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2 Tone Trail

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2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail
2 Tone Trail

Walk Details
If you’re not familiar with 2 Tone music – quite frankly you’re missing out! It dates back to the late 70’s / early 80’s and is a fusion of traditional Jamaican ska music with elements of punk rock and new wave music. The name comes from the 2 Tone record label that came out of Coventry.

It’s more than just music though; this is a movement that encompasses design, fashion, social justice and bringing different racial communities together. The ethos of 2 Tone stands for unity, peace and respect, joyful but with a strong social conscience.

It was a movement that successfully rallied to bring freedom for Nelson Mandela and to put an end to apartheid, and still inspires new generations today.

This walk takes us to some of the key places within the city that were part of the movement and were special to acts like The Specials and The Selecter – 2 key players in the 2 Tone scene.

Although the official trail starts in the city centre – we’re starting ours at the Coventry Music Museum on Ball Hill in the Stoke area of Coventry. If you’re travelling by car we’d recommend you park in the city centre and get a bus out to Stoke to start the trail as there’s more parking available there! You’ll need bus number 17, 17A, 7, 7A, 7B, 9, X30 or X6 (all departing from Pool Meadow Bus Station – and alighting at Walsgrave Road/Clements Street).

Give yourself time to explore the museum and accompanying 2 Tone Village before you start the trail. In the museum you can see a lot of memorabilia from Coventry’s music scene – including the car that was used in The Specials “Ghost Town” video (a song that was written about Coventry). The museum has been curated by Pete Chambers and he has a team of very knowledgeable volunteers! The museum is open Thursday to Sunday so pick your day right to visit!

When you’re ready to set off we’re heading up Ball Hill and towards the city – taking a slight detour on the way to Paynes Lane and site of The Binley Oak (although no longer a pub – the sign is still visible on the building!) – once upon a time it would have looked like an ordinary pub in an ordinary street – but this was the prime rehearsal space for 2 Tone artists in the late 1970’s. It’s where Pauline Black first became a member of The Selecter and also where The Specials first performed.

Next we’re headed onto Far Gosford Street – known as the Music Mile back in the day. The key venue here is The Hand & Heart pub which played host to the emerging punk scene of Coventry in the late 1970’s. On 23rd February 1978 a band called the Coventry Automatics played here, on 1st December of the same year they returned – this time called The Specials. The Hand & Heart is now a well known brand of pizza take away – but keep an eye out for the special plaque for the 2 Tone Trail that marks the spot!

From here we head into the city centre and Coventry University (or Lanchester Polytechnic as it was once known) where Pauline Black, Jerry Dammers and Horace Panter attended. This was where Jerry and Horace first met – a meeting that was crucial in the forming of The Specials. Their song “Rat Race” was conceived here, with the promo video for it being recorded in the main hall.

As you continue your walk you’ll come to Priory Place which is home to the Coventry Walk of Stars (Iook for the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire building) – commemorating some of the major names to come from the city including The Specials, The Selecter and their first real manager – Pete Waterman.

Next stop on the 2 Tone Trail is along the Foleshill Road – The site of The Heath Hotel. If you’re listening to music as you walk – here’s where you may want to have Three Minute Hero on! This is where the Automatics played their first gig. This venue is quite a walk from the city centre – we’ve included it for the die hard fans!

As you retrace your steps back along the Foleshill Road towards the city, we’re going to cut down to the right and onto the tow path that runs alongside the Coventry Canal until we get to the Canal Basin. Back in the day this was a very run down area – it was the location though used for a photoshoot for The Specials in 1979 that turned out to be an iconic shoot. The images from it graced the sleeve of their first album.

Heading back into the city we take in more locations where the key players of the 2 Tone scene played gigs including The City Centre Club (now Society, Tower Street), The Parson’s Nose Chip Shop (Bishops Street), Tiffany’s Nightclub (now the site of Coventry Library), Mr Georges (Lower Precinct) and The Domino Restaurant (Lower Precinct) – sadly venues no longer in existence today.

The Holyhead Youth Club (on Holyhead Road) was where Neville Staple first met the rest of The Specials when they rehearsed in the basement of the club. This venue was pivotal in the development of the various musicians of the 2 Tone movement. Much of the graffiti from the time is still evident on the walls – a must see for any fan!

As we pass under the ring road we make our way through Spon End and towards the Butts Technical College and Butts Stadium. Back in 1981, when racial tensions were high in the country, a Festival Against Racism was held here that was organised by Jerry Dammers. It was an all day concert that included The People, The Bureau, Hazel O’Connor and The Specials. It was the last time that the original members of The Specials all played together in their home city.

The next stop on our tour is the birthplace of 2 Tone. 51 Albany Road is where it all began – in the front bedroom flat. It was the home of Jerry Dammer and a hangout area for the rest of the band.

From here we cut across towards Coventry Train Station and Warwick Road. Horizon Studios were once located here. Whilst the building has long gone in the development of the city, it was here that most of The Selecter’s body of work was recorded along with the second album from The Specials – More Specials.

Heading back into the city centre again we make for what was the site of Virgin Records in City Arcade. This was a mecca for the music minded in the city – and provided a wage for some of the band members as their music careers were starting to take off

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trainNearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Coventry (1.6 mile)

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