Picture House – Smithford Street

Picture House - Smithford Street

The Picture House, Smithford Street was the place to be to see the latest films from  1911 through to the end of the early 1930s. It kept up to date with the introduction of sound. Sadly due to issues with the lease, it closed its doors in 1932 and was demolished shortly after. 

Special Music and Picture every Sunday evening at 8pm, doors open at 7pm Tel: Coventry 3816

1911

Architect Albert E. King designs an electric theatre for the White Arch Palace Company Limited. Seating 447 in the stalls and 180 on the balcony.

The cinema included special apparatus necessary for the reproduction of Kinemacolour films for which the proprietors have secured the sole rights for the city. The music is provided by a piano and a pianola. Films in Colour – There was a crowded audience at the first performance. The Kinemacolor film exhibited began with views of the Indian continent to the coronation in their camp in Hampton Court and followed with views of the Coronation procession. Performances were continuous each day.

1911 4th August

Our Watchword “Refinement” The Picture House Smithford Street, Coventry. The most magnificently appointed. Place of Entertainment in Coventry. Open Friday, August 4th at 6:30 pm. Continuous exhibition. Open daily from 3 to 10:30. With a superb and up-to-date series of LIFE motion pictures. The directors beg to announce that they have secured the SOLE RIGHTS for Coventry of the Wonderful KINEMACOLOR as now being hosted at The Scala Theatre London. The only existing Stereoscopic life motion pictures in Actual Colours of Nature. “The most amazing entertainment in the annals of the amusement world”. Change of program every Monday and Thursday. Prices of admission 9d 6d 3d. Tea is supplied free of charge to patrons occupying the 9d or 6d seats every afternoon between 4 and 5.30.

Music and Dancing licenses – An application was made by councillor Nichols for a music and dancing license for the white arch picture house in Smithford street. The chief constable said the building was practically satisfactory to the police and the city engineer but both these departments had ordered alterations to the balcony. These were now being carried out and could be satisfactorily completed in a very short time. He did not want to put the applications to the trouble of serving other notices and he suggested that the bench should grant the license which would remain with the clerk until the alterations were completed. There must be certain width between the seats. The license was granted on these terms.

The Picture House Smithford Street, Coventry. Continuous exhibitions daily from 3 to 10.30 pm. The finest black and white animated pictures and the wonderful kinemacolor To night and during the week “Paris The Gay City” “Bathing at Ostend” H.M. The King Inspecting Troops” “Choosing the Wall Paper” admission 9d 6d 3d

Afternoon Teas provided free Sunday next at 8pm special exhibition.

The Picture House showed a wide variety of films of the day, titles included “What Every Woman Fears”, “The Way she won him”, “Her Buckskin Knight”, “Why I would not Marry”, “Wild Woman”, “The Changing Woman”, “Medling Woman”

1912

13th February – The aged inmates of the Coventry Workhouse this afternoon attended an entertainment at the Picture House, Smithford Street. About 120 old men and women responded to the generous invitation extended by the management of the hall. The ordinary programme of the week was shown. The interesting and varied pictures were much enjoyed by the old folks. Refreshments were also provided, each visitor was given a cup of tea and bun, these being dispensed by Mrs Nicholls and the Misses Nicholls. Councillor Nicholls, one of the directors of the hall gave a packet of tea to each woman, while each man was the recipient of a pipe and tobacco.

1920

February – Picture House owners fined: The White Arch Picture Palace Ltd St Mary’s Gate, Derby were summoned for not keeping the gangways of the Picture House Smithford Street clear during a performance on January 12th, 1920. The defendants pleaded guilty. Sergent Gunter said the passage leading to the cheap seats was completely obstructed. The trouble arose due to the absence of the Manager owing to illness and the attendant, who was new to the job (and has since been dismissed). When the manager returned the overcrowding was immediately remedied. There was no excuse for the overcrowding and a fine of £10 was issued. 

It was learned today with regret that the death of Mr. C Lyons, Manager of the Picture House, Smithford Street occurred at 5 o’clock this morning in the Dudley Hospital. His injuries occurred due to the consequences of a motorcycling accident. Mr. Lyons met with the accident when returning to Coventry from Dudley at about 10 pm on Monday evening returning from Dudley on a motorcycle with a sidecar.

