Life in the other Leicester – more than 4,000 miles away

More than 4,000 miles away, sits a small town which shares its name with our city.

The town of Leicester is in the state of Massachusetts, in Worcester county – around an hour’s drive from the state capital Boston.

The town, which was originally called Totaid before becoming ‘Strawberry Hill’, changed its name to Leicester in February 1713 because it was the birthplace of the father of Samuel Green, a local government representative.

But while it shares a name with our city, Leicester, Massachusetts, is quite a different place with a population of just over 10,000, compared to an estimated 350,000 in our Leicester.

Here LeicestershireLive looks at the similarities of the small town with our city – as well as some of the differences.

Shopping

Highcross
Highcross
(Image: Becky Jones)

In Leicester, UK one the main attractions for shopping is the Highcross centre, with its selection of national chain stores, and smaller shops, it’s the go to for shoppers in Leicester.

Outside the shopping centre is a vibrant city centre, with lots of other high street stores, cafes, restaurants and independent shops.

However, in the small town of Leicester, MA, there is a smattering of shops throughout the town, including a pool contractor, an off licence, a convenience store, a lightning shop, a florist and a flooring shop, among others.

On the outskirts of the town, there is a Walmart Supercentre, selling everything shoppers might need, from groceries to clothing. This appears to be the main place residents can do their shopping.

The Walmart Supercentre in Leicester, Massachusetts
(Image: Google)

Attractions

Here is Leicester, we have plenty of attractions including the National Space Centre, the Richard III Visitor Centre and Leicester Museum, among others.

Leicester MA, is quite a rural town, especially compared to our city, so most of the attractions are to do with the great outdoors.

Attractions include Mass Audubon Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Parson’s Cider Mill and Tetasset Ridge in nearby Worcester, among others.

The town is also part of the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, which is run by the National Parks Service, and celebrates the area’s contribution to the American industrial revolution.

Leicester, MA vs. Leicester, UK

Leicester MA

Population: 11,000

Average individual income: $29,901 (£22,266)

Average household income: $77,385 (£57,464)

Average house price: $248,377 (£184,439)

Leicester, UK

Population: 357,394

Average individual income: £32,700

Average household income: N/A (data not available)

Average house price: £183,561

While the corridor – part of the Blackstone River Valley National Park – contains a river, its similarities to the River Soar in Leicester end there.

The town is surrounded by forests, fields and lakes, meaning there is a lot of space for visitors and residents to walking, hiking and ‘Get Lost’ – a scheme run by the national heritage corridor to encourage people to explore.

The ‘Get Lost’ guide reads: “‘Can a person really get lost in the Blackstone Valley?’ The answer is unequivocally, ‘Yes!’.

“Get Lost in a 70-foot chasm whose boulder caves keep ice well into the summer. Lose sense of time sketching the incredible architecture of the finest example of Georgian Colonial style in the U.S.”

There is a distinct lack of 70-foot icy chasms in the city of Leicester.

Crime

According to city-data.com, between 2005 and 2018, there were no murders in Leicester, MA, but were 47 rapes, 21 robberies and 261 assaults. This gives it a violent crime rate of 17.1 per cent, according to the available data.

Compared to Leicester, UK, in the year from November 2019 to October 2020, 34.1 per cent of crime in Leicester was violent crime – that’s 31,900 incidents, significantly higher than Leicester, MA – according to plumplot.co.uk.

Sports teams

As any resident of Leicester, UK will know, we have many excellent sports teams including the Tigers, Leicester Riders, and of course, Leicester City FC.

Jamie Vardy celebrates after his goal vs Sheffield United.
(Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Being a small town, Leicester MA cannot boast such an impressive selection.

While Leicester, MA may not have a premier league winning football team, the town does have a Leicester Soccer Club, which is open to boys and girls from the town.

There is also a Leicester Little League (baseball) and a Leicester Girls Softball club.

Parks

While here in Leicester we have Bradgate Park, Abbey Park, Victoria Park and many more, due to Leicester, MA’s rural location, we can’t really compete with their selection.

Nearby Worcester, Massachusetts marks the starting point of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park – as mentioned in attractions.

Southwick Pond, Leicester, MA
(Image: Google)

Closer to the town of Leicester are Rochdale Park and Southwick Pond, to the south of north of the town respectively. Rochdale Park is home to a beautiful huge lake, walking trails and sports facilities.

While Southwick Pond is another beautiful lake giving visitors gorgeous vistas, as well as lots of wildlife, and lots of trees.

A little closer to what we might see here in the UK, is Towtaid Park to the eastern edge of the town – and it has recently had a new playground installed.

Churches

Here in Leicester, UK we have Leicester Cathedral as well as lots of other churches spread out across the city.

In Leicester MA, despite being significantly smaller than our city, the town is home to no less than 13 churches – five of which are on the same road in the centre of the town.

Eating out

No matter where you are in the city of Leicester, you are spoilt for choice on places to eat. From popular chain restaurants, to cafes to new independent venues, there is no shortage of choice.

It’s a similar picture in Leicester, MA, despite being such a small town. Over the road from each other in the town is Castle Restaurant and Cheoy Lee’s, and if you want donuts you are set, as a Dippin Donuts and a Dunkin’ Donuts are just a few doors down from each other.

Castle Restaurant, Leicester, MA
(Image: Google)

Main roads

While here in Leicester, we have plenty of big main routes into and around the city from the M1, to the M69 to the A46, Leicester, MA, being significantly smaller can boast fewer.

There are two main routes running through the town – Route 56, running north to south, and Route 9, running west to east – and vice versa.

Unsurprisingly, as Leicester is just a town, both routes are single carriageway.

The nearest highway is the I90 to the south of the town, a three lane highway taking motorists directly into Boston.

As well as Massachusetts, there are other places in the world, including the US, called Leicester – Vermont, New York, North Carolina, Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.

Leicestershire Live – Leicester News