Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Colin's Little Known Facts: The Gates of Loughborough

Mrs R.Swann of Mountsorrel has been in touch, to ask about the gates of Loughborough.

“When I moved to Loughborough some years ago”, she says, “I was struck by the number of streets in the town which are called Something Gate. Were there really that many gates into the old town of Loughborough? And did it have a wall around it?”

Well, thanks, Mrs Swann. I must admit that I wondered the same when I first came to Loughborough to manage the Town Hall way back in 1975. But I’m afraid we both had the wrong idea!

The word “gate” is actually an old Danish word that simply meant “street”. Loughborough is not alone – you might be aware that Leicester has several streets called “Gate”. So have a number of other East Midlands towns, notably Derby, Nottingham and Newark.

This was because the whole of the East Midlands was, a little over a thousand years ago, part of The Danelaw, a separate country from English England and under Danish control.

In Loughborough, Church Gate led to the church; Woodgate led out to the forest; and Pinfold Gate contained the pinfold, where strayed animals were kept.

Baxter Gate refers to the traders in that particular street – “Baxter” is an old word for baker – so it could just as well be called Baker Street. Then a fictional detective could live there, and Gerry Rafferty could write a song about it!

I hope that’s cleared up the query, Mrs Swann.