Building of the Month November 2017: Former Temperance Hotel, Granby Street, Leicester
Is this the most at risk building in Leicester? A former Temperance Hotel in Leicester city centre from where Thomas Cook built his travel business needs someone with his vision to save it.
Thomas Cook saw travel as a means to social improvement. He believed temperance alongside education and activities such as travel could change the lives of workers. In 1853, just over 10 years after he organised his first excursion from Leicester to Loughborough, Cook had a Temperance Hall built in Leicester in grand classical style and, next to it, a Temperance Hotel. Both were reputedly designed by James Medland.
The Temperance Hall initially provided a varied bill of talks and variety acts and later became a cinema. The Temperance Hotel not only provided rooms but also served as a base for Cook’s growing business, housing his tourism office, print works and even serving as his home for a period of 26 years.
The Temperance Hall was tragically demolished in the 1960s and replaced with a non-descript office block. However, the Temperance Hotel remains standing, though it is empty and deteriorating in condition. Much altered on the ground floor and internally, it is not listed. But it is in a conservation area and counted as an important building due to its connections with Cook and its contribution to the appearance of the area.
When we first added the building to our register in 2008, it was at immediate risk of demolition. Consent for new development on the site had been granted, and it and its neighbouring buildings were likely to be cleared to make way for another dreary office block. Leicester Civic Society and the Victorian Society opposed the plans, but happily it never proceeded. Since then, it has been in partial use as a shop but even this use has now ceased.
The building could have a number of potential uses including as a shop, offices or restaurant. It is irresistible to point out that it would make a marvellous venue for a Thomas Cook travel agency, celebrating the history of the UK’s most ubiquitous seller of holidays. It would also provide ample space for the type of retail offering to which many travel agencies with a high street presence are moving as competition from the internet increases, making the booking of the holiday an experience and an exciting outing in itself. Thomas Cook’s latest strap line is “You want. We Do”.
We want this building to have a new use and for its history to be celebrated!
For more information contact:
James F Simmins, Building Conservation Officer, Conservation, Planning, Transportation and Economic Development, Leicester City Council, 2nd Floor – Halford Wing, City Hall, 115 Charles Street,Leicester, LE1 1FZ, 0116 454 2965, firstname.lastname@example.org