The famous Millenium Sundial on Fishpool Way, has a 6.75m stainless steel gnomen - one of the biggest in the country - set in a chapter ring of 16 hour-marking granite blocks. It makes much use of local materials in its structure and landscaping. The 'time' shown by a sundial is specific to its location. It has to be adjusted to make it coincide with Greenwich Mean Time. A plaque near the sundial shows the corrections to be made.
The Old Women's Hospital built in 1825, is a former almshouse, now part of the Gray's Court sheltered housing scheme (named after a well-known, and much admired, former Barrow doctor).
C) Barrow Kipper
William Lee and the "Barrow Kipper". This fossil, known locally as the Barrow Kipper and more accurately as the Rhomaleosaurus megacephalus ('strong lizard with a big head') was the inspiration for the village sign. It was sold by William Lee to Leicestershire New Walk Museum and a copy can be seen in Charnwood Museum.
William Lee's (1795 - 1867)
William Lee's (1795 - 1867) gravestone says that he was a "farmer and lime-burner". However, he is more famous, nationally, as a collector of Jurassic fossils. His collection contained some stunning examples of plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. The collection was sold on his death with the bulk going to The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
The Garden of Rest
Beside Church Lane, is a quiet place where one can sit in contemplation. Beyond it is a row of timber-framed cottages, the Conservative Club (which was formerly the very first Grammar School in Barrow, created in 1735 by a bequest from the Rev Humphrey Perkins) and the former path to the Old Women's Hospital. In the shrubbery is a rare Persian ironwood tree(Parrotia persica).
D) Andrew Dolep's gravestone in the Garden of Rest
The one gravestone still left in-situ in the Garden of Rest is that of Andrew Dolep (1648 - 1713). He was a Dutch gunmaker to many influential people including Prince George of Denmark, husband to the daughter of James 11, the future Queen Anne. It is said that he retired to Mountsorrel to be near his wife's relatives and, hearing that a Royal party was to pass through Barrow, died of a heart attack hurrying to see them.
This may or not be true.
E) Holy Trinity Church
Stands on the highest part of the original village. Built in the 1100s, possibly on the site of an older Saxon church, it was much altered in the 1400s and the 1800s. The tower was completely rebuilt in 1869 since it fell down whilst being repaired! Notable graves near the entrance are those of the Beaumont and Crossley families.
F) The Old Men's Hospital
The Old Men's Hospital in Church Street was a 'hospital' in the old sense of the word, meaning "a charitable institution for the housing and maintenance of the needy, infirm or aged".
In 1686 Humphrey Babington left money for the building of an almshouse "for six poor men" to be known as "the Bedesman of Theophilus Cace" (his uncle). They were required to attend church regularly to pray for himself and his uncle.
The practice continued into the early 1940s. The original building was single storey built on Mountsorrel granite. In 1802, a second storey was added. Notice, however, that the newer upper storey is made of brick and not granite. The two halves do not match.
G) The "Round House"
The Round House was built in 1827, originally as a parish prison. Later it housed the hand-drawn fire-engine and then the village bier (a small trolley used to carry a coffin). It is now an occasional exhibition 'hall'.
Behind it can be seen the double-doors of the very last blacksmith's shop in the village. Further on, nearer to Hall Orchard Primary School, was the pinfold. This was a small yard used to hold stray animals.
H) 4A Beveridge Street
4A Beveridge Street. There are not many timber-framed buildings in Barrow. The timbers on the side are original, possibly 300-400 years old. The timber frames were prefabricated in a workshop and taken to the site to be erected. Each joint would have been marked to show which fitted where. On the third upright are sets of three chisel cuts to indicate that these timbers were intended for the third bay.
I) No. 35/37 Beveridge Street
No. 35/37 Beveridge Street is a substantial granite-built property. It has a courtyard at the rear with cottages, which at one time were used as a framework knitter's workshop. The brick 'lean-to' at the front was the very first 'Co-op' shop in Barrow, and one of the village's largest shops in 1910.
J) Bishop Beveridge House
Bishop Beveridge House is named after Bishop William Beveridge who, it is believed, was born here. His grandfather, father and elder brother were successive vicars of Barrow. Ordained in 1660, he was regarded as a model priest. His last appointment was as Bishop of St Asaph in 1704. He died in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey in 1708 and is buried in St Paul's Cathedral. The house is built, mainly, of the local 'Lais' limestone.
(The term 'lais' comes from the quarrymen's description meaning "it is in layers". Honestly!)
It is more suitable for making into mortar than as a building material.
K) No. 47 Beveridge Street
No. 47 Beveridge Street was originally built as a farmhouse. In the early 1900's, Dr Andrew Gray came to the village as its village doctor and he boarded at No.47. Subsequently the house became the Surgery for the village until the present Health Centre was opened. The most recent occupants have been Doctors John and Margaret Earl, John being a former senior partner in the Barrow Health Centre.
