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Leicester ( , ) is a city and unitary authority area in the East Midlands of England. It is the county town of Leicestershiremarker. The city lies on the River Soarmarker and at the edge of the National Forest. In 2006, the population of the Leicester unitary authority was estimated at 289,700, the largest in the East Midlands, whilst 441,213 people lived in the wider Leicester Urban Areamarker. Leicester is the 10th most populous settlement in the United Kingdom using the 2001 census definitions and the urban area is the fifteenth largest conurbation in the UK, the second largest city in the region behind the Nottingham Urban Areamarker.

Ancient Roman pavements and baths remain in Leicester from its early settlement as Ratae Corieltauvorummarker, a Roman military outpost in a region inhabited by the Celtic Corieltauvi tribe. Following the demise of Roman society the early medieval Ratae Corieltauvorum is shrouded in obscurity, but when the settlement was captured by the Danes it became one of five fortified towns important to the Danelawmarker. The name "Leicester" is thought to derive from the words castra of the "Ligore", meaning a camp on the River Legro, an early name for the River Soar. Leicester appears in the Domesday Book as "Ledecestre". Leicester continued to grow throughout the Early Modern period as a market town, although it was the Industrial Revolution that facilitated an unparalleled process of unplanned urbanisation in the area.

A newly constructed rail and canal network routed through the area stimulated industrial growth in the 19th century, and Leicester became a major economic centre with a variety of manufactories in engineering, shoe making and hosiery production. The economic success of these industries, and businesses ancillary to them resulted in significant urban expansion into the surrounding countryside. The boundaries of Leicester were extended throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming a county borough in 1889, and granted city status in 1919.

Today, Leicester is a thriving city, located on Midland Main Line and close to the M1 motorway. Leicester has a large ethnic minority population, a product of immigration to the United Kingdom since the Second World War. The city has a large South Asian community, and as such many Hindu, Sikh and Muslim places of worship. Leicester is a centre for higher education by way of Leicester Universitymarker, De Montfort Universitymarker, and Loughborough Universitymarker, all based in the region.


According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, a mythical king of the Britons King Leir founded the city of Kaerleir ('Leir's chester' – i.e. fortified town). Even today the name of the city in the Welsh language is Caerlŷr. Leir was supposedly buried by Queen Cordelia in a chamber beneath the River Soarmarker near the city dedicated to the Roman god Janus, and every year people celebrated his feast-day near Leir's tomb. William Shakespeare's King Lear is loosely based on this story and there is a statue of Lear in Watermead Country Parkmarker.


St Nicholas church and the Jewry Wall

Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, with a history going back at least 2000 years. The first known name of the city is the Roman label Ratae Corieltauvorummarker. Before being settled by Romans it was the capital of the Celtic Corieltauvi tribe ruling over roughly the same territory as what is now known as the East Midlands.

The Roman city of Ratae Corieltauvorummarker was founded around AD 50 as a military settlement upon the Fosse Way Roman road. After the military departure, Ratae Corieltauvorum grew into an important trading centre and one of the largest towns in Roman Britain. The remains of the baths of Roman Leicester can be seen at the Jewry Wallmarker and other Roman artefacts are displayed in the Jewry Wall Museum adjacent to the site.

Anglo-Saxon and Viking

Knowledge of the town in the 5th century is very patchy. Certainly there is some continuation of occupation of the town, though on a much reduced scale in the 5th and 6th centuries. The area was first settled by the Middle Angles and was subsequently included in the kingdom of Merciamarker. Leicester was chosen as the centre of a bishopric (and therefore a city) in 679/80 which survived until the 9th century, when Leicester was captured by the Danes (Vikings) and became one of the five boroughs (fortified towns) of Danelawmarker, although this position was short lived. The Saxon Bishop of Leicester fled to Dorchester-on-Thames and Leicester was not to become a bishopric again until the 20th century.

It is believed the name "Leicester" is derived from the words castra (camp) of the Ligore, meaning dwellers on the 'River Legro' (an early name for the River Soarmarker). In the early 10th century it was recorded as Ligeraceaster = "the town of the Ligor people". The Domesday Book later recorded it as Ledecestre.


Leicester became a town of considerable importance by Medieval times It was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'civitas' (city), but Leicester lost its city status in the 11th century owing to power struggles between the Church and the aristocracy. It was eventually re-made a city in 1919, and the Church of St Martin became Leicester Cathedralmarker in 1927. The tomb of King Richard III is located in the central nave of the church although he is not actually buried there. He was originally buried in the Greyfriars Church in Leicester, but there is a legend that his corpse was exhumed under orders from Henry VII and cast into the River Soarmarker, although there is no evidence for this and some historians believe that his tomb and bones were destroyed with the dissolution of the church.

Leicester played a significant role in the history of England, when, in 1265, Simon de Montfort forced King Henry III to hold the first Parliament of England at the now-ruined Leicester Castlemarker. This was not the only time parliament was held in Leicester, see Parliament of Bats.


