[Abbreviations: AAS - Associated Architectural Societies reports. HUDC - Hinckley Urban District Council. LRO - Leicestershire Record Office. NMR - National Monuments Record (Swindon). NRO - Northamptonshire Record Office. RCHM - Royal Commission on Historical Monuments for England. TLAS - Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society. VCH - Victoria County History]
RAILWAY 1859-61 'The South Leicestershire Railway, which is a branch of the London and North Western Railway, from Nuneaton to Wigston, near Leicester, has a commodious station here. This line was opened in 1862 between Nuneaton and Hinckley, and the remainder will be completed early in 1863. The improved facilities it affords for the cheap and rapid transport of passengers and merchandise are already beginning to be felt in the increasing prosperity of the town' (William White, History, Gazeteer and Directory, 1863).
'An Act for making a Railway from the Trent Valley Railway at Nuneaton to Hinckley' received Royal Assent 13 August 1859, after being first presented to Parliament in February of that year. The first sod of the new railway was turned on Wednesday 19 Oct 1859 by Lord Curzon, in a field near the Station on the estate of N. E. Hurst, Esq., and in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Morley. 'The construction of this short line of railway cannot be over estimated, as it conferred great advantages on the commercial interests of the town' (See Baxter, History of Hinckley, 48-52).
This single line of railway, known as the Nuneaton and Hinckley Railway, was just 4½ miles in length. 'The works at our new railway are being carried on with vigour. A number of men and horses are now employed, and great progress is being made in a deep cutting between the Sketchley foot road and the end of the line near the Hinckley and Lutterworth turnpike road. Hopes are entertained that the line will be carried on from Hinckley to Leicester' (Hinckley Journal, 28 Jan 1860).
The railway was promoted by the London and North Western Company, the line being run by the Nuneaton and Hinckley Railway Company. 'The line from Hinckley to Nuneaton is now being proceeded with in a satisfactory manner. Several new bridges are in a forward state of completion - one over the canal to Mr. Ward's wharf, has occupied considerable time' (Hinckley Journal, 4 Aug 1860). A further detailed progress report appeared in October (Hinckley Journal, 27 Oct 1860). A series of plans and sections for the line by John Addison of 6 Delahay Street, Westminster are in the House of Lords Record Office (N4 1859), together with an 1835 OS map marked with the line of the proposed railway, a book of reference, estimate of expense and a copy of the London Gazette notice. One hundred parcels of land in Hinckley parish were affected, and the consent of the owners, lessees and occupiers of each had to be sought. The estimated cost was £45,000.
On 22 Feb 1860 the construction was proposed (although introduced to Parliament on 26 Jan 1860; estimate dated 31 Dec 1859) of an extension to the line 'from the Nuneaton and Hinckley Railway at Hinckley to the Midland Railway at Wigston Magna, near Leicester, by the Nuneaton and Hinckley Railway Company, or by a new company'. This also included the construction of a new road (Station Road) from the town centre of Hinckley to the railway station. On 14 June 1860, when the Act received the Royal Assent, the company became known as the South Leicestershire Railway. The relevant plans and sections of the extended line (again, by Addison), a book of reference, a printed estimate of the expense (£150,000), an OS map (1835) marked with the line etc. are at the House of Lords Record Office (H10 1860). The contractor was T. Brassey of Rugely, Staffs. This extended line was opened in 1862. John Stevenson was the resident engineer at Hinckley for 6 years during the construction of the South Leicestershire Railway (1859) and the 'greatly esteemed' agent of Messrs. Brassey & Fields, the contractors. He died July 4th 18[ ] at Doncaster aged 78 and was buried at Hibaldstow, Lincolnshire, 7th July of that year (see The Hinckley Chronicles, 24).
Above: Hinckley Railway Station with associated sidings and warehousing as shown on the 1889 Ordnance Survey
The South Leicestershire Railway was later vested in the London & North Western Railway (30-31 Vic. Cap. 244), and then became part of the London, Midland & Scottish Group Amalgamation scheme of 30 Dec 1922. See also Andrew Moore, Leicestershire's Stations. An Historical Perspective (Laurel House Publishing, Leicester, 1998).
The RAILWAY HOTEL Station Road. The hotel is referred to in the 1874 Parish Magazine, and is first recorded in the trades directories in the same year. Below: Railway Hotel, Spring 2003. (See the Hinckley Historian, 39, 12-13.)
RAILWAY STATION 1861 'The South Leicestershire Railway… has a commodious station here' (William White, History, Gazeteer and Directory of Leicestershire, 1863).
