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From Domesday To Motorway
07-12-2016

It is hard to believe that Glenfield, the population of which is now some ten thousand people, consisted of a mere 12 households at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086.

The growth in Glenfield's population has been speeded up by the building of new housing estates over many acres of farm land. This included, in the 1980's and 90's, a sizeable estate behind Ellis Park. A former agricultural estate was purchased to make way for County Hall.

Glenfield CentreGlenfield had begun to expand in the early nineteenth century and reached a population of just over 500 in 1871. By this time various small businesses had opened up in the village, the railway arrived and a number of stocking frame knitters were recorded.

In the aftermath of the First World War times were hard for many in this area. A lack of decent housing was a major issue. At this time land on Glenfield Frith, around what is now the Liberty Road area, could be purchased for as little as sixpence a square yard. A local benefactor (whose name I have not yet been able to discover) made available small plots to be used as smallholdings from which they would be able to earn a living.

Along came another befactor, the owner of a bacon factory, who made available bacon boxes to build huts on their plots. Once one room had been built the family would move in and further rooms would usually follow. Gradually the little holdings developed. Today the long strips of land often indicate the sites of these properties where once vegetables fruit and flowers were grown and often sold in Leicester market. Thus the 'bacon box houses' appeared on the scene, although of course the original huts have been greatly modernized over the years'.

Later on in the 1920's and after the second world war, the Faire estates were built. In time the shops on the green which at one time included the post office and a grocers, (as well as the butchers shop still located there), were knocked down to make way for maisonettes.

The result is the Glenfield we know today.

Currently the new development of Glenfield Park for residential housing and the giant warehouses of Optimus Point are expanding Glenfield ever closer to the M1 motorway.

What a far cry from the little settlement recorded in the Doomesday Book!

Roger Blackmore

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