Description in 1877:
"Leicester, the capital of the county to which it gives its name, and one of the chief seats of the hosiery manufacture, is an ancient borough and well-built market town, which has been greatly improved by the formation of new streets, and the erection of elegant public edifices and handsome houses, during the present century in which its population has increased from 16,900 to about 110,000. It is pleasantly seated, nearly in the centre of the county, on gently rising ground, chiefly on the east side of the river Soar, in 52 degrees 38 min. north latitude, and in 1 degree 8 minutes west longitude. Its distance by turnpike is 97 miles N.N.W. of London, 22 miles S. of Nottingham, 15 miles N.N.W. of Market Harborough, and 22 miles S.S.E. of Derby; and by railway it is distant from Birmingham 48 miles; London 97.5, via Hitchin, and 102.75 via Rugby; Leeds, 103.5; Sheffield, 74.5; York, 117.25; Rugby, 20; Derby, 29.5; Nottingham, 27.5; and Manchester, 96. Its position. so nearly in the centre of England, has had much to do with its rapid increase. Midway between the north and south, east and west, it lies full in the main stream of traffic. By the Midland railway and its various branches Leicester is connected with all the great lines of railway now traversing the kingdom; and by means of the river Soar and the Union Canal it has water communication with the Trent and most parts of England. In addition to these facilities the town is approached on all sides by excellent turnpike-roads, and in its neighbourhood are many pleasant and some populous villages. Before the introduction of railway travelling upwards of fifty coaches passed through the town daily to London and all parts of the kingdom. Its weekly markets, on Saturday for corn, provisions, &c., and on Wednesday, for cattle and sheep are well supplied; as are also its numerous fairs. The improved arrangements, the fine new Cattle Market, and the increased facilities offered by the Railway Companies, have made the town a favourite meeting place for agriculturalists generally. Now that the Cattle Market has been removed to the suburbs it is to be hoped that the pleasure fairs will be similarily dealt with, as they greatly interfere with the course of business in the central part of the town, in which they are now held. Leicester is of great antiquity, and the See of a Bishop from about 680 to 874. It was long distinguished for the number of its churches and monastic institutions, for the fine spleandour of its formidable Baronial Castle, and the strength of its tower, walls, and other military works, of which there are still some interesting remains. The streets are generally wide, and the houses of the labouring classes are not crowded so closely together as in most other large manufacturing towns.
[WHITE's "History, Gazetteer and Directory of the Counties of Leicester and Rutland." 3rd Edition 1877]