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King Street

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King Street

Today, King Street is a busy thoroughfare whose function has changed greatly over the past century. Medieval deeds reveal that the street was called Est or East Lane and was known by this name up to the end of the 18th century. The far part of the road towards what is now Swan Street was called Town End.

King Street as a street name appears in the early 18th century, a time when loyalty to the crown was important due to rival claimants to the throne and foreign wars. The street was a mixture of farms and cottages which is revealed in the pre-enclosure map of c.1758.

Perhaps the most important building is that of 7 King Street, known as Manor Farm. This large imposing house and its outbuildings was the largest farm in the village pre-1760 and whose site in the 17th century belonged to the most influential of local families, the Mortons.

The age old pattern of farms, cottages and shops started to change with the arrival of the railway, which opened in 1840. Its construction cut a swathe through the central part of the village, dividing the village and King Street into two distinct parts. With the exception of the farm at 7 King Street, the westerly part of street became a hub for retail, services (including two pubs) and some residential property. However, the east side of the King Street railway bridge became mainly residential, with Victorian terraces providing infil for older farm/cottage sites. During the 19th century this side of the street saw the spread of hosiery worker's workshops, and later some of Sileby's earliest factories were situated just off this road. A busy railway yard and coal wharf added to the emerging industrial character of this part of Sileby.

A new Primitive Methodist chapel opened in 1866 replacing a smaller site further up the same road. This was followed by an Undenominational School (now Redlands), funded and built by Thomas Caloe in 1879-80.

The twentieth century history of King Street reflects that of industrial growth and later contraction. Factories of firms such as Excelsior, Bradgate Textiles and Inglesant and Burton took up large plots on and to the rear of the road, mainly to the detriment of local housing. After the Second World War the character of the street changed altogether. Many older properties, which today would have been preserved, were demolished. Thus, in the 1960s, important and locally significant houses such as 38 King Street (Grove House) and 17th century brick 47-49 King Street were lost. Gibb's farm suffered the same fate a little while later.

So, now King Street has come full circle. Former brownfield sites have been reclaimed for housing and the developments at Highbridge and Burton Road are a testament of the move to replace redundant industrial sites with residential properties in this and other parts of the village.

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