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The Turkey Cafe

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Turkey Cafe
The Turkey Cafe on Granby Street, it was fully restored in 1983.

The Grade II listed Turkey Café, with its Art Nouveau style of architecture, is situated on Granby Street, facing the bottom of Bishop Street.  It was designed in 1901 by Arthur Wakerley, a popular Leicester architect, and is a fine example of Wakerley’s interest in exotic and extravagant designs.  It was built for restaurateur John Winn, who already owned several cafes in the city, each with a different theme.  Cafes were a popular place to meet in this era and were well frequented by women, who found them a safe place to meet friends in chic and stylish surroundings.  They were also well supported by the temperance movement, which included many prominent Leicester business men such as Arthur Wakerley.

The turkey theme of this café is incorporated in two different forms: Wakerley’s interpretation of Turkish architecture and the turkey bird at the top of the building. The building frame is cast iron and the frontage is covered in matt-faced Carraware tiles handmade by the ceramic artist, William Neatby, of Doulton and Company.

There were many changes to Granby Street during the inter-war years and much of the impressive architecture was destroyed, including the original shop front of the Turkey Café when it was sold on to another caterer.  The ground floor continued to change over the years but when Rayners the Opticians took over the premises they restored the whole of the front to its original design in 1983 at a cost of £30,000.  Replacement tiles were made by Hathernware Ceramics of Loughborough.

Reference

Taylor, M. 1997 The Quality Of Leicester, Leicester: Leicester City Council.