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This article discusses Leicester in England. For other places of the name see Leicester (disambiguation).

City of Leicester
Status: Unitary, City (1919)
Region: East Midlands
Ceremonial County: Leicestershire
- Total
Ranked 276th
73.32 km²
Admin. HQ: Leicester
ONS code: 00FN
- Total (2002 est.)
- Density
Ranked 21st
3,868 / km²
Ethnicity: 63.9% White
29.9% S.Asian
3.1% Afro-Carib.
Leicester City Council
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Liberal Democrats + Conservative
MPs: Parmjit Singh Gill, Patricia Hewitt, Keith Vaz

Leicester (pronounced Lester) is a city in the English Midlands, on the River Soar. It is the traditional county town of Leicestershire (the administrative centre now being Glenfield). It lies on the edge of the National Forest. The 2001 census recorded a population of 279,921.

Table of contents
1 General information
2 History
3 Politics in Leicester
4 Sport in Leicester
5 Towns, villages and places of interest
6 Famous people from Leicester
7 Twinning
8 Local media
9 External Links

General information

The city is next to the M1 motorway, and is on the Midland Main Line between London and Sheffield. High-speed trains operated by Midland Mainline can reach London in just over an hour. It is also served by rail lines to Birmingham and Coventry via Nuneaton, and by a line to Peterborough.

The urban area spreads outside the boundaries of the city proper, and includes Oadby, Wigston, Braunstone Town, Glenfield, Blaby, Thurmaston, Syston, and Leicester Forest East.

Major industries in Leicester today include food processing, hosiery, footwear, knitwear, engineering, electronics, printing and plastics.

Leicester is home to two universities, the University of Leicester (Royal Charter 1957) and De Montfort University (founded 1992 from Leicester Polytechnic), and has an Anglican cathedral of St Martin's.

The city centre is mainly Victorian with some later developments, which have usually been integrated in smoothly. The heart of the city centre is the Clock Tower, which is at the intersection of five routes into the city - High Street, Churchgate, Belgrave Gate, Humberstone Gate, and Gallowtree Gate. Today the latter two are pedestrianised, and vehicles restricted on the others. The city centre is home to the Haymarket and the Shires shopping centres, both of which face the clock tower. Leicester Market, Europe's largest covered market, is nearby.

In 1990 it was designated the UK's first Environment City, and won the European Sustainable City Award in 1996.

Venues include the Haymarket Theatre, the Phoenix Arts Centre, and the De Montfort Hall.


Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England with a history going back nearly 2000 years. Leicester was founded in AD 50 by the Romans, as a military settlement upon the Fosse Way Roman road. The Romans named it Ratae Coritanorum, named after the Corieltauvi, the Celtic tribe that dwelt in the area before they arrived.

Ratae Coritanorum grew into an important trading and military centre and one of the largest towns in Roman Britain. The 'Jewry Wall', still to be seen at Leicester, is basically the remaining wall of the forum of Roman Leicester along with foundations of the baths. It is quite large and impressive and has a visitors' centre attached.

The Roman town was largely abandoned when the Romans left Britain in the 5th century, but was later re-settled by Saxons. Some of the Roman street layout has survived to this day - Gallowtree Gate and Market Place run side-by-side, and are separated by where the eastern wall of the city used to be.

It is believed the name "Leicester" is derived from the words castra (camp) of the Ligore, meaning dwellers on the 'River Legro' (an early name for the River Soar). In the 8th century it was recorded as Legro Ceaster. The Doomsday book three centuries later recorded it as Ledecestre probably a corrupted version of those words. The name has gradually corrupted to its current form over the centuries. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that it was named after King Lear, but this is not generally accepted.

In the 9th century, Leicester was captured by the Danes (Vikings) and became one of the five boroughs (fortified towns) of Danelaw although this position was short lived.

Leicester had become a town of considerable importance by Medieval times. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'civitas' (city), but Leicester lost its city status in the 11th century owing to power struggles between the Church and the aristocracy. It was eventually re-made a city in 1919, and the Church of St Martin made Leicester Cathedral in 1927.

With the construction of the Grand Union Canal in the 1790s which linked Leicester to London and Birmingham, Leicester began rapid industrialisation. The main industries being hosiery, footwear and engineering.

