Saturday, 31 December 2016

Review of 2016 Loughborough blogposts

I'm sure you have much more interesting things to do on New Year's Eve than visit my Loughborough blog, but I'm having a look through my posts for 2016, and seeing which ones you seemed to like the most!!

I didn't manage to blog weekly - there are distinct gaps in my postings when I was on holiday and when we went off to celebrate our first year of marriage, or when I was under-the-weather - but nonetheless, there are 43 posts to sift through!!

Here are the most popular ones:

In 1st place, with 1103 views, making it the most popular post of 2016, is:
From 54 Baxter Gate to 1 Old Hospital Way

2nd place, with 1014 views is:
Red and green houses abandoned in favour of a picnic

3rd place, with 965 views, goes to:
Loughborough Union workhouse

Coming in at 4th place, with 947 views, is:
Red white or green maybe

5th place, with 920 views, is:
Coffee houses to coffee shops

In 6th place, with 910 views, is:
Loughborough and the holiday connections

Coming in at 7th place, with 875 views, is:

Bradgate Park

8th place, with 822 views, goes to:
Birthday celebrations

In 9th place, with 797 views, is:
From Loughborough to Melbourne and back again via

10th place, with 779 views, is:
Investigating the Victorians leads to Messengers

The 11th most popular post, with 77 views, is:
George Hodson and the Loughborough Union workhouse

In 12th place, with 742 views, we find:
Leicestershire County Council green plaque scheme

And in 13th place, with 739 views, is:
Obelisks everywhere

Sadly, Victorian House Plaques, Tucker's, and William Railton's Bavarian Gates, are languishing at the bottom of the popularity table!

If I had to choose my favourite blog post, I think I'd probably go for one of the posts about connections from other places, to Loughborough - maybe Tiverton - or some of those coincidences that seem to happen on a regular basis - like obelisks - or any of the posts on cinemas or pubs!!

I've also posted a few virtual walks - hoping to do more next year. Here's the popularity chart:

1st - Loughborough, Luddites and lace walking trail (1000 views)
2nd - Loughborough sculpture, art and architecture trail (973 views)
3rd - Loughborough Zeppelin trail (784 views)

Anyway, must away and celebrate the start of a new year! Enjoy your own celebrations, and see you next year!

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2016). Review of 2016 Loughborough blogposts. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 31 December 2016]

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Cinema memories

The current Odeon in Loughborough

Last week I was lucky enough to go to a workshop in Leicester on cinema and memory, a session which was focused on people's memory of films they'd seen and research that is being done into this area, with the aim of developing more collaboration between community groups and researchers working in this area.

One of the points that was made was that if you asked someone something like what was the first film they went to see, they didn't usually remember much about the actual film, and were more likely to describe the whole experience. While I was thinking about this I was trying to remember my own experience of going to the cinema, and I found I was no different, so this is my story of the first time I went to the cinema on my own.

It was a James Bond film, with Sean Connery: it was 1971, so it was Diamonds are Forever. I can't remember anything specific about the film, except for the noise and the excitement, but I do remember other things, like: it was at the Odeon in Newport, which was situated on a busy road, at a traffic-light controlled junction. I went on the bus with a school-friend; we were both 11. I'd been into town on the bus before, to meet friends, and I knew where the bus stop was, but I also knew that the bus sometimes had to stop at the traffic lights, and people often got off there. My mother also knew this. She very firmly told me we were not to get off at the lights if the bus had to stop there, but to continue on and get off at the proper bus stop. As we approached the lights, they turned to red. We got off the bus! And that it what I remember about that cinema trip!!

You may be wondering what this has to do with Loughborough? I wasn't brought up in Loughborough, and I don't remember the double seats in the back row (apparently called Chummies in Scotland!) at the Victory, so I was going to ask you what your memory of your first cinema visit was: did you go to the Victory, or the Essoldo (or the Empire, or the New Empire, or the Classic)? Or, was it the Odeon the showing that film you desperately wanted to go and see? Maybe your first cinema-going experience was to the Curzon (yes, I know this was formerly the Essoldo, Empire etc.)? 

The former Odeon in Loughborough
And then I thought I wonder if the Newport cinema is still there, so I went off and searched the internet, as you do! And I was surprised! It's had mixed fortunes, and is a Grade II listed building, now called the Neon, and is showing films again. But that wasn't the only thing that surprised me! If you'd asked me to describe the cinema I visited over 40 years ago, I'd have been able to tell you the doors were kind of sideways on to the footpath, and there was a lot of black around them, but I wonder if subconsciously I remembered this, hence why I am so attracted to our own former Odeon, now Beacon Bingo? I used Google maps to walk virtually along the street I remembered and was shocked when I saw the building and how similar it is to our former Odeon! 

The similarity, of course, was because they were both built for the Oscar Deutsch chain, and designed by Arthur Price, of the Harry Weedon Architect firm, and built in the streamlined moderne style. Loughborough's cinema was built in 1936, Newport's in 1938: both are now Grade II listed.

