'Save the Coventry elephant' campaign underway - The Coventry Observer

11th Aug, 2022

'Save the Coventry elephant' campaign underway

Coventry Editorial 23rd Feb, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A “Save the Elephant” campaign is underway in Coventry.

The endangered species in question is the iconic elephant-shaped structure which forms part of Coventry Sports Centre.

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

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

But 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 was also the verdict this month of an independent review by the Amateur Swimming Association.

Now the Coventry Society, volunteers who act as local watchdogs of the city’s heritage, are 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, said: “We shouldn’t be running these hotspots of activity into the ground, we should be giving them every help and assistance to succeed.

“That’s precisely where the Sports Centre finds itself today – hugely in need of practical support from the council. That includes The Elephant.

“Yes, it’s surroundings are hardly ideal, right next to the ring road, but Cox Street will soon be the subject of a rebuild when the James Starley building is demolished.

“It’s an opportunity for Coventry University to commission some modern iconic buildings that will rub shoulders with The Elephant.

“There are recent examples of university buildings that have already achieved national recognition. The same could happen in Cox Street where The Elephant stands.

“Let’s be visionary. Why not an iconic Cox Street anchored by The Elephant?”

“Of the Elephant he added; “Admittedly one elevation is rather bland, but the others are quite sensational, particularly from Cope Street.

“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.”

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