L) No's 49, 49a and 51 Beveridge Street
No's 49, 49a and 51 Beveridge Street plus their gardens, and much of what is now Melton Road, were once the site of the Barrow Workhouse, known at the time as the "House of Industry".
Nos. 49 and 49a were the Workhouse Master's dwelling and No. 51 is reputed to have been the washhouse.
The existence of the "House of Industry", here, is probably why Beveridge Street used to be called Industry Street.
M) Industry Square
Industry Square is at the bottom of what was Industry Street. It used to be important as the site of a pond used by village farmers to water and wash livestock. Now it is notable as the site of The War Memorial and a plaque commemorating AVM "Johnnie" Johnson who was born in Warner Street.
Nearby are woodcarvings made by a former resident, Tom Rennocks, as part of the Millennium celebrations. One side shows the imagined view here at Industry Square with its pond. The other shows the scene at the Soar Bridge.
Note, also, the corner shop typically found on streets of this age. ( There are more in Warner Street.)
N) "The Mount" Garage
"The Mount" Garage
This strange building was a garage for "The Mount" (the large house behind it in Shooting Close Lane). It had a flat above it for the chauffeur. Built in 1925, this may have housed one of the first private cars in the village.
O) The Canal
The Canal was built in 1794 as the "Leicester Navigation" in order to bring coal from the Derbyshire coalfields to Leicester. Canals were called 'navigations' to highlight the fact that they were deep enough to carry boats (mainly shallow draft barges). Many rivers then, like the Soar, were too shallow in places to take barges. The men who dug the canals were called 'Navvy men' or 'Navvies'. They were specialist labourers who travelled around the country to wherever the canals were being built, rather as road builders do today.
The pub which is called. "The Navigation", was originally built as a house then converted to a pub.
P) The Path from the Mill-site to the weir.
The path from the mill-site to the weir is the old tow path. The weir drains off water from the river so that the water level in the canal stays more or less constant. The original bridge over the weir fell down in 1971. It was replaced in 1999.
Q) A Flour Mill
A flour mill stood here (on the site now used by Barrow Boating) in 1086 - as recorded in the 'Domesday Book' tax census for William the Conqueror - which means that it was built before then. The last mill was demolished in 1938 as milling became uneconomic. The mill 'races' which channelled water past the undershot wheels can still be seen. The imposing Georgian house beside the canal bridge was built for a former mill owner. The row of cottages beside it was for the housing of the mill workers.
R) Barrow Deep Lock
Barrow Deep Lock is so-called because it is the deepest on the Leicester Navigation.
S) Proctor's Pleasure Park
Proctor's Pleasure Park is now a caravan park. It used to provide boating, train rides, sand pits and side shows. It was so popular, that people came from Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham on day trips in special trains.
Beyond the Pleasure Park are water-filled gravel pits. The gravel was deposited about 40,000 years ago during the last Ice Age when the whole area was like the Artic tundra and roamed by woolly rhinos, mammoths and reindeer.
T) A bridge over the Soar
A bridge over the Soar is recorded as early as 1247. The present bridge was built in 1845. Just upstream from the bridge, the canal ('The Barrow Cut') rejoins the river that has been on a big loop through Quorn. You can see large wooden piles driven into the river bed in a curve towards the central span of the bridge. These piles are all that remains of 'the running board' that guided the barges through the central span and the deepest water. The barges were 'walked' through the bridge to meet the horse at the towpath opposite.
U) The Riverside Inn
The Riverside Inn only became a pub in the 1980s. It first opened in 1794 as a coal wharf for the canal. When the canal trade was superseded by the railways, it was converted to a boat hire centre. The photo shows it in 1933 when a cafe was added.
V) The First Railway
The first railway was built in 1840 as a freight line to carry coal from the Derbyshire coalfields to Leicester. The station was at the bottom of what is now the Old Station car park. The goods yard stood on what is now Crossley Close named after the engineer, John Sydney Crossley, who built the Settle to Carlisle railway and widened the Barrow railway to 4 lines in 1868 to give a separate pair of lines for passenger services. The station closed in 1968.
W) "Barrow Kipper"
This Mosiac - known as the "Barrow Kipper" - was made by John Ellis Co. in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It is based on the fossil skeleton of a plesiosaur - see reference (3).
Two copies of the mosaic are on the plinth on Jerusalem roundabout. A third is on the clubhouse of Barrow Town Cricket Club.
The design has been adopted as the official sign and is used all over the village. The roundabout is called "Jerusalem" after a house with that name, which once stood here in the middle of the road junctions.
X) "The Mount"
"The Mount" was built for John Sydney Crossley's brother. It later passed to his daughter, Bertha, who officially opened the Settle to Carlisle railway.
Thanks to Kathryn Timmons for co-ordinating the team producing this guide, to Kevon Thompson for use of his map and to Jan Hind for editing the text. Thanks to John Wilford for the old photos and to John Wilford and Harold Mitchell who, years ago, got us started on local history.
Thanks, too, to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to cover the costs.
Places of Historical Interest
A PDF version can be downloaded here.