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Sileby Parish Council, 'Sileby' village guide (1949) p5-6











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Leicester Advertiser, Saturday 1st February 1958

“From Leicester the best way to Sileby is through the neat as well as picturesque village of Cossington, which down the years has always specialised in having a distinguished person in residence...


At Sileby the scene is very different, and so is the tempo of life. It is a large and lively village of not much style but blessed with an impressive looking church, which stands high, presiding over a mixture of modern architecture... This village grew in the first instance on agriculture amd frame-work knitting, and before the coming of boot manufacture its inhabitants had many tough times in the old days of hosiery depressions...

The change in Sileby's industrial history came around 1860... Today, in Messrs, Newbold and Burton, employing about 650 workers, the village has one of the largest boot and shoe factories in the country. There are several shoe and hosiery factories, a wall-paper factory and a factory making name tabs.


There are also light engineering, a leather board mill near the river Soar, and in the heart of the village the malt roasting concern of Plunkett Bros... They roast malt for brewing and it is perhaps the only trade of the kind in this county...


Sileby has now a grand mixture of industry, enough to keep its inhabitants' heads comfortably above water... Sileby has had its fair share of high tides. In flood times it could always make the headlines.”

Loughborough Monitor, Friday 6th March 1959

"Life and People in Sileby (Part One)

Some people say Sileby villagers are industrious and thrifty, others say they are generous and friendly... it all boils down to the fact that Sileby is a go-ahead little place with a lot of go-ahead people living there.

Industry is the mainstay of life in Sileby... Shoe manufacturing is the chief industry, but there is plenty of other work in the village.  Hosiery firms produce a large amount of goods for home and overseas markets, while other industries provide diversity of employment to suit all.  

Largest of the Sileby shoe manufacturers is Newbold and Burton Ltd... There are branches in Grantham and Loughborough and the Sileby works employs about 700 men and women, who have inherited their shoe-making skills from their ancestors... A subsidiary of the firm is Lawson Ward and Co., Ltd., in Seagrave Road, Sileby, which employs 140 workers. The two companies produce 1.25* million pairs of shoes a year with some being exported to the West Indies, the Continent and Eire...


Between them, Mr Alfred Marston... and his sister, Lizzie... have together more than 80 years' service at Newbold and Burtons... "As a native of Sileby, I think it's all right," said Mr Marston. "I have always been struck by the generosity and friendliness of the people here. They are all industrious  and I think that's partly the reason for the prosperity of the place."


"At the local junior school, in King Street, the headmaster, Mr L. Harrington, and his staff of eight, teach 250 children... In 13 years Mr Harrington has come to respect the people of the village for their generosity. "They are particularly keen on the welfare of their children," he added, looking at a classroom of  healthy, happy, well clothed children."

"Parish Councillor Mr Arthur Trasler was at the (Excelsior Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Society) for 42 years... He has been a member of the parish council for 28 years and served on Barrow Rural District Council for nine years. "There is no place like Sileby," he says after living there for 60 years."

"Few would expect to find a wallpaper factory in the middle of a shoe-making area, but Melody Mills Ltd... is part of the village and produces miles and miles of wall coverings. "

"Had Sileby not been so close to Leicester and Loughborough it would long ago become a town in its own right."

*the article says 1¼ million, changed to decimal for clarity.

Loughborough Monitor, Friday 13th March 1959

"Life and People in Sileby (Part Two)

Sileby folk organise their social activities as efficiently as their industry. There is plenty to do in Sileby, both for young and old, with sports clubs, recreation clubs, educational organisations, church activities and in fact, practically anything any small town or a village could wish for."

"The vicar, the Rev Raymond G. Hunting... has found his parish to be a great one for loyalty and work. He told how an appeal made last April for £1,350 to decorate and restore the church. By Christmas the money had all been raised by eager workers or donated by generous villagers.

The boys club is under the wing of the National Association of Boys' Clubs, and has a membership of about 30. They meet several times a week to play billiards, darts, draughts, table tennis, and other games in addition to learning handicrafts. 

