19th Sep, 2018

Pub and nightlife historian gives her thoughts on Coventry culture of past and present - the bid for UK City of Culture 2021

Felix Nobes 3rd Nov, 2017 Updated: 6th Nov, 2017

THE historian behind the new book ‘The Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Coventry’ has spoken with the Observer about her new book and gave her thoughts on the UK City of Culture 2021 bid – including the tradition of pubs.

Ruth Cherrington describes her new book as “a celebration of the vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene in Coventry in the 1970s.”

She told us: “I wrote the book to honour what Coventry made for itself – what ordinary people did.”

She also authored ‘Not Just Beer and Bingo! A Social History of Working Men’s Clubs’ and is a lifelong Coventry resident.

In her book, she tells the story of 1970s Coventry’s pubs, of which there were over 100, as well as its established clubs, bars and student unions.

The Locarno Ballroom, Mr George’s, The 40 Thieves, Market Tavern and the Silver Sword were once established names in the Coventry city community.

With Coventry shortlisted among six cities for UK City of Culture 2021 she said that remnants of the 1970s community remains today and have influenced Coventry’s modern culture.

Cherrington reminisced about the music scene of the 1970s, with progressive rock, folk, reggae and punk being played at popular venues.

She said modern Coventry can thank the 70s for the expansion of Warwick University, 2-Tone music- “invented in Coventry”- as well as famous characters like DJ music producer and ex-TV talent show judge Pete Waterman.

She said: “Coventry was always an industrial city, and Warwick University was getting going in the 1970s and used to put on parties, gigs and discos.

“A lot of the venues have gone now. The car industry failed and people were thrown out of work and couldn’t afford to go out.

“There was a cultural change – a home-based culture.

“By then it had created internationally famous bands like The Specials and The Selecter.”

She endorsed the work at the Coventry Music Museum in commemorating and preserving the city’s dynamic musical culture.

Cherrington said that the ‘City of Culture’ bid could help some of Coventry’s history to be recaptured. Especially the hidden social history of its bars and clubs.

She said: “I strongly believed that looking at their (Coventry’s pubs and clubs) history could provide a key to ensuring that they have a future.”

People can attend a book signing with Cherington at Waterstones on Thursday November 9 between 2 and 3pm.

You can visit her website here: http://www.clubhistorians.co.uk/

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