Did You Know That About Loughborough Town?

On first appearances, Loughborough does not look like the most exciting town to spend your student years. Going deeper than the nightlife and commercial shops, Label has uncovered a few facts that make Loughborough more quirky and interesting than first imagined.

The first mention of Loughborough is in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it is known as 'Lucteburne' -although the meaning of it has never been completely defined. It began as a Saxon village with around 180-200 people. This was apparently quite big for a village, and the reputation is still outstanding today, being the second largest town in Leicestershire.

The town's population even recovered after the outbreak of the plagues that struck in 1558, 1602-1603, 1609 and 1631. In 1622, there was also a severe fire. Today, the academic years see students occupying much of the town's population statistics. It has even received the notable nickname 'The Bubble', being an ideal student area for young people to establish a new life away from their parents.

Some of you may already, or will, make use of Loughborough's sizable market on Thursdays and Saturdays. But did you know that the first mention of the market was in 1221? They were often big, yearly events held in the streets; even now, every November, the street fair fills the town centre with rides, food stands and games, providing entertainment for all.

To avoid puzzlement, the statue you will become wonderfully familiar with in the town centre – of the man pointing his leg – is known as The Sock. It was created by sculptress Shona Kinloch and was unveiled in 1998. It is symbolic of Loughborough's hosiery industry, and the rest of the sculpture contains images from the town's history. To have a photo with it is a fresher 'must do'. Apparently, 2006 saw a 'flashmob' of people appearing to worship the statue. Footage is available online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBdIHZ4TP4Y.

Undoubtedly, the town has become renowned for the university which was established in 1966. However, it dates back even further to 1909 as the Loughborough Technical Institute, focusing on developing practical skills applicable to the working world. Many of the sport enthusiasts may know a number of the notable persons that Loughborough University has turned out: John Cooper, Paula Radcliff, Sebastian Coe, David Collier, James Gibson, Gerald Davis, Steve Matchett, Donna Kellogg, Neil Oatley, Nicholas Osipczak and Sir Clive Woodward.

The university is often frequented with accomplished sports persons to use the training facilities. Team GB and the Japanese team also used the university as their base for the 2012 Olympics. Furthermore, it was to Loughborough, of all places, that Thomas Cook gave their first world package tour in 1841.

The arty students may find it fascinating to know that the first theatre was erected in Loughborough in 1771. Now, the town has amateur dramatic groups who use the town hall to perform, amongst concerts, exhibitions and musicals. The art-deco building was built in 1855 at a cost of ��8000, and used initially as a place for the town's Corn Exchange. Other, artistic and miscellaneous, alumni include Lisa Rogers, Diane Farr, Lorna Fitzsimmons, Bridget Riley, Tobias Dawes, Derek Abbott and Robin Daniels.

Of course, the 47 bells of the Carillon are possibly what Loughborough was eminently known for. Established by the Taylor family in 1784 and expanding as a business in 1839, John Taylor's Bell Foundry became the largest in the world. They also made the bells for St Paul's Cathedral, London. The Carillion in Queen's Park was erected in 1923 as a memorial for the 480 servicemen who died during the First World War: particularly those 10 killed in a Zeppelin raid on Loughborough in 1916. The Queen's park in the town was named after the Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

More of Loughborough's history can be found in the ruins of Bradgate House in Charnwood forest: the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for just nine days in 1554. It was in this area where there was a supposed 'rash citing' of a black panther in 2007.

If steam engines take your fancy, Loughborough's Central railway can be traced back to 1847 when it was primarily used for the movement of coal and goods across the Pennine moorland from Manchester. Although the station is no longer used for commuting purpose, many can experience what it was like to travel by steam train thanks to volunteers and heritage organisations that keep it up and running. It has been used in many things from the Stereophonics 'Indian Summer' video, to television shows including Goodnight Mr Tom (1998), and Top Gear (2011); and films like Shadowlands (1993) and Cemetery Junction (2010).


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