[East Midlands Oral History Archive logo]

An Oral History of Post-War Leicester 1945-1962

[search][skip catalogue menu]








This project has now finished but the recordings are being archived and you can hear and see what we did below.

EMOHA and a team of volunteers have been recording memories of Leicester between 1945-1962. This page will present all the resources needed for the project as well as acting as a blog for the project as it progresses.

* New website *

All the material we have gathered during this project is now on its own website along with lots of previously unseen photographs:

Click here - https://leicester.omeka.net/exhibits/show/postwar/intro

Celebration at the Newarke Houses Museum

To celebrate the end of this project there was an afternoon of post-war history at the Newarke Houses Museum in Leicester on Friday 23rd March. Many people connected with the project, and some people who just wandered in to see what was going on, looked at films, audio, books, newspapers, posters and banners displaying some of the material collected during the project. Volunteer Lizzie Gray made tasty spam sandwiches in a successful attempt to take us back to age of rationing!

Photo of woman looking at banners. Photo of people at event. Photo of of poeple at event.

Banners illustrated some of the main themes of the project, laptops computers showed photos and adverts gathered during the project, as well as films of Leicester in the 1950s and '60s. People who have volunteered for the project and who have been recorded for the project met up again and there was a lot of chat throughout the afternoon.

The final stages of the project will create an online resource that brings everything together in one place, and a lot of cataloguing and archiving of the material.

Why did we do this?

The idea behind the project is that although many oral history recordings were made in the 1980s and 1990s they mainly concentrated on the period up to 1945. The assumption was that the post-war period would be covered by other projects in the years to come. Except this didn't happen in an organised way. Individual projects recorded different subjects but there were few attempts to look at a broad sweep of memories of the period. This project will try to do this.

What were we interested in? Everything!

These are some of the subjects we are hoping to cover (see the sample questions below for more detail):

Home & Family - a place to live, food, bringing up a family, health & welfare, work, money, religion, being young.

Life in Leicester - shops & shopping, cafes & pubs, clubs & societies, music, sport, cinema & theatre, radio & TV, transport, planning.

The Broader Picture - politics, major events, nuclear energy & weapons, being modern, National Service, travelling abroad.

Who did we want to record?

Anyone over the age of 90 who has good memories of the 1940s and 1950s. However, we don't want to exclude younger people, so anyone over the age of 80 can contribute as well!

What was this going to be used for?

A small amount of information from this project will contribute to the Modern Leicester section of Leicester City Council's Story of Leicester website. All the recordings will be catalogued at EMOHA and made available to anyone who would like to listen to them. At present there are no plans to put this material online but we may want to put some of the material on the EMOHA or My Leicestershire History website at some point in the future.

How did we do this? We needed you!

This will be a huge effort that will require a lot of help from volunteers. EMOHA can provide training, sound recorders, expenses, and all the support needed to record people's memories - but we can't do it all ourselves and we need help.

Contact us

If you would like to take part, suggest someone to record, or just have a chat, call Colin Hyde on 0116 2525065 or ch38@le.ac.uk

Here is the paperwork:


The EMOHA consent form - EMOHA consent form.doc or EMOHA consent form.pdf

The EMOHA deposit form - EMOHA deposit form.doc or EMOHA deposit form.pdf

The project information sheet - Information sheet.doc or Information sheet.pdf

The summary template - Summary template.doc

Sample questions - Suggested questions for the project.docx or Suggested questions for the project.pdf


Background information about Leicester during 1945-1962 - History notes for Leicester 1945-1962.docx or History notes for Leicester 1945-1962.pdf

Background information about Britain in 1950 - Britain in 1950.pdf or http://www.historytoday.com/roland-quinault/britain-1950

BBC Timeline of the 1950s - BBC timeline of the 1950s.pdf or http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/timeline/present_timeline_noflash.shtml

How to use the Tascam DR-05 sound recorder - Tascam DR-05 guide.docx or Tascam DR-05 guide.pdf

Download a poster or flier!

A4 project poster.jpg

A5 project flier.jpg

A Useful Map

This map, which dates from around 1938, gives an idea of what Leicester looked like in 1945. When compared with a modern map it illustrates the effect of the post-war housing estates and the general expansion of the Greater Leicester area. The map will open in a new page and you can click on it to enlarge it.

