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Byline: David McGrory

This week historian DAVID McGRORY opens a battered old suitcase and peeks into Coventry's past. A BATTERED old suitcase has revealed a treasure trove of Coventry's history.

Coventrian Sue Atkins, who until recently lived in Wyken before moving to run a Cornish pub, contacted Time Tunnel to share the contents of a small blue suitcase which belonged to her late father, Ron Rainbow.

Ron, who lived in Fred Lee Grove, Styvechale, was the honorary secretary of Cheylesmore St Michael's Old Boys' Association and in the 1960s, used to compile a quiz for the Coventry Standard.

His old suitcase turned out to be a treasure trove - there were photographs, books, a 1929 Godiva pageant brochure and a letter dated 1964 from the House of Commons from ex-Coventry MP Bill Wilson, regarding the old boys' association.

Also inside were four or five copies of the old Coventry Graphic, many of their front covers plastered with now-brown adhesive tape (NB, never use adhesive tape on old documents you wish to keep).

Most are from the First World War and contain photographic local rolls of honour, pictures of soldiers back from the front and pictures of men killed on the front.

While compiling his Coventry Kids' Quiz, Ron filled up many notebooks with fascinating snippets of local history, such as: "Ann Tatlock died aged 100. The last person to be buried in St Michael's churchyard (by special permission) May 19, 1876."

And: "Bird in Hand, Little Park Street, closed June 29, 1962. Licensee George Taylor was the last member of the public to walk along Cow Lane before it was officially closed."

A number of surviving handwritten pages of one week's Coventry Kids' Quiz questions, contain such items as: "Where was the nearest milestone to Broadgate? It stood at the newsagent's on the corner of Brookville Terrace and said 95 miles to London."

Another is: "When the London Road section of the ring road was made, six pubs were demolished, can you name them? The King's Head, The Cottage, Horse and Jockey, White Hart, White Friar and Salutation."

He adds: "Two ex-pubs, the Woolpack and Pilot, also went."

Ron was interested in football, which is reflected in many of the old photographs, and he notes down some of the city's football history, including the fact that in the 1923-4 season between 12,000 and 13,000 cartloads of soil and sandstone "from our old city wall" was deposited on the Swan Lane bank of the football ground.

This was said to extend the ground's capacity to 40,000 and Ron added: "The view of Coventry from Spion Kop is quite a feature." IF you have any old suitcases like Ron's, write to David McGrory, Time Tunnel, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Corporation Street, Coventry CV1 1FP.


GATHERING: The annual dinner of Cheylesmore St Michael's Old Boys' Association in December, 1965, with Billy Lane, Coventry's world champion angler (centre) looking at the board of old pictures, and Ron Rainbow to the left of him; SOCCER LINE-UPS: Coventry City Football Club, 1912-13, (above) and Deasey Football Club (below) photographed in 1916ROAD DRAMA: The Coventry Graphic of February 4, 1916, showing the remains after a fire struck a motor lorry carrying 1,500 cycle tyres through Allesley
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 24, 2004
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