Coventry station’s makeover given the once over

26th April 2022

An £82 million face lift to transform Coventry’s railway station has just been completed. It certainly looked eye catching from the media coverage I’d seen so I paid a couple of visits last week to take a look for myself.

£40 million of the funding came from West Midlands Combined Authority’s Devolution Deal and snother £27.5 million from the Government’s Local Growth Fund as well as a contribution from Coventry City Council whose Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change (his role certainly ticks the boxes), Councillor Jim O’Boyle, excitedly explained to the media: “Coventry station is now perfectly equipped to meet the needs of our residents, visitors and businesses. There are improvements for cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and bus users too. All with the aim of encouraging people to choose public transport for some of their journeys.”

It’s good to hear everyone stands to benefit from these improvements, especially the point about “encouraging people to choose public transport” but I’m not sure bus users (who I note are at the end of the list of beneficiaries) have done as well as drivers and cyclists.

Let me show you around the revamped station to explain the point.

The newly extended building is certainly a much welcome improvement on the rather brutal concrete dominated original station buildings which are marking their 60th anniversary this year. Although even that’s been given a spruce up. Here it is ‘before’ on Google maps ….

…. and here it is ‘after’ the makeover.

The most prominent eye catching feature of the £82 million development is a new 627 space multi-storey car park. You can’t miss it.

It’s got 14 parking levels.

It’ll certainly be very handy for rail passengers arriving by car especially as it’s been built very close to the station entrance.

Although when I had a wander around last Friday one of the lifts was out of order (luckily I found a second lift at the other end of the building which was working) and if you don’t have a blue badge you have to drive up to at least the fourth level to find a space.

Mind you the spaces are very generous on err, space – you certainly get your money’s worth per square foot of parking.

I’m not a car park fanatic, but I reckon these spaces must rank as the best per square foot in the country – maybe reflecting the prominence of four-by-four luxury ‘Chelsea Tractor’ type cars in nearby Warwickshire?

The new car park is operated by Coventry City Council whereas the original concrete low rise multi storey affair sited on the other side of the original station entrance is run by Avanti West Coast, well, actually, NCP on their behalf.

Whereas Avanti charge a flat daily rate of £12 on weekdays and £5 at weekends…

… the super duper new one has graduated charges with an £8 all day Monday to Saturday charge (so cheaper on weekdays but more expensive on Saturdays) and only £1 on Sundays.

There’s also plenty of secure bike storage conveniently located by the car park exit.

Leaving the car park on foot, you’re right in the heart of the newly created “Station Square”– a rather attractively landscaped area conveniently located adjacent to the original pedestrian entrance to the station, which has had the full ‘public realm’ makeover treatment.

Passengers arriving by taxi or being dropped off by a friend or family member are also well catered for by set down points around “Station Square”

… complete with varnished wooden tops making for a handy seat while you wait to be picked up on a sunny day.

You’re close to the original entrance, gate line and stairs to the footbridge taking you to platforms 2, 3 and 4.

So all good for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and those arriving by taxi or being dropped off.

Then there’s access for bus passengers.

Prior to the revamp many bus routes, including those for the city centre, would divert off Warwick Road and stop right alongside that brutalist main entrance and the taxi rank ….

Photo courtesy Peter Murnaghan
Photo courtesy Peter Murnaghan

….. while other buses travelled direct along Warwick Road bridge over the railway with pedestrian access to these via a footway and steps. It was a bit of a route march to reach them.

The taxi rank is still there ….

… but in the new scheme of things buses have been banished from stopping right outside the station entrance and instead have been given a new four bay bus station on the far side of Warwick Road.

It’s very spacious with new bus shelters at each stop ….

….. with rather nice designs on them ….

… complete with real time departure information on smart pod type things by each stop.

There’s a machine selling ‘Swift’ smartcards and an electronic sign showing upcoming bus and train departures.

Although it wasn’t showing any train departures on my first visit.

But was on a second visit.

It’s all rather nice….

… with lots of room for buses …..

…. including layover bays in the unlikely scenario of any new bus routes in the future terminating at the station.

