Victoria Park, Leicester
Victoria Park in Leicester, England is a public park of 69 acres (279,000 m²). It is in the south-east, just outside the city centre, backing on to the University of Leicester and close to the Leicester railway station.
It has facilities for various sports, including tennis, basketball, bowls, croquet, football and cricket. A skate park has recently been added and there is an adventure playground for young children. The majority of the park is level, open grassland and the largest space in particular is sometimes used as a venue for outdoor events – in recent years these have included BBC Radio 1's One Big Sunday, the Leicester Caribbean Carnival, Leicester Pride and the Summer Sundae music festival. Kasabian also had a sell out concert here with 50.000 tickets sold. A pavilion provides sports changing facilities, and is also the site of a cafe.
The park was historically part of the South Fields of Leicester, and was used from 1806 to 1883 as a racecourse – a function that was then transferred to the purpose-built Leicester Racecourse in Oadby. It was opened as a park in 1882. A Victorian grandstand stood in the park until the mid-20th century, and was used as a pavilion after racing moved to Oadby. It was damaged by a German parachute bomb in 1940 and later demolished, with the new pavilion built on the same site and opened in 1958. Leicester Fosse (who later became Leicester City Football Club) played here on various occasions between 1884 and 1890.
The park is home to two memorials. The War Memorial, a quadrifrons arch, was designed by Edwin Lutyens and built in 1923, to commemorate the dead of the First World War. The memorial, a Grade I listed building, stands at the top of an ornamental walkway ("Peace Walk") with gates (also by Lutyens) opening on to University Road. A smaller memorial near the cafe commemorates the American 82nd Airborne Division, stationed in Leicester prior to D-Day.
The gates and lodges on the London Road side of the park were also designed by Lutyens and built in 1930.
The park has gained a reputation for being relatively dangerous at night, mainly due to a small number of attacks on students walking across the park at night. In 2006, a group of University of Leicester students unhappy with this situation started the Student society Torchlight which is currently working with the council, the police and the University of Leicester Students' Union on ways to make the park safer. It was announced in March 2008 that £50,000 had been spent by the council on better lighting in the park, together with other safety measures. Even before this lighting was introduced there had been a fall in reported crimes in the area. Victoria Park and Leicester University have a dedicated beat officer supported by PCSOs based at Welford Road police station. The police will also have a base at the pavilion.
Victoria Park is also home to Aylestone Athletic Rugby Union Football Club.
- "Pavilion rises in place of Victorian version hit by bomb", Leicester Mercury, 15 January 2010, retrieved 2011-06-09
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