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28 October 2014

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Coventry's Spon street through the ages

Spon street flood
Medieval Spon street floods, taken in 1900
Medieval Spon street is just another piece of Coventry city's abundant heritage. But why is it so famous? We take a trip down the history trail.

Palm Sunday procession on Spon street
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Report by Coventry University Student Martin Lander.

A short visit to Spon street inspired my exploration of the area.

A wonderous place
Tucked away on the edge of the Coventry town centre limits is a little street named Spon Street. You may or may not know of this little wonder, but what you may be interested in is the secret history this area is steeped in.

In the thirteenth century this area used to be one end of a road that led from Gosford, right through the centre of the city and led out towards Birmingham.

A gate through time
 Spon gate
Artists rendition of the original Spon Gate
Forming outside the gate was a little area known as Spon, and so after time this became known as the Spon Gate, which stood for 300 years until its demolition in 1771.

Formerly known as the Bablake Gate; it was originally a defensive gate which was the entrance to the inner city.

In this time it tended to be the home of dyers and other such trades that were put out there because of the noxious fumes they produced.

It also gave them good access to the Spon river and for traders moving in and out of town.

Bringing you up to date
Much of the change in the area came about in relatively modern times. The nineteenth century and changes in business meant that Rotherham's the watchmakers set up there, and stayed until quite recently.

It was the introduction of the ring road in the 1960's that caused Spon street to be cut in half. Otherwise it would still run a good mile or so from the St. Johns church on the corner, all the way up to Hearsall lane.
 Spon street jewellers
One of the original Spon Street buildings, that still stands today.
The reason Spon street is so special and implicit to Coventry's infamous heritage is its escape from demolition in the war.

This helped in making it a landmark in Coventry so much so that the last thirty years have seen a project which involves moving all other timber-construction houses from various spots around Coventry (such as Much Park Street) to where they now stand.

This restoration project is something that will secure a future for a street that has seen so many ages come and go.

By giving it a new lease of life, another piece of historic Coventry can be handed down to a new generation.

Take a tour
Take a tour of Spon street today by clicking on the images button below.

Follow the links on the left to find out about the opinions of local traders in Spon street.

images button

Thanks to Peter Barton for his contribution of material and images used in this article.

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