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DMU at 150: A walk through Leicester's past

Stories from the streets and spaces surrounding De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s are being told online.

City historian Colin Hyde was due to take people on a tour of Walnut Street, Mill Lane and more as part of events marking 150 years since DMU’s predecessor institution, the Leicester School of Art, was opened.

When coronavirus and lockdown put paid to the event happening in person, Colin kindly recorded this online tour for us below that you can enjoy from your computer screen:

The tour is based upon Colin’s 1995 book Walnut Street Past, Present and Future which included old photographs and interviews with people who used to live in the area from the First World War and the 1920s, through to the 1990s. There is even a glimpse of one of the old medieval walls which once stood in Bonners’ Lane.

Colin said: “Although the book came out in 1995, the campus and the main roads are still recognisable. What is fascinating is the glimpse this gives you into just how people used to live, girls grew up and went to work in the factory at the end of the street, dads went to the pub on the corner. There were so many shops, and people would tell me years later that they still could remember the name of the shopkeepers.

“We collected photographs at the time and in the 25 years since then I’ve added more from various sources.”

Bonners Lane

The video shows the changes to the area, which was once full of rows upon rows of terrace houses, factories, shops and pubs. A major shift came with the slum clearances of the 1950s, the expansion of the hospital site and developments at Filbert Street football ground as well as the coal-fired power station which was demolished in the 1980s.

As Leicester Polytechnic expanded, former factories were bought and converted. The I&R Morley factory became Clephan, the Stibbe Factory became the Campus Centre, Portland Shoe building is now offices and teaching space and Bakers Textiles became the John Whitehead Building.

  • We’re collecting your memories of life at DMU, Leicester Polytechnic or the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology. Do you have photographs or stories to share? Please contact our archivist Katharine Short here


Posted on: Friday 24 July 2020

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