Leicester Abbey ruins, now part of Abbey Park.
On 4 November 1530, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was arrested on charges of treason and taken from York Placemarker. On his way south to face dubious justice at the Tower of Londonmarker, he fell ill. The group escorting him was concerned enough to stop at Leicester. There, Wolsey's condition quickly worsened and he died on 29 November 1530 and was buried at Leicester Abbeymarker, now Abbey Parkmarker.

Lady Jane Grey, (1536/7 — 12 February 1554), a great-granddaughter of Henry VII of England, reigned as uncrowned Queen Regnant of the Kingdom of England for nine days in July 1553, and for that reason is called "The Nine Days Queen" was born at Bradgate Parkmarker near Leicester.

Queen Elizabeth I's personal favoured courtier, Robert Dudley, who the Queen had one time thought of marrying, and who has been named and known as her possible lover for centuries, was given the earldom of Leicester.

Civil War

Plan of the siege of Leicester

Leicester was a Parliamentarian stronghold during the English Civil War.In 1645, Prince Rupert decided to attack the city to draw the New Model Army away from the Royalist headquarters of Oxford.Royalist guns were set up on Raw Dykes and after an unsatisfactory response to a demand for surrender, the Newarke was stormed and the city was sacked on 30 May. Although hundreds of people were killed by Rupert's cavalry, reports of the severity of the sacking were exaggerated by the Parliamentary press in London.

18th and 19th centuries

The construction of the Grand Union Canalmarker in the 1790s linked Leicester to Londonmarker and Birminghammarker and by 1832 the railway had arrived in Leicester; the new Leicester and Swannington Railway providing a supply of coal to the town from nearby collieries. By 1840 the Midland Counties Railway had linked Leicester to the national railway network and by the 1860s, Leicester had gained a direct rail link to London (St Pancrasmarker) with the completion of the Midland Main Line.

These developments in transport encouraged and accompanied a process of industrialisation which intensified throughout the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Factories began to appear, particularly along the canal and the River Soar. Between 1861 and 1901 Leicester's population increased from 68,000 to 212,000 and the proportion employed in trade, commerce, building and the city's new factories and workshops rose steadily. Hosiery, textiles and footwear became major industrial employers joined, in the latter part of the century, by engineering. Years of consistent economic growth meant that, for many, living standards increased. The second half of the nineteenth-century also witnessed the creation of many public institutions that we now take for granted such as the Town Council, the Royal Infirmary and the Leicester Constabulary and the acceptance that municipal organisations had a responsibility for water supply, drainage and sanitation.

The borough expanded throughout the 19th century, most notably in 1892 annexing Belgravemarker, Aylestonemarker, North Evingtonmarker, Knightonmarker and the rapidly expanding residential suburb of Stoneygatemarker, home to many of the city's wealthier families and some of its growing middle-class. Leicester became a county borough in 1889, but, as with all county boroughs, was abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in 1974, becoming an ordinary district of Leicestershire. It regained its unitary status in 1997.

The Early 20th Century

Leicester was formally recognised as a city in 1919 and a cathedral city on the consecration of St Martin's in 1927. It obtained its current boundaries in 1935, with the annexation of the remainder of Evingtonmarker, Humberstonemarker, Beaumont Leysmarker and part of Braunstonemarker. In 1900 an important new transport link, the Great Central Railway provided a new goods and passenger route to London.

By the time of Queen Victoria's death in 1901 the rapid population growth of the previous decades had already began to slow and the Great War of 1914-18 and its aftermath had a marked social and economic impact. Leicester's diversified economic base and lack of dependence on primary industries meant that it was much better placed than many other cities to weather the severe economic challenges of the 1920s and 30s. The Bureau of Statistics of the newly-formed League of Nations identified Leicester in 1936 as the second richest city in Europe and it became an attractive destination for refugees fleeing persecution and political turmoil in continental Europe. These years witnessed the growth in the city of trade unionism and -particularly- the co-operative movement. The Co-op became an important employer and landowner and when Leicester played host to the Jarrow March on its way to London in 1936, the Co-op provided the marchers with a change of boots (perhaps made at its `Wheatsheaf' works in Knighton Fields?).

Post World War II

The Leicester War Memorial Arch in Victoria Park
The years after World War II, particularly from the 1960s onwards, brought many social and economic challenges. There was a steady and irreversible decline in Leicester's traditional manufacturing industries and in the City Centre working factories and light industrial premises have now been almost entirely displaced by new businesses. The 1960s and 70s saw the movement of passengers and freight by rail and barge eclipsed by the growth of road transport. The Great Central Railway and the Leicester and Swannington Railway both closed and the northward extension of the M1 motorway linked Leicester into a growing motorway network. By the 1990s Leicester's central position and its good road transport links to the rest of the country had given it a new strategic importance as a distribution centre and the south western boundaries of the city have attracted many new businesses in both service and manufacturing sectors.

