University Buildings Prior Purposes

When realizing how much planning has went into Coventry over the years and its changing landscape, I felt its newest planned development, Coventry University has been the most profound. I began looking into the different buildings. As in the Coventry City Councils initial plans there was much focus on creating a School of Art and Design and Business School, I started looking into the Ellen Terry Building and William Morris Building, both of which have gone through many changes.

The Gaumont Palace/Odeon Cinema, Jordan Well, The Ellen Terry Building (Architect W.H.Watkins 1929-31)

The Gaumont Palace/Odeon Cinema, Jordan Well, The Ellen Terry Building (Architect W.H.Watkins 1929-31)

The now Ellen Terry Building was opened on October 5th 1931 with “The Millionaire”(Warner Bros. 1931) starring George Arliss. The Gaumont Palace was built incorporating the failed “Coliseum” Cafe and Dance hall next door (1920-22) which hit financial difficulties after trying to extend and build a theatre, the unfinished project was acquired and demolished by Bristol Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Ltd in 1928 who’s architect W H Watkins designed a brick encased steel framed building with a new frontage on Jordan Well in a Pseudo classical style, clad in cream “Faïence” tiles. It became the Odeon after refurbishments in 1967, the previous one of that name being in Far Gosford street. It is now the Ellen Terry Arts and Media Building of Coventry University the Odeon having relocated to the new “Skydome” in 1999. Ellen Terry was a famous actress born in Coventry in 1847.

The William Morris Building

The William Morris Building

I decided to focus more on The William Morris building, which houses Coventry Business School as it has gone through many changes, in correlation to the events with the city’s history. The metamorphosis of the William Morris building reflects Coventry’s economic turbulence, the Second World War and modern improvements as well as changes in British architecture and Coventry’s landscape as a whole. This began to really excite me. The William Morris building embodies a lot of my research on the planned city of Coventry. It reflects a multitude of historic events and changes within the city: the cities once strong industrialization, the cities help in creating war related products, World War II, economic decline, loss of jobs due to the conservative government, destruction due to feelings of angst and uncertainty and the city today, now less industrialized but well known for its universities and educational opportunities, thus how it is now a part of Coventry University.

The William Morris Building Timeline, created with the help of Andy McGeechan 

1913 Hotchkiss Machine Guns

1920 Morris Engines and Gear Boxes

1945 Government Stores/Warehouse

1964 Burnt Down

1971 DSS

1992 University

1995 Developed to William Morris

Above is a brief timeline of different purposes and uses The William Morris Building has had over the years.  The reasons for these changes become obvious when referring to my research. Coventry’s landscape has changed due to the effects of its industries, war, economy and modern life reflected through which is all evident in the different uses this building has been summoned to. I hope to create a photo mosaic focusing on the William Morris Building.

Photographs © Sophie Moet

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