The contract plans for Hinckley Station are at the PRO (RAIL 636/2). They are dated April 1861 and consist of four sheets: 1) groundplan, 2) front and rear elevations, 3) side elevation, transverse and longitudinal sections, and 4) roof plan, first floor plan and second floor plan. The drawings are signed 'John Addison, Engineer, Westminster, April 1861'. There are also plans for Elmesthorpe Station (RAIL 636/1) by the same author.
Above: Hinckley Railway Station, 1950s (NMR).
'Originally the station was set in open fields south of the town, reached only by a track directly from the market place, although gradually new access roads were built.It may have been because the station was a long way from the town centre, or just for financial reasons, but the building provided for a town of Hinckley's standing was unjustifiably plain and undistinguished.
Above: Hinckley Station in 1951 with Bennett Brothers' hosiery works bordering the eastbound platform..
The main, pitched-roof buildings still comprise the narrow, former Station Master's house of 2½ storeys and parallel single-storey bay that once contained the waiting rooms. Between the two runs a short single-storey section in which were the station offices and entrance hall, one office having a bay window on the platform side. Originally this linking section formed a recess on the road side, but was eliminated in 1897 with a well-blended extension which stood proud of the main block. To this was added a cantilevered awning, originally glass covered. Also in 1897 sizable waiting rooms were built in brick on the Down platform and awnings added to this and the main buildings. The awnings were large affairs of corrugated iron curving away from the building and supported by cantilevered brackets. The larger awning, which remains on the main building, is also upheld by four wooden pillars along the centre of the platform. In the same period, platforms were extended and a metal footbridge provided at the western end, curved corrugated iron sheets again used to form a roof over steps and bridge.
From the station's earliest days the platforms were also spanned at the opposite end by a footbridge of metal on brick piers (the original station plans actually show a subway) the stout piers also doubling as store rooms. Both bridges were close to the main building and because of this and the presence of large awnings, the platform side of the station had an oppressive feel that lasted until recent alterations. Other buildings provided were two wooden offices for the Station Master and porter situated by the public bridge on the Up side. It is possible they were originally for sole use by the Midland Railway who had employed their own staff at the station since 1868. From this date the Midland also had a booking window separate from the LNWR, in use until the LMS days of 1923. In revenue terms the Midland probably fared as well at Hinckley as the LNWR, with only their trains serving the important route to Birmingham as well as having their share of the Leicester traffic.
Major rebuilding of the platforms occurred in 1924 and the Up side awnings extended westwards in 1933. That was the main extent of alterations until 1972 when, supposedly to save maintenance costs, the large block of waiting rooms on the Down platform were removed and replaced by an incongruous, bus-stop type shelter.
In 1977 the public footbridge was renewed and the adjacent wooden offices removed at the same time. That which remained was redeveloped between 1987 and 1990. The house was altered and its outbuildings replaced to form private offices for letting. The footbridge at the western end of the station was removed (then without covering which had been blown off in a gale before the Second War) and the public bridge utilised to gain access to the platforms. More private offices were provided at the western end, partly comprising a new single-storey block and partly the old main waiting rooms and entrance hall. Lastly, the main offices were converted to form a new booking office and modern booking hall-cum-waiting room, the layout of which has, coincidentally, reverted to that of 1862. The external entrance is now covered with a new pitched-roof porch matching the entrance to the new private offices, the original awning having been removed. With these modern improvements the station's future seems more secure especially as it now stands in a developed area and no longer in open fields' (Andrew Moore, Leicestershire's Stations. An Historical Perspective (Laurel House Publishing, Leicester, 1998))
NMR - 1 photo. LRO - 1 photo, 1963 (DE 5322/68).
The RAM Castle Street. Appears in Holden's 1809-11 Triennial Directory and is recorded in the trades directories until 1875 (although Baxter states it became a pawnbroking and clothing establishment in 1869 (Baxter, 23)). Photograph at Hinckley Museum and in Baxter's History.
The RED LION 17 The Borough. Demolished. Former coaching inn on the site now occupied by Hansom Court shopping centre (more specifically MacDonalds!) (Lindley, Hinckley Town Trail, 5). See Hinckley Historian, 40. This was an ancient inn, which appears in the Feoffment accounts of 1695, and a house is referred to as 'formerly the Red Lyon Inn' in a document of 9 Nov 1771 at LRO (DE 226/17/22) [Or is this the following?].
