Leicester Civic Society
Chairman's Report June 2017

13 June 2017


1. CHURCH OF ST. SAVIOUR: St. Saviour was completed in 1877. It was the last and greatest of four churches in Leicester by Sir George Gilbert Scott and is listed Grade II-star. It is a vast red brick church with a nave seating one thousand, the timber roof of which is outstanding. The adjoining church rooms were constructed in 1883 and are the work of Stockdale Harrison. They are locally listed. In 2006 St. Saviour was closed and abandoned by the Diocese of Leicester. There has been trespass and severe damage to the pulpit and window glass. The church rooms are in a very poor condition.

We have been deeply concerned about St. Saviours for the last eleven years and have had several unproductive meetings with the Church Commissioners. However, we were invited to meet them and representatives of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in St. Saviour and I attended a remarkable meeting on 11 May. It is the intention of RCCG to purchase both the church and church rooms and restore them to their original functions, the latter becoming a new neighbourhood centre. The commissioners have stated that they are minded to allow the “pastoral scheme” for sale to go ahead subject to RCCG gaining LBC and being able to afford their proposals. Apparently the Commissioners have already been satisfied over the latter. If there any objectors by 14 June the scheme must be referred to the Bishop for his remarks. It can then be decided by the relevant committee. Church of England wheels grind extremely slowly but this is very welcome news and I have written to the Church Commissioners giving our support for the scheme.

2. ICKWORTH TOUR: 18 bookings for this otherwise extremely successful tour on 13 May. Ickworth was magnificent; the portrait, silver and antique book collections were stunning and the National Trust made us extremely welcome. However, we failed to sell the last three seats on the coach despite having had two whole months in which to do so. The result was a loss that we must all work to wipe out with the King’s Lynn Tour in September.

3. HERITAGE PARTNERSHIP: Meeting held on Monday 22 May at Jewry Wall Museum. Richard Allsop represented the Society. Well done Richard. Next meeting Monday 14 August at NW Museum.

4. 2017 HERITAGE FAIR: Saturday 27 May. A very successful Heritage Fair this year, with a 30% increase in visitors. Unfortunately, exhibitors were down. The publicity seems to be having an affect but we shall be working with the Victorian Society to boost exhibitors next year. After all, for many small societies this is almost the only opportunity they have of showing members of the public in the city centre what they do and thereby gaining new members. We gained three. Many thanks to Peter, Paulette, Michele, Gordon and Howard who turned up to help.

5. LEICESTER CENTRAL STATION: Leicester Central was at the heart of a great transport network with through trains not only to London, Sheffield and Manchester, but also Aberdeen, Penzance, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Barry Docks. The station boasted six platforms with principal platforms 1245 feet in length. All this was destroyed in 1969. The buildings on Great Central Street remained and they are still there 48 years later. However, the remains are sad - a car repair workshop occupies the covered carriage approach and the original Dutch gables and clock tower are lost. Only a terracotta arch still proudly announces “Great Central Railway Parcels Offices”. However, Charles Street Buildings has now acquired the former Stibbe factory and Maxim Buildings sites between Great Central Street, Friars Causeway and Vaughan Way - and they already own Leicester Central Station. They propose to create a “Great Central Square”, which will link to a new ‘super crossing’ over Vaughan Way and with two hotels on the north side and offices on the south. The station buildings will be restored as a conference and arts centre, with the whole complex only a few minutes’ walk from St. Peter’s Square in the Highcross Shopping Centre. This ambitious scheme has already been discussed at CAP.

On 01 June I had a meeting on site with Marrons, agents for the developer. I said we hoped to see improved soft landscaping and connexion to the waterside worked into the scheme. With a little luck and some good urban design the dreadful barrier created by the inner ring road in the 1970’s can actually be overcome and a smart new pedestrian link created to connect the Highcross Shopping Centre, Leicester Central and Leicester’s historic waterside.

6. GUIDED WALKS: “City of the Dead” Saturday 17 June, is fully booked and I have instructed Visit Leicester to stop taking bookings. I had a successful training session with Peter on Sunday 04 June. Bookings for “Civil War” on Saturday 05 August are now open and will be fully advertised in Leicester Citizen. Newbold Verdon WI have booked me to do “Civil War” again on Monday 07 August.

7. LEICESTER CITIZEN: I present the story so far. The July edition is almost complete. Printers on 21 June. Publication date is 01 July.

8. 2017 ANNUAL DINNER: Following growing complaints about 1573, I felt that we were growing stale after four years at that location for our annual dinner. I have therefore taken the plunge and booked The Wygston House, which is very attractive and where restoration as a restaurant has been excellent. The advantages are a large downstairs area where diners can mingle in advance and a semi-private dining area upstairs. An extremely good three course menu is available at £35 but two courses may be enjoyed for only £28.50. I am hoping that Leigh will be once more available to organise this event that will be fully advertised in the July Leicester Citizen.

For your further information:

· Evington Footpath Conservation Area. I have been invited to chair the inaugural public meeting of Evington Footpath Conservation Area Society at St. James Church Hall on Thursday 15 June at 7.00 pm. The formation of a conservation area society will be a bold step by local residents and Evington Footpath will thereby join Stoneygate, Belgrave Hall and Knighton in having their own society. As with the other societies we shall be doing all we can to work with and support them.

· Greyfriars THI. The next meeting of the Project Board will be on Monday 19 June

· Michele and I are to attend the launch of the “Changing Leicester” exhibition at Newarke Houses Museum on Friday 30 June.

Registered Charity No. 502932.   Member of EMACHS.   Member of the Historic Towns Forum.
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