diamond geezer

 Monday, April 21, 2008

Sent to: Coventry Canal
Coventry owes much of its industrial prosperity to a few miles of canal linking the town centre to the rest of the Midlands via Hawkesbury Junction. All sorts of famous factories grew up along the banks, most long since vanished beneath a range of new housing developments. The city council have installed a series of now-graffitied artworks along the first 5½ miles of towpath, thereby creating "the longest waterside art gallery in Britian". But quite frankly I'd have gone along for the walk whatever.

» Coventry Canal Basin: The canal begins, or ends, at a Y-shaped basin just outside the ring road. It's been lovingly restored with heritage features, a statue of James Brindley and a few underfrequented shops. And, on Saturday lunchtime, just me and a couple of puffing narrowboats.
Coventry Canal Bridge 1» Bridge number 1: This little brick humpback is the smallest bridge on the canal system. It's deliberately narrow with no towpath for security reasons, allowing the canal's owners to lock up the basin overnight with a single wooden barrier.
» Daimler Power House: Only this one building remains from the Daimler car factory which, in 1897, produced the very first production cars in the UK. Proper history, this.
» Stag party on a boat: That party of drunken louts zigzagging down the canal while waving a pair of underpants on a pole, I do hope they're a regular part of the art trail.
» Courtauld's factory: Another knocked down bit of industrial heritage. In 1905 this plant was the very first in the world to produce man-made fibres - in this case viscose filament yarn. The now-demolished chimney, at 365ft tall, was once the tallest in Britain.
» Ordnance Works: During WW2 this was reputedly the largest workshop in Europe, packed with women making bombs. Is it any wonder the Luftwaffe came to bomb Coventry?
» The Rover Factory: I was hoping to see a little more than a chimney and some undergrowth. Alas, it's not just Coventry's canals that have faded away.
» Some ducks, a few swans, and a couple of boys in hoodies on bikes: I love canals, I really do.


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