The RED LION Castle Street. On the site of 63-65 Castle Street. '… Similar dwellings can be traced as far as Castle Street. These cottages were eventually turned into beer vaults when the Red Lion was built. This was an old coaching inn with a covered yard like the Tabard Inn, long since demolished. During alterations some tons of squared sandstones were taken from the foundations, some with the angles fluted and moulded. That this belonged to some more ancient building, I have not the slightest doubt' (A. J. Pickering).
The Red Lion occupied part of the castle mound, so it is tempting to assume that these blocks came from that source. However, it was probably from the old parish church, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This implies that a building may have existed on the site since about 1250 and provides evidence that the castle had ceased to have defences by then, because the Red Lion straddled the section of the mound and moat adjacent to Castle Street. Earliest reference to an inn on this site - 1752 - The Black Boye (also 1769). The Red Lion is first recorded in the trades directories in 1822. By 1847 it had been converted into a shop or coffee house and further alterations occurred in 1871-86. The brew house still stands behind 67 Castle Street. It is specifically referred to in a deed of 1772 (David Knight, 'Some Notes on Numbers 63-65 Castle Street', Hinckley Historian, 40 (Autumn 1997)).
The REGENT CLUB & INSTITUTE Regent Street. Sold March 1930 (Hinckley Times, 14 Mar 1930 and printed flyer, below) after having been replaced by purpose-built premises in Rugby Road.
The REGENT CLUB 1928-29 Rugby Road. 'Some two or three years ago a plot of land was purchased in Rugby Road next to the new [Regent] Theatre, and now the builders have commenced on the first portion of the model club house. The building is brick with artificial stone dressings and reinforced suspended floors. A large cellar 37ft long x 20ft wide with heating chamber adjoining forming the basements.
Above, left: Architect's perspective of the proposed building, 1928. Above, right: The Regent Club, about 1935
A corridor some 7ft wide runs down the centre of the premises to a skittle alley 48ft x 27ft with concrete floor. On the right is a smoke room and bar 71ft long x 25ft wide and on the left is a stewards' house store, secretary's and other offices, with a billiard room adjoining for three tables 43ft x 26ft and the usual offices for ladies and gentlemen. The upper portion will form another contract with large concert hall, lounge, committee rooms, etc. The first contract exclusive of central heating and electric lighting is for £4,200 and Messrs A Watkins and Sons, Riversley Road, Nuneaton, secured this. The excellence of the scheme, both as to materials and workmanship, and the completeness of the equipment both within and without, as well as the imposing and artistic appearance of the elevation, will be an adjunct to the centre of Hinckley. The architect is Mr Hugh Carpenter, of Palace Chambers, Leicester, who has been responsible for other admirably designed club premises' (Hinckley Times, 5 Oct 1928). Accompanying the article was the architect's perspective of the proposed building (above, left).
The building, now Regent House, was gutted by fire, largely rebuilt and reopened in 1990. It houses a variety of retail premises.
REGENT STREET: INDUSTRIAL/COMMERCIAL 1932-33 High Cross Hosiery factory with shop units beneath for Messrs Atkins Bros, to extend their knitting expertise to the manufacture of men's underwear, 'High Cross' being the trademark. The architects' plans were passed in February 1932 (Hinckley Times, 19 Feb 1932).
An architects' perspective was published in the Hinckley Times on 2 Feb 1932 (above):
'The new building, now being erected in the centre of Hinckley, is the first portion of an ultimate scheme which will occupy the whole of the triangle formed by Regent Street, George Street and Lancaster Road, and will be on the most modern and up to date lines of factory and shop construction. Shops are to occupy the ground floor of the building, which approximates to a length of 230 feet fronting Regent Street, and with frontages to each of George Street and Lancaster Road. The factory floors over the shops will be large, clear span, lofty rooms of hygienic construction and with a maximum of light and air, and the building generally will be constructed on the steel-framed principle, and concrete will play an important part in encasures to the stanchions and in the floors…. The Regent Street frontage to the shops will be arcaded, and it is proposed to divide it up into large and small units, and to arrange the shop fronts to suit the requirements of prospective tenants. The floors of the workrooms over the shops are of fireproof construction, and are specially insulated to ensure that no sound will be transmitted from the workrooms to the shops below. Ample and well lit basement store accommodation is provided for the shops, and adequate rear access is provided.'
In May 1933 advertisements appeared in the Hinckley Times offering shop units to let at £75 per annum. In the event, only the first two floors were built, with a third storey added in the 1950s. A 1932 drawing of the factory (probably the original of that above) was preserved at the then Counterpart Hosiery Factory (Atkin's factory) in 2000. The architects were Messrs H. L. Goddard, and Symington, Prince and Pike of Leicester, and the contractors, Messrs J. Chapman and Sons of Leicester.