For the girls there is the Sileby branch of the Girls' Friendly Society where handicrafts are also taught. the girls have won a number of awards in competitions.

The choirmaster is Mr Ray Kendrick, who took over last year from Mr Charles Goss... who retired after 52 years as organist and choirmaster."

"Meeting place for the old folk of Sileby is the Evergreen Club which started in 1951 at the Village Institute. With the backing and gifts of many people in the village it is becoming a prosperous club... With a membership of 200 the club is open every morning and afternoon... Four committees, covering social activities, catering, visits to the sick and management, cater for the work of the club... One of the highlights of the year is the annual holiday, and this year a party of 25 will spend a week in Yarmouth."

"Popular spot with the young folk is the Futurist Cinema, in Swan Street, where twice a week rock 'n roll sessions are held for about 100 teenagers. On another night, old tyme dancing is equally popular, while films are shown other nights.

Scouting and guiding are also popular with the young people. Mr A.D. Hart is group scoutmaster of Sileby Scouts, while his wife Veronica, is captain of the girl guide company and cubmaster. There are 65 cubs and scouts in the group which meets at the new Brook Street Headquarters... about 30 guides meet at the infants school under Mrs Hart, who is assisted by Mrs Edith (Popsy) Gilbert."


"Among the many other organisations for the young people are sports clubs, Sileby Boys' Brigade, St. John Ambulance and a Methodist Church Youth Club.


The youth club meets at High Street where a large number of teenagers enjoy games and dancing.


At both Methodist churches, High Street and King Street, activities are varied, while more than 250 children attend the two Sunday schools, and congregations are always large."


"Sileby Bowling Club... has a fine green, on which many county matches are played, and a comfortable pavilion. A mixed club, it has between 60 and 70 members, many of whom have played for their county in the past few years.


The village also has successful football and cricket clubs, and an angling club whose members fish regularly in the nearby River Soar.


Sileby people are proud of their village and its sons, who have done many outstanding things in the past.


There are always too many things going on in Sileby to mention them all... But one we must not forget is the united Sunday school outing which is a highlight of the year for all children in the village. Organised by Miss Florence Bates, more than 800 children from all Sunday schools in the village are taken on an annual outing to the seaside."

"there are (also) thriving Catholic and Baptist Churches, a Townswomen's Guild, a town band, British Legion and other organisations, catering for the welfare and interests of the people."

Sileby Parish Council, 'Sileby' village guide (1964) p7-8











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W G Hoskins, A Shell Guide : Leicestershire (1970) p99

“Sileby is one of the unloveliest villages one could find anywhere : a Midland industrial village, red-brick, dreary.”

Brian J Bailey, Portrait of Leicestershire (1977) p118

“The erosion of Sileby is anything but natural. This is one of Leicestershire's dreary red-brick industrial villages on the wrong side of the Soar.”

J H Palmer, 'A Portrait of Sileby' (1977), reprinted in the Ratcliffian Magazine (April 1979) p16-18

“Following the Second World War Sileby began to lose its village life and rapidly took on the aura of urbanisation.

[Then] Came nationalisation of services, the railways, the gas company, the electricity company, were all taken over, and with nationalisation came centralisation, we lost our railway station under the Beeching axe, our gas office was transferred to Leicester, our electricity office to Loughborough and eventually to Shepshed. The Wesleyan Chapel was closed for want of faith. The Evergeen Club was formed for the benefit of the old - all part of the general urbanisation and at the present time, in this year of our Lord, 1977, Sileby, the erstwhile village, a village no longer, a conurbation of some six to seven thousand souls, has just celebrated the Silver Jubilee of our Queen Elizabeth II.”

Loughborough Echo, 31st August 1979, p16-17

"40 factories but Sileby still keeps that Village Atmosphere

No-one could deny that Sileby is an industrial village; it has over 40 small factories scattered among its streets....Among the industries are paper products and, of course the hosiery and boot and shoe industries.


