Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
The Coventry Blitz
- Coventry’s darkest hour came during World War II when large areas of the city were destroyed in a massive German bombing raid during the night of 14/15 November 1940.
- The attack destroyed most of the city centre and the city’s medieval cathedral; resulted in the loss of life of 1,200 people, the destruction of thousands of homes and changed the face of the historic city forever.
- The term ‘Coventrated’ was used by the Germans to describe similar levels of destruction on other towns and cities.
- Further air raids took place on 8 April 1941.
- After the war Coventry worked hard to build a city of peace and reconciliation.
- Much of the City had to be rebuilt from the rubble – the Cathedral was rebuilt and stands next to the ruins of the previous cathedral which was destroyed during the Blitz.
- The rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, has become recognised as a world centre for reconciliation.
History of the Belgrade
- The Belgrade Theatre was the first civic theatre to be built after the war and was opened in March 1958, as part of the large scale re-development of the City of Coventry. Built on an area flattened by the Luftwaffe, the theatre became a symbol of the reconstruction of Coventry.
- Now an English Heritage grade II listed building, the Belgrade acquired its name in recognition and thanks for a gift of timber from the Yugoslav city of Belgrade that was used extensively in the construction of the auditorium. The timber was sent as a gesture of solidarity by a city who suffered a similar fate to Coventry during the war.
- The Belgrade’s iconic chandeliers in the foyers were hugely controversial when they were unveiled due to the fact that the designer Bernard Schottlander was German! However the city was aiming for peace and reconciliation so the City Council committed to using German artists in much of its public artworks which proved very successful in the long term.