As part of 250MC, to get us thinking more about the idea of site specific in Coventry, we went to the Herbert’s History section about Coventry to provide us some more context as to what happened here in the past, and to give us some more ideas/inspiration if needed. For me this was particularly needed, as I was beginning to struggle as to where my ideas could lead me next. I had managed to get up to scratch with the technical ideas, however I was lacking the backbone of a story.
The first area of interest for me was based on the history of Coventry’s football team. Last year I did some volunteering work with the club, so the idea of creating a piece on them was intriguing. As a football fan myself for Chelsea FC, a football clubs history is quite rich in various aspects that happen on the years. Compared to football today, in the 1960’s football was still popular, but yet it was more based on local grown players that were more idealistic in the idea of traditional football (today we look at teams that are more focused on buying the best players for the most amount of money, or the players that can produce great bits of skill; both which were non existent.)
For Coventry, it was more important period for them as they had recently gained promotion into the top division in the English league. For any club, this was a great achievement which showed off the status as a good club who could play football. However for Coventry, it was a high yet the beginning of a low, as they battled to avoid relegation in the seasons to come. So a decline in the leagues were on the cards for the club, as well as receiving top recognition.However this changed in 1987 when the club recorded their highest achievement to date, when they knocked out Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup to win the trophy for the first time. This created a massive gathering in the town when the club brought the trophy home.
Nowadays, the club isn’t struggling (even though it has had a few financial problems throughout the years) but also it isn’t doing brilliantly. Even though they have moved into a much bigger stadium, the fan support is mixed, however you still get the atmosphere that can’t be missed.
To see items such as the kits, older balls, programs etc, it does show a change in time. However I feel that this isn’t really a history section as such; really I just see it as giving some additional information that I didn’t really know. If I was to compare it to Chelsea’s, the difference is major as they cover every single major point in the club’s history, whereas here there is nothing. This exhibit did inform me though in brief parts, but not enough for me to feel confident in making a project out of it.
The second, and possibly the most interesting idea, was based on watches. To me, what stood out for me actually wasn’t the history, but more from the technical side. Seeing as I have delved into macro photography in an essence, but wanting to have more of a story running through the image. So I thought that with these, I could begin to look at the more intimate part of the watches possibly. But firstly I decided to look more at the history surrounding these watches, as they were pretty unusual.
In Victorian Coventry, watchmaking was an intricate part of society, as it was one of the most important industries at the time, with a rough estimate of 3500 workers being employed. These workers were chosen because to make a watch you had to be extremely skilled and patient as these were complex jobs; however on the flip side these were well paid jobs so competition was high for them. Most of these watches were all hand made as their wasn’t really any technology at the time (late 1800’s) in the small workshops that were located mainly in the Spon Street and Butts area. Afterwards the areas of Earlsdon and Chapelfields began to become well known for watch making as well. However towards the beginning in the 1900’s, factories in other countries, such as the USA, began to arise and make over millions of watches for a much more cheaper price as well in a quicker time period as well. As this began tot threaten jobs in the area, some of the local watchmakers tried to retaliate by setting up their own factories instead. The most successful one was Rotherham and Sons, who went on to employ over 500 workers, including women as well. However, this was set up too late for it to have any effect, with the business eventually collapsing in the 1920’s and dying out.
This was just a beginning point to look at for my new idea as I definitely think that there is something to examine here with regards to a story, as I think a narrative could be built up. However I feel like I need to do more research into the history first so that I can begin to build up a better well of knowledge before I go onto the next step in this process.