Burton’s (1,2 & 3 Broadgate)

Burton's (1,2,3 Broadgate)

Montague Burton's 1930 - 1940

Tailoring for the modern man. 

By the 1930s Montague Burton was a rapidly growing business. The chain store was already established in the city of Coventry. Burton’s pursued a strategy of obtaining prominent corner locations and building an imposing stylish shop to cement its modern brand (read more here)

For Coventry that meant the demolition of the old City Hotel along with 2 and 3 Broadgate.  The store was one of the very few buildings that survived the  World War II bombing. It was put to use as a Savings Kiosk and Services Club. 

The building stood in the way of the 1950s reconstruction and was demolished in the late 1940s. However, fragments of the Burtons building (and the City Arms) may still exist under the modern Broadgate.  

July The historic City Arms Hotel at the junction of Broadgate and Smithford Street has been acquired on a long lease by Messrs Montague Burton Ltd, tailors from the Governors of Bablake school, for the extension of their premises. The new emporium will include not only the site of the City Hotel, but also the firms existing premises at No 2 Broadgate and the confectioner’s shop at No 3 Broadgate. Thus the shop will have an extensive frontage to Broadgate and Smithford street and the proposal should do much towards modernisation of the appearance of the city’s centre. The planning for the rebuilding have been passed by the General Works committee and the demolition of the City Hotel will not be long delayed.


September 23rd Burton’s New Store 1,2 & 3 Broadgate Opens to the Public

March – New Billiards Licence: application billiard tables and bagatelle boards and alike, at 1 to 3, Broadgate Coventry (first floor). 

October – Burton’s Corner, Broadgate Coventry KRAZI GOLF. The finest and most select course – Grand Opening Tomorrow Friday October 24th at PM, Beautiful prizes given weekly 100 Guinea silver cup to be given on New Years Eve. [In the photo above you can see the KRAZI GOLF signs in the 2nd floor window]

March – The Cup Final – The actual autographed ball used in last year’s cup final at Wembley is now on view in the window of Messrs Burtons. 

August – We want Your Support at the Crippled Kiddies’ Sports Meeting Next Saturday, August 15th 1931 at the Rover Sports Ground Coventry. Open flat events at 100, 200, 300 and one mile: 800 Yards Midland Ladies’ Championship (The world’s champion, Miss Gladys Lunn Competing); International Athletes in the Great Inter-City Relay Race; Cycle Racing and Boy’s Events etc. Prizes on View at Burtons Broadgate. Announcements and Music by Amplifier, kindly supplied by Messrs Blackmere, Ford Street 

November – A special Armistice Week appeal is being made by the Coventry District Council of the League of Nations Union by means of an attractive display of dolls in Messrs Burton’s Main premises in Broadgate. The dolls are dressed in national costumes of each constituent nation in membership with the League and the display is backed up with disarmament posters and initiations to join the local branches. This novel scheme of advancing the claims of the League of Nations has attracted a great deal of attention.

June – Catering Cares Abolished – Those who want to organise a whist drive, or dance or hold a wedding breakfast, cannot do better than put their catering out to a firm of specialists and the proprietors of the Venetian Restaurant and Grill Room of 1,2, and 3 Broadgate Coventry (over Messrs Montague Burton Ltd) are able to meet all demands in this direction. They are equally willing to undertake inside or outside catering work. The restaurant is of course a well known place of refreshment in the centre of Coventry.

September – Gaumont Dance Hall – Foxtrot Competition 1st heat Saturday, final Oct 8. Prizes on view Burton’s Tailors Broadgate Mr G Knedrick Judge and demonstrator – SyncoScamps Coventry’s famous band in attendance.

January – Peace Ballot Helpers Wanted – Send your name to the organiser:- Mr G Eames Burton’s Building 1-2-3 Broadgate N.B. Viscount Cecil at the Central Hall, Monday, January 21st at 8pm.