Thomas Edwards, Shaw Road Dudley watchman in the employ of the Birmingham and Midland tramway Company, states that while he was on duty in his box on Monday night he saw a man, who proved to be Mr Lyons, driving from the direction of Dudley a motor-cycle to which was attached a side-car containing a lady. He shouted to the cyclist to stop, but he drove between the red lamp and the fire bucket, with the result that he was thrown off the machine, falling into a trench 12ft long and 3ft deep, the road being up for repairs to the tram lines. Mr Lyons was rendered unconscious and the lady passenger also appeared to be injured.  They were both removed to the hospital, but the lady’s injuries proved to be not of a serious nature. 

The inured motorist lay unconscious suffering from very severe injuries to the head and other parts of the body and without regaining consciousness passed away at 5 o’clock this morning as a result of concussion. 

Mrs Lyons, who was quickly in attendance upon her husband, was with him when he passed away. The deceased was 39 years of age. Mr Lyons who had managed the Picture House for some five or six years was particularly popular and well-known in Coventry cinema circles, and was also a most staunch supporter of the City Football Club; he was a very familiar figure at the Highfield Road ground and at any function connected with it. He had had considerable experience as a motorcyclist and was generally considered to be an expert rider. 

In the sidecar Mr Lyons as a passenger a Mrs Kennedy, wife of the Birmingham cinema promotor, with a theatre at Dudley, deceased had promised to take Mrs Kennedy to Birmingham on his way to Coventry. She was thrown from the sidecar and was cut about the face but was fortunately not seriously injured. 

The funeral of Mr Lyons took place on 21st February at 12 am. Survived by his wife and son Master Charles Lyons. 

Around 1925 the lamppost at the top of Smithford Street / Broadgate had signage for the Picture House. This is my bad attempt at modeling it!  

1930

27th August – A complete breakdown of the Coventry Corporation electric power supply shortly after two o’clock this afternoon caused a great deal of inconvenience in all parts of the city. The stoppage lasted for 30 minutes and in every case where factories obtain their supply from the municipal source, there was a complete cessation of work, all machinery being put out of action.

A matinee performance at the Picture House was interrupted when the power failed, the talkie apparatus was immediately put out of commission and the building plunged into darkness. To avoid causing alarm the manager of the theatre informed patrons of the reason for the breakdown and there was perfect order while the long wait followed. The program had only just commenced when the power failed.

1930

30th December – Western Electric sound equipment fitted. The Talkies are here!

For the first time  a talkie with dialogue completely in French will be shown in Coventry next week when “Sous les Toits de Paris” which was wonderfully successful in London will be shown at the picture house. Of this film which deals with a song sellers career one cricitc wrote “Although the dialogue is all in French no one need fear he will not understand what is happening . If the sound apparatus broke down the film would be just as vivid and enthralling. The acting is brilliant – a film which I advise you not to miss” In support of this picture will be “The Immortal Vagabond” a simple story about a young composer who leaves his village sweetheart to sell his opera in Vienna and lose her because her father forces a marriage with the campion cattle breeder of the district. Fame loses its sweetness and he pretends to commit suicide. Years later he returns to find a statue being erected to his glory. The finale of the story must be seen, not told.

1932

August 20th – The Picture House closes for good. Thomas Jackson who had the lease for the Picture House wanted an extension of the lease from Mr Laxon. There appears to be an oral agreement between the two that would be the case. Mr Jackson installed “Talkie Equipment” secure in the knowledge the lease would be extended – but for some reason, the agreement fell apart and ended up in the courts. The sound equipment was sent to Mr. Jackson’s other cinema – Cinema de Luxe Walsall. The building was later sold and demolished for a Dolics Shoe Shop (The first shop in Coventry to have Neon Lights!) 

