The Hummingbird is an important metaphor for human endeavour. This beautiful tiny bird hovering represents the fragility and transience of life, but the fragile shell belies an inner strength and tenacity.
The Hummingbird is seen in myth as a messenger and a stopper of time, Godiva too acts as a messenger taking the Book of Intent to London, carrying our hopes and beliefs. The Hummingbird has the ability to fly backwards and teaches us that our past informs the future. Godiva also reminds us that our history is at the heart of what is to come. Hummingbirds are tireless, working hard to find the sweetest nectar; they remind us to do our best each day to find the beauty in life and in others. Some Hummingbirds are known to fly as far as 2000 miles to reach their destination, so we are reminded to be persistent in the pursuit of our dreams, we can all make a positive impact in the world if we want to.
The origins of cycle production in Coventry lie in the manufacture of sewing machines at the Coventry Machinists Company established in 1861 by James Starley.
The company produced several successful models of sewing machine, and in 1868, Starley and his company were persuaded to manufacture the French-designed bone-shaker bicycles. Starley developed the design which led to the "Penny farthing" and more practical tricycle designs. It was his nephew John Kemp Starley who was responsible for inventing the first modern bicycle, the "Starley Safety Bicycle". Produced by Rover in 1885, it was the first bicycle to include modern features such as a chain-driven rear wheel with equal-sized wheels on the front and rear.
By the 1890s the cycle trade was booming and Coventry had developed the largest bicycle industry in the world. The industry employed nearly 40,000 workers in the 248 cycle manufacturers that were based in Coventry. The peak year was 1896, but in 1906 for the Rudge Whitworth Company alone made 75,000 of the 300,000 plus cycles manufactured in the city that year. It is fitting that Godiva, coming from the home of the bicycle, will be transported to London by 100 cyclists, on bicycles made in Coventry.
Lacemaking first appeared in the Midlands in the 1500s; by the end of the 18th century lacemaking across the country was an extensive cottage industry. Towcester, Wellingborough and Northampton became centres of lace making. Lacemakers worked from home, they supported their lace and bobbins on pillows (hence "pillow lace") and Lace Schools taught the craft, with children as young as 3 'taking up their pillow'. The introduction of "Maltese lace" to the Midlands increased the popularity of lace making and the Great Exhibition of 1851 also instigated a revival. The number of lacemakers remained high until the 1870s, the Franco-Prussian war cut off the supply of French lace and English lace was at a premium. The decline in lacemaking in the 1880s was due to changing fashions and machine-made lace. The Education Act of 1876 dealt the final blow with children unable to make lace. As Godiva's story has remained alive in the hearts of the people of the Midlands so has the making of Lace, with the Stourbridge based Lace Guild and its members.
In the 19th century the Black Country was the centre of iron chain making. The chains were of many dimensions depending on the use. One of the specialities of the area was anchor cables for ships, and the anchors were often made at the same works. For hundreds of years nails had been made in the Black Country. It was the main industry until the mid-1800s. Nail making by hand went into decline after the introduction of machine made nails in 1830 and many nail makers adapted their smiths and forges, and made chain. At the end of the 19th century 90% of all the chain workshops in England and Wales were in the five chain making towns of Cradley, Cradley Heath, Old Hill, Quarry Bank and Netherton. The largest and most famous ships' anchors and cable Chain Company in the Black Country started in Cradley. In the early 1800s Noah Hingley & Sons set up a forge and small chain factory and it grew in size until the firm ceased trading in 1986. The firm manufactured the anchors and anchor cables of the Titanic. The joke at the time was the anchor was the only part of the ship that worked. The decline of handmade chain started in 1903, when electrically welded chain started to be made, the chain trade continued until the 1970s. Like chain, Godiva links the West Midlands together, as different as the areas of the Midlands are, they are each joined by a common industrial history, a history of creativity, ingenuity and back breaking work, a history of immense pride in the working people who made the West Midlands great.
During the 18th and 19th Centuries, Silk Ribbon Weaving was one of the major industries in Coventry. In 1703 Mr Bird established a ribbon weaving works. During the early years the trade was organised so that silk merchants, known as 'Great Masters', brought silk and patterns from abroad and delivered finished ribbons to retailers. The overseeing of the preparation of silk and weaving of ribbons was done by an 'Undertaker', a middle man, who gave work to weavers. Weavers worked on handlooms in their houses, whole families would be engaged in the manufacturing process. Young people trained for seven years to become weavers and the trade was passed through families. The ribbon weaving industry in Coventry declined sharply following the 1860 Cobden Treaty, the treaty signalled the end of the traditional craftsperson-weaver. As Godiva is re-awakened in 2012, so she works as a catalyst, weaving the many different and diverse silken strands of the stories of the people of the West Midlands together to create an endless, shimmering ribbon.
