Charnwood - The Area


Charnwood in the UK Charnwood is an area in the north of Leicestershire with Loughborough as its main town. Loughborough is a market town with a population of over 60,000. As the map shows it is located in the East Midlands area of England. It has and has excellent Road, Rail and Air links (click on the map to show an enlarged version in a new window). It is at the centre of the formerly important underwear and knitware manufacturing belt that stretches from Leicester (15m south) to Nottingham (18m north).
The town was also noted for medium electrical engineering, including railway locomotive manufacture and the manufacture of cranes and industrial knitting machines. With the decline of textile manufacture and some of the engineering industry in the area there has been a shift towards the newer technologies with many small to medium units. One very old and well established company in town is one of the only two bell foundries in the UK. Loughborough is a also a major centre for pharmaceuticals manufacture. The River Soar runs along the eastern edge of the town and the Grand Union canal passes through it with several popular canal-side pubs.

The town houses the large campus of Loughborough University. The roots of the University go back to a technical institute founded in 1909. Shortly after WW1 the institute  became four colleges devoted to teacher training, art and design, technical and vocational training, and technology and science. Dr Herbert Schofield, Principal of Loughborough College for 35 years acquired land which forms the basis for the very large campus on which the university now stands. University status was granted by Royal Charter in April 1966, since when it has grown to become one of the UK's top universities with strengths across very wide range of subjects. Sport was also important in the life of the college. The present University is probably the leading academic centre in the UK, if not the world, for Sports-related subjects. With the Loughborough Students Union, it is very prominent in competitive sport having been the British Universities and Colleges Sport Champions for 40 consecutive years. The Dan Maskell tennis centre was built a few years ago on the campus as an LTA training centre. A number of other national sports bodies are based on the campus including the National Cricket Performance Centre, England Netball, British Weightlifting, British Triathlon, British Swimming and British Athletics. The University's alumni include many notable sportsmen and women such as Sebastian Coe, now Chancellor of the University, and Paula Radcliffe who graduated in modern European languages.  The University's Hall of Fame shows just how important the university has been to British Sport.

You can find out much more about Charnwood by following this link.

Separated from Loughborough by the M1 is the smaller town of Shepshed and in the surrounding area are several important industrial and rural villages and small towns such as Quorn, Barrow upon Soar, Coalville, Kegworth, Mountsorrel and Hathern. To the east are the rolling Leicesterhire wolds, famous for their foxhunts - the Quorn, Pytchley and Cottesmore - and to the west and north the now (almost) dead remains of the Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire coalfield.

The area is at the northern end of the site of the ancient Charnwood Forest, some of which is being replanted as the National Forest. There are many open spaces such as Beacon Hill and the Outwoods and a few miles to the south the 1000 acres of Bradgate Park. This old hunting park was given to the City of Leicester in 1926. It is a favourite spot for walkers and family outings and still famed for its herd of deer. It was the home of the Grey family (who became the Earls of Stamford) and in it are the ruins of Bradgate House which was the birthplace and home of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for 9 days.

On a hill overlooking the park is Old John Tower, a picture of which is shown to the left of this page. This folly was built by the Greys towards the end of the 18th Century. It is said to represent the beer mug so beloved of Old John, a local miller, accidentally killed at celebrations in 1786 marking the coming of age of the 6th Earl of Stamford.