Loughborough Zeppelin Trail

Loughborough and the Zeppelin Raids

Loughborough Zeppelin Trail: A virtual walkaboutLoughborough, visiting the sites of the Zeppelin raids and taking in the public memorials to this tragic event. Snippets of info about the sites in question accompany each picture. Devised and created by lynneaboutloughborough.

The date is 31st January, 1916. Blackouts have been observed in neighbouring towns and cities. Loughborough is still ablaze with lights. Warnings of approaching Zeppelin airships come too late to protect the vulnerable factories and people of the town. Loughborough is hit. The Zeppelin airship, L20, drops its bombs: one in the yard of a house on Orchard Street, one in The Rushes, one on Thomas Street and one on the Herbert Morris Empress Road factory. Ten people killed, twelve people injured, and much damage done to town buildings. Thereafter, lights in Loughborough were shut off.

Our walk will visit the sites of these raids, passing many places of interest along the way. The walk is divided into three sections, each of which can be done in isolation, but for a longer walk, they can be done one after the other. Take your pick from the following sections, and scroll down a bit for the walks.

Section 1 covers the area of Queen's Park, New Street, Bedford and Devonshire Squares, Cattle Market, Granby Street, returning to Queen's Park via bottom entrance on Granby Street.

Section 2 covers the area of Granby Street, Packe Street and Frederick Street, the junction between Frederick Street/Ashby Road/Green Close Lane/Ashby Square, past Orchard Street, down to The Rushes, and into the Rushes Shopping Centre.

Section 3 covers the area of Empress Road, Thomas Street, Windmill Road and Great Central Road.

NB Both Section 1 and Section 2 walks cover a small area of the town centre, and as such, can probably be walked in one hour. Section 3 covers a larger area outside of the town centre, and the walk between Section 2 and Section 3 is about 1.5km, while the walk around Section 3 is also about 1.5km. 

Section 1 - Walk the Queen's Park area. 

Start at the Carillon: this War Memorial is 46m high and can easily be seen from any point in the park.
The Carillon Tower and War Memorial Museum

i  Completed in 1923, the Carillon was built as a memorial to those who died during battle, particularly the First World War. It was chosen by the inhabitants of the town as a fitting tribute, and inside contains a carillon, a musical instrument, which is still played regularly today. The tower was designed by Sir Walter Tapper, built by the Loughborough firm of Messrs. Moss & Sons., Ltd., of bricks made by the local firm of Messrs. G. Tucker & Sons., with steel from Messrs. Herbert Morris, Ltd., of whom, more later in the walk. Contained therein are the 47 bells which make up the carillon. These bells were cast by the local firm of Messrs. John Taylor & Co.. Rather poignantly, the Taylor's lost four family members during WW1.

From the carillon walk forward along the path, over the stone bridge, past the Olympic rings and pause awhile at the British Legion memorial on the left before the entrance gates:
Commemorating 75 years of The British Legion 

Continue up the path towards the gates, past the bell clapper, over the Woodbrook and through the gates onto New Street. Walk to the top of New Street, with John Storer House on your right, and turn left at the top of New Street into Wards End. Walk along Wards End, passing the Coffee Shop at 53, the Deli at 58, George Hill Wine Stores all on your right, until you get to Devonshire Square, recognisable by the mural atop the shops on your left: 

i  Pause a moment looking across the road to the now closed Local Convenience Store, which was the site of a pub called The Volunteer. Devonshire Square is so named because this was where the Duke of Devonshire's Regiment [met? paraded?], and the Drill Hall was close by, on the opposite side of the road. Around 1890 The Volunteer pub was a commercial inn: is this, perhaps, where volunteers for the Devonshires met?

Continue down Devonshire Square and pause outside the betting shop (Betfred):
The former Temperance Hall

i  The Temperance Hall was opened around the beginning of the 1900s and housed a café and accommodation. By 1924 it was known as Garton's Hall, and was home to Garton's the local auction mart who moved here from Baxter Gate. The General Havelock pub, named in honour of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock (1795-1857) who was involved in the Siege of Lucknow, India, was sited near the junction of what is now Cattle Market and Granby Street.

Turn left into Granby Street, and looking into the car park on the left you might see remains of the cattle market (carefully protected by bollards). 

Continue up Granby Street and enter the first gates on your left into Queen's Park. Continue along this path until you come to another memorial on your left: the oak tree memorial planted in 2010 to commemorate those involved in the Afghanistan wars of he 21st century:

At this point, you can complete Section 1 of the walk by making your way back to the carillon, or if you wish you can continue into Section 2.

Goodbye, if you're leaving us at this point: hope you've enjoyed the walk. For those of you carrying on ...

