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Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Sunday, 25 October 2009
New life for the famous Wolsey building in Leicester

Watch the machines in action as the Wolsey building gets demolished

One of Leicester's major historic buildings is being developed to make way for a £15 million housing complex.

The Wolsey building, in the city's Belgrave area, was constructed in the 1920s and at the time was home to the region's largest hosiery company.

The building is being demolished, but it will keep the wall which features the mosaic of Cardinal Wolsey.

Work is expected to be completed in spring 2011 and will create around 100 new homes.

The new development will feature about 60 apartments with extra care facilities for older people, plus 40 affordable homes.

The Wolsey building supported by girders
The feature of Cardinal Wolsey is being incorporated into the new building

Once complete the building will be renamed The Wolsey in recognition of the site's rich historical heritage and in acknowledgement of the hosiery company which originally occupied the mill.

Atul Patel from Leicester Housing Association believes that the new home will be welcomed by the local community.

"We know that there is a very good demand and this is a place where people want to be."

Atul says a lot of the waste material resulting from the demolition, including metals and plastics, will be recycled.

The original building was home to the Wolsey Knitwear Company, named after Cardinal Wolsey and was a close aide of King Henry VIII.

The Cardinal was buried in 1530 at Abbey Park in Leicester.

The building still features an exquisite sandstone cameo of the Cardinal overlooking the park, which is being retained and incorporated into the new development.

Nic Jepson, group business development manager for William Davis Ltd, believes it is important that they keep the mosaic on the corner of the building.

"That is the whole history of the site wrapped up in one. We've got the Wolsey flyover, you've got his remains in Abbey Park."

How The Wolsey will look on completition (Photo: rg+p)
What we are putting back is very similar to what is being demolished but it is far more efficient in its use
Nic Jepson, William Davis Ltd

Nic says that so far they have received no objections from community members about the building plans.

"I think with the retention of the Wolsey feature and with what we're putting back is very similar to what's being demolished but it is far more efficient in its use than the building that's coming down."

By Nic's estimations, a conversion of the Wolsey building into residential housing would have cost more than the demolition and rebuild.

"The main challenges have been rat infestations that we had to treat, getting radio masts removed, getting the asbestos sorted.

"Once that was done, we're on site and it's coming down very quickly."

"The only other surprise so far has been the discovery of a rusty French bayonet inside one of the wall cavities, which is believed to date from the mid-1850s."

The Wolsey has been designed by Leicester-based architect rg&p.

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