Since the war Leicester has experienced large scale immigration from across the world. Immigrant groups today make up around 40% of Leicester's population, making Leicester one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United Kingdom. Many Polish servicemen were prevented from returning to their homeland after the war by the communist regime, and they established a small community in Leicester. Economic migrants from Ireland continued to arrive throughout the post war period. Immigrants from the Indian sub-continent began to arrive in the 1960s, their numbers boosted by Indians arriving from Kenyamarker and Uganda in the early 1970s. In the 1990s, apparently drawn by the city's free and easy atmosphere and by the number of mosques, a group of Dutch citizens of Somali origin settled in the city. Since the 2004 enlargement of the European Union a significant number of eastern European migrants have settled in the city. While some wards in the north-east of the city are more than 70% Asian, wards in the west and south are all over 70% white. The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) had estimated that by 2011 Leicester would have approximately a 50% ethnic minority population, making it the first city in Britain not to have a white British majority. This prediction was based on the growth of the ethnic minority populations between 1991 (Census 1991 28% ethnic minority) and 2001 (Census 2001 - 36% ethnic minority). However Professor Ludi Simpson at the University of Manchester School of Social Sciences said in September 2007 that the CRE had "made unsubstantiated claims and ignored government statistics" and that Leicester's immigrant and minority communities disperse to other places. The Leicester Multicultural Advisory Group was a forum set up in 2001 by the editor of the Leicester Mercury to coordinate community relations, with members representing the council, police, schools, community and faith groups, and the media.


Snow in Leicester, taken in Spinney Hill Park

Areas of Leicester

Areas in the Leicester unitary authority area:

The Office for National Statistics has defined a Leicester Urban Areamarker, which consists of the conurbation of Leicester, although it has no administrative status. The area contains the unitary authority area and several towns, villages and suburbs outside the city's administrative boundaries.


On April 1, 1997, Leicester City Councilmarker became a unitary authority, local government up until then having been a two-tier system with the city and county councils being responsible for different aspects of local government services (a system which is still in place in the rest of Leicestershire). Leicestershire County Council retained its headquarters at County Hall in Glenfieldmarker, just outside the city boundary but within the urban area. The administrative offices of Leicester City Council are in the centre of the city at the New Walk Centre and other office buildings near Welford Place. Some services (particularly the police and the ambulance service) still cover the whole of the city and county, but for the most part the two councils are independent.

After a long period of Labour administration (since 1979), the city council from May 2003 was run by a Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition under Roger Blackmore, which collapsed in November 2004. The minority Labour group ran the city until May 2005, under Ross Willmott, when the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives formed a new coalition, again under the leadership of Roger Blackmore.

In the local government elections of May 3, 2007, Leicester’s Labour Party once again took control of the council in what can be described as a landslide victory. Gaining 18 new councillors, Labour polled on the day 38 councillors, creating a governing majority of +20. Significantly however, the Green Party gained its first councillors in the Castle Ward, after losing on the drawing of lots in 2003. The Conservative Party saw a decrease in their representation, whilst the Liberal Democrat Party was the major loser, dropping from 25 councillors in 2003 to only 6 in 2007.

Leicester is divided into three Parliamentary constituencies, all won by The Labour Party at the 2005 general election: Leicester Eastmarker, represented by Keith Vaz, Leicester Westmarker represented by Patricia Hewitt, and Leicester Southmarker, represented by Sir Peter Soulsby.

Coat of arms

Coat of arms, Leicester
The Corporation of Leicester's coat of arms was first granted to the city at the Heraldic Visitation of 1619, and is based on the arms of the first Earl of Leicester, Robert Beaumont. The field is a white cinquefoil on a red background, and this emblem is used by the City Council.

After Leicester became a city again in 1919, the city council applied to add to the arms, permission for which was granted in 1929, when the supporting lions, from the Lancastrian Earls of Leicester, were added.

The motto "Semper Eadem" was the motto of Queen Elizabeth I, who granted a royal charter to the city. It means "always the same" but with positive overtones meaning unchanging, reliable or dependable. The crest on top of the arms is a white or silver legless wyvern with red and white wounds showing, on a wreath of red and white.The legless wyvern distinguishes it as a Leicester wyvern as opposed to other wyverns. The supporting lions are wearing coronets in the form of collars, with the white cinquefoil hanging from them.


