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Burton's in Blitzed Broadgate

Camera No. 74

It's January 1942 and everyday life for the people of Coventry is not being interrupted quite so often by the raiders from above. The following month King George VI with Queen Mary will visit the city to view plans for the future, and in six month's time the final three fatalities from air-raids will occur. Another month after that (August) will see the last ever bombs dropped on our city. A sense of calm is prevailing while people carry on with their efforts towards eventual victory.

Despite all this hope, however, anyone moving around the city, especially the centre, would be constantly reminded of the price of war wherever they looked. Most would be familiar with what they considered their "modern" Broadgate of the 1930s, which brought them a new, prestigious department store, Owen Owen; two smart looking banks, National Provincial and Lloyds; and a quality tailors, Burton.

Click on the image to bring us forward to 2015. if you wish to see the images separately.

The view you see above was taken from the side of one of those banks, the familiar one with the pillars in front and at the side, now renamed National Westminster. The main view is of Burton's, on the corner of Broadgate and Smithford Street, while in the background (far right of the photo) stands Owen Owen. Together, these buildings were the only ones in Broadgate left standing after the huge raid of the 14th November 1940, although Owen Owen and Burton's were too badly damaged to be retained - the former being demolished in the summer of 1943 - the latter kept until just after the war.

The old Market Tower shouldn't go unnoticed on the left either, which although surviving still upright was swept away along with all the rest so we could have our pedestrianised precinct a decade later. The clock mechanism had already been removed, though, and later fitted into the animated Godiva clock, which stands on the spot where once stood the grand King's Head Hotel on the corner of Smithford and Hertford Street. The shallow pile of rubble visible on the left of this photo represents the place where the corner of that hotel had been.

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