Action at Birmingham Assizes – Claim for possession of Smithford Street Picture House – Dispute Concerning Oral Agreement – At Birmingham Assizes, today an action for possession of the Picture House, Smithford Street, Coventry was heard by the Commissioner (Mr T Hollis Walker k.C). The plaintiffs were Ernest Arthur Laxon and three other (formerly of Coventry) and the defendant was Thomas Jackson who held a lease of the premises and who counter claimed for specific performance of a verbal agreement for the extension of the lease. Plaintiffs were suing as trustees of the preemies which were part of the estate o the late Arthur Samuel Laxon. The action related to the termination of a disputed extension of the lease, arrears of rent also being claimed up to the date of the action. As an alternative to specific performance of an oral agreement to grant him a new lease for fourteen years from February 11th 1932 at £550 a year, defendant counter claimed damages suffered through breach of Warranty. “Talkie” Conversation – Mr J F Eales, K.C. for the plaintiffs said that the onus of proof of the alleged agreement for the extension of the lease rested with the defendant. Mr H H Joy K.C. for Mr Jackson therefore opened the case and said that towards the end of 1929 his client desired to convert the Picture House into a talkie theatre. Accordingly he communicated with Mr Laxon respecting an extension of the tenancy when the lease expired in February of this year. Mr Laxon replied that the position was somewhat delicate as his mother was not expected to live much longer, and he preferred to let the matter stand over for six months. Later Mr Jackson intimated that he could not embark o n the installation of a sound system unless he had something definite to go upon regarding the continuation of the lease. “A gentleman’s Agreement” Mr Laxon replied that he preferred to consider an extension rather than the sale of the house and the upshot was that it was provisionally agreed that  fourteen years lease be arranged with an option of purchase. Counsel described this as a gentleman’s agreement and Mr Jackson accordingly went ahead with negation with the Western Electric company for equipping the house with a sound system. Mrs Laxon died in May 1930 and there were further communications with Mr Laxon but these failed to elicit any reply and apparently other interests were being voiced. However, the following August the pair met when there was a decision that the lease should be extend as desired and that there be an increased rental of £500 with an option to purchase at £10,250. After the interview, the two men had a friendly drink together and counsel submitted that that showed that the deal was definitely fixed. However, afterwards under the will of Mrs Laxon plaintiffs were not willing that the premises should be dealt with in the way suggested. Meanwhile , Mr Jackson had been involved in an expenditure of £2,600 and also became liable for another expenditure of £3,000 in connection with the sound installation. If the extension was not now confirmed his client would lose that money.

Picture House Lease – Sequel to Coventry Dispute – Court Allows Appeal Against Judgement. The court of appeal consisting of the master of the Rolls and Lords Justices Slesser and Romer today continued the hearing of the appeal by Mr Ernest Arthur Laxon auctioneer of Coventry against the verdict of the special jury and judgement of Mr Commissioner T Hollis Walker in an action heard at Birmingham Assizes relating to the Picture House, Smithford Street, Coventry. The action was brought against Mr Thomas Jackson lessee of the premises to obtain possession and Mr Jackson counterclaimed for specific performance of an alleged agreement for a new lease or alternative damages. The jury found that Mr Laxon was not authorised to make the agreement and awarded Mr Jackson £750 damages. Mr Laxon appealed on the grounds of no evidence to support the verdict and misdirection. The Appeal Allowed – The court allowed the appeal and the Master of the Rolls, in his judgement said the court was quite clear that the trial in the court below was unsatisfactory. The summing up unfortunately did not direct the jury right on some vital matters. The action was fought on the counterclaim, and Mr Jackson claimed that a definite agreement was made to grant him a new lease, but the terms and rent were left open, and at no time was it agreed when it should commence. It appeared to him looking at the correspondence quite impossible to contend that an agreement was ever made. The correspondence seemed to defeat the contention. Away, therefore went the whole matter of the agreement and the claim for specific performance and all that was left was the claim for damages. No question was put to the jury. “Did Mr Jackson do what he did in adapting the theatre for sound apparatus relying on any representation of Mr Laxon?” and his lordship could not understand how the £750 damages were arrived at. No evidence of misrepresentation. He could see no evidence of misrepresentation by Mr Laxon. The trial was on wrong lines, but it would not be right to order a new trail. The appeal would be allowed and the judgement entered for Mr Laxon on the counter claim. The Lords Justice concurred.

Picture House – Smithford Street

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer

M&S came to Coventry in 1929. The ancient buildings of 12,13 & 13a Smithford Street were demolished. The chapel at the rear on Vicar Lane was incorporated into the new store.

The Corporation was developing plans to widen the street – so the new store had a ‘false front’ that could be removed in the future. Shoplifting was a common occurrence. In 1940 like most of the city the store was destroyed.

