The town of Coalville has been the butt of many jokes for years now, but it can’t be that bad, can it?
It may not be as quaint or as fancy as some of its neighbours (hello Ashby), but that doesn’t mean Coalville deserves to be put down continually by those who don’t know what they’re missing out on.
It may sound ridiculous, but we think Coalville might be one of the best places to live in Leicestershire.
As the name suggests, Coalville is a former mining town, but that doesn’t mean the area is lacking in beautiful and stunning scenery. Far from it.
At the heart of The National Forest, Coalville is inextricably linked with nature, turning its old coalfields into wonders of open landscapes, full of flourishing flora and fauna. There are many nature walks around the area too, including Snibston Country Park and Nature’s Alive within the town itself.
Its surrounding villages are chocked full of wonderful sights to see too, with nearby Copt Oak hosting the Charnwood Lodge nature reserve, while in Ibstock there is Sence Valley Forest Park.
And of course for some size does matter as Bardon Hill, just on the doorstep of Coalville town centre, is the highest hill in the entire county, boasting majestic views of as far as 50 miles away.
Much criticism has been levelled at Coalville’s apparent bad appearance in recent years, but it is now centre to a hotbed of investment.
As well as the new and upcoming multi-million pound leisure centre, Coalville has also seen the fitting out of its new market – imaginatively titled Newmarket – while efforts to pedestrianise its surrounding area and bring vibrant outdoor markets to the town are ongoing.
A series of improvements to shop fronts and ongoing work at the Belvoir Shopping Centre courtesy of its new owners Gylo means the town is not resting on its laurels.
The potential for a £9 million arts and cultural centre known as the Lyceum is also gaining momentum.
Ambitions to bring railway connections via the Ivanhoe Line back to Coalville are also ongoing, with the town getting more money pumped into it than ever before.
A proud history
The town can’t ignore its past though. Coalville is and always will be a proud former mining town.
It’s something that can’t be ignored with the sight of the Snibston Colliery pitheads among the key focal points of the town. Proudly preserved, the pit-heads are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Coalville’s history.
The town is also home to many links with the railways, with The Leicester and Swannington line becoming the first of its kind in the county.
It was opened by George Stephenson, known as the Father of the Railways.
War also has a vital part in the history of Coalville, with the first 50 volunteer soldiers to head into battle during World War One in the country hailing from Hugglescote.
Known as the Famous Fifty, the group left for the battlefields from Coalville station.
In more recent times, Coalville has gone deep into outer space through its Palitoy factory creating a plethora of Star Wars toys.
The factory, which is still fondly remembered to this day, also saw the creation of many Care Bears and Action Man figures in its long history before production ceased in 1994.
Coalville folk have hit the big time with the town putting itself on the map several times before.
Most recent entrants to Coalville’s famous faces list include none other than actor Tom Hopper, who is the current favourite to be the next James Bond.
Other entertainment stars include the late character actor Norman Bird, opera singer Thomas Hemsley, TV presenter and author Tina Baker and founding member of a capella group The Flying Pickets, David Brett.
Sport is well served too, with Coalville being home to footballers including former Leicester City defender Steve Whitworth and current Oxford United defender Elliott Moore.
Champion long-distance runner Gemma Steel, who won gold at the 2014 European Cross Country Championships, can also call the area home.
Plenty to see
If you’re not walking around the endless green spaces Coalville and its wider area has to offer, there are plenty of places to entertain and inform too.
Those of a historical persuasion could find themselves entranced at the 1620s House and Garden at nearby Donington le Heath, while others may find peace at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey.
However, it’s not just quiet that’s on offer at the Abbey as the monks who call it their home turned businessmen, creating the UK’s first ever Trappist beer, Tynt Meadow.
Entertainment is also part of the Coalville landscape through the likes of The Century Theatre, while the town’s famed nightclub Emporium is still a top draw, seeing the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac come and perform a set.
A friendly place
Despite the sneers over the years, Coalville is one of the friendliest places you could know in the county.
Anyone can chat with anyone, whether that’s in the Belvoir Shopping Centre or while out for a walk in the many vast green areas that surround the town.
Regardless of where you’re from, Coalville folk – or Co’ville to be more precise – are happy to have a chat about more or less anything.
Where’s the best place to live in Leicestershire? Let us know in the comments!