Leicester compared
UK Census 2001 Leicester East Midlands England
Total population 292,600 4,172,174 49,138,831
Foreign born 23.0% 6.0% 9.2%
White (2001) 63.9% 93.5% 90.9%
White (2006) 62.0% 91.4% 88.7%
South Asian (2001) 29.9% 4.0% 4.6%
South Asian (2006) 29.4% 4.8% 5.5%
Black (2001) 3.1% 0.9% 2.3%
Black (2006) 4.6% 1.4% 2.8%
Mixed (2001) 2.3% 1.0% 1.3%
Mixed (2006) 2.6% 1.4% 1.6%
East Asian and Other (2001) 0.8% 0.5% 0.9%
East Asian and Other (2006) 1.5% 1.0% 1.4%
Christian 44.7% 72.0% 71.7%
No religion 17.4% 15.2% 14.6%
Hindu 14.7% 1.6% 1.1%
Muslim 11.0% 1.7% 3.1%
The United Kingdom Census 2001 showed a total resident population for Leicester of 279,921, a 0.5% decrease from the 1991 census. Approximately 62,000 were aged under 16, 199,000 were aged 16–74, and 19,000 aged 75 and over. 76.9% of Leicester's population claim they have been born in the UK, according to the 2001 UK Census. Mid-year estimates for 2006 indicate that the population of the City of Leicester stood at 289,700 making Leicester the most populous city in East Midlands.

The population density is and for every 100 females, there were 92.9 males. Of those aged 16–74 in Leicester, 38.5% had no academic qualifications, significantly higher than 28.9% in all of England. 23.0% of Leicester’s residents were born outside of the United Kingdom, higher than the English average of 9.2%.

In terms of districts by ethnic diversity, the City of Leicester is ranked 11th in England. According to 2006 estimates, 58.3% of residents are white British (just under 170,000 people), 3.7% other white (around 10,000 people), 29.4% Asian or Asian British (some 84,000 people), 4.6% black or black British (some 9,000 people), 2.6% mixed race (approximately 6,000 individuals) and 1.5% Chinese or other ethnic group (over 2,000 people). Amongst some of Leicester's emerging ethnic groups are the Poles who now number an estimates 30,000 in the city.


Alongside English there are around 70 languages and/or dialects spoken in the city. In addition to English, many other languages are commonly spoken: Gujarati is the preferred language of 16% of the city’s residents, Punjabi 3%, Somali 3% and Urdu 2%. Other smaller language groups include Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Malayalam and Polish.

With continuing migration into the city, new languages and or dialects from Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe are also being spoken in the city.

In primary schools in Leicester, English is not the ‘preferred’ language of 45% of pupils and the proportion of children whose first language is known, or believed to be, other than English, is significantly higher than other cities within the region, or within the UK.

The people and dialect of Leicester are known as Chisit[s].

Population change

Population growth in Leicester since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 2001
Population 211,579 227,222 234,143 239,169 261,339 285,181 273,470 284,208 279,921
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time



Engineering is an important part of the economy of Leicester. Companies include Jones & Shipman (machine tools and control systems), Richards Engineering (foundry equipment), Transmon Engineering (materials handling equipment) and Trelleborgmarker (suspension components for rail, marine, and industrial applications). Local commitment to nurturing the upcoming cadre of British engineers includes apprenticeship schemes with local companies, and academic-industrial connections with the engineering departments at Leicester Universitymarker, De Montfort Universitymarker, and Loughborough Universitymarker.

Food and drink

Henry Walker was a successful pork butcher who moved from Mansfieldmarker to Leicester in the 1880s to take over an established business in the high street. The first Walkers production line was in the empty upper storey of Walker's Oxford Street factory in Leicester. In the early days the potatoes were sliced up by hand and cooked in an ordinary fish and chip fryer. In 1971 the Walkers crisps business was sold to Standard Brands, an American firm, who sold on the company to Frito-Lay. Walkers crisps currently makes 10 million bags of crisps per day at two factories in Beaumont Leysmarker, and is the UK's largest grocery brand. Meanwhile the sausage and pie business was bought out by Samworth Brothers in 1986. Production outgrew the Cobden Street site and sausages and pork pies are now manufactured at a meat processing factory and bakery in Beaumont Leysmarker, coincidentally situated near the separately owned crisp factories. Sold under the Walkers name and under UK retailers own brands such as Tesco's Finest, over three million hot and cold pies are made each week. Henry Walker's butcher shop at 4-6 Cheapside is still in business, selling Walkers sausages and pork pies, and is currently trading under the ownership of Scottish company Fife Fine Foods which bought up the Walkers butchers stores chain from Dewhursts in 2006.

Leicester Marketmarker is the largest outdoor covered marketplace in Europe and among the products on sale are fruit and vegetables sold by enthusiastic market stallholders who shout out their prices, and fresh fish and meat in the Indoor Market. Every year during the summer the Leicester city council hold cultural festivals here. In 2009 the Leicester Mela was held in the market area.

