Leicestershire: Map


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Leicestershire or , abbreviation Leics. is a landlocked county in central Englandmarker. It takes its name from the heavily populated City of Leicestermarker, traditionally its administrative centre, although the City of Leicester unitary authority is today administered separately from the rest of Leicestershire. The county borders onto Derbyshiremarker to the North West, Nottinghamshiremarker to the North, Rutlandmarker to the East, Warwickshiremarker to the South West, Staffordshire to the West, Lincolnshiremarker to the North East, and Northamptonshiremarker to the South East. The border with Warwickshire is Watling Streetmarker (the A5).

County Hall, situated in Glenfieldmarker, about 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Leicester city centre, is the seat of Leicestershire County Council and the headquarters of the county authority. The City of Leicester is administered from offices in Leicester itself and the City Council meets at Leicester Town Hall.

The River Soarmarker rises to the east of Hinckley, in the far south of the county, and flows northward through Leicester before emptying into the River Trent at the point where Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire meetmarker. A large part of the northwest of the county, around Coalvillemarker, forms part of the new National Forest area extending into Derbyshire and Staffordshire. The highest point of the county is Bardon Hillmarker at 278 m/912 ft, which is also a Marilyn.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the Foxglove as the county flower.


Leicestershire was recorded in the Domesday Book in four wapentakes: Guthlaxtonmarker, Framlandmarker, Goscotemarker and Gartreemarker. These later became hundred, with the division of Goscote into West Goscotemarker and East Goscotemarker, and the addition of Sparkenhoemarker hundred. In 1087, the first recorded use of the name was as Laegrecastrescir.

Leicestershire's external boundaries have changed little since the Domesday Survey. The Meashammarker-Donisthorpemarker exclave of Derbyshiremarker has been exchanged for the Nethersealmarker area, and the urban expansion of Market Harboroughmarker has caused Little Bowdenmarker, previously in Northamptonshiremarker to be annexed.

In 1974 , the Local Government Act 1972 abolished the county borough status of Leicester city and the county status of neighbouring Rutlandmarker, converting both to administrative districts of Leicestershire. These actions were reversed on 1 April 1997, when Rutland and the City of Leicester became unitary authorities. Rutland became a distinct Ceremonial County once again, although it continues to be policed by Leicestershire Constabulary.

The symbol of the county council, Leicestershire County Cricket Club and Leicester City FC, is the fox. Leicestershire is considered to be the birthplace of fox hunting as it is known today. Hugo Meynell, who lived in Quornmarker, is known as the father of fox hunting. Melton Mowbraymarker and Market Harboroughmarker have associations with fox hunting, as has neighbouring Rutland.


The population of Leicestershire (excluding the city of Leicester) is 609,579 (2001). The county covers an area of 2,084 km² (804 sq mi).

The largest population centre is Leicestermarker, followed by Loughboroughmarker. Other major towns include Ashby-de-la-Zouchmarker, Coalvillemarker, Hinckleymarker, Market Harboroughmarker, Melton Mowbraymarker, Oadbymarker, Wigstonmarker and Lutterworthmarker.

Some of the larger of Leicestershire's villages are: Birstall, Leicestershiremarker (population 11,400 in 2004 and growing; said to be the largest village in the county, and has also claimed to be the largest village in England and indeed Europe), Broughton Astleymarker, Castle Doningtonmarker, Kibworth Beauchampmarker (along with Kibworth Harcourt), Great Glen, Ibstockmarker, Countesthorpemarker and Kegworthmarker.

One of the most rapidly expanding villages is Anstey, which has recently seen a large number of development schemes.



Engineering has long been an important part of the economy of Leicestershire. John Taylor Bellfoundersmarker continues a history of bellfounding in Loughborough since the 14th century. In 1881 John Taylors cast the largest bell in Britain, "Great Paul", for St Paul's Cathedral in London. Norman & Underwood have been making sand cast sheet lead roofing and stained glass since 1825 working on many of England's major cathedrals and historic buildings, including Salisbury Cathedral, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, and Chatsworth House. Snibston Discovery Parkmarker is built on one of three coal mines that operated in Coalville from the 1820s until 1986. Abbey Pumping Stationmarker houses four enormous steam powered beam engines built in Leicester in the 1890s in the Vulcan factory owned by Josiah Gimson, whose son Ernest Gimson was an influential furniture designer and architect of the English arts and crafts movement.

