Broadgate, Coventry - A Coventry Gem!

Broadgate is a Public Square in Coventry City Centre. A current square was opened in 1948 by Princess Elizabeth. The nearby Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre was opened in 1990 at Broadgate.


Where is Broadgate in Coventry?

Broadgate is in Coventry, CV1 1NE. To the north is Primark. To the east is Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre. The Lady Godiva clock is to the south. The Upper Precinct is to the west.

 

In brief

Broadgate is the main public square in Coventry City Centre. Developed after the war. The first layout was opened by Princess Elizabeth in 1948 (from 1952 Queen Elizabeth II). It has been the home of the Lady Godiva statue since 1949. It was turned 90 degrees in 1990 towards the Upper Precinct after the opening of the Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre. Various new restaurants moved into Cathedral Lanes during 2018 and 2019 during a minor redevelopment. The square is also home to the Lady Godiva clock with Peeping Tom.

Broadgate, Coventry. Photography by Daniel Sturley.

 

Broadgate - history

Broadgate has been at the centre of Coventry for almost 1000 years. The name comes from the broad o wide gate of Coventry Castle that would once have been close to where the Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre is now. The castle was built in the year 1100 and is thought to have covered a large area stretching from Broadgate down Bayley Lane to where The Herbert Art Gallery now stands. The castle stood for around 200 years before it eventually became derelict and was demolished.

Outside of the castle's gates would have been a large and busy market square which extended from Greyfriar's Lane to The Burges. The square gradually became smaller as more shops and buildings were built on and around it, but Broadgate remained the crossroads at the heart of the city and kept much of its medieval character and layout into the 20th century. Coventry was heavily bombed on the night of 14th November 1940. Broadgate was one of the worst hit areas and almost all of the buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged.

The new Broadgate was designed by Donald Gibson, the City Architect and it opened in 1948. It would be square with a central island with traffic going around it. Work began on the new Broadgate after the war ended, but progress was slow because of post-war shortages and the lack of building materials. The new Broadgate was the first part of the new city centre to be completed and was officially opened by the then Princess Elizabeth in 1948.

Buildings at Broadgate include Broadgate House, which was the first new building here, and was opened in May 1953. It was later followed by the Owen Owen department store (now Primark) and the Hotel Leofric in 1955. The remaining side of the square had 'temporary' pre-fab shops until they were eventually replaced by Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre in 1990.

Broadgate CoventryBroadgate, Coventry (March 2019). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Lady Godiva statue

The statue of Lady Godiva was designed and made by the sculptor Sir William Reid Dick and was officially unveiled in October 1949 by Mrs Douglas, the wife of the US Ambassador to Britain. The statue is made of cast bronze and has a Portland stone plinth. The statue was changed direction by 90 degrees in 1990 on the opening of Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre. It's official name was 'Self Sacrifice'.

Lady Godiva statue

Lady Godiva statueLady Godiva statue at Broadgate, Coventry (February 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

For more on the statue go to the feature on the Lady Godiva statue in Coventry.

 

Lady Godiva Clock

The Lady Godiva clock was installed in 1953. At every hour the clock sets in motion, recalling the legend of Lady Godiva's famous ride naked through Coventry. Peeping Tom, the tailor who disobeyed her command to stay behind closed shutters is seen to look out of an upper window and is stricken with blindness. In recent years though, Peeping Tom has been stuck behind the doors, and only Lady Godiva comes out on the hour, every hour.

Lady Godiva clock

Lady Godiva clock

Lady Godiva clock

Lady Godiva clockLady Godiva Clock at Broadgate, Coventry (February 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Fun Fair at Broadgate

At any time of the year, there is sometimes a fun fair on in the square. Rides for kids to have fun on. In the past it has taken place during October 2017 and February 2020.

Fun Fair Broadgate

Fun Fair Broadgate

Fun Fair BroadgateFun Fair at Broadgate, Coventry (February 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

Project dates

08 Aug 2021 - On-going

Passions

History & heritage, Shopping, Food & drink
Squares and public spaces

Contact

Your Place Your Space

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ yourplaceyourspace.com