One of the largest employers in the village is Lawson Ward, a footwear manufacturer in Seagrave Road... Lawson Ward's were part of a group which has three factories in the village... (They) make ladies' shoes and boots, in common with almost all other Leicestershire footwear manufacturers... While new machinery has been introduced, it's still a very labour intensive industry...

Almost any evening during the week Steven Wesley can be found at a Wesleyan chapel in Sileby. Steven is connected with the chapel by more than his name, because he is now chairman of Sileby Community Centre, the home of which is the chapel. It was bought by Charnwood Borough Council and converted to a community centre over two years ago. Phase one is now run entirely by volunteers... The centre is used for a wide range of activities, including dancing classes, youth groups, sports and arts and crafts groups. Mr Wesley is enthusiastic about what the centre has done for the village. "The kids in the village were without a club for some time before the centre opened and I've heard that vandalism in sileby is less common than it was..." Sileby is an expanding village, and several new estates have been built in recent years. Mr Wesley believes that the centre has helped to bring newcomers to the area together.


Seven years after Sileby Boy's Club closed, a new Sileby Boy's Club and youth centre is due to open shortly, situated behind the village community centre... The club is being built with grants from the Department of Education and Science, Leicestershire County Council, money left from the old boy's club and £1,000 has still to be raised... The centre will be for boys and girls between 11 and 18 years old. Already 50-60 young people come to the youth club each night.


Sileby Town Football Club has been in existence since 1952, and has played a prominent part in the life of the village... After much hard work the club opened their own pavilion on the Memorial Park in 1961... They are entering five teams this coming season, and will be attempting to uphold last season's fine record of behaviour and sportsmanship which saw them awarded a special trophy for the League's most sporting club.


In its first year of existence Sileby Swimming Pool Association has raised £3,300 towards the dream of its members to provide the village with a pool of its own... Though they have had a successful start, the group still have to raise a minumum of £50,000 before work can begin... King Street school has been chosen as the site of the pool.”

Lawrie Simpkin, Leicestershire & Rutland Heritage, No. 2 (Spring 1989), p20-22

"Sileby, a village of contrasts

Sileby will never, ever, win a beautiful village prize. It is really a small industrial town with close to 8,000 residents. It is not a village which often makes the headlines...


After living in Leicestershire for more than a quarter of a century, Sileby was one of a tiny number of villages that I had never visited. And, candidly, the first impression was that perhaps I should not go back again.


If I were ever destined to live there, I think the first thing I would do would be to finance a body repair shop for motor vehicles. That horrible bend between St Marys Church and the Liberal Club must be worth a fortune and some of the other roads would be splendid ground for driving tests with the natives and visitors adding to the chaos by abandoning rather than parking cars when there is a very nice car park behind the posh Co-op!"


"Planning is not a word that has appeared in the vocabulary of debate about the village, that is certain. Sileby has happened. They built homes and they built somewhere to work. They mixed them up and they continue to mix them. Footwear (increasingly less of it), textiles (on the up again) and engineering are all there with a row of terraced homes one side and expensive 'executive dwellings' the other. Only on the fringes, away from the wretched highway torture chamber, is there a more 'normal' village image with lovely approaches from most directions. At the Seagrave end there is a clearly defined new 'estate' which gets high marks for neatness.


But there seemed more life in the more mixed areas where half a dozen council-owned homes are cheek by jowl with homes highly mortgaged. Sadly, some of the local lads are louts, they told me.


Clearly they don't believe in waste in Sileby. A Wesleyan chapel dating back to 1884 is the Community Hall and Sports Centre and some of the village's bigger houses are now residential homes for the elderly, the sick or occupied by local professionals such as the dentist.


Shoppers seem well catered for, especially if you want to buy excellent meat, bread and cakes, newspapers and quite expensive houses. From the evident prosperity of the abundant take-aways, the good ladies of Sileby have no objections to their men folk taking in fish and chips or something more exotic when they leave one of the six pubs I counted; never mind the clubs. Bunter's wine bar with its offer of "freshly made" tea appealed instantly and the pub I chose was the thatched Free Trade Inn where the portions were enormous but the welcome guarded. But the talk was of Rugby!


