Tuesday, 30 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 26.

I could have started the A-Z Challenge with this one, since it’s an astronomical clock but then what would I have have done for Z? It’s to be found on the outside of the Rattray Lecture Theatre at Leicester University. Designed and constructed by Allan Mills and Ralph Jefferson, it was installed in 1989.

The clock shows the relative positions of the sun, moon and stars on a medieval geocentric system with the earth at the centre.

And with that it is time to sign off from the A-Z Challenge. Well done to everyone who has seen the month through from beginning to end.

Monday, 29 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 25.

No, not the song – just another building I’m afraid. Although I’m humming the tune to myself as I tap away on the computer keys.

The YMCA Building on the corner of East Street and Granby Street was designed by A.E. Sawday in collaboration with Draper and Tudor Walters and was officially opened by the Marquess of Northampton in 1901.

What caught my eye on on this building was a series of crouching winged figures (I hesitate to call them angels) that decorate the upper recesses of the first floor windows along Granby Street. They’re a weird bunch with no obvious theme, so make of them what you will. 

Saturday, 27 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 24.

I don’t think I really need any words for this post. Here are some Xs I found whilst out and about.

Friday, 26 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 23.

I started my A-Z with some angels and though I found some in the  city centre, the best place for angels is probably a cemetery, particularly a Victorian one. However I was saving that visit for today.

The Welford Road Cemetery was opened in 1849 as the churchyards and burial grounds of Leicester became full to overflowing. It covers about 31 acres and is listed as a Grade II site in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens. It is also designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

I was lucky enough to find myself there on a fine spring morning and very beautiful it was too.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 22.

The Victoria Model Lodging House in Britannia Street (just off the Belgrave Road) is in a sorry state now but it once represented the height of comfort to the men who sought shelter there; ‘…hawkers and drovers, and the shuffling of the heavy-shod navvies’.

It was designed by Thomas Hind in 1887. Hind was a Liberal Councillor and an active member of the Leicester Co-operative Society. At that time most lodging houses were old, overcrowded and insanitary, unlike the purpose-built Victoria. Rules were strict: alcohol was banned, there was no smoking upstairs and woman weren’t allowed, but there were ‘brick-lined lavatories and laundries’ and cooking facilities were provided. A bed for the night cost from 4d to 8d.

The relief panels in brick show characters from each of the four British nationalities.

There was Scotsman, an Irishman…

…a Welshman and an Englishman.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 21.

Instead of looking up, I’m looking down at the ground with a montage of things found beneath my feet. It includes some butterflies, a maze and some stars from Leicester’s walk of fame. Watch where you tread.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 20.

One picture today and one small but perfectly formed Art Nouveau building. The Turkey Café in Granby Street.

The Turkey Café was designed by Arthur Wakerley in 1900-1. The Moorish Style facade is faced with Carrara ware made by Doulton Co.

Wakerley was a prominent Leicester architect chiefly remembered for developing the North Evington district of the city. He was also a businessman and politician, becoming Mayor of Leicester in 1898.

Monday, 22 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 19.

I’ve had a busy few days and didn’t manage to get the photos I had planned for ‘S’ so I hope I’m forgiven for using some I had already. These particular sculptures are all of woman – so now I’ll have think up something else for ‘W’. Actually I have an idea as long as I can get the shots in time, so fingers crossed I make it to ‘Z’. Nearly there.

The pictures are:

The Leicester Seamstress, Hotel Street, 1990. Bronze sculpture by James Walter Butler. The statue represents a life-sized seated eighteenth-century hosiery worker sewing the seam of a stocking.

Carved relief, possibly of Venus. Hawthorn Building, De Montfort University Campus. Sculptor, Percy Brown, 1937.

Two crouching figures, Portland Building, De Montfort University Campus. 1888.

Two figurative relief panels representing Commerce and Agriculture. Former Peres Bank, St Martins, 1900-1. Sculptor, Charles John Allen.

Figure of St Catherine, Leicester Cathedral.

