Coventry's iconic 'elephant' building named on list of at risk buildings - The Coventry Observer

10th Aug, 2022

Coventry's iconic 'elephant' building named on list of at risk buildings

Lauren Clarke 27th Jan, 2017

THE iconic elephant building at Coventry’s threatened main swimming baths and sports centre has been named in a list of the UK’s Top 20 important architectural buildings under threat.

Its inclusion in the 2017 Buildings at Risk List by charity the C20 Society follows a ‘Save The Elephant” campaign locally by heritage group the Coventry Society.

Its future is threatened by the Coventry City Council agreed closure of the city’s Olympic-sized 50 metre pool and replacement plans at the Alan Edward Higgs Centre in Allard Way, with planned new smaller swimming facilities near New Union Street.

The C20 Society says: “Coventry’s iconic landmark, the ‘Elephant’ sports centre, was built in 1977 and its shape reflects Coventry’s elephant and castle coat of arms.

“It sits alongside the 1966 Grade II listed 50-metre Olympic-size swimming pool designed by city architects Arthur Ling and Terence Gregory and principal architect Michael McLellan.

“The main pool hall with seating for 1,174 spectators was designed to meet international competition standards. The pool has become the regional competitive centre for the Midlands – recognition of the impressive facilities provided.

“Both buildings are under threat following Coventry Council’s decision to close the centre and replace it with a £37 million leisure centre holding a pool half the size of the 50m original. C20 Society’s application to list the ‘Elephant’ building was refused.”

The charity says it is among some of Britain’s most remarkable buildings in danger of being lost for ever because of ‘development pressures, dwindling budgets and ‘short termism’.

Catherine Croft, director of C20 Society. “We are witnessing the death of idealism and public spiritedness which underpinned so much of the best architecture of the 20th Century.”

The endangered species in question at Coventry Sports Centre in Fairfax Street has for decades been a well-known landmark visible from the ring road and is part of the city’s post-war architectural heritage.

Council leaders argued the 50 metre pool had become too costly to maintain.

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