Call of the automobile

Call of the automobile

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-08-16 10:33 A news item stating that the famed London Taxi Company would be making all its cabs electrical to comply with pollution norms, and that the new cabs would be made in Coventry made me visit the city. Being the 12th largest city in the UK, Coventry has traditionally been the home of automobile industry: Jaguar Land Rover, acquired by the Tatas, has a plant near Coventry.I didn’t know my desire to visit Coventry would raise eyebrows! Someone told me that in the English language “sending someone to Coventry” means to ostracise that person.  GodivaAccording to a folktale, Lady Godiva rode on a horse in the nude in Coventry to make its ruler waive taxes and had exhorted the inhabitants not to look at her. When a tailor by name Tom drilled a hole in his door to look at Godiva, he was instantly struck blind. The phrase “Peeping Tom” originated from this tale.I took a train from London to Coventry, and after a two-hour journey I was in the small industrial town. On checking into a hotel, the receptionist informed me that there was nothing touristy about Coventry, and that it was mainly an industrial and educational hub. Coventry hosts two important universities in the UK - University of Warwick and Coventry University. The receptionist also asked me to visit the Transport Museum.Coventry cathedral Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of jet engine, and JK Starley, the founder of Rover Car Company, were born in Coventry. Sir Whittle’s statue as well as an arch named after him is erected in front of the Transport Museum, the pride of place in Coventry.The Transport Museum has more than 240 cars and commercial vehicles, hundreds of motorcycles and bicycles.  I was fascinated to see vintage cars such as Triumph, Humber and Standard along with motorcycles like Triumph.  Three of the famous exhibits are the Daimler car used by Queen Mary (1935), a car featured in “Back to the Future” film, and the staff car used by Gen. Montgomery during the Second World War. The Transport Museum is open on all working days and admission is free.  It takes approximately half a day to see this museum. War memorial coventry Coventry suffered extensive damage during the Second World War.  On 14th Nov 1940, the German air force bombed Coventry, killing 1,000 people and destroying 4000 houses.  Coventry’s historic cathedral was almost completely destroyed in the raid.  The fact that the town was virtually rebuilt reminds one of the mythical Phoenix. Incidentally, the woman’s ice hockey team of Coventry is known as “Phoenix”.Coventry univWooden cross coventry cathedralThe most important site in Coventry is the Coventry Cathedral also known as St. Michael’s Cathedral. The 14th century church was destroyed during the German bombing.  Only the tower, spire and the outer wall of the church have survived. The spire is 300ft. high and is the tallest structure in the city. The ruined cathedral’s Wooden Cross and the Cross of Nails are its attraction.A new cathedral was built in 1962 adjacent to the ruins. A sculpture of St. Michaels Victory over the devil is placed on the outer wall of this building. Coventry University is literally a stone’s throw away from the cathedral.  This modern building stands in stark contrast with the ruined cathedral.Sculpture on new cathedralAt the outskirts of Coventry lies Meridian, a village which is supposedly the exact midpoint of United Kingdom. There is a stone stake showing the traditional centre of England. Triumph motorcycles used to be manufactured in this village.Coventry has a large Asian population because of its motor industry.  There are a number of Asian and Indian shops and eating places in and around Coventry. Birmingham International Airport and Coventry airport are nearby.On my way back to London from Coventry, I took a road journey and visited Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare and Cambridge, the famed university town. Those interested in automobiles must visit Coventry.Author:​Dr. DV Guruprasad  (Former DGP) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.