Welcome to Hinckley - a town that lies at the very heart of England. It was the centre of the Roman Empire in this country - called High Cross - and now forms a crucial link in the Midland's comprehensive rail and motorway network.
The town, which is exactly half-way between the cities of Leicester and Coventry, covers an area of 3,565 acres in South-West Leicestershire, just a mile from the Warwickshire border.
It is the administrative centre of the Borough of Hinckley and Bosworth and has a population of around 60,000, including the nearby large villages of Earl Shilton, Barwell and Burbage. It also neighbours the District of Blaby, and many of Blaby's villages look to Hinckley for employment, recreation and shopping facilities.
Hinckley is known as the "Cradle of the Hosiery Industry" - an industry that was born and nurtured in the town and which still dominates it today. However, in recent years several large companies have taken advantage of Hinckley's comprehensive transport links - it is close to the M1, M69 and M6 motorways and is part of the Midland rail network - and major distribution centres have sprung up in the area. The town is also home to the acclaimed Triumph motorbike company.
Hinckley's town centre has a pedestrianised high street where a bustling market takes place on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Like its surrounding villages, the town centre is designated as a conservation area. Outside the urban area, the picturesque local countryside has a number of notable features.
None more so than the beautiful village of Market Bosworth. It is famous for the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 when Richard lll cried "a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse," and lost his crown to Henry Tudor in the deciding conflict of the War of the Roses.
The battlefield is part of a visitor centre run by Leicestershire County Council, and stages re-enactments and other special events throughout the year. Meanwhile Market Bosworth has been a finalist many times in the Britain in Bloom competition, and residents rightly protect its heritage.
Market Bosworth Country Park and the nearby Water Park provide open spaces for recreation, as does Burbage Common and woods on the outskirts of Hinckley.
Other amenities include the Ashby Canal, which bisects the area from north to south providing opportunities for walkers, anglers and, of course, narrow-boaters.
The town also has a leisure centre and boasts a non-league football side - Hinckley United, who play in the Dr Marten's Midlands Division. The club was created by the merger of Hinckley Town and Hinckley Athletic at the start of the 1997-98 season.
Among the other sporting teams is Hinckley Rugby Club, which plays in the national league, while during the summer months the sporting action is to be found at the Leicester Road Cricket Ground, home of Hinckley Town Cricket Club.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley-on-line