Bede Island North

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The Bede Island North area is created by the River Soar leaving the Grand Union Canal for the length of the Mile Straight. Having been owned by the Great Central Railway, the area was Berry's scrapyard up until the mid-nineties when it was compulsory purchased for the City Challenge regeneration scheme.
The land was heavily polluted but was cleaned and cleared and a mixture of housing, offices and retail units (shops, restaurant, pub) built. A plaza and park were created, an old railway building became 'The Quay' pub, a footbridge was made to connect with Castle Park, and the former Pex sock factory was tidied up and now houses the Land Registry.
In 1994 an oral history book, 'Walnut St Past, Present & Future', documented the thoughts of local residents. People were unsure about how effective City Challenge would be. The Safeway store on the cattle market was welcomed by many but, improved though the area is, City Challenge arguably didn't opt for the most imaginative proposal available and it may take further plans for the redevelopment of the east side of the canal and central Leicester to realise the potential of the area for canal-side eating and drinking.
Recent developments in the area include the demolition of the Great Central Railway bridge along with the Pump & Tap pub, the conversion of 'The Quay' to a supermarket, and the landscaping of the area around the Upperton Road bridge due to the Upperton Road Viaduct Redevelopment Sceme (for photos of the Liberty statue see the Liberty page on this website).
Photos of Bede Island in 2003.
Photos of the area before and during development courtesy of the University of Leicester Geography Dept.
Photos of the Great Central Railway in the area, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s. An excellent site by Nigel Tout.
Photos of Vic Berry's scrapyard by David Hills. There is also a video of Berry's scrap yard on You Tube by SMILEVIDEOTRAINS -
More about the area - an essay by Lesley Gill about the City Challenge project which changed the face of Bede Island.
This video was shot over a year from Spring 1996 to Summer 1997 and shows the building work in Leicester's City Challenge area. It starts with Bede Island North and the preparations for the housing, park and offices; this also shows the temporary graffitti which was a feature of the development. It then shows developments at the Pex/Land Registry building, the site of the International Youth House, St. Andrew's Estate, and the Cattle Market/Freemans Common development. The video can also be seen on EMOHA's You Tube channel at
The story of the Great Central Bowstring Bridge at Braunstone Gate and the efforts made to stop its demolition (which eventually happened at the end of 2009). A documentary made earlier in 2009 by Roger Hutchinson for the Leicester Civic Society.
This website is part of the East Midlands Oral History Archive and has been compiled by Colin Hyde. Any comments can be sent to him via the 'Contact us' button at the bottom of the page. Last updated 21/03/2016.
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