedral - will look them out. For many years the Council had a sports track marked out for races on the field to the left of the Earlsdon Avenue gate. I wonder if the two girls (ginger) who are walking could be sisters? I think (will check this too) the sports competition began in the evening after the procession had entered the Memorial Park and dispersed. My wife probably ran so she doesn't get any house keeping money this week until she remembers! Edited by member, 30th Jun 2020 12:01 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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56 of 58  Tue 30th Jun 2020 12:30pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1751

A good chance could be 1972, the theme was Fairy Tales and the newspaper has an article about a little girl wearing a costume as a serving girl to Old King Cole on the Godiva Harriers Float that her mother had worn as carnival queen 12 years before. 1970’s theme was “Fiesta”.
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
NeilsYard
Coventry
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57 of 58  Wed 1st Jul 2020 2:26pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2665

Colin. PM me your email and I will send you the full-size photo. Cheers
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers
Harrier
Coventry
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58 of 58  Mon 6th Jul 2020 6:39pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2012  Total posts:218

On 30th Jun 2020 12:30pm, Annewiggy said: A good chance could be 1972, the theme was Fairy Tales and the newspaper has an article about a little girl wearing a costume as a serving girl to Old King Cole on the Godiva Harriers Float that her mother had worn as carnival queen 12 years before.
Spot on Anne... go to the top of the class and give the pens out! The lorry was loaned by Chrysler, the workers constructing the scenery. Godiva had an important young athletes match that day but we still managed to have 50 helpers on the day. Reg Payne who supervised and coached the youngsters was the 'boss' in charge, his wife, Sheila, supplying squash to the 40 tin collectors - both standing at the back of the castle. Don Faulconbridge was Old King Cole, and Don being Don, kept the kids supplied with sweets and apples all afternoon. His costume was supplied by the local vicar and Coventry Theatre their beard glue causing Don a more than a little pain on removal! I do have a list of the participants on the float if that would be of interest. Edited by member, 6th Jul 2020 6:53 pm
Butts Stadium and Godiva Harriers

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