There are also two bays for rail replacement buses …..

Beyond the bus station there’s plenty more car parking spaces (making for station car park number 3)…

…. and the whole thing is adjacent to the “Central Six Retail Park” with its own car park ….

There’s a handy diagram to show you where everything is ….

… and a misleading yellow sign showing the route to take to the station – with an arrow pointing to the retail park rather than the station ….

But.

As you can see from that little map diagram, it’s the other side of Warwick Road and a fair walk to and from the railway station entrance.

Much further than motorists parking their cars in the swish new multi storey car park have to walk; and even further than anyone being driven by car or taxi and being dropped off in the newly landscaped “Station Square”. Or where buses used to set down and pick up outside that original concrete entrance.

That’s the new car park in the distance.

Let me show you the route from the original station gate line to the bus station …..

… you have to pass by the new “Station Square” (above) towards the new multi-storey car park and enter under the large double arrow symbol beneath the red sign …. then walk along a long corridor with a helpful sign to let you know you’re going the right way….

…. here’s that sign with my annotation to show what’s where….

Beyond which is a brand new gate line, you’ll pass by if you used the old one (it’s obviously much better to use the new gate line if you’re a bus passenger) ….

From the corridor side.
And from platform 1 side.

There’s ticket machines on the wall opposite the gate line if you’ve come from the bus station, but if you want the ticket office you have a much longer walk back towards the old gate line.

Here’s the rest of the corridor towards the bus station after you’ve passed the new gate line, towards the end of it, you’re actually walking under Warwick Road (which passes over the railway) …..

… and here are the automatic doors that lead out to the new bus station….

… and finally you arrive at the new bus station.

But if you want buses for the city centre, although some depart from two of the four bus stops in the bus station, the poster telling you where to catch your bus advises using the old stop on Warwick Road bridge (WR5) – as that’s where you’ll find the most frequent routes to the city centre (about every 3-4 minutes) including some that don’t divert into the new bus station from where there are only eight an hour.

To access these, it’s best to leave the station via a new (second) footbridge link that’s been constructed to platforms 2, 3 and 4 at the northern end of the platforms….

Knowledgeable inter-modal passengers wanting to take a bus to the city centre will ensure they exit via this new footbridge using the new stairs from platforms 2, 3 and 4 (there are also lifts)….

…. taking you to the upper level to another new gate line (so that’s three gate lines now – staffing costs must have increased as they were all manned on my visits) …

…. from where you can look down on to the passageway between “Station Square” and the new bus station at ground floor level….

…. or buy a ticket from the newly installed ticket machines if you’ve arrived by bus….

….. and exit the station along another new passageway at this upper level directly on to Warwick Road bridge (from where you can spot the bus stops on the bridge) .….

There are stairs down to the ground floor level by the new gate line with a rather misleading sign advising that’s the way to go for both buses and taxis whereas we’ve established the most frequent buses go from the Warwick Road bridge bus stops at this upper level. If you arrive by train on platform 1 it’s actually better to ascend these stairs for buses rather than descend them as the sign indicates.

Staying on the upper level you soon reach the end of the passageway (we’re now above the passageway to the bus station at ground floor level) and more automatic doors take you out on to Warwick Road bridge ….

…. near the bus stops from where there’s the more frequent service to the city centre as well as buses to Warwick University.

You then cross the road at the Pelican crossing, walk over the bridge to the bus stop for the city centre….

… where there are old style shelters, real time information signs and posters as presumably this was outside the remit of the £82 million station revamp scheme.

Back by the original station entrance a natty new Visitor Information pod type thingy has appeared…

…. sadly devoid of any bus information (obviously neither NatEx West Midlands or Stagecoach print information to hand out in these “it’s all online” days – more on this in Thursday’s blog).

And that’s it. £82 million. A great improvement for many, but I’m not convinced any more bus passengers will be “encouraged”, despite Councillor O’Boyle’s excitement.

Warwick Road bridge

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS.

