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Leicester

Area  73.32 km2
Region  East Midlands
Mayor  John Thomas
Population  329,600
Points of interest  New Walk Museum, Abbey Pumping Station, Newarke Houses Museum, Leicester Guildhall, Bradgate Park
Colleges and Universities  University of Leicester (Leicester), De Montfort University (Leicester), Leicester College (Leicester), South Leicestershire College (South Wigston), Judgemeadow Community College (Leicester)

Leicester ( LES-t?r) is a city and unitary authority area in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest. It is the burial place of King Richard III.

Map of Leicester

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In the 2011 census, the population of the Leicester unitary authority was 330,000, making it the largest unitary authority in the East Midlands region, whilst 509,000 people lived in the wider Leicester Urban Area, making Leicester the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom and Englands eleventh largest urban area. It is the largest city and has the second largest urban area in the East Midlands region. Eurostats Larger Urban Zone listed the population of Leicester LUZ at 836,484 (2011). According to the 2011 census Leicester had the largest proportion of people aged 19-and-under in the East Midlands with 27 per cent.

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"Unlike almost every other city in the UK, Leicester has retained a remarkable record of its past in buildings that still stand today". Ancient Roman pavements and baths remain in Leicester from its early settlement as Ratae, a Roman military outpost in a region inhabited by the Celtic Corieltauvi tribe. Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the early medieval Ratae is shrouded in obscurity, but when the settlement was captured by the Danes it became one of five fortified towns important to the Danelaw and it appeared in the Domesday Book as "Ledecestre". Leicester continued to grow throughout the Early Modern period as a market town, although it was the Industrial Revolution that facilitated a process of rapid unplanned urbanisation in the area.

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A newly constructed rail and canal network routed through the area stimulated industrial growth in the 19th century, and Leicester became a major economic centre with a variety of manufacturers engaged in engineering, shoemaking and hosiery production. The economic success of these industries, and businesses ancillary to them, resulted in significant urban expansion into the surrounding countryside. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, it was the centre of the bishopric from around 670, endowing it with city status. However, it lost city status in the 11th century during a time of struggle between the church and the aristocracy. The boundaries of Leicester were extended several times in the 19th and 20th centuries; it became a county borough in 1889, and was re-granted city status in 1919.

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Today, Leicester is located at the intersection of the north/south Midland Main Line and east/west Birmingham/Leicester/Cambridge CrossCountry railway lines and at the confluence of the M1 / M69 motorways and the A46 / A6 trunk routes. The city and metropolitan area is culturally diverse, with well established South Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities, in addition to more recent influxes from European Community countries, amongst others. Leicester is a major centre of learning: the University of Leicester is famous for the quality of its teaching and research; De Montfort University is very well regarded in many of its specialist fields. The city region also hosts many other notable institutions of higher and further education.

On 20 June 2013, Leicester was announced as one of four shortlisted cities for the second UK City of Culture award. Kingston upon Hull was announced as the winner on 20 November.

History

Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, with a history going back at least two millennia. The native Iron Age settlement encountered by the Romans at the site seems to have developed in the 2nd or 1st centuries BC. Little is known about this settlement or the condition of the River Soar at this time, although roundhouses from this era have been excavated and seem to have clustered along roughly 8 hectares (20 acres) of the east bank of the Soar above its confluence with the Trent. This area of the Soar was split into two channels: a main stream to the easts and a narrower channel on the west, with a presumably marshy island between. The settlement seems to have controlled a ford across the larger channel. The later Roman name was a latinate form of the Brittonic word for "ramparts" (cf. Gaelic rath & the nearby villages of Ratby and Ratcliffe), suggesting the site was an oppidum. The plural form of the name suggests it was initially composed of several villages. The Celtic tribe holding the area was later recorded as the "Coritanians" but an inscription recovered in 1983 showed this to have been a corruption of the original "Corieltauvians".) The Corieltauvians are believed to have ruled over roughly the area of the East Midlands.

Geography

Leicester Beautiful Landscapes of Leicester

Leicester is divided into several administrative wards, that correspond to many historical suburbs, villages and districts in the unitary authority area:

Leicester Beautiful Landscapes of Leicester

The Office for National Statistics has defined a Leicester Urban Area, which consists of the conurbation of Leicester, although it has no administrative status. The area contains the unitary authority area and several towns, villages and suburbs outside the citys administrative boundaries.

Economy

Leicester has the largest economy in the East Midlands. A recent study by emda/Experian estimated the GVA to be £15.3 billion. Companies that have their head office based in the area include Dunelm Mill, Next, Jessops, Shoe Zone, Brantano Footwear & Goldsmiths. British Gas, Caterpillar, Wal-Mart, Topps Tiles and DHL all have sites in Leicester.