But, I like the place... or rather I like the Sileby people. It is grubby but it has a heart. Although they don't swank and show off about Sileby they are a community and a caring one at that.”

"the Vicar, the Rev Alan Turner a former navigator on Canberras and V bombers in the RAF and now an unashamedly evangelical member of the Church in his first senior important appointment... began in Sileby's team ministry two years ago and has seen £8,000 raised in 12 months to refurbish the Church tower.


Rome has St Gregory's and the free churches have the Methodists in King Street and the Baptists. There is, I am told, a fine ecumenical spirit at large with public witness well supported. But you would expect clergymen, publicans and civic leaders to tell you nice things about their village - unless they wanted to lose at the next election or get back an empty collection plate.


So it was ordinary folk and their actions that convinced me that there was care and compassion there. Perhaps the clincher was the obvious support, on notice boards and in shop windows, for the village appeal for £5,000 for a turbo wheel chair for a young cerebral palsy sufferer... Within a few weeks of launch the target was in sight and the support was in shops, clubs, pubs and offices.


That is really what it's all about.


Sileby is not a commuter area, it is not a place where people only sleep, but where they live a greater slice of their day. That, I am convinced, is what has put the heart in Sileby. A lesson here for all developers."

Loughborough Echo, 3rd June 1994, p20

"Village that has proud traditions and deep roots

Approach the village of Sileby along the Barrow Road and, despite the lush countryside there are early signs of its industrial nature. the giant brown-orange structures at the British Gypsum site dominate the countryside, keeping company with the Redlands Precast works, while off in the distance, above the tree line, a works chimney stack marks the village itself, some two miles from Barrow-upon-Soar.

Into Sileby proper and there is little of the traditional country village image. Small hosiery factories and engineering works peep out at the visitor from the terraced housing along some of the streets leading off from the village centre. Occasionally there is the rigid outline of an industrial chimney against the skyline.

Sileby is a working village - some would say a working class village with proud traditions and deep roots.

Recent years, however, have seen inevitable changes - whether from competition, the recession or sheer, economic necessity. Sileby's shoe factories have nearly all closed, although there is still something of the hosiery industry left.

I am told there was a time in the late fifties and early sixties when the village streets would have been thronging at midday with shoe and hosiery workers making their way home for lunch.

Now, instead, small engineering units have sprung up, with local traders, it's said, pointing to a slimmed down local economy.

Some shop windows along the High Street stare, vacantly, and there is concern that factory closures over the years have seen the local labour force travelling out of Sileby to work, taking their spending power with them. It is, perhaps, understandable then, that plans for a food store have met with fierce opposition, with some traders calling for an investment in local manufacturing, rather than in yet another food outlet likely to exacerbate the problems of the local shopkeepers.

A sign of the times, Sileby has grown rapidly since the end of the last war, its present population at about 7,000, with new housing to cope...

The village has a vigorous community, they will tell you, with a strong sense of identity. there are youth clubs, sports associations, social events, six pubs and four churches.

It augers well for Sileby's future that it is appears to be thriving."

Various, The Sileby Village Appraisal : Report (2002) p6

“Sileby is a village in the river Soar valley.... with a population of almost 10,000... the valley has a long and complex history embracing mineral wealth and fertile agricultural land... Beyond the characteristics of most other UK villages the most significant physical modelling of Sileby as we find it at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st has occurred as a result of the growth of industry and manufacturing activities... Sileby was once known as the largest industrial village in the UK. Village industries and labour sustained brickworks and maltings, as well as hosiery, footwear and wallpaper factories. This industrial activity became a large employer with broad prosperity and tremendous diversity of skills.


However, if some of the villagers appear angry, frustrated or aggrieved at their modern inheritance it is easy to see why.


The village has lost more than 2,000 jobs in the last 25 years, and as a result the dynamic of the village social life has been torn apart, the retail economy has collapsed to an alarming state, and the centre of the village has lost its traditional purpose and meaning. Large areas adjacent to the village centre are dominated by redundant industrial buildings and developers are moving in to exploit brownfield sites for housing development. Whilst such development is understood, many villagers feel angry at the lack of modern community facilities and that development is opportunistic, piecemeal and without social gain for the village.”