42 thoughts on “Coventry station’s makeover given the once over

Add yours

  1. All too predictable. Most train users will arrive by car and there’s income to be had in parking.

    The planners of these schemes will be proud of the new facilities and will expect buses to divert off route to service them.

    Interesting how time savings are used by DfT to justify transport schemes, but are not used when making passengers walk further.

    Bus users in the West Midlands are regarded very much as second class citizens by the authorities. This is seen in Birmingham where bus users have been moved out of the central core to the inner ring road; the Birmingham New Street Stephenson Street entrance would have been great for bus users, but buses were removed some years ago. Corporation Street lost its buses similarly but the tram now uses it, when running.

    Your photo in the car park of the car in its space made me look twice as at first glance I thought it was straddling the line and taking up two spaces.

    Still it’s good to know there is so much money available for transport at the moment as it seems that many areas are in decline.

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  2. It all looks rather splendid, Roger, but where are all the people? Your pictures make it all look very quiet – almost abandoned.

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  3. The reason that not all buses serve the new interchange is because they are private companies free to make that choice. A choice you so vigorously defend.

    Maybe a central controlling mind isn’t so bad at all?

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    1. As a former provider of buses passing the station, I would estimate that fewer than 10% of bus passengers travelling to/from Coventry from the south wish to make the interchange at Coventry Station. They never diverted into the previous station bus stand, so why penalise the majority of passengers by adding extra travel time to run in and out of the new interchange? Its most valuable function will always be as an off-road terminus for services crossing the city from the north and east.

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    2. I would have thought the reasons not all buses serve the new interchange are that if they did :
      a) Passengers on the affected routes travelling to the City Centre would have longer journey times
      b) Passengers interchanging at the station would have further to walk
      and, possibly even
      c) The local authority and WMPTA requested that these routes continue to stop on Warwick Road in the interests of bus passengers (as above)

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      1. Totally wrong the WMPTA was abolished in 2017 & under the West Midlands Bus Alliance Partnership operators are obliged to work with the West Midlands Combined Authority in relation to service coordination. TfWM have the powers to control the commercial operations with the City Centres. It is correct that certain services do not call within the station but this was done in the interests of passenger safety and not at the commercial whim of NXWM, DIAMOND or Stagecoach. This was explained to me on a site visit and is fully understandable when taking the service diagrams into account also.

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      2. Sorry, Richard – I should have realised that WMPTA no longer existed. However, it does demonstrate how little people understand about how public transport is organised – even those like myself who take an interest.
        Incidentally, what were the passenger safety reasons for services not using the new station ? If using it would have adverse safety implications, it rather suggests basic flaws in the design of the facility.

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      3. I understand it was the road layout outside the station which is under the control of Coventry City Council and not the design of the bus Interchange. Coventry is notorious for its traffic management. The routes in question didn’t have a direct route into the station and by stopping nearby it reduced the net inflows of buses accessing the station thus making the loading environment better for passengers.

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  4. Did you take a walk into the city centre while you were there? A much changed experience from the station over the past few years, and equally worthy of a before and after.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You didn’t seem to get onto the platforms. I have only passed through Coventry and have to say tgat on the platform side change is largely invisible. Maybe the 60s buildings are listed but it doesn’t seem any great improvement.

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  6. So 4 out of 14 floors of the car park are for disabled drivers – that means that just under 30% of travellers (if not the general population) are disabled. Sounds a bit excessive.

    Mind you when I see a young woman park her 4×4 outside Waitrose in a disabled space and run into the shop, maybe I can see why you need all those spaces!

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  7. The smart pod like things are absolutely loved by Transport for West Midlands & are found across Brum City Centre. Unfortunately they are about as reliable as the NXWM Hydrogen Buses on the 51. They don’t really work. Much of the time they display the ident “Refer to timetable ” that when they are actually switched on. The real time countdowns also seem to Doctor Who & much time use a Time And Relative Dimensions In Space approach when waiting for your bus. Coventry Bus Interchange is yet another vanity project from Andy Street that works better on paper than reality. Wait till you see the Mayor’s plans for Dudley Bus Station next which I can’t stop laughing at which involves over 50 Diamond Buses reversing in & out each hour.

