The Geography of Leicester

The world map reference for Leicester is latitude 52o38'06" north and latitude 1o08'06" west. The River Soar running through it is one of the few geographical features of this city, which is, by and large, flat and featureless. It is on the very eastern edge of the National Forest, a millennium project to recreate a great forest in the midlands of England. The city now embraces several satellite towns such as Oadby, Wigston, Forest East and Syston. The city of Leicester is the county town for Leicestershire and since 1997 has been a unitary authority, with its own local authority powers within the city. Leicester city covers an area of about 7,500 hectares giving a population density of about 38 people per hectare.


Whilst Leicester is an ancient town and settlement it was granted the status of city in 1919 by Royal Charter. From 1801 to 1901 the population of Leicester had grown from 17,000 to over 210,000, then in the last hundred years it expanded further to its present level. Leicester has 22 electoral wards but only two of these (west and east Knighton) are not in the top 50% of electoral wards recognised nationally as being deprived areas. Leicester has three Parliamentary constituencies known as Leicester East, South and West. The MPs that currently represent Leicester are Keith Vaz, Sir Peter Soulsby and Patricia Hewitt.

Out in the county, the highest point is Farndon Hill in the Charnwood forest area, which is 277m above sea level. Apart from that, a few low and undulating hills are all that can be seen in this area that was eroded and flattened during the last Ice Age. Inside the city the elevation rarely gets above 200m and is on average about 150m above sea level.

Geologically it sits on the western edge of the East Midlands shelf in the Trent Valley. It is mostly covered with a bed of Mudstone and New Red Sandstone, which were mainly laid down during the Lower Lias period. To the west there are coal measures left over from the Upper Carboniferous period. In the villages around Leicester, coal mining was once a very important industry to the local economy. However, coal mining has all but disappeared from the area and is no longer a major contributor to the local economy. Leicester has excellent soil providing rich farming land, which does continue to contribute to the local economy.

The Leicester Bluefaced sheep breed was developed form the Longwool breed of sheep, specifically to provide the raw material to the hosiery trade that was burgeoning in Leicester in the 18th Century. It is also a common sheep in Northern England where it is known as the Hexam Leicester. The Border Leicester is another well known sheep breed arising at about the same time. Although it takes its name from Stilton in Cambridgeshire, Blue Stilton - The King of English cheeses - has long associations with Leicester. With the predominance (2) of licensed Stilton producers in Leicestershire the county claims the cheese as solely their own. The association of the cheese with Stilton in Cambridgeshire arises from it being served at a Coaching Inn in the village off the A1 (Great North Road). Significantly all four of the Blue Stilton producers are within 30km (20 miles) of Melton Mowbray. Melton Mowbray is, of course, the home of the British Pork Pie and again, being protected, only a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie can be titled a Pork Pie. Another cheese that originated in Leicestershire is, of course, Red Leicester.  A harder cheese with a lower fat content than Stilton, it is another national favourite.

Climatically, Leicester has the typical temperate climate of England. Surprisingly it has an average temperature of only 9oC. with an average high of 21oC in July and August. It also has an average low of just 1oC in December and January. The wind direction for Leicester is mainly south westerly, bringing weather systems from the Atlantic and North Pole.

The average house price in Leicester city is £135, 000, with prices rising (on average) from £116,000 for a terraced house to £247,000 for a detached property. The average price for a flat in Leicester is £125,000 giving an average property price of £156,000.  The private housing stock in Leicester city is currently rising in value. The LE2 post-code has properties in the range from £80,000 to £800,000 and is a particularly sought after area to move into. The LE2 post-code area has a higher unemployment rate, 3.7%, than the rest of Leicester at 3%. However, it also has a higher proportion of university graduates at 23%, which is 4% higher than the rest of Leicester. With a median age of 33, it is clearly an 'up-and-coming' area ready for development. In the 5 year period 2001 to 2006 house prices in Leicester rose 9% above the national trend in house price rises. Over 90% of all the housing stock in Leicester already has central heating installed.

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