1Victoria Park seen from the University2 Victoria Park
3Remains of Victorian pavillion on Victoria Park4 Pavillion on Victoria Park
5War memorial on Victoria Park6War Memorial on Victoria Park7 Path on Victoria Park
8Memorial on Victoria Park9 De Montfort Hall
10The University of Leicester11 Pond on Victoria Park
12Trees and bushes on Victoria Park13 Recreation area on Victoria Park

Victoria Park

This area of high ground to the south of the city was, from 1806 to 1883, Leicester's racecourse. Thereafter it was a large open space which became enclosed by the suburbs heading south. Among others, WG Grace played cricket here and for many years the park was packed with sports people at the weekends. Sport is still played, although to a lesser extent, but the addition of several tree-lined paths (1&2&7) means there is now less room. The park's Victorian pavilion (originally the grandstand for the racecourse) was damaged by a bomb in WW2, the ladies' toilets being all that remained, although they have now gone (3). The replacement is, although plain in comparison, useful for ice-cream, tea, and a children's playground (4).
Victoria Park is also home to Leicester's main war memorial, designed by Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1925 (5&6). Not pictured are the lodges, also designed by Lutyens, and the gates which were donated by Sir Jonathon North in 1930. Also in the park is a memorial to the US 82nd Airborne Division who were based locally during WW2 (8).
De Montfort Hall (9) faces the park, was built in 1913, and is still the main venue in Leicester for music events. Next door, the three University of Leicester buildings (10) form a landmark which can be seen for miles around. The first building on this site was a lunatic asylum, while Stirling and Gowan's engineering building of 1963 (the leftmost of the three) has been much celebrated.
In the 1990s a pond (11) and an area of shrubbery around it (12) were created in the south west corner, while the most recent addition is a skateboard ramp (13) next to the basketball and tennis courts. As well as sports events the park now hosts carnivals, fairs, circuses, and, for a while, BBC Radio 1 roadshows. Thousands of people come here every year for these events, but for those of us who use Victoria Park regularly it remains an unspectacular yet very pleasant corner of Leicester.
More photos at Four Seasons on Victoria Park
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 22/02/2010.
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