Worcester's gloving industry reached its peak between 1790 and 1820 when 150 manufacturers of gloves employed over 30,000 people in Worcester. At this time nearly half of all glovers in Britain were based in and around the city of Worcester. Trade was strictly regulated by the government to protect home industries from foreign competition by placing large taxes on goods. Under this system the Worcester glove industry prospered. During the 19th century the government encouraged free trade, lifting taxes in 1826 on foreign gloves. This happened at a time when French gloves had increased in popularity and caused a huge reduction in trade which led to mass unemployment throughout the city. Many of the smaller businesses did not survive, but two of Worcester's most famous gloving firms, Dent Allcroft and Co Ltd. and Fownes Gloves Ltd did by reorganising. Both these firms went on to become leading glove manufacturers in Europe. Gloves are a key element of the decoration of the coat for Godiva and she will be wearing a modern version of a ruff made out of glove templates, laser printed with images of the glove making process.
Robert Chance bought a glassworks in Smethwick in 1824. Lucas and William Chance then became partners in Chance Brothers and Company. In 1837, it made the first British cylinder blown sheet glass. In 1848 a new Chance plant was set up for the manufacture of crown and flint glass. They became the largest British manufacturer of window and plate glass, and optical glasses. Other Chance Brothers projects included the glazing of Crystal Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the opal glass for the faces of Westminster Clock Tower, ornamental windows for the White House, stained glass windows, glass for lighthouses, lamp shades, microscope glass slides, painted glassware, glass tubing and specialist types of glass. Chance also popularised glass tableware, called Fiestaware. The Smethwick works closed in 1981. Adam Hussein the glass artist making Godiva's cufflinks used the history of glass making in the West Midlands as the basis of his designs. He visited Broadfield House in Kingswinford which has a collection of studio glass and came across the Chance brothers. Some of the images of his research have been screen printed onto the material of Godiva's coat. Adam has designed a set of six different cufflinks. He will be use dichroic 'Bullseye' glass, this glass has colour changing properties. Adam will be transferring images and photography from his research onto the glass. The glass will be encased in a metal fixture designed and made by Coventry artist 'Rachel Sutton.
From the 1980's where they wrote and coded games in their bedroom on a shared computer, by the 1990's twin brothers Philip and Andrew Oliver formed Blitz Games Studios, based in Leamington Spa, it has grown in to one of the most stable and respected development studios in the world. Julie Joannides one of the Godiva coat designers met with Philip and Andrew where they shared with her some of the original drawings for their plans for the Dizzy games which were hand drawn and numbered on wallpaper. The notion of palimpsest and of Godiva's Coat having a surface that has been layered and overwritten inspired Julie in the development of text and imagery to tell a story. Julie incorporated these original drawings through screen-printing onto the coat and layered them with stories of the journey, through appliqué, digital print and surface manipulation and laser cutting. Blitz Games Studios symbolise the new industries that are creating a new future for the Midlands and sit alongside and compliment the traditional heavy industries of the area.
The teapot refers to the 'Potteries', or Stoke on Trent the home of the Pottery industry. Since the 17th century, the area has been known for its industrial-scale pottery manufacturing. Companies such as Royal Doulton, Spode, Wedgwood and Minton were based there. The local abundance of coal and clay suitable for earthenware production led to the development of the local pottery industry. The construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal enabled the import of china clay from Cornwall and facilitated the production of creamware and bone china. Research and experimentation, carried out over many years, nurtured the development of artistic talent in the local community and raised the profile of Staffordshire Potteries. This was spearheaded by Josiah Wedgwood, and later by other local potters such as Thomas Whieldon. With the industry came a large number of notable ceramic artists including Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Charlotte Rhead, Frederick Hurten Rhead and Jabez Vodrey. In the late 1980s and 1990s Stoke-on-Trent was hit hard by the decline in British manufacturing. Numerous potteries were closed. However the pottery firm Wedgwood and Royal Doulton are still based in Stoke- on-Trent as are others. The iconic female figures like Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff have been the inspiration for Rachel Grant's designs for Godiva's coat. They include reflections of beautiful Art Deco designs, repeated circles, stacked teapots and fragments of text, all relating to a raw process of pottery production and the legacy that the industry has left.