Above: Regent Street looking towards Rugby Road, about1950. Only the first two storeys of the High Cross hosiery works had yet been built.
'Factory with shops... Buff brick. It is built on a triangular plan... The front to Regent Street is of three storeys and sixteen bays; the penultimate bay at each end is broader, and set slightly forward, within which a narrower panel is corbelled out to and carried up slightly above the roof-line; within this is a recessed two-storey canted bay. The angles are decorated by diagonally-interlocking bricks. Ranges of metal-framed windows with rendered piers between. The ground floor was originally an open arcade, with recessed shops, but some have now been infilled. There is a similar frontage to George Street on the north east; at the junction of the two fronts is a diagonally-set bay, with an entrance between piers.' (Peter F. Ryder, Hinckley... Historic Buildings Appraisal (2000))
REGENT STREET: DOMESTIC/COMMERCIAL 'Regent Street and its northern continuation The Borough, form one of the principal thoroughfares of Hinckley... Properties along the west side of these two streets occupy long, narrow parcels of land which probably reflect the arrangement of medieval burgage plots. The buildings which occupy this frontage appear, in the main to be late 18th or early 19th century in date, reflecting the prosperity of the town at that time' (Neil Finn, '5-7 Regent Street, Hinckley', unpublished report). During the twentieth century the east side of the street, which consisted mainly of small-scale cottages and the Fulleylove coach works, has been swept away and rebuilt. The west side, with its grander aspect, originally housed many of the town's smarter premises and, despite some sad losses and unsympathetic remodelling, has remained, at least in scale, very much as it was.
Above: Regent Street looking towards Coventry Road, about 1860. On the left is Fulleylove's carriage works and beyond, the row of beech trees which was a distinguishing feature of Hinckley's townscape for much of the nineteenth century.
'It is rumoured that the fiat has gone forth, and the picturesque row of buildings in Regent Street commencing at "Jude's Corner" and ending at the back way to the "George," has soon to come down. I hope before this takes place that a good photograph, or series of photographs of the buildings will be taken. It is, I think, a great error, and an error (which in years to come, when we, or our descendants, shall feel the loss more keenly, can never be remedied). It is to be regretted that our town is yearly changing the aspect of its streets - the old and the picturesque (if not exactly the utilitarian) is being swept away, and no pictorial record is being kept. True, a few are photographed, but what a grand thing it would be if the town possessed a series of views of every part that was pulled down, or underwent alteration. What interest, and of what incalculable value would such a record of our town be to-day. Only our oldest inhabitants remember "Duck Paddle" when it was worthy of its ancient name; when its length was marked by a dirty stream which bore along its course the odds and ends of the town's refuse… But why I direct notice to these houses in Regent Street is because it was in this street - in these old houses - that Joseph Aloysius Hansom invented, planned and built the vehicle that now monopolises the streets of London… Hansom made the plans, and the cab was built by John Fulleylove, a coach-builder, of Hinckley, and an ancestor of the famous Royal Academician of the present day. Fulleylove's carriage works still exist, as we know, though under another name, and the iron work of the cab was made at the blacksmith's shop, next door, by a man named Snape. Hansom sold his patent for £10,000, though I believe £300 was all he actually received for his great invention' (Hinckley Times, 2 April 1898).
Above, left: Regent Street in 1924. Above, right: About 1910. .
Above: Regent Street looking towards the Borough, c.1905. Below: Regent Street facades c. 1880-1900 (courtesy David Knight).
The REGENT THEATRE 1928 Rugby Road/Lancaster Road junction (now Rainbow Bingo).
'Architecturally the building is of considerable merit. It improved one of the principal entrances to the town and opened up facilities to a rapidly extending part of Hinckley' (Hinckley Times, Feb 1930).
Above: Regent Theatre, c.1934
In 1927 Hinckley and Dursley Theatres Ltd commissioned Horace G. Bradley of Birmingham to design a 1000 seat theatre. In January the Hinckley Times commented that 'the completed bock of buildings will eventually comprise one of the most pleasing and imposing architectural features of our town' and by the end of the year noted that the 'mammoth building' was now nearing completion (27 Jan; 7 Dec 1928). Contractors G. E. and W. Wincott of Nuneaton. 'New Theatre For Hinckley - To Provide Accommodation For 1200 People - Plans Completed' (article in the Hinckley Times, 23 Dec 1927).
