Index to Posts

Hyperlinked index - Click straight to the post you want to read. Arranged in categories.

Coventry Arts Umbrella Club - An Overview

EARLY HISTORY OF THE UMBRELLA CLUB - Little Park Street 1955 - 60.

Richard Sadler - Coventry Post-War Photographer.

An account of the early Umbrella Club through Umbrella Magazine.

Maurice Edelman - Labour MP was a huge supporter of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club.

Alternative film showing were a part of the Umbrella club right from the 1950's to the 70's. Apart from those mentioned in the post about the Transcendental Cauldron in 1969, here is an indication of some of the early films and also information about the Umbrella Film Society.

The Founders of the Umbrella The real movers in early Umbrella Club.

Citizen Advice Bureau and The Umbrella Club at 97, Little Park Street. 

Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau shared the 97, Little Park Street, premises between 1955 and 1957 according to Mark Cook, who is working on a research project telling the story of 75 years of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Coventry.

Umbrella Club Planning Permissions This pdf file was downloaded from the Coventry Planning Department's site.

Was the Umbrella Club's house journal, a well produced quarterly anthology of poetry, short stories, reviews and artwork edited by Terence Watson in the late 1950's / early 60's, featuring writers such as EM Forster, Phillip Larkin and more. We have a few Umbrella Magazines as downloadable PDF files on this site and hope get at least one more addition soon. If anybody has any issues not on here and are willing to share them - we can convert them to pdf and upload them to the this site.

PDF file of the very first Umbrella Magazine.

Two volumes of Umbrella Magazine via downloadable pdf files. Volume 1 Issue 4, Autumn 1959 and Volume 2 Issue 5 Spring 1960. Full of poetry, articles, short stories and illustrations. Edited by Terrence Watson.

The article, which deals with John Smedley's Hydropathic Institution in Matlock was written by Geoffrey Saunders (a resident of Coventry and Umbrella Co-editor) writing under the pen name of  Geoffrey Demdike. This illustrated article was taken from Andrews Pages - Matlock and Matlock Bath website but is also in the the above Vol 1 magazine on this site.

Phillip Larkin wrote this article for Volume 1 Issue 3 of  Umbrella Magazine - Summer 1959 to explain his poem I Remember I remember in which he was thought to have put Coventry down. Although Larkin had misgivings about the article before his death, it is a great evocation of his childhood and celebration of growing up in Coventry. Worth a read.

UMBRELLA CLUB 1960's - Early 70's at 18, Queen Victoria Road.

"The theme is the new underground art forms as exemplified by the work of Arts Lab in Dury Lane." A weekend Fringe / Underground arts fest with alternative films, local blues, progressive and folk bands, exhibitions and light shows. October / November 1969. features youtube of bands Wandering John, Last Fair Deal, Asgard, Dando Shaft and some of the films shown.

November 1969, the Umbrella Club organised a weekend Marathon of of underground, folk, blues and jazz bands / artists - non stop! This page looks at who was on with links to more information and youtube of some of the bands. It also looks at an attempt to organise a similar event in 1971 but which didn't come off because of the impending closure of the Queen Victoria Road premises due to redevelopment.

Following on from the success of the Transcendental Cauldron and Music Marathon events, the Umbrella decided to extend its music programme beyond Folk, Jazz and Classical to embrace the new underground bands and attract younger people to the Umbrella. Al Docker was asked to run a series of local and regional band nights on a Friday night with help from Trev Teasdel  who assisted him. Later in the year Trev took over when Al left to form his own band Tsar. The post looks at some of the bands who played the Umbrella.

The Neol Davies Jam Session 1970 - And Some Roots of Two Tone.

Advertised as Vic's Heavy Rock Jam Session in 1970, this Umbrella event was organised by Al Docker with Neol Davies, later of The Selecter, leading the session. The post argues that this otherwise obscure Umbrella music event played a role in the early Two Tone story.

The Umbrella Club played host to Coventry's first Folk Club in 1962, from which the folk scene branched out into various pubs in the city. A Saturday night folk club was still running on a Saturday night in 1969 / 70 when I joined and Folk (sometimes conjoined with poetry) continued to be an important feature of the Umbrella's programme in various forms.

