Skip to content
  • Fredric Lennard and his five sons built a large shoemaking business, patenting the Liberty footwear brand in 1901
  • The large factory on the corner of Eastern Boulevard produced 15,000 pairs of women’s shoes a week
  • After returning from America, the Lennards commissioned a replica Statue of Liberty to coincide with the company’s name change to Liberty Shoes in 1919

The Lennard Shoe Manufacturers

Fredric Lennard and his five sons Samuel, Thomas, Henry, John and William built up a large shoemaking business in Leicester. In August 1901 they patented the Liberty brand of footwear. During the First World War they made boots for soldiers from their factory on Asylum Street (now Gateway Street). After the War, two Company directors travelled to New York, to get new ideas for shoe production.

Posters for Lennard Brothers’ shoes

The Eastern Boulevard Factory

Returning from America, Lennards planned a copy of the Statue of Liberty for the roof of their new Eastern Boulevard factory. The factory was designed by Leicester architect Howard Henry Thompson and used the French “Hennibique” reinforced concrete system. The factory dominated the junction of Eastern Boulevard and Walnut Street and produced 15,000 pairs of women’s shoes each week. They were sold throughout the country in their own Public Benefit Boot Company shops. The Leicester shop was next to the Clock Tower.

The Liberty Building on Eastern Boulevard c1930s

The Statue of Liberty

The statue was commissioned in 1919 and made by local sculptor Joseph Morcom. It was made from plaster over a wire frame, filled with concrete. To coincide with the statue’s unveiling, Lennards changed its name to Liberty Shoes and the factory became the Liberty Building. Liberty Shoes was sold in 1973 and the factory demolished in 2003. The statue was saved and in 2008 was installed on the Swan Gyratory roundabout. Patrick Leonard, great grandson of John, attended the unveiling.

The statue in its new roundabout location
Visitor information
Viewable from the road


Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

Change time period...
  • Roman Leicester
  • Medieval Leicester
  • Tudor & Stuart Leicester
  • Georgian Leicester
  • Victorian Leicester
  • Edwardian Leicester
  • Early 20th Century Leicester
  • Modern Leicester
story of leicester
Your ultimate guide to visiting the city