1929

Councillor Grindlay asked

“Who are Marks and Spencer and what is the nature of their business?”

(This was met with laughter at the meeting).

Alderman Batchelor replied

“Similar to Woolworths, but they don’t restrict themselves to sixpenny articles.”

The plan – temporary and permanent building erected on the site of No 12, 13, and 13a Smithford Street by Marks and Spencer Ltd (approved by the general Works Committee).

Vicar Lane corner will be splayed off so as to facilitate vehicular traffic between Smithford Street and the Lane. Mark’s and Spencer will be allowed to build a ‘temporary’ frontage on Smithford Street paying rent to the Corporation on lands for at least 10 years. Later the land will be used for street widening. Designed by Mr A. E. Blatzer of London at a cost of £300,000 to £400,000. The cost is expected between

12, 13 and 13a Smithford Street currently occupied by Hat manufacturing Company Ltd, J T Moy and Son Ltd and Broadway Tailors.

In 1927 a notice of dilapidation was served on Moy.

During the demolition of the final wall of the building immediately behind the premises of Messrs Marks and Spencer was commenced a hidden room was found.

The wall concerned was the furthest from the proposed arcade, and was unusually smooth and upright. It contained a fireplace. When the wall was knocked down it revealed another fireplace of older brickwork behind it. The most peculiar feature of the affair is the fact that there is a space of at least five feet between the two walls making, in reality, a secret apartment.

That this was ever inhabited is doubtful. However, because the place was sealed up entirely as it probably had been for centuries.

[Here’s a guess – Could this have been a Priest Hole?]

Marks and Spencer Ltd have decided to pay an interim dividend of 10% actual less tax on the ordinary and “A” ordinary shares of this company on account of the year ending 31st March 1931.

March – Dorothy Emeline was charged with the theft of a child’s pleated skirt value 2s 11d from Marks & Spencers stores on Saturday. She was placed on probation for six months.

June – Jeannie Wright (36) married – 41 Cow Lane sent to prison for 3 months for stealing razor Blades valued at 3s 6d from Marks & Spencer.

September – Theft of a lady’s skirt valued at 4s 11d Florence Marriott 23 Holbrook Lane was seen by the shop assistant of taking the skirt from a stall, put it under her coat and walk out. The store manager said the woman told him she had no money and she thought she could sell the skirt. The woman had four children and a husband who was unemployed. The bench gave her another chance – probation for six months.

July – Alice Worth found guilty of theft of many items from the Co-Op Woolworths and Marks & Spencers fined £4 and imprisoned for 28 days.

May – Rosa Harriet Tams – Housewife 56 took three tomatoes, one wash leather and ladies underclothing valued at 9s 10d from Marks and Spencer’s. Wife and mother of grown-up children. The family are all of good character – she did not know why she did it.  Bound over in the sum of £5 for six months.

1934

June – Women’s Charity Cricket Match to raise funds for the hospital – Marks & Spencer staff vs Woolworths staff. Woolworth’s girls in white jerseys and shorts – Marks and Spencer girls white shirts and grey shorts.

August – Robert Stanley Stainer charged with stealing two Men’s shirts from Marks and Spencers.

October – Ada Wykes Housekeeper in Tile Hill stole two lady’s dresses, a lady’s handbag and an umbrella.

February – Why Not become a club holder? Spare time work earns a generous commission and helps your income considerably. No clerical worries, everting simple and straightforward. Satisfaction guaranteed – Apply at the Club Desk. Marks and Spencer Store 12-13 Smithford Street Coventry. 

September – Thomas Cooley found guilty of stealing six pocket wallets, a tobacco pouch, a purse, an alarm clock, boot polish and soap. 

1936

November – One man sentenced to hard labour for 28 days and fines imposed on four women for stealing from Marks & Spencer. 

Alfred George Denscombe steam wagon driver stole four pairs of gents kid gloves and two mufflers to the value of £1, 3s 6d – he had served 13 terms in imprisonment the last in 1923. Two housewives – Jane Baldwin, Sarah Bond both charged with stealing boys boots, a pair of child’s shoes, half a pound of tea and various other articles to a value of 12s 8d both were fined £1. Mrs Florence Pratt and her daughter Mrs Bertha Howe were charged with stealing two shirts and a doll to the value of 8s 10 and were both fined £1. 