June – The “Venetain” Café – Restaurant Broadgate Coventry (Above Montague Burtons) Entrance Smithford Street On Carnival Day and at all times for the most POPULAR LUNCHEONS TEAS AND SUPPERS Now under New Management

August – Van Crashes into Shop Window! A Coventry post office mail van got out of control shortly before 10 o’clock last night and crashed into one of the plate glass windows of Burton’s tailors in Broadgate. The van had come from Greyfriars Lane and had turned towards Broadgate. When he noticed something wrong the driver apparently switched off his engine and jumped clear before the van mounted the pavement. Although there was a constable o point duty and a large number of pedestrians about no one was injured. The radiator and the windscreen of the van were badly damaged. 

October – Grand Opening Night of the Rialto Casino with the “Five-Star Ball” Ladies’ souvenir gifts and prizes to the value of £150 Now on display at Burtons Broadgate.

October -Fire Outbreak at Coventry Shop – During the early hours of today Coventry fire Brigade were notified by a policeman that there were signs of a fire at Montague Burton’s premise at the corner of Broadgate and Smithford Street. It was found that a quantity of brown paper wooden boxes and sacks had become ignited in the basement probably through their being a near a stove. The firemen were able to confine the outbreak to this part of the premise without any other damage being caused. When the flames had been extinguished the fire men had to wear breathing apparatus to combat the thick smoke.


February – Following the deliberate fire at Owen & Owen just after 9:30pm a second fire was discovered. Just before 11pm the fire Brigade were called to Messrs Montague Burton’s shop on the corner of Broadgate. A fire had been started by placing a packet among a quantity of paper beneath a counter. The firemen gained entrance by breaking a glass panel. As the result of the prompt discoveries of the fires the damage done was extremely slight in every case.

Mr A. G. Whitehead manager of the Broadgate shop of Messrs Montague Burton Ltd provided view of the Coventry dress –

“Some of the Bank clerks in Coventry wear tweeds, whereas in London those holding similar positions would never dream of doing so except, perhaps on their half-day’s holiday. On the whole, I think that Coventry men are well dressed. At one time they used to visit the private tailor and when they bought a suit – very often it was expensive one – they made it last a very long time, sometimes for 10 years. It became stained and spotted, and at the end of its period of usefulness it did no look very attractive. To-day 75 percent of the men in Coventry buy new suits fairly frequently and many of them on an average purchase a new suit twice a year. Although I would not say that people in Coventry are dressed as well as those in London, I do consider that Coventry folk, having regard to the fact that it is an industrial centre are well dressed.”

“Speaking of umbrellas,  the London man always had an umbrella, of course motoring had a lot to do with the disappearance of the umbrella. To the motorist an umbrella is an encumbrance and most people in Coventry use motor cars and buses. In London where people use trains and tubes an umbrella is a necessity. People in Coventry are not very particular about their hats, and many did not wear them at all. I do not think that if a new hat were designed it would have the effect of making more men wear hats”


2:32 pm – IRA bomb explodes in Broadgate. Historic Coventry provides a full account of this tragedy. 


14th November – Burton’s shop was gutted by the bombing, but the structure survived. One of a handful of buildings in Broadgate left standing. 

September 19th Mayor to Open Savings Kiosk – for the convenience of shoppers and other visitors to central Coventry, a kiosk has been set up in Broadgate for the sale of National Savings stamps and certificates.

The Kiosk which has been placed under the cover of Messrs, Montague Burton’s former shop will be formally opened by the Mayor (Alderman J.A. Moseley). Mr S T Peirson (Chairman of the savings committee) presided and among those present was the Bishop of Coventry (Dr Mervyn Haigh). Mr Peirson said the savings in Coventry were very unsatisfactory. There were 1,609 streets in Coventry but so far only one tenth of them had a savings group. Coventry was asked to raise £6,000,000 a year or £500,000 a month. They had done nothing like that. It could not be done without everybody’s help.

The Major in declaring the kiosk open appealed to workers now earning high wages to be thrifty and to save for the lean times that would come in the reconstruction period after the war. They did not want to see people applying for poor law assistance after the war when they had an opportunity now to save for themselves. Coventry citizens should see that there was nothing lacking on their part in winning the war. Alderman J Hold also appealed to the workers to save.

Open daily from 10am to 6pm.

January –During Warship week – There will be shop window displays in the principal local establishments. On the ground floor of Messrs Burton’s war Damaged Premises in Broadgate there will be a display of mines and torpedoes in the charge of a naval rating.

May – Vaults of the former City Hotel uncovered due to bombing.  

