Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Coventry 1968

These photographs are taken from 'Colour in Shopping', a portfolio entered for the British Paint Prize in 1968 by one C.E. Fudge. I found this and a 1970 entry in a Sheffield charity shop and they are full of Instamatic photos of British town centres, inadvertantly documenting the fashions, designs and general meander of city life. Nobody notices Fudge as he / she strolls around, snapping the Locarno dancehall and the GPO phone booth / stamp machine kiosk. It's an odd feeling to see these cityscapes, clean and ordinary, and completely stripped of their context. This is just everyday life as it once was, and never will be again. There are quite a few of these, so I'll start off with the first in the book, Coventry.







A dapper gent and his good lady having a rest by the roses in front of Marks and Sparks.



Is this lady wearing a surgical collar? The woman on the far left seems to think so.



A rotunda cafe for ice cream and hot dogs; it could be the Korova Milk Bar. Is any of this still in existence?



The Locarno 'entertainment suite' is situated next to a Police information box. The font is surely more appropriate for a perfume or sunglasses shop?



What I would term as 'futuristic shit' - this is the GPO centre with telephone boxes and stamp machines. Street furniture at its best, although a point is deducted for not having a street map featuring a 'You Are Here' point that lights up when a small metal button is pressed.



A businessman is snapped unawares as he strolls through the dappled sunlight to his Ford Consul in the short stay car park. This picture shows the potential for dinginess in all these new concrete developments.



The Three Tuns' wall looks as if it is alive, or studded with the fossils of rare and unlikely sea anemones. This was probably demolished years ago.





Clean, bright, no empty shops ...

You could actually be there, in that shopping arcade with all those sixties people. Next stop, Birmingham.

17 comments:

  1. The round cafe and Three Tuns wall are still here. The Locarno Tower is gone, sadly.

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  2. Look how nice it looks clean and look at all the greenery bring it back please as its a massive improvement to the hole it has become.

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  3. Fantastic post! There used to be an almost identical 'Three Tuns wall' in the St John's shopping precinct in Liverpool. Now the closest we have is the strangely Mayan front entrance of the catholic cathedral:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/friarsbalsam/4874028601/

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  4. This is a great post. Thanks. Also for the reminder of light up maps. Any seaside town was made all the better, I thought, if there was a light up map where you could press the button marked 'putting green' and see a small bulb light up.

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  5. Thank you for all of your comments - more is coming, although few of the 1968-era city centres look as pleasant and hospitable as Coventry.

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  6. Excellent stuff. Looking forward to seeing Brum.

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  7. Nice pics.
    Coventry precinct was pretty good - I used to go there most weekends for shopping or swimming from the early 70s. I wouldn't say it was a "hole" as such now but obviously it needs some love and affection instead of what it's getting which is piecemeal destruction, strange additions (like the horrible outside escalators) and occasional attempts at plastering over the cracks. IMHO it all went wrong when they built the Cathedral Lanes shoppping centre but that's a rant for another time and place.

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  8. Someone should go and do a 'now and then' comparison. It would be pretty easy as (I think) all these standpoints are still accessible?

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  9. Ned, I think something like that could be in the offing when schedules allow. I think you've hit the nail on the head re city centres needing a bit of love. Every council wants its new flagship development, and bugger what went before.

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  11. http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubpictures/38242/
    The Three Tuns anenome wall in 2008.....

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  12. Excellent post, reminds me in a hazy way of my youth. Jesus urban England in the late 60's was bleak. Would be good to see some more of these kind of shots for southern cities such as Bournemouth or Bristol.

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  13. Dear Between Channels,

    Brought these pics along to a lunch date in Coventry yesterday and took the 2011 equivalents. Hope you don't mind if we use your 1968 versions - with credit & link - in a compare and contrast post.

    Elizabeth

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  14. Hi Elizabeth, I think that would be fantastic, can't wait to see the results.

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  15. Here you go: http://inversionlayer.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/now-and-then/

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  16. A fascinating set. The Three Tuns frontage was listed grade 11 in 2009, although it is no longer a pub.

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  17. Very nostalgic pics indeed! As a 16-year-old (Finnish) schoolgirl I had a chance to spend the summer of -68 in Coventry, working at Courtaulds factory. I got acquainted with the guys of Jigsaw as the keyboard player Clive Scott worked at the same place. Happy memories!

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