The store has now been compelled to hire a store detective to put a stop to all the pilfering!

1937

April – Magistrate remarks:

“Maybe somethings should be done about the number of cases stores like Marks & Spencers bring to the courts.

The modern way of shopping in putting goods in temptation of the public may in part encourage this kind of unfortunate behaviour!”

April – Harriett Ingham widow charged with stealing shoes valued at 5s. let off with a  caution.

June – Maud McPherson charged with stealing goods to the value of 12s from Marks & Spencer and Woolworths. 

June – Ellen Potts charged with stealing a handbag – the store detective had seen her drop the handbag into a larger bag. Pleaded guilty and let off. 

June – Agnes McGuiness (29), Elsie Alton (18) and mary Bonder (17) charged with stealing three umbrellas, one pair of shoes, one child’s dress, two pairs of artificial silk knickers, one artificial silk scarf, one jar of face cream to a value of £1, 6s. The older woman fined 40s the other two fined 20s. 

November – Adelaide Jean Morris (21) charged with stealing gloves, scarves, slippers, a handbag, handkerchiefs, fountain pen, soap, tinned food, biscuits, a broach and toothpaste. Fined £3. 

November – Catherine Sarah Ann Stanley (39) charged with stealing lady’s gloves, a pair of child’s cloves a handbag, and ring. Fined £1

January – Beatrice Minshall (50) charged with stealing various articles. Fined 40s.

February – Initiative across the city shop traders to reduce opening times. Marks & Spencer along with Woolworth’s will now close at 8:30 pm on Saturdays rather than 9 pm to reduce the hour’s shop assistants need to work.

April – Violet Morgan (36) – Charged with shoplifting. 

May – Ellen Eliza Rushton (60) stole a pair of ladies fabric gloves and a tube of face cream. She said “since she had lost her daughter she had lost herself”. Fined £2.

May – Elizabeth Blackett (41) stole a pair of ladies gloves, a pot of sandwich paste and one tine of fruit. Her Doctor said she was of good standing – about a year ago her husband had met with a serious pit accident and since then she herself had gone out to work, but struggled due to illness. Probation for 12 months. ​

October – Mary Ainley found guilty of sealing a number of items. Fined 40s. Phyllis Edith Manning and Elsie May Hare both fined 40s for theft of various items. 

November – Violet Helen Simpson (44) stole a handbag fined £1. 

November – Doris Evely Ashby (18) stole various items – probation for 12 months. 

December – Over seven children lost their parents in the store and were cared for by the staff – a similar situation has arisen Woolworths. Owen and Owen have made special provision with an area near the bureau office with children’s books to keep lost children occupied while they wait for their parents. 

1938

October – Edith Anne Parr (50) Widow and her daughter Margaret Jane Rogers (28) found guilty of stealing a number of items – all black. They were stolen for a funeral. The magistrate whilst sympathetic said it was no excuse and fined them each £2. ​

January – City Fire Brigade Called to Marks and Spencer within the city danger zone at 8.40 by the watchman who saw smoke emerging from behind the refrigerator on the cooked meats counter. The firemen who turned out with two machines found the electric motor of the refrigerator was on fire. This was promptly dealt with by chemical extinguishers – no damage was caused except to the motor which was burnt out.

February – Elsie Evelyn Walker (35) stole men’s kid’s gloves – fined £1. 

March – Annie Evely Ledbetter (38) May Kathleen Page (39) stole child’s dresses, a lady’s dress, a cardigan, two jerseys, a blouse and four torches. Each fined £1.

March – Annual Marks and Spencer Dance. 

July – Staff raise £3, 5s for War effort – Marks and Spencer corporate donate £2.

July – Lily Picken (35) fined £5 for stealing various items with the help of an 11-year-old boy who was put on 12-months probation. 

August – Mary Colquhoun , Isabel McPheators, Mary Ann Waugh and Jane Aqnew were all found guilty of theft. Each fined between £1, 10s and £3. 

August – Elsie Nora Mansell (30) pleaded guilty to theft of a pair of sandals, two pairs of ladies gloves and a lady’s skirt. Fined £2. 

September – Mrs Mary Elizabeth Fellows fined £2 for theft of a suit. 

