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25 things you might not know about Coventry

  1. Legend has it that the city was the birthplace of St. George, dragon slayer and patron saint of England.
  2. Britain's car industry was founded by Daimler in a disused Coventry cotton mill in 1896.
  3. William Shakespeare was said to have jilted a Coventry woman on the eve of their wedding to marry Anne Hathaway. 
  4. Coventry has 26 twin towns and cities, including Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), Dresden and Jinan in China.
  5. The first £5 note in a worker's peacetime wage was paid in Coventry during the 1950's.
  6. George Eliot lived and went to school in Coventry.  Life in the city around 1830 was the model for Middlemarch, her most famous novel. 
  7. All modern bicycles are descended from John Kemp Starley's Rover safety cycle, invented in Coventry in 1885.
  8. The great Victorian actress Ellen Terry was born in Coventry and her counterpart a century earlier, Sarah Siddons, was married in the city.
  9. Tencel, the revolutionary fibre now taking the fashion world by storm, was developed at Courtaulds laboratories in Coventry.
  10. In November 1940, Coventry Cathedral was destroyed by a handful of incendiary bombs lodged in its timber roof. There was no water to put the fires out.
  11. The city was the birthplace of jet pioneer Sir Frank Whittle, the poet Philip Larkin and the pop impresario Pete Waterman.
  12. Coventry once had the only unfortified royal palace outside London. The surviving gatehouse is the oldest building in Britain to be used as a register office.
  13. George Orwell wanted to use Coventry as the model for his study of poverty in England during the 1930's. But he found it too prosperous and took The Road To Wigan Pier.
  14. Warwick Arts Centre, the biggest complex of its kind outside London, is in Coventry, at the University of Warwick.
  15. Sir Henry Parkes, five times Premier of New South Wales and the father of modern Australia, was born in Coventry in 1815.
  16. Coventry has two universities (Warwick and Coventry) and three cathedrals - the ruins of St. Mary's, destroyed by Henry VIII, the ruins of St. Michael's, blitzed in November 1940 and Sir Basil Spence's new cathedral, consecrated in 1962 and recently voted Britain's most popular 20th century building.
  17. The expression 'true blue' has Coventry origins and dates from the 14th century, when cloth dyed Coventry blue became very fashionable and expensive.
  18. The first tank, the first traffic indicators for cars and the first dumper truck were built in Coventry. The first motorised funeral was held in the city.
  19. The phrase 'sent to Coventry' originated during the English Civil War, when captured Royalists were imprisoned in the heavily fortified and strongly pro-Parliament city. They were given a hard time by the local people.
  20. Glass painter John Thornton, creator of York Minister's Great East window, the finest single work in stained glass in mediaeval England, was a Coventry man. 
  21. Dick Whittington was member of one of Coventry's mediaeval craft guilds.
  22. The Coventry Carol, from a 16th century Mystery Play, was recently voted the country's seventh most popular carol.
  23. Chuck Berry recorded his number one hit 'My Ding-A-Ling' at a Coventry dance hall.
  24. Coventry was the birthplace of Tom Mann, one of the 'greats' of the trade union movement.
  25. Coventry Transport Museum has the biggest collection of British made cars, motorcycles and bicycles in the world.

 

Communications team

Email: communications@coventry.gov.uk

Tel: 024 7697 8000

Room 73
Council House
Earl Street
Coventry
CV1 5RR

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