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IMPRESSIONS OF SILEBY : 1901-1945

Kelly's, Directory of Leicestershire (1916) p620-621

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sileby Parish Council, 'Sileby' village guide (1925) p5-6, 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leicester Evening Mail, 21st August 1931

 

Looking at Leicestershire - 14

Sileby is So Pessimistic

A VILLAGE THAT HAS GIVEN UP TRYING

(by Lavengro)

“With a compact and pleasingly designed layout, and with the old Sileby merged unobtrusively into an area of wide streets, imposing public buildings and up-to-date business premises, this village has potentialities unequalled by any other community in the locality. But Sileby people apparently choose to disregard this; on every hand one hears the exposition of pessimestic views, and there appears an utter absence of constructive policy as to the future - to such an extent that the visitor is given an impression that the present stage of progress has been reached by accident rather than by intent.

In reality there is every cause for optimism and a determination for solid growth. Sileby's situation is highly favourable in comparison with that of many villages from a trading standpoint; far enough removed from the magnetism of Leicester and Loughborough for their appeal to be weakened in effect; with a local population of appreciable size, in addition to those of neighbouring hamlets who might easily be educated to look upon Sileby as a trading and industrial centre.

Shopping facilities are surprisingly up-to-date and comprehensive, and in several cases there is a noteworthy enterprise shown in window displays and in the supply of goods and service over a much wider area than the actual village.

Extensions have been carried out tastefully, and with the elimination of one or two sharp corners, and a few improvements in the neighbourhood of Brook- street, the local Council will have every reason for satisfaction with the general appearance of Sileby.

The activities of Anglican, Nonconformist and Roman Catholic sects are keenly supported, and the buildings themselves are well-designed structures serving to beautify their surroundings. the parish church is a land-mark for several miles around, and from its position on the southern boundary of the village there is visible a fine stretch of the Charnwood Hills.

For some time there have been complaints of the lack of interest shown by young people in local social activities, but in spite of this their continued promotion has been marked by an optimistic idea that there would be an increase of localised patriotism.

In this respect, as in others, Sileby is favourable placed, and while there is a measure of enthusiasm in some branches of sport, there is room for a much greater development of the facilities afforded.

The intersection of the village by the lofty railway embankment gives an altogether false impression of size, for the northern side is of a considerable extent, and in this part are situated a number of factories which absorb a good proportion of local labour.

Both the hosiery and footwear manufacturers have installed modern plant methods, in scientifically designed buidings.

In its possession of a varied market for local labour, Sileby is indeed fortunate.

The two roads leading northward over the hills are becoming attractive building sites, and beyond there lies enchantment for the beholder in the sight of tiny- old-world hamlets among a typically rural setting.

In all directions Sileby is bordered by pleasant countryside, and one could wish that its people could become more keenly appreciative of their own advantages and of the fact that the future of this desireable village rests largely upon their efforts.”

Leicester Evening Mail, 3rd October 1935

The Industrial Pivot of Leicestershire

Sileby’s Tradition of Good Craftsmanship

(by Neroli Whittle)

“Sileby is satisfied that it is the pivot of industrial Leicestershire : that in industry there is not another village to hold a candle to it... Noted chiefly for its manufacture of hosiery and boots and shoes, the village possesses no less than 18 factories... From a small village of hard working framework knitters, Sileby has grown to supreme importance in the county’s industry by sheer force of character. And Sileby is proud of it.

 

The village is justly proud, also, of its handsome 14th century church, of its progressive, up-to-date school, and of the local employment figures... Countless numbers of workers from Leicester pour into the village every morning to earn their daily bread. “Prove it,” said one villager, “by inquiring at railway stations about season tickets to Sileby!”

 

Further, the village claims to have two of the finest brass bands in the county; and here is another cause for pride; the local versifier, whose couplets flow from his pen on all topics, wrote a Jubilee poem to the King, and received an acknowledgement from Buckingham Palace.

 

Sileby claims also to be the most helpful of all villages to the Leicester Royal Infirmary, working in the cause all through the winter, and now engaged on a scheme for supporting a fifth bed in the hospital.

 

As framework knitting was the original staple industry here, it follows that the most experienced inhabitants are all one-time stockingers...

There was scarcely a cottage in Sileby that had not its workshop where the whole family was engaged from dawn till night, working at top speed... Here was a village where every new-born baby had for its lullaby the thuds and shunting sounds of ponderous hand frames…

 

Now here is a villager of 86 who has retained her youthful charm and vivacity. Asked the reason for this miracle she smiles and replies :

“Ah! we had the best mother in the world! She took care of us! We were sent to bed early and were never up as late as 9 o’clock!”... She smiles as she recalls the prettiness of crinoline days. Her mother went to chapel in pattens, her bonnet tied on with a scarf…

 

At the church stile on summer evenings the village men would foregather, and then in sixes and sevens would walk around the village exchanging gossip and stories of the day’s work… The most popular personalities in the village today are the vicar and the schoolmaster.

 

The children love school and like to stay till late in the afternoon. They have a lovely lily pond, a school garden, and have organised a splendid orchestra, which plays both classical and modern music... The scholars are given freedom of expression in woodwork, verse and story writing, and produce a splendid school magazine.

 

A love of sport is evident in the village and old cricketers have interesting tales to tell…

 

A unique feature of Sileby is its number of bridges. There are so many overhead, road, and brook bridges that no villager has counted them... Has any village as many bridges? In history this village bridges the past and native industriousness will surely be a bridge by which Sileby will cross to a future of prosperity.”

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