Stephen Butt

Stephen Butt


This blog is about my interests in history and photography. I have always enjoyed discovering something new about the past, and there is always much to discover.

I am always pleased to chat about the subjects covered in my books and to hear about new historical research projects which I may be able to help you with.

I can also present illustrated talks to local history and heritage societies on a variety of subjects, some quite obscure, and I have my own audio-visual equipment.

If you would like to chat about a book, project, visit or idea, in the first instance, please contact me by email here.

A-Z of Leicester

BooksPosted by Stephen Mon, May 15, 2017 06:15:39

The city of Leicester can boast a long and distinguished history and has been at the very heart of the country's political and economic development for over two millennia. Evidence of Roman occupation remains at the Jewry Wall and Cardinal Wolsey lies buried in Leicester Abbey, but the jewel in the city's proud historical crown was the discovery, in 2012, of the skeleton of Richard III lying beneath a car park.

The city's stories can be found everywhere: from the Victorian mills and textile factories to the bustle of shopping centres and markets, in buildings, churches, parks, streets and alleyways, and in the people themselves.

Local author Stephen Butt takes readers on their very own A-Z tour around the city's history, exploring its nooks and crannies, and along the way relating many a fascinating tale of the most interesting people and places. Fully illustrated with photographs from the past and present, this new A-Z guide to Leicester's history will appeal to residents and visitors alike.

£14.99 from all good bookshops, and all online booksellers.

A-Z of Leicester

BooksPosted by Stephen Sat, May 06, 2017 06:52:36
Copies of my latest book have just arrived, and as always with Amberley Publishing, it looks good, with a high quality of design, production and reproduction of the images.

A-Z of Leicester will be published on Monday 15th May at £14.99 - from all good bookshops, as they say - and also through your favourite online book supplier.

Celebrating Rutland's Independence

BooksPosted by Stephen Sat, April 01, 2017 07:59:32
Maybe it should have been called 'Rexit'? Twenty years ago today, Rutland regained independent status as a County, able to manage its own affairs. Here is an image from my 'Rutland Through Time', published by Amberley in 2007.

Thomas the Tank Engine

EventsPosted by Stephen Sat, February 11, 2017 16:10:50
On Friday 17th February I am honoured to be chairing an evening to celebrate the work of John Theodore Eardley Kenney, a fine artist of the latter half of the twentieth century who lived and worked in Kibworth.

John worked across many genres, from magnificently-detailed paintings of the hunting scenes of south Leicestershire to avdertisements for Wicksteed Park in Northamptonshire, the illustrations for 31 Ladybird books and six Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

I shall be joined by John's friends and former colleagues at the Kibworth design Studio of J.E.Slater.

Please contact Kibworth Community Library or the Kibworth Bookshop if you would like to join us.

Pochin of Leicester

ResearchPosted by Stephen Sat, February 04, 2017 08:01:31
While researching for my book on High Street brands, I discovered that James Kemsey Wilkinson, founder of the Wilko chain, worked briefly for Pochin who were based at the time in Granby Street. Wilkinson opened his own shop in 1930, appaently because he was disappointed that Pochins would not take up some of his suggestions for new products.

By happy co-incidence, I was recently looking through the souvenir programme of the famous Leicester Pageant and found this photograph of Pochins. The Pageant took place in 1932 so this must be very similar to how the store looked when Wilkinson was working there.

Broughton Astley

EventsPosted by Stephen Fri, February 03, 2017 07:15:33
I have two new talks booked in my diary. The Broughton Astley Heritage Society has invited me to talk about 'Leicester in 100 People' in October, and the Claybrooke Magna History Society about John Nichols - in January 2018!

The Rose and Crown

ImagesPosted by Stephen Thu, February 02, 2017 07:04:28
At the moment, many drivers on the A6 in Kibworth are being delayed by roadworks near to the former Rose and Crown, more recently known as Raithas, and some are no doubt wondering about its past and its future because the building has been empty for some time.

This old coaching inn has a long history. The oldest part is the section facing Main Street, which dates to the late 17th century. In 1815, the route of the turnpike through Kibworth was changed to avoid the dangerous bends along Main Street, effectively making a 'bypass' and the A6 route as we know it today. This made the elevation facing the A6 more important. It was the busiest of the many inns along the route because the bypass diverted business from the inns along Main Street.

Since the closure of Raithas, the building has deteriorated. One hopes that the present owners will soon develop the site and retain at least some of the historic features that remain.

Oak trees from acorns

ResearchPosted by Stephen Wed, February 01, 2017 06:42:46
For the next eight months I will be researching the stories of the men and women behind some of the most familiar High Street brands for a book commissioned by Pen and Sword. Remarkably, several of the big names began in Leicestershire, including Halfords, Currys PC World, Next, George and Wilko.

I recently met Tony Wilkinson, former Chairman of Wilkos, and son of the founder of the company. His father was James Kemsey Wilkinson, who opened his first hardware shop in Leicester's Charnwood Street in 1930. Tony gave me this photograph of his father, and told me of his memories of childhood, and later when he joined the family business and became manager of the company's first Leicester store in Charles Street.

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