On the fringes of the UK's second biggest city lies a town with a few stories... No, not Coventry. Cosmopolitan Nuneaton.
1. Famous people…
Well, OK, famous is stretching the truth, but I give you Mary Whitehouse and Larry Grayson. Without whom we’d have had no one interferring with our viewing habits in the 80s, or the catchphrases ‘shut that door’ and ‘what a gay day’. Ken Loach and George Eliot are probably much worthier mentions! Oh, and Pete Doherty was schooled here. Well, more or less – it was down the road!
2. The road sign
The forever changing Roanne Ringway to Poanne Pingway – the council are on a never-ending losing battle to correct it. What a lovely sense of humour the Nunners people have! Always a comfort to see it if you’ve been out of town for a little while!
3. The random locals
There’s been an array of legendary characters around Nuneaton over the years A guy nicknamed Radio Joe, who was convinced someone had put a transmitting device in his head hence the name.
Street Fighter, a huge beast of a man, always in short shorts and legwarmers, no matter what the weather, with long flowing black curly hair. And Leather Man, who wore a full suit of some kind of leather-like material, the handmade flares held together with some kind of gaffer tape offering. He was often seen around the town centre picking things out of drains with a long metal contraption.
4. The carnival
Nuneaton Carnival, a proper old school affair with a massive procession through the streets, everyone throwing money at people on the floats with buckets trying to catch the coins. Celeb vists have included, Cheryl Baker, Elkie Brookes, John Virgo, Gladys Pugh from Hi-de-Hi! (Ruth Madoc) and the waitress (Yvette from ‘Allo ‘Allo) Vicki Michelle (below). A proper who’s who of 80s celebrities! You didn’t go!? You missed out.
5. The market
Nuneaton Market has won countless national awards for being the best market still thriving today. Even exotic fruits can be found there.
6. Britain bloomers
Even though Nuneaton has had it’s fair share of problems, the flowers displayed for Britain In Bloom are an annual treat. National finalists on many occasions, it’s something to be very proud of.
7. Mount Judd
Nuneaton people know it as Juddy. Basically, a big hill thing that can be seen for miles around, made when they dug out the massive quarry. Conquor that hill!
Pingles disco was a must visit, dressed in your 80s finest, demonstrating your side-step moves, or the stomp, hoping you’d be lucky enough to get your hair sprayed neon pink or green by one of the staff. Maddisons (known as maddies), then Millennium and Liberty’s Nightclub, and now a gym, was the place to be every weekend, and the only proper nightclub Nunners hads. Remember the massive queues?! Other places of note are Liquid and Envy, 007 and Miss Moneypennys, formerly known as Bangles. Plenty of places to get blotto.
Who didn’t head to the bandstand for a sneaky underage cider – out of any parents prying eyes, naturally! Sobers, a youth club for under 18s sold non alcoholic beers and wines. But there were ways and means to flaut the rules… The youth of Nuneaton found the most ingenious ways of smuggling in the real deal, including wrapping booze up as presents and faking a birthday, or drinking a bottle of thunderbird, or maddog 20:20 in a oner before you got in and desperately tried to act sober.
10. Nuneaton tornadoes!
There have been numerous tornados in Nuneaton. In June 2014, there was some kind of supercell storm where the market blew away and the roof was ripped off B&M Bargains. The storm so intense it forced the charity football match between Nuneaton Borough and Coventry City to be abandoned.
11. Batch Bar
The Batch Bar was a tiny little kiosk, literally the width of a door, where busy hands fired out batches (a bread roll for the non-Nuneaton people reading). On a Saturday you’d meet at the fountain – quite often a bubble fest after someone had dispensed fairy liquid into it!. Then you’d look round ‘What Records’, sit around the fountain for a bit, maybe visit the ‘Way of Life’. And, of course, get something from the Batch Bar before wandering home. Happy days with no stresses!
12. George Eliot
Everything is named after George Eliot. There’s a George Eliot school, a George Eliot pub, a George Eliot hospital. Do think there’s a bit of pride here!? Why not!
And last but perhaps not a highlight, Nuneaton is…
13. Known for being…
The dogging capital of England!