HISTORY OF THE CANAL
The Melton Mowbray Navigation opened in 1797, and connected Melton Mowbray with the wider canal network near Syston, Leicestershire, through the Wreake valley. The Oakham Canal opened in 1802, and extended the waterway as far as Oakham.
Leaving the former canal basin at Melton Mowbray, the Oakham Canal followed the valley of the River Eye to Saxby, before turning south through Stapleford Park, to reach a wharf at the location of the former Whissendine railway station. From there the canal took an easterly course, towards Edmondthorpe and Market Overton, before continuing south towards Ashwell and Cottesmore. Here it was later cut by the former iron ore railway (Rocks by Rail) before reaching the Oakham canal basin, now within the grounds of Oakham School. Both waterways brought significant economic benefit to the local towns and villages.
The Oakham Canal closed in 1847, having been sold to the Midland Railway Company to allow the construction of the Syston and Peterborough railway. Land that was not used by the railway company was sold, or reverted to the original landowners. The Melton Mowbray Navigation was abandoned in 1877.
It may have been closed for over 170 years, but the original course of the Oakham Canal is still highly visible today. It is largely retained in the modern landscape, with several sections remaining in water. We believe that the Oakham Canal is a vital part of the local heritage, must not be allowed to deteriorate further, and affords opportunities to benefit the wider community.