September – Lily Jamieson (29) stole shoes and a vest – fined £2

November – Dorothy Hurt (38) stole jars of jam, fish paste, clothing and a loaf of bread. When apprehended in the store she said – I have plenty of money, and I would have paid for them if the young woman assistant had only asked me for the money. When arrested she was found with £10 in her possession. She had been in the city only a few weeks, having come from Wales. Her husband was in work and there was no excuse for her behaviour. As she stood crying in the dock “I didn’t want to take them, I don’t want the things and I don’t know what made me do it.  I have never done anything like that before”. She was fined 20s.

1940

November 14th – The Coventry Marks & Spencer Store is destroyed in the Coventry Blitz. 

(more to come..)

Marks & Spencer

Kings Head Hotel

King's Head Hotel

The Kings Head Inn was an important coaching house in the centre of Coventry. In the late Victorian period it was transformed into a grand hotel. later, in the 1930s it was updated and destroyed in 1940.

The Kings Head started life as a coaching house on Smithford Street, which can be seen on the right-hand side of this illustration. 

May – Saturday 7th  Kings Head Assembly Room, King’s Head Inn, a selection of music will be played by Master and Miss Smith.

The boy is 7 and the girl is 5. They will play the violin, piano-forte and musical glasses. To begin at 7pm, tickets 2s 6d each, children half price. Tickets from Mr Smith at the George Inn, Little Park Street. Also available from the Herald newspaper offices, Coventry.

1823

The Duke of Wellington visited Coventry and stayed at the Kings Head.

July – Mr Green, a balloonist accompanied by a young lady made his nineteenth assistant in his magnificent balloon from Warwick to Lutterworth. Mr Green and his intrepid assistant packed up their balloon and travelled back to Warwick.

On root, they changed their horses at the Kings’ Head, Coventry. The next day the following poem was published in the paper by a Coventry local ..

“Green, who rides above the clouds, and makes the people wonder, might soon be wrapped in a shroud, by one loud clap of thunder; ‘T’woud send his air balloon in twain, and send him headlong down again.”

November – Warwickshire Agricultural society Committee Meeting held at the Kings Head Coventry to discuss prizes for the year, and other business. The committee will be happy to see any of the members of the society – dinner on the table at 3 o clock. 

December 1st – Richard Crane charged with stealing from Mr Williamson, the King’s Head Coventry. Mr James Williamson, the Landlord of the Kings Head Coventry, identified the property [including a spoon and a plate bought from the predecessor in the Kings Head]

September – Warwickshire agricultural society will meet Friday 6th October next in a field near the village of Baginton. A competition for Ploughing will take place. The hedging and ditching competitions will be in a field in the occupation of Mr Robbins, about half a mile distant between Baginton and Stoneleigh Park. After the committee will meet at 2 pm at the Kings Head Coventry for dinner and to arrange the competitions for the next year. Dinner on the table at three o clock.

1849

16th March – The Kings Head Inn, Coventry to be let, with immediate possession at a very moderate rent.

The Kings Head family hotel, commercial and posting house, established upwards of a century and situated in the centre of the city of Coventry. In the immediate locality of the Coventry station of the London and northwestern railway to and from which there is an omnibus belonging to the inn. Comprising of 30 good sized lofty chambers and servants bedrooms, nine sitting, drawing and dining rooms of large dimensions and equal in comfort to any private apartments. Market room, 49 feet by 16 feet 6 inches, commercial room, well-constructed bar, tap, coach office, the usual description of domestic offices.

A superior arched cellaring [given the location the cellar could be very old – the 14th century?], adapted for wholesale stores, an extensive range of coach-houses, stabling, granaries and requisite outbuildings.

The tenant may be accommodated with the valuable and appropriate Household Furniture, Wines, Horse and other effects at a fair valuation. For a view apply on the premises and for any further particulatrs and to read, to Messrs Woodcock, Twist and Son Solicitors or Messrs. Brown & Clarke, Auctioneers, Coventry.

1849

19th December – Charles Sabin Most respectfully informs his friends that his House Warming Dinner will take place on Wednesday at the Kings Head.

N.B. Dinner at half past four o’clock.

November – Clergy meeting of the Archdeaconry of Coventry – A meeting of the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Coventry was held at the King’s Head Coventry. Upwards of 300 were present more than any similar meeting in the memory of the oldest member of that body. Point of discussion – that so-called bishop of Birmingham..

