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  • The ‘Temperance Movement’ was a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • The hotel contained a printing facility and tourism offices when originally built
  • The Cook family ran a soup kitchen from the hotel that distributed food to the poor of Leicester

A Thomas Cook legacy

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.

A “new and beautiful edifice”

Conveniently located close to the railway station, the Temperance Hotel not only contained bedrooms but a printing facility, tourism offices and residential quarters for Cook and his family. The hotel, which was run by Cook and his wife, was described in 1854 as a “new and beautiful edifice” with “superior” rooms and, in the spirit of temperance (anti-alcohol), included a coffee room. During the severe winter of 1855-1856, Cook and his family set up a soup kitchen at the hotel and distributed soup by cart to the homes of the poor. Cook later moved his business headquarters out of the hotel as the company grew.

Temperance Hall interior 3
A drawing of the interior of the Temperance Hall in its heyday. Thomas Cook Archives

 “Wholesome entertainment”

Next door to the hotel, Cook built a Temperance Hall as an assembly point for his travellers, keeping them away from pubs whilst they waited for their trains. He provided “wholesome entertainment” in his 1,800 seat concert hall, the largest in Leicester until the opening of De Montfort Hall in 1913. Performances had to be approved by Cook and included public lectures, concerts and magic lantern shows. Charles Dickens gave public readings here. The Hall and Hotel originally stood between two public houses. Cook, a lifelong temperance campaigner, clashed frequently with the landlords.


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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