Anyway, back to cinema memories: if you want to check the cinema memories website, which is still under construction, you can find it at    

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2016). Cinema memories. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 8 December 2016]


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Swithland slate

I've been wanting to tell you about Swithland slate for a very long time: it's been on my "to do" list almost since I started my training as a Leicestershire Tour guide in 2012, and since I started this blog way back in 2013, but it's one of those that I so wanted to do lots of research on and give you lots and lots of interesting snippets of information. Sadly, time rarely seems to be on my side, so here's a brief post which has been prompted by a talk on Swithland slate headstones, and the publication of a recent website on the same. But first, roofs!!

Swithland slate was quarried around Swithland, Woodhouse Eaves and Groby, and there were a number of quarries on land that belonged to the Martin family, who lived at The Brand in Woodhouse Eaves. In an article published in 1944, Albert Herbert (1) wrote that there were millions of roofing slates produced at these quarries in the preceding three centuries (although a certain online encyclopedia suggests the popularity of these roofing slates began as late as 1750 (2)). As was common in days of yore, building materials used in the area were usually locally made products, like bricks, made by Tuckers, or Hathern Station Brick Company, or were made of materials that were mined or quarried locally (like Swithland slate and Mountsorrel granite), partly because it was a good deal cheaper and easier to transport things only a short distance. 

A Swithland slate roof is quite distinctive. Unlike Welsh slate, Swithland slate is not easy to split, and in fact, blocks of slate were sawn with a hand saw, and smoothed with a mix of sand and water, so the slates are very thick and look quite rough. Also, whilst Welsh roofing slates are a uniform size on each roof (although different roofs have different sized slates (with differing names, like Duchess, Countess, Queen etc.)), Swithland slate roofs are distinctive because each row of slates is a different size from the others, so you get small tiles laid nearest the ridge, gradually getting bigger in size, until the largest row, at the base of the roof.

I'll show you some examples of Swithland slate roofs at various places, so you can see how distinctive they really are:
Outbuildings at Stoneywell Cottage

Outbuilding in the grounds of Stoneywell Cottage

Part of the roof of Stoneywell Cottage

Another part of the roof of Stoneywell Cottage

A Swithland slate roof at Ulverscroft Grange

Building at the University of Leicester Botanical gardens

Building at the University of Leicester Botanical gardens

Building at the University of Leicester Botanical gardens

Building at the University of Leicester Botanical gardens
The example from Ulverscroft above is quite fascinating, because the roof is at head height when approached from the road, so it's possible to get a really good look, and if you're tall enough it's possible to touch the tiles. 

There are many, many buildings in Loughborough town centre which have Swithland slate roofs. Here are just a few examples:

Lowe's shop on Church Gate

Caravelli's Italian restaurant on Sparrow Hill
The other part of Lowe's on Church Gate
12 Degrees West, formerly the Mundy Arms
Next time you're in town, have a look at the roofs and see which others you can spot. 

Apart from roofs, Swithland slate is also used for a whole variety of other things, like plinths, window sills, milestones, gateposts, animal troughs and many more things. Here are a few examples from Stoneywell:
Swithaland slate door frame (inscribed with G 1899)

Siwthland slate coat hanger inside Stoneywell Cottage
I have a feeling some of the fireplaces and window sills in Stoneywell were also made of Swithland slate, but my photographs are not clear enough for me to be sure.

My internet connection is not playing ball today and it keeps switching off, so I am going to post about the use of Swithland slate for gravestones another time. In the meantime, here's a photograph of some from our very own parish churchyard (All Saints with Holy Trinity) to keep you going:
Swithland slate gravestones in the churchyard of All Saints with Holy Trinity
I'll let you know when the post about Swithland slate gravestones is ready, so do pop back again!

PS I have now blogged about Swithland slate gravestones, although there will be a further post concentrating on photographs. 

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2016). Swithland slate. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 11 December 2016]

(1) Herbert, Albert (1944). Swithland slate headstones. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, Vol. XXII, Part III, 1943-44


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Christmas trees

So, it must be that time of year again! Christmas - well, almost!!

This year's Christmas Tree Festival at Lichfield Cathedral is bigger and better than ever, with 55 decorated Norweigian fir trees on show from 3 December until 4 January 2017.

St Peter and St Paul church in Hathern have a Christmas Tree Festival from Sunday 4th December, with 55 trees crammed into the beautiful little church.

Loughborough Church of All Saints with Holy Trinity Community Christmas Tree Festival took place 24-27 November: I shall make it to this event one year, but haven't as yet, so I can't say how many trees there were. But Loughborough town centre seems to have at least 3! And about 300 if you count the individual ones that make up the 3 big ones!! 

Today, we went to St Mary's church in Melton Mowbray: we go every year - old habits die hard. Listening to the wonderful Hathern Band was fantastic, and having them lead us in the carols is always great. We looked at the 1378 beautifully decorated trees! The official pics are on the church website, and below are some of mine!

One of Loughborough's Christmas trees 2016