The Walk of Fame that just is not famous enough in its own city
IT’S NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD... BUT LEICESTER’S GREAT AND GOOD ARE CELEBRATED
JUST like Hollywood, Leicester city centre is home to a Walk of Fame – but not many people know about it.
Unnoticed by many beneath their feet in and around the Cultural Quarter, the Walk of Fame celebrates the lives of both recent city heroes such as snooker world champion Mark Selby and historic figures, such as suffragette Alice Hawkins.
The project stalled several years ago and only nine plaques were laid.
Those who have plaques are:
■ Ernest Gimson – architect behind several Leicester buildings;
■ Sue Townsend – author of the Adrian Mole books;
■ Thomas Cook – inventor of package holidays;
■ Alice Hawkins – campaigner for women to have equal voting rights as men;
■ Joe Orton – playwright;
■ Engelbert Humperdinck – singer;
■ Jennie Fletcher – swimmer who won Olympic gold in 1912;
■ Mark Selby – snooker world champion;
■ Tom Barclay – founder of the Leicester Labour Club in the 1890s.
Despite not knowing about it, people we spoke to in the Cultural Quarter were fond of the idea and would like to see it revived.
“I never noticed that before,” said Sophie Bagnall, 16, when we pointed out Engelbert Humperdinck’s plaque, with his name in the city’s silver cinquefoil flower.
“But I love it! That’s some pretty nice paving. I don’t know who he is, though.”
Despite not being familiar with the 1960s and 70s chart-topping crooner, Sophie did recognise Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend, who also has a plaque. She said: “It’s a pretty good idea but I think there’s only about three famous people from Leicester, so it was never going to be great.”
Stephen Betteridge, 56, of Highfields, Leicester, was also unfamiliar with the Walk of Fame.
He said: “To be honest, I’ve been around here a lot but I’ve never noticed them.”
He was pleased Mark Selby had a plaque but thought it was high time Gary Lineker was also recognised.
“And Bill Maynard, too,” he said. “He was on telly since the 1950s and lived around here.
“They should do one for Showaddywaddy and how about one for Kasabian, too?”
Rakesh Patel, 49, of Enderby, said: “I was born in Leicester and I’ve never heard of it, but I think it’s a really good idea. They should carry on with it.
“David Attenborough should definitely have a plaque... but I can’t think of any more right now.”
Jayne McKenna, 56, of Hinckley, said she would like to see more: “It’s a good idea to promote theatres and the city.”
The plaques have not passed everyone by, however, with Joseph Jones, 31, of Knighton, saying he is familiar with some of them.
“I have noticed them, but only because walk past them every day.
“It’s pretty neat. There’s not many so far. They could do with a few more and finding some way to make them more noticeable. And Gary Lineker definitely deserves one,” he said.
The Walk of Fame was an idea the council came up with during the massive regeneration leading up to 2008, which saw the opening of the Curve theatre in the newly-named Cultural Quarter, as well as the opening of the Highcross following the extension of what was previously The Shires.
The first nine plaques were unveiled on St George’s Day in 2010 and, at the time, the city council’s One Leicester team was planning to add more.
Gary Lineker and Sir David Attenborough were both expected to be in the second phase of a long Walk of Fame stretching from the Phoenix arts venue to Charles Street in the city centre.
But the plans were hit by years of austerity and cuts to council budgets, which mean the Walk of Fame project was mothballed indefinitely.
The council has been contacted to ask if there are plans to revive the Walk of Fame.
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