COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
We are Back!
Yes, today is the day that The Coventry Music Museum opens once again after seven long months.
As director and curator, I personally can’t wait to welcome back our visitors to Coventry’s number one tourist attraction.
There have been some changes, but our Covid best practice policies remain as vigorous as ever with Track and Trace, mask wearing, social distancing and a one-way system. We demand safety first for our amazing team and visitors.
So, what can you expect from the museum? The big changes are the new exhibitions – one is dedicated to 40 years of the iconic song Ghost Town, the other exhibition looks at Coventry’s impact on global music.
‘Ghost Town 2 Host Town’
This is more than just about an iconic song, the exhibition begins in a mock-up of Bob Houghton’s office at Morris Engines, Courthouse Green.
Here we see the Boom Town, post war and the concrete rise of a proud city defiantly rebuilt, with car factories abundant.
It’s here you can hear one Coventry kid’s story – my story, a tale of me growing up in 1950s Coventry and all it offered a young boy of the time.
Onto the prosperity of the 1960s and wanting for nothing – a settee full of presents at Christmas, the wonder of a real bathroom (instead of the freezing commute to the outside loo, and the weekly bath in a tin tub).
School was fierce, blackboard rubbers were hard, but the summer holidays seemed to go on forever and it never seemed to rain.
My memories of attending Stoke Briton Road, infants, juniors and seniors, with a memory of short trousers in the evil winter of 1963, just my maroon school cap was visible as I trudged through the three-foot snow drifts.
The story takes us to the 70s where I found work at British Leyland, working alongside my father and bringing home more money than a 15-year-old should be trusted with.
The Morris eventually closed down and I knew how it felt to be jobless – on the scrapheap at 23.
The song Ghost Town resonated even more then, it became my anthem – I was a fully paid-up member of the Coventry condition.
The time was bleak, the Specials and 2-Tone had pretty much gone but we still had the music and the legacy.
So that song resonates with me, as did ‘You’re Not Alone’ by the Enemy as my Peugeot career ended much the same way as my Morris Engines career had. So ‘Ghost Town’ has that unique story arc and a story we are proud to tell in the museum.
‘Music City, Coventry’
This – the other exhibition explores our impact on global music, in some ways it’s easier to tell the story from a reverse engineering point of view. What I mean is take Coventry out of Global music and the chances are that there would be no Progressive Rock, no third wave of Ska, No Grindcore movement and early Doctor Who would have been far less scary.
Such was the influence of Coventry-born Moody Blues producer Tony Clarke, Coventry’s 2-Tone Movement, Napalm Death that included three Coventrians and of course Delia Derbyshire.
There’s plenty more to learn at the museum at the 2-Tone Village which is open Thursday to Sundays 10am to 4pm and 10am and 3pm on Sundays.
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