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The Coventry you will never know

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Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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1 of 12  Fri 10th Nov 2017 5:39pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

You may think that ordering and having groceries delivered is a new thing but no, back in 1930 the Co-op delivered weekly - during the week you left your order book with what you needed and it was delivered by horse and cart. The whole week's grocery would be tied up in brown paper and string so expertly that it seldom got damaged, even if there were a hundred parcels on top of one another in the cart. When I was a baby I would be taken out of my pram to stroke the horses, everyday there would be a dozen horses or more in the street, all different age, different colour and different type of cart. Some days there might be three different bakers' carts in the street. Only the coalman was different, he had a dray that had a cab - the bags of coal were stacked in rows along the side of the cart. His arm went over his shoulder, he grabbed the handle, pulled the bag on to his back, walked up the yard and dropped it upside down into the shed or cellar. Would wink at me through his dirty face and smile. Before getting into the cab he had to wind it up with a handle at the front for the engine to start - sometimes it would kick back and hit his arm and he would swear. The milkman had churns of milk and several ladles, half-pint, pint or quart - he ladled the amount you needed into your jug. We had a little hand water-pump attached to the side of the house - in summer you placed your face under the nozzle, cranked the handle and drank. Everyone used this in summer, all the deliverymen, friends and mates, often with much splashing and laughter. There was no transport in the village, you had to walk a mile to catch a tram to go into the town. The trams had wooden slatted seats, in winter the seats were often wet and cold from people's coats and our bare legs suffered. The city was so exciting to wander about the shops, the jangling trams through Broadgate - I marvelled at the streets, the shops, the restaurants, the smart women alighting from Hansom cabs, the wining and dining, a burst of music coming through half-open doors, policemen in white helmets, the towering spires, a market with a tall glass roof, a tall tower - it seemed the most fantastic place in the world to a small boy like me.
The Coventry you will never know
Midland Red
Cherwell
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2 of 12  Fri 10th Nov 2017 5:47pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4549

It's a pity you can only give one "thumbs up" to a post like that - thank you, Kaga Cheers Times must have been relatively hard - but with the way things are in the 21st century, how many would like to return to those times? Oh my
The Coventry you will never know
Helen F
Warrington
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3 of 12  Sat 11th Nov 2017 8:25pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:764

Very poetic. My Mum's tales of WW2 were of deep poverty and terrible events but at the same time a lot of laughter and happiness. Having so little she and her Mum enjoyed every little joy as much as they could. I like to think she passed on her way of seeing the world to me.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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4 of 12  Wed 15th Nov 2017 4:43pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

NeilsYard, you seem to know the pre-war Coventry pretty good. If I may make a suggestion, the market area was just that, a market place, the fish market was mainly fish stalls, but there was a sweet stall, newspapers, pots and pans etc, the shops were part shop part stall, small lock up places. Some referred to the market tower, some clock tower, the veg market or arcade - I doubt we knew any difference, you could buy what you wanted from several places, but "hey" Coventry slang. Taters, tuppunce ap-ny a poun, dos eggs luv, tanner to yer, here gamps only a bob, a stick of treacle toffee, a'porth. I loved it. The guy would have spent hours building an apple pyramid, but if he argued with us, we nicked the bottom one, ran out laughing. We took a nail with us, bought a coconut, knocked the nail in and shared the drink, then the nut, remember cracking a nut, slammed it against that tower. This could have been before they built Trinity Street. Oh such happy days.
The Coventry you will never know
Roger Turner
Torksey
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5 of 12  Wed 15th Nov 2017 10:04pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2014  Total posts:475

By "gamps" Kaga I suppose you mean umbrellas. My mother always used to refer to umbrellas as "gamps". I think they came from Sarah Gamp in Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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6 of 12  Thu 16th Nov 2017 1:24pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

Roger. Yes, never called them anything else when I was a kid, have no idea were the word came from. Do you remember the old irons that we heated up on the hob? There was a stall in the market, stretched right back, covered in a light blue cloth, and all different sizes of irons to represent the navy - it looked like a naval battlefield and we kids loved it, each time we visited the irons (ships) had been in different positions. He was a great guy and answered all our questions.
The Coventry you will never know
Roger Turner
Torksey
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7 of 12  Thu 16th Nov 2017 9:46pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2014  Total posts:475

Kaga. Yes I remember the old irons heated on the hob. My mother used them during the war when we were evacuated to an old farmhouse cottage. No electricity or gas or water laid on, but we did have a lovely range, where all sorts of things got heated. Oh, we didn`t have an indoor toilet - it was a brick outhouse about 25 yards away from the house, complete with a wooden seat ; well a wide shelf really with two round holes cut in it, one adult size, one child size - torn up newspaper available for the usual offices. Back to the irons in the market, great story - shows they knew the value of display. Cheers
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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8 of 12  Fri 17th Nov 2017 10:22am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

