Loughborough is a market town of approximately 57,000 in the heart of England's East Midlands. It is situated approximately 15 miles from Leicester, Nottingham and Derby which form a triangle with the town in the centre.
The name is pronounced luff'brə (yes, that's a schwa on the end). The amusing pronunciation of looga-barooga has been entirely wrong on every one of the 7,412,329 occasions I have heard it, each time from someone who thought I was hearing it for the first time. You know - guess what? Your radical ideas...
Geography and Geology
The town sits nestled in the valley of the River Soar with the heights of Charnwood Forest to the south and west. The Soar has quite an extensive flood plain consisting of silt and sandy soil, but the town proper is built on a chunk of granite sticking out from the plain. For this reason, flooding is almost unheard of.
Loughborough is in a very strong position for travel, being situated close to Nottingham East Midlands Airport, the M1 Motorway and on the Midland Mainline rail link from London St. Pancras to Leeds.
Historically, the Grand Union Canal was an important route for traffic - but is now reserved mainly for pleasure craft. Unlike some canals, it is in excellent condition and easily navigable. The Great Central Railway also runs through the town.
Students are an important part of life in Loughborough. Without the well-renowned University of Technology (LUT), the town could so easily have been another of those unknown backwaters you see dotted around the country.
The university provides approximately 25%, yes twenty-five percent of the town's population, which ensures fresh blood, fresh faces, fresh ideas and fresh investment on an annual basis. Stagnation is not an option; and unlike some places with large student populations, the relationship between the full-time residents and the academic colonists is, on the whole, cordial and beneficial to both.
Loughborough has its fair share of celebrity offerings, either born and bred, or alumni of the university. The excellent sports facilities have resulted in a bias in favour of leading sports figures in those we count as our own.
The entertainments scene in the town is moderate. Much less than a city, but more going on than a non-student-oriented town of the same size. There's a cinema - albeit a rather provincial independent affair. There are fifty eight pubs ranging from trendy wine bars, through real-ale drinkers' establishments and locals' places to the lowest of the student dives. I know, I've been in all of them bar one this year.
The town hall has a theatre putting on small productions and a monthly comedy club. So, while the bright lights of the regions cities attract people to their delights, there is still enough to do on a rainy evening in the town itself. It's certainly not dead on a Saturday night unlike other places I could mention.
On the second Thursday of November every year, the fair arrives in town. The charter for the fair was granted in 1221 by Henry III making 2005 its 784th annual occurrence. The town centre is closed off to traffic - including the busy A6 London to Carlisle road - and a number of showmen move in. Traditionally, the fair was an opportunity for young lads to seek a vocation with visiting employers and for pedlars to sell their wares. The modern event is slightly different with rides, sideshows, games and food stalls.
Traditionally many of the town's population were employed in hosiery mills. We didn't escape the notice of the Luddites who smashed 53 knitting frames during attacks on two mills during June 1816.
There are now several large employers including 3M, AstraZeneca who bought out Fisons, and Centrica - the fake name for British Gas or something like that. Many people choose to commute to the surrounding cities, or even on the easy 90-minute train journey to London.