January – Warwickshire Scripture Readers Association Annual Meeting held at the Kings Head.

October – Charles Sabin (Landlord 1848 – 1851) Begs to thank his friends and the public in general for their kind patronage and wishes to inform them that the business of the hotel will be carried on as usual. N.B. Post horses, cars, gig & close boxes and lock-up coach houses.

March – County Fire Office London annual county meeting.

April – Coventry Election: Kings Head Coventry 10 o’clock Friday  Electors and freemen of Coventry.

September – Rams for Sale – 10 Purebred Shropshire Yearling Rams

August – Pollution of Rivers  – A meeting was held at the Kings Head to discuss what measures could be taken to abate the nuisance arising from the sewage of the city of Coventry being emptied into the rivers Sherbourne, Sowe and Avon.

Present: Hon. And Rev J. W. Leigh (chairman) W. Davenport Bromely Esq. M.P. George Jones Esq I.P. Evans Esq, Richard Robbisns Esq Messrs, Weston W. Robbins T. Harris, Power, Carter, Berry & co.

The resolution passed: Owners and occupiers on the banks of the river have and are sustaining from sewage being emptied into the river. It will be impressed upon them the necessity of having the aforesaid nuisance wholly removed or abated.

If the commissioner, appointed by parliament, requesting them to visit, inspect and report upon the Sherbourne, the Sowe and the Avon rivers from the city of Coventry to Warwick Castle – that the committee will visit and preserve that kind of neighbourly feeling which now exists between  inhabitants of the neighbourhood and the city of Coventry. But should they, unfortunately, fail to do so legal steps shall be advised by counsel.

January – The yard and stables of the Kings Head Hotel Coventry to be let with immediate possession. The horses (Blacks and greys) in good working condition; Broughams, cars, hearses, mourning coaches, cabs, omnibus, harness., to be taken by valuation. The yard and stabling are convenient and spacious and there is an old and valuable connection, which may be largely extended. Full particulars with inventory may be had of Mr Thomas Clarke, Auctioneer – Coventry.

December – Kings Head Hotel Coventry post horse, car and cab trades will be carried on as usual, in conjunction with the hotel. An omnibus to meet the trains. Excellent hearses and mourning coaches. Sabin & Co. proprietors are also available.

March – Warwickshire schoolmasters association met at the Kings Head. To discuss the new code of teaching. Mr. J . Steane of Holy Trinity school observed that he had no desire to underrate the value of music being taught in an elementary school, but he thought the code required too much of the teachers and children. If the inspectors were not satifsfied with the manner in which the songs were sung.. If the children’s voices were a little coarse the teacher was called to account!

1876

June 29th – Kings Head Sale on Thursday 

(Sale due to losses on the Stock Exchange)

[Known as the Panic of 1873 – 1877]

A highly important sale of RARE OLD CHINA, finely executed Florentine bronzes, OIL PAINTINGS, curious metal articles from the Spanish revolution and other works of art, the property of a connoisseur reluctantly compelled to dispose of the same owing to recent heavy losses in connection with the stock exchange. 

The sale includes fine specimens of old – Chelsea, Capo di Monte, Delft, Plymouth, Vienna, Frankenthal, Bow, Derby, Spode, oriental, serves, Majolica, Berlin, Dresden, Worcester, Bristol, enamels etc.

March– Notice! Notice! Mr. L. Knight specialist in the Eye and Ear, will attend at the Kings Head Hotel Coventry On Friday, And every alternate Friday for the convenience of his patients in Coventry and Neighbourhood Hours 4.30 to 7 pm Patients will please bring cards and bottles.

1878

Kings Head Hotel

NEW MANAGEMENT

Every accommodation can be obtained there; also that it is intended to make extensive alterations and additions to the hotel with the view of increasing the accommodation and promoting the comfort of those who patronise it. Cabs & Carriages & Posting business carried on as usual.

The Kings Head coaching is transformed into a large Victorian hotel

The Kings Head Hotel

Opens December 1879

January – Kings Head Hotel Company – Livery and Bait Stables Good Stabling & Loose boxes Lock up Coach Houses Open and closed carriages Broughams Landaus Wagonettes, Wedding Carriages Cars and Hansoms Always Ready Orders received at Car Office Kings Head Yard Hertford Street Entrance.

