This section covers Leicester Central Station.
Although nearly everything at platform level has long gone there is still much that remains of Leicester Central Station, making it one of the most rewarding areas to explore.
Click here for a map of this area from Bing
Notes on using the Bing Map
The map linked to is the Ordnance Survey map.
To see an aerial photograph of the area covered by the map click on the tab labelled “Ordnance Survey” near top right of the screen and select ‘Aerial’ from the drop-down list.
When finished with the map click on the browser ‘Back’ button till you return here.
Update November 2002 - The Leicester Mercury displayed proposals by consultants of the Leicester Regeneration
Company which showed most of the Leicester Central Station site replaced by a 100-berth Marina connected to the river Soar and the canal. The rest of the site would be a small park.
Update August 2003 - The Leicester Mercury reported that the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment had expressed concern that the proposed construction of a marina on and around the site of Leicester Central Station would affect an area of major archaeological importance.
This area is near the centre of the site of Roman Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvum) and considerable Roman remains have been discovered in limited excavations. This includes the Roman pavement, now moved to the Jewry Wall Museum, which was discovered some decades before the Central Station was built. There are also medieval remains in the area and even indications of the iron age settlement which predated the Roman town.
As a result, the proposed site of the marina has been moved to north of Soar Lane, but there was no mention of any new plans for the station site.
Update February 2005 - The Leicester Mercury had a special supplement about proposals by the Leicester Regeneration Company for redeveloping the station site and the surroundings as the “Waterside Area”. It stated that no decision had been made about the Leicester Central Station viaduct. It could be demolished which would give access to important archaeology underneath, but there would then be the obligation to investigate it, which would take a long time and hold up the redevelopment. Alternatively, the viaduct could be retained and used as “an elevated area of regeneration” featuring shops, bars, restaurants, and maybe housing, all with a good view over the Waterside Area. The arches of the viaduct could also be redeveloped.
Update March 2007 - All had gone quiet about these proposals but the Leicester Mercury reported that the city council had approved planning permission for the regeneration of the area between the river and the Great Central station viaduct. The scheme, which the developers hope can start by the end of the summer, includes a mix of flats, shops, and businesses, and will rival London’s regenerated Covent Garden. “The railway arches could become workshops, artisan units, cafes and bars.”
Update Autumn 2014 - After an extensive archaeological excavation a large part of the area at the rear of the station is being redeveloped with student accommodation.
Update October 2017 - Planning permission has been granted and work has started to redevelop the remaining station building and parcels building. Most will be retained with the later upper wall at the front being replaced by something more in keeping. Plans, and a full report on the station building’s condition, can be found at http://rcweb.leicester.gov.uk/planning/onlinequery/Details.aspx?AppNo=20171085. The port cochere has already been cleared of vehicle repair businesses, though these plans do not affect the vehicle repair workshops within the arches of the viaduct at the rear of the station.
Update May 2018 - As part of the redevelopment, Great Central Street has been blocked off in front of the station and scaffolding was being erected on the front.
Over all view of Leicester Central Station, seen in February 2018 during redevelopment of the remaining station buildings. The new wall directly in front replaced a previous new wall which was built when the roadway to the new industrial units at track level on the left was opened. Behind the wall there used to be a turntable, and beyond that the tall building in the centre was the Parcels Office.
Leicester Central Station, before the start of the redevelopment, with the entrance to the Parcels Offices on the left.
Update May 2018 - As part of the redevelopment, Great Central Street has been completely blocked off in front of the station and scaffolding was being erected on the front. This photograph was taken through the mesh fencing blocking the road.
The entrance to the Parcels Offices. This is due to be retained during the redevelopment of the station buildings.
Leicester Central Station on Great Central Street. The port cochère was latterly split into two and each part was used by a vehicle repair company. This was the scene for many years with little changing except for vegetation starting to grow out of the line of stone in the wall, until the redevelopment which started in early 2018 (see below).
Update December 2018 - As part of the redevelopment the modern brickwork at the top of the front has been removed and the roof steelwork is being renovated.
Inside the main area off Great Central Road which is the port cochère, here seen after being cleared of a taxi repair business, pending redevelopment of the station, Jan.
2018. The way to the booking hall and the platforms was through the rectangular opening in the centre. This view was taken through a gap in the locked doors from Great Central Street.
Update February 2018 - The glass roof is being refurbished as part of the redevelopment (see below).
Update January 2019 - The glass has been removed from the roof and the metalwork is being refurbished.
At track level, standing where the Up Main Line ran, looking north. The Parcels Office on the right had a siding with a small dock running alongside - the white van is parked across the sites of both of them.
At track level, looking back from as far as you can easily go (a company has fenced off the whole of the northern end). This is looking south, towards London.
All Saints Road runs under the track bed which is supported by a bridge, just to the right of where the photographer stood to take the photograph above.
The bridge is still in place (see below) and no buildings have been erected on it. This shows part of the bridge with a section of the down-side, north bay platform still in place, complete with edging stones and paving slabs. There is a similar section of the up-side, north bay platform behind the photographer.
