A Student in Coventry in the 1980s

Coventry (Lanchester) Polytechnic BTEC HND in Business and; Finance, 1984.
Image courtesy of Gary Stocker

After leaving school in 1983, I went to Coventry (Lanchester) Polytechnic, as it then was, at the start of the Michaelmas Term in 1983 to study a BTEC Higher National Diploma in Business and Finance. Although the campus was a lot smaller then, it still occupied most of the city centre. The buildings on the campus were all identified with letters, rather than names like these days. Two buildings, which have since disappeared, were down Cox Street. One was a sports and social club, in which we occasionally had lectures and exams in. The other was a tall, brick built building. I cannot remember its letter though.

Determined to live away from home

I got into the polytechnic sort of last moment, so there was not enough time to look into polytechnics further afield. With it being close to where I lived (Wellesbourne at the time) I was not eligible for a grant to live away. I wanted to do it though, so I used savings to supplement my grant. I shared a terraced house down Smith Street with a couple of class-mates. Smith Street was off Red Lane, which in turn was off the Stoney Stanton Road. I think that the house had originally been a two up, two down, although there was an annexe which had been added to it, containing a kitchen and bathroom. My room was on the ground floor and opened straight onto the street.

I remember down our road was one house, which, if you walked home when it was light, had the front room full of fruit gambling machines. The occupant used to occasionally “entertain” the street by playing classical music really loud. On the corner of Stoney Stanton Road and Red Lane was a pub called the Three Horse Shoes, it had a pool table and jukebox. As time went on we got friendly with the locals and played cards with them, I think that these days it is a Balti house. Further down the Stoney Stanton Road, going away from the city centre, was another pub called the Prince of Wales, which we used occasionally. I could not see any sign of it last time that I was down there though. There was also a fish and chip shop, which last time that I was down there seems to have become a kebab shop.

Appreciating Elvis… or not!

Opposite the Stoney Stanton Road/Red Lane junction was a second hand car lot. I remember there being some train rails with a small locomotive on. Someone said that there had been a light industrial railway there at one point. Going towards the canal bridge, on the opposite side of the road was Ordnance Row. There was a sub post office there which we used – that has since gone. In fact it seemed to be derelict a few years ago.

Over the canal bridge towards the city centre were a lot of grocery shops. One, which we tended to buy our milk from, used to sell some novelty goods. One item which was on display was a white plastic transistor radio with an Elvis Presley doll on top. I do not remember it being sold the entire time that I was there – The King was obviously not appreciated! Further down the road was the “Midland Supermarket”, it sold a lot of Indian spices. The smell of different spices in there was unbelievable! Indian food is a lot more mainstream now, but back then it was a bit more of a novelty.

Of course we also went to some pubs and nightclubs…

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