Engineering companies today include sports car maker Noble Automotive Ltd in Barwellmarker, Triumph Motorcycles in Hinckleymarker, Jones & Shipman (machine tools), Metalfacture (sheet metal work), Richards Engineering (foundry equipment), Transmon Engineering (materials handling equipment), Trelleborg Industrial AVS in Beaumont Leysmarker (industrial suspension components), Parker Plant (quarrying equipment), Aggregate Industries UK (construction materials), Infotec in Ashby-de-la-Zouchmarker (electronic information display boards), Alstec in Whetstone, Leicestershiremarker (airport baggage handling systems), and Brush Tractionmarker (railway locomotives) in Loughboroughmarker. 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. The Systems Engineering Innovation Centre and Centre for Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies are both based at Loughborough Universitymarker. Private sector research and development organisations include PERA - the technology based consultancy in Melton Mowbray, and MIRA - the automotive research and development centre based on the outskirts of Hinckley. Automotive and aerospace engineers use the test facilities at Mallory Parkmarker, and Bruntingthorpe Aerodromemarker and proving ground. On 18 October 2007, the last airworthy Avro Vulcan was flown from Bruntingthorpe Aerodromemarker after 10 years of restoration there by aerospace engineers of the Vulcan Operating Company.

Trade Associations

There are several trade associations with their head offices based in Leicestershire including the Ergonomics Society, the European Construction Institute, the Institute of Diagnostic Engineers, the Pre-cast Flooring Federation, the Concrete Pipe Association, the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation, and the National Association of Wood Shaving & Sawdust Merchants & Contractors.


Leicestershire has a long history of livestock farming which continues today. Robert Bakewell (1725 - 1795) of Dishley, near Loughborough, was a revolutionary in the field of selective breeding. Bakewell's Leicester Longwool sheep was much prized by farmers across the British Empire and is today a heritage breed admired all over the world. There are several commercial and rare breeds associated with the descendants of Bakewell's sheep including the English Leicester, Border Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester, Scotch mule, and Welsh halfbred.

In 2006 in Leicestershire and Rutland there were 6,450 people working as farmers, managers and farm labourers on 2,719 farms with of farmed land. The animal population was 122,284 cattle, 57,059 pigs and 314,214 sheep Source DEFRA.

The Leicestershire County Show is held on the first Bank Holiday in May each year and includes animal showings, trade exhibitions, and show jumping. Melton Mowbray Market is an important regional livestock market.

Field Sports remain an important part of the rural economy of Leicestershire, with stables, kennels, and gunsmiths based in the county.

Thatched roofs are built and maintained by members of Rutland & Leicestershire Master Thatchers Association.

Food and drink

Stilton , Red Leicester cheese, and the Pork pie are three of Leicestershire's most famous contributions to English cuisine.

Leicestershire food producers include Claybrooke mill one of the very few commercially working watermills left in Britain producing a range of over 40 flours, meat from rare and minority breeds from Brockleby's, Christmas turkey and goose from Seldom Seen Farm, and the only manufacturer of Red Leicester cheese based in the county the Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Company.

All natural non-alcoholic fruit cordials and presse drinks are made by Belvoir Fruit Farms and sold in supermarkets across Britain. Swithland Spring Water is sourced from the Charnwood hills. Breweries in Leicestershire and Rutland are listed on the Leicester CAMRA website. The county's largest beer brewer is Everards, and there are several microbreweries such as Bee's of Queniborough, Belvoir of Old Dalby, Parish Brewery of Burrough on the Hill, and Hathern. Vineyards in Leicestershire include Chevelswarde Vineyard (Lutterworthmarker), Welland Valley Vineyard (Market Harboroughmarker), and Eglantine (Loughboroughmarker). Melton Mowbray Sloe Gin is a liqueur with a distinctive flavour.

Markets are held across the county, a list of some of the larger markets is here. A list of FARMA certified Farmers Markets in Leicestershire is here. A list of smaller country markets, supported by members of the Women's Institute, is here. Leicester Market 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.

The annual East Midlands Food & Drink Festival held in Melton Mowbray had over 200 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors attending in 2007 making it the largest British regional food festival.

