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Leicester Central in 2003: Part II

Outside the confines of the station, there are still several things to see. All Saints Road bridge is still in position, although Welles Street and Soar Lane have both lost their crossings. Many of the viaduct arches along Jarvis Street are now home to motor repair and respray centres, and even the little known former Great Central Railway electricity generating house is still standing. At the southern end of the viaduct, where Jarvis Street becomes Blackfriars Street, a larger archway, protected by a pair of heavy blue doors, marks the entrance to the old subway that led to the station booking hall. Knowing the original purpose of the entrance, it is strange to see that one of the doors has a letterbox with the number '65' alongside. The subway is now a property in its own right.

Midway along Blackfriars Street, where the road swings round to join up with Bath Lane, a small arched entrance in the viaduct sits rather conspicuously on its own. These days, it is usually covered by a steel roller shutter door, but it once provided access to the famous Blackfriars Tessellated Pavement, for this was the old mosaic chamber. After the railway closed, British Railways maintained the chamber and provided public access in conjunction with Leicester Museums. However, the rising costs of maintenance and fears for the mosaic's safety resulted in the proposal to remove the pavement from the chamber. A specialist contractor did this in 1976, and the complete mosaic is now on display in the Jewry Wall Museum in Leicester - less than a hundred yards from its original location.

The future of Leicester Central station is unclear at this time. There were plans put forward in 2003 to redevelop the area around Castle Park, which would have included the creation of a 100-berth marina on the station site. These plans led to intervention from the 'Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment', who feared that important archaeological sites might be disturbed or damaged. The result of this intervention has been the alteration of the plans, moving the proposed marina about half a mile to the north. So for the time being Leicester Central is safe, but for how long - who knows? Leicester is a city under constant change, and the archaeologists will not always be able to prevent development work. For all we know, the station's days might already be numbered.

This is page 16 of 'All Change!' - The Rise and Fall of Leicester Central Station.
View the complete story contents.

In contrast to the ornate frontage on Great Central Street, the rear entrance to Leicester Central Station on Jarvis Street was much less imposing. The nature of the station, being built on top of the viaduct, meant that access to the platforms was achieved via stairs or a lift from ground level. This passage would have led through to the main booking office on the other side of the station.

In contrast to the ornate frontage on Great Central Street, the rear entrance to Leicester Central Station on Jarvis Street was much less imposing. The nature of the station, being built on top of the viaduct, meant that access to the platforms was achieved via stairs or a lift from ground level. This passage would have led through to the main booking office on the other side of the station.
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This is the former entrance to the Blackfriars Roman Mosaic chamber at Leicester's Great Central Station. The mosaic was found during the demolition of houses that were being cleared to make way for the new station. To preserve this ancient pavement and to provide access to the public, the chamber was then constructed around it. Now an industrial unit with a roller shutter door, it is hard to believe what the chamber once housed.

This is the former entrance to the Blackfriars Roman Mosaic chamber at Leicester's Great Central Station. The mosaic was found during the demolition of houses that were being cleared to make way for the new station. To preserve this ancient pavement and to provide access to the public, the chamber was then constructed around it. Now an industrial unit with a roller shutter door, it is hard to believe what the chamber once housed.
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Could there be more archaeology like this beneath Leicester Central? This 1976 photograph shows work underway with the move of the Blackfriars Pavement to the Jewry Wall Museum. Trainee conservator, Simon Aked, is seen making preparation's for the pavement's journey.

Could there be more archaeology like this beneath Leicester Central? This 1976 photograph shows work underway with the move of the Blackfriars Pavement to the Jewry Wall Museum. Trainee conservator, Simon Aked, is seen making preparation's for the pavement's journey.
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