Sunday, 26 January 2014

Welford Road Cemetery App

The launch taking place at Welford Road Cemetery Visitor Centre

I went to the launch of the Welford Road Cemetery App this morning. It is a project between the Friends of Welford Road Cemetery, Heritage Lottery Fund and De Montfort University.

The app allows you to view information and the stories of people who have been buried in the cemetery. You can search alphabetically, on particular themes such as politicians, musicians etc...and their location is displayed on a map, which can also show your relative position. This latter feature is particularly useful for me, as I have been lost in the cemetery a couple of times. I believe each entry will also include a picture of the gravestone, which is invaluable as they can be quite tricky to find.

Around 180 stories have been researched and written for the app but they have also been turned into leaflets which are themed: 'War and Peace', 'Gruesome', 'Women'. They also include a map of where each grave is and both the leaflets and the app are a fantastic way to explore the cemetery and learn about the people buried there.

The app will be released on iPhone soon, once a little more information is added.

A letter from Olwen Hughes in 2009 to the Leicester Mercury regarding the "Pump and Tap" (Bowstring Bridge)

Found this and thought it worth preserving


What a disgrace

By This is Leicestershire  |  Posted: December 05, 2009
<P>The Pump and Tap</P>
The Pump and Tap
 Comments (0)
So, the Pump and Tap pub is being demolished, the most recent victim of the wish by De Montfort University's management body to get hold of as much land as possible in the western part of the city centre so that the university can expand.
Not for them is there any benefit to be gained by adapting what is there already, and keeping everybody happy. No: sweep it all away and ignore what anyone thinks.
It seems to me that this aim has been actively aided by the ruling Labour group on the city council to the extent that this part of Leicester might well now be called De Montfort City.
The victims are, of course, all of us, for we were negligent enough to not vote in large enough numbers to make sure that the Labour Party, or any other for that matter, did not have an overall majority over all the other parties put together at the last local elections.
As one of the pub's customers, Iain Baughan, said (Mercury, November 25): "Nowhere else in the world would anyone dream of pulling them down" (this referring to the Bowstring Bridge and the pub).
Built in 1828, so it is actually a pre-Victorian building, the pub has lasted on this site for 181 years, and has been the happy drinking and socialising venue for countless thousands of people over that time.
Along comes the upstart, never-satisfied-with-what-it-has-got university, aided and abetted by the city council, and its future is gone in a blink.
Soon it will be no more than a memory, as will the bridge at its side, together with the tens of millions of blue bricks behind it, lovingly built by theworkers into the arches and railway that many of us travelled on.
What a disgrace!
Olwen Hughes, Leicester."

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Monday, 20 January 2014

Picture of the day: Leicester's West Bridge, and related musings

Today's "Picture of the day" column in the Leicester Mercury shows this brilliant picture of  Leicester's West Bridge:

Here is the text that goes with it:
This photograph of the West Bridge goes right back to the days when Leicester still had horse buses – not trams. Ooh look, here comes one now. The bridge was built in 1891 by John Butler and Co, of Leeds, whose tender of £2,999 17s. Id was within 2s 11d of the Borough Surveyor’s estimated costs of the work. That’s either consonance born of the painstaking work of two pernickety minds or a bit dodgy. One of the two. Anyway, when the bridge took shape across the water it was embellished with a decorative flourish rarely spotted by the drivers who whizz by each day. The stone heads that decorate the bridge’s towers are the cast of characters from The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is reputed to have married at the nearby church of St Mary de Castro, which you can see in the background.
LCS Chairman Stuart Bailey provides further information:

The current bridge dates from 1893. The horse trams didn't run west of the clock tower as the old town streets were too narrow, so it was horse buses all the way until 1904 when the electric trams started. Of course this involved substantial demolition on High Street and St. Nicholas Street. Among the historic properties lost were Lords Place (1569) and John Bunyan's house (1676). The cleared land between Redcross Street and the river was Pickford's old yard, which became Castle Gardens - but not until 1926. The photo itself must have been taken from the Great Central's bridge over the Soar, which wasn't there until 1898. All this dates the photo to sometime between 1898 and 1903.

Speaking of horse buses, the photo below is of St. Nicholas Street and High Street taken c1892. It's the late afternoon rush hour - the Sun is in the west. The old house behind the lady's sun umbrellas is that of John Bunyan. (Well half of it actually - but that's another story). The view is from a first floor window of Norman's Factory, which stood above where the Roman Baths were to be rediscovered some 44 years later. It is looking down towards the Clock Tower. Nothing in this photo is there now - except St. Martins spire (1870). What a wonderful place this old city is!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

It could have been (even) worse

Looking through "The History of New Walk, Leicester" by Helen E. Boynton, published in 2002, I am reminded that the heritage vandalism that was inflicted on Leicester in the 1960s and 70s could have been even worse. The image and caption below speak for themselves.