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TIME TUNNEL: Queen of Sheba's camel got the hump; . . . A JOURNEY INTO OUR RICH HERITAGE.

Byline: David McGrory

features always bring a big response from readers, so this week DAVID McGRORY looks through his varied postbag.

READERS of Time Tunnel are constantly sending me memories of the old days and occasionally I need to share them with you all, so here is a selection.

The feature on the 1936 Godiva Procession (June 7) revived many memories, including these from Evelyn Griffin, of Earlsdon Street, who wrote: "In 1936 the theme was Famous Women in History. In those days Coventry wasn't short of factories and all of them presented a tableau representing different scenes. I worked at Renold and Coventry Chain Company, and we decided on the Queen of Sheba, hence the camel mentioned in Time Tunnel.

"One brave girl volunteered to take the lead and had a practice the day before on 'Daisy' the camel. She was borrowed from the film studios at Elstree, as were our costumes, which were beautiful. They consisted of heavily embroidered tunics and satin trousers and yashmaks for us dancing maidens.

"There were colourful costumes for the boys. I was almost 16 and thought it all hilarious, especially when Daisy decided to tread gently between the crowds and attack the leaves along the route by the Grove."

Evelyn continues: "Our Queen of Sheba managed to finish the afternoon and parade on Daisy. It was a wonderful day and the park was packed for the evening's entertainment."

A gentleman and a scholar

WINIFRED WYLEY was taken back more than 70 years after reading the feature on Narrow Lane (July 12) and seeing the photograph of the 1926 old scholars' association.

She wrote: "I well remember the photograph being taken and can name a few. On the first row are Alice Watson, Jenny Frogatt, Ernie Rowe; teachers, Mr Fife, Mr Eades (headmaster), Miss Dodd and, I think, Elsie Porter.

Behind are Hilda Gough, Ruth Pease, Gladys Martin, her brother, I think, Stanley, Violet Lee, Maggie Abbot, Ida Godsell and myself, Winnie Toy (standing behind Miss Dodd in the dark dress). I wonder how many survive?"

Of Mr Eades, Winifred recalls: "He was a very good headmaster and Mr Fife a great teacher (to us girls anyway), although I think he was quite strict with the boys. Miss Dodd I remember as strict too. Alice Watson was my friend, but not long after leaving school she was taken ill and passed away."

EDITORIAL additions of "Foleshill" to captions in the Narrow Lane feature made it seem as if the lane was in Foleshill. However, it lies mostly within the parish bounds of Radford, with only a small length at the top and bottom in Foleshill.

Happy days among the flowers and horses

THE Time Tunnel about local historian J B Shelton (July 5) regarding Little Park Street and Cow Lane brought a response from Mrs Twyneham, of Kenpas Highway, Styvechale, who wanted to reveal the fate of 66 Little Park Street, which had survived the Blitz.

She wrote: "My husband's parents kept the florist and vegetable shop at number 66. His parents lived with his grandparents in the Chantries, but my husband spent most of his time at no 66 helping to make the wreaths and bouquets. My husband inherited no 66 when his grandparents died and signed it over to his mother, who had to sell it to the council as it was part of the land needed for the building of the police station."

GRACE ROBINSON, of Longfellow Road, Stoke, spent her childhood at the George Inn in Little Park Street.

She wrote: "One of my earliest memories is of the farmers coming into the market (probably on Fridays) and stabling their horses at the back. Dad allowed a circus to stable two elephants with us, which was quite a thrill for a six year old. Eventually the stabling gave way to a garage and motor repairers.

"The old register office was right opposite and on Saturdays dad used to welcome some of the guests for drinks, although, of course, no food was available in those days. And I can't remember any ladies coming into the pub, especially not in the bar.

"When I look back I realise what a happy childhood we all had (four of us, but only two alive today) and what wonderful Christmas parties."

MRS ENIS ROGERS, of Queen Isabel's Avenue, Cheylesmore, wrote saying she remembered John Shelton.

"I worked at Bushill's at the time, on the corner of Cow Lane. I can see him so clearly now, he was quite a gentleman. He used to come in the office, as he was a drayman then and had a caravan (his home was destroyed in the Blitz) on the corner of Little Park Street, facing the site of the present police station."

nIN the Time Tunnel (June 21) concerning the Coventry Graphic from 1913, I mentioned a certain George Formby playing at the Hippodrome and asked if he had any connection to the later, celebrated comedian of the same name.

Mr Caine, of Wyver Crescent, Stoke, Coventry, wrote: "The George Formby you mention must be the father of George 'Ukulele' Formby. My father was a professional entertainer and toured the music hall circuit from the 1890s until 1922 with his solo act or his own pantomime productions and revues.

"In these years he appeared regularly in 85 theatres, so it was inevitable that he formed friendships with other performers, one being George Formby senior. As a teenager in the 1930s I remember my father and mother recalling incidents concerning George Formby senior whenever national publicity arose regarding young George's blossoming and successful career."

So it appears that George Formby senior was the father of the comedian, whose real name was George Booth.

IN the ghost feature (June 28) I mentioned a story told to me in the 1980s about a ghost in Whitefriars in the city centre. I remembered it as a man, but it wasn't.

What happened was that someone working in Whitefriars saw in the stairwell a women hanging, it was so clear he could see the buttons on her boots. The witness believed it was real and wanted to call the police, but on returning nothing was there.

The person who witnessed the event refused to enter the building again. The fact that the boots had buttons suggests that the ghost might have belonged to the Victorian or Edwardian period and was no doubt an inmate of the building when it was a workhouse.

nMANY thanks for your letters and wonderful memories and please keep them coming. Also if you have any old photos, postcards, films, paintings, memorabilia, newspapers, old documents, maps, or anything else concerning old Coventry and Warwickshire please write to me, David McGrory, Time Tunnel, Evening Telegraph, Corporation Street, CV1 1FP.

CAPTION(S):

UKULELE: Comedian George Formby, whose father also treaded the boards; CROWD PLEASER: Lady Godiva leads the way in what is believed to be a scene from the 1936 parade; SETTING OFF: An old-style stagecoach outside the George Inn in May, 1914
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 16, 2003
Words:1173
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