Above: Horace Bradley's drawings for the Regent Theatre, 1927
'The proposed theatre… will be situated on a commanding site… with the main entrance facing the busy side of the town. The materials will be of grey dragged terra cotta and brickwork for the elevations. A large parking space for motor cars is provided… The accommodation will consist of 800 seats in the auditorium and over 800 in the balcony, with additional standing room for about 150… In addition to a large stage measuring 60' x 30' with height to take any scenery, there will be ample accommodation for artists in dressing rooms. The balcony will be constructed of concrete… The operating box, re-winding and generating rooms are of the latest methods and fireproof. The building scheme includes ten first-class shops with lavatory accommodation and offices over the first floor, approached by fireproof staircases… The auditorium and balcony will be provided with numerous windows… to give a pure atmosphere when the theatre is closed, and when open to the public the ventilation will be obtained by fresh air ducts and electrical fans…' (Hinckley Times, 27 Jan 1928).
The theatre was formally opened Monday 11 March 1929, and was then described as a 'house of amusement worthy of the town and district… From the outside one gets an impression of size and roominess, which is not dispelled upon entering, for the new theatre is of goodly proportions and substantially built. There is an attractive main entrance directly on the corner, with the main part of the building extending parallel with Rugby Road. A number of lock-up shops on the ground floor and a suite of offices above comprise that section of the building immediately flanking Rugby Road. They are admirably laid out… On two sides the theatre is flanked by a concrete causeway of ample width - ample, this is, to obviate any inconvenience to passers-by that a queue… might cause.
First impressions upon entering the circular hall which leads direct into the auditorium and from which ascends the staircase to the balcony, are distinctly favourable. The effect of the decorations is artistic and pleasing to the eye, for her on the walls one sees seven admirably painted water colours - here a beautifully tinted view of Loch Lomond, there a Thames side landscape, elsewhere a view reminiscent of Killarney, and there again two more aspects of Loch Lomond, the famous Scottish beauty spot. Above is the Rendezvous Lounge, a spot which is sure to become popular with theatregoers, and where waiting will be robbed of its boredom and queuing of its tiresomeness. Here again the effort to combine art with decorative effectiveness has been successfully executed, and the two large water colours on the wall are bright and pleasing to the eye. Three comfortable settees provide material comfort and indirect lighting give tone to the whole…
In the Theatre itself… seating, lighting and decoration schemes have been attended to with obvious care… A sloping floor in the main body of the Theatre, and a terraced balcony ensures everyone an obstructed view of the stage and screen… the soft glow of the coloured lights which suffuses the building when illuminated is indeed pleasant and gives the interior an air of cosiness which the vastness of the place might otherwise discourage… Of the colour scheme with it's warm autumn tints and artistic pictures one cannot speak too highly. There is an absence of blatancy which is gratifying, and the blend generally has been well considered and admirably executed. As the panel pictures are all hand painted, one can imagine the work that has been put into this part of the scheme…
As regards the functional part of the work, this will rank with the best in the County, both as regards stage and screen. The stage… will permit of the performance of stage plays, variety operatic and orchestral entertainments in first-class style. The accommodation for the artistes has not been neglected, there being distinct dressing rooms for principals and chorus with every convenience… For cinema purposes a picture projection plant of the very latest type has been provided… The musical accompaniments will be played by an augmented orchestra of six instrumentalists - two violins, piano, double bass, cornet and flute - and, it is expected, will be maintained on a standard of excellence in accordance with the standing of the Theatre itself'. Amongst the sub-contractors were Turner & Co, theatre furnishers, of Birmingham, Baxter & Impey, electrical engineers, of Birmingham, Ingram & Kemp, electrical fittings, Birmingham and F. Foster, decorative artist, of Nottingham.
Above: The Regent Building in the 1950s.
'The Regent has been designed to meet the requirements of the rapidly growing and progressive district of which the town of Hinckley is the centre, for a really up-to-date Theatre and Picture House. It has been constructed on the carefully thought out plans of one of the most eminent theatre architects in the country, Mr H. G. Bradley, of Temple Row, Birmingham, and embodies the important features of the latest English and American Cinema and Theatre construction' (Hinckley Times, 15 Mar 1929).
It included five dressing rooms for artistes, and in 1930 was the first Hinckley theatre to install sound. It was the company's prime venue until sold to Odeon Theatres in 1935. In 1955 it was renamed the Gaumont, and a week later Cinemascope arrived. In 1961 the Odeon in the Borough closed, and the Gaumont was sold to Classic Cinemas of London. The Classic was closed in 1968 and the cinema was reopened as Vogue Bingo and Social Club, latterly Flutters Bingo (Hinckley Times, 30 June 1968).
See Brian Hornsey, Ninety Years of Cinema in Hinckley. NMR - 2 photos.
