Last weekend I went on a little expedition to Belgrave road, and took a slightly different route through the city than usual.
Instead of going up Soar Lane, I followed the river, so I got another perspective on that little industrial estate I really like. As I’ve previously mentioned, this area is undergoing a major redevelopment scheme, and it’s caught the attention of some academic geographers who are sort of cautiously observing what’s happening. I raised the issue of gentrification but was met with a reasonable reponse that, since nobody really lives there, you can’t gentrify a derelict area.
I probably need to look again at the redevelopment plans, yet there is some social activity here.
The Soar Lane concrete plant looks glorious in the sunshine. It also plays a special role in the process of redevelopment: in order to renew the built environment you need a supply of fresh concrete, and in large cities maintaining concrete supply becomes a logistical problem. A mixer can only keep the concrete ‘fresh’ for a certain amount of time, and if it takes too long for your concrete truck to get to your building site, you run into problems, especially in summer. So, an industrial concrete plant might not have as much community support as a school or a youth centre, but it plays a really important role in the reproduction of the built environment. I’m interested in those second-level effects, the unanticipated consequences of messing about with city infrastructure.
This is the site of an old mill, at the tip of Frog Island.
Further on, I spotted a dump with two smashed-up taxis. Opposite this is a recording studio and an (abandoned?) concert venue/nightclub.
On Slater Street this huge standalone building sticks out - Farben Works. It was damaged in a fire in 2005, but it’s a listed historical building, which is probably why it hasn’t been knocked down already.
Reading directly from the listing description, the building was “part of a worsted spinning and dyeing complex.” Here’s the front entrance.
Around the corner from there is a sports centre, and some arches where the old railway tracks would have gone. That gives me a better idea of where the railway used to run through Leicester.
The building in the centre is the old station, and the green dotted line is my guess where the track would have been. It’s so odd to see these disembodied sections of the line, like fading ruins.
There are plans to demolish the remaining viaduct near Bede Street and turn the land over to build student accommodation.
I got to Abbey Park and went over to see Cardinal Wolsey’s grave. I know him as a vaguely important historical figure, but can’t remember exactly why he’s important, and there’s not much to see otherwise.
Back on the river again, I went past what used to be the Wolsey factory. Wolsey is a clothing brand established in 1755, it specialised in underwear and socks, and that’s why this place is called… Sock Island. The company was bought by Matalan in 2002, and it abandoned the Sock Island site in 2004. Since then it’s moved offices twice, moved production to other areas in the UK, as well as using factories in India, the Philippines, and China.
So now, instead of a sock factory, there are new houses.
And they’re building more.
Going across the river towards Belgrave, there are few remaining textile workshops. As with Wolsey, they seem to make mostly thermal underwear, jumpers, socks, that sort of thing.
Here are some of the houses off Belgrave road. These are relatively new (late 19th Century), and they feature some all sorts of individual flourishes and motifs.
I visited the Belgrave Commercial Centre. It was in a sorry state after the western section burned down in an impressive fire at the beginning of the year.
And I did a little idle window-shopping, looking at the Saris and Indian clothes on sale.
Elsewhere on the road there’s a branch of the Bank of India, lots of jewellers, a statue of Gandhi, and some cool wall art.
I was set on trying some Indian sweets. My colleague from
India London recommended Ladoo and Barfi.
This is a Ladoo, it’s soft and tasted a bit like marzipan. Not as sticky as it looks.
Barfi was more dry, crumbly.
I didn’t like it as much, and when I described it to someone else they said ‘it does have the word barf in it.’ Hmm.
That was about enough for me, those two sweets almost make a meal on their own.
I’ve been listening to this remix of Bad Apple lately.
It’s terrible studying music.