September – Services Club to be opened in Broadgate. A service club is to be opened in Coventry under the guidance of the committee of the Mayors good fellowship fund in conjunction with the Mayors of Coventry’s good fellowship club the committee on the first and second floors of premises in the corner of Broadgate and Smithford Street.

It will be staffed by voluntary workers and it is proposed to supply refreshments at a reasonable price and writing accommodation and materials free of cost. It will be run as a place where men of the forces can find every comfort during their stay in the city. Post War Hospitality. “It is appreciated that this effort is very late so far as the war position is concerned, but it is felt that it will be a very considerable time after the war with Germany is over before troops are released from the Services and we feel it is possible a more important matter to continue our effort when other organisations may have stopped Mr H B Jackson honorary organiser of the Mayor’s Good Fellowship fund told the Evening Telegraph – The good fellowship club acts as the official hostesses to both overseas and home forces and it is hoped that the use of the accommodation in Broadgate over Messrs Burton’s premises may give facilities for even greater hospitality than is at present being enjoyed by service people in Coventry.

Large numbers of service men have visited Coventry and through the good work of the club and the generosity of householders many have spent their leave here, returning to these hospitable families when ever possible. “It is considered that Coventry will become a place where all service people will try to visit before leaving for home” said Mr Jackson. An appeal for funds for this work is to be made in the immediate future; meanwhile work in preparing the premises to make them suitable as a services club is being put in hand. 

November – Service Club to be Launched – The sum of £400 has already been subscribed towards the provision of a Services Club at Coventry, and last night a joint meeting of the Mayor’s Good Fellowship fund and Good Fellowship Club Committee decided that they had sufficient funds to enable the work to commence.

The club is to be stablished on the first floor of Burton’s Broadgate premises and the joint committee of these two organisations who are promoting the scheme point out that while the available funds are sufficient to allow of a start being made on the work further substantial help is still required.

Early Start – it was reported that intimation had been received from the Ministry of Works that a licence necessary to permit of the patching up of the property to make it thoroughly weather proof would be favourably considered. Work in that direction is to be put in hand immediately. A sub committee was appointed to deal with the purchase of furniture crockery and cutlery and efforts will be made to have the premise ready for receiving visitors from the services in about a months time. The committee appeal for the gift of loan of chairs, a piano, a radiogram or wireless. A number of comfortable chairs which were purchased by the fund early in the war for the use of Service sites round Coventry are still in use, but there are several in stock that will be available for the Broadgate Premises.

30th December 1944 - Mayor serving Tea at the opening of the Coventry Service Club


December –  Coventry Services Club idea Born in “Devil’s Kitchen” Four years after the conception of the idea following the establishment of the W.V.S’s “Devil’s Kitchen” during the great November air raid on the city, Coventry’s united Services Club situated in the former Broadgate premises of Messrs Burton’s was officially open yesterday afternoon by the Mayor and Mayoress (Alderman and Mrs G. E. Hodgkinson). Mrs Councillor Hyde Chairman of the Mayor’s good fellowship fund and originator of the club scheme presided. She thanked the firms and citizens of Coventry for their contributions to the fund which had made the opening of the club possible and expressed gratitude to Messrs Jackson Wilson and Mason for their work in securing equipping and decorating the premises. She also paid tribute to Mr Pearson of the YMCA for his willing co-operation.

The long delay in opening the club was entirely due to force of circumstances she said. Three premises had been previously quipped only to be requisitioned by the Government. She hoped that the club would not be too late and that it would do good work. She knew of similar clubs inspired in America and Australia by the “Devil’s Kitchen” which showed that our spirit was shared all over the world.

Fostering Fellowship – Declaring the club open the Mayor said that the spirit on which it was founded was forged when the city was under fire in 1940 and 1941 when neighbours deserved the name and the community spirit was general. It was hoped that the club would foster this fellowship and would make Coventry a city to be remembered by members of the forces. The Mayor regretted that members of the American forces were unable to come into the city as the club had intended to cater for all services.

