2 Tone Trail Plaque at The Lanch
A couple of weeks ago I posted a grumpy old man piece concerning my dissatisfaction with the likely fate of English Heritage's blue plaque scheme. In doing so I was reminded of a very specific example of how such a scheme has been put to such good effect for the benefit of the local area.
I am referring to the 2 Tone Trail through Coventry. Some years ago, local aficionados had an inspired idea of how to give the musical revolution that was 2 tone the prominence that it deserves in the city of its inception. Thus was born the '2 Tone Trail' put together by Pete Chambers. The book traces a path through Coventry city centre and some of it's outlying areas, highlighting many of the places of special relevance to the 2 tone story. With the help of local commercial sponsors and the musicians themselves, these key locations were gradually marked with the ska equivalent of the blue plaque (which by my reckoning are far more stylish than the English Heritage versions!).
I purchased both editions of the book (the later edition is pictured which was updated and expanded when the thing that many dared not even consider happened - The Specials reunion) and took a copy with me on a planned trip to Coventry with the kids in tow.
On this occasion we did not do the trail, the purpose of this visit being to trace a more personal Coventry trail relevant to my wife, Gunta, who was born in the city and lived there before decamping to London in the mid-80's. This trail then took us to Bishops Ullathorne School, Colina Close an the Marina Fish Bar in Willenhall. There were nevertheless, occasions when the personal and published tours crossed paths, notably in the Dog & Trumpet and the Butts Technical College.
I just wanted to mention that I was interested to see a part of Coventry that I had never seen during many visits in the late '80's, the Canal Basin. So, Gunta led the way over the inner Ring Road to one of the most unlikely of places to have stamped its mark on British popular culture.
Adrian at The Canal Basin Entrance
Mr Brindley Meets Miss Ramona Andrews
Back in 1979, the area was run down and neglected and for that reason perhaps, a perfect setting to photograph a band who were all about documenting the industrial decline that was a feature of so many cities in Britain in the mid to late '70's. It was a decline that was to accelerate as Margaret Thatcher's new politics got the upper hand from '79 into the first years of the 1980's.
The site is one of several where 2 tone fans, canal boat enthusiasts, ramblers and joggers alike are reminded subtly of the area's musical significance by the presence of one of the aforementioned stylish plaques.
Roddy and Horace at the Canal Basin Unveiling
So this is my point..... in a small way, the existence of these plaques have (with the undoubted very concerted efforts of those who pressed so hard to make them happen) generated a very specific interest in Coventry and a real sense if visible pride in what was achieved over 30 years ago now. Google the 2 Tone Trail and see how much media interest there has been in the project. Brilliant! And at what cost..... peanuts I am sure in comparison with the lasting benefit they will bring to the city.
To end up I also wanted to also mention the 2 Tone Central Cafe, which houses a museum dedicated to the scene. This was closed when we arrived, but the staff very kindly opened it up for our benefit. Look it up should you pass through Coventry any time soon.
From Left to Right: Rudi, Big Horace & Ramona
I Want... I Want,,, I Want!!