On the 16th Rob shows a picture of the King visiting the ruined Cathedral. Why so many people to explain the bombing, how many of them had lost loved or their homes? Why no cloth caps? Where were the workmen that were moving the rubble one hour before? How many people did he meet that had lost loved ones or even their homes? How many streets can you see between the Council House and the Cathedral? One reporter said of the Coventry people "hysteria, terror, and neurosis", then goes on to say a 11 year old girl was going to school among the rubble.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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9 of 12  Sat 18th Nov 2017 10:49am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

Coventry is known for Broadgate as its centre, but it wasn't always like that - I was led to believe, the Market Place was the centre at an early age. I have no idea when the Market Tower was built, but it stood high, to be seen from most parts of the city centre, this was a beautiful crafted tower of coloured brickwork that dominated the markets, it had feet or buttresses at the base, probably saved its life during the blitz, and intricate brick designs, and small railings near the top. But at a time when men only had fob watches and seldom wore them to work, and housewives had no timepiece, the tower was known and relied on for its clock. The market stalls mainly were covered by a canopy, but stalls you will not see today, like one that only sold guz-unders, gerries, or pots. The crates stenciled Staffordshire Potteries, or one that only sold Candles and Candle holders. Crates of veg: and fruit from Evesham Vale. nothing graded, or discarded by its shape. You could buy one candle or one apple without any pressure to buy more. There were handcarts, sack barrows, scales with iron weights, and many small drays, pulled by a donkey, a pony etc, but we didn't use those names, they were all 'mokes' to us. Fridays were paydays so Saturdays the place would be swarming with people - at Christmas the place was choc-a-bloc with turkeys, geese, cockerels, etc and from the week before people would be employed to pluck the birds, 'feather pluckers'. Try saying that when you've had a couple of pints, and you have the two Ronnies sketch of fork handles.
The Coventry you will never know
Helen F
Warrington
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10 of 12  Sat 18th Nov 2017 1:18pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:764

I think that Broadgate became synonymous with the centre of town partly because it was the physical centre and partly because there was a market there. The Cross was the symbol of trade as much as community. The market of your era Kaga was relatively new and had started life as the 'women's market'. We could speculate how what was sold there differed from Broadgate. Clothes and vegetables in one and fire wood and hammers in the other? Broadgate itself was a latecomer and the whole triangle of Cross Cheaping to Butcher Row to Ironmonger Row was originally open. The market was initially controlled by the priory and it made sense for it to be at their door. I imagine that the first market would have sold everything from bulls to bodkins. As that area built up you would have seen different markets emerge. Physically and hygienically it couldn't have remained as the sole trading area. From what I can gather there must have been a separation of wholesale and retail either by design or by natural adjustments. So the area between Cook Street and Silver Street seems to have been for pigs herds. The Drapery was probably for bulk cloth transactions. The retail side would have had one area to start (probably Broadgate and Butcher Row) and then expanded. Fixed shops would have slowly replaced temporary stalls but there would always have been a space for small scale and itinerant sellers to offer their wares. As trade (and the smell) grew, some of the markets moved to less salubrious areas. Once the priory went, Butcher Row must have gone down market. The priory grounds themselves were used for keeping animals for slaughter. Eventually the slaughter of all large animals was pushed to the outskirts. New market opportunities would have opened up. Originally brewing and bakery were household jobs but as people were employed in bulk production (eg cappers) there wasn't the time, so some people started doing those things for their neighbours. The first brewers were women. Brewery was essential because the water wasn't safe. The whole country must have been permanently drunk until the advent of tea, although 'small beer' was very much less alcoholic than modern beverages. The small scale entrepreneurs became employees or business owners. So what was sold and where changed over time. Our modern market is the internet where people with just a few items can sell directly to another member of the public. In some ways it's closer to the earliest markets than anything since.
The Coventry you will never know
Greg
Coventry
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11 of 12  Sat 18th Nov 2017 6:56pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:234

Surely, many of the buildings in Broadgate were built from the 1400`s on? Also as I understand it, the Market Clock was built in 1873.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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12 of 12  Sun 19th Nov 2017 10:31am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1811

Yes Helen, I fully agree, but right from a kid I was more interested in my father's and grandfathers' generation - why didn't I ask more questions when I was little, the city and the markets held so much fascination, but I never found books of those days, except for DH Lawrence - he became my favourite author because he lived and wrote about those times. To me Coventry in the 20/30's was like a rabbit warren with its small cobbled streets all tightly together, gave it the excitement. Greg, I would place it about that time to, but during the fifties I could find no books, and no one seemed interested - the tower should have been kept, it may have looked a bit ordinary after the blitz, but it was great craftmanship and such a great part of Coventry culture and heritage, but we all know the Council didn't see it that way.
The Coventry you will never know

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