Food processing in the city and county includes popular British fish and chip shop pie Pukka Pies who are based in Syston. Walkers Midshire Foods, part of the Samworth Brothers group, makes sausages and pies in its Beaumont Leys factories. Samworth Brothers has operations in Leicestershire and Cornwall, making a range of products from sandwiches to desserts for UK retailers under their brands as well the company's own portfolio of brands including Dickinson & Morris, producers of Pork pies and Melton Hunt Cake. Walkers crisps are made in Beaumont Leys using Lincolnshire potatoes. United Biscuits have their distribution centre in Ashby-de-la-Zouchmarker. The Masterfoods UK factory at Melton Mowbray produces petfood for brands such as Cesar, Kitekat, PAL, Pedigree, Sheba, Whiskas, Aquarian and Trill. Hand made chocolates are produced by Chocolate Perfection in Ashby-de-la-Zouchmarker.

Some 15 major Indian food manufacturers are based in Leicester including Mayur Foods, Cofresh Snack Foods Ltd, Farsan, Apni Roti, and Spice n Tice. The 'Mithai' Indian sweet market is catered for by award winning Indian restaurants - for instance the vegetable samosas approved by the Vegetarian Society sold at The Sharmilee on Belgrave Road. The growing market for Indian food has afforded new opportunities to long standing local companies, for example the Long Clawson dairy, a co-operative manufacturer of Stilton now also makes Paneer cheese used in the Indian dish Mattar Paneer.

Leicestershire food links, set up by the Soil Association and Leicestershire County Council, provides information for and about Leicestershire farmers and food producers. It is currently running projects aimed at publicising farmers markets, using local food in schools, and improving distribution.

Leicestershire food exported abroad includes cheese from the Long Clawson dairy which is sold in supermarkets in Canada and the United States via a network of distributors coordinated by Taunton based company Somerdale. Belvoir Fruit Farms cordials and pressé drinks are sold on the United States east coast in Wegmans Food Markets, World Market, Harris Teeter, Dean & DeLuca, and in specialized British food stores such as Myers of Keswick (New York City), and the British Pantry (near Washington, D.C.).

Leicestershire County Council publishes a quarterly food and drink newsletter. In 2007 the Leicester Mercury published a series of articles on the Taste of Leicestershire.

The annual Leicestershire & Rutland Restaurant Awards has several categories including Leicestershire & Rutland Restaurant of the Year, Best Asian Restaurant, Best Service, Best Newcomer, Best Fine Dining Restaurant, Best Value for Money, Best Drinks/Wine List, Best Local Produce Menu, Best Gastro Pub, Best Neighbourhood Restaurant, Best Business Lunch, and Leicestershire & Rutland Young Chef of the Year.

See also Leicester food & drink


Leicester and Leicestershire has had a traditional industry of knitwear, hosiery and footwear, and the sheep on the county's coat of arms is recognition of this. The rich history of the East Midlands knitting/knitwear industry is chronicled on the Knitting Together website. The local manufacturing industry, which began with hand knitting in the Middle Ages, and was fully industrialized by the end of the 19th century, survived until the end of the 20th century through retailers buying UK sourced products, and government measures such as the protection of the Multi Fibre Arrangement which ended in 2004. Cheaper global competition, coupled with the 1999 slump in the UK fashion retail sector, led to the end of much of the cheaper clothing manufacturing industry. Today Leicestershire companies focus on high quality clothing and specialty textiles. One such company is Pantherella who make socks at their Hallaton Street factory off Saffron Lane which are sold in high end department stores around the world including in the UK Harrods, Selfridges, and John Lewis, and in the US in Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. Other local companies manufacture knitwear such as Commando Knitwear of Wigston, and others specialize in technical textiles for industrial or medical purposes. Clothing and fabric for the British Asian community is made here - for example the shop Saree Mandir sells silk saree's and salwar suits for women whose design patterns closely follow contemporary Indian trends. The British Knitting & Clothing Federation continues to be based in Leicestershire. On the creative side the design centre for Next is in Enderby, and the design centre for George Clothing (Asda/Walmart) is in Lutterworth. De Montfort Universitymarker has, in the form of its Fashion and Contour Design course a leading design department for female underwear. It also has the only UK University courses in Footwear Design providing future designers for local shoemakers Shoefayre, Stead and Simpson, and Shoe Zone, who all have their headquarters in the county.


University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust employs 12,000 in the city and county. Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust employs 3,300 staff in healthcare services in the county. Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust employs 3,000 staff providing mental health and learning disability services in the city and county.

The British Psychological Society, and the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) based in Wigston, have their head offices in Leicestershire.

