A New Walk Through Leicester

This is no more than an idea and a sketch on a page at the moment, but here goes:

A few years ago, whilst following Watts’s guidebook, I came across a peculiar plaque on the Unitarian Chapel, East Bond Street:

It took some digging (I wasn’t even sure what LRSA stood for), but eventually I managed to make some progress. I emailed the Leicestershire & Rutland Society of Architects and got hold of a document from 1984 ‘The City Trail: Explore the Corners of Leicester’, created to mark the Festival of Architecture and British Heritage Year. The LRSA had even re-surveyed the route at a later date to establish which plaques remained.

The two documents are here:

LRSA Remapping Exercise

Once you start to look, there are lots of niche self-guided tours of the city. Here’s just three of the many more that I found – where you can see subjects as diverse as Roman Leicester, King Richard III and Ernest Gimson:

Would it be possible, I wondered, to create a New Walk through Leicester, two hundred years after Watts? The built environment would be the historical source document, but how would a New Walk be written – what to select, what to show, where to go, what story to tell? Would it be possible to see the contemporary city through Watts’s lens of enlightenment values? She took us to some of the places that the LRSA still thought significant almost two centuries later (the Unitarian Chapel, for example). In contrast, what would she make of the city council New Walk Centre, built in 1975, empty by 2010 and gone by 2015 – not to mention the act of the City Council returning to a 1930 building, from which it had so fleetingly decamped to the modernist future?