Far Gosford Street Conservation Area
Transcript of extracts from Coventry City Council 1992 "Historical Notes" brochure. The full A4 43 page brochure has much more detail on both history and current status. It was reprinted in 2000.
FAR GOSFORD STREET (that part of Gosford Street which formerly lay beyond Gosford Gate and thus outside the City wall) was the medieval route eastwards out of the city, and one of Coventry's early suburbs, along with Spon, Harnall, and Saint Nicholas (Bishop Gate).
It would be fair to say that Far Gosford Street today, with its amalgam of buildings from different periods, forms a microcosm of Coventry's development between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries which is not paralleled elsewhere. Buildings from most architectural periods between those dates are represented there.
The Conservation Area was declared on 21st October 1992.
General Historical Background and Topographical Context
Far Gosford Street's modern extent was formerly bounded, at the city end, by Gosford Bridges (over the Sherbourne and a parallel stream course), Gosford Gate and the Chapel of Saint George (on the Bridge and linked to the Gate), and at the eastern end by Gosford Green and Saint Margaret's Chapel. The building of the Gate and city wall physically separated the two parts of the street into 'Gosford' and 'Far Gosford', but even before this the distinction had already been made, first by the 'goose ford' across the river and brook, and then by the bridges built across them. Thus we have references in the 12th century to 'extra' or 'ultra' Gosford, in the late 13th to 'ultra pontes (bridges) de Gosforde', and in 1410-11 of 'vicus de Gosforde extra portam' (Gosford Street beyond the Gate).
There were already houses fronting the street as early as the 13th
century. There is a possibility that the medieval suburb was laid
out in a planned manner, at least on the north side. Speed's plan of
1610 shows both sides heavily built up, but by Bradford's time (1748)
there is open land beyond the Bridges for a short distance. Orders
were given in August 1643, during the Civil War, to clear such buildings
as may be thought necessary to create a clear field of fire around the
walls; and it is possible that this accounts for the
By the 1930s the whole of the surrounding area was fully built up. The
street escaped serious damage in the World War Two air raids and was far
enough away from the City Centre to avoid large-scale redevelopment.
Much of Gosford Street was redeveloped in the 1960s and '70s, and although
the city end of Far Gosford Street (1-7 and Court no. 1) was lost to
roadworks in the early '70s, with further losses (8-17) for the
construction of Sky Blue Way in 1986, the street has managed to retain
much of its character and separate identity.
Listed Buildings on the DOE and Local List
Buildings which have been statutorily listed by the Department of the Environment as being of special architectural and/or historic interest are accorded certain safeguards. Any alterations, extensions or demolition require 'listed building consent', which is separate from any planning permission or building regulation approval required. In addition, the City Council keeps a 'local list' of other buildings which it considers worthy of preservation for their architectural or historic significance or value, which have not been included on the DOE's necessarily selective list. Although such buildings do not benefit from the statutory controls and safeguards, every effort is made to encourage their retention and sympathetic treatment. The full brochure gives information on the buildings in each list, with brief descriptions, illustrations and details of past occupants and the trades they practised in these buildings.
Far Gosford Street Conservation Area - Problems, Opportunities and Implications
Despite the effects of blight on the economy and appearance of Far Gosford Street, much of visual and historic value remains.
Little of this is immediately apparent, however, because, as with Spon Street and Spon End to the west, surviving medieval houses have been altered or refronted but not rebuilt. Many 15th or 16th century half-timbered buildings were retained by the owners of later centuries, and converted from fair-sized hall-type houses into two or three smaller tenements, each of two storeys. In many cases they encased the original facades in brick or plaster. The Gosford suburb was one place where such multiple occupation and modernisation took place.
In the last, as well as the present, century some of the older buildings were demolished and new buildings erected in their place, and land which had remained open for many years was infilled with terraced housing. In time, most of the houses were converted into shops. Ashville Terrace (nos. 77-83) was originally set back from the main building line to provide modest front gardens, now occupied by the modern single-storey shop extensions built on to the fronts of the houses. It would be fair to say that Far Gosford Street today, with its amalgam of buildings from different periods, forms a microcosm of Coventry's development between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries which is not paralleled elsewhere. Buildings from most architectural periods between those dates are represented there.
Designation of the street as a conservation area allows the pursuit of enhancement projects under any applicable Government funding schemes and encourages the recognition and restoration of medieval and other historic buildings. The group between nos. 28 and 41 on the north side, situated on rising ground at a bend in the road, could be of particular visual interest if sympathetically restored.