RICHMOND MIDDLEFIELD COUNTY PRIMARY SCHOOL Stoke Road. Temporary wooden building opened 27 May 1935. 234 pupils; six staff; eight classrooms arranged in a T formation with an extra staff room and cloaks. A new school was being built late by the late 1940s. At the end of December 1949 part of the infant department was in use. The official opening of Richmond School took place on 23 November 1950. The new school was built in 1970 to designs by Thomas Locke in succession to T. A. Collins (County Architects).
'Circular, with eight teaching areas radiating from a central library with studio over. Covered outdoor work areas bitten out of three sides. Projecting on the fourth, the hall and kitchen' (Pevsner, The Buildings of England, 178).
ROCHDALE TERRACE 1888. Off London Road, opposite St Peter's School. Six cottages were built here in 1888 by the Hinckley Co-operative Society. They were named after the Rochdale Pioneers who in 1844 spearheaded the Co-operative movement in England.
ROCK GARDENS Coventry Road. Created in the 1920s and a source of considerable local pride. Below: two postcards produced shortly after the gardens' completion.
ROLLER SKATING RINKS - see OLYMPIA ROLLER SKATING RINK; PALACE OF VARIETIES; PALLADIUM
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL 1765 Roman Catholic chapel established 1765 (Nichols, Leicestershire, 697). Fr. Matthew Norton, the founder of the Hinckley Mission, bought a small house and land in that year on the north side of Upper Castle Street, where services were held. In 1767 he built a small chapel behind the house. A house called Rosary Cottage stood on this site until the [?] 1950s (see below).
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL 1793 'The present new chapel was erected in 1793, whilst Dr. Matthew Norton was the officiating priest' (Nichols, Leicestershire, 697). 'On the invasion of Belgium by the French, in 1794, the English Dominicans of Bornhern, near Antwerp, took refuge in England, and, after remaining for some time at Carshalton in Surrey, settled at Hinckley…' (Lewis, 438). This chapel is located on John Robinson's map of 1782, on the site now occupied by St Peter's school. The old chapel and house were pulled down in 1836.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL 1824-5 The post-Reformation Roman Catholic presence at Hinckley was one of the earliest in the country, and for a time the British headquarters of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) was based here. Dedicated to St Peter the Apostle, the chapel was built to designs by the prolific Catholic architect, Joseph Ireland (c.1780-1841). At the county record office is the registration document for a Roman Catholic chapel at Hinckley dated 1825 (LRO 23 (Papists)).
'This church was opened on 12 July 1825. It was a simple building, quadrangular in shape, with arched windows' (Stephen Welsh, 'Joseph Ireland…' (1973)).
'The chapel was a simple classical building of the type then built for such parishes as Thetford and Leamington' (Little, Bryan, Catholic Churches Since 1623 (London 1966), 120).
Above, left: Church, showing nave of 1824 and sacristy and domed bell-tower of 1884. Above, right: church interior, about 1905, showing the shallow apsidal Renaissance-style sanctuary traditionally dressed and flanked by shrines of Our Lady and St. Peter, with Stations of the Cross and oil paintings adorning the nave walls.
In 1839 a turret, with a bell, was built with special Home Office permission (Little, 120). Also in 1839, the Queen Anne font, which had been discarded from the Anglican parish church of St. Mary in 1766, was purchased at a sale by Benjamin Law (the father of Charlotte Brame, the romantic novelist) and presented to the chapel.
A new seven-stop organ built by Charles Lane of Earl Shilton was installed in 1873 (Leicester Journal, 3 Oct 1873).
In 1884-5 an apse, sacristies and a domed bell-tower in Renaissance style were added to the simple building, and it was re-decorated and re-seated ( account of the re-opening on 3 May 1885 in the Hinckley News, 9 May 1885). The architect was 'Mr. Cox of Birmingham' [possibly Geo. Henry Cox of Clifton Villa, Gravelly Hill] and the contractors, Messrs. Thomas and George Harrold of Hinckley. Benches were supplied by Mr. Hill and colouring and varnishing by Mr. Varnon (The Tablet, 9 May 1885, 751, also reported the event).
'The interior of the church was one of exceptional beauty, being decorated by some fine old masters such as Verschaeren, Carlo Marotti and others' (see photograph, above).
In October 1922 the Earl of Denbigh CVO unveiled a memorial in the grounds (seen below left) in memory of the men of the church who died in the Great War, 1914-18. 'The monument consists of a crucifix surmounting a square base which is placed on the top of three steps'. This 'very beautiful monumental cross' or 'monumental rood' is of Portland stone throughout and fourteen feet in height. (The base is of nine square feet and weighs two tons.) (Hinckley Echo, 6 October 1922).