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  8. The smart pod like things are absolutely loved by Transport for West Midlands & are found across Brum City Centre. Unfortunately they are about as reliable as the NXWM Hydrogen Buses on the 51. They don’t really work. Much of the time they display the ident “Refer to timetable ” that when they are actually switched on. The real time countdowns also seem to Doctor Who & much time use a Time And Relative Dimensions In Space approach when waiting for your bus. Coventry Bus Interchange is yet another vanity project from Andy Street that works better on paper than reality. Wait till you see the Mayor’s plans for Dudley Bus Station next which I can’t stop laughing at which involves over 50 Diamond Buses reversing in & out each hour. Oh & Fool Meadows so called improvements by TfWM ended up a cash cow for the contractor. However I don’t agree with Gareth the bus Interchange hubs are much better in the City Centre eaay to find & easy to use than the convoys of 9s, & 37s that used to trawl Corporation St & make onward changes easier and simpler mind you Corporation St is very peaceful now as the ever gormless Andy Streets trams don’t actually work either……

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    1. I am not a fan of trams. Very expensive to build and maintain and the route cannot be changed and trams and pedestrians and other traffic simply do not mix.. If there are road works or accidents trams come to a halt That’s pretty much why the got rid of the original trams mind you in my view the guided busways are no better
      Much better to just have bus lanes. If you want to keep the lane tight you can use laser guidance

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      1. You would love Andy Streets trams then Bob they never operate and passengers are told to use the NXWM 74 & Diamond 16 instead which don’t have bus lanes because of the road layout of the Soho Rd. Hagley Rd services have bus lanes supplemented by a tram that doesn’t work. Bristol Rd also has bus lanes which the 144 won’t use from Sunday. Incidentaly one of the elected officials who very vocally wants to save the doomed 144 recently successfully campgained to have a bus lane removed you honestly couldn’t make it up.

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      2. The trams appear to quite an extent compete with rail which seems a bit daft. The trams are currently suspended and there appears to be no chaos which tends to indicate there is enough bus capacity

        For what the trams cost and the ongoing subsidy they need there could have been major improvements to bus service

        Politician though love grand schemes that cost a fortune always go way over budget and are always delivered late and offer poor value for money

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      3. Nobody who uses the trams consider the NXWM 74 or DIAMOND 16 as a replacement for the Metro. Regular users are using other ways of travelling the stats prove this & Metro ticket acceptance by NXWM & Diamond has ended. The market for the Metro is very different to that of NXWM 74. Most users between Brum & Wolverhampton will use West Midlands Rail and not the bus network. I have not witnessed any extra traffic on Diamond 16.

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    2. The previous situation, with lines of buses on Corporation Street, High St, Bull St and New St was not welcoming. However there should be some middle ground between walls of buses and buses being unwelcome in the core. Maybe a couple of routes from each quadrant allowed through to allow for connections and reducing walk distances for the less mobile. It is really a statement that bus passengers are less important that those arriving by tram or car.

      I remember the 37s terminating on New Street and the 9 running out of Quinton, so I am a little behind the times.

      It’s a good point about the current lack of trams in the centre now

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Diamond Bus 16 does a very good job running at high frequency in linking Hagley Rd, Soho Road & Harborne services at One Snow Hill for onward connections to South Birmingham routes at Moor St Interchange . There is no need for anyone who is less able to wallk across the City for Bus connections.

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  9. I get annoyed with redevelopment that inconvenience bus passengers. Councillors and press articles are always mentioning “sustainable transport” and specifically reference walking and cycling but not buses.

