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Leicester: What Do We Have To Offer?
I've lived in Leicester all of my life... And I want out.
Read the subtitle back... I want out, this is evident in other more personal hubs I've written and this desperation has clouded my mind a little bit as to what Leicester has to offer... I mean, it's a great city. Just the people here aren't so great, or should I say, the people in my circles aren't so great.
Through the ages, we've hosted many famous names. The Arctic Monkeys, a group highly regarded within the music industry, are from here. As are many great boxers like Tim Wood, Mickey Lynch and John Newman (who was actually from Loughborough, Leicestershire).
Our rugby club, Leicester Tigers, was recently voted the best team in the world for four years running too.
We have a large newspaper distributor called the Leicester Mercury, they own franchise news shops all over the county and operate a newspaper delivery service as well as a printing service, and as expected, they hold classifieds, have a section for jobs and sport and real estate depending on what day you pick up the paper.
A Map to the Mercury Building (where the Leicester Mercury is edited and quite possibly printed too)
The map just doesn't do it justice.
That map above, if we say up until Blaby (south side of the map, below Leicester), Wigston, Oadby, Scraptoft, Syston, Birstall, Anstey, Groby, Braunstone and Enderby is Leicester, anything beyond that is Leicestershire, up until the edges of the map and then some.
Leicestershire is one of the biggest counties in the United Kingdom, Leicester itself is the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom, boasting a whopping population of 330'000 (according to Leicester City Council).
Leicester actually lies upon the River Soar, the main canal way though the city. It stretches past Kegworth before rejoining the River Trent, the huge river which goes through Nottingham. In the late 19th century, the River Soar was linked to the Grand Union Canal which allows you to, if you wish though I wouldn't advise it, walk from Nottingham to London uninterrupted by any roads or too much noisy traffic. The River Soar actually starts between Hinkley and Lutterworth, as I said it wasn't until later other canals/rivers were joined to it. Incidentally, it is the largest man made canal in the United Kingdom. The river was made navigable in the eighteenth century, according to Wikipedia.
The River Soar
Have you ever been to Leicester?
Some Facts To Get You Going
Back 2'000 years ago, Leicester was actually called Ledecestre as documented in the Doomsday book, the one-way system which was detailed in this book remains unchanged even today, much to the displeasure of residents and visitors of Highfields/Spinney Hill area of Leicester, this makes it one of the oldest cities in England too.
On his last night alive, King Richard III spent the night in the Blue Boar Inn (which still stands today almost unchanged except new furniture and lick of paint here and there) before proceeding to the Battle of Bosworth where he met his end. The King made news recently after being uncovered in a car park near the cathedral (one of the oldest cathedrals, too) and laid to rest (again) late this year.
Outside the trainstation, one of the oldest stations in the UK who recently lost its title of longest standing original station after they renovated half of it (unverified), is the statue of Thomas Cook. You may know that name from the travel agents, in 1841 he organised the first package tour between Leicester and Loughborough. The cost was one shilling and I'm not joking when I say the service then was reportedly marginally quicker than the train service between Leicester and Loughborough today.
In November 1967, BBC Radio Leicester, broadcast for the first time and was the first British mainland radio station, the same station I was interviewed for by Jim Davis (a presenter on the morning show) about the world-wide issue of homelessness, in particular homelessness at Christmas.
Incidentally, we have the largest economy in the United Kingdom, but that's boring. I won't go into detail.
Leicester Comedy Festival is the largest comedy festival in the United Kingdom, sponsored by UK TV channel Dave.
Divali in Leicester is the largest Divali festival in the world, outside of India. This means it is no surprise that Leicester is the most culturally diverse city in Europe and verging on being the most diverse in the world. I think Manchester has the title as second most culturally diverse city in Europe.
The Caribbean Carnival is the largest in the world outside of London.
We also host Leicester Pride (Gay Pride) which is one of the most successful in the country according to a recent poll.
According to one website, we host a range of famous names:
Famous people from Leicester include: Sir David & Lord Richard Attenborough (a couple of National Treasures), Gary Lineker & Peter Shilton; two of England’s most capped footballers, fashion guru Gok Wan, reptilian bloodline theorist David Icke, Joseph Merrick (AKA the Elephant Man), Leicester’s largest son Daniel Lambert (he was 336kgs when he died), Monty Python’s Graham Chapman and Lady Jane Grey – Queen of England for just 9 days in 1553). On the music front Leicester has brought us Mark ‘Return of the Mack’ Morrison, Englebert Humperdink and Showaddywaddy! All of whom remind us that Leicestershire is also famous for cheese...
Although the colour scheme is mainly grey and terracotta, Rio praised us back in 1992 for being one of the greenest cities in the world. Did you know that? I didn't until five minutes ago.
I remember in 2001, my school took me on a trip to the newly opened National Space Centre (see previous photo). Nicholas Grimshaw designed the building, you may recognise his name as a presenter of BBC Radio One. We knew him before he was 'cool'. The tower is 42 metres tall and has been likened by many to a giant, ribbed condom. It hosts two rockets; Blue Streak and Thor Able
Visit Leicester is Leicester's official tourist information centre, located at the top of Gallowtree Gate, over the road from Natwest Bank. Here you can find anything to fill your days on your visit to Leicester.
Town Hall Square, Leicester
Finally, who would I be to forget the longest running milkmen? Kirby & West, who I believe still provide the best milk. These are often hiring too with their headquarters situated just off The Rally which is easy to get to if you follow the canal which I mentioned earlier.
Their story is inspirational and available on their website at the above link. I would recommend anybody have a read.
If I've missed anything, and I have missed LOADS, then comment and let me know and it might make it into the next information guide.
© 2014 Andrew Hill