Leicester Civic Society Awards 2010 - O2 Arena

It was a great pleasure to once again receive nominations for, and to visit examples of, both restoration and outstanding new buildings that enrich our historic built environment. These beautiful buildings are the heritage of our future.

The adjudication panel was disappointed that the number of nominations fell for the second year running from a peak in 2008 but this is perhaps only a reflection of the current economic climate and in other respects may have spared our City a few horrors. However there has been no diminution in quality, which led once again to some tough decisions having to be made.

2010 Awards Ceremony

We are delighted to announce that on Friday 8th April 2011 our guests of honour Sir Peter and Lady Soulsby will present the 2010 Awards, with a reception and dinner at the City Rooms, Hotel Street, Leicester. Full details are given on the enclosed handbill. Please see the bookings page to reserve your places at this prestigious event.

As we have said before, encouraging and celebrating restoration and design excellence in historic Leicester is a noble cause and one in which Leicester Civic Society is proud to be taking the lead.

2010 Award Nominations Gallery

  • Leicester Civic Society Awards 2010 - Central Fire Station
  • Leicester Civic Society Awards 2010 - O2 Arena
  • Leicester Civic Society Awards 2010 Commendations - Alice Hawkins Plaque
  • Leicester Civic Society Awards 2010 Commendations - St Martin's House
  • Leicester Civic Society Awards 2010 Panel

2010 Restoration Award Category

In the field of restoration we were immensely impressed by St. Martins House, Peacock Lane. A prominent building in the Cathedral/Guildhall Conservation Area and listed in 2009, it was originally built as the Wyggeston Hospital Boys School by Leicester architects Shenton & Baker in 1876. The building has a complex architectural history, reflected in its complex internal layout with extensions and additions dating from the 1880’s, 1920’s, 1950’s and 1980’s. Project Manager Rev. Peter Hobson, Architect Michael Goodhart of Pick Everard and their contractors are to be congratulated on a first class job of restoration and reuse as Diocesan HQ offices and function rooms.

The Equity Works dating from 1895, was the last surviving Boot & Shoe Factory in Leicester and an important part of the social history of our City. Leicester’s leading suffragette Alice Hawkins worked at Equity, where she was visited and painted by Sylvia Pankhurst. When the works finally closed it was the end of an era. However the building has been rescued by Jamie Lewis Residential Lettings and, as with the Gimson Houses last year, Mr. Lewis has come to the rescue of an important building on the Local Interest List, which otherwise has had no protection from the demolition men.

Both of these entries win commendations for restoration, and both will be the subjects of an article in Leicester Citizen No.25 to be published in July 2011. However there can only be one winner.

The Award for Restoration goes without doubt to The Central Fire Station, Lancaster Road, designed by another local architect Trevor Sawday in 1925, and now restored meticulously to its original condition both inside and out. The most remarkable feature of this building, and one that instantly caught the imagination of the adjudication panel, is that it is still a busy working fire station after eighty-five years and as such is obviously more than fit for purpose. Yet at the same time the care and attention to period restoration has to be experienced to be believed. Everything from brass fittings, to plasterwork, bricks, window frames, woodwork, clocks, lawns and fencing has been carefully restored to a high standard. The building is an inspiration for what can be achieved if only people care enough for their historic built environment and is a tribute to both Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Leicester City Council, who bought the whole splendid project to fruition in time and within budget.

We gave a commendation for the new building works at South Lodge, London Road. They clearly needed to be much larger than the existing building, yet have been carefully designed to compliment and avoid overwhelming this fine Stoneygate house of 1880.

2010 New Build Award Category

By a unanimous decision however the Award for New Build goes to the O2 Arena at Leicester University. The panel found this to be an exciting new building constructed on an extremely difficult and sensitive site almost ringed by the listed buildings of the University Campus and the historic parkland of Welford Road Cemetery. The building is large and of a striking design yet manages to be almost unobtrusive in its setting. This is a difficult achievement for any architect or designer on such a site. The building is obviously new yet somehow looks as if it has always been there.

2010 Award Commendations

The 2010 Society Awards saw The Central Fire Station on Lancaster Road win in the Restoration category and The Percy Gee Building at Leicester University, just around the corner, win for New Build. These proud achievements were fully recorded in the last issue of Leicester Citizen. But there were six nominations. What of the building projects that came close enough to win a commendation?

First of these must be St. Martin’s House, Peacock Lane that along with the Percy Gee Building, went on to win a 2011 Building Control Award. The project to create a new Cathedral Centre faced problems in how to handle the sensitive conversion of a listed, rambling school building in a conservation area, adjoining such important listed buildings such as the Guildhall and the Cathedral. Project Manager Rev. Peter Hobson and Architect Michael Goodheart of Pick Everard are both to be warmly congratulated on the success of their efforts.

The Equity Works, last shoe factory in Leicester and an important part of our social history could have easily been lost, only being on the Local Interest List, which conferred no
protection from demolition. However, as with the Gimson Houses in 2009, Jamie Lewis Residential Lettings rescued the building from loss and has redeveloped as apartments whilst restoring the exterior.

2010 Civic Society Awards