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Leicestershire Area Guide

Space Center, Leicester Image courtesy of Flickr user David Joyce

Leicestershire has a long history of producing food and clothing that is distinctively British. It is the home of stilton, Red Leicester cheese and the pork pie, and it has produced much of the country's knitwear and hosiery since the 16th century. Today, the range of industries is quite wide, including biomedical manufacturing, food manufacturing, engineering and financial services.

The county is made up of seven main areas, all of which encircle Leicester, the city (and now unitary authority) that gave the shire its name. The National Forest area includes the town of Ashby de la Zouch, also called Ashby, and is famous for its outdoor activities. The area around the market towns of Hinckley and Market Bosworth has small villages set amongst rolling hills. The area of Blaby is named after the village of Blaby, much of which is a conservation area. The village also makes up part of the Leicester urban area. Oadby and Wigston is one of the most affluent parts of the county. The market towns of Market Harborough and Lutterworth mix rural activities with shopping, restaurants and more. In the borough of Melton, Melton Mobray is known as the Rural Capital of Food, and the nearby Vale of Belvoir is so lovely it is literally named "beautiful view". The borough of Charnwood includes the university town of Loughborough.


As of 2011, there were almost 650,500 people living in Leicestershire. Just over 18% of the population is aged 15 and under, and about 17.7% are aged 65 and over. Just under 87% of the population describe their ethnicity as white British, which is slightly higher than the 80.5% proportion of the population in England and Wales. The second largest ethnicity is Asian and Asian British, with just over 6% of the population describing their ethnic background as such.

The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) is just less than 10,000 people, or about 2.3% of the population. That is much lower than the 3.9% of the UK population that is claiming JSA. Similarly, the Leicestershire unemployment rate in 2011-2012 was lower than the national average, at 6.5% and 8.2% respectively.


Most of the primary schools in Leicestershire are rated 'good' by Ofsted, though there are also 'outstanding' primary schools including Willowbrook Primary School and Swallowdale Primary School and Community Centre.

Most of the best secondary schools have converted to academy status. Amongst those academies that are rated outstanding are Catmose College in Oakham, Forest Way School in Coalville and Dorothy Goodman School Hinckley. There are quite a few independent schools in the area as well.

There are a couple of colleges, Leicester College and Stephenson College Coalville for further education, and there are a few schools dedicated to specific areas. Brooksby Melton College has apprenticeships and courses dedicated to land based service engineering, animal care and other agricultural topics. The Soar Valley Music Centre is a further education institution dedicated to music performance and production.

Leicestershire also has three universities: the University of Leicester, Loughborough University and De Montfort University.


The M1 from London to Leeds runs north-south through the west of the county, and the M69 connects Leicester and Coventry directly. The M42 and the M6 both just go into the county. Other major roads include the A47, the A6, the A42, the A606 and the A607.

There are train stations throughout the county, including Melton Mowbray station, with services to Peterborough and Birmingham. The train station at Hinckley is, like the Melton Mowbray station, on the Birmingham to Peterborough Line. The Loughborough and Market Harborough railway stations connect the county with London St Pancras, Nottingham and Sheffield through the Midland Main Line.

Amenities and Shopping

The amenities and shopping in Leicestershire are on the whole quite standard, but there are some unusual gems scattered around.

Museums and galleries

The Ashby-de-la-Zouch Museum, The Kegworth Museum and the Diseworth Heritage Centre are some of the local museums which tell the histories of the towns and villages they are in. The Castle Donington Museum is a 17th century farmhouse which features rotating exhibitions on a range of social and historical topics.

Ashby's Ferrers Centre for Arts & Crafts and the Ferrers Gallery has 16 workshops and a gallery space to showcase the craftsmanship of local artists. The Donington Grand Prix Collection is the world's largest collection of Grand Prix cars.

Theatres, venues and festivals

The Century Theatre in Snibston is the oldest surviving mobile theatre in Britain, and it regularly puts on comedy, cinema, theatre and musical performances. The Ashby Dramatic Society established the Venture Theatre in the 1980s as a base for their theatrical performances. The venue also hosts a regular jazz night.

The Emporium in Coalville hosts famous club nights Storm and Passion. Melton Mowbray has two nightclubs, Tubes and Roadhouse, and several pubs that regularly have live music.


Melton Mowbray's East Midlands Food & Drink Festival is one of the largest regional food festivals in the country. Donington Park is the home of Download Festival, a rock and metal festival. The National Forest Walking Festival has 100 walks throughout the national forest that include activities, history and a photography competition. The Loughborough Canal and Boat Festival features antique cars, music, food, crafts and hundreds of boats.


Leicestershire County Cricket Club plays in the both the County Championship and the Pro40 one day league's second divisions, and the team has won the Twenty20 Cup in 2004, 2006 and 2011, more than any other team.

The Mallory Park circuit is known for British Superbike motorcycle racing, though it does often feature car racing as well, and Donington Park is a racing track and venue just inside the Leicestershire border.

There are a few golf courses , a ski centre, parks and several cycle and walking paths for outdoor activities.


Belvoir Shopping Centre in Coalville has more than 30 shops and eateries, including H. Samuel, Argos and Dorothy Perkins.

Ashby is a lovely market town with lots of small shops tucked away in the mews and side streets. In Breedon on the Hill sits the Breedon Priory Garden & Shopping Complex which features a large garden centre and boutiques selling handmade cards, antiques, books, gifts and more. Cook's Farm Shop in Newtown Linford sells local produce, free-range meats and food products, as well as products for home gardeners, livestock keepers and farmers. The Manor Farm Shop & Bakery is a working organic farm with a shop and guided tours.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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