By the dawn of the 1970s, Leicester had established itself as a progressive city by embracing the cultures and traditions of its diverse migrant population. This film was shot by non-professionals for educational purposes.
1. A train pulls into Leicester station. To this day the station remains a fine example of late Victorian architecture.
2. A young girl surveys unfamiliar surroundings.
3. Her spirits seem to rise at a familiar sight: Hindi signage.
4. The sun sets behind the Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower. Constructed in 1868, it’s the city centre’s most prominent landmark.
5. A bored youngster waits for her family to emerge from a colourful fabric shop.
6. One of many Asian-owned supermarkets that popped up across Leicester throughout the 1970s. Mukta is a popular girl’s name in Gujarat, the region from which a large proportion of the city’s Indian community emigrated.
7. Young women gather to rehearse the Dandiya Raas, a Hindu folk dance, in vibrant traditional attire.
8. The sticks used in the dance symbolise the swords of Durga, the principal form of the Mother Goddess.
9. Friends explore the shops around Charnwood Street.
10. Affectionately known as ‘Charney’, it was once Leicester’s answer to Portobello Road, but was demolished in the early 70s to make way for a housing estate.
11. At the time of filming, however, there were still all manner of bargains to be found here.
12. After a spot of retail therapy, it’s time to hit the park.
13. It’s the perfect spot to let off a little steam.
14. Meanwhile, local women convene to determine the owner of Leicester’s cutest baby.
15. Little do the judges know that a couple of prime contenders are lurking across town.
16. A couple of mysterious, chauffeur-escorted VIPs visit Highfields, their faces hidden from view.
17. A spot of detective work reveals that this is most likely the lord mayor and his wife. In 1936 the ABC1 number plate was allocated to the mayor’s vehicle, to commemorate the introduction of the ABC registration mark series in Leicester.
18. Next up, it’s time for a peak behind the scenes of Grattan, a mail order clothing company founded in Bradford in 1912 and still operating today.
19. While 1970s Leicester was ahead of the curve in embracing multiculturalism, it perhaps wasn’t quite so pioneering when it came to challenging traditional gender roles.
20. A Grattan girl indulges in that most sacred of British rituals: the tea break.
The film and stills on this page are taken from Britain on Film, a digital archive of UK places that mean the world to you. 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to now will be digitised and can be watched for free on BFI Player.
Britain on Film is funded by the National Lottery funding and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The Media Archive for Central England is the public screen archive for the East and West Midlands. An independent charity and company based at the University of Lincoln, MACE acquires, catalogues, preserves and makes widely available moving image materials that inform our understanding of the diverse cultures and histories of communities between the Lincolnshire coast and the Welsh border.