Financial and business services

Financial and business service companies with operations in Leicestershire include Alliance & Leicester, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, State Bank of Indiamarker, Bank of Indiamarker, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, HSBC, and KPMG. Companies that have their head office based in the area include Next Mattel UK and the British Gas Business.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Leicester at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross

Value Added
Agriculture Industry Services

Births, Deaths, and Marriages

The staff at the Leicester office registers 9,500 births and 5,700 deaths annually. In addition around 1,000 marriage ceremonies take place within the building every year together with an increasing number of civil partnership registrations. As part of the legal preliminaries to their wedding the citizens of the City of Leicester who wish to marry anywhere other than the Church of England must give a legal notice of their intention to marry. In the course of a year more than 2,000 notices are entered in the records of this office.

The original records of all births, deaths and marriages which have taken place in the City of Leicester since 1837 are kept at the register office. Every year approximately 12,000 certified copies are issued from these historic records.

Business awards

The Leicestershire Business Awards has categories including Investing in Leicestershire, Contribution to the Community, and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Recent Leicestershire winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise are Guidance Ltd, listed on the Lord Lieutenant's website. Guidance Monitoring Limited (GML) specialises in the design and manufacture of sophisticated electronic tagging/tracking systems for asset protection and personnel monitoring including for security and criminal justice applications.[8205]


There are ten Scheduled Monuments in Leicester and thirteen Grade I listed buildings: some sites, such as Leicester Castlemarker and the Jewry Wallmarker, appear on both lists.

20th Century Architecture: Leicester University Engineering Building (James Stirling & James Gowan : Grd II Listed), Kingstone Department Store, Belgrave Gate (Raymond McGrath : Grd II Listed)

Older Architecture:

Tourist: Discover Leicester Tour is an open top tour bus linking many of the Leicestershiremarker tourist sites in and around the city. See [8206].

Parks: Abbey Parkmarker, Botanic Gardenmarker, Victoria Parkmarker, Gorse Hill City Farmmarker, Castle Gardens, Grand Union Canalmarker, River Soarmarker, Watermead Country Parkmarker.

Industry: Abbey Pumping Stationmarker, National Space Centremarker, Great Central Railway.

Places of Worship: Shree Jalaram Prarthana Mandalmarker (Hindu temple)[8207],Jain Centre [8208],Leicester Cathedralmarker, Masjid Umar (Mosque)[8209] Guru Nanak Gurdwara (Sikh), Neve Shalom Synagogue (Progressive Jewish).

Historic Buildings: Town Hallmarker, Leicester Guildhallmarker, Belgrave Hallmarker, Jewry Wallmarker, Leicester Secular Hallmarker, Leicester Abbeymarker, Leicester Castlemarker, St Mary de Castromarker,The City Roomsmarker, Newarke Magazine Gatewaymarker.

Shopping: Haymarket Centremarker, Highcross Leicestermarker, Leicester Marketmarker, Golden Milemarker, Fosse Parkmarker, St Martin's Squaremarker, Silver Arcademarker.

Sport: Walkers StadiummarkerLeicester City FC,Welford RoadmarkerLeicester Tigers,Grace RoadmarkerLeicestershire County Cricket Club,John Sanford Sports CentreLeicester Riders, Saffron Lane sports centremarker - Leicester Coritanian Athletics Club.



The rail network is of growing importance in Leicester, and with the start of Eurostar international services from London St Pancras Internationalmarker in November 2007 giving Leicester railway stationmarker almost direct links to the continent, this growth is sure to continue.

East Midlands Trains are the InterCity operator running 'fast' and 'semi-fast' services to and from Londonmarker to northern England, and provide local services throughout the East Midlands, regional services to the West Midlands and East Angliamarker are provided by Cross Country.

Rail routes run north–south through Leicester along the route known as the Midland Main Line, going south to Bedfordmarker, Lutonmarker and London; and north to Lincolnmarker, Sheffieldmarker, Leedsmarker and Yorkmarker.Junctions north and south of the station link the east–west cross country route, going east to Cambridgemarker, Stansted Airportmarkerand Norwichmarker; and west to Nuneatonmarker and Birminghammarker.Leicester is from London on the Midland Main Line, the fastest trains taking 1 hour and 07 minutes. Journeys to Sheffieldmarker take around 1 hour, Leeds and York are approximately a 2 hour journey. Birmingham and Peterborough are around 1 hour away.

Passengers using the railway station can include a PlusBus ticket with their train ticket which gives unlimited bus travel in a designated area.

Network Rail has plans afoot to re-develop the station incorporating the city council's plans for the surrounding area.

Great Central Railway

Leicester was also on a competing line from London to the North, built by the Great Central Railway in the late 1890s. Served by Leicester Central railway stationmarker, the Great Central Main Line closed as a through route in the late 1960s. A preserved section remains, from the newly opened Leicester North railway stationmarker (the original route through Leicester has now been rebuilt on), to Loughboroughmarker is now a heritage steam railway.


Leicester is close to the heart of the M1 motorway at Junction 21, this section considered to be the busiest part in the country .The M69 motorway also starts near Leicester, and runs to the M6 Motorway and is contiguous with Coventry's eastern bypass.


