Site design and build: Nick Cooke
Melton and Oakham Waterways Society Registered charity number: 1078752
The story started over 200 years ago ...


The 1790s was a period of "canal mania".  Towns everywhere saw a new waterway as the key to increased trade and future prosperity, while speculators recognised the dividends to be reaped from prosperous navigation companies. Leicestershire was no exception.  In 1778 the River Soar opened from Trent Lock, near Nottingham, to Loughborough. The immediate calls to continue the line to Leicester were followed shortly afterwards by suggestions that Melton Mowbray should also be included in the scheme. After various routes had been rejected in favour of a fairly simple canalisation of the River Wreake, a tributary of the Soar meeting the larger river at Cossington, the newly independent "Melton Mowbray Navigation" finally received parliamentary approval in 1791.  Despite the exorbitant demands of local landowners necessitating a major refinancing halfway through construction, the navigation was opened all the way to Melton in 1797 at a cost of just over £40,000. The canalised Wreake was never as profitable an undertaking as the nearby Soar Navigation, but Melton's appetite for Derbyshire coal ensured that enough boats would pass down the Melton Mowbray Navigation (paying tolls in the process) to secure its financial viability. Six years later, this traffic would almost double as 15 more miles of navigable waterway were opened. The canal mania of the 1790s was by no means a phenomenon unique to Leicestershire: it was a nationwide craze, and the citizens of Oakham,
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Link to a copy of a page from The London Gazette (1845)