City Changes

This period of industrial growth was reflected in changes to the size and character of the city. The city walls had been largely pulled down in 1662,

 but otherwise at the beginning of the 1700s its plan and appearance had changed little and was basically medieval with very old buildings, some much decayed.

 

“ The city may be taken for the very picture of the city of London, on the south side of the Cheapside before the Great Fire; the timber-built houses, projecting forwards and towards one another, til in the narrow streets they were ready to touch one another at the top. ”

  — Daniel Defoe,

 

The advent of toll roads, regular stage coach services and increased road traffic meant that the old city gates that had been designed for the access of horse and cart now restricted the flow of traffic. Five of them were removed during the 1700s, and all but two of the remainder were demolished the following century. With industrial growth there was a corresponding rapid increase in population for which housing was needed. As all the existing streets were already built up, new houses were built on the remaining open spaces as well as on gardens and land at the rear of existing properties, and others were built outside the area of the old city. Over a period of 30 years, the number of houses in Coventry almost doubled from 2,930 in 1801, to 5,865 in 1831.

 

In 1842 an Act of Parliament took away Coventry's county status and re-defined its boundaries as a city, but in recognition of its need to expand the revised boundaries enclosed 1,486 acres (6.01 km2), a considerably larger area than that of the old walled city. During the next 50 years, there were another two boundary extensions which absorbed further outlying districts, increasing the enclosed area to 4,417 acres (16.78 km2) in 1899

 

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