• Opened in 1909 as a social centre for people with disabilities, an early example of an accessible building
  • Activities at the Guild Hall included concerts, magic lantern shows, craft work and excursions
  • Medical services were provided free of charge at the Guild Hall, long before the NHS was established (1948)

Both beautiful and practical

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. Local architects A.& T.E. Sawday ensured the building was all on one level and included wide exterior and interior doors for spinal carriages and wheelchairs.

What was the Guild of the Crippled?

The Guild was formed in 1898 by Arthur Isaac Groves, a hosiery manufacturer, and his business partner Thomas E. Meakin, at the suggestion of Sister Carroll Hogbin. Through her work with the poor of Leicester she realised that many disabled people were isolated and needed social contact. The Guild Hall provided a centre where the Guild of the Crippled could expand their work and provide activities. These included concerts, magic lantern evenings, craft classes, excursions and a library.

Basket making class. Mosaic 1898

What else did the Guild provide?

An industrial training hall was added in 1914 to help address the problems disabled people had in getting employment. Medical services were also provided free of charge including surgery, prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs. The organisation, which still supports disability services from different premises, is now called ‘Mosaic 1898’, reflecting changing attitudes to disability since it was first established.

The Guild Hall today

The Guild Hall is currently used as a temple by the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Association of London (a Hindu organisation). The area around the Guild Hall has undergone a lot of regeneration in recent times with the building of new residential and office space breathing new life into the area.

Gallery

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.

Medieval Leicester

(500 – 1500) The early years of this period was one of unrest with Saxon, Danes and Norman invaders having their influences over the town. Later, of course, came Richard III and the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on Leicester’s doorstep.

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.

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.

Early 20th Century Leicester

(1910 – 1973) The diverse industrial base meant Leicester was able to cope with the economic challenges of the 1920s and 1930s. New light engineering businesses, such as typewriter and scientific instrument making, complemented the more traditional industries of hosiery and footwear manufacturing.

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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