Terpsichore, General News Room Building, Granby Street, 1898. Designer and modeller, E. Caldwell Spruce.

Niche figure representing Astronomy. Also from the General News Room Building.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 18.

Some retail therapy for the weekend with this Leicester landmark on the corner of Belvoir Street and Market Street. As often as not there’s someone waiting by the doorway for a friend they’ve arranged to meet. I’ve waited on this corner a few times myself.

Dating from 1880, this building was designed by Isaac Barradale. Barradale was an exponent of the Arts and Crafts movement and was an important influence on Leicester and designed several private houses in the Stoneygate area of the city.

The building was originally Joseph Johnson and Company, a drapery store. It was taken over by Fenwicks in 1962.

This view shows another Barradale building on the opposite corner.

Looking down market Street the black and white mock-Tudor building at the end is the former General Accident Building, now a nightclub. It was built in 1930 and designed by G.P.K. Young.

Friday, 19 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 17.

I’m going to be honest here – the main reason for choosing this building was that it began with a letter Q. It’s the Queens Building, De Montfort University’s engineering building in Mill Lane. For many years I worked for DMU (though in a different building) and didn’t take a lot of notice of it but going back to take my photographs I think it might be starting to grow on me. Completed in 1993, the design set out to be Europe’s largest naturally ventilated building. It was formally opened by the Queen who gave her name to the building. I remember we all turned out to give her a wave.

The architects were Alan Short and Brian Ford. Tall chimney stacks, which can be seen on the picture below, allow the building to ventilate the hot, stale air and bring in fresh, cool air and the building is designed to maximise natural light. They also recall the chimney stacks that once bristled from every house and factory in the city, although this time they’re more environmentally friendly.

The bronze statue is of Professor Kenneth Barker. When Leicester Polytechnic was granted university status in 1992 he became the first vice chancellor of the newly created De Montfort University. The sculptor was Sean Henry and it was unveiled in 1999.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 16.

New Walk is an elegant tree lined promenade that stretches south for about a kilometre from Welford Place to Victoria Park. Quite a contrast to the rest of the city centre. In the late-Georgian period Leicester was rapidly developing and the main impetus for laying out New Walk in 1785 was to control building on common land to the south. It soon attracted a better sort of housing development and now there are many fine buildings along the walk.

I’ve decided against commenting on the individual buildings though many are listed and information is available. Instead I think I’ll let New Walk speak for itself.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 15.

I enjoy going to the theatre but I must confess I don’t go as often as I’d like. The last time I went was back in February to Curve (no definite article) to see the stage version of The Ladykillers. Written by Graham Linehan and based on the original 1955 film it was a great evening’s entertainment in a spectacular building. 

Curve is Leicester’s new state-of the-art theatre, officially opened by the Queen in 2008. The building was designed by Rafael Viñoly and although massively over budget its frontage of curving glass and steel is something to behold. It is now the heart of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.

Curve with the Athena on the right and the Exchange Building on the left.

To mark Curve’s opening the space outside the theatre was renamed Orton Square in honour of the playwright Joe Orton. Orton was born in Leicester in 1933 but left the city in 1951 to take up a place at RADA in London. He was murdered by his lover and mentor, Kenneth Halliwell in 1967 at the age of 34. He is best remembered for works such as Entertaining Mr Sloane, Loot and What the Butler Saw.
The Exchange Building, Leicester’s ‘flat iron building’ with Curve on the right.

Athena, former Odeon Cinema now a conference centre and entertainment venue. 1936. Designed by Robert Arthur Bullivant in an art deco style.

Exchange Building. 1888. Designed by Stockdale Harrison of Leicester. 

Church of St George. 1823-7. Architect William Parsons. Chancel built 1879 by Sir A. Blomfield. It was restored in 1911 by W.D. Caroe after a fire. Originally Anglican, it is now a Serbian Orthodox Church.

Commercial premises, (the snooker hall building). C1900. Edwardian Baroque Style.

Entrance to St George’s Church.
Looking across Orton Square from Curve towards the snooker hall
and entrance to St George’s Church. Athena just visible on the left.