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Your West Midlands Questions answered

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Media captionAsk us your questions about where you live

All week you have been using Your Questions to tell us what you have always wanted to know about the West Midlands.

You wanted to know why there were so many elephants around Coventry.

You asked if a hill fort in Shropshire had ever been excavated and if the University of Birmingham had once used its coal mines as bomb shelters.

We were asked about the fate of two hospitals in Staffordshire. Here's how we answered your questions.

Frank Grunfield asked: "What are all the elephants doing in Coventry?"

All around the city symbols of elephants can be spotted on crests, windows and pillars.

Coventry's sports centre is even known as The Elephant due to its colour and shape.

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Media captionAll around Coventry symbols of elephants can be spotted on crests, windows and pillars. Why?

Midlands Today reporter Joan Cummins explored some of the city's elephants with local historian Pete Walters.

A project called Walking with Elephants is planned as part of Coventry's bid for City of Culture 2021.


One reader asked: "There is a 'hill fort' to the west of Whitchurch on the border of Wales, known locally as San Pan castle. Has this ever been excavated?"

Historic England says the site, which it calls Pan Castle, is believed to be all that remains of a motte and bailey castle. It has been given Scheduled Ancient Monument status by the government because it is a well preserved example of one of these earthworks, introduced to Britain by the Normans.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pan Castle is believed to have been a motte and bailey castle

The only known excavation of the site was carried out by soldiers in 1916 and Shropshire Council's historic environment manager, Andy Wigley, believes they were troops stationed at the large Prees Heath camp.

The dig uncovered the remains of a bridge, but Historic England believes that "extensive buried remains of structures" probably still survive under the ground, along with "artefacts and organic remains".


Derek Gibson asked: "Are Leek and Cheadle hospitals still due to close?"

Well, earlier this year, health bosses closed two wards containing 47 beds at Cheadle Community Hospital, saying they hoped it would enable more patients to recover at home.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Two wards at Cheadle Hospital have closed

The North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says neither Cheadle Community or Leek Moorlands hospitals themselves are due to close.

At the Leek site, the CCG says there is currently work under way to seek people's views about the number of beds - adding that no closure decision would be taken "without full public consultation".


Zeb Mohammed asked: "Did the University of Birmingham convert its coal mines into a bomb shelter?"

We got in touch with Luke Harrison at the university to do some digging.

He said: "I know there is certainly discussion about provision of air raid shelters, including references in the wonderful diaries of Sir Raymond Priestley, Vice Chancellor and in the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes committee.

"I haven't found any references to the mines being used in the catalogue listings we have so far and I would have expected to see this noted as a point of interest.

"There are about a mile of phoney coalmine snakes beneath campus. It was built in 1905 to give mining students experience of working underground."

Image copyright University of Birmingham
Image caption The University of Birmingham's Aston Webb building was converted into a field hospital in World War One

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