I walked home via Orlando Road today, which in my opinion is one of the nicest corners of Clarendon Park. So of course I got to wondering how it came by its name (you do that too, of course).
Well it transpires that Orlando Road began life as Holland Road, and was renamed along with a number of others throughout Leicester, as part of a rationalisation project to remove duplication. In 1894 there were 40 streets with the same name; in seven cases there were three streets with the same name; four cases of four streets with the same name and one of the same name repeated five times throughout the city. Which must have made the postman’s job something of a nightmare.
So in April 1894 the council made changes, including adding the qualification of north or south to some existing names. An early suggestion was to change Holland Road to Dutch Road – a bit unimaginative, Councillors Smith and Booth – but in the end they settled on Orlando Road. Our Lorne Road was allowed to remain, whilst the Lorne Road in Aylestone was changed to Lorrimer Road.
And why Orlando? In 1890 the artist G F Watts had presented his painting ‘Orlando Pursuing the Fata Morgana’ to the Corporation, to help with the establishment of the permanent art gallery. You can still find it at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, though perhaps not on display as that kind of art isn’t fashionable just now. Personally I love a bit of narrative art and if it includes over blown close-ups of wobbly flesh, so much the better. Anyway, I suspect that the painting is the reason for the name, though I’d be interested to hear another theory. So the next time you are in Orlando Road (which probably isn’t that often unless you live there, or like me are forced by small boys to take an alleged ‘short cut’ through the alley from Cecilia Road), you can think of G F Watts and feel much better for it. Regards, Elizabeth