    Look at this article about so called improvements in the North Bristol (actually South Gloucestershire). I know this area, lots of ghastly dual carriageways, ideal for conversion into attractive tree lined boulevards with bus lanes IMO. But no, all that’s happening is raised junctions (bad for buses), cycle lanes, traffic signals, and two bus stops are being moved to ease traffic flow (excellent comment about that).

    https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/major-changes-planned-north-bristol-6996650#comments-wrapper

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    1. Transport for West Midlands undertook full and exhausting consultations with the public and user groups before the redevelopment ; I was part of them; all views were taken into account and bought forward. The new facilities are a vast improvement on what was there previously. Its a lot more open than we Centro ruled the waves and made such a dogs dinner of the Fool Meadow redevelopment, so much the operators refused to use it at one point. Thankfully lessons were learned from that utter fiasco.. TfWM is much more proactive than Centro was although one may not necessarily agree with their polices and for some odd reason they put up me.

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    2. Cycle lanes in Central London have increase congestion and pollution and reduced the average speed to a walking pace

      I would ban all no essential traffic including cycles from Central London and that includes Blue bade holders as well. Cyclist can cycle to the edge of central London and catch the excellent public transport from there Cyclists and motorist that live in Central London would be exempt

      You could then turn one lane of all the roads in Central London that have a bus route into a bus lane

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  10. Yes it’s interesting that he puts drivers before bus users and says ‘some of their journeys’does he mean by that the number of journeys they do in say a week or a single whole journey broken down into different modes? Although I never caught a bus from the rail station I always use to see people waiting when I got off at Coventry from time to time when I went that way on my Oxford to Liverpool trips (going Coventry Nuneaton). Although I think that I did do it once on a de Courcey Travel bus from Coventry Airport when flying back from Naples.Coventry Airport is no more for passengers and maybe de Courcey are no more either?

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    1. De Courcey ceased trading on the 23rd August 2020. Certain of its services are now operated by West Midlands Travel Limited , Diamond Buses Limited and Johnsons under contract to TfWM or WCC .

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  11. At first glance not too good for those bus passengers with mobility issues then. Previously I reckon you could get from a platform to the city bound bus stop in 5 minutes via the lifts (providing you chose the right carriage) and you didn’t need to venture outside if it was raining (well not really).
    There is also a lot of outside to grit if it gets icy!

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  12. Meanwhile, the world’s first vertiport – a transport hub for future vehicles like electric drones and air taxis – has opened in the UK – at a site opposite Coventry station !

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  13. I was very disappointed when I first visited the new interchange. As Roger says, buses used to start right by the station entrance – you didn’t even get wet if it was raining. Now buses are kept out of sight from the station.

    I can only assume that the designer doesn’t like buses. The interchange is an expensive project that makes bus passengers feel second class compared to car and taxi users.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you want more people using buses you need to make the bus a more attractive option. This development seems to have taken things backward and taken the bus further away from the station and moved the cars nearer

      The bus station as well looks pretty basic and provided bus users no real protection from the weather. The bus shelters are small and very open so will provide little protection from the weather and seating in the shelters looks to be minimal and uncomfortable

      Going by the pictures it does not look as if you would feel safe waiting for a bus at night. A taxi would seem to be a better option

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Interestingly councils are prepared to throw money at park and ride schemes but not on bus services

      It is almost impossible to get costs from the councils for these schemes but there is no doubt that they are heavily subsidized. Some councils will claim the service is not subsidised but leave out the cost of the car parks and the los of parking revenues. In many cases the fares alone on Park & Ride are lower then those on normal bus services

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  14. It is hardly surprising the car park is the obscene size it is, as in a past life, I had to do checks on usage at Coventry c2005, and was astonished to find the main one (there were three!) was completely full by about 0600!

    And yes, those buses serving stops in the Warwick Road do not need to waste time serving the Interchange, but the routes that do should have not have been banished from the front door. Yet again, demonstrates the general mindset of those who plan such things and indeed the Railway itself, who never consider buses even when run by the same owning group although not applying here.

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    1. The bus Interchange was built, designed & funded by Transport for West Midlands thru the CWLEP Growth Plan is nothing whatsoever to do with the rail authorities.

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  15. The planning, cooperation with the bus operators and user groups was exhaustive and what has been created is solely from what bus users wanted and was designed for the benefit of bus users. The public meetings I attended and those behind the scenes were planned meticulously by Transport for West Midlands and should be applauded.

