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The history of Leicester

The city of Leicester serves as both market town and industrial centre for the county of Leicestershire. Historically the city has been associated with hosiery and knitwear, shoe manufacture and other light industrial manufacture. Sites which cover hosiery are Knitting Together and EMOHA's Leicestershire Hosiery, while Manufacturing Pasts has a wealth of material on companies such as Corah, Liberty, and many others.

Family historians should make sure that they are in contact with the Leicester Group of the Leicestershire and Rutland Family History Society.

Leicester City Council's 'The Story of Leicester' covers the city's history.

The University of Leicester's My Leicestershire website features oral history, radio, TV programmes, books, maps, photos etc.

For photographs of Leicester, try EMOHA's Leicester Sound & Vision, Paul Smith's photos of Leicester, or Ben Ravilious' Leicester photos. There are also a number of groups on Flickr and Facebook.

A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4 - The City of Leicester - the Victoria County History online. Wonderful!

Downloadable articles from the Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society provide a fascinating resource for city and county history.

Leicester's history in more detail


Other useful Leicester sites

Selected Books and Websites

By Time Period

General history

A Plain Man’s History of Leicester – Mrs F Skillington
Glimpses of Ancient Leicester – Mrs Fielding Johnson
History in Leicester – Colin Ellis
Leicester Past & Present Vols I & II - Jack Simmons
The Growth of Leicester (also a radio series) – AE Brown
The Story of Leicester – Siobhan Begley

My Leicestershire History - http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/
The Story of Leicester - https://www.storyofleicester.info/
Transactions of the Lit & Phil - http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/publications/vol13_20.html
Victoria County History online –

Roman to Medieval

Leicester Before the Romans – Patrick Clay
Peep-hole to the Past: The Shires excavation, High Street, Leicester – D Sawday
Roman Leicester – FJ Haverfield
The origins of a Leicester suburb : Roman, Anglo-Saxon, medieval and post-medieval occupation on Bonners Lane – N Finn
Visions of Ancient Leicester – Morris, Buckley & Codd
Medieval Leicestershire – Leicestershire Fieldwalkers

Saxon & Medieval Leicester - http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/downloads/Courtneyvolume72-2vsm.pdf
University of Leicester Archaeological Service covers Roman, Saxon and Medieval Leicester – http://www.le.ac.uk/ulas/regeneration/index.html
Virtual Roman Leicester video – http://youtu.be/s2MUg8Q3tjI
Virtual Romans website (includes an app) - http://www.romanleicester.dmu.ac.uk/

Medieval to Victorian

A Walk Through Leicester - Susannah Watts
Music & Friends - William Gardiner
Radical Leicester - A Temple Patterson
The History of Leicester in the 18th Century – James Thompson

Richard III links

University of Leicester – https://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/
Richard III Society - http://www.richardiii.net/
The Story of Leicester - https://www.storyofleicester.info/city-stories/richard-iii/


Life in Victorian Leicester (also a radio series) - Jack Simmons
Modern Leicester – Robert Read
The Diary of Ada Jackson 1883 - Living History Unit
Victorian Leicester - Malcolm Elliott

Ernest Gimson - https://gimson.leicester.gov.uk/
Terraced Housing - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/terraces.html
The Towers Hospital - https://youtu.be/pIvozSRZA3c
The Workhouse in Leicester - http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Leicester/


A People’s History of Leicester - Ned Newitt
Leicester: a Modern History - edited by R Rodger & R Madgin
Leicester in the 1950s – Stephen Butt
Leicester in the 1960s – Stephen Butt
Leicester in the 1970s – Stephen Butt
Leicester in the 20th Century - edited by D Nash & D Reeder
Leicester in the Great War – Matthew Richardson
Post War Leicester - Ben Beazley
The Great War - Ben Beazley
The Slums of Leicester - Ned Newitt
Wartime Leicester - Ben Beazley

Wartime Leicestershire - http://www.wartimeleicestershire.com/
Olive & Eric (Letters from WW2) - http://www.OliveandEric.com/
Leicester in WW1 - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/resources/ww1/index.html
The Post War History of Leicester 1945-1962 - https://leicester.omeka.net/exhibits/show/postwar/intro

