The story of the business that produced more than 100 varieties of sweets from its Leicester factory, including a clear minty sweet that became a household name, is told on one of the city’s latest heritage panels.
A new panel on Oxford Street commemorates the Leicester grocer, Walter Richard Fox, who founded his confectionery business in the city nearly 150 years ago.
The panel reveals that Fox’s Confectionery made the first batch of its soon-to-be-famous mints in 1918, when the sweets were launched as Acme Clear Mint Fingers.
A year later, those charged with marketing the sweets must have been relieved when they were renamed Fox’s Glacier Mints – a name change inspired by the mint’s resemblance to a little block of ice.
A staff competition to design a logo for the brand in the 1920s resulted in the iconic image of a polar bear standing on a mint that is still recognisable today.
The polar bear became inextricably linked to the sweet, with Fox’s acquiring a number of stuffed polar bears that were used to help promote the brand until the 1960s.
The story of Fox’s Glacier Mints, now told on a panel opposite the factory’s former home at 46 Oxford Street, is one of several new heritage panels that people can see on the streets of Leicester.
Others include the story of James Cook, hanged for murder in 1832 and gibbeted in chains after his execution; the story of Leicester’s Retro Computer Museum, now housed at the Troon Way Business Centre; memories of the former Taj Mahal curry house on Highfield Street – thought to be Leicester’s first curry house; and a panel commemorating the pioneering work of Dr Jonathan Waldern that helped make Leicester the home of Virtual Reality technology.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Our heritage panels take people on a journey through 2,000 years of local history, guiding them from the site of the city’s Roman Forum to the narrow streets of Medieval Leicester, and from the shoe factories of the city’s manufacturing heyday to the modern city we know today.
“Leicester’s history is undoubtedly one of its strengths, and this latest batch of panels will shine a light on some long-forgotten stories, while reviving memories of the not-too-distant past.
“Many local people will have enjoyed a curry at the Taj Mahal, for example, or will remember the smell of peppermint wafting out from the Fox’s factory.
“Things that were part of everyday life in Leicester and helped shape the city we know today won’t be forgotten, thanks to the stories captured in these latest heritage panels.”
The Story of Leicester project was launched in 2014, with the first heritage panels featuring Leicester’s Town Hall and the city’s Secular Hall.
Since then, Leicester City Council has installed the colourful panels in both neighbourhood and city centre locations so that local people and visitors can learn more about the history that’s all around them.
Now, more than 300 heritage panels have been installed, charting the city’s development from Roman times to the present day and commemorating the people, places and events that have helped to shape the modern city of Leicester.
More information about all of the panels on Leicester’s heritage trail – believed to be the largest of its kind in the UK – can be found on the Story of Leicester website.
A new souvenir brochure that celebrates the city’s first 300 heritage panels is available to purchase for £5 from the Visit Leicester Information Centre. The brochure is also available to download free of charge at storyofleicester.info/heritage-panel-project
An updated list, showing all 308 panels that have now been installed, is available at storyofleicester.info/heritage-panel-project