East Midlands Airportmarker is near Castle Doningtonmarker which is in North West Leicestershiremarker. Served by low-cost international airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet & Bmibaby and serves charter holidays like Thomson Holidays. This makes Leicester easily accessible from other parts of the world providing regular services to many principal European destinations. This includes Amsterdammarker, Berlinmarker & Parismarker. Also there are internal flights to Belfastmarker, Edinburghmarker & Glasgowmarker and limited services to trans-continental destinations such as Barbadosmarker, Mexicomarker & Orlandomarker.

Also Birmingham Airportmarker is only about a 45 or 50 minute drive from Leicester, and London Luton Airportmarker can be reached in an hour or just over. Luton serves similar destinations to East Midlands though Luton services are more regular. Birmingham airport generally flies to places like Amsterdammarker, Brusselsmarker, Frankfurtmarker, Munichmarker & Parismarker with airlines like Air France, KLM & Lufthansamarker.

Leicester's other local airport is Leicester Airportmarker at Stoughton, Leicestershiremarker.

Buses and coaches

St. Margaret's bus stationmarker is the main interchange for coach services in Leicester, while local bus services are split between St. Margaret's and the Haymarket bus station. Leicester currently has one permanent Park and Ride site at Meynells Gorse with buses operating at least every fifteen minutes, a site is also under construction at Enderby, and there are also weekend services from County Hall, Glenfield (service 101) and Oadby Racecourse (service 102).

Passengers using the railway station can include a PlusBus ticket with their train ticket which gives unlimited bus travel in a designated area.
  • Skylink buses link the city to Loughborough, East Midlands Airport & Derby
  • National Express operate long distance services.
  • Stagecoach Group operate a mixture of mid to long distance bus and coach services including Megabus.
  • Skylink buses operate hourly during the day and two hourly at night to East Midlands Airport.
  • First Group are the parent company of First Leicester who operate mainly high frequency local bus routes.Most First routes are within the city due to its former identity being Leicester City Transport.
  • Arriva Group are the parent company of Arriva Midlands who operate a mixture of local and rural bus services throughout Leicestershiremarker.It operates both in the city and county and it was formerly known as Arriva Fox County,Urban(county)Fox,Midland Fox and Midland Red (East).
  • Centrebus operate local services mainly between local authority estates.
  • A number of coach operators run excursions from the station including Woods Coaches of Wigston.Other operators include Fleetline Buses,Ausden Clarke,Confidence,Hylton and Dawson and Steve Akiens.

National Cycle Network

Many of the country's National Cycle Network pass through Leicestershire. In Leicester City Centre you will find the Leicester Bike Parkmarker. The city is also home to Cyclemagic, the UK's leading community cycling organisation with probably the widest range of bikes and pedal powered machines in the world.


Leicester is home to two universities, the University of Leicestermarker, which attained its Royal Charter in 1957 and is one of Britain's leading universities ranked 12th by the 2009 Complete University Guide, and the De Montfort Universitymarker, which opened in 1969 as Leicester Polytechnicmarker and achieved university status in 1992.

It is also home to the National Space Centremarker off Abbey Lane, due in part to the University of Leicester being one of the few universities in the UK to specialise in space sciences.

Leicester City Local Education Authority initially had a troubled history when formed in 1997 as part of the local government reorganisation - a 1999 Ofsted inspection found "few strengths and many weaknesses", although there has been considerable improvement since then. While many state schools provide a good standard of education, there have been problems with one or two of the large community colleges, in particular New College on Glenfield Road. However, recent changes of leadership at New College have seen a turnaround in the school's prospects.

Current plans to improve the city's education system include the opening of The Samworth Enterprise Academy, an academy whose catchment area will draw in children from the Saffron and Eyres Monsell estates, co-sponsored by the Church of England and David Samworth, chairman of Samworth Brothers. State school status has been granted to the Leicester Islamic Academy. The city's special schools are currently undergoing reorganisation.

Under the "Building Schools for the Future" project, Leicester City Council has contracted with developers Miller Consortium for £315 million to rebuild Beaumont Leys School, Judgemeadow Community College in Evington, and Soar Valley College in Rushey Mead, and to refurbish Fullhurst Community College in Braunstone.

Leicester City Council underwent a major reorganisation of children's services in 2006, creating a new Children & Young People's Services department.

Leicester was one of the last places in the UK where milk was supplied to primary schools in third pint glass bottles. In 2007 the supplier changed to plastic bottles.


The city hosts an annual Pride Parade (Leicester Pridemarker), a Caribbean Carnivalmarker (the largest in the UK outside London), the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India and the largest comedy festival in the UK Leicester Comedy Festival.One of the renowed places within the city is Melton Road. Based very near the city centre, this road contains many diverse retail stores and restaurants for the locals and outside tourists. From clothing to fine cuisines,specialist bridal/groom makeup and home appliances, this road promotes and holds many authentic cultures globally. Melton Road is regarded as the pin point of Leicester as a multifaith city. For many residents of Leicester, Melton Road is place with strong links to their roots and origins. From an ethnic point of view, this is just of the many sites within the city that enables every person to feel a sense of homeliness and strong pride of cutlture.

