Part of the Ilkeston Cam "Days Out" Series

Loughborough - Town and Park
w/e 27 July 2014
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Loughborough is a town some twenty odd miles south of Ilkeston with a population of about 60,000 swelled by the temporary residents attending the well-respected University. The students also contribute to the local economy and the town centre reflects this with its many shops, pubs and restaurants but even here the current austerity measures have had an impact and the town centre is not devoid of "For Sale" and "To Let" signs.

Town Hall

The Market Place has recently been pedestrianised and work is still continuing in the surrounding streets. Orange barrier fencing and road works can be seen all around but the Market Place has been transformed into a pleasant relatively traffic free open space. The imposing Italianate Town Hall built in 1855 is a venue for a multitude of different events housing a theatre where musicals, concerts and comedy shows are regularly on the agenda. It hosts a variety of events and exhibitions and is also the home of the Tourist Information Centre.
The Sock

Since 1998 outside the Town Hall there has been a statue of a naked man wearing nothing but a sycamore leaf to cover his modesty and a sock. The statue called "The Sock" was commissioned by Charnwood Borough Council and created by sculptress Shona Kinloch as a symbol of the local hosiery industry also featuring images of the town's history.

Another symbol of the town is the 150 ft high Carillon or Bell Tower situated in Queen's Park which is fairly adjacent to the town centre. This was built in 1923 as a First World War memorial for those who lost their lives in that conflict. The tower contains a small museum and the Carillon of 47 bells can regularly be heard across the town centre when recitals are given usually twice a week.

Queen's Park itself was originally opened in 1899 by Mr W.B. Paget on four acres of land and the Bandstand followed three years later. Additional land was acquired between 1905 and 1907 which more than doubled the size of the park and the Bandstand was moved to its current position where it has stood since before 1914.

More land was purchased in 1916 to create the park we see today which now includes a number of aviaries that house a variety of species that can be identified from notices on the cages. They include Parakeets, Java Sparrows, Napoleon Weavers, Crimson Rosellas, Zebra Finches among others and I'm sure I saw the common or garden budgie too!
Bell Casing

The beautiful flower beds and displays in Queen's Park contribute towards Loughborough's annual entry into the national "In Bloom" competitions and since 2012 a number of unique sculptures designed by Loughborough University students have complimented the flowers. Two of this year's sculptures can be seen towards the left of the image above and a third is peeping out from behind the Great Paul Bell Casing. Loughborough is famous for its bell foundry founded by John Taylor in 1858 which has many famous bells, including "Great Paul" for St Paul's Cathedral in London. There's much more information about Loughborough's bell casting heritage on an adjacent board in the gardens.
Click here to read about Loughborough's Bell Making heritage - opens in a popup window
Charnwood Museum

Two of the sculptures are also visible in this image but the Victorian building in the background, Queen's Hall, houses the Charnwood Community Museum. As well as displaying a wide variety of exhibits the museum also holds special events, craft workshops and family fun days.
Parish Church

Queen's Park lies south of the Market Place but after lunch we headed to the north of the market and made for the parish church. This is actually All Saints with Holy Trinity Church and as would be expected in a town renowned for the production of bells, it has a peal of ten bells and also contains a memorial to the Taylor family. The Anglican church dates from the fourteenth century with a fifteenth century tower and clerestory but sits on the site of earlier Norman and Saxon churches. It underwent some extensive restoration work between 1859 and 1862 under the direction of architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Various other projects have been completed since making it fit for the twenty-first century.
The Old Rectory

The Rectory stood to the west of the church and what remains of the thirteenth century manor house has now been turned into The Old Rectory Museum where there are displays of local history and archaeological discoveries. The museum is open between April and October and is now surrounded by The Rectory Wildlife Garden, a community project that is open daily.
Great Central Railway

On our way home we passed another museum which is contained within the Loughborough Central Station. This is part of the Great Central Railway, the only double track privately run heritage railway in the UK. Although we enjoyed our day out in Loughborough, another day could easily be spent here to see and travel on the steam trains that operate along eight miles of track to Leicester. The trains run daily throughout the summer and at weekends during the winter months. It was back in 2002 when we were last here to travel on the Santa Special (link) and I wonder whether it will be another dozen years before we're here again. The steam trains will still be attracting visitors and, if it goes ahead, HS2 will be a further eight years off and the subject of intense debate and argument. Give me steam every time!

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