n the two years that I attended Wheatley Street School (1942-44), I disembarked from the number 3 'bus in Cox Street. However, I never bothered to find out what the great dark buildings nearby housed! Except that one was known as "the Bakery".
At lunch time I often crossed the road from the school... Ford Street I think that it was, to the row of shops opposite. A newsagent stocked threepenny and sixpenny packets of stamps. I was unable to spend my pocket money on sweets, as they were rationed, and Mum controlled those in our household. So, stamps it was! I wish that I could say that I began a lifetime hobby, but in all honesty I can't. Without any sort of plan I chose the most attractive of the pictorial ones that caught my eye, irrespective of their country of origin! They are in the family somewhere, forming the basis of someone's collection. My participation these days is to save the stamps from my numerous correspondents from around the globe, and distribute them.
From 1944 to 1949 I caught the Wyken or Walsgrave bus to school from Pool Meadow. The covered bus stops lined the pavement in this area. It was depressingly drab, but we got used to it. Sometimes it was a long wait, at other times buses to both destinations seemingly were determined to depart together!
At Upper IVth level, and above, Stoke Park Grammar School girls got off the 'bus at Ball Hill and walked along Bray's Lane to the old house with its extensions, sited in attractive grounds, which included a deep dell. Later, when I was in the Lower VIth we all joined the Third formers in the new buildings at Dane Road., near to the Forum cinema. This meant a slightly longer ride. An interesting year as there were young workmen and painters liberally sprinkled about the buildings!
You can read more about the old Stoke Park School in the "Articles" section.
Back to Pool Meadow! Over the road was a large waste area where the coaches parked alongside their billboards advertising their destinations. Long distance services halted there, day trips and evening mystery tours started and ended there. It was an exciting site, as I have always enjoyed the travelling as much, if not more than the arrival!
Then the bombed Priory baths with, for me, the memories of my only cousin's debut there as a 4 year old, when her dancing school held its concert in 1937. Dancing was to become her career.
Up the hill to tread Priory Row and admire the row of Georgian houses, red bricked with creamy-white facings, (see the photo on the right) a reminder of a more gracious age. Well more gracious for some! On my visit to Coventry in April 2000 I stood in Bayley Lane and took a photo of these, viewing them from across lawns and through the trees. It went some way to restoring my temper as I had been in a fair miff over not being able to get to see the little cemetery on the monastery site. Years ago in the 1950s I had taken a splendid B&W shot of my father and our boxer, Kedah, there. Crocuses surrounded the few ancient graves in the background. I had wanted to try for a colour shot of the graves and crocuses, as the time was right. Unfortunately, archaeological work was going on before redevelopment continued, and the site was masked behind high fencing.
imilarly Holy Trinity had its spire surrounded by scaffolding and resembled an exotic basilica! The rather lovely lines of its slender spire atop its tower were spoiled... foiled, yet again! Oddly enough I have never been in the church, an ommision I regret, but through the internet I have learnt about its history and treasures, including the restoration of the Doom painting.
Nearby is the row of half-timbered cottages, (below, left) so delighting the eye, which have such a long association with Holy Trinity church; the church of the tenants of the original monastic estate.
As pre teenagers and young teens we visited the cathedral ruins often. You could pay to go up the tower, and quite unlike nowadays, we were allowed up with only a modest caution to "Take care". We didn't need the warning... those steep ancient, worn steps spiralling ever upward engendered respect. At their outer edges they were wide enough but rapidly narrowed... and there was a central gap we could peer down. Help!!!! The light was fitful through the few slit windows in the outer wall, the steps were many and we soon were reduced to stoic breathless, plodding... no energy or breath for fooling, even if we were normally inclined that way. But it was worth it for the panoramic view as we looked over the city. No wonder we returned time and time again.
It was in the 1950s that I used to buy spring flowers for Mum from the plant shop beside the Geisha cafe, in Hertford Street. Fresh bunches of primroses or violets would be on sale. I couldn't resist buying some, as I knew how she loved them. They stocked small baskets too, ones which took a meat-paste jar, nicely, to hold the little bunch or bunches. Many young teachers gathered at the Geisha on Saturday morning to catch up with friends and enjoy the coffee. It was the "in" place at that time!
Thinking about the flowers reminded me that we shopped at haberdashery counters for artificial sprays and corsages to enliven the rather austere "two-piece" suits, (which we called costumes), worn in the 1940s. With rather long fitted jackets and "military" tailoring, they needed all the help that they could get! I remember, with affection, a particularly nice bunch of artificial violets that I sported. But I digress!
Then maybe we'd saunter down towards Greyfriars Green, where one or two specialty shops occupied what were once gracious houses. One popular one stocked "K", Lotus and Delta shoes... at that time the footwear, with its lovely leather and often with stacked wooden heels that I desired and saved up for.
Dad and I used to walk through the Green on our weekend walks to the Memorial Park, with Kedah. There was a lovely vista of the three spires from there; those of Christ Church, Holy Trinity and St. Michael's. For centuries the city was famed as "The City of the Three Spires". Now, high buildings crowd the skyline.
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