Sunday, 3 November 2013

Loughborough Culture Walk

Culture, what culture? 

If you were asked to join a Culture in Loughborough walk, you’d probably say “That’ll be a short walk then!”. So, I’m sure you’d be surprised to learn that 90 minutes to walk and talk about culture in Loughborough quite simply isn’t enough: In fact, there’s more than enough culture in Loughborough to fill at least two such walks! Had you come along to the recent culture walk, led by Ernie Miller, you’d have discovered that, actually, Loughborough had, and still has, it’s fair share of cultural activities!

So, for example, did you know that:

Loughborough has had four theatres, one of which is still standing – and that’s not including the Town Hall, nor any of the theatres on the university campus?

The Odeon as The Curzon in 2004

And, did you know that at one time Loughborough had three cinemas all operating at the same time?

And that the Odeon (formerly the Empire, The Essoldo, The New Empire, The Curzon, The Reel) which currently has six screens has applied for planning permission to add another four screens

A new cinema?

And that Cineworld has put in a planning application to build a cinema complex on the site of the old Baxtergate Hospital?

Charnwood Museum from Granby Street

And that there are currently four museums?
And, did you know that Loughborough’s modern coffee culture has been going on for years, partly encouraged by the Temperance Society who tried to persuade people not to drink alcohol, and who opened a coffee house on the corner of Devonshire Square and Granby Street, now a locally listed building?

The Organ Grinder, aka The Old Pack Horse

And talking of alcohol, pubs have been the meeting places of numerous groups and societies, and places of musical entertainment, for many years. The Three Nuns still has live bands playing, the Organ Grinder still has folk music evenings, and the Swan in the Rushes also has bands and performances by Mikron the canal theatre group.

Carnegie Library

A library is not only about education, it is also about culture. The first library in Loughborough was a subscription library on Baxtergate, available only to those who could afford to pay for the service, and the first free public library was on Greenclose Lane, more or less where Sainsbury is now.

Today’s library provides much more than books, as befits a 21st century service: DVDs are available for loan, computers are available to use, and the library is home to a variety of other activities, including being hosts to public health checks, writing and craft classes.

An example of a Ladybird book

And so to books! Loughborough, the home of Ladybird books! Originally based in Angel Yard, the publisher Wills, who produced trade and street directories, was joined, in 1915 by Mr Hepworth, and together they published the first Ladybird book. The rest, as they say, is history!


Signaller in the sunshine
Re-dedication of the Fearon Fountain Apr 2013

Loughborough is also rich in public sculpture, ranging from the Fearon Fountain in the Market Place, and elaborately carved reliefs on buildings in the town centre, to the Signaller in The Rushes.

St Paul bell casing in Queen’s Park

The latest collection of sculptures which were erected in Queen’s Park as part of the In Bloom entry are on a music-related theme and includes the bell casing used to cast the Great Paul bell in St Paul's Cathedral.


Over the years the town has also been home to various music shops: George Adcock’s on Baxtergate, George Hames on Baxtergate then Market Place, Paltridge’s on Churchgate, Groops on The Rushes, and Just Music on Leicester Road, to name but a few.
So, that’s the first culture walk done! Look out for the next one soon!!


  1. Wouldn't that listed building make a lovely coffee house now! They had dance rooms there too, I think. My stepmother used to go there as a slip of a girl.

    1. Oh, wouldn't it just! Not being put to good use downstairs really. Indeed, it was used as a dance hall at one time, and also a meeting place for the local YMCA.

  2. As a child growing up in Loughborough in the 50s I remember seeing South Pacific at the Victory Cinema (next to where the bus station was I think) and known as the local 'flea pit' at the time. The Essoldo foyer seemed very glamorous back then with photos of Hollywood movie stars on the walls. One of my fondest memories of Loughborough in the 50s however is a haberdashery shop called Allsops. When you paid for an item the money was put in a canister and then whizzed on wires over head to a cashier - this was magical to a 5 year old!

    1. Now that's most interesting: I've heard the Victory being called the flea-pit, and I've heard lots of stories about the double seats in the back row, but I had no idea the Essoldo was thought glamorous! I've seen pics of the inside of the Odeon (Beacon Bingo) when it was a cinema, and that looked very glitzy with chandeliers etc.. Lovely to hear about Allsops too: I remember the cannisters, but where I'm from they used to shoot them up a tube to go to the mysterious cash office upstairs! My earliest memory of haberdashers in Loughborough is of Boons in Biggin Street, and Pilsbury's, I think it was, on High Street next to Lloyds Bank. Thanks or taking the time to comment!


If you have found this post interesting or have any questions about any of the information in it do please leave a comment below. I might not be able to answer immediately, but I will reply as soon as possible. Thanks for reading the blog.