Coventry being the City of Culture 2021 came as no surprise to us at Newhey. We’ve a great affinity with the city, admire their cultural and industrial history and recently completed a major hotel refurbishment project in its centre. More about that later, but what exactly do you know about Coventry? Where do we start?
Well, there are many different theories, but, legend has it that Coventry was the birthplace of Saint George, dragon slayer and patron saint of England. True or not, what is inarguable is the fact that Coventry’s early fortunes came from making wool and cloth – another reason why we at Newhey carpets have a deep connection.
The 14th century was an incredibly busy and successful era for Coventry and by the 1370s, the wool and textiles industry had made Coventry the fourth wealthiest town in England, after London, York and Norwich.
Coventry Blue. Heard of it? Well, it’s one of the reasons why Coventry City FC play in blue and why blue has a high profile in and around the city. The origin of Coventry Blue harks back to weavers in 14th century Coventry who invented a high quality blue dye, like indigo used for denim, from woad that gave rise to the expression ‘true blue’. Its invention, rarity and popularity meant that cloth dyed Coventry Blue became very fashionable and expensive.
Fast forward a couple of centuries and Flemish weavers began creating the stunning nine metre high Coventry Tapestry – widely recognised as one of the rarest and most important examples of tapestry in the country. Perfectly preserved, it features King Henry VI and his wife Margaret of Anjou and hangs on the walls of St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry.
Over six centuries, Coventry gradually moved its industry into ribbon, gloves, clocks, watches, sewing machines and bicycles. This gave birth to another great industry… the car industry.
Britain’s car industry was founded by the Daimler Motor Company in a disused Coventry cotton mill, The Motor Mills in 1896. The city’s tremendous manufacturing experience in building sewing machines for local textile manufacturing, watchmaking and bicycles made it the natural birthplace of the car industry.
On a tangent, but no less impressive, Coventry has not one but two universities, Warwick and Coventry, and three cathedrals. The ruins of St Mary’s destroyed by Henry VIII, St Michael’s blitzed in WW2 and Basil Spence’s new cathedral which was voted Britain’s most popular 20th century building in a national Millennium poll conducted by English Heritage and Channel Four.
Talking of incredible historic religious buildings, artisan glass painter John Thornton, creator of York Minister’s Great East window (the finest single work in stained glass in mediaeval England), was a Coventry man, too.
Heard of Tencel? It’s a revolutionary fibre that’s now taking the fashion world by storm. No prizes for guessing where it was developed. That’s right, in Coventry at Courtaulds laboratories.
Looking to Coventry’s cultural future, a former Ikea building is all set to be transformed into an arts and culture centre and is scheduled to open as soon as 2023. It’s destined to be one of the largest cultural hubs of its kind in the world. The venue will have 53,904 sq m of floor space and is expected to display around 8,000 works from the Arts Council Collection and more than 8,500 works from The British Council Collection.
We mentioned our involvement in a major hotel refurbishment project in Coventry at the beginning of this article. Well, there’s history behind this, too.
The iconic Telegraph Hotel in Coventry, operated by Bespoke Hotels, was originally the Telegraph building – home to the City’s newspaper for over 50 years. It opened in May 2021 after a 2-year refurbishment costing £18m.
The project’s main contractor Harrabin Construction Ltd, has created a hotel with 88 uniquely-styled guestrooms, a 160-seat convention room, meeting rooms, 110-cover restaurant and two ground floor bars. A panoramic rooftop bar and events space overlooks Belgrade Square below.
The bedrooms and public space interiors have been designed by Oliver Redfern at Squid Inc who Newhey have worked with before, providing custom made carpets for Manchester’s award-winning 5-star, Grade II-listed Hotel Gotham, another Bespoke Hotel.
For the 88 guestrooms, Oliver Redfern selected ‘Atlas’ from our Connect Naturals collection of stock wool-rich hospitality carpets. Textured and sophisticated, the pattern is an inspired geometric design in warm contrasting greys.
Bespoke Colortec carpets were designed for the corridors with inspiration for the design taken from the original chequerboard flooring. Bespoke carpet was also supplied for the function areas for this exciting new hotel in the centre of the City of Culture 2021. In total over 4,300 square metres of our beautiful wool-rich, heavy commercial carpets were expertly fitted by flooring contractor Midlands Flooring Ltd.
Oliver Redfern commented, “Working with Newhey on such a unique project in Coventry was a delight. The stock design Atlas offered the perfect Mid-Century vibe required whilst the bespoke designs brought about a connection to the building that added another layer to the retelling of its past!”
Finally, to retain the history of the building, art studio Print Manufactory based at Coventry’s creative quarter produced a series of bespoke handmade prints of artwork for walls of The Telegraph Hotel. The hand-printed screen-prints are based around original photographs taken within the building which depict its working practices in the 1960s. They perfectly compliment this mid-century inspired boutique hotel.
We hope you’ll join us this year in celebrating this great city and try to experience some of the incredible events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacles in Coventry throughout 2021.