The centre of modern Leicester has plenty of cafés and coffee shops and it’s easy to take them for granted they’re so ubiquitous. During the nineteenth century there was also a coffee house culture, albeit one tied to the temperance movement. In 1877 the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa House Company was formed with the aim of providing a comfortable, alcohol free environment which could be frequented by both men and women. The coffee houses had a room for ladies and customers could enjoy a game of billiards free of charge. They remained popular until after the Great War.
The East Gates (or Eastgates) Coffee House on the corner of East Gate and Church Gate was built for the company in 1885 in a Tudor style and was designed by the architect Edward Burgess who’s brother was the company’s solicitor. Burgess designed several coffee houses for the company in a variety of styles.
The building was renovated by the then owners JD Sports in 2011 and given Grade II listing but is currently unoccupied.
The Victoria Coffee House (1888) in Granby Street was another of Burgess’s creations, built this time in a French Renaissance style. Also Grade II listed, now a restaurant.
Finally, the Albert Coffee House in Belgrave Gate, not listed.
|The Victoria Coffee House|
Burgess designed the Highcross Coffee House in High Street for the company in 1895. Also Grade II listed. It is now (sound of temperance campaigners turning in their graves) a pub.
|The High Cross Coffee House|
|Albert Coffee House|