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  16. Coventry is the main station in my native city, whose “brutalist” station building that justifiably has listed status is the place where I receive that reassuring feeling I’m home.
    It was simple easy to use with buses outside the front door to the city where you could wait inside the building.
    Indeed the “old” building was nice and warm to wait in at 05:30 this morning for the first train to London as I’ve done on many occasions.
    It is surely a portent of things to come that the new station has no Booking Office or staff accomodation.
    There are now three gatelines but already there are insufficient staff to cover them all throughout the day.
    The bus interchange was descoped from a covered building with saw tooth bus stands to save money.
    I’m not surprised some services don’t use it as they would get stuck in traffic exiting the retail park at busy times.
    Your comments about the poor signage are valid as the facility is used by students travelling to the University of Warwick unfamiliar with the network.
    Transport for West Midlands bus stop maps aren’t user friendly requiring users to find their destination, then the code of stop then find stop and don’t have you are here.
    An attempt was made to have timetables in the Booking Office but the attitude by staff was this is a railway station.
    Communication is a lost art in this part of the world, imagine if I suggested signage that said Buses to University of Warwick pointing to stop on bridge the stop where all services go from, the answer would likely be policy doesn’t permit this.
    The needs of bus customers come last in this part of the world which is besotted with rail……

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    1. Across Birmingham & The Black Country rail usage is a distinct market and totally different from buses. West Bromwich, Wolverhampton Cradley Heath, Halesowen, Bearwood & Stourbridge have excellent bus stations with clear timetables and maps that are easy to understand. Peripheral towns such Oldbury, Blackheath , Kings Heath, Kings Norton have maps , timetables etc displayed in centres that are regularly updated. Everyone I know who uses West Midlands Railways wouldn’t ever use the bus network anyway they are two distinct markets other than for Birmingham City Centre where I have openly critisised TfWM for the approach it has information at stops which to outsiders I think are quite baffling I can’t see how you would improve the level here. The rail market and bus market are totally different across Brum & The Black Country and in my opinion no amount of integration will ever change that . The bus network in society will always been perceived as second class to rail and that will never change.

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    2. Of course the University of Warwick don’t help with the name as I wonder how many people turn up in Warwick when it’s actually in Coventry? Perhaps renaming it to the University of Warwickshire which is Coventry’s true county before the West Midlands.I was reminded of a friend of mine who is an extra in films and was offered an extras job in West Wycombe which is a village west of High Wycombe but whoever was doing their travel advice gave details about how to get to West Wickham,a south eastern suburb of London!

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      1. Quiet idiotically Warwickshire Cricket Ground is here in Edgbaston miles from the Warwickshire boarder. No one around here my age class them remotely as being from Warwickshire even more bizarre despite being born in Loveday St in 1968 there is no mention of Warwickshire on my birth certificate thank god.

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      2. Most of modern Birmingham was Warwickshire but it’s took in little bits of Worcestershire and probably Staffordshire too.The Gloucestershire cricket ground is in Bristol yet it’s normally thought of a sort of county city but I’d guess it was Gloucestershire once and Mercia despite the strong south west vowels thereabouts!

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      3. I first went to (the University of) Warwick in the late ’60s as a potential student. It may be different now but even as a fairly naive 17 year old who had never been north of London on my own i knew that Warwick (Uni) was on the southern border of Coventry. I should add that we were told that the (original) University site was situated half within the Coventry City Council boundary and half within Warwickshire County Council although all the early development was in the Coventry section. (And later land purchases have also been in Cov.)
        It could be that they now use it as an initiative test – if you end up at Warwick Station and can’t get to the University, they won’t take you?
        One situation I have experienced is people (I think Open University students) arriving late for a seminar at Aston University, because they had been to Aston Station.

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      4. It is a common problem with Aston Uni and its location, for years BRMB was based in Aston yet many went to the ATV CENTRE on Broad St as they moved into the Alpha Studios personally anything to do with Aston the villain here is quite simply is Steven Gerrard who should take all the blame……….

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