The church was the object of great affection, although eventually acknowledged as too small for the growing Catholic community. In 1958 it was abandoned as a parish church when a new church was built (see below) and was subsequently neglected. In the mid-1970s an unfortunate and not uncontroversial decision was made to demolish this historic building.
Above, left: photograph taken c.1974, shortly before demolition of church. Above, right: bell tower, apsidal east end and sacristies of 1884-5.
[Leicester Advertiser, Fri Sept. 24 1976 - 'History is being swept away at Hinckley' with photographic illustration of half-demolished church. Similar photograph in the Leicester Mercury, 8 Aug 1976. Lewis, S: Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), vol. 2, 515. Eastlake, Charles L., A History of the Gothic Revival (London, 1872), 130. Hinckley St. Peters, Dominican Revival, 1734-1958 (Hinckley 1958), 16, 17 & 40; illustrations of priory facing 9 and of church facing 100. (Colvin, 528; C. L. Eastlake, History of the Gothic Revival, 1872, 130) NMR - 1 photo.] See also ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIORY AND SCHOOL 1822-4
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 1958-60 Leicester Road. By Frank Brown & A. L. Sharp of 2 Station Road, Hinckley, the main building contractors being Greaves Brothers Ltd, 83 Mount Road, Hinckley.
'A large, uninspiring brick church...with a tower' (Pevsner, The Buildings of England, 177).
Opened 1st July 1960. Cost 'well over the estimate of £60,000'. The church was of 'basilican' plan, with choir, Lady Chapel and sacristies at the East end and confessionals and oratories along the side aisles, and with a tall slender tower at the north-east corner.
'Built mainly of Ibstock "golden" bricks, it is 180 feet long, 75 feet wide and 48 feet in height at the ridge. There is seating capacity for at least 800 people… Entering the body of the church one finds oneself at the top of the centre aisle. The flooring, except for that under the aframoza wood pews, is of terrazzo tiling. Passing through the main door of the building, one enters the vestibule, flanked on either side by two chapels. On the left side the mortuary chapel, and on the right the baptistry. Entrance to each is by wrought iron gates [by Mayburys of Hinckley]. Floor panels laid at intervals up the main aisle depict the ascending order of life. Greek characters symbolising the humanity of Christ are worked in the terrazzo floor around the altar. The entrance to the high altar is framed by carved plastic panels, depicting the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. At the far end of the church the large semi circular window is glazed in plain uncoloured glass. When the time comes for this to be replaced in stained glass it will greatly enhance the Eastern end of the building. The whole interior is light and airy, pleasing to the eye, and perfectly in keeping with our modern times. The acoustical properties of the church have been well taken care of by a local firm, and speakers are clearly audible in all parts of the building… Since the church came into unofficial use in March, there have been hundreds of visitors. It is probably one of the biggest church buildings to be erected in this area since the war' (Hinckley Times, 8 July 1960).
The altars were in English marble. On 27 January 1960 the fifteen-foot bronze statue of Christ the Mediator (above, centre) by Arthur J. Fleischmann was hoisted into position before a crowd of 400 and television cameras (see also below). Fleischmann was also responsible for most of the other statuary in the church, and for the 'beautiful stained glass panels' (Hinckley Times, 29 Jan 1960). After about twenty-five years the building began to develop structural faults and was demolished about 1991 to make way for its replacement (see below).
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 1992-3 Leicester Road. By Rush Davis Design Partnership (contractors Try Construction Ltd. of Uxbridge).
See Brian Rush, 'The New Church of St. Peter, Hinckley', Church Building, 29 (Sept/Oct. 1994) which is chiefly an illustrated account by the architects concerned. The cost was £800,000. The church was opened for worship on 23rd September 1993. In the gardens of the new church is the repositioned statue of Christ the Mediator by Fleischmann.
ROMAN CATHOLIC PRESBYTERY 1930s Set into the front of the house are two relief sculptures of 1931 depicting Saints Peter and Christopher. These are by the Dominican sculptor Aelred Whitacre.
ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIORY AND SCHOOL 1822-1824 The priory and school were attached to the church and together formed a handsome and historically important architectural enemble, now (2003) sadly obliterated. Building began in 1822 and the Priory was first occupied on 24 November 1824. It was a plain three-bay, three-storey Georgian house, red-brick with slate roofs, with a pediment over the central bay (below, right). This was the first Dominican Priory to be opened in England after the Reformation (Stephen Welsh, 'Joseph Ireland 1780/1-1841. A biographical note and list of his principal works' (typescript, Nov. 1973)).