Map of Leicester 1938.jpg (6kb)

Online Resources

Videos of Leicester. Pathe footage of the 1940s and '50s starts around video number 30 - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3Rnsga7PXcsUPoh9LNfWwwP0aZvqpw7f

Memories of Leicester on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Leicestermemories/

Leicester Past & Present - A Walk Down Memory Lane on Facebook (includes images of the county) - https://www.facebook.com/LeicesterAWalkDownMemoryLane/

The Story of Leicester on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/storyofleicester/

Mr Leicester on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/misterleicester/

Leicester Memories on Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/leicestermemories/

Leicester pubs lost since the 1980s. Chris Pyrah on Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisdpyrah/sets/72157629355978785/

Leicester on TV and in Home Movies in the 1950s (courtesy of the Media Archive for Central England)

My guess is that these scenes are the digging up of the tramlines around the clocktower in 1950 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/leicester-and-county-magazine

Luncheon for St. Valentine's day at the Grand Hotel in 1957 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midlands-news-14021957-luncheon-st-valentines-day-leicester

The opening of a new church in Leicester in 1957, but does anyone know which one? - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midlands-news-18051957-opening-new-church-leicester

Making stockings in Corah in 1958 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midland-montage-17071958-manufacture-stockings

The opening of the Victoria Park sports pavillion in 1958 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midlands-news-10121958-opening-victoria-sports-pavilion-leicester

Indian 11th Republic Day celebrations in Leicester in 1959 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midlands-news-25011959-indian-11th-republic-day-celebrations-leicester

The City of Leicester Show at Abbey Park in 1959 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midlands-news-04081959-city-leicester-show

Opinions about the brand new Tesco supermarket at Lee Circle in 1961 - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midland-montage-14121961-new-tesco-supermarket

The Living Theatre, Leicester, in 1962 (features local politician Mark Henig) - http://www.macearchive.org/films/midland-montage-24051962-living-theatre

See many more clips from the city and county here - http://www.macearchive.org/

Christmas nibbles

Many thanks to Jed Jaggard for bringing some fascinating material about local Civil Defence to the Christmas wine and nibbles event for volunteers in December 2016. Photos by Liz Blood.

What did we find out?

Chris Mitchell remembers his first job at Sketchley Cleaners in Hinckley at the age of 17:

I'd cycle down London Road hill to Leicester station, get up at 5.30 and then catch the 6.30am train to Hinckley station, having left my bike in the Stationmaster's office and got the machines going or the steam presses going at the Hinckley works and work there until 6pm and get the train back to Leicester, cycle back up London Road hill, have something to eat about 7.30 then go straight to bed really.

What was the job?

Management Trainee

Did you have reponsibility for other members of staff?

No, not really, I was just a humble trainee so I was sort of reporting to other members of staff in the various departments who would teach me the various skills of dry cleaning such as they were, which was pressing trousers or stain removal, or tying up the carpets to neat rolls when we had done the carpet cleaning. My first vital job at Sketchley Cleaners at the age of 17 was sorting out huge piles of trousers that had come in from all over the country because it was the central works for everywhere, there weren't any remote cleaning shops so there would be 4-5000 pairs of trousers coming in every day and my first job was putting my hand in the pockets to make sure there was no inflammable matches or anything that could ignite the cleaning vapour, which was a particularly disgusting job I did that for a fortnight.

Did you find anything interesting?

Yes there was everything under the sun that shouldn't have been there (laughs).

What was the most unusual thing?

No end of pornographic postcards and things like that but I once found £500 in cash in one pair of trousers in the back pocket, which in the 1960's was a lot of money in those days. It turned out to belong to a bookmaker who had never missed it.


Thanks to Doug Owen for this great memory of the harsh winter of 1946/7:

Where we lived in Chartley Road, if you wanted to go down to the pub, which was Narborough Road, as you walked out of our house the people had dug trenches – you walked down a trench with the snow right above your head either side. My uncle, who lodged with us, he really enjoyed it I think – nobody could see him going down the pub!


In this quote, Olive Freestone remembers getting a pre-fabricated home:

Oswin Road at the top of Western Park hill, that was the pre-fabs there. I used to look at them during the war, I used to think where am I going to live when my husband comes out - because in those days you lived with your mum or your mum-in-law - I used to think wouldn't it be lovely if we could get one of those, and we did. To get a pre-fab your husband had to have served in the forces, you had to have two children, or have TB (tuberculosis), that was the only people that could have a pre-fab. Obviously, it was a really lovely community - our first homes.


Many thanks to historian Ann Stones for a fascinating talk on the History of New Parks at New Parks Library on 21st March. It's the story of a post-war housing estate that many people will recognise.



And many thanks to Joe Keating for this photo of Colin introducing oral history to the Wednesday group at Leicester Forest East Library.

Photo of group in library


On the 19th April 2017 we had an open afternoon at the County Record Office. Scrapbooks of press clippings about local pop and rock music gave an excellent overview of the development of musicians and venues across the city. Many thanks to Chris Huscroft for bringing in some fine Dallas Boys records and memoribilia! For an overview of what was in the scrapbooks have a look at our project exhibition - https://leicester.omeka.net/exhibits/show/postwar/intro

Photo of group at Leicester Record Office. Photo of Dallas Boy memoribilia.


In July 2017 the latest of the Record Office sessions was on sport & leisure. Cricket scorebooks are always fascinating and you can read more on sport & leisure on our project exhibition - https://leicester.omeka.net/exhibits/show/postwar/intro

Photo of group at Leicester Record Office.




This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Home>>Community>>Resources>>Post War Leicester

Last updated: 24/10/2018
East Midlands Oral History Archive Web maintainer
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.

Valid XHTML 1.0!