Sunday, 8 May 2016

From 54 Baxter Gate to 1 Old Hospital Court Road!

So, after a very long wait something is finally opening both on the site of the old hospital and in the former nurses' home. 

A couple of years after the old hospital had closed, and the new one on Epinal Way had opened, it looked like this:

The Baxter Gate hospital
And it wasn't long before it was demolished:
After demolition
The demolition of the hospital rather exposed the side of the former nurses' home (which is how my friends have always referred to it, so that's why I call it this) and it was sad to see such a handsome (Grade II listed) building literally crumbling before our very eyes.
The former nurses' home
However, this has now all changed, and whether or not you think the town can support another cinema, and another half-dozen or so restaurants, the area has been redeveloped, and I have to say I think it all looks rather smart.

The new cinema is on the site of the old hospital, and there is a new "court" between the former nurses' home and the cinema itself, which will be filled with various restaurants. I wonder if the idea of this court harks back to the many courts there were in Loughborough at one time (and, indeed, there still are a few).
Looking out onto Baxter Gate from inside the court
At the end of the "court" was a wall hanging: it took me a few seconds to work out what on earth Laurel and Hardy had to do with Loughborough, but a closer look revealed lots of film characters - from Star Wars, King Kong, Jurassic Park etc. - interspersed with Loughborough landmarks. So, for example, there was a dinosaur peering over the Charnwood Museum.   
The wall hanging
Anyway, if I'm going to go out for a meal I very rarely choose to go to a chain, rather preferring to support local businesses, but, if I'm in a strange town and I am looking for somewhere to eat and I want something safe and predictable, in a pleasant setting then I might choose to go to a Pizza Express. The ones I've been to have all been in sympathetically restored buildings, which makes them a good deal more exciting than uninteresting new builds.

And so I have been watching and waiting for Loughborough Pizza Express to open, mostly because of the joy at seeing the nurses' home being renovated. Last evening I managed to book a table and took my family out for a celebratory meal, and what turned out to be quite an eventful occasion.

The entrance to the restaurant is on the side, and the inside seems to split into two areas, one at the front with large windows, which is obviously the old part of the buildings, and an area towards the back, which is part of the new building. In case you're interested, the washroom facilities are inside the old number 53, which has been opened up and joined with number 54. 
Inside looking out towards Baxter Gate
Our hosts were quite hospitable, but when we arrived it was in torrential rain, and we had hardly sat down at our table, when we became aware that the rain was bucketing down in through the ceiling into the restaurant porch, and then started coming into the restaurant. I don't think the waiters/waitresses really knew what to do! I don't think it was until we came to leave that I realised that the leak was probably in the join between the old and new building. Anyway, our spirits were not dampened and we had an enjoyable meal.
Can you see the rain coming through the ceiling in the porch?
I admit to being quite impressed with the artworks that were placed around the walls, as they all seemed to depict something of the history of the building. So, there was a painting of an auctioneer (was that Mr Garton or Mr Amatt?) - paintings of various auction lots, including a selection of Ladybird books, a group of folk sitting waiting, but I wasn't sure if they were attending the auction, or waiting in the doctor's surgery, and a picture of Towers (which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year).     

Also, I think there was a hint of harking back to the 1930s as part of the new building was tiled in cream tiles with a pale green border, all shiny and new. All in all, it was a very pleasant meal in very pleasant surroundings.   
The auctioneer and the Ladybird lot


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