When shoe-strings replaced buckles, many Birmingham buckle fabricators started to produce buttons. Leading Birmingham industrialists were involved in button manufacturing, including Matthew Boulton, John Fothergill and John Taylor. Of 21 button patents applied for between 1770 and 1800, 19 were from Birmingham and "Brummagem buttons" became a household name. Due to the fluctuations of fashion, the button industry started to decline, of the 17,000 working in 1830—many of them very young children—only 6,000 were left in 1860. The abolition of import duty on buttons in the 1840s led to a flood of cheap imports. Mechanization of the trade also meant a streamlining of the workforce. By the 1860s the industry was in absolute decline. The exception was the pearl button trade, which involved greater personal skill. Godiva, the pearl of Coventry, reawakens and in doing so will pull together and unite the history of the West Midlands with its future, its hopes and its dreams.
Precious metals have been worked in Birmingham since the 14th Century but the industry really grew from 1660. King Charles II returned from exile and brought back a fashion for fancy buttons and shoe buckles. As this spread, metal workers and artisans turned out thousands of pieces in steel, silver and burnished gold, inlaid with coloured glass and gemstones; they also made trinket boxes, called ‘Brummagen toys’ and jewellery. Development in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter was rapid in the 18th Century. As the expansion of trade continued, workshops sprang up in gardens and workbenches were installed in the houses. Different skills and expertise made people in the area reliant on one another and the Jewellery Quarter was established. Matthew Boulton, the famous industrialist played a key role with his Soho Manufactory and the establishing of Birmingham’s own Assay Office. The Jewellery Quarter also became famous for its pen nibs when Joseph Gillott perfected the technique of machine-manufactured steel nibs. In the early 20th Century the jewellery trade employed 30,000 people. Supporting trades employed as many. The Jewellery Quarter is still a thriving commercial centre of Jewellery making and design. As the fashion for Jewellery has changed throughout the ages, so has Godiva, no longer naked, but clothed in symbols of the industry that made the West Midlands great, Godiva will wear a piece of jewellery designed and crafted in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. Godiva like the Jewellery quarter has been modernised, but she is, as always, an ancient shining, golden symbol of hope, integrity and beauty.
Coventry has a thriving history of the manufacturing of machine tools and components and the production of nuts and bolts in the city is thriving.
Nuts and bolts are symbolic of the binding together of the old industrial heritage and medieval history of the city with the new, a future of sustainability, innovation and development.
Godiva is a fundamental component of what makes Coventry, Coventry. Her story sits at the very heart of the complex city that is modern Coventry, quietly defining and shaping it. Godiva draws together this most ancient of cities with its modern reflection and binds both together so tightly that they become one.
Trumpets play fanfares, usually for nobility or for official ceremonies and the trumpet is used here as a symbol to herald the Awakening and the return of Godiva, the noble woman, the defender of the poor, the advocate of the town as it was then, who has become so integral to story of Coventry the city.
Godiva will be awoken by a fanfare of musical, aerial and dramatic spectacle on the evening of the 28 July 2012 and will lead the Carnival and party that will take place in Coventry on the 29 July 2012.
Coventry is still home to Cash’s (UK) an internationally renowned producer of woven labels, badges and other woven items. In the early 1840’s Quaker brothers John and Joseph Cash of Coventry began production of silk ribbons. Coventry was famous for its silk weaving, jacquard weavers - Huguenots escaping persecution - had settled in Coventry and weaving became a major cottage industry. Workers owned their own jacquard looms and the Cash’s, like other merchants, distributed the silk for them to weave in their homes.
The Cash brothers outgrew this system and became factory masters. They were among the first in Coventry, pioneers of a more enlightened approach to employment. They built a 'halfway house' which would allow their workers the independence of the old outworker methods while they themselves controlled output. In 1857, work began on a site at Kingfield which Cash's (UK) was to occupy for the next 138 years. Above rows of weavers' cottages, the brothers created an upper storey with well-lit work areas housing jacquard looms powered by a central beam engine. These were the famous Cash's Topshops. The Free Trade Bill of 1860 allowed continental ribbons to flood the English market and many established Coventry firms collapsed, but Cash’s held fast. The brothers responded to the market changes, switching production from narrow frillings, to Victorian silk commemoratives and latterly to woven labels with which garment manufacturers could identify their products. In the 1870s the first Cash's woven nametape was produced on the jacquard looms. Since then successive generations of school children have come to rely on this method of identification. In January 1964, Cash's (UK) was appointed 'Manufacturers of Woven Name Tapes to Her Majesty the Queen.' Today, Cash’s (UK) IS the sole survivor of those historic Coventry weavers. Identifying new global opportunities has been part of the history of Cash’s and the Company has become a multi-faceted international business at the forefront of technological changes offering an unrivalled range of labels and sophisticated security solutions to some of the world’s greatest fashion and sport brands to effectively combat counterfeiting.