Biomedical industries

Pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical instrument manufacturing companies include AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals, 3M, Bridgehead International in Melton, Fisher Scientific in Loughborough, and Ashfield Healthcare in Ashby de-la-Zouch.

Freight and distribution

Transportation links are good. East Midlands Airportmarker is one mile (1.6 km) south of Castle Doningtonmarker, next to the M1 in North West Leicestershire, and is the second largest freight airport in the United Kingdom after London Heathrow. DHL Aviation have a large purpose built facility at EMA, and courier companies UPSmarker and TNT also use the airport as a base. Lufthansa Cargo is also a regular user of East Midlands, and the airport is a primary hub for Royal Mail. The M1 is Leicestershire's other important transport hub. The start of the M6, and part of the A14 briefly intersect with the southern tip of Leicestershire. Many large retail companies have huge warehouses at the Magna Park complex near Lutterworth including ASDA, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Argos, ECF, Sara Lee, Unipart, DHL, Britvic Soft Drinks, LIDL, Merck, BT, Exel, P&O, The Disney Store, Panasonic, Kingfield Heath, Costco, Computer 2000, and TNT. The Widdowson Group make use of J21a of the M1 to provide warehousing, transportation, freight forwarding, garage services and LGV/HGV training. Pall-Exmarker of Ellistownmarker provide automated palletised freight distribution services from their location off Junction 22 of the M1. The Midland Main Line provides important connections to Yorkshire and London, and the Birmingham - Stansted Line is essentially Leicestershire's east–west connection from Hinckley to Melton.


Ibstockmarker based developer Wilson Bowden was bought in 2007 by Barratt Developments plc in a GBP2.2 billion deal. Charles Street Buildings (Leicester) and Jelson Homes are two other successful Leicester based property companies.

Syston based Dunelm Mill is a growing home furnishings retailer. The company started in 1979 as a family business selling curtains from a Leicester market stall whose first store opened in Churchgate Leicester in 1984. In 2006 Dunelm opened its 80th store, and the company floated on the stock market, placing the company's founders the Adderley family among Britain's most successful entrepreneurs.

Hamilton based LPC Group manufactures more than 600 million toilet rolls and kitchen towel rolls per year in its Leicestershire factories.

Oadby based Invicta Plastics manufacture the red noses used for Comic Relief's Red Nose Day campaign.

Toy car company Corgi have their European operation at the Meridian Business Park, although the toys are now manufactured in China and the company is owned by Margate based Hornby.

Hairdresser Barrie Hedley operates three Barrie Stephen salons in the city and county, and has been a finalist in the British hairdressing awards 2004, 2005, and 2006. In 2007 Hedley won the Entrepreneur of the year at the Leicestershire Business Awards.

Lumbers, of Market Street Leicester, was a finalist in the Independent Retailer category of the UK Jewellery Awards 2007.

Ulverscroft Large Print Books, of Anstey, Leicestershiremarker, are a leading publisher of books for the visually impaired.

Financial and business services

Financial and business service companies with operations in Leicestershire include Alliance & Leicester, Royal Bank of Scotland, State Bank of Indiamarker, HSBC, and PricewaterhouseCoopersmarker. Companies that have their head office based in the area include Next , and British Gas Business. The Institute of Credit Management, the European Association of Trade Mark Owners, and the Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) are all based in Leicestershire.

Invest Leicesteshire provides information to businesses looking to relocate to the city or county, or to established local companies wanting to develop. Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce is another good source for business advice.

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 listed on the Lord Lieutenant's website.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of the non-metropolitan county of Leicestershire and Rutlandmarker (it does not include the City of Leicestermarker) 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
1995 6,666 145 2,763 3,758
2000 7,813 112 2,861 4,840
2003 9,509 142 3,045 6,321

  1. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. includes hunting and forestry
  3. includes energy and construction
  4. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


Publicly funded secondary schools in Leicestershire are comprehensive. The schools are segregated by age in some areas to ages 10–14 (middle schools), and 14-16 (upper schools) or 14-18 (upper schools which also provide sixth form education). The schools, compared with other LEA, have large numbers on the roll with school enrollment often 2000 and more. For Melton and Blaby districts, although there is division by middle and upper schools, there is only one upper school in either district, giving no choice of school. However, it should be noted that many students of Lutterworth Collegemarker in Harboroughmarker District actually hail from Blabymarker district.

