Memorial Park opened as tribute to the fallen
COVENTRY’S War Memorial Park opened on July 9, 1921, as the city’s tribute to the 2,600 local servicemen who lost their lives during the conflict.
Previously the 120-acre site was little more than a large grassed area that once formed Styvechale Common, which was part farmland and part woodland.
The land was owned by the lords of Styvechale Manor - the GregoryHood family - who sold it to Coventry City Council to enable the park to be created.
The idea was for a £5,000 war memorial in the centre from which avenues planted with memorial copper beech trees would radiate, along with sports facilities, a children’s playground and other public amenities.
But due to limited funds and urgent priorities elsewhere in Coventry, such as local housing provision, the creation of the park would ultimately take more than ten years.
Planting began in the spring of 1925 and the avenues were opened to the public that summer.
The 90ft-high war memorial tower funded with donations and designed in an Art Deco-style by local architect Thomas Francis Tickner, was inaugurated by Field Marshall Douglas Haig on October 8, 1927. It is made of reinforced concrete and clad in Portland stone and was built by John Gray who once lived at Coombe Abbey.
Gray also built the Courtaulds works at Foleshill and a number of housing estates, particularly Wyken and Stoke. Inside the memorial is a room called the Chamber of Silence.
Every year on Remembrance Sunday, it is open for the public to view the Roll of the Fallen, books listing all the Coventry men killed in the two world wars and in more recent conflicts. Most other neighbourhoods also commissioned their own memorials. A number were only made of wood and plaster, the intention being to replace them when the money was raised, but in the cases of Earlsdon and Foleshill, this never happened.