Elephants in Basil Street…

Arthur Beyless, who lived in Charnwood Street as a child in the 1950s, has sent me these photographs of Basil Street, off Farnham Street, along with some of his memories:

Basil Street, c1968, with the Gimson works at the far end

Basil Street, c1968, with the Gimson works at the far end

‘Off Farnham Street, at 90º angles, were Basil Street and Edward Street. Both these streets were no-thru streets as the engineering works, Gimson’s, backed on to them – in Basil Street with a brick building with a small door into the works in the corner, and Edward Street by large iron faced gates which led to the works, where the pig iron was stored ready for loading onto the railway trucks. Edward Street is where most of us boys learnt to ride a bike.

Basil Street Back of odd numbers c1968-9 (2)

Basil Street: back of odd numbers, c1968

‘Nearly every step of the way down Charnwood Street to Spinney Hill Road there were shops of many descriptions. The saying goes “you could buy anything from a pin to an elephant”, although I do not recall ever seeing an elephant in Charny in the shops for sale. It came quite close once when the circus came to town and some, supposedly, were put up in a garage in Basil Street for bed and breakfast.

‘When I was speaking to Mr Lord of Newby Street in April 2011, he recalled that, when a child in the 1920s, the circus came to town and disembarked at Humberstone Road Station, across from the bottom of Farnham Street. The animals were moved into the street, and the elephants, “trunk to tail”, walked up Farnham Street and were bedded down in Basil Street, where they could not run off’.

Farnham Street with Basil Street leading off on the corner, c1968

Farnham Street with Basil Street leading off on the corner, c1968

Many thanks Arthur – and if you’d like to see more of Arthur’s photos of old Leicester visit his website at http://www.yesterdayimages.co.uk/.

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