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  • In April 1924, Leicester Corporation bought 169 acres of land from Mrs Sybil Eyres-Monsell
  • Work started on 20 September 1924, with the first 30 houses being completed 11 months later
  • Two nationally important writers, Joe Orton and Sue Townsend grew up on the Saffron Lane Estate

A solution to Leicester’s housing shortage

After the end of the First World War there was a serious housing shortage in Leicester. By the early 1920s, over 5,000 people were on the waiting list. In April 1924, Leicester Corporation bought 169 acres of land from Mrs Sybil Eyres-Monsell. They planned to create a ‘garden suburb’ with 1,500 houses, called the Park Estate. It is now the Saffron Lane Estate. Work started on 20 September 1924, with the first 30 houses being
completed 11 months later.

Saffron Lane 002
Aerial view of Elston Fields, 1927

The Park Estate: a garden suburb

The plans included a shopping centre, churches, a library and schools. The streets were laid out in curves and circles and the houses were built to make the most of the sunlight. At its heart was Elston Fields, now known as Tick-Tock Park. Houses were built from concrete, or concrete and brick. They cost £465 or £515 with the larger ones having an entertaining room, called a parlour. Two years after the land was bought, 500 houses had been built.

Famous residents and new houses

Development continued; in 1939 the estate’s ‘Pork Pie’ library opened and in 1967, a sports centre with England’s first synthetic running track. Two important writers, Joe Orton and Sue Townsend grew up on the Saffron Lane Estate. By the 1980s the concrete used to build the houses was cracking and in the next 20 years the houses were demolished. Residents fought against private development and the houses were replaced by new Council and housing association properties.

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Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Medieval Leicester

(500 – 1500) The early years of this period was one of unrest with Saxon, Danes and Norman invaders having their influences over the town. Later, of course, came Richard III and the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on Leicester’s doorstep.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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