Sunday, 24 August 2014

Magistrate's Court, Police Station and the Wheatsheaf Pub

Magistrates, police and spar ornaments

Yesterday morning I had an early start for a Saturday as I had to be at Heathrow Airport to pick up number one son, whose flight from Central America arrived at 9.40. Worried that the Bank Holiday traffic queues would be enormous, and that the world and his wife would be travelling to Heathrow, and the airport would be really busy, I set off at 7am, with some trepidation. Luckily, I arrived at about the same time as the flight and managed to find a space in the short stay car park reasonably easily. The airport was fairly quiet and I had no trouble finding said son in amongst the other disembarkees.

Number one son playing bowls

As a result of this speedy operation, we were on our way home by about 11am and finally arrived about 1.15. He had some lunch and then I whisked him off to the bowls club to take part in a doubles match, which left me with a free afternoon, having not scheduled anything because I hadn’t been sure what time I’d actually get home.

What's left of the police station

Hubby wanted to nip into town, and I also needed a few things, so we walked in together. Usually, we walk along Albert Street, but today we went via Southfields Park, where we passed the new police station. I’d forgotten they were demolishing the old one, but we had a good view of the pile of rubble that is now the former police station.

Which set me thinking …

The Magistrate's Court on Woodgate

Police cell on the right
Now, I know I should know the answer to this, and I have read it somewhere, but, I think the police station which is currently being demolished was built in the late 60s / early 70s. This new building replaced the former police station, which was situated within the Magistrate’s Court on Woodgate. If you walk down Town Hall Passage from Woodgate, you can see 3 windows at ground level on your right, but there is also a window at waist height, which is the old police cell, where prisoners were kept.

The police department left this building to move into dedicated premises, but the Magistrate’s Court continued in this capacity until about 2007 when the new Magistrate’s Court was built on a plot facing the NHS Walk-In Centre, being at right angles to Sparrow Hill. I must admit, the new Magistrate’s Court looks nice, and even won the Building of the Year Award in the Leicestershire and Rutland Society of Architects at the annual award ceremony. Strangely, when, rather belatedly, I settled down to read this week’s local paper, there was a letter in there about the court being underused, and a comment about it now being on the inner relief road, and therefore being seen as the architects intended. Ok, it’s great if the need to use the building is less than expected, but a shame that such a new building has already lost its sense of purpose.

The other thing that happened, because we chose to walk into town a different way, was that I met an old friend in a shop I wouldn’t normally go into because it’s not on my route into town, and how fortuitous that turned out to be! She had recently been clearing out her parents’ home and had come across loads of old photos of Loughborough: I love old photos, especially ones showing people and buildings together, which help to piece together the history of the town.

The Orange Tree (formerly The Wheatsheaf)

My friend also told me about the shop next to the Orange Tree (formerly the Wheatsheaf pub): Apparently, there were spirits in there, which explained why no-one would stand near the till, and also an elderly lady in the back room who didn’t like the constant comings and goings of people. She also told me that long ago that if you went down the passage at the side of the shop and the pub there were houses there, and that there had been a big fire, which burnt them down. This was of great interest to me as this is where Henry Moore was a spar ornament maker. I’d already worked out that the Wheatsheaf Yard contained lots of little houses around a central courtyard, but it was so great to have it confirmed!
The Town Hall

After this I visited the Town Hall to see the new exhibition of local art and paintings. This was fantastic and there was some wonderful stuff on display, which is well worth a look if you have time. 

The Hospital mural

Finally, I walked past the site of the former hospital on Baxtergate and noticed that planning notices had been pinned to the mural: Applications have been submitted by Pizza Express, Bella Italia and Centro, so it looks as though we will be getting another cinema, along with at least two new restaurants.  

That’s all for this week, folks! See ya next week!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Old Rectory Museum

A visit to the Old Rectory Museum

If you live in Loughborough, it's possible that you might have heard of the Old Rectory Museum: In fact, you might even have played in the grounds when you were a youngster! If, however, you're a student, or you're just visiting then it's possible you might have missed this treasure, tucked away in the old part of Loughborough, near All Saints with Holy Trinity Church, close to the former Manor House, the former Guildhall, and what is probably the oldest pub in town!!

The Old Rectory is, as its name suggests, the former rectory associated with what was at the time probably known as the church of St Peter and St Paul, later All Saints, and now combined with the Holy Trinity Church (which is situated on the corner of Moor Lane and Trinity Street and is now an independent school). 

It's quite possible that there was a rectory in this place from about the early 1100s, but in the late 19th century the building looked quite different, being a substantial family home. When a new vicar was installed, he deemed the rectory too big for his and his family's needs, so a new home was built, in about 1960. The Old Rectory was then scheduled for demolition, but in the process, the old stone building that you can see today was found inside the newer building. Such was the significance of this Old Rectory, that demolition was halted, and the stone building retained and turned into a museum.

I believe that the Old Rectory and the Warner Street School are the only stone buildings to remain in the town centre, although the school has now been demolished, leaving only the former headteacher's house. Some significant stonework from the school has been housed in the Old Rectory Museum.

The Old Rectory was at one time a scheduled Ancient Monument, but is now a Grade II* listed building. The museum contains a large variety of artefacts, including archaeological finds, tiles from Garendon Abbey, has a variety of displays, including several on locally important people, and has an area devoted to an exhibition which changes each year. This year the exhibition is based around the Big Meadow in Loughborough, the oldest meadow in the country, dating back to 1762. This meadow is one of the few remaining lammas meadows in the country, and was chosen by Prince Charles to be one of the 60 coronation meadows to celebrate the Queen's reign. 

Below is a selection of photos I've taken of the Old Rectory Museum. These are probably the worst photos I've ever taken, but at least they will give you an idea of what to expect when you visit the museum, which is run by volunteers from Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society, and which is open every Saturday from April to September, 11-3.   




Sunday, 10 August 2014

World War One - We Remember

Wonderful event in Queen's Park

Yesterday I spent a very special afternoon in Queen's Park, with some very special people, to commemorate the start of World War One. Somehow or other I got invited to the reception held at John Storer House, and was privileged to join the procession from there to the carillon, where we took part in a remembrance service, which included the recitation of the names of Loughborough servicemen who died before Christmas 1914.

It was lovely to hear Mike and Dru from Hathern Band play the Last Post and the Reveille, and to sing along to Hathern playing "Land of Hope and Glory" (even if the singing was about 2 bars ahead of the band!).

After the service we dispersed, and I spent a very happy couple of hours listening to some fantastic music, meeting up with loads of friends, talking to many people, drinking tea, and generally soaking up the atmosphere. I must say, I thought this was a fantastic event, and the setting of Queen's Park was perfect.

I don't have any pictures of the actual service, but here are some pictures I took as I wandered around.

And to close the event, Caroline played a short recital: I was too slow off the mark, but here's a couple of seconds worth of her wonderful playing (with apologies for the upside down picture).