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  • The first mosques in Leicester were set up in residential properties as far back as 1965
  • The Central Mosque complex includes a school, community hall, mortuary and a guest house as well as the main prayer hall
  • There are currently over 35 mosques in the city catering to a Muslim population from a wide variety of denominations

The Islamic Centre

First established in 1968 by a group of Pakistani Sunni Muslims, the Islamic Centre would go on to expand from a side street in Highfields to the grand Central Mosque on Conduit Street.

The original Islamic Centre is still on Sutherland Street, made up of converted residential buildings, it is certainly one of the oldest mosques in Leicester. As the congregation grew throughout the 1970s it became clear there was a need for a larger, purpose built mosque to accommodate them. The Trustees and Management Council from the Centre started a project to raise the funds for what we know today as the Islamic Centre, Leicester Central Mosque.

This impressive building is located near the railway station and the city’s cultural quarter, in an area with a significant Muslim population. The foundation stone of the mosque was laid in a ceremony attended by Muslim scholars from across the UK and international visitors on 27th August 1988.

The mosque complex includes a main prayer hall, offices, a school, a community hall, a sports hall, imam’s residence, a mortuary and a guest house.

Central mosque 28 03 2018 01
The impressive interior showing the inside of the dome

Muslims in Leicester

Large numbers of Muslim workers from India and Pakistan were recruited for a variety of British industries in the 1950s and 60s. Leicester had a thriving clothing industry during these decades, which included the manufacture of hosiery, knitwear, footwear and machinery.

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The original Islamic Centre on Sutherland Street, established in 1968

Local Muslims were using the houses in Sutherland Street as a mosque as early as 1965, leading to the establishment of the Islamic Centre in 1968. Throughout the 1970s many people of Indian descent from East Africa came to Leicester, including many Muslims.

There are now over 35 mosques in the city of Leicester, which cater for a population of more than 50,000 Muslims. Leicester is home to a variety of Muslim organisations that work towards interfaith understanding and community cohesion. This includes, among others, the Muslim Burial Council of Leicester, which received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Organisations in 2007.

Find out more about Central Mosque including opening times.


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A City of Diversity

Faith in Roman Leicester

Leicester has been a place of diverse culture and faith for some 2,000 years. A confirmed Roman temple has been discovered and references to other temples have also been found.

Leicester Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral is at the physical heart of the Leicester, situated in Leicester’s Old Town. The Cathedral famously houses King Richard III’s tomb.

Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel

Built in 1708 as a “Meeting House of Protestant Dissenters”, the Great Meeting is the earliest example of a major brick building in Leicester.

Wesleyan Chapel

Today Bishop Street Methodist Church occupies a prime location in the city overlooking Town Hall Square. This area was used as a cattle market and the land around it was therefore cheap enough for the early Methodists to buy and build on.

Belvoir Street Chapel

Affectionately known as the “Pork Pie Chapel”, Belvoir Street Chapel was designed by Joseph Hansom, inventor of the horse–drawn cab.

Secular Hall

This is the only building in Britain that is entirely devoted to secularism. Secularists believe religion should have no privileged role in civil and state activities. It was a very controversial idea in Victorian times.

Highfield Street Synagogue

The Highfields Street Synagogue was mostly funded by donations from Israel Hart and other local Jewish business men, it opened in 1898.

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.

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.

Diwali in Leicester

Diwali in Leicester is a huge, cultural celebration enjoyed by people who have come from far and wide to see the thousands of decorative Diwali lights along the city’s “Golden Mile”, enjoy spectacular firework displays and see homes, temples and gurdwaras all illuminated.

Jain Centre

What we know today as Leicester´s Jain Centre started life in 1863 as a Congregational Chapel (an independent church).

Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara

Leicester's first Sikh gurdwara now occupies a building that used to be a knitwear factory.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Located on the corner of Catherine Street and Gypsy Lane is the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha), a white limestone Hindu temple. The mandir building is a former denim factory and it has now become one of the largest and most stunning mandirs in the Midlands.

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.

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