Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Semper Eadem




Semper Eadem. It's the City of Leicester's motto to go with its cinquefoil and wyvern badge, and means 'Always The Same'. I was born a catapult throw from the city's border, and I was glad that it did appear to be constant in its appearance. Interesting brick and stone Victorian buildings that I now know were by the Goddards, brown and cream Corporation buses, cheese and chutney sandwiches in Brucciani's. Good buildings are still there, (although now bars and coffee houses rather than banks and libraries), as are the sandwiches, but sadly the buses are a vile blue together with the meaningless word 'Arriva'. Deep sigh. Quite apart from the wanton destruction wrought by the council for decades, now it's certainly 'always the same' culprit around the western borders of the city centre. The De Montfort 'University' (or DMU as they like to call themselves, which I thought meant Diesel Multiple Unit) still wades in and trashes everything in its nexus. The Art Deco tiled Kirby & West Dairy blitzed, the Great Central Railway's bowstring viaduct smashed to pieces to make way for a bigger sports hall, the 13th century Magazine Gateway dwarfed by what appears to be more of their Ceausescu-style works.

So it was with great trepidation that we walked around the Newarkes (New Works indeed) area on Sunday. But thankfully little enclaves are still hanging on in there. The Castle Yard (top) is a very gratifying mix of eclectic buildings around a space where John Wesley preached and they hung criminals. Although one old house left derelict by 'DMU' still sports their obligatory crass notice on the outside wall: 'No Smoking Within 10m of this sign'. 'Miles' I assume. The blue sign on the railings of St.Mary de Castro church says it's open everyday except Sunday. And then to the 1934 bus shelter on Western Boulevard by the canalised River Soar. What a treat. Mercifully almost free from the graffito endemic in this learned area, and equally free of its glazing, it was presented by Robert Rowley JP. I remember when it had the city's bright red badge in the central portion. Still, better to have a blank space than 'Arriva For U' scribbled over it. Although come to think about it, I don't think buses come down here anymore. Semper Eadem.

7 comments:

TIW said...

This post makes me glad that Leicester Poly didn't want me when I went there for an interview.

Ron Combo said...

Indeed. The City of Leicester Polytechnic. What a shithole. In the James Went Building there was a paternoster lift. That is the only thing I remember about that particular centre of academic excellence, apart from Family concerts, smoking Players No. 6 and drinking M&B Mild.

Philip Wilkinson said...

There's a very funny episode about a paternoster lift in David Lodge's excellent campus novel Changing Places. It's set partly in the 'University of Rummage', based of Birmingham University, where Lodge taught, but clearly these peculiar devices were fashionable in academic buildings of the 1960s (?) higher education boom.

Great glazing in the bus shelter, by the way.

accountant said...

There is a similar bus shelter on the A47 as you come into Leicester from Uppingham although not in such a pristine condition. There is another one I think off but I can not remember it's location. They seem very generously proportioned, big enough to house a whle bus load.

Puddler said...

Ah, the paternoster lift at the Essex University library.....oh what fun we had.....

Peter Ashley said...

I have susequently learnt, from a lovely book from the past- The Quality of Leicester- that there is a shelter of this style on Narborough Road somewhere too.

MsGeary said...

The Narborough Road Bus Shelter is on your left heading out of the city, just before the crossroads junction with Upperton Road. The last time I saw it, it was in reasonable condition.
There might be another one on Fosse Road (running parallel to Narborough Rd, but I might be imagining that one!).