November – Mayor remarks:

“When we look through the city and see the great improvements that have taken place in Broadgate in the giving up of the property and the corporation for the widening of the high street near the bank, the purchase of land and the building of the market hall the setting back of the Kings Head hotel in Smithford street the proposed alterations which will be carried out very quickly in the opening up of west orchard I think we may feel satisfied with ourselves that Coventry is improving”.

December – NOTICE !! King’s Head hotel company – Public Luncheon bar will not open on the 18th Inst 17th December.

1891

From where to Buy in Coventry  

In the course of the present century and more especially since 1850, great improvements have been made in various quarters of the city. One of the greatest improvements was undoubtedly the building of the “King’s Head Hotel,” a handsome five storied building of red brick, with white stone facings, situated in the very heart of the city, with frontages in Hertford Street and Smithford Street, at the junction of Broadgate and High Street. the principal entrance is in Hertford Street and the first thing that strikes one on entering is the fine proportions of the entrance hall and vestibule, which is handsomely decorated and adorned with some fine works of art, also the handsome wide staircase leading from same to the upper floors of the hotel.

The splendidly appointed commercial room the finest in Coventry, is immediately to the right of the entrance hall, while to the left is the wholesale wine, spirit, and cigar department, from whence the very extensive cellars are approached well stocked with an unusually good supply of choice old wines, spirits etc. At the extreme corner of the hotel is a spacious and beautifully fitted and ornamented bar, each window of which is filled with rich, stained glass, specially painted and graphically depicting various well known incidents in the history of the city. 

While on this subject we may mention that stained glass is profusely used for window decoration throughout the building. A well upholstered, commodious and elegantly ornamented lounge and hotel bar is in the centre of the building approached from Hertford and Smithford Streets, and by a covered way from the principal entrance. Adjoining this is the billiard salon, again the finest in the city, in which are two of the most improved tables by Thurston and Co. with combination cushions; every accommodation for both players and lookers-on being provided. The corridors are remarkably light, cheerful and well ventilated, paved with encaustic tiles and appropriately ornamented. Next the hotel-bar and approached by a separate entrance from Smithford Street is a private bar and smoke room. Upstairs the drawing, dinning, coffee, sitting rooms, as well as bedrooms are all well and luxuriously furnished. Comfort and convenience seem to be the predominating elements of the place and to the attainment of each in their highest degree the perfection of luxury cleanliness and good order is apparent to which Mr and Mrs George Fox-Spencer both devote their energies.

Brandies, whiskeys, ales and stout, and other liquors and cigars, are on hand in large quantities and everything supplied is notably of the highest possible standard. The stables are well managed and a good stud of horses for saddle and posting purposes are kept and the hotel omnibus meets all the principal trains, so that visitors need to have no trouble with regard to the safe removal of their luggage. 

The culinary arrangements of the “King’s Head” are particularly interesting. They are situated on the top floor of the hotel, and roasting and grilling etc are done in cleverly contrived ovens, which permit the products of the combustion to escape. There is no smell from the cooking machines, so that visitors are never troubled with odours from the kitchens permeating the air of the other departments. We particularly noticed these improvements in the culinary contrivances, a matter not sufficiently studied in many elegant hotels, where more attention might certainly be paid to the department of the chef de cuisine. On  the occasion of our visit to the “King’s Head” we were invited by Mr G Fox-Spencer, the proprietor, to inspect the kitchens and must confess that the appliances the order observed and the scrupulous cleanliness of the larders, and in fact, of every spot where the cooks perform their important duties, surprised us. 

We must not omit to mention that there are large assembly, auction and commercial sample rooms attached to the hotel. In connection with and but a few minutes’ drive from, the hotel is the King’s Head Farm; here tennis-courts and a bowling green, as well as other amusements, are provided for the use of visitors; a certain number of whom can be accommodated in a comfortably appointed cottage on the farm. The hotel is supplied with fresh butter, eggs, milk and vegetables from the farm daily, this being a unique and excellent feature, ensuring everything of the kind used for consumption being perfectly fresh and wholesome. To sum up, the hotel is an immense advantage to Coventry and is certainly one of the very first as it is the largest in the city. We were never before so favourably impressed with hotel management as on the occasion of our visit to the King’s Head. 

Kings Head Hotel