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This article is about the Leicester in England. There are also other places of the same name: see Leicester (disambiguation).

City of Leicester [UA]
Population:279921 (2001)
Ethnicity:63% white, 27% asian 2% black
Areas:Aylestone, Braunstone,
Evington, Humberstone
Neighbours:Leicestershire : Blaby, Charnwood,
Hinckley and Bosworth, Harborough,
Melton, Oadby and Wigston
Executive:LibDem with Tories
MPs:Keith Vaz, Jim Marshall, Patricia Hewitt
Region:East Midlands

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

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.

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, making it very pedestrian-friendly. 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.

The Clock Tower

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 - and was founded in AD 50 by the Romans, who named it Ratae Coritanorum, named after the Corieltauvi, the Celtic tribe that dwelt in the area before they arrived. The Fosse Way Roman road (now the A46) passed through Ratae Coritanorum. 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.

In the 9th century, Leicester was one of the five boroughs (fortified towns) of Danelaw, and had become a town of considerable importance by Medieval times. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'the City of Leicester', but this status was stripped from it later.

Leicester became a major industrial town in the 19th Century, the main industries being hosiery and footwear. Light engineering industries became established in the city in the early 20th century. It was eventually re-made a city in 1919, and the Church of St Martin made Leicester Cathedral in 1927.

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 by the non-white population will form a majority, this is expected have happened by the year 2012.

Politics in Leicester

In 1996, Statutory Instrument 507 removed the city from the administrative county of Leicestershire of which it had been the county town, and made the city a county in its own right. To quote from it :

Constitution of new counties
8. — (1) Leicester and Rutland shall cease to form part of Leicestershire
(2) A new county shall be constituted comprising the area of Leicester, and shall be named the county of Leicester.

Further, a County Council for Leicester was not created, and the functions that it would have excercises have been transferred to the City Council. Thus Leicester City Council is a unitary authority, with responsibility for everything, including libraries and education.

Leicester is divided into three Parliamentary constituencies, Leicester East, Leicester West, and Leicester South, which are represented by Keith Vaz, Patricia Hewitt and Jim Marshall respectively - all members of the Labour Party.

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), 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

The Sports Statue on Gallowtree Gate

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

Famous people from Leicester


Leicester is twinned with