The Leicester International Short Film Festival[8210] ran once a year; it began life with humble beginnings in 1996 under the banner title of "Seconds Out". It currently holds a place as one of the most important of short film festivals in the U.K.It usually ran in early November, with venues including the Phoenix Arts Centremarker.

Arts venues in the city include:


While Leicester has often been neglected as a centre for popular music, it has had a vibrant history that has thrown up a large number of notable, as well as forgettable, artists. Current venues for music include:

One of Leicester's main live music venues, The Charlottemarker, closed in January 2009.

There are also a number of small jazz clubs such as the 'Copa'.


Leicester's main small venue for pop and rock was the Il Rondo on Silver Street. The roll call of bands who played at the Il Rondo runs like a who's Who of early–mid sixties pop and rock. The Yardbirds and The Animals played there before passing into rock history along with less well remembered groups like the Graham Bond Organisation. It also played host to many visiting American blues musicians including Howlin' Wolf, Freddie King, Lowell Fulson, Otis Spann and John Lee Hooker. The Beatles also came to De Montfort Hall.

Colin Hyde (East Midlands Oral History Archive) carried out a range of interviews about growing up in Leicester in the 1950s and 1960s and began to map where all of the venues of the day were. He identified a number of clubs, pubs, and coffee bars like the Chameleon, run by Pete Joseph, the El Casa, or the El Paso – cafes which stayed open after the pubs closed. Among others, people also remembered the Blue Beat club on Conduit Street, run by Alex Barrows who later started the House of Happiness on Campbell Street. Night clubs such as the Burlesque or the Night Owl became more popular as the 1960s progressed, and they opened up the opportunity to dance all night.

A local beat band called The Foresights were signed to EMI. They were notable for all members wearing glasses.

Also emerging during this period was the band Family, fronted by Leicester man Roger Chapman.


The seventies saw the emergence of the well known cabaret band Showaddywaddy from the city with lead singer Dave Bartram and their 1950s-themed songs.The De Montfort Hall held the first of its annual One-World festivals, with the aim of celebrating the cultural diversity of the city and breaking down the barriers of hostility and suspicion that had a potential to foment racial conflict. Adult and children's groups performed traditional dances and music from the many communities settled here - British, Irish, East European, Asian, African and Caribbean. These festivals continued until the 1980s.


The early 1980s saw Leicester punk band Rabid have two minor indie hits, and there were greater successes later in the decade for Yeah Yeah Noh. The mid-1980s saw the emergence of bands such as Gaye Bykers on Acid, Crazyhead, The Bomb Party, and The Hunters Club, who were all associated with the Grebo scene. The Deep Freeze Mice had formed in 1979 and went on to release ten albums in total. Diesel Park West had their first top 75 hits in the late 1980s. Other notable Leicester bands from this decade included Po! and Blab Happy.


The early nineties were marked in the city's music scene by a period of muted reflection. The band Prolapse, was formed by a group of Leicester University and Polytechnic students in 1992. The band rose in popularity, and quickly gained a record deal with Cherry Red Records, recorded a number of John Peel sessions for Radio 1, and toured with Sonic Youth, Stereolab and Pulp. 1992 also saw the formation in Leicester of Cornershop, an Anglo-Asian agit pop band, who became most famous for the 1998 Number 1 single "Brimful of Asha". Perfume and Delicatessen both also rose to critical acclaim. Leicester is home of the influential Rave – Drum & Bass Formation Records label and associated 5HQ Record Shop.


Since 2000 the city has once more seen a notable upsurge in the success of the local music scene. Several Leicester musicians and/or acts have received considerable media attention in their fields since 2003-2004. Kasabian, followed by The Displacements, The Dirty Backbeats, Kyte, Pacific Ocean Fire, and Don's Mobile Barbers all rose from the city to national attention. The Go! Team were first signed to local label Pickled Egg Records, other Leicester musicians such as Frank Benbini, Kav Sandhu & Mikey Shine along with others feature in such bands as Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Happy Mondays, The Holloways, Envy & Other Sins, and A Hawk and a Hacksaw.

The development of the award-winning music festival Summer Sundaemarker with connecting Summer Sundae Fringe Festivalmarker (run by the local arts collective Pineapster) as well as other music festivals focused on blues and folk music may well provide the city with more of a focus for its local bands to break out nationally. 2006 saw the closure of The Attik, a venue that for over 20 years had played host to hundreds of bands.

Leicester is also popular for underground music genres such as grime and UK hip hop, leading artists are Kaution, Loose Talent and 3D Camp


The Sports Statue on Gallowtree Gate

Professional & semi professional sports teams include: Leicester Riders (basketball), Leicester Tigers (rugby union), Leicester City F.C. (football), , Leicester Coritanian A.C. (Athletics), Leicester Phoenix (Rugby League) and the Leicestershire County Cricket Club.

