Walsgrave Road, known locally as Ball Hill, was at one point a bustling centre for shopping, serving the residents of Stoke and Wyken for years.
Ask any local taxi driver to take you to Ball Hill and they’ll know where to go.
Many Coventrians will have memories of picking up a bargain in Stardust or getting a slap up breakfast at the Rosebud cafe, or even queuing up outside Britton’s sport shop for the latest CCFC strip.
Many of those shops are still there and Ball Hill remains a busy stretch, serving as one of the city’s major bus routes.
But as Covid-19 put a stop to much of the footfall that once inhabited our region’s high streets, how has Ball Hill fared? Have there been any shop closures and what do locals think?
Here’s what happened when we paid a visit.
You can get your Coventry and Warwickshire news straight to your email inbox – and it’s FREE!
All you need to do is sign up here.
The emails come out twice a day, at lunchtime and in the evening, with the latest news, what’s on and sport from across the region.
We visited Ball Hill on a busy Thursday lunchtime, just as the sun arrived. A feeling of familiarity crept in as we queued up to the main junction to access the shopping area, most commuters into Coventry will have sat in a traffic jam on this stretch.
As we parked the car and wandered up to the top of the hill, families and couples milled about doing their shopping, and a huge queue snaked up to the high street from the bank.
We start at the top of the hill and head into Ade’s plaza salon, a hair and beauty supplier who has had to diversify so she can keep her shop open.
Owner Ade Osunwe said: “Everyone is afraid. It is not easy, we are just trying to cope, it was busier before lockdown.”
Her shop has been open since 2015, but it was only post-lockdown that she had to widen her offering from hair and beauty to general goods so that she could attract a bigger customer base.
The shelves groan as containers of peanuts and milk powder sit next to wigs and curl cream. Ms Osunwe said: “The rent on this high street is expensive. Everyone is shopping online now – the Government need to think of us.
“I have four children and we are not on benefits – how will we survive?”
We head across the road to the key and shoe repair shop, which current owner Dave Oates informed us has operated in this capacity for more than 80 years.
Mr Oates, who has owned the shop for five years, said: “The last three weeks have been really good, with students coming back landlords often come to me to get their keys cut.”
And how has the shop recovered as shoppers have returned? “We do have regular customers and walk-ins, when we started [the shop] there were key cutters and shoe repairs everywhere, but slowly it’s become a dying trade” he said.
Mr Oates said that trade just hasn’t been the same since Covid-19, and despite the last few weeks “going back to normal”, they were twice as busy last September.
As we continue down the hill, some of the businesses have their shutters rolled down and some have permanently closed like the Age UK charity shop.
A sign in the window read: “As this shop has permanently closed, please do not leave any donations outside this shop, thank you.”
The was an incredibly popular spot for avid bargain hunters, at one point selling clothes for 99p, but it did not make it out of the Covid-19 lockdown.
A few doors down there is an empty unit where the once popular Boss Shoes stood. The family-ran shoe shop, which had been in the city for 32 years and had a warehouse in Tile Hill, closed at the start of the year.
A couple of hundred yards further down, we pop into the indoor arcade which houses a barber shop, butcher’s shop, sweet shop and key cutters among others.
At the centre of Ball Hill is Coventry’s Music Museum – a treasure trove of music history and with its very own 2-Tone village, it was voted one of the best museums in the Midlands on TripAdvisor a few years ago.
We finish off at Fiveways Fish Bar, on the corner of the busy Brays Lane and Clay Lane junction. The popular chippy has been in the area for 25 years and was closed for six weeks at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Owner Mr Singh, who owns another chip shop locally, said that things have not returned to normal in the area. “It is definitely quieter, before the street was very busy. We are still busy at lunchtime, everywhere is the same,” he said.
The area sits across the Upper Stoke ward and Lower Stoke ward. Public Health England 2017 data shows this part of the city to have just over 17,682 residents. The age group with the most people in is 25-64 and the smallest age group is the those aged over 85.
We asked local residents what they thought of the area and if they had any memories.
Martin Winstanley said: “1980. 269, Walsgrave Road. Bargain Bathrooms in between Stardust and The Rosebud Cafe. They did the best Polish sausage mash and cabbage! I worked selling bathrooms as a Saturday job. Great memories!”
Another resident added: “We live just by where you’re standing – on Marlborough Road – it was fantastic to be able to shop during the Covid-19 lockdown, many of the independents really were a lifeline!”
Look: memories of Ball Hill over the years
Despite some of the local favourites closing down over this past year, Ball Hill remains a bit of an anomaly, with many of the independent businesses still standing, managing to trade over generations.
It is perhaps the only road in Coventry where you can get a fry up, order new blinds and do your weekly shop as you wait for your tyres to be fitted.
Things may have changed over the years, but one thing that is certain is that Ball Hill will never be quiet.