Loughborough town centre
|Population:||57,600 (2004 est.)|
Loughborough is a town in Leicestershire, the largest after Leicester, and a town famed for sport.
It had a population of 57,600 in 2004. It is the home of Loughborough University.
In 1841 Loughborough was the destination for the first package tour, organised by Thomas Cook for a temperance group from Leicester. The town has the world's largest bell foundry — John Taylor Bellfounders, which made the bells for the Carillon war memorial, a landmark within the Queens Park in the town, Great Paul for St. Paul's Cathedral, and York Minster.
The first mention of Loughborough is in the Domesday Book of 1086, as Locte and Lucteburne.
To the north of the edges of Loughborough, Dishley Grange Farm was formerly the home of agricultural revolutionist Robert Bakewell. The farm was also once home to the annual Leicestershire County Show. Loughborough's local newspaper is the Loughborough Echo, although there is also the Loughborough Guide. However the town is also served by the Leicester Mercury.
Due to a large percentage of Australians living in and around the town as students and alumni of the University, it occasionally gets named Loogabarooga, both purposely for comic effect by Australians in the town and accidentally by visiting Australians and Americans unaware of its correct pronunciation.
Loughborough University is famed for promoting sport and for the study of sports science. It has the largest sports scholarship programme in the United Kingdom and there are currently over 250 international athletes studying and training there. Loughborough University students have won the British Universities Sports Association championship every year for over three decades.
SportPark is part of the University's campus; a £15 million development that opened its doors in January 2010. SportPark is home to many of the country's top sports governing bodies and national sports organisations.
The Rugby Union club, Loughborough RFC, play at Derby Road playing fields. The club was formed in 1891.
Other sports teams include the non-league Loughborough Dynamo Football Club and the Loughborough Aces (Collegiate American Football). There is a netball league at Loughborough Leisure Centre. The town was also once home of a professional football club, Loughborough F.C., in the Football League during the late 1800s. Cricket is prominent, with The Old Contemptibles C.C, Loughborough Town C.C., Loughborough Carillon C.C., Loughborough Carillon Old Boys' C.C., Loughborough University Staff C.C. and Loughborough Greenfields C.C. representing various standards of Cricket in the area. The university is home to the ECB National Cricket Academy, used by the England team as primary training centre. The town also has its own swimming club, Loughborough Town Swimming Club, which is based in the town and train at local venues.
The tennis tournament AEGON Pro-Series Loughborough is held in Loughborough.
Parish church and Rectory
The parish church is All Saints, a fine mediæval church.
Arts and Heritage
Loughborough has four museums, the largest being the centrally located Charnwood Museum, which houses a range of exhibits reflecting the natural history, geology, industry and history of the area. Nearby in Queen's Park is the Carillon and War Memorial, home to a small museum of military memorabilia from the first and second World Wars. The Carillon tower affords views over the town and surrounding countryside, and regular carillon recitals are given throughout the year.
Loughborough has for more than a century been the home of John Taylor & Co bell founders and the firm has a museum—the Bellfoundry Museum—located on two floors telling the story of bell making over the centuries.
A walk around the town reveals a mix of architectural styles and there are several interesting examples of Victorian and Art Deco buildings, while the oldest buildings are to be found clustered around the parish church and the Church Gate conservation area.
Although it has no dedicated art gallery, fine pieces of sculpture can be found in the town's environs, including the 'Sock Man', a bronze statue celebrating Loughborough's association with the hosiery industry. This can be found in the Market Place near the Town Hall, which itself contains a number of art works.
The Town Hall Theatre is the venue for a wide range of events, including concerts, exhibitions, musicals, comedy shows and a Christmas pantomime. The town also has a thriving amateur dramatic community, and many groups make use of the town hall for their shows.
Events are also organised by Charnwood Arts, a voluntary managed and professionally staffed body, which promotes a year round programme of professional performances across the borough. The organisation is responsible for The Picnic In the Park event, which was inaugurated in 1980 and is held in Queens Park in May. Streets Alive, jointly organised by Charnwood Arts and the council takes place at a similar time of year.
The Loughborough Canal Festival, which started in 1997, is an annual event in May, centred around Chain Bridge. The event attracts around 10,000 visitors.
Great Central Railway is a heritage railway based at Loughborough Central Station, which is south of the town centre. It is operated largely by voluteers and trains run every weekend of the year and bank holidays, as well as daily during the summer.
Every November, the street fair takes over the centre of the town and closes the A6 and other roads. The fair runs from Wednesday afternoon until Saturday night. The fair has many rides, amusement arcades, food stands and games.
The town is home to the Reel Cinema, part of a chain of 10. There are six screens in the theatre, which is built to an art deco style. The cinema was built in 1936 and over the years it has been named the Palm Court and Ballroom, Empire, Classic and Curzon.