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A Place to Live

Coronation street party in Braunstone, 1953

Leicester is an ancient Iron Age settlement that was held as a high status tribal centre near the east bank of the River Soar just over 2,000 years ago. It quickly turned into a significant capital city at the time of the Roman Conquest of Britain around AD43.

Through the centuries the city’s population grew, exploding with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s. Much of the Leicester was re-built and old buildings swept away for new terraced houses built to accommodate the workers, which gave rise to a strong community spirit in many areas of the city.

After World War II more new communities came to Leicester, from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent. Today Leicester is one of the most diverse cities to live in and is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK in terms of population.

Living Like a Roman

Leicester’s Roman inhabitants lived in a wide variety of houses, ranging from rows of small, simple rectangular buildings built along street fronts (with domestic rooms located behind shops or workshops) to larger, elaborate townhouses built around colonnaded courtyards.

The Vine Street Courtyard House

One of the largest townhouses found in Leicester was a courtyard house excavated at Vine Street in 2004-06.

The Streets of Medieval Leicester

Medieval Leicester lay within the old Roman walls and its layout was heavily influenced by remaining Roman structures.

Wygston’s House

Wygston’s House is the oldest house in Leicester. It has been here since medieval times and the road it stood on was the widest and busiest thoroughfare in the town, High Street.

Bow Bridge

Two of Leicester’s best-known legends about Richard III are linked with Bow Bridge. Both were first published by the antiquarian John Speed in 1611.

Chantry House and Skeffington House

A pair of 14th Century houses that are now home to Leicester's social history collection and the museum of The Leicestershire Regiment

New Walk

New Walk is a rare example of a Georgian pedestrian promenade. Laid out by the Corporation of Leicester in 1785

17 Friar Lane

17 Friar Lane stands on was once part of the Friary of the Franciscans or Grey Friars.

Welford Road Cemetery

The Cemetery is a Grade II listed ‘Park and Garden of Special Historic Interest’open to the public

Top Hat Terrace

Top Hat Terrace was built in 1864 for Francis ‘Tanky’ Smith, a former Detective Inspector in the Leicester Borough Police who had a reputation as a master of disguise.

YMCA Building

Work began on the building in 1899. The architect, YMCA president Alderman Albert Sawday, became Mayor of Leicester in 1903.

Lancaster Road Fire Station

Central station is a grand structure that has stood for over 90 years guarding the city and its people. A. E. and T. Sawday architects designed the station along with the specially built fireman’s houses that surround it.

Saffron Hill Cemetery

The cemetery was formally opened by Cllr H Carver JP, Lord Mayor of Leicester in October 1931. Muslim burials have taken place at Saffron Hill since June 1963. Saffron Hill contains the first purpose built Muslim Chapel or Janazgah in Western Europe.

Former City Police Headquarters

In 1933 the City Police got a new purpose built headquarters in this building designed by G. Noel Hill and A.T. Gooseman of Leicester City Architects´ Department

The Golden Mile

The story of the Golden Mile is one of resilience and enterprise. For many years the Belgrave Road was a thriving area with large companies such as Wolsey and the British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) company sharing the nearby streets with many smaller workshops and businesses.

Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre

Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre started life as the Belgrave Hall Wesleyan Methodist Church and Mantle Memorial School. Both were designed by local architect Arthur Wakerley, a former mayor of Leicester.

Leicester Boys Club

The Leicester Boys Club was set up in 1897 to help disadvantaged young boys, and included seaside holidays at Mablethorpe. Shaftsbury Hall was built in 1906 as official headquarters for the club and still houses the holiday centre headquarters

Leicester Royal Infirmary

The Leicester Infirmary was established in 1771 with just 40 beds. In 1889 it opened its children’s ward and in 1912 King George V gave Royal status to the Infirmary. It is now a busy modern hospital, part of the NHS, serving Leicester and the surrounding area.

Asfordby Street Police Station

Asfordby Street Police and Fire Station in opened in 1899 and was designed by Arthur Wakerley who also designed the Coronation Buildings on High Street and the Turkey Café on Granby Street. The Station closed in 2005 and is now a community centre.

The Blitz in Highfields

Leicester’s worst night of Second World War bombing was around Highfields in November 1940

The Raw Dykes

The Raw Dykes is a large feature, built from earth, alongside what is now Aylestone Road. It includes two banks, a ditch and narrow channel in between. Raw Dykes is a nationally important archaeological site, listed by Historic England as a scheduled monument.

Development of Highfields

In the early 1800s Leicester’s ‘high fields’ was a rural area on the edge of town. By 1881 there were 15,000 people living here. Its location near the railway station, and lots of housing, meant that people from many countries, settled in Highfields.

Housing at Eyres Monsell

In 1950 the City Council approved the layout of the new Eyres Monsell housing estate on land purchased from Mrs Sybil Eyres-Monsell. The first two houses were completed in 1951 and another 470 in 1952.

Housing in Saffron Lane

In April 1924, Leicester Corporation bought 169 acres of land from Mrs Sybil Eyres-Monsell. They planned to create a ‘garden suburb’ with 1,500 houses, called the Park Estate. It is now the Saffron Lane Estate.

Housing in North Braunstone

The Braunstone Estate was planned as a whole, but developed in two areas, South and North Braunstone. The land, 1,200 acres along the Narborough Road, was bought in 1926.

20 Glebe Street

20 Glebe Street is one of the oldest buildings in Highfields.

4 Belmont Villas

Now a part of a hotel, these buildings were designed by Leicester architect William Rushin, built 1862-65.

Leicester’s Windrush Generations

Discover the importance of the Windrush Generation to the City of Leicester

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