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  • The park was laid out by William Barron who had designed grand country houses and their gardens, including Elvaston Castle in Derby
  • Leicester architect James Tait designed the park’s pavilion and lodges
  • In 1949 the Leicester Society of Model Engineers created the model railway

A New Park for Leicester

In 1876 Leicester Council brought the land for Abbey Park. It was part of the former Abbey Meadows site. Experienced landscape designer William Barron created the park grounds. Barron had designed grand country houses and their gardens, including Elvaston Castle in Derby. Lewis Hornblower and Edouard Andre who created Sefton Park in Liverpool also influenced Barron’s design of the park. Abbey Park was officially opened on the 29 May 1882 by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

William Borron (left) and the cover of the official programme for the Royal visit to open the park

Abbey Park’s Victorian Buildings

Local architect James Tait designed the park’s pavilion and lodges. The lodges at the Abbey Park Road entrance were built in 1881. The Grade II Slater Street lodge is built in the Tudor style. It has timber frames and red bricks. The Park House was built in 1893. There were glasshouses which were used to grow plants for the park.

Lodge houses at the Abbey Park Road entrance

20th Century Buildings

After Word War I development of the park continued. In 1922 a new pavilion was added to the Bowling Green. In 1923 the Band Stand from Victoria Park was moved to Abbey Park. During the 1930s a new Cricket Pavilion was built. In 1949 the Leicester Society of Model Engineers created the model railway. A new café was built in 1963. This is now the park’s Education Centre. In 1989 the oriental-themed Garden of Friendship, was opened.

Find out how to visit Abbey Park.

Opening of the new miniature railway track by the Lord Mayor Cllr. G. Collis, 1988
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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.

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.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

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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