Friday 5 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 5.

The centre of modern Leicester has plenty of cafés and coffee shops and it’s easy to take them for granted they’re so ubiquitous. During the nineteenth century there was also a coffee house culture, albeit one tied to the temperance movement. In 1877 the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa House Company was formed with the aim of providing a comfortable, alcohol free environment which could be frequented by both men and women. The coffee houses had a room for ladies and customers could enjoy a game of billiards free of charge. They remained popular until after the Great War.

The East Gates (or Eastgates) Coffee House on the corner of East Gate and Church Gate was built for the company in 1885 in a Tudor style and was designed by the architect Edward Burgess who’s brother was the company’s solicitor. Burgess designed several coffee houses for the company in a variety of styles. 

The building was renovated by the then owners JD Sports in 2011 and given Grade II listing but is currently unoccupied.

The Victoria Coffee House (1888) in Granby Street was another of Burgess’s creations, built this time in a French Renaissance style. Also Grade II listed, now a restaurant.

The Victoria Coffee House
Burgess designed the Highcross Coffee House in High Street for the company in 1895. Also Grade II listed. It is now (sound of temperance campaigners turning in their graves) a pub.

The High Cross Coffee House
Finally, the Albert Coffee House in Belgrave Gate, not listed.

Albert Coffee House


  1. Oh how I love these tours and to see such beautiful architecture. You are very knowledgeable about these buildings and coffee houses. I love, love, love it. Thanks for E. Now I have to go and write mine. I've only accomplished D so far.

    Have a great day.


  2. You are very kind but I'm learning as I go. One of my biggest problems is not writing too much so it's a good exercise.

    Good luck with E, I shall be looking in.

  3. I'm loving this blog! Photography and architecture are my passions...great pics and commentary. Cheers!

  4. Hi! I'm a Ninja Minion checking in. Are you enjoying the challenge?