Section 2 - To The Rushes We Will Go

Start outside the Charnwood Museum building
The former Queen's Baths

i Opened by Joseph Griggs, the first Mayor of the Borough of Loughborough, in 1899 as a swimming baths, Queen's Hall was built to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. If you bathed in the morning, the cost was 2d, in the afternoon it was 1d, and by the evening the cost was only 1/2d: I wonder why that was!! Chlorination came to the baths in 1934. The baths closed around 1975 when the leisure centre opened and in 1980 the building was re-named the Queen's Hall and used for craft fairs and then the flea market. In 1999, it became home to the Charnwood Museum, and is well worth a visit!

If you are standing looking at the museum turn along the path to your right which will lead you out of the park and onto Granby Street, almost opposite the Carnegie Library.

Turn right down Granby street; if you look down towards Cattle Market you should have a good view of Loughborough's art deco cinema. 

Walk towards this, but turn left into Packe Street. Walk along Packe Street, follow the corner around until you get nearly to the junction with Frederick Street and stop outside the large building on the right, past the back of Iceland:
The Loughborough Technical Institute 

i During the First World War this was the place where women and injured discharged soldiers were trained to produce munitions for the war effort. This isn't the only building which was part of what is now Loughborough University: we shall pass another one shortly.

At the top of Packe Street turn right into Frederick Street. From the crossroads, look to your left up Ashby Road:

i At the time of the Zeppelin raid, many people were at the Picture Palace on Ashby Road, just up from the current supermarket. This venue opened as a theatre in 1896, but was burned down in 1901. Having been rebuilt it re-opened as a skating rink in 1909, but this was short-lived and it was converted to a theatre for a number of years, before becoming a picture palace in about 1916, presumably before the raid.

i You should still be standing at the crossroads. Look straight ahead to the building on the corner of Green Close Lane and Ashby Square. This is another engineering building which is part of Loughborough University.

Cross Ashby Square at the pedestrian lights, and turn right into it. Ahead of you, you will see Peter's, a Pizza restaurant, with its oft-changing graffiti wall:
Peter's, formerly the Crown and Cushion public house
i On the night of 31st January 1916, the first Zeppelin bomb landed in the yard of the Crown and Cushion pub, close to the gardens of the houses in Orchard Street, near the site of the gas works (where part of the supermarket is now), and not far from the electricity works. It was a shocking moment, killing one person, and being the precursor of three other bombs being dropped on the town. Around the time, people were just exiting the Picture Palace on Ashby Road.

Continue down Ashby Square, past the beauty store called Blush, and turn left into Orchard Street itself:

i On the right, set back off Brook Side, is the former Independent Congregational Chapel built in 1828. It is now home to the Loughborough branch of the Freemasons. The flats on the left of Orchard Street have been built where the former Orchard Street houses, at the back of the Crown and Cushion pub, were.

On reaching the end of Orchard Street, turn right down Green Close Lane, and then turn left into The Rushes:

i On that fateful night, the second Zeppelin bomb was dropped in The Rushes. This time four people were killed, including a pair of newly-weds, a shop-keeper and a young woman walking home with a friend. It was just after 8pm.
The position of the original brass plaque which is now in the Carillon

i Between the kebab shop and the pizza place, there is a wooden board on the wall, and this is where the original brass commemorative plaque was positioned. This is now in the Carillon Tower War Memorial Museum.
The granite cross

i In the middle of the road there is a granite cross embedded in the tarmac. The characteristic pink granite is from Mountsorrel.

Cross the road at either of the pedestrian crossings and pause by the steps leading to the Rushes shopping complex:
The new memorial plaque

i On 31st January 2016, a new memorial plaque in The Rushes was unveiled by the Mayor, Councillor John Capleton, in front of an appreciative audience. The plaque is underneath the ramp that exits The Rushes shopping complex.

Now head up the steps or the ramp towards The Rushes shopping complex. 

i Pause on the bridge over the Woodbrook. The electricity works were near here, and if you look over the supermarket side in the far distance you'll find the canal.

It is here that Section 2 of the walk ends. If you wish to leave at this point, you could retrace your steps to Queen's Park, or perhaps make your way into the centre of the town by either continuing through The Rushes and turning right at the end, or by going back down the steps and turning left and continuing on to Swan Street.
Goodbye, if you're leaving us at this point: hope you've enjoyed the walk. For those of you carrying on ...

Section 3 - Empress Road 
Start from the bridge over the Woodbrook in The Rushes shopping complex, OR if you want to start a bit closer to the destination, then maybe begin from Nottingham Road, perhaps opposite Putts, OR if you want to start even closer, start at the beginning of Empress Road, off Nottingham Road.
From here it is a long walk to reach the sites of the next to Zeppelin bombs, so I won't be stopping often. Do chat with the other walkers: I'm sure you will have many things in common.

From the Woodbrook bridge, let's walk past the supermarket, down the steps between the shops and cross the road to Rectory Place. 

On your right you'll see Chesterton House, the first girl's grammar school in the country, and ahead you'll see the remains of the Old Rectory, a 12th century building which now houses a small museum. Cross towards the Old Rectory, and turn right, following the wall, past the church and cross Sparrow Hill at The Windmill pub, and head down Nottingham Road, past the Post Office sorting office. Nottingham Road then widens, so follow it down, past the chip shop, and Twiggers Motorcycles on the left,

and Putts on the right, 

all the way down to the traffic lights. Cross at the traffic lights and enter Queen's Road. 

