Leicester is set to welcome a new attraction in the coming weeks, as Lane7 opens in the former Leicester Central railway station.
The historic building, in Great Central Street, off the inner ring road, is currently being transformed into what the bowling operator describes as a ‘leisure and nighttime destination’.
Although Lane7 is known as a bowling operator, the Leicester venue – the brand’s biggest site yet – will offer much, much more.
As well as bowling, visitors can look forward to entertainment options including mini golf, UV ping pong, arcade games, and gaming tables, as well as a street food court and a variety of themed bars.
Take a virtual tour of the building with works taking place below
Lane7 is due to open in early October, but we were invited down to the site, where we were given a tour by Lane7 director Tim Wilks.
As you can see from our photos and video, the venue is starting to take shape, with all of the bowling alleys having been fitted, a mezzanine level added and shipping containers in place, ready to house the street food vendors and bars.
Tim is full of enthusiasm for this new development, and said that when he viewed the building, it took him less than 30 seconds to know it was perfect for Lane7.
“I’ve looked at hundreds of places over the last eight years and this is the job of a lifetime for us,” he said. “We’ll never get to work on another building as beautiful as this one.”
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He and his team have carefully ensured that the building is altered as little as possible.
“Why do too much with a building this beautiful?” he said.
The former Goods Yard area is set to become Leicester’s first permanent street food court, with five independent traders taking up residency. Details have yet to be revealed about the traders, but there’s set to be a variety of food on offer, available from lunchtime seven days a week.
The large space behind the station’s main entrance will feature five different bar concepts, from a UV cocktail and frozen slushie bar to a 1960s gin kitchen.
There will be plenty of seating, and a six metre by three metre television on the wall – which can easily be viewed from the mezzanine level as well as at floor level.
According to Tim, this will be used for Lane7 events that have an interactive element, and, although the venue will not be a sports bar, larger sporting events will be shown here.
The television is an external grade LED model, so there’s no dilution from the sun coming through the glass roof.
There are bowling lanes on both floors, with six underlay lanes downstairs and five overlay lanes upstairs.
The ground floor will also feature a UV ping pong room, a pool room with three American pool tables and a mini golf course.
Tim describes the course as “quite alternative” with a bit of everything, including lots of colour, different materials and the use of interactive technology.
Also downstairs will be a cold store, which is being turned into a feature, with uplighters underneath the vast original steels.
A row of specimen trees are set to be added alongside the bowling lanes downstairs, which will add theatre to the bowling experience and set the scene for the outdoor bar experience.
This area will be known as ‘Jamie’s Garden’ and, according to Tim, will be very green, with lots of plants, park benches, and artwork on the walls. There’s a container which will house a bar and a toilet block – which is in addition to the larger toilet block in the main area of the venue.
On the mezzanine level, the five bowling lanes will be joined by a retro arcade games area, and gaming tables such as shuffleboard and beer pong.
There will be a seating area and guests will be able to enjoy a draught beer from the ice cream van which has been turned into a quirky bar.
Both floors are also set to include a hidden photo booth.
The 30,000 sq ft development was due to open earlier in the year but suffered building setbacks due to Covid-19.
Lane7 will create more than 50 jobs, with a range of full time and part time roles available. The recruitment process has not yet begun, but those interested should keep an eye on the Lane7 social media accounts.
Leicester’s Great Central Station was opened in 1899 by the Great Central Railway, and in its heyday, the quarter-of-a-mile-long, six-platform station had hosted the likes of the Master Cutler, South Yorkshire and Bournemouth, and Oxford and York expresses.
The last ever passenger train left the station on May 3, 1969.