Charnwood has the largest school population - four times the size of the Melton district. In 2007, the best-performing state school at GCSE was Beauchamp Collegemarker in Oadby. No comprehensives in Leicestershire LEA were rated as poor performers, unlike in some neighbouring counties. In 2007, 7,800 pupils took GCSE exams.

For A-levels, the best comprehensive school in the county was the De Lisle Catholic Science Collegemarker in Loughborough. The best schools overall at A-level were the two private single-sex schools in Loughborough.

GCSE results by district council

% of pupils gaining 5 grades A-C in 2007 including English and Maths (46.8% was the England average compared to Leicestershire's 48.9%).
  • Harborough 56.3
  • Oadby and Wigston 55.4
  • Hinckley and Bosworth 48.5
  • Charnwood 47.9
  • North West Leicestershire 46.5
  • Melton 41.0
  • Blaby 41.0
  • (City of Leicester Unitary Authority 36.5)

Private schools

Private schools in Leicestershire include Leicester Grammar Schoolmarker (mixed), Leicester High School for Girlsmarker (girls), Loughborough Grammar Schoolmarker (boys), Loughborough High Schoolmarker (girls), Fairfield Preparatory Schoolmarker (primary school - mixed), Welbeck Collegemarker (military 6th form college - mixed), Ratcliffe Collegemarker (Roman Catholic - mixed), Grace Dieu Manor School (Roman Catholic - mixed), Stoneygate school (primary school - mixed), and Stoneygate College (mixed).

Further Education

Leicester College offers, among others, courses in catering, cookery, hospitality and leisure, plumbing, electrician, carpentry and joinery, building trades and gas, motor vehicle maintenance, computing, business, design, and media and print.

Stephenson College Coalville offers, among others, courses in construction building trades and gas, motor vehicle maintenance and repair, beauty, computing, business, sport and coaching, care and complementary therapy.

Farming sector training

Brooksbymarker Melton College provides apprenticeships and further education training courses in animal care, countryside, equine, fisheries, and land based service engineering, at their Brooksby campus.

Higher education

Leicestershire has three universities, the University of Leicestermarker, Loughborough Universitymarker and De Montfort Universitymarker.

Educational Associations

Several educational associations have their head offices in Leicestershire, including the Mathematical Association, the Association of School and College Leaders, the Association for CollegeManagement, the Girls Schools Association, the National Adult School Association, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and the Headmasters & Headmistresses Conference.

Sporting Associations

A number of UK sporting bodies have their head offices in Leicestershire, including the Institute of Sports & Recreation Management, the Institute of Swimming Teachers & Coaches, the English Volleyball Association, the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, the British Judo Association, the British Parachute Association, the British Triathlon Federation, the Amateur Swimming Association, the British Gliding Association, the British Motorcycle Federation, the English Indoor Bowls Association, the Youth Sports Trust andthe British Isles Bowls Council.


The full range of music is performed in the county, from early medieval, European and Asian classical music, folk, jazz, blues, rock, and pop. The major Download Festival, a hard rock and metal festival, is hosted at Donington Parkmarker.

Symphony Orchestras

The Philharmonia Orchestra, Leicester Symphony Orchestra, and the internationally famous Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra are three of the larger orchestras in the county.

Amateur Orchestras

Leicestershire Sinfonia, the Loughborough Orchestra, the Charnwood orchestra, and the Coalville Light Orchestra.

Choirs and choral societies

Leicester based choirs include the Leicester Bach Choir, Broom Leys Choral Society Whitwickmarker, Cantamici, the Cecilian Singers, Charnwood Choral Society, Coalville and District Male Voice Choir, Coro Nostro Chamber Choir, Humberstone Choral Society, Kainé Gospel Choir, Kingfisher Chorale, Leicester Church Music Consort, Leicester City Male Voice Choir, Leicester Philharmonic Choir, Leicestershire Chorale, Loughborough Male Voice Choir, Meridian Singers, Newtown Linford mixed voice choir, Red Leicester choir, the Scarlet choir, Shepshed Singers, Synergy Community Choir, Wigston and district male voice choir, Unity Community Choir, and the Peepul Choir.

Early music

The Longsdale Consort perform music of the renaissance and baroque periods. Leicester Recorder Society.

Music shops

Stores selling sheet music and musical instruments in Leicestershire include Sona Rupa (Indian), Sheehans Music Instruments, Intasound Music Centre, ABC Music Market Harborough, MH Music, and the Musician Shop.

Towns and villages

Places of interest

See also

External links

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