Culture

Leicester Culture of Leicester

The city hosts an annual Pride Parade (Leicester Pride), a Caribbean Carnival (the largest in the UK outside London), the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India and the largest comedy festival in the UK Leicester Comedy Festival. One of the best known places in the city is Melton Road, near the city centre, which contains many diverse retail stores and restaurants for both locals and tourists. From clothing to fine cuisines, specialist bridal/groom makeup and home appliances, this road promotes and holds many authentic cultures globally. Melton Road is regarded as the pin point of Leicester as a multifaith city. For many residents of Leicester, Melton Road is a place with strong links to their roots and origins. From an ethnic point of view, this is just one of the many sites within the city that enables every person to feel a sense of homeliness and strong pride of culture.

Leicester Culture of Leicester

The Leicester International Short Film Festival is an annual event; it began life with humble beginnings in 1996 under the banner title of "Seconds Out". It has become one of the most important short film festivals in the UK It usually runs in early November, with venues including the Phoenix Arts Centre.

Arts venues in the city include:

  • Curve: New purpose-designed performing arts centre, designed by Rafael Viñoly, opened in Autumn 2008, replaced the Haymarket Theatre
  • The De Montfort Hall
  • The Y Theatre
  • The Little Theatre
  • Upper Brown Street (formerly the Phoenix Arts Centre)
  • The City Gallery, one of the regions leading contemporary art galleries
  • The Peepul Centre, Designed by Andrzej Blonski Architects, the £15 million building was opened in 2005 and houses an auditorium, restaurant, cyber café, gym and dance studio for the local people, as well as being used for conferences and events. The centre has even been host to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other senior Labour Party figures for hustings during the deputy leadership contest.
  • Phoenix Square, which replaced the Phoenix Arts Centre in 2009.
  • Fabrika The Independent Arts Centre, 68–70 Humberstone Gate. An Independent Art centre designed to help everyone in the community in a number of different ways.
  • HQ {Graffiti} Art Gallery & Recording Studio creative hub, an organic, unique, free artistic centre. Located at 38 Charles Street, HQ is home to the highly regarded LCMP CIC & Co-operative,(Leicester Community Music Project).
  • In popular culture

    Leicester Culture of Leicester

    Leicester is the setting for the fictional diaries of Adrian Mole, created by Sue Townsend. He lives in a fictional suburb known as Mangold Parva. There, Mole lives and owns a second hand bookshop in the later novels, notably Townsends latest, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years. The local Leicestershire MP is Pandora Braithwaite, a fictional Labour MP since the 1997 general election.

    Leicester Culture of Leicester

    Leicester and the surrounding county are also settings for several Graham Joyce novels, including Dark Sister, The Limits of Enchantment and Some Kind of Fairy Tale.

    Food and drink

    Leicester Cuisine of Leicester, Popular Food of Leicester

    Henry Walker was a successful pork butcher who moved from Mansfield to Leicester in the 1880s to take over an established business in High Street. The first Walkers production line was in the empty upper storey of Walkers Oxford Street factory in Leicester. In the early days the potatoes were sliced up by hand and cooked in an ordinary fish and chip fryer. In 1971 the Walkers crisps business was sold to Standard Brands, an American firm, who sold on the company to Frito-Lay. Walkers crisps currently makes 10 million bags of crisps per day at two factories in Beaumont Leys, and is the UKs largest grocery brand. The Beaumont Leys manufacturing plant is the largest crisp factory in the world.

    Leicester Cuisine of Leicester, Popular Food of Leicester

    Meanwhile the sausage and pie business was bought out by Samworth Brothers in 1986. Production outgrew the Cobden Street site and pork pies are now manufactured at a meat processing factory and bakery in Beaumont Leys, coincidentally situated near the separately owned crisp factories. Sold under the Walkers name and under UK retailers own brands such as Tescos Finest, over three million hot and cold pies are made each week. Henry Walkers butcher shop at 4–6 Cheapside sold Walkers sausages and pork pies until March 2012 when owner Scottish Fife Fine Foods went bust, although the shop is temporarily open and selling Walkers pies for the Christmas 2012 season.

    Leicester market new food hall opens to public


    Leicester Market is the largest outdoor covered marketplace in Europe and selling fruit, vegetables, fresh fish and meat. Every year during the summer the Leicester City Council hold cultural festivals here. In 2009 the Leicester Mela was held in the market area. In 2011 a new area called "Market Corner" was opened with various different food and drink on offer on Fridays and Saturdays. The market was given royal consent in 1229 by Henry III. One famous stallholder family is the Linekers, who have operated a fruit and vegetable store since the late 1960s. Other markets in Leicester include Beaumont Leys Market. There are other markets, including the farmers market and the continental markets usually held on Humberstone Gate or Gallowtree Gate.

    Museums

    Leicester curry houses a taste of little india


    References

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