From time to time we’ll be taking a look at the Midlands cities that surround our offices and bringing you some interesting snippets of information about the places we think we know. This time our tireless team of researchers has been gathering trivia about the city of Leicester. Here are 11 facts* to impress your friends** with:
1. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest. Boasting a population of 330,000 Leicester is the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.
2. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, with a history going back at least 2,000 years. It appears in the Doomsday Book as “Ledecestre”. The one-way system remains unchanged to this day.
3. In August 1485 Richard III spent the night before the Battle of Bosworth Field at the Blue Boar Inn. It was his last night alive, and his body was brought to Leicester afterward. In fact his skeletal remains were discovered under a Leicester car park. The car park stands on the site of the former Choir of Greyfriars Church where Richard, the last English king to die in battle, was hastily buried.
4. In 1841 Thomas Cook organised the world’s first package tour all the way from Leicester to Loughborough for a temperance meeting. Passengers paid one shilling each for rail travel and food and the trip was marginally quicker than the equivalent journey today.
5. BBC Radio Leicester was Britain’s first mainland local radio station when it began to broadcast in November 1967.
6. Leicester has the largest economy in the East Midlands.
7. The city hosts an annual Pride Parade (Leicester Pride), a Caribbean Carnival (the largest in the UK outside London), the largest Divali celebrations outside of India and the largest comedy festival in the UK – Leicester Comedy Festival.
8. Famous people from Leicester include: Sir David & Lord Richard Attenborough, 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 Kasabian, Mark ‘Return of the Mack’ Morrison, Englebert Humperdink and Showaddywaddy! All of whom remind us that Leicestershire is also famous for cheese…..
9. The City of Leicester was Britain’s first ‘Environment City’ and the ‘greening’ of the city was singled out for special praise at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, apparently. Quite how you ‘green’ a city, we’re not sure.
10. In 2001, the city became home to the National Space Centre – one of the United Kingdom’s leading visitor attractions – devoted to space, science and astronomy. The building was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw (who later gave up a career as an architect to host the Radio 1 breakfast show) and it opened to the public on 30 June 2001. The tower is 42 metres tall and houses the Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets.
11. Leicester City FC were crowned Premier League champions for the 2015-2016 season. Their unlikely success has been hailed as the ultimate example of what can be achieved with team spirit, dedication, self-belief, vision and no small amount of ability. At the start of the Championship winning season ‘experts’ queued up to write off their chances of success and tip them for relegation. (Right prediction but a season or two too early, perhaps?)
* Although research has been painstaking we can’t guarantee that everything is 100% accurate!.
** Neither can we guarantee that your friends will be impressed.
Watch this space for more fascinating insights into the history and culture of our local cities!