Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Book sales

If you would like to buy a copy of How Saxby Street Got its name, then you can do so from New Walk Museum shop, or the University Bookshop (bookshop@le.ac.uk, website, +44 (0)116 229 7440).

Exhibition and book launch

Over 70 people attended the launch and enjoyed talks, Irish dancing and tea and cake. Ilija Preocanin welcomed people to the Serbian Centre and explained its origins. Penny Walker thanked all those who had contributed to the project including researchers, writers, expert advisers and those who shared their stories. Panikos Panayi talked about the treatment of Germans in Britain during WW1 and Malcolm Noble explained how the street names were changed. The interest in finding out about the people in her street and the experience of children in Medway School where she had taught was described by Alison Cottam. The last two speakers, Surinderpal Singh Rai and Jean Hill talked movingly of their family involvement in the war coming from the Punjab and Trinidad respectively and of the impact of the experience on them.

Monday, 16 March 2015


You are very welcome to attend the launch on 29th March.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

We need your stories!

Our team of volunteers have been collecting some great stories about people who lived in South Highfields during WW1 from log books and directories, newspapers and old recordings. We also have stories from people who live here now but have family memories of WW1 in other countries.


You may not live in our area now but do you have family stories passed down from grandparents and parents about what life was like in South Highfields one hundred years ago? We are sure there are loads of stories out there and we don't want to miss them. It might be about Medway School or games or food or children being born or dying or illness or happy days out.  We are interested in anything you have been told by your family.

We would also like to include more stories from around the world. It was a world war and people from Germany and Russia, India, East and West Africa  and South America can tell us a lot about what life was like in their country during WW1  if family stories were passed down to them. If you have those stories and have a connection with South Highfields please get in touch.

Ring Penny on 07414 465695 or 01163 199487 or email penny.worldwarone@gmail.com

Ed.: Penny was having some difficulty posting so I have uploaded this for her. Malcolm

Monday, 16 June 2014

An interesting story to whet your appetite

Brigid Macdermid contacted us with her tracing story in case it helps others. Unfortunately some  of the alien registration records were destroyed in Leicester. Brigid's sister Alisoun taught at Medway Primary School from 1985 - 2011.

"I thought you might like to know the story of how we found a photograph of my greatgrandfather because of WW1.

My grandmother was a love child but we obtained her father's name from court records of an affiliation order in 1900. The census for him from 1891, 1901 and 1911 showed that he came from Jakobstadt in Russia (now Latvia).

We were told that if he was a foreigner he would have had to register during WW1 as an alien. The appropriate county had his records which included a photo and all the addresses he lived at between 1916 and 1920.

My mother didn't expect to find out much as she only had a middle name to go on when she started the search.  She now has a framed enlargement of this photo of her grandfather as a dapper 45 year old.

I hope our story can help people from Highfields as a way of finding more about their ancestors if they had lived abroad. We obtained another photo and hospital records for the  last 4 years of his life - again something people can look into."

Thanks Brigid!

[Penny asked me to post this as she is having some IT problems. - Malcolm]

Saturday, 3 May 2014

What's in a name?

The research side of the project continues apace. One of the most interesting aspects for me, is the issue of the change of the street names. It is from this that the project has taken its name. In 1918, Saxe-Coburg Street and Gotha Street became Saxby and Gotham streets. There were others. Petitions were received by the Council from local residents demanding that these German-sounding names be removed, as they were an affront to the wounded and the mourning. Letters appeared in the Leicester Mercury on the matter.  

So in this way, the community’s reaction to the war, this articulation of anti-German sentiment, is literally inscribed in the street names of the area; the fabric of those buildings named after the streets -Gotha house, for example - actually serves to bear witness over this moment in history and so much around it. These present us with a peculiar historical artefact, and whilst it may not be unique to the area, some of the background to it was. 

As many of you may know, Victoria Park held many wounded soldiers when they came ‘home’. It would have made a sad procession indeed up London Road from the railway station. Indeed something to ponder next time you get off a train in Leicester, perhaps strolling back from a pleasant day out, that a hundred years or so ago, many travelled along in much worse shape and less happier circumstances. Gotha street ran parallel to London Road, and Saxe-Coburg street intersected with it. Perhaps the street names really were galling for passers-by and the wounded themselves. 

Volunteers have already looked at some extracts of council minutes during training sessions, and have lots of leads to follow in this regard. If this whets your appetite to get involved, in any aspect of the War and South Highfields, in any capacity – interviewing people, helping with events or doing research, then please do drop us a line, as we should be delighted to hear from you.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Update on numbers (see post below)

Having spoken with David Humberston from The Western Front Association it seems that 9,348 names were on the war memorial which was erected in Town Hall Square in mid 1917 and that the 12,000 quoted on the war memorial in Victoria Park would have been at the end of the war. The names were not put on that memorial as there was not enough money when it was built.