By 1832 railways had arrived in Leicester with the opening of the Leicester and Swannington Railway which provided a supply of coal to the town from nearby collieries. By 1840 the Midland Counties Railway had linked Leicester to the national railway network which further boosted industrial growth.

The borough expanded throughout the 19th century, most notably in 1892 annexing Belgrave, Aylestone and North Evington. It became a county borough when these were established, but as with all county boroughs was abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in 1974, becoming a district. It regained its unitary status in 1997.

In the decades after World War II Leicester gained a large population of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, and from Uganda in the early 1970s. These immigrant groups make up around 40% of Leicester's population, making Leicester one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United Kingdom. Among the more recent arrivals are a group of Dutch citizens of Somali origin, apparently drawn by its free and easy atmosphere and by the number of mosques. In the U.K., Leicester is widely regarded as a model of inter-communal tolerance. It is expected to become the first major city in England in which the non-white population will form a majority, this is expected to have happened by the year 2012.

Leicester's Coat of Arms

The City of Leicester's coat of arms was first granted to the city at the Heraldic Visitation of 1619, and is based on the arms of the First Earl of Leicester, Robert Beaumont.

After Leicester became a city in 1919, the city council applied to add to the arms, permission for which was granted in 1929, when the supporting lions, from the Lancastrian Earls of Leicester, were added.

The motto "Semper Eadem" was the Motto of Queen Elizabeth I who granted a royal charter to the city. It means "always the same". The crest on top of the arms is a white or silver legless wyvern with red and white wounds showing, on a wreath of red and white. The supporting Lions are wearing coronets in the form of collars, with the white cinquefoil hanging from them.

Politics in Leicester

On April 1, 1997, Leicester was removed from Leicestershire and made into an independent unitary authority.

Leicester is divided into three Parliamentary constituencies. Leicester East and Leicester West are represented by Keith Vaz and Patricia Hewitt respectively - both members of the Labour Party. The third seat, Leicester South, was left vacant in May 2004, following the untimely death of Labour politician Jim Marshall - the Leicester South by-election was held on July 15, and was won by Parmjit Singh Gill of the Liberal Democrats with a 21% swing.

After a long period of Labour administration (since 1979), the city council is now (since May 2003) being run by a Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition.

Sport in Leicester

Sports teams include Leicester City F.C (soccer), Leicester Tigers (rugby union), Leicester Riders (basketball), and the Leicestershire County Cricket Club. The city has also hosted British and World track cycling championships at its Saffron Lane velodrome. Leicester is now sometimes regarded (by its inhabitants at least) as the sporting capital of the UK.

Recent titles won by local teams

To celeberate the successes of 1997-98, the Leicester Mercury organised the placement of a statue portraying a cricketer, a footballer, and a rugby-player on Gallowtree Gate, not far from the Clock Tower at the heart of the city.

Towns, villages and places of interest

Aylestone, Braunstone, Evington, Knighton, Humberstone, Stoneygate

Parks: Leicester Botanic Gardens, Abbey Park, Victoria Park, Gorse Hill City Farm

Industry: Abbey Pumping Station, National Space Centre

Places of Worship: Leicester Cathedral

Historical Buildings: Belgrave Hall, Jewry Wall

Famous people from Leicester

Note: This includes all those who spent at least part of their lives here. Not all were born or have spent their entire life there.


Leicester is twinned with

Local media

Leicester is home to the Leicester Mercury newspaper, and the
MATV (Midlands Asian Televison) cable channel.

Analog radio stations are:

The local DAB multiplex has the following stations:

External Links

Districts of England - East Midlands
Amber Valley | Ashfield | Bassetlaw | Blaby | Bolsover | Boston | Broxtowe | Charnwood | Chesterfield | Corby | Daventry | Derby | Derbyshire Dales | East Lindsey | East Northamptonshire | Erewash | Gedling | Harborough | High Peak | Hinckley and Bosworth | Kettering | Leicester | Lincoln | Mansfield | Melton | Newark and Sherwood | Northampton | North East Derbyshire | North Kesteven | North West Leicestershire | Nottingham | Oadby and Wigston | Rushcliffe | Rutland | South Derbyshire | South Holland | South Kesteven | South Northamptonshire | Wellingborough | West Lindsey

Administrative counties with multiple districts: Derbyshire - Leicestershire - Lincolnshire - Northamptonshire - Nottinghamshire