Evidence of how people spent their leisure time over the centuries can be found throughout Leicester dating back to AD150. The oldest site known as a social gathering place is the Jewry Wall Roman baths, the remaining wall of which is considered one of the largest pieces of Roman masonry still standing in Britain.

The mile-long Georgian promenade now known as New Walk completed constructed in 1883 to link the fashionable Pocklinton’s Walk area to the racecourse situated in Victoria Park. Started in 1806 the Leicester Races were the highlight of the social calendar in Victoria Park until 1883 when the racecourse moved to its current location in Oadby.

Today’s Leicester has a range of places to visit and festivals to attend for leisure and entertainment activities from the award winning Curve theatre to Leicester’s largest live entertainment venue De Montfort Hall as well as independent retail shops at the Lanes and Highcross Leicester shopping centre.

Leicester Coffee and Cocoa Company Coffee Houses

Thomas Cook, a lifelong supporter of the Temperance Movement, was a founder member of the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa Company Ltd.

The Marquis Wellington

This inn, originally called The Bishops Blaize, was built in 1801 near the London Road toll gate.

Turkey Café

The charming Art Nouveau style Turkey Café was designed by local architect and former mayor Arthur Wakerley.

University of Leicester Engineering Building

Completed in 1963, the Engineering Building is often said to be the first ‘Post-Modern’ building in Britain.

Jewry Wall Roman Baths

Today, the only visible reminder of Leicester’s Roman past is the Jewry Wall. At 23m long, 8m high and 2.5m thick, it is one of the largest pieces of Roman masonry still standing in Britain.

Grand Hotel and General Newsroom

Everything about the Grand Hotel was designed as a statement in luxury and opulence; from its European Renaissance style exterior and “wedding cake” top to public rooms full of marble fireplaces, onyx pillars and elegant chandeliers.

New Walk Museum

In 1848 a school building was bought by the Leicester Corporation with the idea of converting it to a public museum, one of the first council-run museums to be established in the country. It opened in 1849.

Guild Hall Colton Street

The Guild Hall was opened in 1909 by the Leicester Guild of the Crippled to provide a social centre for people with physical disabilities. As well as being “beautiful and commodious”, this Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau style building was very practical, being an early example of a structure that had been purposely designed to be fully accessible.

Municipal Library

Designed by Edward Burgess, the new library could accommodate 40,000 books and up to 100 readers in the ground floor Reading Room. A separate Ladies´ Room was provided on the first floor and a Juvenile Lending Library in the basement.

Sue Townsend Theatre

The former Phoenix Theatre helped to develop the career of award-winning Leicester author and playwright Sue Townsend.

The Globe

The Globe is one of the oldest pubs in Leicester and may have been serving beer as early as 1720. Its ales were brewed using spring water drawn from a well beneath the building.

The Little Theatre

Many actors have appeared here over the years including the playwright John (Joe) Orton in Shakespeare´s Richard III (1948). Undoubtedly the most famous is Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) who made his acting debut at The Little Theatre playing Lucius in Shakespeare´s Julius Caesar in 1937

City Rooms

This elegant Georgian building, completed in 1800, was originally intended to be Leicester´s first hotel, which is how Hotel Street got its name.

Campbell Street and London Road Railway Stations

The Midland Counties Railway Act (1836) led to the building in 1840 of Leicester’s first mainline railway station, Leicester Campbell Street, on land behind London Road.

De Montfort Hall

Named after the sixth Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, De Montfort Hall was the first purpose-built concert hall in Leicester. It was designed by local architect Mr Shirley Harrison and opened in July 1913.

Athena - The Odeon Cinema

The Odeon was built during the “Golden Age of Hollywood” when actors like Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and Greta Garbo were popular with cinema audiences. In the 1930s there were over 25 cinemas in Leicester and probably this one, built in 1938 by the Odeon organisation, was the grandest.

Cook’s Temperance Hall & Hotel

In 1853 Thomas Cook built an impressive Temperance Hall and adjoining Temperance Hotel on Granby Street. The Temperance Hall was demolished in 1961, but the Hotel frontage (now 121 Granby Street) has survived, the upper two storeys retaining much of their original appearance.

Thomas Cook Building

This Grade II listed building in Gallowtree Gate was commissioned by his son, John Mason Cook, and opened in 1894 next to the company’s existing offices. It was both a memorial to Cook himself, who died two years earlier, and a more suitable base for the business.

The Blue Boar Inn

On Leicester’s medieval High Street (now Highcross Street), close to where a Travelodge stands today, there was once an elaborate timber-framed building known as the Blue Boar Inn. Here, by tradition, Richard III spent a final night or two before the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Silver Street and The Lanes

The area known as ‘The Lanes’ dates back to medieval Leicester with the street pattern remaining much the same for many centuries. Roughly following the ancient Roman road that connected the west and east gates of the town the street has had various names over the years but by 1587 it was known as Silver Street.

Curve

Since opening, Curve has become a major producing theatre, creating critically acclaimed shows including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard (2017), Legally Blonde (2016) and Purva Naresh’s Pink Sari Revolution (2017).

story of leicester
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