Jazz and Poetry at the Belgrade Theatre
Jazz was an important part of the Umbrella programme from the late 50's through the early 60's with performances, recitals etc. Although this event wasn't initiated by the Umbrella, i expect a lot of the Umbrella members were in the audience of this important Jazz Poetry event at the Belgrade Theatre, especially as Spike Milligan was performing his poetry to jazz and had, with the rest of the Goons, opened the Umbrella in 1955. Features poetry and photographs from the book Poems from Poetry and Jazz In Concert - Jeremy Robson 1961.

The Umbrella Poets

Poetry had been an important feature of the Umbrella club since its opening in 1955. Through visiting poets, talks, Umbrella magazine, poetry and Jazz, poetry and folk, extramural classes and in the late 60's The Umbrella Poets, who led by Terrence watson and renowned poet John Hewitt, who held sessions at the Umbrella and arranged performances at Warwick University Arts festival etc. features one of John Hewitt's poems - An irishman in Coventry.

TERRY WATSON - SELECTED POEMS AND WEBSITE Terry was a leading light in the Umbrella and this is link to his book of poetry published recently.

In 1970 poet Geoff Pegg had his first volume of poetry published by Outposts Publications and organised a launch at the Belgrade Theatre, called after the book Knotted Sheets, which features an array of Umbrella Poets. It was quite a performance included some folk players from the Umbrella. The full details are on this post.

In 1972, not long before the Umbrella premises at Queen Victoria Road, Trev Teasdel a couple of experimental music and poetry events which he called the Humpoesic Happenings. Humpoesic being a made up word that incorporates Humour, Music and Poetry. There was an interface here between the StreetPress gigs in Birmingham that were also experimenting at the time.

Heather Lovatt's art exhibition may 1971 - list of exhibits.

Some events at the Umbrella were not on the official programme, organised by users ad hoc! I'm not sure this would have got official approval even though the Umbrella committee were pretty open minded!


After a couple of years of  temporary accommodation and uncertainty, the Umbrella Club were allocated rooms at the Charterhouse on London Road.  The band nights were not to be part of the new set up though. This page is from the Coventry Evening Telegraph with some interesting view inside the listed building.

As mentioned above, the band nights were not to be part of the new Umbrella in 1974 at the Charterhouse, in an attempt to appease the local authorities! However Trev Teasdel and John Bargent had launched Hobo - Coventry Music and Arts Magazine in 1973 and had offers of help with printing from terry watson at the Umbrella and later in 1974, through Henry West, who was both head of Coventry Voluntary service Council and on the Umbrella Executive Committee, facilitated Hobo through Holyhead Youth Centre and their detached Youth Worker Programme and a venue to promote upcoming local bands and facilitate the detached youth work was born 1974 - 75. This was also the base for early members of what became Two Tone.

As it says, a tribute to Terrence Watson, a mainstay of the Umbrella Club since its foundation in 1955, editor of Umbrella Magazine, English teacher and poet who passed away on Monday, 1st June 2009 at the ripe old age of 88.

The Umbrella Club continued in some form until recently with members latterly meeting at each other's houses to share poetry and other activities. In 2005 on the Umbrella's 50th anniversary, they produced a poetry anthology called Under the Umbrella. This post relates to that.

Barbara Russon - Visual Artist. Exhibition for the Umbrella Club 1995.

Exhibition at the Coventry Evening Telegraph and Coventry Cathedral.

Gentlefolk - Norman Wheatley's Folk Podcast.

Norman Wheatley used to perform at Umbrella events in the early 70's, was a BBC Birmingham Folk Presenter and still produces Gentlefolk as a pod cast. Worth listening to - he's good.

This section contains pdf's of various documents, newsletters, programmes and policy.

1968 document stating constitution of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Ltd and its Charitable status.

With the impending demolition of the Queen Victoria road premises in 1971 / 2, Terrence Watson put out a paper called Recovering the Umbrella, especially as they had no where to move to at that stage. Terry puts up a good advocation for the Umbrella, of which he'd been an important member and officer for since its beginning in 1955, it does portray the wider sociological value of the Umbrella to the community. I, for one,  can say the Umbrella certainly made a huge impact on my own development and practice in arts, education work and my personal life.

Umbrella Newssheets and programmes that give a fuller idea of  what went on at the Umbrella month by month.

Umbrella Club Planning Permissions

Documents of Coventry Planning department regrading planning permissions and renewals of the premises at 18, Queen Victoria Road, Coventry in the early to mid 1960's. PDF of letters and documents.

For further research - 

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