Since late 1982 we’ve lived less than thirty miles from Coventry, but we’ve only actually lived in the city for a single academic year. Over the years we’ve shopped there, we’ve eaten there, we’ve been to watch films and enjoy live music, we’ve visited friends and we’ve taken photographs, with the result that it’s a place that is familiar and yet a place that we don’t really know well.
Just recently we’ve been frequenting the Noodle Bar, which for a modest price offers a bowl of noodles as big as your head and so filling that you won’t need to eat again for 24 hours.
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon Between Channels which had a post showing pictures of Coventry city centre in 1968. Paul immediately recognised the spot where the Noodle Bar would stand in 2011.
In the large version of the 1968 image it’s possible to see that the shop on the right of the frame is a photography studio. We assume it also sold cameras, and that it is the same business, Beryl Houghton Cameras, that still operates from those premises in 2011.
And after that, of course, we had to match all the 1968 photographs to 2011 views.
Just to the left of the Noodle Bar there’s a wall that I’ve walked past numerous times without paying attention to the odd, bas-relief decorations.
Very 1960s and obviously ephemeral. But no, here it is in 2011.
And here’s the Timpson’s shop still in the same location (on the right) after more than forty years
Marks and Spencer hasn’t moved and, above street level, hasn’t changed much. Absent statue aside, neither have its surroundings.
This one was harder to place.
The foreground structure is long gone, but we were able to work out that the windows in the background belong to what is now Boots. It may have been Boots back then, but there’s no sign in the 1968 photograph to confirm.
And finally, an unmistakable structure.
It’s easy to spot, here in the future. The changes to the setting don’t look radical in the photographs, but walking through today’s enclosed shopping centre, it doesn’t feel as though it can be the same place that was photographed in 1968.
When we first encountered Coventry in the early 1980s it was a deeply unattractive place. There has been regeneration (though not as comprehensive as in Birmingham city centre): the new Herbert museum and art gallery is a splendid asset, the Transport Museum is well worth a visit (no matter much you think transport isn’t your thing) and there’s stylish public art, so it came as a surprise to see how much the central shopping area has not changed.
words by Elizabeth
photographs by Paul (2011) and CE Fudge (1968)