Old Images of Leicester, England

Leicester Corn Market 1745

Glimpse history through old images of Leicester, in the county of Leicestershire, England.

Photos Through Time

A nice compilation of old photos of Leicester, compared with the same locations many decades later. Good clear labelling the year in each image.

Old and new Leicester – Posted to YouTube by Sean Arkless

Preparing for War in 1938

This Pathe Gazette newsreel from 1938 shows how the authorities were gearing up for the Second World War. The city was one of the first to prepare for a complete blackout. Teams of men painted black and white stripes on pavement kerbs and lampposts, so that ambulances and other emergency vehicles could safely manoeuver dark streets during the experimental blackout. 

The emergency vehicles have special dimmers fitted. Emergency workers look like dr Who aliens, given their strange overalls and gas mask hoods. The pour water onto the ground and sweep furiously with brushes, practicing how to clear up a poisoned gas attack.

Leicester Stages A ‘blackout’ (1938) – Posted to YouTube by British Pathé

Leicester Parade 1950

This silent footage is an AKC Newsparade film from the “Down Your Way!” series.

It starts with a panoramic view of the city centre. Take a look at the vehicles on the road.

Next there’s a poster advertising the Come And Make It exhibition at the Ranby Halls, from October 11th to the 18th.  It’s run by the Ministry of Labour and National Statistics, and is free admission. The poster is headlined “ WE NEED THE WOMEN BACK AT WORK AGAIN”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say who Leicester’s “Princess of Industry” is, though she’ll apparently be there. 

Suddenly, we’re watching a female bagpipe band process along a street packed with spectators. There are nice closeups of both women and children watching the event, and of some of the women taking part in the procession.

Next we see young girls in uniform marching in the procession as they play drums. One young woman sits on a float, dressed as Britannia.

Then it’s a look at the Mayor, his wife and two official men enjoying the procession. The other official with them looks like he’s having a horrible day.

At the end, we see young women marching with a banner similar to those used by the miners. It’s the Central Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, and the main message states “WE NEED WOMEN – KEEP MEN EMPLOYED”.

Leicester Parade Aka Down Your Way (1950) – Posted to YouTube by British Pathé

Elizabeth II in Leicester 1958

Pathé News filmed the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II at Victoria Park in 1958.

She was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant ()Robert Godfrey Wolseley Bewicke-Copley, 5th Baron Cromwell), the Lord Mayor (either Alderman Frederick John Jackson or Alderman Sidney Brown, many dignitaries, and thousands of cheering people.

She inspected the Guard of Honour of the 147th Midland Infantry Brigade.

We are reminded that it was Queen Elizabeth I that incorporated the town of Leicester in 1589. Although it was listed as a city in the Domesday Book, it was not officially created as one until 1919.

Next, the Royal Car arrived at the University. There the Queen opened the new £360,000 Percy Gee building, named after the Senior Pro Chancellor. The new building included a great hall, a squash court and games room, dining halls and common rooms. 

After the Queen gives a speech to a packed hall, the Duke of Edinburgh and then the Queen are shown architectural models.

4 miles of crowded streets were packed with happy people. The cameraman caught some very lovely closeups and group shots.

Next the royal couple spend an hour in a hosiery factory, which was founded at the beginning of the 1800s. The factory was previously visited in 1919, by King George V and Queen Mary.

As is common in the 1950s factories, the older males of the management show the royal visitors around, while banks of women work hard at their stations, in this case sewing machines.

The Queen In Leicester (1958) – Posted to YouTube by British Pathé

Leicester in the 1950s

This short film clip describes the town as ‘one of Britain’s most important industrial centres’.

Footage includes the old gatehouse, the fire engines outside the new fire station, the War Memorial which was erected in memory of those who died in World War I, the Abbey ruins, and the resting place of Cardinal Wolseley.

Then it’s a look at the clock tower, with its figure of Simon De Montfort, and on to the Montfort Hall, “One of the finest concert halls in England”.

Finally, we see the lit up signs of the ABC Savoy cinema in the dark street, announcing “Rebel Without A Cause”.

A woman crosses the dark road, timing it carefully between all the buses.

“In Leicester they work as they play – hard. But they’re very much alive”.

Hometown – Leicester (1950-1959) – Posted to YouTube by British Pathé

Leicester’s First Supermarket 1961

It’s the opening of the first city supermarket. The narrator states you can almost drive up to the counter, but in fact it involves parking in a multi storey car park with space for a thousand cars. 

The supermarket itself looks very quiet. The wife walks along with the basket, choosing items to buy, while the husband follows her alond doing nothing.

Hielan Lassie was reduced from 5’6 to 3’6 per tin.

We are introduced to wheeled shopping trolleys, for use “if a woman has a youngster”. A little girl sits quietly holding a teddy bear bigger than she is.

At the till, there’s one woman to run up the basket of goods on the small counter, while pressed in behind her is another woman to pack the bags.

Then you go to get your car – and a PORTER brings your two bags of shopping to your car at the entrance!! Plus, the boot is at the front of the car.

Drive In And Buy (1961) – Posted to YouTube by British Pathé

Leicester City Centre 1999

This was recorded on February 15th 1999, first  from a bus & then on foot. Tony Blair was made Prime Minister 2 years previously, and Gary Lineker’s family still had a fruit and vegetable stall at the outdoor market. Leicester City still played at Filbert Street and were 2 days away from reaching the final of the League Cup.

Leicester City Centre 1999 – Posted to YouTube by ishnum munshi

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