Various, Sileby Neighbourhood Plan 2018-2036 : Submission Version (2018)

p26 - "Sileby is a large village in Leicestershire which is defined in the discussion paper ‘Towards a Local Plan for Charnwood’ as one of six Service Centres within the settlement hierarchy... Six settlements are identified as Service Centres; Anstey, Barrow Upon Soar, Mountsorrel, Sileby, Rothley and Quorn. These settlements are the Borough’s largest villages and all have a population of more than 3,000 people and all have a range of services and facilities to meet most of the day to day needs of the community and good accessibility to services not available within the settlement.


The 2011 Census data shows Sileby had a population of 7835 residents which is 4.72% of the Charnwood total. The population has increased by 16.14% in the 16 years since the previous census in 1995 along with a 5% growth of the total of the share of Charnwood’s population. In 2011 Sileby had a housing stock of 3390 houses which was 4.89% of Charnwood’s total stock. This is slightly above the population share (houses divided by people) of 4.72%.

At this time, Sileby had a housing to population percentage of 43.27% compared to a Charnwood proportion of 41.72% this has enabled future population growth to inform the future new build residential requirements."

p18 - “At the time of the 2011 Census, Sileby was home to around 7,835 residents living in 3,390 households. Analysis of the Census data suggests that between 2001 and 2011 the parish population grew by around 14% (958 people). During this period the number of dwellings rose by 18% (507). Furthermore, a more recent and alternative data source suggests the number of people living in the parish has continued to grow, increasing by around 270 between 2011 and 2014, representing a 3% population growth rate.

The area has a higher than average concentration of working age residents and school age children. There is evidence that the population is ageing and in line with national trends the local population is likely to get older as average life expectancy continues to rise.

There is evidence of under-occupancy in the Parish and a predominance of semi-detached housing and low value council tax banded properties.


There is evidence of some overcrowding in households with dependent children.

Analysis of Land Registry data shows indication of significant housing development with new build residential sales representing 17% of all recorded residential sales between 1995 and 2015. Home ownership is relatively high and there is a particularly high share of households who own their homes with a mortgage or loan."

p31 to 32 - "Home ownership levels are relatively high with around 76% of households owning their homes outright or with a mortgage or loan. This is above the district (72%), regional (67%) and national (63%) rates.

Data from the 2011 Census shows the Parish to have a higher than average concentration of semi-detached residential dwellings (43%) which is above the district (39%), regional (35%) and national (31%) shares. There is also a higher than average proportion of terraced housing accounting for over 27% of the housing stock against 19% for the district, 21% for the region and 25% nationally. Detached housing represents around 20% of residential housing stock which is 32 close to the 22% national rate but somewhat lower than the district (30%) and region (32%) rates. Detached and semi-detached represent 63% of the total housing stock in the Sileby Parish whereas terraced housing and flats provide 37% of accommodation spaces."

p61 - "Sileby has 2 Primary Schools (Redlands Primary School and Highgate Primary School) and a small specialist College (Homefield College) that supports individuals with Learning disabilities. Both Primary schools have relatively new Headteachers who are bringing bold and progressive changes to the schools and looking to work more collaboratively for the benefit of students of Sileby. The schools are the only secure community infrastructures where resources for sports and creative arts can preside. Each Primary school is expanding its services and will achieve a maximum capacity of 420 pupils and doing so will require further investment in order to provide the high level of quality education our children deserve in Sileby."

p62 - "Currently Sileby has 2 Medical Centres and the equivalent of less than 4 full time GP’s between them. Both practices are situated in buildings in locations where they have restricted planning.

The population of Sileby is now 10,000 people with a life expectancy of 80+ and yet there has been no increase in the number of GPs or provision of additional premises to cope with the growing population number or the demands of complex medical conditions being cared for in the community."

p74 - "Sileby is a semi-rural parish with limited employment opportunities and close to the significant employment centre of Loughborough and the cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby."

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