Sports clubs include: Leicester Penguins Swimming Club who were awarded Sports Club of the Year by the Leicester Mercury at their annual sports awards for 2007 & 2008.

Leicester Racecoursemarker is located to the south of the city in Oadby.

After a period of success for the football, cricket and rugby teams around the turn of the millennium, Leicester was for some time dubbed (by the local press and local inhabitants at least) the sporting capital of the UK, and a statue commemorating this period was erected in the town centre.

Leicester Tigers on Welford Roadmarker are one of the most successful rugby union teams in Europe, having won the European cup twice, the first tier of English rugby eight times, and the Anglo-Welsh cup six times. Notable former players include Englands Rugby world cup winning captain Martin Johnson, Neil Back, Dean Richards and Austin Healey.

Leicester City have also enjoyed a fair degree of success. They have championed the second tier of the English league system on no less than six occasions, competed in the top flight regularly during their history, won three Football League Cups and reached the FA Cup Final four times despite never winning the trophy. In the 2008/09 season they competed in and won League One (third tier), to which they were relegated for the first time. Their current stadium is the Walkers Stadiummarker, situated south of the city centre and near to the site Filbert Streetmarker from which they relocated in 2002 after 111 years. Notable former managers include Jimmy Bloomfield, David Pleat, Brian Little, Martin O'Neill and Peter Taylor. Notable former players include Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton, Frank Worthington, Gary Lineker, Alan Smith, Emile Heskey, Neil Lennon, Simon Grayson and Matt Elliott.

Motorcycle speedway racing was staged in Leicester. In the pioneer days speedway was staged at a track known as Leicester Super situated in Melton Road and at 'The Stadium' in Blackbird Road. Post war the Leicester Hunters joined the National League Division Three in 1949 and operated at various levels until closure at the end of 1962. The sport was revived for a spell from 1968 before the sale and subsequent redevelopment of the site ended the Leicester Lions era. The history of Leicester's Speedways is well documented in three books by Allan Jones.

However, planning permission was granted in October 2009 for a brand-new speedway track, to be built at Beaumont Park, and it is hoped that Leicester Lions will return to action in 2010 in the British Premier League.

Leicester Phoenix are a rugby league club based in the centre of the city. The club was founded in 1986. After playing in different BARLA leagues (namely the Midlands and South West Amateur Rugby League and the East Midlands Amateur Rugby League) the Phoenix were one of the 10 founder members of the Rugby League Conference (then the Southern Conference League) in 1997 reaching the grand final in the inaugural season. Since then they have been one of the league's most consistent performers. Their 1st Grade Team currently compete in the Midlands Premier division of the Rugby League Conference.

The city also hosted British and World track cycling and Road Racing championships at its Saffron Lanemarker velodrome in August 1970. The cycle track was improved specially for the event which was televised all over the world. Another first meant that sponsors were allowed to buy sections of the track to utilise for advertising purposes. This was also the first time that a public road - the A46 - was closed in the UK to allow the Road Race to take place:- See The Benny Foster Story published by Fretwell 1971.

In 1989, the city hosted the British Special Olympics, and will do so again in 2009. This is the adopted charity for the Lord Mayor of Leicester 2008-2009,Councillor Manjula Sood.

Until its demolition in 1999 Granby Hallsmarker was a popular live music, exhibition and sports arena in the city. It was also notable as the long serving home of professional basketball team, the Leicester Riders, from 1980 until 1999.

Leicester was also the 2008 European City of Sport.

Public services

In the public sector, University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust is one of the larger employers in the city, with over 12,000 employees working for the Trust. Leicester City Primary Care Trust employs over 1,000 full and part time staff providing healthcare services in the city. Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust employs 3,000 staff providing mental health and learning disability services in the city and county.

In the private sector are Nuffield Hospital Leicester and the Bupa Hospital Leicester.

Notable people

Local media

Leicester is home to the Leicester Mercury newspaper, and the Midlands Asian Television channel known as MATV Channel 6.

BBC Radio Leicester was the first BBC Local Radio station. Otheranalogue FM radio stations are Leicester Sound, Takeover Radio and Hindu Sanskar Radio, which only broadcasts during Hindu religious festivals. BBC Asian Network and Sabras Radio broadcast on AM.

The local DAB multiplex has the following stations:

The local Hospital Radio stations is Hospital Radio Fox. The first children's radio station, Takeover Radio broadcasts in Leicester.

Sister cities

Leicester has one sister city. Leicester RajkotTwinning Association is going to build Leicester House with collaboration of RMC in Rajkot.


Further reading

  • Hoskins, W. G. (1957) Leicestershire: an illustrated essay on the history of the landscape. London: Hodder & Stoughton

External links

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