He hoped that as facilities were provided for men in the services so they would be provided for on their return to civilian life. Proposing a vote of thanks to the Mayor Captain W F Strickland MP said the city had made a good choice in electing Mr Hodgkinson for he worked instinctively with the welfare of the city at heart. He (Captain Strickland) was sorry that Americans would be unable to use the club and took the opportunity to pay tribute to hose gallant soldiers who were links in an important partnership. “Nothing” said captain Strickland “is so badly needed in the world to day as good fellowship” Clubs such as these would foster that spirit among nations.

Leisure Hours – Mr H B Jackson stated that public contributions to the fund for the club amounted to £600 in cash and many articles of equipment. The club would not be competing with the YMCA but co-operating wit it. It aimed to provide means for the Forces to spend their leisure hours and was not for the provision of meals. Tribute was paid to Messrs Burton’s who had let the premises at the “peppercorn rate” of one penny per week. The county Army Welfare Officer Colonel J A Mellor said the fact that service men and women did not want meals only but a place to be able to relax to spend leisure hours with companions and to be able to write home. He hoped that soon a second room would be opened. The club which at present occupies the top floor of the building is furnished with chairs and armchairs has concealed lighting and a buffet. There is room for dancing and writing materials are available. It is hoped that the second floor will soon be equipped and ready for use.

January  – Services Club Fully Justified – Although it has been open just over a week it is being very clearly demonstrated that Coventry United Services Club in Broadgate fulfils a great need.

Provided through the Mayors Good Fellowship fund – it is open daily from 2pm to 10 pm and the staff of voluntary workers operate on a rota. Troops passing through Coventry from overseas are among those who use the club, which is providing particularly popular with service men and women who are stationed in the part of the country and spend some of their free time in Coventry. The club is occupying Burtons former premises and it is desired to open another floor as a games room. This will cost from £200 to £300. The club is therefore desirous of railing further funds on that account. To date between £600 and £700 has been subscribed to meet the cost of starting the club and adapting the premises.

April – Negotiations go on to buy out Burtons for the redevelopment of Broadgate. Burtons want a corner site with Smithford Street after the redevelopment is completed – not realising that Smithford Street will disappear.

Delays in acquiring the building and neighbouring Wilsons shop means the central Godiva round about garden will be delayed. An exchange of flowers from the Dutch National Committee  will now have to take place on Greyfriars Green.

15th April 1947 – Burtons shop handed over to the council. Willsons have yet to be be handed over.

January – Broadgate Scheme Progress – Smithford Street was closed at 11am this morning to vehicular traffic in order to permit the demolition of the remaining block of buildings at the Broadgate End of the street. This task will be finished it is expected by the middle of February. It will then represent a substantial  step forward towards the completion of the big Broadgate Traffic Island which is an essential feature of the city’s central redevelopment plan. The passage of pedestrians up and down Smithford street will not be interfered with. Motor vehicles will be allowed to proceed as far as a turning circle just above the White Lion Hotel. Heavy vehicles such as are often seen in Smithford Street with goods for delivery at shop sand businesses will be additionally permitted to turn into Vicar Lane in order to facilities backing.

Burtons Building Demolition – A demolition gang has entered Burtons premises outside which scaffolding has been erected. The job will be  a heavy one for it will mean the removal of concrete floors and steel girders and as well as some substantial blocks of stone.

Wilsons premises adjoining Burtons block will be vacated next week-end and will be ready for the demolition men to start work. The Savings centre on the other side of Smithford street has been fetched down and Weaver to Wearers shop nearby is half demolished. Under the road near this point have been found the remains of an old wall constructed of massive block of stone. There were no fragments of pottery at hand to help in the determination of its age and it has been covered up again


The junction of Smithford Street & Broadgate had been a cornerstone of the city’s layout for hundreds of years. On the 5th January 1948 at 11am Smithford Street was closed traffic for ever more. The old entrance to Smithford Street was scrubbed out to make way for Broadgate House. The new upper precinct that forms the western route through the city centre was built approximately 20m to the north.   


March – 6,000 Gallons underwater tank to meet water needs. The problem of proving dry weather water supplies for the flowering shrubs in the Broadgate garden island has been solved by constructing an underground water tank in the basement of the Burton premises at the top of Smithford Street. It is to be filled with water draining off the roofs of the temporary shops opposite. This will be directed into a pipe passing underneath Broadgate through a culvert. Is that the reason for the missing tree in modern day Broadgate??