20130502 + 20130503_Coventry War Memorial Park + Top Green
Who : Just me
Where : The War Memorial Park (Kenilworth Road) and the nearby Top Green, (Warwick Road), Earlsdon, Coventry
Parking : On southern end of Davenport Road, just off The Kenilworth Road.
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Explorer Map No. 221, Coventry & Warwick
Map Ref : SP 328,776
If you click on a pic’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
My WordPress blog gives some basic statistics on how many “hits” I’ve had each day, saying which diary posts had been viewed; how many times, and also what search terms were used. Searches based on “Coventry Memorial Park” come up very often, on average over twice a week. Some of the terms searched for in the last year include:-
- Distance around memorial park Coventry … x35
- War memorial park Coventry … x31
- Distance around war memorial park Coventry … x18
- Memorial park Coventry … x15
- Distance around the memorial park Coventry … x6
- And others, all variations on a theme, so I guess you get the gist …..
Therefore, as it had been a while since I’d written anything about The Memorial Park, or even visited Coventry’s premier public park (excluding Coombe Country Park, which is in fact in Warwickshire albeit run by Coventry City Council), I thought I’d spend a couple of lunch times updating my photo’s of the area near to the Memorial Tower. The decision was also with the knowledge that the authorities had recently been spending a wodge of money sprucing the place up; re-tarmacing the pathways, cleaning up the paving around the memorial and similar such stuff and I thought I’d see if it was noticeable how the money had been spent.
I get an hour for lunch, and I work about 10-15 minutes drive away (depending on traffic), so I can get about ½ an hour or maybe 35 minutes comfortably at the park, not long really, which explains why I ended up going 2-days on the trot. I had planned on using the recently resurfaced and extended small car park off The Leamington Road (north-eastern corner of the park) but probably because of the quite nice spring weather, it was choker-block full on both days; So, rather than using the main car-park off The Kenilworth Road or the alternative small parking area on Coat of Arms Bridge Road, I decided to park at the southern end of Davenport Road ( just off The Kenilworth Road) near to the park’s formal area, and to my mind the most interesting part of the park I wanted to visit.
Now, most of the searches I mentioned earlier seem to revolve around how far it is around the perimeter path. This seems to suggest most people searching are walkers or more probably runners/joggers doing circuits of the park, maybe heads down not really seeing anything of the park itself. Well, I can understand that whilst circumventing the large area of sports pitches (pretty much just a big grassy field), there isn’t much to focus on, but the formal area has much more to offer and hopefully this diary can open a few eyes to this area a little.
The formal area includes The War Memorial Tower itself, which really dominates the area helped by the fact that the large area of surrounding trees is laid out with several avenues radiating out like spokes of a wheel giving visita’s up to the tower from many directions.
Picking out some words from a nearby info board :-
The Memorial was inaugurated on 8th October 1927 by Field Marshall Earl Haig. The ceremony was attended by approximately 50,000 people many of them ex-service personnel. The contract for construction of the War Memorial was issued in 1925 and building works were completed including lighting by August 1927. The discs around the memorial show the names of the five soldiers associated with Coventry who were awarded the Victoria Cross. The bronze band around the memorial incorporates the wording of the “Kohima” named after a village in north eastern India in the Nago Hills. This was the point of the furthest Japanese advance into British India during the Second World War. The bronze band also includes the words of the poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon. Both sets of wording are widely used as an important part of Remembrance Services. The final wording on the band is that of Winston Churchill’s famous wartime speech from 20th August 1940, referring to the efforts of the aircrew that were fighting overhead to prevent a possible invasion.
Nearby is a small rose garden with low hedging on a theme of playing card suits and some formal annual flower beds are planted alongside the main approach drive. Also nearby are ; the new children’s play area, skate-board park, bird display house and the old pavilion near the tennis courts which houses a cafe and toilets.
Near the pavilion is a tree carving, depicting a series of poppies, fully in keeping with being in the War Memorial Park (it’s just by the perimeter path if you want to see it). Another info board gives the following text :-
This poppy sculpture has been created out of a damaged Atlantic Cedar tree. In the early 1990s there was a massive amount of snow fall and many of the Atlantic Cedar trees along the main path were damaged. This Damage is still evident today. One of the trees could not cope with the amount of wet snow. The branches snapped under the weight and a healthy tree was totally decimated. As the tree died it seemed appropriate to turn what was left into a piece of art. The chain-saw artist, John Wakefield, who had used his skills to create a monk out of a dead redwood in Coombe Country Park, created the poppy you see today.
Despite this tree now no longer growing, there are many old and really quite superb tall trees still lining the perimeter path here, their spiny needle covered branches framing the view across the bowling greens and beyond the bird-display enclosures to the Memorial Tower. Between the perimeter path here and The Kenilworth Road is a long narrow strip of grass bounded by hedges. This used to be the old children’s play area (I can remember playing there as a child). The area was known as Children’s Corner and included a miniature railway between 1952 and 1980. I’ve always felt quite sad that the railway had disappeared depriving the most recent generations of Coventry’s kids the chance to ride on it, however, the info boards that have recently been placed around the park state that it is in fact the miniature railway now at Ryton Pools Country Park just outside the city boundary, so now I’m not so sad.
The perimeter path drops down gently to the park’s main entrance gates. These are normally kept locked with just foot passage to the sides of the wide iron-work gates. Just outside the park is an attractive area of grass and trees which has an informal display of spring bulbs adding a splash of cheerful colour along-side The Kenilworth Road/Leamington Road/Warwick Road junction.
Crossing over the road leads you on into another area of parkland, known as Top Green. This is a mix of the formal (flower beds and benches) and informal (spring bulbs and trees) and includes some super flowering cherries lining the side of the Warwick Road. It’s a lovely little area and a really attractive approach to a major city centre. From here it’s really only a matter of minutes to reach Coventry’s main railway station on the west coast main line.
Oh, and if you aren’t at-all interested in the blurb above and just wanted to know how far the full perimeter path is around the park; By mapping it out on Walk-Jog-Run, I reckon it’s about 1.66 miles (or 2.7 Km if you like your distances in metric) and this pretty much matches the city council website that says it’s 1.6 miles for the full circle.
So, that’s about it. I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.