Above, left: Priory, about 1900. Above, right: church and priory, a handsome late Georgian ensemble, in 1957.
'The Dominicans had long worked near Hinckley...and there in 1822-4 they built a large late Georgian house as a priory and the headquarters of their small, slowly growing English province…' The domestic quarters were in appearance unconventional by medieval standards but were, in practice, well suited to their needs (Little, 62,120).
The cost was £450. As soon as the priory was opened a school 'for the sons of gentlemen' was started by Fr Ambrose Woods. It initially accommodated twelve pupils, aged between eight and twelve. In 1863 it was described as an 'Academy for Catholic Youths' or as a college for Dominican students. In 1898 the academy closed and the students were transferred to Hawkesyard, Rugeley in Staffordshire. In the 1930s when a new priory (presbytery) was built on the south side of the London Road, the old house was given over to the Dominican sisters of the Congregation of Kingswilliamtown, South Africa. In 1936 they opened St. Albert's convent school here. (In 1948 the sisters also bought an estate at Stoke Golding and founded there, at Stoke Lodge, the convent of Blessed Martin, and later, St. Martin's Catholic High School.)
In 1987, after the closure of St. Albert's and the removal of the remaining Hinckley sisters to Stoke Golding, the old priory was converted into a nursing home (Hinckley Times, 31 July). This eventually closed and after the failure of a campaign to preserve it, obstructed by the failure of English Heritage to grant it listed building status, it was demolished in April-May 2000 (above, taken shortly before demolition).
See also ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL 1824-5
ROMAN VILLA Just over the parish boundary on Burbage Common, but if included is certainly the oldest 'building' in Hinckley.
ROSARY COTTAGE Corner of London Road/Priory Walk. 'Site of Father Norton's house, 1765' (Martin Harrison, Hinckley St. Peter's: Dominican Revival 1734-1958 (Hinckley, 1958), which also includes a photographic illustration of the house) (below).
The ROSE AND CROWN Castle Street. Appears in Pigot's 1822-23 Directory and continued to be recorded in the trades directories until 1835.
ROUND HOUSE, OLD At the back of the old workhouse (now Council Road) were fellmongers' pits. At the bottom of the jitty (also now Council Road) was The Old Round House or lock-up, which was 'a wretched damp den' (annotated edition of Francis, History of Hinckley, 136a).
The ROYAL OAK Mansion Street. Adjacent to Hinckley Liberal Club. There is an attractive drawing by Cicely Pickering (together with the half-timbered Bishop Blaize Inn) in A. J. Pickering, The Cradle and Home... (below). It is recorded in the trades directories from 1840 until 1901-02. By 1930 it had become a dwelling house.
RUGBY ROAD: DOMESTIC During 1882 the Hinckley Co-operative Society purchased ten houses and tenements for £475 (two of these were subsequently demolished and new shop built on the site). In 1899 the Society purchased a further nine cottages here, renovating them to contemporary standards.
RUGBY ROAD: INDUSTRIAL
James Bennett, manufacturer of ladies underwear, founded his company in 1912, beginning from a workshop in his back garden. The firm was incorporated in 1915 and erected its 'Benco Works' here soon afterwards.
Above: Benco Works of James Bennett Ltd, manufacturers of ladies underwear, about 1940
H. Flude & Company was founded in 1926 by Harry Flude in partnership with William Collins. At first it operated from a room over a stable. In 1929 a modern single storey building was erected on Rugby Road, which was greatly enlarged over the next thirty years. The company also had a factory on Netherley Road (now demolished).
Above: Works of H. Flude & Company in the 1950s
Sketchley Dye Works were founded in 1885 by Alfred E. Hawley and H. G. Clarke and styled A. E. Hawley & Co. Ltd., hosiery bleachers, dyers and finishers. (Hawley resided at Elm Lea, Ashby Road.)
Above: Sketchley Ltd in the 1950s
Before the 1914-18 war the works were extensively enlarged and new offices were built, according to designs by W. T. Grewcock, architect, of Hinckley. Sketchley Ltd (named after the hamlet which once existed nearby) became one of the country's leading firms of cleaners and dyers. By the 1950s Sketchley was the largest commissioned hosiery dyers and finishers in Europe and between the three Sketchley hosiery factories at Hinckley, Nottingham and Market Drayton, around one million pairs of stockings were processed each week.
Above, left: Aerial view of Sketchley Dye Works in about 1940. Above, right: The company's main front on Rugby Road designed by W. T. Grewcock (Spring 2003).
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