By Subject

Areas in the city

Belgrave Memories - East Midland Economic Network
Illustrated History of Leicester’s Suburbs – C Jordan
Knighton & Clarendon Park - Helen Boynton
London Road (two books) - Helen Boynton)
New Walk - Helen Boynton
The History of Victoria Park - Helen Boynton
The Story of the Saff – Living History Unit
Walnut Street – Past, Present & Future – Colin Hyde
We Are South Highfields - HART
Wharf Street Revisited – Cynthia Brown

Braunstone Street Life (Central TV, 1986) - https://youtu.be/YImXPshrh3Y
Braunstone - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/resources/braunstone/index.html
Highfields Remembered - http://highfields.dmu.ac.uk/


Desirable Locations - Helen Boynton & Grant Pitches
Men of Property - Brandwood & Cherry (Goddard practice)
The Architecture of the Universities of Leicester – Arthur Lyons
The Book of Leicester - Richard Gill
The Quality of Leicester - Leicester City Council

Buildings, architectural details, housing - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/contents.html

Biographies & Autobiographies

A Degree of Swing – Colin Miller
Arthur Wakerley - J Farquhar
In My Fashion - M Essinger
Memory & Narrative Series (life stories of Leicester people) – Kiyotaka Sato
Music & Friends - William Gardiner
Prick Up Your Ears – Joe Orton
The Boy Who Shot Down an Airship – Michael Green
The Diary of Ada Jackson 1883 – Living History Unit
The Pantry Under the Stair & Post War Blues - V Tedder


Bede Island City Challenge - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/bedeislandimagemap.html
Equity Shoes by Wendy Freer - https://youtu.be/PRapTxmWaxY
Knitting Together - http://www.knittingtogether.org.uk/
Liberty Building - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/liberty.html
Manufacturing Pasts - http://www2.le.ac.uk/library/manufacturingpasts
The Story of Leicester, a Working Town - https://www.storyofleicester.info/a-working-town/
Wolsey's Bruin St mills, Pathe News, 1950s - https://youtu.be/v_kJ1PPQOcQ

People from different ethnic/religious/national backgrounds

Highfields Rangers: An Oral History - Highfield Rangers Oral History Group and the Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, University of Leicester
Karman History of South Asian Dance in Leicester & Leicestershire – Centre for Indian Classical Dance
Leicester Jewish Voices - Ros Adam
Ugandan Memories – East Midland Economic Network (also a DVD)
From the Belgrave Road to the Golden Mile: the transformation of Asians in Leicester - Pippa Virdee (2009) -  http://www.leeds.ac.uk/brasian/assets/papers/WBAC006.pdf 
Making Waves - https://youtu.be/2BEginKevFM
Spectrum (2FunkyArts, 2014) - https://youtu.be/Rei5sMW6wj0
Ugandan Asians in Leicester - Kampala to Leicester - https://youtu.be/qNpzGus3i58
The Irish in Leicester - Lynda Callaghan blog - http://lynda-callaghan.blogspot.co.uk/
The Story of Leicester, Modern Leicester - https://www.storyofleicester.info/timelines/modern/


100 Years of Leicester Cinema - B Johnson
Discovering Leicester – John Banner
In Sickness & In Health - Clive Harrison
On the Starting Line: A History of Athletics in Leicester – Jim Sharlott
The Leicester Royal Infirmary, 1771-1971– Ernest Frizelle & Janet Martin
The Palace on the Hill (Leicester General Hospital) – Dr Hugh Mackay
The Theatre in Leicester - H & R Leacroft
Untold Stories – Leicester’s LGBT history
Women of Courage, Vision and Talent: Lives in Leicester 1780 to 1925 – Shirley Aucott

…and there are many others, many of which can be found in ‘Writing About Leicester: a local history booklist’ by J D Bennett.


Out and About in Leicester – John Banner
Victorian Walks in Leicester - Richard Gill
Affective Digital Histories (Cultural Quarter) - http://affectivedigitalhistories.org.uk/apps
Changing Industries in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter - http://empedia.info/maps/170
Cultural Quarter – http://empedia.info/maps/14
Gimson Trail - http://gimson.leicester.gov.uk/vm/lcwt/
Goddard Trail (Architecture) – http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/goddardindex.html
Knitting Together hosiery trail - http://www.knittingtogether.org.uk/doc2122c.html?doc=10311&cat=676
Leicester Art Walk - http://empedia.info/maps/15
Leicester Oral History Trail - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/audiotrail.html
King Richard III - http://kingrichardinleicester.com/king-richard-iii-walking-trail/
Wakerley Trail (Architecture) - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/wakerley.html

