23rd Oct, 2017

Coventry's elephant building endangered as English Heritage refuses to list it

Les Reid 17th Aug, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

COVENTRY’S iconic ‘elephant’ building is endangered after heritage watchdogs refused to list it.

A “Save the Elephant” campaign has sought to protect the landmark elephant-shaped structure which forms part of Coventry Sports Centre.

It is visible from the ring road and is part of the city’s post-war architectural heritage.

For decades, it has been a well-known landmark in the city which has the Elephant and Castle as its emblem.

But English Heritage – and culture secretary John Whittingdale – has now ruled it is not of significant architectural merit and importance to protect it from the bulldozers.

Coventry city councillors last November voted to close the 50-metre Olympic swimming pool at the sports centre, saying it is too expensive to run amid unprecedented budget cuts.

That prompted the Coventry Society, volunteers who act as local watchdogs of the city’s heritage, to lobby English Heritage for the elephant to be listed.

The group has previously campaigned to protect parts of the city’s post-War architecture from bulldozers, including the circular Coventry Market building. It was later listed after English Heritage stepped in.

Keith Draper, chairman of The Coventry Society, has said: “It’s a clever piece of design with its zinc platelet panels and almost Gothic windows attributed to Coventry council’s architects.

“And yes, it does have the appearance of a lumbering elephant when viewed from the car park opposite. After all, it reflects the city’s emblem – The Elephant and Castle.”

He said the society was “disappointed” with the decision, and had advocated the elephant be used as an attraction in development of that part of the city centre.

A new pool and water park is set for New Union Street when the Olympic-sized pool closes, possibly by 2019.

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