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The village sign depicts a Cedar tree
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Birstall lies on the A6 and is the last major settlement before Leicester when arriving from the north. Birstall thus forms part of the Leicester Urban Area. The village centre lies just off the A6, along Sibson Road. The village contains two supermarkets, a garden centre and a variety of other shops. There are a number of schools, including Highcliffe Primary School, Riverside Primary School and The Cedars Academy. The village contains the Anglican church of St. James the Great, the St Teresa Roman Catholic church and Birstall Methodist Church.
There is a large housing estate in the north-west of the village, leading off Greengate Lane.
The Grand Union Canal runs through the bottom end of the village, separating it from Watermead Country Park, a series of lakes in the bottom of the Soar Valley, which have been set aside as a recreational area and country park.
The Great Central Railway steam railway has its southern terminus near the village, where the A6 meets the Leicester outer ringroad at Red Hill Circle. Just north of Red Hill Circle, and west of the A6, is Red Hill filling station, which became a Grade II listed building in 2012. The railway also forms the boundary of the southern end of Birstall Golf Club.
The symbol of Birstall is a Cedar tree. The original tree stands in Roman Road. It was once in the grounds of the now demolished Birstall Hall.
The local Air Training Corps unit is 1947(Birstall) Squadron.
The area of the Parish is 791 acres (3.20 km2).
The name Birstall comes from the Old English for "old disused fort" - Burhsteall. Saxon remnants have been found in the village and surrounding area. The village was called Burstalle in the Domesday Book when it belonged to Hugh de Grandmesnil. Willard held these lands for Hugh and the 16 acres (65,000 m2) of meadow and a mill were said to be worth three ounces of gold. The village was a small one until the arrival of the Great Central Railway in 1899. From then onwards development has continued and still continues to-day. Between 1901 and the 2001 the population grew from 611 to over 11,000.
A new housing development called 'Hallam Fields' commenced construction in 2006 and was well advanced by 2008. It occupies land to the west of the A6, between the 'Gates' estate and the A46. The development will take ten years to complete, consisting of up to 900 properties including schools, shops, offices, industrial units and a fire station. It has been described as a mini Poundbury. By April 2010 it had 11 streets. These are Archdale Close, Bridge Green, Dale Close, Far Pastures Road, Halfpenny Close, Hallam Fields Road, Little Connery Lees, Pinfold Close, Brook Furlong Drive, Palmer Square and Lady Augusta Road. North of the development, on the roundabout connecting the A46 and A6 is a new service area with a KFC, a Shell petrol station and an Etap Hotel.
Places and buildings within the village
- Highcliffe primary school
- Riverside primary school
- Hallam fields primary school
- The Cedars Academy
Note: Longslade Community College and Stonehill high school will soon merge to become Cedars Academy
- One main supermarket
- One garden centre
- Various shops along Sibson road
- Library on Wanlip Lane
- Parish Council offices
- Watermead Country Park
- School Lane recreational park
- Harrogate park
The closest village to Birstall is Wanlip, a smaller village, with the village of Rothley being the next closest. The villages of Thurmaston and Syston are also nearby. Birstall shares its southern border with the City of Leicester.
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