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A shopping guide to The Burges & Hales Street

Carl Haymes, Milk vintage shop, Hales Street, Coventry. Credit: © Historic England Archive, James O

Walk behind Primark in the city centre head down towards the 14th Century Old Grammar School building passed cult comic store Forbidden Planet, and you’re on The Burges. Currently parts of this historic area have been pretty neglected and there’s a few back streets you wouldn’t really want to go down in the dark. It’s been deemed a ‘heritage at risk’ site in the city.  

But big plans are afoot. The artist’s impression above is how it’s envisioned to look by March 2020 – the hope is for it to restore the buildings back to their former glory and transform it into a thriving independent quarter. A rare surviving example of Coventry’s early Medieval urban fabric, these historic shopfronts have been long hidden by their modern facades.  Derby has recently seen a similar historic high street revival project with demand soaring for retail spots. 

Across your first year at uni you’re going to see a £2m massive regeneration project underway in this area. It will include: 

  • the long-awaited restoration of historic shop fronts 

  • the transformation of Palmer’s Lane into an attractive cobbled alleyway leading to new retail space

  • an Ampitheater-style outdoor space  

  • the opening up of the River Sherbourne.  

  • A new bar earmarked in a circular building currently boarded up and vacant  

This is all thanks to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. You can follow progress and be part of this exciting city transformation. Look out for more events and volunteering opportunities by following Historic Coventry on social: 

Twitter: @HistCovTrust 

Instagram: @historiccoventrytrust 

Facebook

LinkedIn

SHOPPING GUIDE & THINGS TO DO: 

There are already a range of vibrant independent retailers, and its hope the transformation will attract more businesses approaching Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2021. The Trust is currently working closely with 17 local business owners. 

INDEPENDENT CLOTHES SHOPS 

Milk vintage clothing shop, 3 Hale Street - Owner Carl Haymes specialises in unisex vintage imports from New York and Canada with an emphasis on 1980s and 1990s styles. He’s been involved with running this city clothes shop for the last 10 years in its various guises, but this is his sole business project.  

Skate Hut, Coventry, 21 The Burges - One of the newest stores in this national skater brand’s UK portfolio 

Kong, 18-20 The Burges - Urban streetwear and footwear selling top brands. Kong also has a store in Bedford St, Leamington Spa. 

SERVICES 

The Turkish City Barbers, 9 Hales St - Affordable stylish haircuts and beard trims. 

American Nail Design Bar, 1A Hales Street 

Smartphones, 1 Hales Street - Phone & Laptop repair. 

Forbidden Planet, 31 Cross Cheaping - Specialist chain selling cult sci-fi books, comics and collectibles, plus action figures and toys. 

Godiva Tailoring, 23 The Burges - Need a dress altering, trousers shortening or a handmade graduation suit? 

PLACES TO EAT 

Oodles Chinese, 28 The Burges – Small, funky new noodle bar offering great value for money with bowls from £5 and limited seating inside. A franchise run by two young Coventry entrepreneurs, it opened in May 2019. 

Sultan Kebab House, 13 Hales Street 

Subway, 27 The Burges 

ATTRACTIONS 

The Old Grammar School, Hales Street (pictured above, credit © Historic England Archive: James O Davies) - a recently restored 14th century hospital and chapel which following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century became Coventry's first free school. It’s open to the public for special events in the year including Heritage Open Days (Sept 14 & 15 2019, 12-6pm) and available to hire for private events. 

Coventry Transport Museum, Millennium Place, Hales St - the largest publicly owned collection of British vehicles including two of the world’s fastest cars, pioneering bicycles, 14 fully accessible galleries, The Blitz experience and 4D simulator rides. It tells the story of how Coventry changed the world through transport. 

 

EVENTS: 

  • Heritage Open Days 2019, Sept 13-22 – During this city-wide event there will be free Weekend Guided tours of The Burges, 12 noon, see further details here or also pick up a Heritage Open Days leaflet from local businesses in the area or the Tourist Information at the Herbert. 
  • See what other attractions are open and where you can visit for free locally at www.heritageopendays.org.uk / www.coventry.gov.uk/hod and nationally (including local National Trust properties) here.
  • Eco-litter pick-ups - Mcdonalds recently organised a successful volunteer environmental litter pick-up along the River Sherbourne. 
  • Coventry's new Tile and Mosaic Trail - produced by Historic England, this is a fun way to get to know the city.

 

WHAT'S THE HISTORIC COVENTRY TRUST? 

Charterhouse, credit Graeme Peacock

Historic Coventry Trust is the city’s community-led charity on a mission to restore and reuse Coventry’s heritage buildings. The Trust aims to become the guardian of the city’s heritage – a local ‘National Trust’ and a strategic partner to enable regeneration. 

Other projects on-the-go include: 

  • Charterhouse - The Trust is creating a visitor experience around the Carthusian monastery buildings founded by Richard II set in a 70-acre Heritage Park with café and two miles of riverside, woodland walks.  Great excitement is mounting after news that Michelin-starred chef Glyn Purnell is also due to open a fine dining restaurant at this historic building. His Birmingham establishments include Purnell’s Restaurant and Purnell’s Bistro & Ginger’s Bar. 
  •  Drapers’ Hall – This stunning Georgian building in the Cathedral Quarter, near the uni is being converted into a state-of-the-art music education venue and concert hall. 

Drapers Hall, credit Historic Coventry Trust

  • New boutique heritage tourist accommodation in the medieval city walls – Visitors to the city will in the future be able to stay in the converted Grade I listed medieval City Gates at Swanswell and Cook Street, the Gatehouse at Whitefriars Monastery and Lychgate Cottages in Priory Row. 

 

FACTFILE: History of The Burges area 

  • The Burges and Cross Cheaping was the main medieval street north of the city centre – it definitely existed in the 12th century and was probably there earlier.   
  • Palmer Lane was part of the medieval pilgrim route to the Priory.   
  • Hales Street was built at right angles to the Burges in 1848.  The eastern side of the Burges has traditional narrow, rectangular plots of land (known as burgage plots) characteristic of medieval English cities.  Originally containing timber-framed buildings, most of the facades were reconstructed from the end of the 18thcentury – though some timber-framed buildings survive behind the modern fronts.   
  • Palmer Lane has one of the rare sections of the River Sherbourne still open in the city centre.