A look around the outside of Leicester Central Station
Just to the north of the station entrance All Saints Road runs completely under the track bed and platforms. This bridge is still in place to give access over the road to the northerly industrial units on the site of the platforms. By early 2018 the steel sides of the bridge were very rusty with holes showing, as seen here just before the start of remedial work. The dark cavern under the bridge, which was home to dozens of pigeons, can be seen in this view from Great Central Street.
Update December 2018 - The steelwork of the bridge has been renovated and the rusted through holes have been fixed.
Looking west down Soar Lane with the end of the GCR station viaduct, faced with a new wall, on the left. There was another very deep steel bridge across here, as shown in the Old Photographs - Leicester Demolition 1 section.
This photograph was taken after walking round the north end of the station to the rear and looking back along Soar Lane.
Turning and looking to the right shows this view of the rear of the station backing onto Jarvis Street. Note that the buildings on the right have since been demolished.
Looking through the bridge over All Saints Road from the rear of the station.
Looking north along Jarvis Street at the rear of the station. There is great industry here in the arches of the viaduct with many car repair and re-spray businesses working away underneath the industrial units on top!
Update March 2007 - The Leicester Mercury reported that the council had approved planning permission for the regeneration of the area here between the river and the Great Central viaduct. The scheme, which the developers hope can start by the end of the summer, includes a mix of flats, shops, and businesses, and will rival London’s regenerated Covent Garden—“The railway arches could become workshops, artisan units, cafes and bars”.
Update January 2017
- The regeneration of the area between the river Soar and the Great Central viaduct has started. Demolition provided a panoramic view of the viaduct, though some of that panorama has been lost due to the building of the high-rise student accommodation on the right. Eventually the land in the foreground will be redeveloped too.
To left of centre is the ex-GCR generator house.
The ex-GCR generator house, across the road from the station, on the corner of Jarvis Street and Alexander Street. The tower is visible in the photograph above, in the distance, on the left.
Note that the buildings beyond the generator house have since been demolished.
The regular pattern of the arches of the viaduct is broken opposite the old power house building where there was a rear entrance (the large black door) and some station rooms complete with the chimney built into the viaduct wall.
This was a rear entrance to the station and opened onto a wide passage which gave access to the lift to the platform, which was also reached from the front of the station
by one of the three narrow passages shown in the old photographs of Leicester Central. The entrance is positioned on Jarvis Street, opposite Alexander Street. It
is wide enough to accommodate small carts and could have been used to transport items to and from the platforms (e.g. perhaps beer barrels for the buffet) avoiding the passenger areas at the front of the station.
It is not known if it was used as an entrance by any travellers, such as workmen in nearby factories.
At the south end of the viaduct, just beyond the last of the full size arches, is the entrance to the chamber which was built over a Roman mosaic floor. In 1977 the mosaic was moved to the Jewry Wall Museum a couple of hundred yards away.
The cast iron sign that used to be above the entrance describing the chamber — “In this chamber is a fine tessellated Roman pavement discovered in 1830”.
A view from the south looking down onto the site of Leicester Central station with Welles Street in the foreground. The viaduct on which the station was raised is still intact, though the south end is in use as a car park and the north end has had a small industrial estate built on it.
Zooming in on the site of Leicester Central station to show more detail. Behind the maroon car at lower middle is a short surviving section of platform, presumably over the chamber which had housed the Roman mosaic floor. Behind, on the left are the industrial units, and to the right of them, beyond the blue fence, is the Parcels Office.
For comparison, above is an aerial photograph of Leicester Central station looking north taken from the R101 airship, apparently on October 18 1929 during a test flight.
The Leicester Mercury ‘Mr. Leicester’ feature “Was it a bird? Was it a plane? No, it was R101”of February 23 2017 (the original link of http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/was-it-a-bird-was-it-a-plane-no-it-was-r101/story-30079152-detail/story.html is, alas, no longer active) showed a photograph of R101 flying above London Road, Leicester, with the information that the R101 first flew on October 14, 1929 and passed over Leicestershire just four days later, on October 18, during a test flight over the Midlands. The R101 was disastrously lost a year later on October 4 1930 on its ill-fated maiden voyage to India.
In the photograph above, the turntable is to the right of the centre, with Great Central Road just beyond, running parallel to the station. The River Soar / Grand Union Canal is in the foreground at bottom left.
There was another steel bridge here at the south end of the station, looking east up Welles Street towards Holy Bones. The retaining walls are covered in white
glaze-faced bricks, as are those under the bridge at All Saints Road (above). The Jewry Wall Museum (well worth a visit, especially to see the Roman mosaic which was moved from its vault within the station viaduct) and
Vaughan college are just beyond on the right.
Note the building built across the track bed which can just be seen top right – this features in the photograph below.
At the end of Talbot Lane looking northwards, with the Jewry Wall Museum and Vaughan College behind. This office building can just be seen in the previous photograph
above the right edge of the bridge, which can just be made out here across the pavement in front of the car.
The track bed went straight through where this building stands, and Leicester Central South Signal box was sited on the left across the tracks.
In the early 1960s I would often cycle here on a summer evening with school friends to see the express fish train from Grimsby hauled by a BR Standard “Britannia” class 4-6-2 . It would stop in the platform at Leicester Central station and take on water before continuing its journey south with its rake of white fish vans. It is hard to imagine this now.