Walk along Queen's Road, passing the old Towles building, round the corner, continue past Jacksons Coachworks, and the trees on the left, and Freehold Street with Taylor's Bellfoundry on the right. Almost straight opposite Freehold Street is Empress Road,so turn left here. 

Walk along Empress Road, pause a while on the bridge over the Great Central Railway. This is a long road, which passes lots of new housing and veers to the right after the GCR bridge. Continue along, keeping the new housing on your left and the Victorian terraces on your right. If you want to take a slight detour, pop down Little Moor Lane on the left and pause a while on the bridge over the canal.

Back on Empress Road, follow it along, past the industrial building:
The Herbert Morris Empress Road Works

Then turn right into Thomas Street, and look towards the park. The third of the Zeppelin bombs fell here in Thomas Street, although it landed on a grassy area (perhaps at the far end, where there are now newish properties), close to the park. Thankfully no-one was killed.

Go back down Thomas Street the way you came, and re-enter Empress Road. Re-trace your steps, keeping that big industrial building on your right and pause outside number 83. 
The affected houses (looking from the other direction)

If you look at the wall of the building to the right of number 83, you will see indentations in the brickwork: this is where shrapnel from the fourth and final bomb hit the wall. Look into the roadside, just beyond the pavement and you will see another Mountsorrel granite cross, commemorating this sad event which killed another five local people, who had probably come out of their houses to see the airship they could hear, and the bomb dropping in Thomas Street.
The granite memorial cross
The industrial building on the other side of Empress Road is Herbert Morris's factory, and it was probably the lights shining from this factory that attracted the Zeppelin bomber. On the wall of the new homes just to the side of the factory there is a brass plaque, commemorating the event.
The Herbert Morris factory
The brass plaque
We have now seen all the places where Zeppelin bombs fell on Loughborough, so let's make our way back into town. Rather than return via Queen's Road and Nottingham Raod, let's walk along Empress Road keeping the Herbert Morris factory on our left. Walk past the end of Thomas Street, and follow Empress Road around the corner, past the entrance to Moor Lane on the right, and continue up what is now Great Central Road. On the left, you will pass some land that is having houses built on it, and on the right, you will pass the park which we could see from the bottom of Thomas Street.

As you continue along Great Central Road, you will pass Windmill Road on the left. Pause a moment and look towards the building at the far end: it's about four storeys high and has a white chimney with a black top in front of it. This is actually the back of the factory that was once home to Ladybird Books. Here's a couple of views of what is now Ladybird House, home to the Anstey Wallpaper Company:

Unless you particularly want to go and look at the front of the former Ladybird factory, continue along Great Central Road. When you get to the top of the hill you might wish to spend some time at the Great Central Railway, the only mainline double-track steam railway in Britain. Trains travel south and stop at Quorn & Woodhouse, Rothley and finally, Birstall.
The Great Central Railway Station in Loughborough

When you've finished at the GCR, you can make your way back into Loughborough town by continuing down Great Central Road, and turning left into Wharncliffe Road, which leads you back onto Queen's Road and into town along Nottingham Road. 

OR, if you prefer, continue to the end of Great Central Road, cross Albert Promenade, and follow past the shops, joining King Street. Here you can cross King Street at the pedestrian lights, keeping the shops on your right. You will pass a former rectory, which is now a guesthouse, Southfields Park, where Thomas Cook brought his first tourists, and the house in which John Heathcoat, an important figure in the lace-making industry, once lived.
The former rectory, behind the trees 
The former home of John Heathcoat

Continue on down Leicester Road, and you will eventually walk along High Street, into Market Place. 

It has been a pleasure to walk with you, and I do hope you've enjoyed the walk.

Bye for now!

Walk created January 2016; updated January 2017.

If you want to know more about the the Luddites and lace-making in Loughborough , take a look at the Loughborough, Luddites and Lace Trail. If you want to know more about art, architecture and sculpture in the town have a look at the Sculpture trail

If you want to know more about the wonderful market town of Loughborough, it's past and present, pop over to the blog.

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

Dyer, Lynne (2017). Loughborough Zeppelin Trail. Available from: http://lynneaboutloughborough.blogspot.co.uk/p/loughborough-zeppelin-trail.html [Accessed 29 April 2017]

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Thank you for reading this blog and I hope you enjoyed this walk. 



  1. Thanks for this information, Lynne. I've lived near the GCR in Loughborough for over a decade now, and although I was aware of the location of the zeppelin bomb in the Rushes, I had no idea five people were killed near to where I live. Very interesting, though of course sad. Thanks again. Neil.

    1. Thanks for reading the blog, and taking the time to comment, Neil. I'm so pleased that you find the Zeppelin trail interesting as I love sharing information and history with Loughborough folk. Lynne


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