Other History Websites

EMOHA You Tube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/EMOralHistory
Friends of Welford Road Cemetery - http://www.fowrcl.org.uk/
Highfields Remembered – http://highfields.dmu.ac.uk/index.html
Leicester Jewish Voices - http://www.leicesterjewishvoices.co.uk/
The Great Central Railway through Leicester - http://www.gcrleicester.info/
Untold Stories – Leicester’s LGBT history - http://www.lgbt-stories.org/


A Virtual Walk Around Leicester - Max Wade-Matthews
Braunstone Memories & Preserving Asian Heritage - East Midland Economic Network
Leicester Trams – Rob Foxon
LOHA Compilation Collection (49 themed compilations using oral history) - East Midlands Oral History Archive
Talk of the Town, Time of Our Lives, & Leicester On Parade - Leicester City Council
Toys & Games – East Midlands Oral History Archive

Selected photo collections

Demolished buildings of Leicester – http://www.flickr.com/groups/1400107@N25/
Image Leicestershire - http://imageleicestershire.org.uk/
Leicester photos by Colin Hyde - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/contents.html
My Leicestershire History - Vanished Leicester - http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p15407coll5
Matt Allen, Urban Explorer - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattdonut/
Old pubs of Leicester by Chris Pyrah - http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisdpyrah/
RIBA (architecture) - https://www.architecture.com/image-library/

Selected online videos

(See EMOHA’s YouTube channel for a playlist of over 80 videos - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3Rnsga7PXcsUPoh9LNfWwwP0aZvqpw7f )

City of Leicester Coronation Procession 1953 - https://youtu.be/_YKC1_hfnXE
Foot Falls (Bill Newsinger/Burt McNeil, 2014) - https://youtu.be/nMoUKfuZs3Q
King Learie’s channel - http://vimeo.com/user1364250
Konrad Smigielski & 1960s Town Planning – http://youtu.be/GHjrFv4FMoM
Leicester & Swannington Railway - http://youtu.be/086Vh-mpsh8
Meeting the Presser (Large Scale, 2014) - https://youtu.be/rQrzbs5bxF0
Mill Lane/Walnut Street oral histories - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QofL-sheIY8
Not Lost The Plot - The Story of Queens Road Allotments (Bill Newsinger, 2013) - https://youtu.be/cYrtvoP8_NA
The Hat & Beaver Pub –  http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/resources/hat_beaver/hatandbeaver.html
The History of Everards Brewery, Leicestershire - http://youtu.be/foUHsZJp-OU

A few archives which hold material about Leicester

British Library Sound Archive – http://www.bl.uk/soundarchive
De Montfort University library – http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/
East Midlands Oral History Archive - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/
Media Archive for Central England – http://www.macearchive.org/
Nottingham University East Midlands Collection - http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/collectionsindepth/eastmidlandscollection/eastmidlandscollection.aspx
Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland - http://www.leics.gov.uk/index/community/museums/record_office.htm
University of Leicester Special Collections – http://www2.le.ac.uk/library/find/rarebooksandarchives/specialcollections

City Museums

Leicester City Council Museums website - http://www.leicester.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/museums-and-galleries

Abbey Pumping Station
Belgrave Hall
Jewry Wall
New Walk
Newarke Houses

The Leiceter Royal Infirmary Virtual Museum - http://www.leicestershospitals.nhs.uk/easysiteweb/virtual-museum/
Wigston Framework Knitters Museum - http://www.wigstonframeworkknitters.org/

City libraries with local studies collections

Leicester Central Library is the main reference collection - http://www.leicester.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/libraries/find-a-library/leicester-central-library

Local societies who host talks about history

Leicester Archaeological and History Society - http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/lectures/index.html
Friends of Leicester & Leicestershire Museums - http://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council-services/lc/leicester-city-museums/getinvolved/friendsofleicestermuseums/thefriendsevents/
Leicester City Museums - http://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council-services/lc/leicester-city-museums/events/
Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society - http://www.le.ac.uk/litandphil/events.html
Leicester Secular Society - http://www.leicestersecularsociety.org.uk/
Leicester Victorian Society - http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/leicester/
Leicestershire Industrial History Society - http://www.lihs.org.uk/
Leicestershire Museums -  http://www.leics.gov.uk/index/community/museums/museum_resources/museums_guide.htm
Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society - http://www.lrfhs.net/meetings.htm


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Last updated: 06/02/2019
East Midland Oral History Archive Web maintainer
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.