“Welcome every smiles” – Shakespeare
Coventry enjoys the distinction of being the central city of England; it is equi-distant from sea to sea, except due north. There are three reputed “centres of England,” each being about eight miles away in different direction. But Coventry has more solid claims to world-wide fame than its geographical situation, as closer acquaintance reveals.
We will presume the visitor to our ancient and interesting city has arrived by railway, and having given him a cordial greeting we will engage his attention with a few general remarks, prior to our perambulations.
In one respect Coventry is not to be envied. Although several railways run through the neighbourhood – the Great Western within ten miles, and the Great Central within twelve – this now important city is bound to one: the London and North-Western, plus any advantage that results from its practical amalgamation with the Midland Railway. Its station is on the London to Birmingham line, being 94 miles from the Metropolis and 18 1/2 miles from Birmingham. There are branch lines running to Leamington in one direction and Nuneaton in the other.
On the whole, however, the London and North-Western may be said to afford the utmost facilities which are within the power of any one company. The station is only a short distance from the heart of the city, a little to the east of Warwick Road, and has lately been enlarged and made more convenient.
Leaving the Railway Station and proceeding towards the city, we enter Eaton Road, a modern thoroughfare named after a former M.P. for Coventry, afterwards Lord Cheylesmore, over whose land the road was constructed. There will first be noticed the floral and horticultural establishments of Mr. John Stevens, part of whose nurseries lie to the left. At this point, also, is the terminus of
THE ELECTRIC TRAMWAYS
The lines run from the Railway station through the centre of the city to Foleshill and Bedworth on the north east, and have branches to the districts of Hillfields, Stoke, and the Stoney Stanton Road as far as Bell Green, and other branches to Chapel Fields and Earlsdon via Spon Street. Since 1st January 1912, the whole system has been the property of the Coventry Corporation.
By reason of narrowness of the streets a single track only is used, consequently the service is not wholly satisfactory and sufficient, although the Manager and Tramway Committee deserve credit for making the best use of the plant at their command.
The station for generating electrical energy is on Stoney Stanton Road, whence the whole system receives its supply of electricity. The cars are lighted both inside and outside by electricity.
At the end of Eaton Road we will turn left (passing the conservatories of Messrs. Perkins and Sons on the right), and, proceeding up the Warwick Road a short distance beyond the railway bridge, reach the “Top Green,” a pleasant enclosed promenade, where lawn tennis and other light games may be played. The handsome buildings on the right are those of King Henry VIII School, which was erected in 1885, at a cost of about £21,000, and are constructed of Woodville red brick, with Ancaster stone dressings. The main entrance is in the centre of the building, which at the south end has the head master’s house. The school was founded by John Hales, in the reign to Henry VIII, hence its name, and, until the erection of the present buildings, was conducted in the Old Grammer School, Hales Street, an ancient structure, formerly known as the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, naturally deficient in all the requirements of modern education. In the battlements of the tower surmounting the entrance to the building a shield is bearing the arms of Henry VIII, and under this is another panel carved with the motto of the school.
If we walk up this road for a short distance we come to Stivichall Grove, where there is “a parting of the way” that is to the right leading by extensive common lands and a grand avenue to Kenilworth (five miles), and via Guy’s Cliff to Warwick (ten miles); the road to the left leading through beautiful scenery, by the Parks of Stoneleigh, where is the seat of Lord Leigh, to the Royal Spa of Leamington (eight and a half miles). The drive in either direction is considered to be unsurpassed in England for sylvan beauty.